Col. 1. 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: (KJ)
This verse is one of a number specially selected by Jehovah’s Witnesses which they use to give support to their doctrine that Jesus is a created being. This claim is in direct opposition to the great weight of Scripture showing the divinity of Jesus and in particular to those Scriptures showing that as God He had no beginning.
If any confirmation was required, the following passages show this very clearly :-
Micah 5:2, Psalm 9:2, Neh. 9:6&7 with John 1:1-3, Isaiah 9:6, Heb. 1:8-12, Heb. 7:1-3, Rev. 1: 8-13.
How then are we to understand this verse which at first sight appears to contradict the teaching of the Bible as a whole ?
A fuller understanding of the Scriptures however will show us that the title firstborn used in this verse is particularly a Jewish term, and used in this and other places to carry the meaning of priority, sovereignty and or pre-eminence – and not being the first to be born.
Paul himself was using the term because of his familiarity with Jewish terminology. The people to whom Paul wrote at this time would be expected to be aware of this and we therefore have to interpret it as they would certainly have been expected to have understood it.
W E Vine (a Greek Scholar whose authority has been recognised by the Watchtower) in his Dictionary of New Testament Words, page 104, states clearly that Col 1. 15 is expressing the priority and pre-eminence of Jesus over all creation, and that the term first born is not being used in the sense of being the first to be born.
The above is supported in Scripture by the following :-
Ps 89. 27 David was not born first but he got the title “First Born”.
Ex 4. 22 Israel as a nation was not born first but got the title “First Born”.
Col 1. 18 Christ was not the first to be raised physically from the dead yet He is called “First Born” …
The word used here “First born” PROTOTOKOS should not be confused with “First created”. If “First created” was intended then the word PROTOKTISTEOS would have been used.
For some of the many other Scripture references confirming the deity of the Son of God see the post “The Divinity of Jesus” dated December 28th 2011 on this site.