For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: - Colossians 1:16 (KJV)

Here we have all (things) created and given as including literally into...to the...to heavens and unto...of the...of earth. Then follows an apparently inclusive qualifier of visible and invisible followed by four categories that seem to limit the scope of visible and invisible, for example trees are neither thrones, nor dominions, etc. This is then referred to again as all (things).

Do thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers act as delimiters making the all things created by him to be a sub-set within the universe and not the universe itself? A related question would be, does all into heaven and unto earth preclude the creation of heaven and earth themselves?

Related: Does "all things" always mean the same in these seven verses?

Does Colossians 1:15, refer to the Genesis creation, or merely present Jesus as the beginning of those raised from the dead?

What is Jesus being credited with here? Col 1:16

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    The context and comparison is 'the power of darkness'/'the kingdom of his dear Son'; thus the emphasis (contextually) is 'thrones, dominions, principalities, powers'. Yes, they are a 'sub-set', but the context (and thus the emphasis of argument) is clear.
    – Nigel J
    Jul 22, 2022 at 15:11
  • Perhaps they are descriptions of invisible things only, since the visible needs no explanation? Jul 23, 2022 at 13:45
  • If this is an attempt to denounce the Son as divine, you’re going to fail. Jesus the human body biological machine without the spirit is a created thing, but if you take the Son who is Spirit and place Him in that body, to experience humanity, He already pre existed. Otherwise H10:7 cannot be fulfilled, he could accept an earthly body if he only existed after he was in an earthly body. I say that to say, there are also heavenly bodies, and before the Son was in the human body He was in a heavenly body. And before that there was NOTHING but God and the Son was with God and was God cont. Jul 24, 2022 at 12:05
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    @NihilSineDeo It's honestly just a question about how "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers" serves to modify things "visible or invisible". Jul 24, 2022 at 12:35
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    @NihilSineDeo What support do you have for '... He was in a heavenly body' (sic) ? The Son is Divine . . . then he is incarnate. Yet still 'The Son, of man' . . 'is in heaven' (even as his incarnate feet stand upon earth).
    – Nigel J
    Jul 25, 2022 at 9:14

3 Answers 3


Paul is very fond of using the "hendiadys" = two extremes to signify the whole. In Col 1:16 we have

  • heaven and earth (ie everything)
  • visible and invisible (ie everything)
  • thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities (ie everything). Compare Eph 1:21.

We also see the same literary device in many other places in Paul's writing, with the best known in Gal 3:28 -

  • neither Jew nor Greek (ie, no distinction with anyone)
  • neither slave nor free (ie, no distinction with anyone)
  • neither male nor female (ie, no distinction with anyone)

Now, there are several ways to view this. The first two items can be seen as including all objects/things while the last item can either be seen as a double hendiadys, or, included as distinct from objects to ensure that absolutely everything was created by Jesus.

Here are a few more from Paul:

  • Rom 2:28, (Jewish) not openly nor in the flesh (= a believer, not a biological Jew)
  • Rom 3:10, none righteous nor one (= nobody is righteous, all are sinners)
  • Rom 4:15, no law nor transgression (= no Torah nor 10 commandments)
  • Rom 8:7, not subject to law nor can be (= outside the law)
  • Rom 9:6, 7, not all descended from Israel nor can they be (= unconnected with literal Israel)
  • Rom 9:16, not the [one] wishing nor the [one] running (= unrelated to humans at all)
  • Rom 11:21, not spare branches nor you (= spare no one)
  • 1 Cor 2:6, (wisdom) not of this age nor the rulers of this age (= unrelated to human wisdom)
  • 1 Cor 11:16, (custom) not have neither the churches have (= nothing else)
  • 1 Cor 15:13, (resurrection of dead) not is neither Christ has been raised (= no resurrection)
  • 1 Cor 15:16, (dead) not raised neither Christ has been raised (= no resurrection)
  • 1 Cor 15:50, (flesh and blood) not able to inherit corruption nor incorruption (= mortal man does not enter eternity)
  • 2 Cor 7:12, not for the sake of the offender neither the sake of the wronged (= unrelated to the crime)
  • Gal 1:1, not from men nor through men (= unrelated to humanity)
  • Gal 1:11,12, not according to man neither from man neither taught [by man] (= unrelated to humanity)
  • Gal 1:16,17, not conferred with flesh and blood neither go up to Jerusalem (= unrelated to human advice)
  • and many more
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    How is "throne, dominions, rules, authorities" a hendiadys? That's 4 things, not 2, and what are they extremes of? They're all the same sort of thing. Thrones and slaves, say, would be more of extremes, no? Jul 22, 2022 at 22:06
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    @OneGodtheFather - it is a kind of double hediadys.
    – Dottard
    Jul 22, 2022 at 22:28
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    Perhaps "thrones, dominions, rules, principalities or powers" describes the invisible things only, since the visible needs no explanation (they are visible), thus it is not a limiter but merely a descriptor within the hediadys of "visible or invisible"? @OneGodtheFather Jul 23, 2022 at 13:50
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    @MikeBorden One way to gain context would be to look at how St. Paul uses those terms (thrones, dominions, principalities, powers) in the rest of his writing. Jul 23, 2022 at 15:12

If I say that US Open tournament sponsors paid and provided all things within the precincts of the area of the tournament both in-courts and outside courts, it does not mean that the courts themselves and the buildings outside courts weren’t paid and provided by the same sponsors. On the contrary all things within courts entail courts themselves (concrete, plastic covering of it, paints of lines etc.), as well as all things in the buildings outside courts entail buildings themselves (locker rooms, toilets, sportsmen resting areas etc.).

