Thursday, January 14, 2010

Col. 1:15-20 and Jehovah's Witnesses

I recently had the opportunity to preach on Col. 1:15-20 on the supremacy of Christ.

One attribute that Paul highlights about this cosmic Christ is his supreme place as the "first born (1:15)." One thing I tried to share was how Paul's use of this word is unique in distinguishing Christ as the "highest authority" over all creation (as vs. 16 summarizes).

A very good question from a friend in our church was, "The JW's would respond to the verse you quoted from Colossians with "well, God created Jesus first, and then everything else that existed was created through Jesus."

Can you explain how to defeat that argument that Jesus was the agent of creation of everything that he could be the agent of creation for - but not for himself?

Here's my understanding to this very good question...

thanks for asking. the first place I'd go in Colossians is verse 16. Even though a JWs would say he's exalted and created all things, can they agree that all things were created "through him AND for him"? The question they haven't settled in that verse is how all things the Son creates for his praise doesn't compete with the praise of Jehovah. If he's the goal--he puts himself in direct competition with God--unless he is equal with God.

Of course if I'm talking with a JW I'd want to go to John 1 and show that "..and the Word was God" and point to the fact that you cannot make the Word be "a god" as their translation says. The Greek doesn't allow that. It literally says, "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and 'God was the Word.'" I'd also want to show all the other places Jesus puts himself equal with God (John 14) and the place where he says, "before Abraham was, I am."

As for him not being created himself I'd want to show every place in Scripture where the Son is described as "eternal." The Son took on human flesh and "became" Jesus of Nazareth at a point in time, but the Son's eternality makes his incarnation so glorious. If he's eternal he can't be created--infinity can't have a starting point--and infinity is an attribute only a being who is fully God can have. The Father has ALWAYS existed, but if the Son has ALWAYS existed as well he is fully God--though distinct from the Father--they exist as one God for all of eternity.

Titus 2:13 says, “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Savior Jesus Christ.” In John 10:30 it says, “ I and my Father are one.” Revelation pictures Jesus as eternal throughout. Isiah 9 describes Jesus this way, "for to us a child is born, to us a son is given...and his name shall be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace." How can Jesus be called both "child" and "everlasting Father?" Because of his oneness in essence with the Father, and his eternality.