Q. I have heard you state that Jesus is God. Colossians 1:15 tells us that Jesus is only an image of God. How do you respond? Colossians also tells us that he is the “firstborn” of all creation. How can God be born?
15* He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
16* For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him.
17* He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.
18* He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
19* For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him,
20* and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
In verse15 we read that Jesus Christ is “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” This prompts a couple of questions, the first of which is the meaning of “image”.
It is important to recognize that there is rarely a one-to-one correspondence between words in two different languages. For a correct interpretation, we must understand the word that was written by the inspired author, not necessarily the word written by the translator. This is why it is so important to check our understanding of scripture in light of the language and culture of the Biblical authors.
In English, the word “image” is usually used to refer to an artificial representation or picture of a real object which is nearly always 2-dimensional and/or inanimate. But the Greek word for “image” means something quite different – it communicates the idea of being the same form and likeness of the original.
Christ has exactly the same nature and attributes as God (because He is God).
This is also confirmed by John 14:9 and 2 Corinthians 4:4.
9* Jesus *said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
2 COR. 4:4
4* in whose case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelieving so that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
Another question is the meaning of “firstborn over all creation”. This clause could be construed (from the Greek) to imply that Christ was the first created being. However, the Greek word for firstborn may also mean “being superior to all creation” or “existing prior to all creation”.
In any case, the very next verse makes it abundantly clear that Jesus created all things and everything that exists was created by Him and for Him (Colossians 1:16). John 1:2-3 also confirms this.
1* In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
2 He was in the beginning with God.
3* All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.