Scripture is clear that Jesus is the eternal, uncreated One.
When Christians try to argue for the deity of Christ, Jehovah’s Witnesses are quick to bring up Colossians 1:15. Paul writes, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation” (Col. 1:15). The modern English translations and the New World Translation agree on the translation of the text. However, the Christian and Jehovah’s Witness differ with their interpretation of the text.
Jehovah’s Witnesses understand the word firstborn to mean the “first created.” This fits their Arian presupposition that Jesus is a created being. However, firstborn does not have to be taken in a literal, physical sense. Firstborn can mean first in preeminence or rank. For instance, God calls David the firstborn even though he was the youngest son of Jesse. The psalmist writes, “And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth” (Psa. 89:27). David was the last one born in his family, yet he is called the firstborn.
The question remains, how should we interpret this text? There are a number of reasons why the Jehovah’s Witnesses have the wrong interpretation. First, they must assume Jesus was created to make their interpretation work. However, Scripture is clear that Jesus is the eternal, uncreated One. In John’s Gospel, he writes, “All things were made through Him, and without Him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:3). Think about that for a minute. John is not merely saying that Jesus made all things. He is saying much more than that. Without Jesus, nothing was made that was made. So there are only two categories: things made and things not made. If it was made, then Jesus made it. Do you see what this means? Jesus cannot be one of the made things, because He made all of the made things. This would mean that Jesus made Himself, which is logically impossible. John goes out of his way to communicate that Jesus is the uncreated Creator, who created all things that were created.
Second, the context of Colossians demands that Jesus is the uncreated God. Verse 15 cannot be read in isolation. Right after Paul says that Jesus is preeminent over all creation, he says, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell . . .” (Col. 16-19). This is not the description of a finite, created being. In fact, in the very next chapter, Paul writes, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily . . .” (Col. 2:9).
Given the overall context, Jehovah’s Witnesses are forced to do hermeneutical gymnastics to make Colossians 1:15 say what they need it to say. However, an honest evaluation of the text demonstrates that Jesus is the Creator God.