“[Christ] is … the first–born of all creation.”
Christ is the preeminent inheritor over all creation.
Puritan minister Thomas Manton once said, “Heresies revolve as fashions, and in the course of a few years antiquated errors revive again, and that by their means who did not so much as know them by name.” He was right: false doctrines keep repeating themselves through the ages, only to reappear under different names. From the Arians of the early church to the Jehovah’s Witnesses of our own day, cultists have sought to deny our Lord’s deity. One of the favorite verses of such cultists is Colossians 1:15, which refers to Christ as the “first–born.” They argue that it speaks of Christ as a created being and hence He could not be the eternal God. Such an interpretation completely misunderstands the sense of prototokos (“first–born”) and ignores the context.
Although prototokos can mean first–born chronologically (Luke 2:7), it refers primarily to position or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the first–born was the son who had the right of inheritance. He was not necessarily the first one born. Although Esau was born first chronologically, it was Jacob who was the first–born and received the inheritance. Jesus is the One with the right to the inheritance of all creation (cf. Heb. 1:2).
The context of Colossians 1:15 also refutes the idea that “first–born” describes Jesus as a created being. If Paul were here teaching that Christ is a created being, he would be agreeing with the central point of the Colossian false teachers. That would run counter to his purpose in writing Colossians, which was to refute them. Moreover, Paul had just finished describing Christ as the perfect and complete image of God (v. 15). In the following verses he refers to Christ as the Creator of all things (v. 16) and the One who “is before all things” (v. 17). Far from being an emanation descending from God, Christ is the preeminent inheritor over all creation. He existed before the creation and is exalted in rank above it.
Suggestions for Prayer: Use Psalm 93 as the basis of your prayer to worship Christ, who is preeminent in rank over all creation.
For Further Study: Read Revelation 4:8–11. According to verse 11, what is Christ worthy to receive? Why?