6

The scriptures in question read in the Young's Literal Translation:

John 1:3

all things through him did happen, and without him happened not even one thing that hath happened.

Colossians 1:16

because in him were the all things created, those in the heavens, and those upon the earth, those visible, and those invisible, whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether authorities; all things through him, and for him, have been created,

It seems like the verbs in these passages are constructed in such a way to connect the importance of Jesus to the creation of all things without actually using verbs that give Jesus himself active agency in the creation of all things: Jesus is one "through," "in," or "for" whom things are created, but not here specifically said to create. Thus someone else can be said to create through, in, or for Jesus.

On the other hand, the Bible seems to have no problem with giving God active agency in creation. For example:

  1. for those days shall be tribulation, such as hath not been from the beginning of the creation that God created, till now, and may not be; - Mark 13:19
  2. and to bring to light for everyone what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, (ESV -YLT seems to use a different base Greek text here) - Ephesians 3:9
  3. Etc...

Bottom line

  1. Is it hermeneutically sound to declare Jesus the creator from these verses alone, since God is often given active agency in the creation and the verbs in John 1:2 and Colossians 1:16 do not give Jesus such active agency.
  2. What can we say is intended to be specifically communicated regarding his role in these two verses, if it is right to say that the scripture writers are intentionally constructing the verbs to connect Jesus to the creation without declaring him actively the creator?

My concern is that even if Jesus can be declared the creator from other passages we may overwrite the actual meaning of these passages by assigning them meaning from other passages.


Note: This question seeks to differentiate from Does John 1:3 identify Jesus Christ as the creator? and What is Jesus being credited with here? Col 1:16 by drawing specific attention to the active verbs generally associated with the creator and the lack of them in John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16 for understanding the meaning of these two passages.
I think this is a valid question regardless of whether you believe in the Trinity or not or believe that the creation or bringing into existence of things here relates to the old creation or the new creation or something else.
This question is about what can confidently be said about the role specifically attributed to Jesus in these very specific passages based on the verb construction.
This question does assume that we can correctly identify Jesus as the Logos in John 1:1 but not necessarily the word of God elsewhere discussed in scripture. I'd rather not argue that point.

3
  • The word partakes in creation in the same manner as a tool in construction, an axe in cutting down trees, or a weapon in warfare.
    – Lucian
    Sep 7 at 3:05
  • 1
    @Lucian, given that sense, if I create a report about Jesus through my computer. My computer isn't the creator of that report. I am. Even still, I'm not sure that is even the right meaning with which we're supposed to understand the word διʼ.
    – Austin
    Sep 7 at 3:30
  • God creates, but when we dole different portions of that act of creating into persons of the trinity, then you start getting these types of assignments of responsiblity. Focusing on one member of the godhead at the exclusion of the others leads to a sense of partial fulfillment, that something is missing
    – Robert
    Sep 8 at 1:14
5

There are two separate questions here about the meaning of different verbs.

John 1:3c γίνομαι

The operative verb in John 1:3 is γίνομαι (ginomai), which according to BDAG means the following:

  1. to come into being through process of birth or natural production, be born, be produced, eg, John 8:58, Rom 1:3, Gal 4:4, 1 Cor 15:37, Matt 21:19.
  2. to come into existence, be made, be created, be manufactured, be performed, eg, John 1:3, Heb 11;3, Acts 19:26, Matt 11:20, 23, Luke 10:13, Acts 8:13, 4:22, 2:43, 30, 12:9, 24:2, 14:3, Mark 6:2, etc.
  3. come into being as an event or phenomenon from a point in origin, arise, come about, develop, eg, John 12;29, Rev 8:5, 11:19, Matt 8:26, Mark 4:39, Luke 8:24, etc.
  4. to occur as process or result, happen, turn out, take place, eg, Matt 1:22, 26;56, etc, etc, etc
  5. to experience a change in nature and so indicate entry into a new condition, become something, eg, Matt 5:45, Mark 1;17, Luke 6:16, 23:12, etc.

Thus, it is clear that "create" is entirely consistent with the meaning of γίνομαι (ginomai), especially in John 1:3.

