This could get complex so bear with me.
I spent some time studying Colossians in the first week of January and verse 15 to 17 of Colossians 1 stood out.
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
From my doctrinal background, verse 16 becomes a problem. I have been taught that Christ did not exist before he was born.
So I did some digging in the Greek.
‘by him all things were created’
the word ‘by’ in this instance is the Greek ‘en‘ “a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state).”
The word ‘created’ is the Greek ‘ktizō‘ which has a number of concepts, including “to make habitable, to people, a place, region, island, to found a city, colony, state, to create (of God creating the world) and to form, shape, i.e. to completely change or transform.”
Later in the same verse, this phrase occurs.
‘all things were created by him and for him’
The word ‘by’ in this instance is different from the previous occurrence, and is the Greek ‘dia‘ which is “a primary preposition denoting the channel of an act, i.e. the ground or reason by which something is or is not done: by reason of, on account of, because of for this reason, or on this account.”
Lastly, to get the whole picture, before we reconstruct the verses, the ‘things’ that are referred to as ‘created’ are later in the verse, being ” thrones or powers or rulers or authorities”.
So, the verse could read:
Within the fixed limits of a certain time and space, heavenly and earthly things, be it thrones or powers or rulers or authorities, were made habitable, transformed into populatable places. All these things were changed on account of him – for the very reason of Jesus.
That would obviously be a bit of a mouthful, but as a concept, it would be reinforced by verse 17 where it says:
‘He is before all things’
Meaning ‘all things are chiefly made for (on account of) him’ or ‘he is in front of all things’, i.e. he is paramount, he is of primary importance.
The next part of verse 17:
‘in him all things hold together’
holds the concept of everything being united or brought together or unified in the fixed point in time and space that is Christ.
In other words, “the introduction of Jesus – his birth, life, death and resurrection is the climax and centre-point, it is the crux, the reason, the complete harmonisation of all things created.”
Looking at the original verses again in a slightly different version,
We look at this Son and see the God who cannot be seen. We look at this Son and see God’s original purpose in everything created. For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him. He was there before any of it came into existence and holds it all together right up to this moment. And when it comes to the church, he organizes and holds it together, like a head does a body.
This highlights some of the concepts more boldly, but to summarise completely, these verses could mean:
When we look at Jesus we see exactly what God is like. In that fixed point in time and space that is Jesus, God revealed himself, made everything and transformed everything for that very purpose. Christ was of primary importance and his appearance is the climax of creation and of God’s plan. This plan hinges on and centres around Christ, and without him it would not stand. Jesus was plan A not plan B. Jesus was God’s plan all along.
Or it could mean that Jesus existed with God before the creation of the world and that, with God, he created everything.
Or indeed, it could mean something else entirely.
All that we know for sure is that my ‘reinterpretation’ of the verse is true and survives whether or not Christ existed before his birth. And there you have one summary of the gospel in six words.
Jesus was God’s plan all along.
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