Sorry if this seems like a really simple question but this always confuses me. For example Colossians 1:16:

For it was in Him that all things were created.

Would it mean the same thing if the word 'through' or 'by' were to be used instead? The use of the word 'in' seems to me to show that the power to create all things came from within himself (and the authority given to him by the Father), whereas if 'by' was used that power would come from elsewhere. I don't know. Am I over thinking this one word?

  • 5
    It's impossible to over-think prepositions in Paul. :-)
    – Susan
    Apr 22 '16 at 19:38
  • Since he's talking about YHWH and not Christ -if Paul said "in" instead of "through" to denote creation, that tells me that either Paul was speaking loosely or that he may not be a true apostle. IMO, YHWH breathed "through." :o)
    – Daisy
    Apr 22 '16 at 21:13
  • 1
    Found this, from the Codex Sinaiticus (oldest copy of Colossians): "for IN him were all things created that are in the heavens and that are on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or lordships, or principalities or authorities: all things have been created THROUGH him and for him."
    – Daisy
    Apr 22 '16 at 22:18
  • 2
    @Daisy: Codex Sinaiticus is a Greek manuscript. Quoting an English translation of the Sinaiticus doesn't really answer the OP's question on what the apostle Paul meant by «ἐν αὐτῷ» ("in him") in Col. 1:16.
    – user862
    Apr 23 '16 at 7:14
  • @Daisy this text wasn't written in Hebrew....
    – Dan
    Apr 23 '16 at 14:40

The apostle Paul writes, «ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα», which is translated as, “The universe was created in him.” Of no creature could it possibly be said that the universe (i.e., all creation) was created in him.1 Therefore, by the expression «ἐν αὐτῷ ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα», the apostle Paul implies that the Lord Jesus Christ is God.

The Greek expression «τὰ πάντα» is a term signifying the entire universe, everything that has been created. For example:

BDAG wrote,2

BDAG, p. 784, πᾶς, 4. d. β.

Joseph Henry Thayer (translating Wilke) wrote,3

Thayer, p. 493, πᾶς, II. 2. b. δ. αα.

Henry Alford commented on Col. 1:16,4

it must be so, seeing that nothing can so completely refute the idea that Christ himself is included in creation, as this verse) in Him (as the conditional element, præ-existent and all-including: not ‘by Him,’ as E. V. after Chr. (τὸ ἐν αὐτῷ, διʼ αὐτοῦ ἐστιν)—this is expressed afterwards, and is a different fact from the present one, though implied in it.


1 cp. Acts 17:28 where it states, regarding God, that «Ἐν αὐτῷ γὰρ ζῶμεν καὶ κινούμεθα καὶ ἐσμέν», that is, “For in Him we live, and move, and exist.”
2 p. 784, πᾶς, 4. d. β.
3 p. 493, πᾶς, II. 2. b. δ. αα.
4 p. 203


Alford, Henry. The Greek Testament. Vol. 3. Boston: Lee, 1878.

Arndt, William; Bauer, Walter; Danker, Frederick William. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. 3rd ed. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2000.

Thayer, Joseph Henry. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Being Grimm Wilke’s Clavis Novi Testamenti. Rev. ed. New York: American Book, 1889.

  • 2
    Context is king (even trumping the esteemed BDAG). In Col 1, notice the context is the establishment of a new regime (the kingdom of God's dear son) and the examples are "whether they be thrones, dominions, etc., not "the sky and the land". Context insists that it is speaking of "founding" a government, not making the biodome.
    – Ruminator
    Sep 15 '17 at 21:43

I take εν αυτω as instrumental as in "with Jesus acting as his agent". However, this passage is not talking about making stuff but rather about "founding" the new regime, aka "the regime of his dear son". This is not talking about the making of Genesis 1 but rather of establishing a dominion. God, through his Anointed (designated to rule) has organized a government consisting of "seats" (offices), "dominions" (governments), "princes" (rulers) and "authorities" (people with executive powers). In other words, God established the "kingdom of his dear son" by the agency of his Christ. He made Jesus the "firstborn" both by his priority in time and in rank.

