Sunday, February 27, 2011

Colossians 1:16 take 2

I found something in my documents that I want to share.I don't know who posted it because I can't find the webpage anymore.I only had this portion pasted too and not the whole dialogue!So I am really sorry for that.But because I think there are some valuable arguments from this,as well as sharper more pulled together argumentation than my peabrain is generally able to produce or my flawed writing style to articulate,thought I would post.I do remember this much:this was written in response to Dave on his scripturaltruths website I think on one of his blogs about Colossians 1:16.(that I can no longer find so if anyone has the link to this particular blog,I would like it)Dave holds to the position that Jesus is a pre-existent spirit being who is the LITERAL firstborn of creation,God's first creation.This is I would presume a response from someone who knows better.Here 'tis:

In my original post I pointed out that the “all things” of Colossians 1 could not mean the “all things” of creation. You said that, according to the usage of “all things” elsewhere, it has to be all created things. This does not hold up. Let me explain.

If I take Rom. 11:36, 1 Cor. 8:6 and Heb. 2:10 as the scriptures you state, I will end up with a trinitarian stance. These scriptures refer to all created things coming from God, Jesus included. If all these very things came by and through Jesus, he is immediately excluded from that creation, making him the Creator or co-creator. Reading the Colossians text in such absolute terms creates an exegetical problem, even for you. In this case you, as the Watchtower did, resort to reinterpreting the section, claiming that Paul used some kind of tautological figure of speech. Hence the parenthetic insertion of [other] in the NWT.

If one allows Scripture to interpret itself, one has to keep the possibilities open for other, albeit typically Pauline, usages of “all things” and “creation.”

2 Cor. 5:17, 18 (NWT): “Consequently if anyone is in union with Christ, he is a NEW CREATION; the old things passed away, look! new things have come into EXISTENCE. But all things are from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of the reconciliation.”

Romans 8:19-25 (summarized): “The creation” was subjected to futility but eagerly expecting the freedom of the children of God. Not only “all creation,” but also ourselves are groaning while we wait for adoption as sons.

Ephesians 1:9, 10, 20-23, 2:10, 15 (NWT): “It is according to his good pleasure which he purposed in himself for an administration at the full limit of the appointed times, namely, to gather ALL THINGS together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth…[He] raised him up from the dead and seated him at his right hand in the heavenly places, far above every government and authority and power and lordship and every name named, not only in this system of things, but also in that to come. He also subjected ALL THINGS under his feet, and made him head over ALL THINGS TO THE CONGREGATION, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills up all things in all. For we are a product of his work and were CREATED in union with Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared in advance for us to walk in them. By means of his flesh he abolished the enmity, the Law of commandments consisting in decrees, that he might CREATE the two peoples in union with himself into one new man and make peace.”

Ephesians 4:23, 24 (NWT): “But that you should be MADE NEW in the force actuating your mind, and should put on the new personality which was CREATED according to God’s will in true righteousness and loyalty.”

All these instances show that we, the human creation, are offered recreation through Christ. NONE of these instances refer to the “all things” of creation. Following the reasoning of Paul in Ephesians 1:19-23, a clear parallel can be drawn with his sequential reasoning in Colossians 1.

Something else to consider is Paul’s presentation of Jesus being the first-born Son of God. Granted, the Synoptics present Jesus to be God’s Son (Mt 1:21, 3:17, Mr. 15:39, Lu. 1:35, 9:35). The former lawyer, Paul, however focuses more on Jesus’ preeminence and his legal right as God’s Son. He presents Jesus’ preeminence as first-born, not by virtue of some unstated and unsubstantiated claim of being the one God started his creation with, but by virtue of the legal proof of his preeminence, namely, his resurrection. See for instance Ac. 26:23, Rom. 1:4, Col. 1:18.

Now, returning to Colossians 1, verse 20 says (NWT without parenthesis):
“and through him to reconcile again to himself all things by making peace through the blood on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens.” (cf. the reference to peace in Eph 2:15)

Again, these “all things” have to be reconcilable things, things that can be gathered together in Christ (Eph 1:10). This immediately excludes unintelligent or lower life forms. This can only involve the candidates for and members of the New Creation.

To summarize: However you look at it, it puts you in a “catch-22.” As a Jehovah Witness you have to believe that Jesus is the first in sequence of all literal creation. You reason? Romans 11:36, 1 Corinthians 8:6 and Hebrews 2:10. But these scriptures refer to creation in its totality, including Jesus, so, you’re not proving your point. The WT Society realized this, hence the parenthetic insertion of [other] in Colossians 1. The text doesn’t say that. Secondly, if we look at Romans 8 creation in this context necessitates human creation only. Colossians 1:20 confirms that. Hence my and others’ contention that the “all things” of Colossians 1 speaks of matters pertaining to the New Creation, and not universal creation, hence no proof of preexistence.

