The human eye was designed by God to see things in perspective. Without this ability, everything we see would be two-dimensional, having height and width but no depth. We would be unable to differentiate between the size of objects that are close and those that are distant. As children we drew or painted naturally in a naïve style until we were taught to put things into perspective.
The Eternal God is before, through and beyond Time because that which is eternal has neither a starting-point nor a vanishing point, nor for that matter a horizon line. Without Jesus Christ, who is the image of the invisible God, it would be impossible for us to perceive God as a Father. The testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy (Revelation 19:10). Prophecy that does not have Jesus as its theme has no real meaning.
To enable us to have perspective on His divine plan, God set a starting-point in the Scriptures through the use of the expression, “From the beginning (or foundation) of the world.” This is the starting point of all bible prophecy. Paul the apostle writes of it as God’s “foreknowledge” – what God knew from the very beginning of time. From where we are within time we are able to grasp Paul writings by seeing them from God’s perspective.
“Known unto God are all his works, from the beginning of the world.” (Acts 15:18) Ten things God foreknew from the foundation of the world include: His secrets (Matthew 13:35); the kingdom prepared for the faithful (Matthew 25:34); the blood His prophets would shed (Luke 11:50); His love for Jesus (John 17:24); His chosen people (Ephesians 1:4); all His works (Hebrews 4:3); when Christ would appear (1 Peter 1:20); the slain Lamb of God (Revelation 13:8); those whose names are in the Book of Life (Revelation 17:8); and His glory in Christ (John 17:5).
At the beginning of time, God created everything with words. Through them he called the ages (eons) into being. He created them not out of nothing but out of words. “In the beginning was the word, and the word was with (face-to-face with/mirrored) God, and the word was God. All things were made by it, and without it was nothing made that was made.” Nothing in heaven or on earth was made that God did not speak into existence. Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1 match each other perfectly.
We need to bear this in mind when we read Colossians 1:16 or we will find ourselves in one of three possible dilemmas. (1) We will find ourselves making the word a lesser god, as did the Arians and as do the Jehovah’s Witnesses; (2) We will find ourselves making the word ‘God the Son’, as did Athanasius and as do Trinitarians; or (3) We will find ourselves making the word God himself, as do Modalists (Oneness/Jesus Only) by making no distinction between the persons of the Father and the Son (since in this view the Father is also the Son). When we get the identity of Jesus right everything falls into place; when we don’t nothing fits as it should.
By identifying the word that was spoken as the means by which God created rather than as a person; and by seeing that through many and various Old Testament prophecies over thousands of years that word increasingly took on the form of a promised person – until finally it was made flesh – we are able to understand Paul’s words in Colossians 1:16 and elsewhere. When Paul writes that God’s “dear Son” is “the firstborn of every creature (of all creation) and is “the image of the invisible God”, he cannot be referring to a pre-existent ‘God the Son’ because such a Son could not be His visible image; an Eternal Son would be invisible, and if made visible as a man would be the earthly image of himself, rather than of the Father.
So “the firstborn of every creature” (of all creation) must refer to the “new creation” of 2 Corinthians 5:17; whereas the words “by (or “in”) him were all things created” parallels John 1:3 – “For all things were made by him, and without him was nothing made that was made.” The “all things” that were created were celestial and terrestrial bodies, things visible and invisible, and the various ranking authorities in the world. All are part of the “ages” (eons) that were framed by the word of God (Hebrews 1:2). They were made “by him” as the spoken word (“him” being used retrospectively) and “for him” as the word made flesh in the person of Jesus Christ. The words, “and he is before all things, and by him all things consist” relate to him being the spoken word of God in creation.
The words, “the firstborn from the dead” in verse 18 thus match perfectly “the firstborn of all creation” in verse 15. Paul’s words in Colossians join seamlessly with God’s words in Genesis. Paul is writing from God’s perspective. (Those who object to the retrospective use of “him” can hardly do so if they insist on using the KJV translation of the word as “him” in John 1:3 rather than the correct “it” of the New Testament Greek.)
We need to grasp the difference between the two creations, as well as between the word that God spoke and the word that was made flesh, if we would fully comprehend the “new creation” texts of 2 Corinthians 5:17 and Ephesians 2:10, for if we do not we will miss Paul’s meaning.
Jesus Christ did not exist when God created the heavens and the earth, because he was not at that time “begotten” (the phrase “eternally begotten” is meaningless). The Trinitarian viewpoint is that Jesus created all these things as a pre-existent ‘God the Son’, but this term is nowhere found in the Bible, which instead tells us “the heavens were made by the word of the LORD and the host of the stars by the breath of His mouth” (Psalm 33:6).
The subject of Colossians 1:13-18 is God’s “dear Son” who is the “firstborn of every creature” – not of the Genesis creation but of an entirely new creation. We are “God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus”, and as such are new creations. The scriptural landscape of 2 Corinthians 5:17 is the “palin genesia” – the second Genesis – of the spiritual creation.
Verse 18 makes it clear that Jesus, the Head of the church, is “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead”. Jesus did not exist as ‘God the Son’ before his birth, and those who insist that he did rely on a decision made at the Council of Nicaea in AD 325 – almost 300 years after Christ’s resurrection. (The ruling of the Council of Constantinople that the Holy Spirit was “the Third Person of the Trinity” was made fifty-one years later in AD 381. In the 56 years between the two councils the understanding of the church was that God was two persons: the Father and the Son.)
It was through the decisions of these two councils, and decisions later made by other ecclesiastics, that the Church lost its sense of spiritual perspective; and only by seeing things through God’s perspective, that is, through His foreknowledge, will it be able to regain it.