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.

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