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English Standard Version

Colossians 1:16

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Bible Study Resources

Concordances:

- Nave's Topical Bible - Angel (a Spirit);   Jesus, the Christ;   Jesus Continued;   Power;   Scofield Reference Index - Sanctification;   Thompson Chain Reference - Christ;   Creator;   Principalities;   The Topic Concordance - Atonement;   Blood;   Body;   Creation;   Jesus Christ;   Pleasure;   Reconciliation;   Sacrifice;   Torrey's Topical Textbook - Angels;   Christ Is God;   Creation;   Excellency and Glory of Christ, the;   Man;   Power of Christ, the;   Trinity, the;  

Dictionaries:

- American Tract Society Bible Dictionary - A;   Angel;   Creation;   Life;   Bridgeway Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Colossians, letter to the;   Creation;   Firstborn;   Image;   Jesus christ;   Miracles;   Paul;   Reconciliation;   Singing;   Trinity;   Word;   Worship;   Baker Evangelical Dictionary of Biblical Theology - Angel;   Animals;   Church, the;   Confess, Confession;   God;   Heaven, Heavens, Heavenlies;   Hell;   Image of God;   Jesus Christ, Name and Titles of;   Paul the Apostle;   Power;   Powers;   Time;   Charles Buck Theological Dictionary - Angel;   Generation, Eternal ;   Jesus Christ;   Omnipotence of God;   Easton Bible Dictionary - Angel;   Creation;   Philippians, Epistle to;   Fausset Bible Dictionary - Angels;   Firstborn;   Genesis, the Book of;   Hebrews, the Epistle to the;   John, the Epistles of;   John, the Gospel According to;   Throne;   Holman Bible Dictionary - Authority;   Colossians;   Confessions and Credos;   Creation;   Dominion;   Fall;   Head of the Church;   Logos;   Paul;   Principalities;   Wisdom and Wise Men;   Hastings' Dictionary of the Bible - Angel;   Atonement;   Authority;   Dominion;   Gnosticism;   Life;   Logos;   Perfection;   Person of Christ;   Power;   Hastings' Dictionary of the New Testament - Alpha and Omega (2);   Angels;   Ascension of Isaiah;   Attributes of Christ;   Authority;   Colossians, Epistle to the;   Communion (2);   Creator (Christ as);   Dominion;   Doxology ;   Enoch Book of;   Ephesians Epistle to the;   First and Last ;   First-Born First-Begotten ;   Fulness ;   Gnosticism;   Gospel (2);   Headship;   Heaven;   Heir;   Humiliation of Christ;   King;   Logos;   Lord;   Mediation Mediator;   Mediator;   Power Powers;   Pre-Eminence ;   Pre-Existence;   Pre-Existence of Christ;   Presence (2);   Principality Principalities ;   Propitiation (2);   Quotations;   Restoration;   Rufus;   Stone;   Supremacy;   Teaching ;   Testaments of the Twelve Patriarchs;   Throne ;   Throne (2);   Union with God;   Unity;   Wisdom of Christ;   World;   Morrish Bible Dictionary - Colossians, Epistle to the;   Creator;   Hosts, Lord of;   Power;   Principality;   The Hawker's Poor Man's Concordance And Dictionary - Christ;   Jeremiah;   People's Dictionary of the Bible - God;   Names titles and offices of christ;   Scripture;   Wilson's Dictionary of Bible Types - Throne;   Watson's Biblical & Theological Dictionary - Heresy;  

Encyclopedias:

- Condensed Biblical Cyclopedia - Creation;   International Standard Bible Encyclopedia - Angel;   Authority in Religion;   Birthright;   Colossians, Epistle to the;   Creator;   Dominion;   Ephesians, Epistle to the;   First-Begotten;   Firstborn;   Logos;   Pauline Theology;   Philosophy;   Principality;   Providence;   Throne;   World (Cosmological);   The Jewish Encyclopedia - Saul of Tarsus;  

Devotionals:

- Daily Light on the Daily Path - Devotion for January 16;   Every Day Light - Devotion for November 25;  

