Was Christ Originally “Created” by God?
I have a question that was brought to my attention by some people who came to my door. They said that Revelation 3:14 proves that Jesus was the first one to be created. Can you please explain this chapter and verse to me?
The people who came to your door almost certainly were those who refer to themselves as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.” They are a very sincere and zealous people, but they are wrong on many religious issues, not the least of which is their denial that Jesus Christ possesses the nature of deity. They subscribe to the dogma that Christ was nothing more “than a perfect man” (Let God Be True, p. 87).
In the same work, the Watchtower Witnesses contend:
The truth of the matter is that the Word is Jesus Christ [see Jn. 1:1, 14], who did have a beginning; because, at Revelation 3:14, he distinctly states that he was the beginning of the creation of God (p. 88).
There are two points that reveal the fallacy of the Watchtower contention.
(1) No interpretation can be assigned to Revelation 3:14 that makes it conflict with other clear passages that affirm the eternal nature of the Lord Jesus.
For example, the prophet Micah declared that though a baby would be born in Bethlehem, nonetheless his existence was “from everlasting” (Mic. 5:2).E.B. Pusey observed that this expression asserts the “eternity” of the Son of God (p. 70).Micah’s prophecy was fulfilled by the birth of Jesus in Bethlehem (see Mt. 2:5-6).
In John’s Gospel record, three times in 1:1 the apostle employs the imperfect tense verb en.“In the beginning was [en] the Word [Christ, v. 14], and the Word was [en] with God, and the Word was [en] God.”The imperfect tense here denotes the “timeless existence” of the Second Person of the Godhead (Bernard, p. 2).
Noted Greek scholar A.T. Robertson observed that John’s use of the imperfect form “conveys no idea of origin” for God or for Christ; rather, it reflects “continuous existence” for both of these divine beings (p. 3).
These are but a sampling of the evidence that establishes the eternal existence of Jesus Christ.
(2) The term “beginning,” as employed in Revelation 3:14, does not suggest a commencement in time for Jesus Christ.The Greek word that is rendered “beginning” in Revelation 3:14 is arche.The term is employed in various senses in Greek literature.It may refer to the “beginning” of something if there is evidence available that the “something” indeed had a beginning, e.g., in “the beginning of the gospel” (Mk. 1:1).But this certainly does not exhaust the meaning of the expression.
Arche can also signify the “first cause,” of a thing, or that by which something “begins to be,” i.e., the originating source (see Thayer, p. 77).Another scholar notes that arche in Revelation 3:14 is used “of Christ as the uncreated principle, the active cause of creation” (Abbott-Smith, p. 62).Balz and Schneider emphatically state that the term in this text is “not to be understood as ... the first of created things” (p. 162).
(3) In Revelation 22:13, Christ refers to himself as the “beginning [arche] and the end [telos].”If “beginning” suggests that there was a time when Christ did not exist, but that he came into existence as the first being of God’s creation, does “end” indicate that there will be a point at which the Savior will go out of existence?The question hardly needs a response.
In Isaiah 48:12 the Lord God described himself as “the first” and “the last.”Did he mean to indicate that there was a time when he did not exist? The very idea is absurd.
The Watchtower Society is grievously in error in its doctrine that Jesus Christ was a “created” being.
- Abbott-Smith, G. (1923), A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark).
- Balz, Horst & Schneider, Gerhard (1978-80), Exegetical Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Eerdmans), Vol. I.
- Bernard, J.H. (1928), John – The International Critical Commentary, (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark), Vol. I.
- Let God Be True (Brooklyn, NY: Watchtower Society, 1946).
- Pusey, E.B. (1974), The Minor Prophets (Grand Rapids: Baker), Vol. II.
- Robertson, A.T. (1932), Word Pictures in the New Testament (Nashville: Broadman). Vol. V.
- Thayer, J.H. (1958), A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, (Edinburgh: T.&T. Clark).