1.11 Did Jesus create the Earth?
Colossians 1:15-18: By Jesus Were All Things Created
“The firstborn of every creature: for by (Jesus) 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: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead...” (Col. 1:15-18). This is typical of those passages which can give the impression that Jesus actually created the earth.
1. If this were true, then so many other passages are contradicted which teach that Jesus did not exist before his birth. The record in Genesis clearly teaches that God was the creator. Either Jesus or God were the creator; if we say that Jesus was the creator while Genesis says that God was, we are saying that Jesus was directly equal to God. In this case it is impossible to explain the many verses which show the differences between God and Jesus (see Bible Basics Study 8.2 for examples of these).
2. Jesus was the “firstborn”, which implies a beginning. There is no proof that Jesus was God’s “firstborn” before the creation of the literal earth. Passages like 2 Sam.7:14 and Ps. 89:27 predicted that a literal descendant of David would become God’s firstborn. He was clearly not in existence at the time those passages were written, and therefore not at the time of the Genesis creation either. Jesus became “the Son of God with power” by his resurrection from the dead (Rom. 1:4). God “has raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, You are My Son, this day have I begotten you” (Acts 13:32,33). Thus Jesus became God’s firstborn by his resurrection. Note too that a son standing at his father’s right hand is associated with being the firstborn (Gen. 48:13-16), and Christ was exalted to God’s right hand after his resurrection (Acts 2:32 R.V.mg.; Heb. 1:3).
3. It is in this sense that Jesus is described as the firstborn from the dead (Col. 1:18), a phrase which is parallel to “the firstborn of every creature” or creation (Col. 1:15 R.V.). He therefore speaks of himself as “the first begotten of the dead...the beginning of the creation of God” (Rev. 1:5; 3:14). Jesus was the first of a new creation of immortal men and women, whose resurrection and full birth as the immortal sons of God has been made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus (Eph. 2:10; 4:23,24; 2 Cor. 5:17). “In Christ shall all (true believers) be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ’s at his coming” (1 Cor. 15:22,23). This is just the same idea as in Col. 1. Jesus was the first person to rise from the dead and be given immortality, he was the first of the new creation, and the true believers will follow his pattern at his return.
4. The creation spoken about in Col. 1 therefore refers to the new creation, rather than that of Genesis. Through the work of Jesus “were all things created...thrones...dominions” etc. Paul does not say that Jesus created all things and then give examples of rivers, mountains, birds etc. The elements of this new creation refer to those rewards which we will have in God’s Kingdom. “Thrones...dominions” etc. refer to how the raised believers will be “kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth” (Rev. 5:10). These things were made possible by the work of Jesus. “In him were all things created in the heavens” (Col. 1:16 R.V.). In Eph. 2:6 we read of the believers who are in Christ as sitting in “heavenly places”. If any man is in Christ by baptism, he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). By being in Christ we are saved by His death (Col. 1:22). The literal planet could not be created by being in Christ. Thus these verses are teaching that the exalted spiritual position which we can now have, as well as what we will experience in the future, has all been made possible by Christ. The “heavens and earth” contain “all things that needed reconciliation by the blood of (Christ’s) cross” (Col. 1:16,20), showing that the “all things...in heaven” refer to the believers who now sit in “heavenly places...in Christ Jesus”, rather than to all physical things around us.
5. If Jesus were the creator, it is strange how He should say: “…from the beginning of the creation God made them…” (Mk. 10:6). This surely sounds as if He understood God to be the creator, not He Himself. And if He literally created everything in Heaven, this would include God.
It should be noted, as a general point, that God the Father alone, exclusively, is described as the creator in many passages (e.g. Is. 44:24; Is. 45:12; Is. 48:13; Is. 66:2). These passages simply leave no room for the Son to have also created the literal planet.
James Dunn comments on Col. 1:20: “Christ is being identified here not with a pre-existent being but with the creative power and action of God…There is no indication that Jesus thought or spoke of himself as having pre-existed with God prior to his birth". Christology In The Making p.254.
