Question: When the role of the Son is spoken of by Paul in Creation it is always as the intermediate agent (δια) or instrument (εν) used by God and not as source as in Creator Ex Nihilo. Therefore, does Paul's use of the Greek represent the Son as Creator or Maker?
Here is what some believe to be one of the earliest confessions of the Christian faith:
yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
(1 Corinthians 8:6) [ESV]
ἀλλ’ ἡμῖν εἷς θεὸς ὁ πατήρ, ἐξ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς εἰς αὐτόν, καὶ εἷς κύριος Ἰησοῦς Χριστός, δι’ οὗ τὰ πάντα καὶ ἡμεῖς δι’ αὐτοῦ.
This specifically mentions both Father and Son and demonstrates unity of the two:
One of the few New Testament confessions which does mention both Christ and God the Father is in 1 Cor. 8.6, and it is characteristic of this that it does not know the separation between God as Creator and Christ as Savior, but on the contrary speaks of creation both in the first article (God) and in the second (Christ): ‘…one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.’ Both have to do with creation.
If it is true this is an early confession, then it did not originate with Paul, but it was something Paul accepted and, obviously, passed on. What is not in dispute, is the certainty the Son had some role in creation and if not coequal and so inseparable, as Cullmann states, then, as some would say, the Son is secondary as an intermediate agent.
However, while the passage in the letter to the Corinthians may encompass all creation, it clearly speaks to things which are current and in a way where the Son's role is not in dispute. This is significant since Paul also describes the current state of the created world:
18 For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth. 19 For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. 20 For his invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse. (Romans 1)
18 Ἀποκαλύπτεται γὰρ ὀργὴ θεοῦ ἀπ’ οὐρανοῦ ἐπὶ πᾶσαν ἀσέβειαν καὶ ἀδικίαν ἀνθρώπων τῶν τὴν ἀλήθειαν ἐν ἀδικίᾳ κατεχόντων, 19 διότι τὸ γνωστὸν τοῦ θεοῦ φανερόν ἐστιν ἐν αὐτοῖς, ὁ θεὸς γὰρ αὐτοῖς ἐφανέρωσεν. 20 τὰ γὰρ ἀόρατα αὐτοῦ ἀπὸ κτίσεως κόσμου τοῖς ποιήμασιν νοούμενα καθορᾶται, ἥ τε ἀΐδιος αὐτοῦ δύναμις καὶ θειότης, εἰς τὸ εἶναι αὐτοὺς ἀναπολογήτους,
According to Paul, "God" has been and is still revealing Himself to mankind and the means by which this is still being done is by the things that have been made. These things which were made by the Son are in the world now to reveal "God;" namely His eternal power and divine nature.
Therefore, Paul calls the Son "God" (ὁ θεὸς) and says He has eternal power and divine nature. This should not be taken to mean the Son is superior to the Father (although that is the literal meaning in the limited context of the passage). Rather, in light of other statements such as 1 Corinthians 8:6, Romans should be understood as expressing the coequal unity of Father in Son in the things made which reveal God to mankind.
- Oscar Cullmann, The Christology of the New Testament, Revised Edition, translated by Shirley C. Guthrie and Charles A. M. Hall, The Westminister Press, 1963, p. 195