Parallel Translations

Amplified Bible
For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, [things] visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him.
Wesley's New Testament (1755)
For through him were created all things, that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him.
Weymouth's New Testament
For in Him was created the universe of things in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, thrones, dominions, princedoms, powers--all were created, and exist through and for Him.
Easy-to-Read Version
Through his power all things were made: things in heaven and on earth, seen and not seen— all spiritual rulers, lords, powers, and authorities. Everything was made through him and for him.
Mace New Testament (1729)
for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are on earth, both visible and invisible, the thrones, and the sovereigntys, the principalitys, and the powers: all were created by him, and for him: he is before all things,
New International Version (1984)
For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Geneva Bible (1587)
For by him were all things created, which are in heauen, and which are in earth, thinges visible and inuisible: whether they be Thrones or Dominions, or Principalities, or Powers, all things were created by him, and for him,
Christian Standard Bible®
For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through Him and for Him.
Hebrew Names Version
For by him were all things created, in the heavens and on the eretz, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and to him.
International Standard Version
For byin">[fn] him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether they are kings,thrones">[fn] lords, rulers, or powers. All things have been created through him and for him.John 1:3; Romans 8:38; 11:36; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 1:21; 3:9; Colossians 2:10,15; Hebrews 1:2; 2:10; 1 Peter 3:22;">[xr]
Etheridge Translation
And by him was every thing created that is in heaven and in earth; all that is seen, and all that is unseen, whether thrones or dominions, or princes or powers; all things by his hand and through him were created;
Murdock Translation
and by him was created every thing that is in heaven and on earth, all that is seen and all that is unseen, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or sovereignties; every thing was through him, and was created by him:
King James Version (1611)
For by him were all things created that are in heauen, and that are in earth, visible and inuisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.
Lexham English Bible
because all things in the heavens and on the earth were created by him, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers, all things were created through him and for him,
Literal Translation
For all things were created in Him, the things in the heavens, and the things on the earth, the visible and the invisible; whether thrones, or lordships, or rulers, or authorities, all things have been created through Him and for Him.
Miles Coverdale Bible (1535)
For by him were all thinges created, that are in heauen and earth, thinges vysible and thinges inuysible, whether they be maiesties or lordshippes, ether rules or powers: All thinges are created by him and in him,
King James Version
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
New American Standard Version
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.
The Holy Bible, Berean Study Bible
For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him.
Contemporary English Version
Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities. All things were created by God's Son, and everything was made for him.
Complete Jewish Bible
because in connection with him were created all things — in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, lordships, rulers or authorities — they have all been created through him and for him.
Amplified Bible
For by Him all things were created in heaven and on earth, [things] visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities; all things were created and exist through Him [that is, by His activity] and for Him.
American Standard Version
for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;
Bishop's Bible (1568)
For by him were all thinges created, that are in heaue and that are in earth, visible and inuisible, whether [they be] maiestie or lordeshippe, either rule or power: All thynges were created by hym and for hym.
English Revised Version
for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;
George Lamsa Translation
And through him were created all things that are in heaven, and on earth, visible and invisible; whether imperial thrones, or lordships, or angelic orders, or dominions, all things were in his hand and were created by him:
Good News Translation
For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him.
Webster's Bible Translation
For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are upon earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
World English Bible
For by him were all things created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and to him.
Wesley's New Testament (1755)
For through him were created all things, that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible; whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him.
New Century Version
Through his power all things were made—things in heaven and on earth, things seen and unseen, all powers, authorities, lords, and rulers. All things were made through Christ and for Christ.
New English Translation
for all things in heaven and on earth were created in him—all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him.
New International Version
For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.
New King James Version
For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him.
New Life Bible
Christ made everything in the heavens and on the earth. He made everything that is seen and things that are not seen. He made all the powers of heaven. Everything was made by Him and for Him.
New Revised Standard
for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers—all things have been created through him and for him.
J.B. Rotherham Emphasized Bible
Because, in him, were created all things in the heavens and upon the earth, the things seen and the things unseen, whether thrones or lordships or principalities or authorities, - they all, through him and for him, have been created,
Douay-Rheims Bible
For in him were all things created in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominations, or principalities, or powers. All things were created by him and in him.
Revised Standard Version
for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.
Tyndale New Testament (1525)
For by him were all thynges created thynges that are in heven and thynges that are in erth: thynges visible and thynges invisible: whether they be maieste or lordshippe ether rule or power. All thinges are creatyd by hym and in him
Darby Translation
because by him were created all things, the things in the heavens and the things upon the earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones, or lordships, or principalities, or authorities: all things have been created by him and for him.
Bible in Basic English
For by him all things were made, in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, authorities, lords, rulers, and powers; all things were made by him and for him;
New Living Translation
for through him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can't see— such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through him and for him.
Update Bible Version
for in him were all things created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and to him;
Weymouth's New Testament
For in Him was created the universe of things in heaven and on earth, things seen and things unseen, thrones, dominions, princedoms, powers--all were created, and exist through and for Him.
Wycliffe Bible (1395)
For in hym alle thingis ben maad, in heuenes and in erthe, visible and vnuysible, ether trones, ether dominaciouns, ether princehodes, ethir poweris, alle thingis ben maad of nouyt bi hym, and in hym,
Young's Literal Translation
because in him were the all things created, those in the heavens, and those upon the earth, those visible, and those invisible, whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether authorities; all things through him, and for him, have been created,