You said that new creation has already been reconciled. Yes, what has been reconciled is in that state, but the work of creating the New Creation is not over, hence the still continuous process of reconciling “all things” with Christ (2 Cor. 5:20, 21). Secondly, our state of being reconciled is not final. It is not a matter of “once saved always saved.” Jesus will be the ultimate judge for our living forever in the age to come. As an aside, as a Jehovah Witness you should be the last one pointing to the completion of reconciliation with God. Your theology states that the “other sheep” will only reach full reconciliation during the millennial reign of Christ. Your objection renounces this very position. (I’m saying it with respect).

As regards our interchange on John 17:5, you state,

“The only way he could have the glory of an idea would be to return to the state of being the thing he had the glory of, which is an idea.”

Firstly, as I said, RETURN is not at issue here. Jesus prayed to receive the glory which God had reserved for him. I’m not sure why you strain the thought with your reference to “idea.” As I showed in Job, something being with God, especially abstract things such as wisdom, is never seen as being literally alongside God. Likewise, God intended to give Jesus glory as his inheritance. This was reserved for Jesus, hence Jesus’ requesting the glory (abstract) he had (reserved for him) before the world was.

In John 17:22 Jesus speaks of the glory God gave him which he also gave his disciples. Now, this glory that was given had obviously not been attained by either Jesus or his disciples. Hence, again, the understanding of glory assigned to or reserved for Jesus and his faithful followers – not only for those in the First Century, but also for those in the centuries to follow.

This is not a new thought. It is a thought expressed somewhat differently in John’s writings, but John’s approach is not primarily historical, but more theological. It is more concerned with the eschatological realities of Jesus’ redemption work, hence its proleptic approach to matters. The idea of God’s foreknowing the appearance of someone (Isa 1:5) is not foreign to Hebrew thought. The apostle Peter speaks of prognostically determining the appearance of Christ and his Church (1 Pet 1:2, 20, 21). Once again not personally existent in their pre-human past, but intentionally in God’s foreknowledge (cf. Mt. 25:34b).

This scripture – John 17:5 – is another text putting JWs in a doctrinal “double bind.” They have to believe in a version of preexistence Christology, and John 17:5 is often sited as proof. But, if that text is to be taken literally as the Watchtower asserts, then Jesus has to physically return to glory he previously possessed. That contradicts, not only Scripture which says that he received greater glory (Php. 2:9), it also contradicts Watchtower theology.

As regards the striking silence of his alleged pre-existence in the Synoptics, I think I do have a point there. The Synoptics, written as historical accounts, presents the Messiah as the one prophesied to come, starting his existence with his virgin birth (Lu. 1:35) and not before that. John’s writings – written with the Messiah’s accomplished purpose in mind, presented, not primarily historically but eschatologically and proleptically – necessitate the reader to understand preexistence notions within the frame of John’s purpose in writing and the metaphor used by the Jews.

I agree that Jesus Christ is what God’s Word, purpose and wisdom produced. Jesus is wisdom in human form. But this metaphor doesn’t change the reality of his coming into existence at his human birth as foreordained by God.

The end.From me:

Welp,I think some good points were made here that I hadn't even thought of.I STILL(because of knowing how the Hebrews spoke and thought of God's word and wisdom) think Colossians 1 has a poetic allusion to the original creation in Christ's great cosmic foreordained significance and in his fulfillment of all things(and because of what he represents that's been with God from the beginning in which all things were created,namely,his wisdom and word) ,which this guy doesn't seem to address at all.That being said,there were so many good points made here and correlating texts provided(especially in relation to Paul's use of "all things" and his mindset on a new creation typically)that I wanted to post.God bless.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Colossians 1:16(a response to a blog someone else wrote)

You have to read the blog here:

Ivan's blog on Colossians 1:16

before this one will make any sense.His blog was in response to a video I sent him where Sean Finnegan and Sean's friend discuss the text.I highly recommend watching that too here:

Sean's video

Here's my response to Ivan,too lengthy to post as a comment on his blog.Hopefully this will be of some help to those having any difficulty with this subject.

Hi Ivan.Glad you watched the video!Keep in mind the reconciliation and renewing process for humanity is ongoing till what happens at 1 Cor 15:27,28 takes place.Also,what I'm working with as *milk of the word* first before anything else are the following facts(these must be heeded when examining Colossians):

1.God created alone(Is. 44:24..who was with him?)
2.Jesus gave God credit for creating with no hint of agency.(Matthew 19:4,Mark 13:19)This would be odd if he created FOR God with his own hands.
3.God rested instead of Jesus.(Heb. 4:3,4)This would be odd if Jesus did all the work on behalf of God.
4.preposition dia can mean *in* or *for the sake of*,not just *through* or "by"
5.I think the bible is more than clear God created alone in his word and wisdom,not spirit creatures at all in unambiguous passages such as Proverbs 3:19 & Psalm 33:6.Christ fulfilled those functions of God when he became flesh.