Hebrews 1:2:"The Son... by whom [God] made the worlds"
Heb. 1:2 is another passage misunderstood to believe that Jesus created the earth. We read of “the Son… by whom [Gk. dia] He [God] also made the worlds [Gk. aion]”. A quick look at Strong's concordance or an online Bible seems to me conclusive. 'Dia' can mean ‘for whom / for the sake of / on account of'. It doesn’t always mean that, as it’s a word of wide usage- but it very often does mean ‘on account of’ and actually frequently it cannot mean ‘by’. There are stacks of examples:
- In a creation context, we read that all things were created dia, for the sake of, God’s pleasure (Rev. 4:11). Significantly, when 2 Pet. 3:5 speaks of how the world was created “by” the word of God, the word dia isn’t used- instead hoti, signifying ‘causation through’. This isn’t the word used in Heb. 1:2 about the creation of the aion on account of, dia, the Son. Eve was created dia Adam- she wasn’t created by Adam, but for the sake of Adam (1 Cor. 11:9). 1 Cor. 8:6 draws a helpful distinction between ek [out of whom] and dia- all things are ek God, but dia, on account of, Christ (1 Cor. 8:6).
- The context of Heb. 1:2 features many examples of where dia clearly means ‘for the sake of’ rather than ‘by’. Just a little later we read in Heb. 1:14 of how the Angels are “ministering spirits” who minister dia, for the sake of, the believers.
- Because of [dia] Christ’s righteousness, God exalted Him (Heb. 1:9).
- The Mosaic law was “disannulled” dia “the weakness and unprofitableness thereof” (Heb. 7:18). The weakness of the law didn’t disannul the law; the law was disannulled by God for the sake of the fact it was so weak.
- Levi paid tithes dia Abraham (Heb. 7:9), not by Abraham, but for the sake of the fact he was a descendant of Abraham.
- Jesus was not an Angel dia the suffering of death (Heb. 2:9). Clearly here the word means ‘for the sake of’ rather than ‘by’. Jesus was born a man for the reason that He could die. He was not an Angel who was then made ‘not an Angel’ by the fact of death. That makes no sense.
- Scripture was written dia us- not by us, but ‘for our sakes’ (1 Cor. 9:10)
- The martyrs were executed dia, for the sake of, their witness to Jesus (Rev. 20:4)
- Israel today are loved by God dia the Jewish fathers (Rom. 11:28)- clearly the word here means ‘for the sake of’ and not ‘by’.
- Cold and wet people made a fire dia, for the sake of, because of, the rain and cold (Acts 28:2). They didn’t make a fire ‘by’ the rain and cold.
- Timothy was circumcised dia, for the sake of, the critically minded Jews (Acts 16:3). He was not circumcised by them.
- When the voice came from Heaven, Jesus commented that the voice came not dia me, but dia the disciples (Jn. 12:30). Clearly dia here means ‘for the sake of’ and not ‘by’.
- “Dia the people that stand by I said it” (Jn. 11:42)- Jesus said ‘it’ for the sake of the bystanders; He didn’t speak ‘by’ them.
- The authorities couldn’t punish the apostles dia the people’s support for them- clearly dia here means ‘for the sake of’ and not ‘by’.
- Paul wrote dia many tears (2 Cor. 2:4). He didn’t write literally by or with those tears, but for the sake of his tears and grief for Corinth, he wrote to them.
- “By reason of” (Gk. dia) false teachers, the truth is badly spoken of (2 Pet. 2:2)
- We labour dia, for the sake of, the Lord’s name (Rev. 2:3). We believe dia Christ- not that He creates faith in us in an arbitary way or forces us to believe; we believe for the sake of what we have seen and known in Christ (1 Pet. 1:21). Likewise we experience the birth of faith within us “dia the resurrection of Jesus” (1 Pet. 1:3). This doesn’t mean that when Christ rose, He created us as believers without any choice on our part. Rather, for the sake of [dia] Christ’s resurrection, generations of believers have come to faith and hope whenever they have encountered and believed in the fact of His resurrection.. Thus Jesus was raised dia our justification (Rom. 4:25). He was not raised by our justification, but for the sake of it.
- Christ was manifested “for [dia] you” (1 Pet. 1:20)- He was not manifested by us in a causative sense, but was manifested for our sakes.
- “Wherefore”- dia, for the sake of, Diotrephes’ behaviour, John would discipline him (3 Jn. 10). To read dia as ‘by’ here makes no sense.
- “For the truth’s sake”- dia aletheia (2 Jn. 2); “for righteousness sake”, dia dikaiosune (1 Pet. 3:14)
- Those who are “of the world” dia, “therefore”, for this reason, speak in a worldly way (1 Jn. 4:5). Because we are “not of the world”, dia, “therefore”, the world doesn’t accept us (1 Jn. 3:1). Persecution arises dia the word of God- for the sake of the word (Mt. 13:21). It’s not persecution of us by the word of God. Likewise men will hate us, not by Christ, but for the sake of (dia) Christ (Mk. 13:13).
