I am not a fan of superhero movies, but occasionally I will humor my husband and watch one with him. Now, I’m not very knowledgeable when it comes to the world of Marvel or DC Comics, but one thing I do know is that every superhero has what’s called an “origin story”. The origin story introduces the viewer to the superhero and how he acquired his powers that keep evil at bay. Some are subjected to some kind of dangerous scientific experiment that goes awry, others are wealthy inventors, and then there are a few heroes that are born with their powers. There is always a beginning to the existence of these superheroes and their amazing feats and abilities.
One of the most asked questions about Christianity is in regards to the “origin story” of Jesus. The account of His birth is fairly common knowledge and many erroneously think of Jesus simply as a good and moral teacher or prophet who performed some miraculous wonders throughout His ministry here on earth. Despite this very basic knowledge about Jesus, there are many who do not understand where exactly He came from. Many ask this important question: Was Jesus created?
In the first chapter of the book of Colossians, Paul launches into his letter by reminding his readers that they have been delivered from darkness and brought into the kingdom through the redemption of God’s beloved Son (Col. 1:13-14). Verses 15-20 give us the foundation of this letter, and it’s in this section that Paul composes a beautiful hymn about the One that’s brought us near through the forgiveness of sin and the redemption of our souls. As we read these beautiful lines, Paul makes it clear that Jesus is not a created being. He was not something dreamed up in the mind of the Father, but through Jesus, all things were made. This is the very heart of Colossians; it’s from this section that the rest of the letter flows.
Paul describes Jesus as the “image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (1:15). Reading this verse and seeing words such as “image” and “firstborn” may cause some confusion. If Jesus was not created, how can He be an image? Why is He called the “firstborn over all creation”? When Paul uses the word “image”, he’s communicating the idea that Jesus is the exact and perfect representation of God. As we know, God is invisible, but Jesus displays God’s glory and perfect holiness. Paul uses this word to affirm the deity of Jesus– the personal presence of God in the person of the Son.
Paul also uses the word “firstborn” to describe Jesus, and though some have taken this title and used it to spin heretical teachings that claim that Jesus was a created being, this term refers to rank and does not equate birth with a beginning. Paul wrote to a culture in which birth order was extremely significant. The firstborn son had privileges that other sons did not have, and he ranked above the other sons in the family. “Firstborn” explained to the Colossian Church (and us) the unique place of Jesus in regards to the created world. He’s not the firstborn part of creation, but is preeminent over creation. Paul expands upon this idea as he moves into verse 16. Jesus is preeminent over creation because “all things were created through Him and for Him” (1:16) and the extensive list of things that follows displays the complete omnipotence of Jesus in creation. There are no limits to His sovereignty because He did not come into being, but “is before all things” (1:17), eternally existent without beginning or end. He has always been–even before the world He created. Because of this, all things are under His sovereign control. He is of order, not chaos. All things fall under His command– “Even the winds and the sea obey Him!” (Mat 8:27)
My absolute favorite passage of Scripture also proclaims Jesus’ deity. John 1:1-18 echoes Genesis 1 and tells us all about the “Word”-- Jesus. Reading the opening to John’s gospel removes any doubt about Jesus’ origin. He was “with God in the beginning” and “All things were created by Him, and apart from Him not one thing was created that has been created” (Jn 1:2-3). Unlike the Greek and Roman gods that pervaded the pagan culture in Paul’s day, Jesus is no myth. There’s no elaborate legend to explain His existence. He has always been and He always will be. He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end.
Why does it matter that we understand that Jesus is not created? Why must we stand firm on this doctrine? There are a few really big reasons as to why we cannot allow any false teaching to worm its way in– no matter how persuasive the argument may seem.
Jesus as Part of the Trinity
The first reason has to do with our understanding of the Trinity. The Trinity explains to us that God exists as one God in three persons: God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit. As a member of the Trinity, Jesus is God. If Jesus was created by God, then how could he be considered fully God and an equal member of the Trinity?
King Over Creation
Secondly, in order to satisfy the wrath of God and atone for our sin, a perfectly holy human sacrifice was needed. Knowing the darkness in the hearts of the human race, this is really bad news. But praise the Lord that this is not the end of the story! Because of God’s great love for us, He sent His Son, Jesus, to take on human flesh, walk this dark and weary world, and ultimately die a death of great suffering to atone for the sins of mankind. Jesus was the perfect sacrifice: He took on human flesh while maintaining His deity. If Jesus was created, He could not be fully God, thereby losing the perfect holiness required by the Father to atone for sin. There can be no forgiveness of sins without the deity of Christ.
Confident in Who He is
As believers, understanding what we believe and why we believe it is incredibly important as we seek to share the Gospel with a world that is searching for answers in all the wrong places. If we are to “always be ready to give an answer to anyone who asks about the hope you possess” (1 Pet. 3:15), we must dive into Scripture and seek out answers to these big questions. Inaccurate and false claims about who Jesus is are prevalent, and we must understand why Jesus’ deity is so important. Scripture is a treasure trove of depth, friends. Dig deep and enjoy the riches you are bound to discover.
What great comfort we can take in the fact that Jesus is not a mere product of creation! When life seems uncertain and our world appears to be on the verge of collapse, He sovereignly holds it all because He created it all. Because He is God, He is above all things and not one moment of our lives dwells outside of His good and perfect will. No matter what your day looks like today, let your heart rest secure in the finished work of Christ that secured your salvation.