Unlike some,I am not dogmatic that Col 1:16 can refer ONLY to a new creation.I find validity in James Dunn's points about God creating in his wisdom that *became* Christ(1 Cor. 1:30,1 Cor. 2:6,7) and his ruminations on the poetic writing and literary idiom the Hebrews sometimes employed to validate the cosmic significance of Jesus as the poetic fulfillment of all things.As a remarkable representation of that wisdom in which God created..A few quotes from him worthy of consideration(he did THOROUGH research on Hebrew mindsets and Wisdom literature):

"What at first reads as a straightforward assertion of Christ's pre-existent activity in creation becomes on closer analysis an assertion which is rather more profound--not of Christ as such present with God in the beginning,nor of Christ as identified with a pre-existent hypostasis or divine being(Wisdom) beside God,but of Christ as embodying and expressing (and defining) that power of God which is the manifestation of God in and to his creation."-James Dunn "Christology in the Making" p.194

Dunn also says:

"Paul picked up the Wisdom terminology and found it an important tool for asserting the finality of Christ's role in God's purpose for man and creation.But in using Wisdom terminology he inevitably incorporated language and ideas which were appropriate to Wisdom,the personified function of God.It is at least questionable whether in so doing he intended to assert the preexistence of Christ,or to affirm that Jesus was a divine being personally active in creation.This was simply the language which contemporary speculation and apologetic dictated that he must use if he was to assert the cosmic significance of Christ."pp.194-195

He goes on to point out that Paul had the same Hebrew mindset and was as firm in his monotheism as the OT authors who would have reacted negatively to a too literal interpretation of their Wisdom material.Some today use that Wisdom material(Prov 8:22-31 especially) to correlate with Colossians 1:16.Many Arians maintain that together they prove not only the pre-existence of Christ but also that he is creator.I agree with Dunn that this is ultimately unfounded,while also noticing a clear new creation context in Colossians 1 that he doesn't personally mention.

There is a STRONG kingdom context in Colossians,not just in verse 13.The context:kingdom of beloved son(verses 12-13),redemption and forgiveness(verse 14) the church(verse 18) & reconciliation(verse 20)(this is ongoing as I pointed out previously).."All things” are defined by kingdom terms as opposed to any Genesis narrative.Paul also wrote Ephesians in which you'll find many correlating verses.Verses which involve a new creation.Even IF you weren't satisfied with any Colossians 1 immediate context you would have to deal with Paul's writings elsewhere.Immediate context isn't always all that's to be heeded,as larger ones and correlating scriptures on the same subject can be just as helpful when interpreting.

From Ray Faircloth,who has written some great studies available on

"The parallel letter of Ephesians (Eph.1:9-23 and 2:10) speaks only of the New Creation and gives a precise doctrinal correlation with Colossians 1. This further demonstrates that Colossians 1 applies to the New Creation consisting of “the Congregation of the firstborn” (Heb. 12:23) and the newly created angelic thrones, lordships, governments and authorities. (a new administration in 1 Peter 3:22). Nothing here applies to the inception of the Genesis creation. (Please also note the parallel phrases: Col.1:12/Eph.1:11; Col.1:16, 17, 20/Eph. 1:10, 21, 22).

Verse 16: “Because in (KIT) him all things were created , in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All things have been created through him and for him.”

The creating of an authority is not the physical creating of people.

‘In him’: Meaning ‘in union (or connection) with’, ‘in association with’, or ‘by reason of’ Bauer’s lexicon. In context this verse does not mean ‘by’ or ‘by means of’ "

Basically,I think the main creation in view overall is a new creation with allusions to the old poetically.That is why I'm able to embrace both Dunn's view(& Hebrew allegory or metaphor) as well as the new creation context,immediate AND larger.I feel this way because I think God had the new in mind even as he made the old.They were intertwined in some cosmic way as he created.Decreeing the end from the beginning and seeing things that aren’t as though they are.(Rev 13:8,Is. 46:9)Scriptures oft have allusions to dual fulfillments and I personally think that may be the case here.