- There was a division “because of” (dia) Jesus (Jn. 7:43).
- “They could not… bring him in because of (dia) the multitude” (Lk. 5:19). They didn’t aim on bringing the man in by the multitude.
- ‘For the sake [dia] of the elect’, and not by the elect, the days will be shortened (Mk. 13:20).
- Herod bound John dia Herodias- clearly, ‘for the sake of’ rather than ‘by’. It was not Herodias who did the binding. It was Herod.
- A ship waited on Jesus dia the crowd pushing on Him (Mk. 3:9)- clearly ‘because of’ and not ‘by’.
- “The Sabbath was made dia [for] man” (Mk. 2:24). It wasn’t man who made the Sabbath; it was made for the sake of man.
Then, aion, [AV "worlds"] is a plural- if this verse means 'Jesus created the earth', then, did He create multiple, plural 'earths'? That the word means 'the ages' or ‘an age’ is again clear from seeing how else 'aion' is used. In almost every case where the word aion occurs in the New Testament, it doesn’t mean ‘the physical planet earth’, but rather an age or situation on the earth, rather than the physical planet. In Eph. 2:7 we read of “the ages to come”- and it is the word aion again. The church will glorify Jesus “throughout all generations”, and this is paralleled with the phrase ‘the aion of the aions’ [Eph. 3:21- AV “world without end”; the same parallel occurs in Col. 1:26, “hid from aions and from generations”]. Clearly aion refers to periods of time rather than a physical planet. Just a few verses after Heb. 1:2, we read that the son will reign ‘for the aions and the aions’, or in English “for ever and ever” (Heb. 1:8). Surely the combined message is that the previous ages / aions existed only for the sake of Christ, and He will rule over all future aions. There is the aion to come [AV “the world to come”, Heb. 6:5], and Christ will be a priest “for ever” [Gk. ‘for the aion’, Heb. 5:6]. The aion to come is the eternity of God’s Kingdom. It will be, in somewhat hyperbolic language, an eternity of eternities. Later in Hebrew we read that Jesus made His sacrifice for sin “in the end of the world / aion” (Heb. 9:26). If an aion ended at the death of Jesus, then clearly the word doesn’t refer to the physical planet- but rather to the age which then ended. The Hebrew writer clinches this view of aion in Heb. 11:3, where he prefaces his outline of Bible history from Abel to the restoration from Babylon by saying that the ages / aion are framed by the word of God. Response by faith to God’s word, seeing the invisible by the eye of faith, occurred amongst the faithful in every aion. The aion [AV “worlds”] were framed by the word of God.
Consider other uses of the word aion where clearly it refers to the ages and not to a literal planet:
- “The cares of this world” (Mk. 4:19)
- The prophets which have been “since the world began” (Lk. 1:70). There were no prophets standing there at creation. The context clearly refers to the prophets of the Old Testament Scriptures.
- “The children of this world” (Lk. 16:8)
- “Be not conformed to this world” (Rom. 12:2)
- “The wisdom of this world” (1 Cor. 2:6; 1 Cor. 3:18), “the princes of this world” (1 Cor. 2:8)
- “This present evil world” (Gal. 1:4)- there’s nothing evil about the physical planet, the reference is clearly to the world-system.
- “The darkness of this world” (Eph. 6:12)
- Loving “this present world” (2 Tim. 4:10) is wrong, Paul says. Surely he wasn’t referring to the literal planet.
The whole of history, with all its ages, and all that is to come, is for the sake of Christ. He is the One who gives meaning to history. Further, if this verse means 'Jesus created the earth', then OK, question: Genesis and many other passages say God created. If this says Jesus was the actual creator, then is Jesus directly equal to God? Also, if Heb 1:2 is saying that Jesus is the creator of earth, the One through whom God did the job, then, why do we have to wait until Hebrews to know that? There's no indication in Genesis or even in the whole Old Testament nor in the teaching of Jesus that Jesus was the creator of earth on God's behalf. That's my problem with the pre-existence idea- it's nowhere in the Old Testament. So would believers have been held in ignorance of this fact for 4000 years? If so, then, is it so important to covenant relationship with God? I am sure David, Abraham etc. believed that God and not Messiah created the earth. If they'd have been asked: 'Did Messiah create the earth, or God? Does Messiah now exist?', they'd have answered 'No' both times. Surely?