because all things were created in Him, those in the heavens, and those on the earth, those visible, and those invisible, whether thrones, whether lordships, whether principalities, whether authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him,

Contextual Overview

16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Bible Verse Review

from
Treasury of Scripure Knowledge

For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
by him were 15; Psalms 102:25-27; Isaiah 40:9-12; 44:24; John 1:3; 1 Corinthians 8:6; Ephesians 3:9; Hebrews 1:2,10-12; 3:3,4
in heaven
20; Deuteronomy 4:39; 1 Chronicles 29:11; Ephesians 1:10; Philippians 2:10; Revelation 5:13,14
thrones
2:10,15; Romans 8:38; Ephesians 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; 1 Peter 3:22
by
Proverbs 16:4; Isaiah 43:21; Romans 11:36; Hebrews 2:10
Reciprocal: Genesis 1:1 - God;  2 Chronicles 2:12 - that made heaven;  Nehemiah 9:6 - thou hast;  Psalm 33:9 - and it stood;  Psalm 78:69 - earth;  Psalm 146:6 - made heaven;  Proverbs 8:27 - he prepared;  Isaiah 37:16 - thou hast;  Isaiah 40:26 - who hath;  Jeremiah 10:12 - hath made;  Jeremiah 27:5 - made;  Jeremiah 32:17 - thou;  Jeremiah 51:15 - hath made;  Matthew 28:18 - All;  John 5:17 - My;  John 5:19 - for;  Romans 9:5 - who is;  2 Corinthians 5:18 - all;  2 Corinthians 8:9 - though;  Philippians 2:6 - in;  2 Thessalonians 1:7 - his mighty angels;  1 Timothy 3:16 - God;  Hebrews 1:3 - image;  1 Peter 4:19 - a faithful;  2 Peter 1:3 - his;  Revelation 4:11 - for thou

Cross-References

Genesis 1:7
And God made the expanse and separated the waters that were under the expanse from the waters that were above the expanse. And it was so.
Genesis 1:8
And God called the expanse Heaven. And there was evening and there was morning, the second day.
Genesis 1:9
And God said, "Let the waters under the heavens be gathered together into one place, and let the dry land appear." And it was so.
Genesis 1:12
The earth brought forth vegetation, plants yielding seed according to their own kinds, and trees bearing fruit in which is their seed, each according to its kind. And God saw that it was good.
Genesis 1:14
And God said, "Let there be lights in the expanse of the heavens to separate the day from the night. And let them be for signs and for seasons, and for days and years,
Deuteronomy 4:19
And beware lest you raise your eyes to heaven, and when you see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, you be drawn away and bow down to them and serve them, things that the Lord your God has allotted to all the peoples under the whole heaven.
Job 31:26
if I have looked at the sun when it shone, or the moon moving in splendor,
Job 38:7
when the morning stars sang together and all the sons of God shouted for joy?
Psalms 8:3
When I look at your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place,
Psalms 19:6
Its rising is from the end of the heavens, and its circuit to the end of them, and there is nothing hidden from its heat.