So, if your question hiddenly implies that Father first created - or even could create - heaven and earth without His Logos, who is called also Jesus Christ after the Incarnation, and only then created all things through His Logos in those pre-created settings of the Heaven and earth, then this is a heresy, for Father is ontologically unable to create anything without His Logos. Could Mohammad Ali deliver his knocking-out 🤜 without his hand? Impossible. The same with the Father and the Son/Logos.

  • Jesus attributed creation to his God. Mark 13:19. Even if He created Jesus for that purpose, it still would be Jesus ' God who created everything, including Jesus. That is why Jesus is the beginning of God's creation. Revelation 3:14. Colossians 1:15 Jul 24, 2022 at 11:47
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    @AlexBalilo That’s mythology, not theology. For Father His Logos is the very instrument of creation and therefore the Logos is uncreated. If Father created His Logos then He would have needed some Super-Logos for making this happen. Even if we fancy mythologically that Father creates heaven and earth without Logos and then creates Logos to create giraffes and rhinos through this created Logos, then creation of this Logos has no sense, for Father could create 🦒-es 🦏 -es alone. But again, this is a theology site, not mythology. Jul 24, 2022 at 12:08
  • No hidden implications, just a question about how "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers" modifies things "visible and invisible". Jul 24, 2022 at 12:39
  • @AlexBalilo Since Isaiah 44:24 states that God is the maker of all things by Himself and all alone why does the Apostle John say Jesus is the creator of all things at John 1:3? There are not two creators, only one so how do you reconcile this glaring contradiction? Secondly, Revelation 3:14 is teaching that Jesus is the "arche" of creation. We get our English word "architect" from that word and an architect is the "origin/draws up the plans, designer, the beginning of something to be created. lexiconcordance.com/greek/0746.html So again, please reconcile all of this.
    – Mr. Bond
    Jul 24, 2022 at 18:17
  • @Mr.Bond. The Creator in Isaiah 44 :24 that you quoted is Jehovah. Jesus is not Jehovah. The construction of theophoric names, starting with the letters “Jeho” is evidence that God’s name is actually ‘Jehovah’ (and that Christ’s name is actually Jehoshua)” – Smith’s 1863 “A Dictionary of the Bible”Section 2.1. Jesus plainly ascribe creation to his God in Mark 13.19. The beginning that Jesus said in Mark 13 :19 and Revelation 3:14 John 1.1-3 are the same beginning. He pointed to his God as the source of his life. John 6 :57. Jesus is not YHWH. YHWH is never called firstborn nor is He begotten Jul 24, 2022 at 21:17

I think one ought not skip over the conjunction whether “whether they be” in other words even these things are created and he enumerates them. These are not excluded, they are not eternally preexisting, (like God) but they were created. And they were created by none other than the Son Himself v15

This is Paul’s way of showing the SUPERIORITY of Christ. He the Son even created the gods of the nations, all the hosts of the heavens. He is their creator too. He is unlike them because He made them.

We know not only know they were created by Him but it goes on to say they were created FOR Him. That puts Him in a category entirely superior to anything created, including the rulers, principalities, powers et cetera

And to leave no confusion whatsoever that the Son is preexistant he adds

“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” ‭‭Colossians‬ ‭1:17‬ ‭

He predates everything that is created and the heavens and earth have a day one, they are created. He preexists them too, and especially the heavenly beings, they too are after Him, because without a heaven to be in, they wouldn’t have a place to exist in geographically/spatially.

Paul is making a case for the divine eternal existence of the Son by contrasting it to ALL (without exception) all things that were created. The Son being uncreated.

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    They serve to describe some but not all the invisible things. They were emphasized to give no one the illusion that somehow they were excluded. All means all. Absolutely everything created was created by and through the Son. And for the Son. Without exception. Emphasis is created things, uncreated are necessarily excluded. And principalities, thrones, dominions, rulers and powers are created, and number among the created, emphasis added by Paul. They don’t represent the invisible in entirety, they represent themselves and were emphasized to show that we’re not excluded but included Jul 24, 2022 at 13:14
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    I could use an illustration. The expression no one is above the law, is also the same as saying everyone is under the law, whether they be judges, law enforcement, politicians, the elite rich, the oligarchs. This small group does not represent everyone who is under the law, it is used to show that even these are subject to the law, even if some might assume they are not or they behave as if they weren’t. Jul 24, 2022 at 13:37
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    @AlexBalilo You might want to drill down a little deeper on John 6. Jesus lives by the Father because He is begotten of Him. He also said that He has, in Himself, the same life that the Father has (John 5:26). I know you believe the Father has uncreated, self-existent, eternal life. Jul 25, 2022 at 11:32
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    @AlexBalilo He has the same kind of life in Himself. Jul 26, 2022 at 12:31
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    @AlexBalilo It is certainly proper to incorporate kenosis in understanding J 5:26. Verses should not be divorced from the whole. Jul 28, 2022 at 12:12

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