Considering the significance of the phrases, "on the earth", and "in heaven", and the words, "through him and for him", what is Jesus being credited with here - if anything?

Colossians 1:16 (NIV): For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.

  • the focus is on the phrase 'ON the earth' and also 'IN heaven'. Clearly Jesus didn't make these, He made just the 'in' and the 'on' stuff.
    – Steve
    Commented May 8, 2020 at 12:01

5 Answers 5


The message is clarified in the last part of the scripture: "all things have been created through him and for him"

"On earth" is in contrast to "in heaven", and represents the same idea as "visible and invisible". He created all things in heaven and also all things not in heaven (so, on earth). It's a literary figure trying to say nothing is excluded. It may be ok to argue that heaven and earth itself are not included, but this omission should not lead us to the conclusion that these were explicitely not created by Him.

  • ty for a thoughtful response. We must be careful not to think 'all things' means EVERYTHING. There are many examples where this fig. of speech is used where it decidedly does not mean 'all' 2 Sam 17:14, Jeremiah 26:8b. A qualification is given in 1 Cor 15:27. But to be careful with the text means we mustn't read into it what it does not say. Jesus (Col 1) is not the 'word' of John 1. Jesus is the 'word become flesh' in the NT. who began the church and a new creation of the spirit (which was not yet given until Jesus was raised or ascended to the Father John 7:39.)
    – Steve
    Commented May 9, 2020 at 5:21
  • @user48152 Fine for me, but we also can't say, as I stated, that this scripture EXPLICITLY excludes earth an heaven.
    – kutschkem
    Commented May 10, 2020 at 6:56
  • so to be clear, you are saying the 'he' in Col, who is Jesus, is the one who created in Genesis?
    – Steve
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 13:10
  • @user48152 In the context of this answer, I only comment on whether that scripture says "he" created heaven and earth or not, which seems what you are asking. My answer is, you can of course interpret whatever, but I don't find the argument that this scripture talking about on earth and in heaven as convincing that earth and heaven are excluded, in the context of the scripture. As to what I personally believe, it seems off-topic, but here you go: christianity.stackexchange.com/a/5629/6520
    – kutschkem
    Commented May 11, 2020 at 13:52
  • Heaven and earth is all there is in Biblical cosmology. There is no endless space and multiverses. This is it. He is being credited for creating everything and if you try to impose a secular modern interpretation to the text you are not applying hermeneutics correctly. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 4:29

GEN 1:1 In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth

JOHN 1:1 In the beginning was the Word,

JOHN 1:14 And the Word became flesh

COL 1:16 For by Him all things were created [snip] All things were created through Him and for Him.

You asked ...”what is Jesus being credited with here” - Answer, All things. That is, everything. Without him there would be not be anything.

Jesus is ‘being credited’ with being the Word.

  • The context is about Jesus, not the logos of J1:1. While the answer has merit, it is open to misunderstanding. Jesus was not ‘in the beginning’.
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 2:10
  • @user48152 But ... the word was/is Jesus. So therefore Jesus was ‘in the beginning’. He (Jesus) holds all things together. (COL 1:17). I agree the context of COL 1 is Jesus. I argue (exegetically) that the context of COL 1 is/can be equally ‘the Word’ ... Not trying to change your view, just saying.
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 2:32
  • The word ‘was’ Jesus? Based on what? This could imply the word came from Jesus, which it did not.
    – Steve
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 2:37
  • 2
    @User48152 As I said - I’m not trying to change your viewpoint, which you make clear. So no need for debate. Nevertheless you asked a Q ... “The word ‘was’ Jesus? Based on what?”. My answer is John 1:14, the word became flesh. (Referring to Jesus). But hey, let’s leave this here. Cheers!
    – Dave
    Commented Jul 18, 2021 at 3:29

Jesus made things ON the earth and IN the heavens says Paul.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

16 For by Him all things were created,

Rather this should be 'for in him were all things created' - as is noted further on, all things have been created through Him and for Him - not BY him.

both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. Col 1:15-16

Jesus is not THE creator in this passage. Jesus is 'the reason', 'the crux' of all that came to be.

Clearly, nothing here speaks of a Genesis creation. But rather, the preceding verses talk of the Father's design and the kingdom that is imminent.