Gill's Notes on the Bible

For by him were all things created,.... This is a reason proving Christ to be before all creatures, to be the common Parent of them, and to have the government over them, since he is the Creator of them. The creation of all things, by him, is not to be understood of the new creation, for whenever that is spoken of, the word "new" is generally used, or what is equivalent to it, or some clause or phrase added, which determines the sense, and is not the case here: besides, all things that are in heaven are said to be created here: which, to say nothing of the sun, moon, and stars, which are not capable subjects of the new creation, to restrain them to angels, cannot be true of them; for as for those who were once in heaven, but kept not their first estate, and quitted their habitation, these find no place there any more; they never were, nor will be renewed and restored by Christ; and as for the good angels, since they never sinned, they stand in no need of renovation. Moreover, all things that are on earth are also said to be created by him, and are, but not anew: for to confine these only to men, all men are not renewed in the spirit of their minds; all have not faith, nor a good hope through grace, nor love to God and Christ, the greater part of the world lies in open wickedness; and all that profess religion are not new creatures, these are a chosen generation, and a peculiar people: wherefore these words must be understood, not metaphorically, but literally; in which sense all things are created by Christ, not by him as an instrument, but as the efficient cause; for the preposition "by" does not always signify the former; but sometimes the latter; see 1 Corinthians 1:9; nor to the exclusion of the Father and Spirit, who, with the Son, were jointly concerned in the creating of all things out of nothing: and these "all things" can only refer to the things that are made: eternal things can never be said to be created; this is a contradiction in terms; the Father is not created by him, nor he himself as the Son of God, nor the Spirit; but everything that is made is created by him: hence it follows, that he himself is no creature, otherwise he must create himself, which also is a contradiction, since every creature is made by him; and consequently he must be God, for he that made and built all things is God. These are divided as to the subject of them, or place where they are, into things

that are in heaven, and that are in earth. The things that are in heaven, are the things that are in the airy and starry heavens, and in the heaven of heavens. The things in the airy heavens, the fowls thereof, were on the fifth day created by him; and the things in the starry heaven, the sun, moon, and stars, were on the fourth day ordained by him; and the inhabitants of the third heaven, the angels, were made by him, Hebrews 1:7; and, as the Jewish writers say, on the second day of the creation, though some say on the fifth. The earth comprehends the whole terraqueous globe, consisting of land and sea; and the things in it are all that are in the seas, the fishes and other things in it; and all that are in the bowels of the earth, as well as on the surface of it, all metals and minerals, all plants, herbs, and trees, every beast of the forest, the cattle on a thousand hills, the fowls on the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field, and all human creatures. Again, these all things are, as to the quality of them, distributed into

visible and invisible, both in heaven and in earth: the visible things in heaven are the fowls that fly in the airy heaven, the sun, and moon, and stars in the starry heaven, and the bodies of those saints that have been either translated, or raised, in the third heaven; the visible things in the earth are all creatures, animate and inanimate, rational and irrational, all bodies, all corporeal and material beings: the invisible things in earth are not only those that are in the innermost parts of it, but the spirits or souls of men; and those in heaven are not the invisible God, Father, Son, and Spirit, but the angels, who are incorporeal and immaterial spirits, and so invisible: and which,

whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, are all made by him; by these some understand civil magistrates among men, and the various degrees and orders of them. By "thrones" they think kings, or monarchs, are meant, who sit on thrones; and by "dominions", little petty kings, or lords, dukes, and earls; and by "principalities", governors of provinces and cities; and by "powers", interior magistrates; and indeed, political governors are sometimes called dominions, dignities, principalities, and powers; and there are different orders of them, the king as supreme, and governors under him; see Judges 1:8. But since these seem rather to be said of the invisible things in heaven, and to be an explanation of them, angels may rather be thought to be intended; and are so called, not as denoting different orders and degrees among them, which some have rashly ventured to describe, but because of the use that God makes of them in the government of the world, and the executions of the various affairs of Providence relating to particular persons and kingdoms; though these several names are not so much such as the apostle chose to call them by, as what they were called by others; the three latter are indeed elsewhere used by himself, Ephesians 1:21; but not the former, "thrones", which yet are used by Jewish writers, and given to angels. Thus, in a book of theirs, which they esteem very ancient, and ascribe to the patriarch Abraham, it is said,

"there is no angel in which the name Jehovah is not found, which is everywhere, as the soul is in every member; wherefore men ought to allow Jehovah to reign in all the members, ובכל כרסין, "and in all the thrones", and in all the angels, and in every member of men.