If Colossians 1 is about a new creation,then firstborn "of all creation"(verse 15)and firstborn "from the dead"(verse 18) correlate beautifully in the tradition of Hebrew parallelism.To quote Greg Deuble:

"If we take into account the Hebrew literary style of parallelism,where the same idea is repeated but in slightly modified form,it is quite reasonable to suggest that the qualifiers "of all creation" and "from the dead" mean the same thing."~p.244 "They Never Told Me THIS in Church"

I think that makes sense given the kingdom terminology employed to define "all things.""All" is oft qualified in context.I'm not entirely satisfied that he was just defining a couple of the things created in Genesis given the clear kingdom & new creation context,as well as the new creation correlating Ephesians(and other NT)passages.

I also understand that preexistence in the Hebrew mind(which I think you addressed in a blog..things like the Torah and the kingdom preexisted..Matt. 25:34) absolutely had to do with the decrees and plans of God in his heart and mind as good as fulfilled even if they didn't or won't materialize till a particular appointed time.(1 Peter 1:20,Gal. 4:4)

"When the Jew said something was ‘predestined,’ he thought of it as already ‘existing’ in a higher sphere of life. The world’s history is thus predestined because it is already, in a sense, preexisting and consequently fixed. This typically Jewish conception of predestination may be distinguished from the Greek idea of preexistence by the predominance of the thought of ‘preexistence’ in the Divine purpose."~E.C. Dewick, Primitive Christian Eschatology, The Hulsean Prize Essay for 1908, Cambridge University Press, 1912, pp. 253, 254. (gathered from Anthony Buzzard article "The Nature of Preexistence in the New Testament")

Also from the article:

A knowledge of the background to the New Testament reveals that Jews believed that even Moses "preexisted" in the counsels of God, but not actually as a conscious person:

"For this is what the Lord of the world has decreed: He created the world on behalf of his people, but he did not make this purpose of creation known from the beginning of the world so that the nations might be found guilty . . . But He did design and devise me [Moses], who was prepared from the beginning of the world to be the mediator of the covenant" (Testament of Moses, 1:13, 14).

I think it's fantastic that you're critically assessing all this.I had crises of conscience galore over my Arian beliefs,even wondering and having to pray about *exactly* who Jesus is now.For months on end.My view now was not an overnight occurrence but a real process.The more I studied the bible and Hebrew thinking,the more clear it all became.Oh,and yes,we WERE seated in Christ before time began so we preexisted according to the Hebrew definition of the word.(Rom 4:17,2 Tim. 1:9,Eph. 1:1-7)Saying we had glory in Christ with God since before the world was even made is not any different than saying that Christ had glory with God since before the world was even made.(Jn. 17:5)Only his glory is greater as savior of the world and heir of all things.

When wondering about these things,keep close in mind the milk first.Then the rest comes together.Some of that again would be:

1.God created alone(Is. 44:24..who was with him?)
2.Jesus gave God credit for creating with no hint of agency.(Matthew 19:4,Mark 13:19)This would be odd if he created FOR God with his own hands.
3.God rested instead of Jesus.(Heb. 4:3,4)This would be odd if Jesus did all the work on behalf of God.
4.preposition dia can mean *in* or *for the sake of*,not just *through* or *by*
5.I think the bible is more than clear God created alone in his word and wisdom,not spirit creatures at all in unambiguous passages such as Proverbs 3:19 & Psalm 33:6.Christ fulfilled those functions of God when he became flesh.

Yes,I learned quite well as a former Jehovah's Witness how to reiterate my points.

Oh,and I just thought of a 6th point.

2 Peter 3:16 says that Paul's letters contain some things that are hard to understand.If we let Paul interpret himself,he is speaking of a new creation.(Some Ephesians texts correlate with the Colossians ones language-wise and thoughts-wise as noted above)And we must let scripture interpret itself.Listening to Jesus is ALWAYS key.Who did he say made man and woman?

Matt. 19:4:Have you not read that *he* who created them from the beginning made them male and female

Thursday, February 17, 2011

John 1:1 and the Word of God

This is absolutely a must listen talk by Anthony Buzzard on one of the most beautiful poetic texts in scripture,John 1:1:

Buzzard on John 1:1

Btw,click on John 1:1 under trinity texts to the right for several blogs on John 1:1.I also have a youtube playlist on it.Be sure to check ALL the videos out when you can.:)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Wisdom Christology & Proverbs 8:22-31(for JW's,Arians,and trinitarians oh my!)

Though I already have a blog about Proverbs 8:22-31,this video contains a little bit of additional information.It also reiterates in video form much of the other blog's revelations.This was partially inspired by the book "Christology in the Making" by James D.G. Dunn.I take much of this video,especially concerning the actual historical and biblical context of these passages, from his book.I go on here to explain how and why Yahushua is the wisdom of God.I appreciate your patience with a 20 minute video.:)Thanks everybody for listening and may God richly bless you.