Col 1:16, κτίζω

The verb κτίζω (ktizó) occurs twice in Col 1:16 and is used in the following senses in this verse:

  • in "Him" (The Son, Jesus) all things were created
  • via Him all things were created
  • for Him all things were created.

BDAG defines this word as, "to bring something into existence, create"

The real crux of this verse is the meaning of the preposition "en" (the second word in the verse of the Greek text). This is an extremely versatile word that has, according to BDAG, 12 meanings and uses plus several sub-meanings and uses. While this is too much to reproduce here, the relevant meaning is: 3. marker of close association within a limit, in, eg, Col 1:16, meaning "everything created in close association with him".

Note that this verse is actually saying that:

  • Jesus created all things in association with God
  • Jesus created all things through His power
  • all things were created for the benefit of Jesus

Note that V17 adds a further dimension of saying that not only did Jesus create all things, that He also sustains/maintains things as well.

Thus, this verse is teaching that Jesus created all things in close association with the entire Godhead as Gen 1:1, 2 suggests.

Note the comments of Meyer:

ἐν αὐτῷ is not equivalent to διʼ αὐτοῦ (Chrysostom, Oecumenius, Theophylact, Erasmus, Beza, Bleek, and many others), but: on Christ depended (causally) the act of creation, so that the latter was not done independently of Him—in a causal connection apart from Him—but it had in Him the ground essentially conditioning it. In Him lay, in fact, the potency of life, from which God made the work of creation proceed, inasmuch as He was the personal principle of the divine self-revelation, and therewith the accomplisher of the divine idea of the world.

Ellicott is also helpful:

(16) For by him . . . all things were created by (through) him, and for (to) him.—Carrying out the idea of the preceding clause with accumulated emphasis, St. Paul speaks of all creation as having taken place “by Him,” “through Him,” and “for Him.” Now we note that in Romans 11:36, St. Paul, in a burst of adoration, declares of the Father that “from Him, and through Him, and to Him are all things;” and in Hebrews 2:10 the Father is spoken of as One “by whom are all things, and for whom are all things” (the word “for whom” being different from the word so rendered here, but virtually equivalent to it). Hence we observe that the Apostle here takes up a phrase belonging only to Godhead and usually applied to the Father, and distinctly applies it to Christ, but with the significant change of “from whom” into “in whom.” The usual language of holy Scripture as to the Father is “from whom,” and as to the Son “through whom,” are all things. Thus we have in Hebrews 1:2, “through whom He made the world;” and in John 1:3-10, “All things were made”—“the world was made”—“through Him.” Here, however, St. Paul twice adds “in whom,” just as he had used “in whom” of God in his sermon at Athens (Acts 17:28), probably conveying the idea, foreshadowed in the Old Testament description of the divine “Wisdom,” that in His divine mind lay the germ of the creative design and work. and indirectly condemning by anticipation the fancy of incipient Gnosticism, that He was but an inferior emanation or agent of the Supreme God.

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John 1:3 all things through him did happen, and without him happened not even one thing that hath happened.

Colossians 1:16 because in him were created all things in the heavens and upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and unto him.

This Colossians passage comes up a lot and mostly it is misread or misunderstood. That's probably why it comes up a lot!

It is a simple error - not reading carefully the words we are provided.

  • IN him. Not BY him. This means that creation DID NOT happen BY Jesus.
  • Things IN heaven and ON earth. Even if one forces Jesus as Creator, a Genesis creation of all things is not in view here. God didn't create just the things IN heaven and ON earth - He made the lot!

Anyone can read when Jesus was born. Approx. 4 BC is the first mention of this holy son of God. If we somehow decide Jesus created everything, then we have to make up a lot of stuff not inspired of God.

Why do we need to go beyond the passages to invent another truth, another gospel, another God???

Paul's context of Colossians is of the church and the new creation- the life of the spirit - of which Jesus is the first. The first human to be transformed into immortal life from a mortal physical life.

that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. Rom 8:29

This confirms what firstborn means - not OF all creation before Genesis, but of all in the new creation. (Does God have brothers?)

