Thursday, March 03, 2005

Arguments against the Trinity, part 3

Another argument against the deity of Jesus comes from passages that supposedly show that Jesus was created. If he was created, then he's not God. One of those arguments comes from the fact that he is called the "firstborn of all creation" in Colossians 1:15. "Firstborn of all creation" is taken to mean "the first thing that was created."

Answer: Although etymologically, "firstborn" refers to the first one born, the meaning of the word evolved beyond that well before Jesus' time. Traditionally, the first son born was also preeminent among his siblings, and eventually "firstborn" began taking on a meaning other than its etymology would suggest. "Firstborn" can even be applied to somebody who was not the first son born to his parents.

In this case, "firstborn" is a messianic title that comes from Psalm 89:27. From v. 20, we can see that the passage refers to David whom God calls "my servant" and whom God anointed. (Remember "messiah" means "anointed one.") In verse 27 it says, "I also shall make him my firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth." David was neither the first son of his parents, nor was he the first king of Israel. "Firstborn," strictly refers to David's preeminence. "Firstborn" simply means the "highest of the kings of the earth." David himself never actually became the highest of the kings of the earth. Many of these references to David, especially when used in an eschatological sense, refer to David's descendent--the messiah who would come (e.g. Ezekiel 37:24-25). In v. 29, it says, "So I will establish his descendants forever, and his throne as the days of heaven." This whole passage, then, is eschatological, because the throne of David is reestablished with the eschatological messiah--Jesus. "Firstborn" is a messianic title when used of Jesus in Colossians 1:15. It does not refer to his creation.

The context of Colossians 1:15 bears this out. The whole passage is about Jesus' preeminence over creation. The argument is that Jesus is preeminent over creation because he created it all, and he sustains it all. It was made by him and for him. If "firstborn of all creation" means "the first thing that was created," the whole passage becomes incoherent.

Some argue that "firstborn of all creation" means that "firstborn" is a member of the category "creation," which would imply that the firstborn is one of the things created. Again, this interpretation is ruled out by the context. Paul emphasizes the exhaustiveness of everything that was created by Jesus when he says, "both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities" (v. 16). Since there is absolutely nothing created apart from Jesus (which is consistent with John 1:3), then Jesus himself could not be created.

Against the Trinity, part 4

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