Jesus is described the Firstborn in Colossians 1:18 and then again in Revelation 3:14. This Greek word is arche (G746). It is often used by some Christians who don’t believe Jesus is God to indicate that Jesus is a created being. The implication is Jesus is the “beginning of the creation by God,” (Revelation 3:14), or the first one that God created.
In 1Corinthians 15:45 we see Jesus described as our second and last Adam. He is referred to in Colossians 1:18 as the beginning the firstborn from the dead. In other words Jesus is the beginning of the new (spiritual) creation of God. By Jesus rising from the dead and requiring that we be born again in and through him in order to be saved, he became the Beginning of the (new) creation of God. As such, he is the Firstborn (from the dead) and, therefore. the Ruler of the new creation, just as Adam was the “firstborn” and “ruler” of the old creation. The same word (arche) is used in Revelation 3:14, but in Colossians we are able to see its meaning as applied to Jesus. It is in relationship to his being the Firstborn from the dead and, therefore, King of the Creation of God.
With regard to context, Colossians 1:13-18 shows that we, as Christians, have been transplanted from one authority to that of another. The whole context of these verses is one of authority and not one of origin. We were born into Adam’s race. He is the authority (power) of darkness, in as much as he defiled himself in Eden, and we all trace our roots ultimately to him. However, God has “transplanted us into the kingdom of the Son of his love…” (Colossians 1:13).
Adam was the ruler or beginner or leader of his race, and because of his fall into rebellion, we were all born into sin (power of darkness). Jesus is the last Adam (1Corinthians 15:45). In him the new creation has its source or beginning (2Corinthians 5:17; Galatians 6:15; Ephesians 2:10). It is in this sense that the Greek word arche (G.746) is to be understood. Christ is the Beginning and therefore Leader, Lord, Governor or Ruler of the new creation.
The entire book of Revelation reveals an ongoing battle between the kingdom of darkness (Adam’s race) and the Kingdom of Light (those who are created in Christ). In the third chapter of Revelation, Christ is presented to the Church of Laodicea as the Faithful Witness in contrast to their unfaithful witness. Then he is said to be the Arche of the creation of God – the Leader or Governor of all creation – in contrast to their unwillingness to submit to his authority or Lordship. Making a quick survey of a few other texts where the word arche is used will show that this is the sense here in Colossians and Revelation:
- Romans 8:38 – arche — (rulerships or governments) are unable to separate Christians from the love of God
- Ephesians 1:21 – after Christ rose from the dead, his authority extended far above all arches (governments) etc.
- Ephesians 3:10 – the arches (governments) are taught wisdom through God’s dealings with Christians
- Colossians 2:10, 15 – Christ is the head of arches (government) and authority, and displayed rulership over them in his resurrection, for they sentenced him to die! he brought their authority to naught by rising from the dead.
- Titus 3:1 – as Christians we are to subject ourselves and obey arches , (governments) authorities, and rulers.
That Jesus is eternal is testified in Scripture very clearly:
1 John 1:1-2 KJV That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;)
If we would break the verse down into its parts, we would have:
The Word of Life is
- which was from the beginning
- which we have heard
- which we have seen with our eyes
- which we have looked upon
- and our hands have handled
“Eternal Life was made manifest”
- we have seen it (him)
- and bear witness (of him)
- and shew (i.e. speak) unto you (about him)
In other words Jesus, the Word of Life, is Eternal Life or the Eternal (Being). He came from our Father to be seen and known of men. This is emphasized again at the close of John’s letter,
1 John 5:19-20 NASB We know that we are of God, and that the whole world lies in the power of the evil one. (20) And we know that the Son of God has come, and has given us understanding so that we may know him who is true; and we are in him who is true, in his Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
These two verses stand in contrast to one another. What we know in verse-19 is contrasted with what we know in verse-20. We know the whole world lies in the evil one, or Adam. All that we are and have become is found in him. He rebelled from God and this whole world is a product of that rebellion. All that is contrary to God has its source in Adam. In verse-20 we know that the Son of God has arrived (i.e. the Messiah or second Adam). He has given us understanding that we may know what is true. We are in what is true (or the true One), that is, in his (God’s, verse-19) Son, Jesus Christ. Jesus is the true One in contrast to the wicked one in verse-19. He is the second Adam in verse-20 in contrast to the first Adam in verse-19 (i.e. the wicked one). We, who have been given understanding by the Son of God are in him, which is in contrast to the whole world being in the wicked one in verse-19. John concludes by saying that this one (Jesus) is the true God and everlasting life.
The pronoun, this (is the true God) in verse-20, refers to its immediate noun, which in this case is “Jesus Christ,” but even if it should modify “the true One” as some commentators claim, this still refers to Jesus Christ who is the true One in contrast with the wicked one in verse-19.
In his Gospel, John describes the Word (Jesus) as the Light that gives life to every man (John 1:4, 6). John began his first letter by saying that “Everlasting Life,” who was with the Father, was manifest to him and the other apostles. They handled Life, looked at him and listened to him (1John 1:1-2). John ends his letter by describing the “Everlasting Life,” who was made manifest to them, as the true God.
To summarize, we have found testified in the Scriptures that Jesus is the Creator of all there is (John 1:3; Colossians 1:15-17); yet he was not created by anyone (Deuteronomy 32:39; Isaiah 43:10-11). He has been with God from the beginning, and is himself called God (John 1:1; 1John 5:20). We can, therefore, say that Jesus and our Father are One – Creator and God (John 10:30; Hebrews 3:4). That Jesus and our Father are One can be further attested in that, after his resurrection, Jesus commanded the disciples to go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Matthew 28:19). They went out just as he commanded them (Mark 16:20), and baptized all in the name of Jesus. In the Greek the name Jesus is Iesous (G2424); and means “Jehovah is salvation.” Jesus was filled with the Holy Spirit (Luke 4:1, 14) and with the presence of Father (2Corinthians 5:19). God was One in Christ in saving mankind. Jesus, meaning “Jehovah saves,” is the name (singular in Matthew 28:19) of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit (Acts 2:38, 8:16, 10:48 and 19:5)! There is salvation in no other name (Acts 4:9-12). Therefore, Jesus is Jehovah! It has already been brought out in previous studies that the Angel of the LORD (YHWH) is Jehovah. Furthermore, we have seen that Jesus is Jehovah. (YHWH) God and therefore the Angel of the LORD so often figured in the Old Testament.