  • the hope being laid up for you in the heavens v5
  • having qualified you for the share of the inheritance of the saints v12
  • transferred us into the kingdom of His beloved son v13
  • in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins v14
  • And he is the head of the body, the church v18

John 1:3 is also misread a lot. Some seem to think it's ok to read the start of John with Jesus in mind. The subject is clearly the logos and not Jesus - not until it becomes flesh v14.

To read, "all things through Jesus did happen, and without Jesus happened not even one thing that hath happened", is to treat the text with contempt and think we know better than John, and God! The reality of this logos is echoed in 1John 1 also.

From that brief outline we can safely and confidently answer the Q.

Is using John 1:3 and Col 1:16 to declare Jesus the creator going a bit beyond what these passages actually say?

No! It is not going a bit beyond. It is going A LOT BEYOND!

To make up such an interpretation is pure eisegesis. There is no other word for it, it's not even poor interpretation, it's making up things with no connection to the text.

If Jesus IS the Creator as many insist by twisting and misreading scripture, why is Jesus made HEIR? Heb 1. Why is Jesus exalted to the side of God if he is already God? This forces the fabrication of a two-natured Jesus - also not of scripture.

This is a reality check on the nonsensical claims of making Jesus more than the man scripture says he was and still is. John 8:40 by his own words he confirms this truth. Choosing to believe otherwise, we make him a liar. A man cannot be a man and God also - then he is simply NOT a man but a God/man. This the bible never speaks of.

Therefore he had to be made like his brothers in every respect Heb 2:17

Made as a God/man and supreme Creator is not remotely like us.

What does the 'in him were created all things' refer to here? This text does not indicate Jesus is Creator, so what does it indicate?

in him were created all things in the heavens and upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and unto him.

No things of this world will realise their God given destiny without Christ Jesus' perfect sacrifice. The only way to the Father is through Jesus. So while God created through His logos everything that is (John 1), He is continuing this process to another level - all through and in Jesus.

...this man, delivered over by the predetermined plan and foreknowledge of God, you nailed to a cross by the hands of godless men and put him to death. Acts 2:23

we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood 1Cor 2:7

We have the old age of 'law of sin and death' and the new age of 'spirit and life' that Jesus' death (and new life) has made possible.

the Law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the Law of sin and death. Rom 8:2

Jesus is the firstborn (v15) of the new spirit life - all others may follow

  • first the saints (Rev 20) and then the rest. In Christ, God is continuing His creative work in this new age through the centrepiece of the church. First it was Israel, the earthly kingdom and the laws (death), then the Church, grace and Jesus, a heavenly Kingdom (life).

  • Jesus is the head and cornerstone of this new structure. v18

All created humanity comes to fulfilment, realising their purpose fully and finally in Christ. Without him, the "the visible and the invisible ...thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities" have no real purpose to bring about true life. They only function under Christ now to bring about the end of this age and all will know God and true life through Jesus and his headship. This true life, Jesus now lives, (Rom 6:9, 1 Pet 3:18) was always God's intended destiny for all people.

yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live. 1Cor 8:6

He who descended is himself, also he who ascended far above all the heavens, so that he might fill all things. 11And he gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, some as pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the building up of the body of Christ Eph 4:10-

Paul often reveals this future age and life that is only possible in and through Jesus. God sending him to accomplish a very special task that no one else could do. When God made Adam and Eve, He was just beginning a process of making man in His image. This process is completed in Christ Rom 8:29

God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2in these last days has spoken to us in His son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom He also made the ages. Heb 1:1

  • some bibles insert world or even universe for ages, αἰῶνας (aiōnas), but this is not correct. αἰῶνας also means forever.
  • 'made' ἐποίησεν (epoiēsen) is better rendered 'has done'

So we can understand this as, 'through (because of) Jesus, God has done (brought about) forever'!

No wonder Jesus, on the cross, gasped with his last breath, "It is finished!". The work God gave him to do was done, evil was defeated, the age of 'spirit and life' could now accelerate toward the final stages.