And elsewhere, speaking of the garments of God,

"by these (say they) ברא קבה כרסיין, "the holy blessed God created the thrones", and the angels, and the living creatures, and the "seraphim", and the heavens, and the earth, and all that he created.

And the thrones in Daniel 7:9; are interpreted, of

"the superior princes, למלאכים רוחניים, "the spiritual angels", who sit first in the kingdom; and they are called in the words of the Rabbins, "the throne of glory"; for so is the way of kings, that their princes sit before them, everyone on his throne, according to their dignity.

Now the apostle's sense is, that the angels, the invisible inhabitants of the upper world, are all created by Christ, let them be called by what names they will, that the Jews, or the false teachers, or any sort of heretics of those times thought fit to give them, whether they called them thrones or dominions, &c. And so the Arabic version, rather interpreting than translating the words, renders them thus, "whether you say thrones, or whether you mention dominions, or whether you understand princes, or whether you say powers"; speak of them under what title or appellation you please, they are all the creatures of the Son of God. The apostle seems to have in view, and to oppose some notions of some heretics of his time, the followers of Simon Magus, who held, that the angels were created by his Helena; or, as others, by what they call "Ennea", and that these angels created the world, and are to be worshipped; but he here affirms, that

all things were created by him, by Christ, even all the angels; and therefore he, and not they, are to be worshipped, a notion he afterwards takes notice of in the following chapter: and as all things are affirmed to be created by him, which demonstrates the dignity and deity of his person, so likewise

for him; that is, for his pleasure, that he may take delight and complacency in them, and in his own perfections displayed by them; and for his service and use, as the angels, to worship him and minister to him and for others, he sends them to: elect men are made to serve and glorify him with their bodies and spirits, which are his; and even the non-elect are made to subserve his mediatorial kingdom and interest; yea, the whole world is built and kept in being purely on his account, until he has finished the great affair of the salvation of his people, in the application of it to each of them, as he has completed the impetration of it; and then he will dissolve the heavens, and burn up the earth and all the works that are therein: all are made for his glory, and that end is, and will be answered by them in one way or another,

Barnes' Notes on the Bible

For by him were all things created - This is one of the reasons why he is called “the image of God,” and the “first-born.” He makes God known to us by his creative power, and by the same power in creation shows that he is exalted over all things as the Son of God. The phrase which is used here by the apostle is universal. He does not declare that he created all things in the spiritual kingdom of God, or that he arranged the events of the gospel dispensation, as Socinians suppose (see Crellius); but that every thing was created by him. A similar form of expression occurs in John 1:3; see the notes at that verse. There could not possibly be a more explicit declaration that the universe was created by Christ, than this. As if the simple declaration in the most comprehensive terms were not enough, the apostle goes into a specification of things existing in heaven and earth, and so varies the statement as if to prevent the possibility of mistake.

That are in heaven - The division of the universe into “heaven and earth” is natural and obvious, for it is the one that is apparent; see Genesis 1:1. Heaven, then, according to this division, will embrace all the universe, except the earth; and will include the heavenly bodies and their inhabitants, the distant worlds, as well as heaven, more strictly so called, where God resides. The declaration, then, is, that all things that were in the worlds above us were the work of his creative power.

And that are in earth - All the animals, plants, minerals, waters, hidden fires, etc. Everything which the earth contains.

Visible and invisible - We see but a small part of the universe. The angels we cannot see. The inhabitants of distant worlds we cannot see. Nay, there are multitudes of worlds which, even with the best instruments, we cannot see. Yet all these things are said to have been created by Christ.

Whether they be thrones - Whether those invisible things be thrones. The reference is to the ranks of angels, called here thrones, dominions, etc.; see the notes at Ephesians 1:21. The word “thrones” does not occur in the parallel place in Ephesians; but there can be no doubt that the reference is to an order of angelic beings, as those to whom dominion and power were intrusted. The other orders enumerated here are also mentioned in Ephesians 1:21.