  • the hope reserved for you in heaven
  • you may be filled with the knowledge of His will
  • for the attaining of all perseverance and patience
  • the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance
  • For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and... the kingdom of His beloved Son,

Jesus being the firstborn into this new structure - the kingdom. The church is the beginnings of the kingdom - to prepare the kings and priests to serve in that future age.

All creation has been prepared to run a course that leads to this next time, the next age, the kingdom. Jesus is the front-runner (Heb 6:20) of all to make the transition from flesh to spirit life. No one has done this before him - or he would not be the firstborn. The destiny of all men is to be reborn into spirit life - Jesus is the first to accomplish this.

For Christ also died for sins once for all, the just for the unjust, so that He might bring us to God, having been put to death in the flesh, but made alive in the spirit 1 Pet 3:18

He is also 'the firstborn of many brethren' Rom 8:29

so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. Col 1:18b

No Creator of all things could possibly - "come to have first place in everything".

For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Jesus), and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself (God), having made peace through the blood of His (Jesus) cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Col 1:19-20

Jesus came and told his disciples, “I have been given all authority in heaven and on earth. Matt 28:18

"I have been given", this too is not about being the supreme Creator, but being the one the Creator has deemed His 2IC, His Captain and Master of all under Him - exalted to the place above everything except God. 1 Cor 15:27

Finally, we have closing this passage of the saving work of the Lord Jesus, a wonderous mention of things in 'heaven' being reconciled - what that may entail is for another Q.

  • 1
    “And the four living creatures, each of them with six wings, are full of eyes all around and within, and day and night they never cease to say, “Holy, holy, holy, is the Lord God Almighty, who was and is and is to COME!” “Worthy are you, our Lord and God, to receive glory and honor and power, for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭4:8, 11‬ ‭ Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 4:37
  • Yes, it's wonderful! what is your point? If hope you're not thinking that is referring to Jesus. Read on and you'll see the Lamb enter - who isn't God. And God is not the lamb.
    – Steve
    Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 5:08
  • 1
    “And I heard every creature ... saying, “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!” And the four living creatures said, “Amen!” and the elders fell down and worshiped.” ‭‭Rev‭5:13-14‬ “And Jesus answered him, “It is written, “‘You shall worship the Lord your God, and him only shall you serve.’”” ‭‭Luke‬4:8‬ ‭God is Echad שׁמע ישׂראל יהוה אלהינו יהוה אחד “And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.”” ‭‭Heb1:6‬ Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 5:40
  • 2
    If Jesus is not God then He had no business receiving worship. Speaking of picking and choosing verses “Who has performed and done this, calling the generations from the beginning? I, the Lord, the first, and with the last; I am he.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭41:4‬ ““Listen to me, O Jacob, and Israel, whom I called! I am he; I am the first, and I am the last.” ‭‭Isaiah‬ ‭48:12‬ “When I saw him, I fell at his feet as though dead. But he laid his right hand on me, saying, “Fear not, I am the first and the last,” ‭‭Revelation‬ ‭1:17‬ Jesus is God as is the Father Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 6:09
  • 1
    Your interpretation of John 5 is not addressing John 10 that makes no mention of sabbath. So you’re wrong there. John 17:11 says let THEM be one JUST AS we are one. God is united as one and so should disciples be united as one. And the Greek doesn’t say as we are monos but hen meaning united not singular Jesus and God are not the same person but united and equals. God manifesting as two persons. You have no argument here at all because you refuse to acknowledge God in the OT manifested in three, you skipped right over Isaiah and Revelation like it doesn’t exist. Commented Sep 30, 2020 at 12:14

The following statement was made: "Jesus was not ‘in the beginning’. Actually, Jesus existed "BEFORE" the beginning of Genesis 1:1.

Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 start out with the same words, "in beginning." The definite article "the" has been supplied. The "Word of God" (from John 1:1) was there before the creation of time, space and mass. This means John's beginning "antecedes" the Genesis "beginning."

The main thought in the Genesis 1:1 beginning is on "WHAT HAPPENED" in the beginning. The main thought of John's 1:1 beginning is "WHO EXISTED" in the beginning.