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  • Can you edit this to explain what you think it means for all things to be created "in him"? You've said what you think it does not mean, but you haven't given any explanation of what it does mean.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 9 at 11:46
  • It's more that no argument about what a text doesn't mean will be convincing unless its proponents put forward an alternative interpretation.
    – curiousdannii
    Sep 9 at 12:18
  • 1
    To be clear, Jesus being or not being the Creator is not dependent on whether or not he preexisted. If he did not preexist, then it's safe to say he was not the Creator, because, obviously, he could not have been. We're safe there. But it's entirely possible for Jesus to have preexisted, and yet STILL not have been the Creator. That's my story and I'm sticking to it. Sep 11 at 20:27
  • @Cory whatever gives you this understanding about Jesus' pre-existence is not of the bible, not from its plainly presented and consistent revelation. You got your story from somewhere else.
    – steveowen
    Sep 12 at 11:19
1

Is using Jn.1:3and Col.1:16 to declare Jesus the creator going a bit beyond what the passages actually say?

Yes. that is going beyond what they actually say.

By the word of Jehovah The heavens have been made, And by the breath of His mouth all their host Psalm 33:6. The LXX actually renders this verse "By the logos of the LORD the heavens were made" Throughout the bible, it was God's own expression or command that facilitated creation,

By faith we understand that the worlds have been framed by the word of God, so that what is seen hath not been made out of things which appear Hebrews 11:3,

And God said, Let there be light: and there was light, Genesis 1:3,

Let them praise the name of Jehovah; For he commanded, and they were created. Psalm 148:5,

For he spake, and it was done; He commanded, and it stood fast. Psalm 33:9 ASV

God's word is something that belonged to God and is not a 2nd God.

Jesus attributed creation to God, not himself, Matthew 19:4-6; Mark 10:6 and Mark 13:19. Even the words that Jesus spoke do not belong to him. According to Jesus his words belong to the father who sent him. John 14:24 and the one that is sent is not greater than the one that sent him, John 13:16. The Father is greater than all, Jesus included. According to Jesus, the creator is God, the Father whom he worshipped, prayed to and calls the only true God. John 17:3.

8
  • 1
    Your calling "the word" of John 1:1 "God's word." It does not say that, there is no possessive/genitive. It does not say anything about words belonging to God. It says "In the beginning The word was already existing." The Word has self existence here. Then it says, "And the Word was with God." (article shown for clarity). So The word is shown to exist in relation to The God contrary to you trying to make this "God's words." "And The word was God." The nature of The Word is God, whatever The God is The word is also. The word is self existent confirmed by John 1:3, Colossians 1:16.
    – Mr. Bond
    Sep 7 at 23:25
  • @Mr.Bond just as you suggest others read into the text. Your, "Word has self existence here" is also read in. There is nothing about 'existing' anywhere - the word just is. What it is, is not expressed here, as well as it is in 1John1. But you know all that and refuse to accept it.
    – steveowen
    Sep 8 at 8:14
  • @steveowen 1John1:1, "Who" was from the beginning that the disciples saw and handled? Not the spoken words of life. John 1:4, In HIM was life, and the life was the light of men. If the Son never eternally existed His incarnation then why is He identified or presented as the Agent of creation at John 1:3, Colossians 1:16, Hebrews 1:10 and at Revelation 3:14? I ask because Isaiah 44:24 says, "I, the Lord, am the maker of all things, Stretching out the heavens BY MYSELF, And spreading out the earth ALL ALONE." Reconcile this and if you use the excuse of "by" and "through" Him watch what happens.
    – Mr. Bond
    Sep 8 at 13:41
  • The LORD in Isaiah 44:24 is Jehovah, not Jesus. Sep 8 at 13:45
  • 1
    Yes, there are in fact two redeemers, Jesus being our secondary redeemer, and God being our ultimate redeemer. You could call Jesus our "redeeming intermediary" or "intermediary redeemer", between us and the Father. But God is primary, ultimate redeemer. Jesus, however, is not an "intermediary Creator". God the Father is the only Creator. Jesus did preexist, however. My story and sticking to it. Sep 11 at 20:57
1

You already hinted at the answer from the prolegomena in John 1.

