“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15 NIV).
We can turn to several sources to address the errors of those cultic organizations that erroneously associate the word “firstborn” with Jesus as a created being. The first source discusses the meaning of the word prototokos, the word translated “firstborn” in the original language of Colossians 1:15…
“The first part of this word (proto) can indicate ‘first in time’ (temporal priority) or ‘first in place’ (preeminence)… prototokos is used to express the idea of preeminence and first cause. This designation in no way indicates that Christ Himself was created by God; the verse moreover asserts that all things were created in, through, and for Christ. As a participant in the creation of all things, Christ cannot be a created being. Instead, He is the Son of God, the second person of the Godhead, who has existed from eternity.” (1)
Another commentary discusses the irresponsibility of those who misapply this passage in an effort to identify Jesus as a created being…
“Though it is grammatically possible to translate this as ‘Firstborn in Creation,’ the context makes this impossible for five reasons:
(1) The whole point of the passage (and the book) is to show Christ’s superiority over all things.
(2) Other statements about Christ in this passage (such as Creator of all [Col_1:16], upholder of Creation [Col_1:17], etc.) clearly indicate His priority and superiority over Creation.
(3) The ‘Firstborn’ cannot be part of Creation if He created ‘all things.’ One cannot create himself. (Jehovah’s Witnesses wrongly add the word ‘other’ six times in this passage in their New World Translation. Thus they suggest that Christ created all other things after He was created! But the word ‘other’ is not in the Gr.)
(4) The ‘Firstborn’ received worship of all the angels (Heb_1:6), but creatures should not be worshiped (Exo_20:4-5).
(5) The Greek word for ‘Firstborn’ is pro¯totokos. If Christ were the ‘first-created,’ the Greek word would have been pro¯toktisis.” (2)
Finally, we can look to the example of Israel’s King David to support the Biblical concept of Jesus’ deity in this passage…
“This title derives from the messianic promise of Ps 89:27, where God says, ‘I will also appoint him my firstborn, the most exalted of the kings of the earth.’ These words are applied directly to Jesus Christ in Rev 1:5 and 19:16, as King of kings and Lord of lords.” (3)
“Finally, in Psa_89:27, the word ‘firstborn’ is used to designate a place of superiority, of supremacy, of uniqueness. There God says that He will make David His firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth. David was actually the last-born son of Jesse according to the flesh. But God determined to give him a place of unique supremacy, primacy, and sovereignty.” (4)
(1) Radmacher, E. D., Allen, R. B., & House, H. W. (1999). Nelson’s new illustrated Bible commentary (p. 1562). Nashville: T. Nelson Publishers.
(2) Norman L. Geisler, “Colossians,” quoted in John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck, Bible Knowledge Commentary [p.668-669]
(3) McCown, Wayne. “A. Paul’s Ministry as an Apostle (1:1-2:5)” In Asbury Bible Commentary. 1085. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, © 1992.
(4) William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary Colossians 1:15-23, pg.1993