This is why at John 1:3 states, "All things came into being by/through Him, and apart (or WITHOUT Him) NOTHING came into being that has come into being."

The Apostle Paul backs this up where he wrote under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Colossians 1:16."For by/in/through Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-all things have been created by/in/through Him and for Him."

There is a difference between "by" and "through." By is used to indicate "origin" or by the agency of. Through is used to indicate "the manner in which something is achieved.

Notice what Colossians 1:17 states, "And He is before all things, and in Him all things HOLD TOGETHER." Not only did Jesus always exist (John 1:1; 8:58), but He holds all creation together.

So, if Jesus Christ is only a man like the rest of us that God choose to die for the sins of the world (and He never preexisted His incarnation) why is He identified or presented as the Agent of creation?

This in view of the fact that God said at Isaiah 44:24, "Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, and the one who formed you from the womb, I, the Lord am the maker of all things. Stretching out the heavens BY MYSELF, And spreading out the earth ALL ALONE."

  • The phrase "agent of creation", referring to Jesus, gets thrown around a lot, but I don't see that exact phrase anywhere in the Bible. Let's all be careful.
    – moron
    Commented Sep 11, 2021 at 20:11
  • @CoryHaffly Thanks for your comments! If you do not see the exact phrasing of words you would like to see does not mean what's said is not true. The following article is about the Jewish concept of "agency." The Jewish word they use is "shaliach" which means messenger or emissary. A messenger is a legal agent for a principal. Jesus is the "agent" for His Father. lhim.org/blog/2011/04/24/was-jesus-the-agent-of-creation In the OT Jesus as the angel of the Lord not only acts on His Father's behalf but does things that only God can do. There are also limits to what a "shaliach" can do.
    – Mr. Bond
    Commented Sep 11, 2021 at 20:43

The book of Colossians was to provide a meaningful refutation of the proto-Gnostic ideology concerning spirit versus matter. The Gnostic system did not allow Jesus to be the Creator of something so inherently evil as “matter.”

In light of this, Paul provides a clear anti-Gnostic polemic by firmly demonstrating that Jesus the Son of God did in fact create all things. Note the clear and forceful (and even redundant) way he presents this:

“By Him [en autō] all things [panta] were created … all things [panta] have been created through Him [di’ autou] and for Him [eis auton]. He is before all things [autos estin pro pantōn], and in Him [en autō] all things [panta] hold together” (emphasis added).

The following grammatical aspects pointedly codify Paul’s argument:

  1. Along with John 1:3, Paul employs the neuter panta, which indicate that the Son was the actual Creator of all things. White (1998: 213) remarks on the theological implication of Paul’s use of the neuter:

"It is significant that Paul does not use the more popular terms pas or pan, both of which had meanings in Greek philosophy that allowed the creation to be a part of God or God a part of creation (as in pantheism). Instead, he uses a term that makes the creation a concrete, separate entity with the real existence."

  1. Paul utilizes four different prepositions to magnify his affirmation that the Son was the Agent of creation: All things were created “by/in Him” (en + dative; vv. 16, 17); “through Him” (dia + genitive; v. 16); “for Him” (eis + accusative; v. 16); and, He is “before all things” (pro + genitive; v. 17). To say again, Paul is speaking here of the Son, not the Father (cf. v. 14).

  2. As a final point, as with John 1:3, what immediately demolishes the “Son in view” theory is that Paul specifically states that “all things” were created “through [dia] Him [autou]” (viz., the Son). As observed above, we find the preposition dia, followed by the genitive autou grammatically revealing that the Son was the actual Creator Himself. There is no stronger way in which Paul could have articulated that the Son was the real and actual Agent of creation.

If Paul wanted to convey the idea that the Son was merely “in view” of the Father or an absent mere conceptual instrument of creation, as Oneness teachers assert, he would not have used dia followed by the genitive. Rather, he would have exclusively used dia followed by the accusative, but he does not. The Oneness theological assumption that the Son was not the Agent of creation, but merely in view of creation, cannot stand grammatically or contextually—it changes the intended meaning of the text and ignores the chief theme of Paul’s letter.

  • 1
    Well spoken, +1
    – Cork88
    Commented Dec 8, 2022 at 19:38

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