In the beginning was ἦν the Word, and the Word was ἦν with God, and the Word was ἦν God. 2 He was ἦν in the beginning with God. 3 All things were made ἐγένετο through him, and without him was not any thing made ἐγένετο that was made ἐγένετο. 4 In him was ἦν life, and the life was ἦν the light of men. 5 The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. 6 There was Ἐγένετο a man sent from God, whose name was [not in Greek] John. (John 1:1–6, ESV with Greek added)

Translations in v3 translate ἐγένετο as made or created, but the literal meaning is became. By contrasting ἦν with ἐγένετο, John said God and the Logos are eternal with no beginning as opposed to the created things which began/became.

Here's a translation of the context of Col. 1:16 from What does it mean that "it pleased the Father" for "all the fullness" to dwell in Jesus (Colossians 1:19, NKJV)?.

15 who is the image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation, 16 because everything was created by him in the heavens and the earth [Gen. 1:1], the things seen and the things invisible, whether thrones or lordships or rulers or authorities. Everything was created through him and for him. 17 and he is before everything and everything stands together by him, 18 and he is the head of the body of the church who is [the] beginning/ruler [same phrase as Gen. 1:1 LXX and John 1:1], the firstborn of the dead, in order that he should be the first in everything. 19 because/that he [God, the Father] deemed worthy that by him [Christ] all fulfillment resides 20 and that everything is reconciled to him [God, the Father] through him [Christ], making peace through his blood of the cross, whether things on the earth or things in heaven.

Notice that "firstborn of the dead" is nonsense if taken as literal physical birth related to the dead. First means preeminence to a Hebrew. That's the idea of firstborn in v15. Unless you dispute that the Col. 1:16 passage refers to Christ, along with the the Logos being Christ from 1:14, Jesus created all creation. However, notice Gen. 1:1.

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God [וְר֣וּחַ אֱלֹהִ֔ים] was hovering over the face of the waters. (Gen. 1:1–2, ESV)

Thus, God, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit were all present and involved during the creation. The description of the Trinity has always been complex and beyond understanding, but the different types of agency show the full involvement of the Trinity. Christ is not described as the ultimate agent, which apparently is reserved for the Father.

a. With Agency Expressed (431–35)

  1. Ultimate Agent: usually ὑπό (+ gen.), sometimes ἀπό (+ gen.) or παρά (+ gen.), indicating the person who is ultimately responsible for the action (433)
  1. Intermediate Agent: διά (+ gen.), indicating the person who carries out the act for the ultimate agent (433–34)
  1. Impersonal Means: ἐν (+ dat.), simple dative, or sometimes ἐκ (+ gen.), indicating the means an agent uses to perform an act (434–35) -- Wallace, D. B. (1996). Greek Grammar beyond the Basics: An Exegetical Syntax of the New Testament (p. 747). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

See God has a beginning. Does he?

What does all this agency mean? Look at Matt 1:22.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet:... (ESV)

τοῦτο δὲ ὅλον γέγονεν ἵνα πληρωθῇ τὸ ῥηθὲν ὑπὸ ⸆ κυρίου διὰ ⸇ τοῦ προφήτου λέγοντος· (NA28)

The Lord is the ultimate agent, the one who decided and authorized the action.

The prophet is the intermediary agent, the one who carried out the action under the authority of the ultimate agent.

Thus, with creation, God the Father is the ultimate agent, who authorized creation. The Son is the intermediary agent who carried out creation. As the instrumental/impersonal agent Jesus used himself, not instruments, tools, hardware, or pre-existing matter to create creation; like saying he used his bare hands.

Note how this is consistent with John 8:28:

So Jesus said to them, “When you have lifted up the Son of Man, then you will know that I am he, and that I do nothing on my own authority, but speak just as the Father taught me. (ESV)

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  • If Jesus created all creation - why is God making him heir of it all? Reading "Jesus" in John 1:1 is just the start of a very slippery slope.
    – steveowen
    Sep 7 at 1:23
  • The complexity of the Trinity
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 7 at 1:27
  • I'll work on this more when I have time, but am staying within the context of these two passages. The context is important.
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 7 at 12:10
  • @Austin Does it now answer your question?
    – Perry Webb
    Sep 8 at 0:18
  • 1
    Maybe the Trinity is just too complex to be accepted as Truth. If the Trinity is to be accepted as Truth, and if it's just too darn complex for even the greatest minds to comprehend, then where does that leave us retards? Sep 11 at 20:46

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