All things were created by him - The repetition, and the varied statement here, are designed to express the truth with emphasis, and so that there could not be the possibility of mistake or misapprehension; compare the notes at John 1:1-3. The importance of the doctrine, and the fact that it was probably denied by false teachers, or that they held philosophical opinions that tended to its practical denial, are the reasons why the apostle dwells so particularly on this point.

And for him - For his glory; for such purposes as he designed. There was a reference to himself in the work of creation, just as, when a man builds a house, it is with reference to some important purposes which he contemplates, pertaining to himself. The universe was built by the Greater to be his own property; to be the theater on which he would accomplish his purposes, and display his perfections. Particularly the earth was made by the Son of God to be the place where he would become incarnate, and exhibit the wonders of redeeming love. There could not be a more positive declaration than this, that the universe was created by Christ; and, if so, he is divine. The work of creation is the exertion of the highest power of which we can form a conception, and is often appealed to in the Scriptures by God to prove that he is divine, in contradistinction from idols. If, therefore, this passage be understood literally, it settles the question about the divinity of Christ. Accordingly, Unitarians have endeavored to show that the creation here referred to is a moral creation; that it refers to the arrangement of affairs in the Christian church, or to the kingdom of God on earth, and not to the creation of the material universe. This interpretation has been adopted even by Grotius, who supposes that it refers to the arrangement by which all things are fitted up in the new creation, and by which angels and men are reconciled. By “the things in heaven and in earth,” some Unitarian expositors have understood the Jews and the Gentiles, who are reconciled by the gospel; others, by the things in heaven, understand the angels, and, by the things on earth, men, who are brought into harmony by the gospel plan of salvation. But the objections to this interpretation are insuperable:

(1) The word “created” is not used in this sense properly, and cannot be. That it may mean to arrange, to order, is true; but it is not used in the sense of reconciling, or of bringing discordant things into harmony. To the great mass of men, who have no theory to support, it would be understood in its natural and obvious sense, as denoting the literal creation.

(2) the assertion is, that the “creative” power of Christ was exerted on “all things.” It is not in reference to angels only, or to men, or to Jews, or to Gentiles; it is in relation to “everything in heaven and in earth;” that is, to the whole universe. Why should so universal a declaration be supposed to denote merely the intelligent creation?

(3) with what propriety, or in what tolerable sense, can the expression “things in heaven and things in earth” be applied to the Jews and Gentiles? In what sense can it be said that they are “visible and invisible?” And, if the language could be thus used, how can the fact that Christ is the means of reconciling them be a reason why he should be called “the image of the invisible God?”

(4) if it be understood of a moral creation, of a renovation of things, of a change of nature, how can this be applied to the angels? Has Christ created them anew? Has he changed their nature and character? Good angels cannot need a spiritual renovation; and Christ did not come to convert fallen angels, and to bring them into harmony with the rest of the universe.

(5) the phrase here employed, of “creating all things in heaven and on earth,” is never used elsewhere to denote a moral or spiritual creation. It appropriately expresses the creation of the universe. It is language strikingly similar to that used by Moses, Genesis 1:1; and it would be so understood by the great mass of mankind. If this be so, then Christ is divine, and we can see in this great work a good reason why he is called “the image of the invisible God,” and why he is at the head of the universe - the first-born of the creation. It is because, through him, God is made known to us in the work of creation; and because, being the great agent in that work, there is a propriety that he should occupy this position at the head of all things.

Clarke's Notes on the Bible

For by him were all things created, etc - These two verses contain parts of the same subject. I shall endeavor to distinguish the statements of the apostle, and reason from them in such a way as the premises shall appear to justify, without appealing to any other scripture in proof of the doctrine which I suppose these verses to vindicate.

