Under the influence of Greek philosophy, especially Platonism, the Greeks put a great deal of emphasis on the what was "unseen" and called these things a series of "ideals" - perfect things in heaven that do not change.
Such "ideals" were imperfectly reflected on the imperfect world.
Col 1:16 contains a common (in the Greek world) double hendiadys, namely:
- all things in heaven and on the earth (ie, absolutely nothing is excluded, and almost certainly alludes to Gen 1:1)
- all things visible and invisible (ie, absolutely nothing is excluded)
... thus Paul is using some very extravagant language to emphasize that there is NOTHING that Jesus did not create, either in this earth and what we can see, nor in the spiritual realm that we cannot see. Then for even further emphasis, Paul uses a an even more extensive list of things so there would be no doubt that anything could be excluded from Christ's creative effort:
- thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities
That is, not only did Jesus create all things, he also created all political power as well (see also Rom 13:1).
There is a simple Greek piece of logic that Paul alludes to here - Christ could not be a created being as this would mean that He would have created Himself. Thus Paul is simply asserting that Christ is:
- Creator of all physical things
- Creator of all spiritual things, including those in heaven
- Creator of all political power in both heaven and earth
Therefore, Christ is outside of creation because He is the Creator and originator/initiator of everything.
The Expositor's sums this up succinctly:
Colossians 1:16. Paul now gives the ground for the designation of the
Son as πρωτότ. π. κτίσεως. In Him τὰ πάντα were created. From this it
follows that the Son cannot be a creature, for creation is exhausted
by the “all things” which were so created in Him (“omnem excludit