Notice that in the context of the discussion of the establishing Christ's kingdom the word translated "creation" in Col. 1:15 (κτίσις) refers to a "regime", not "stuff":

③ system of established authority that is the result of some founding action, governance system, authority system. Corresponding to 1, κτίσις is also the act by which an authoritative or governmental body is created (ins in CB I/2, 468 no. 305 [I A.D.]: founding of the Gerousia [Senate]. Somewhat comparable, of the founding of a city: Scymnus Chius vs. 89 κτίσεις πόλεων). But then, in accordance with 2, it is prob. also the result of the act, the institution or authority itself 1 Pt 2:13 (Diod S 11, 60, 2 has κτίστης as the title of a high official. Cp. νομοθεσία in both meanings: 1. lawgiving, legislation; 2. the result of an action, i.e. law.) To a Hellene a well-ordered society was primary (s. Aristot., Pol. 1, 1, 1, 1252). It was understood that the function of government was to maintain such a society, and the moral objective described in vs. 14 is in keeping with this goal.—BBrinkman, ‘Creation’ and ‘Creature’ I, Bijdragen (Nijmegen) 18, ’57, 129–39, also 359–74; GLampe, The NT Doctrine of κτίσις, SJT 17, ’64, 449–62.—DELG s.v. κτίζω. M-M. TW. Sv.

Arndt, W., Danker, F. W., & Bauer, W. (2000). A Greek-English lexicon of the New Testament and other early Christian literature (3rd ed., p. 573). Chicago: University of Chicago Press.

So even in the establishing and organizing the kingdom of his Christ, God is at work in him (Jesus) to will and to do of his own pleasure:

Col 1:17 And he [Jesus] is first [primary] in all things, and in him [by God using Christ as his agent] all things hold together (persist). Col 1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. Col 1:19 For in him [using Jesus as his agent] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, Col 1:20 and through (διά) him to [God would] reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

Here Paul describes clearly how God used and uses Jesus as his "agency" for accomplishing his will:

Col 1:19 For in him [by using Jesus as his agent] all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, Col 1:20 and [God] through him [Jesus] to reconcile to himself [to God] all things, whether on earth or in heaven, [God] making peace by (διά) the blood of his [Jesus'] cross. Col 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, Col 1:22 he [God] has now reconciled in his [Jesus'] body of flesh by his [Jesus'] death, in order [for God] to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him [God],

The instrumental dative aka "dative of means" of ἐν then shows us that God is the actor and Jesus is acting at the bidding and for the pleasure of God.

  • 2
    Very interesting perspective. Never thought about it that way before.
    – Adinkra
    Nov 5 '16 at 20:25

"All things were made by Him and without Him was not anything made that was made." (John 1:3, read John 1:1-3). "Let US make man in OUR image." (Gen 1:23) "Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus Christ is God to the glory of God the Father."(see Phil 2:8-11). Baptizing them in the NAME of the Father, and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit(Matt 28:9). In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily(Col 2:9). Christ is the Head of the church, His Body(Col. 1:8, etc). His disciples grabbed Him by the feet and WORSHIPPED Him (Matt 28:9). Confer that to when John was rebuked for worshipping the angel in Revelation 1. "That all men should honor me as they do the Father." (The Lord Jesus in John 5). "I and my Father are one."(John 10:30). I am the Alpha and Omega(confer this to Isaiah 40 where God the Father gives Himself the same title) the Almighty. (Early Revelation). Before Abraham was I AM. (John 8:58-60). The Jews knew EXACTLY what He was saying and tried to stone Him for blasphemy. Etc. www.equip.org

  • Hi, Peter. Welcome to BH.SE. Please take the tour to get a feel for how the site functions. In regard to your answer, a list of quotes from the Bible doesn't constitute an acceptable answer. You have to give some explanation of how the verses you've given specifically answer the question that has been asked. Also, paragraphs make your answers more readable. Break up your thoughts (the verses above) with blank lines separating them.
    – enegue
    Jul 3 '20 at 9:23

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