Four things are here asserted:

  1. That Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe; of all things visible and invisible; of all things that had a beginning, whether they exist in time or in eternity.
  • That whatsoever was created was created For himself; that he was the sole end of his own work.
  • That he was prior to all creation, to all beings, whether in the visible or invisible world.
  • That he is the preserver and governor of all things; for by him all things consist.
  • Now, allowing St. Paul to have understood the terms which he used, he must have considered Jesus Christ as being truly and properly God.
      I. Creation is the proper work of an infinite, unlimited, and unoriginated Being; possessed of all perfections in their highest degrees; capable of knowing, willing, and working infinitely, unlimitedly, and without control: and as creation signifies the production of being where all was absolute nonentity, so it necessarily implies that the Creator acted of and from himself; for as, previously to this creation, there was no being, consequently he could not be actuated by any motive, reason, or impulse, without himself; which would argue there was some being to produce the motive or impulse, or to give the reason. Creation, therefore, is the work of him who is unoriginated, infinite, unlimited, and eternal. But Jesus Christ is the Creator of all things, therefore Jesus Christ must be, according to the plain construction of the apostle's words, truly and properly God.

    II. As, previously to creation, there was no being but God, consequently the great First Cause must, in the exertion of his creative energy, have respect to himself alone; for he could no more have respect to that which had no existence, than he could be moved by nonexistence, to produce existence or creation. The Creator, therefore, must make every thing For himself.

    Should it be objected that Christ created officially or by delegation, I answer: This is impossible; for, as creation requires absolute and unlimited power, or omnipotence, there can be but one Creator; because it is impossible that there can be two or more Omnipotents, Infinites, or Eternals. It is therefore evident that creation cannot be effected officially, or by delegation, for this would imply a Being conferring the office, and delegating such power; and that the Being to whom it was delegated was a dependent Being; consequently not unoriginated and eternal; but this the nature of creation proves to be absurd.

  • The thing being impossible in itself, because no limited being could produce a work that necessarily requires omnipotence.
  • It is impossible, because, if omnipotence be delegated, he to whom it is delegated had it not before, and he who delegates it ceases to have it, and consequently ceases to be God; and the other to whom it was delegated becomes God, because such attributes as those with which he is supposed to be invested are essential to the nature of God. On this supposition God ceases to exist, though infinite and eternal, and another not naturally infinite and eternal becomes such; and thus an infinite and eternal Being ceases to exist, and another infinite and eternal Being is produced in time, and has a beginning, which is absurd. Therefore, as Christ is the Creator, he did not create by delegation, or in any official way.
  • Again, if he had created by delegation or officially, it would have been for that Being who gave him that office, and delegated to him the requisite power; but the text says that all things were made By him and For him, which is a demonstration that the apostle understood Jesus Christ to be truly and essentially God.

    III. As all creation necessarily exists in time, and had a commencement, and there was an infinite duration in which it did not exist, whatever was before or prior to that must be no part of creation; and the Being who existed prior to creation, and before all things - all existence of every kind, must be the unoriginated and eternal God: but St. Paul says, Jesus Christ was before all things; ergo, the apostle conceived Jesus Christ to be truly and essentially God.

      IV. As every effect depends upon its cause, and cannot exist without it; so creation, which is an effect of the power and skill of the Creator, can only exist and be preserved by a continuance of that energy that first gave it being. Hence, God, as the Preserver, is as necessary to the continuance of all things, as God the Creator was to their original production. But this preserving or continuing power is here ascribed to Christ, for the apostle says, And by him do all things consist; for as all being was derived from him as its cause, so all being must subsist by him, as the effect subsists by and through its cause. This is another proof that the apostle considered Jesus Christ to be truly and properly God, as he attributes to him the preservation of all created things, which property of preservation belongs to God alone; ergo, Jesus Christ is, according to the plain obvious meaning of every expression in this text, truly, properly, independently, and essentially God.

    Such are the reasonings to which the simple letter of these two verses necessarily leads me. I own it is possible that I may have misapprehended this awful subject, for humanum est errare et nescire; but I am not conscious of the slightest intentional flaw in the argument. Taking, therefore, the apostle as an uninspired man, giving his own view of the Author of the Christian religion, it appears, beyond all controversy, that himself believed Christ Jesus to be God; but considering him as writing under the inspiration of the Holy Ghost, then we have, from the plain grammatical meaning of the words which he has used, the fullest demonstration (for the Spirit of God cannot lie) that he who died for our sins and rose again for our justification, and in whose blood we have redemption, was God over all. And as God alone can give salvation to men, and God only can remit sin; hence with the strictest propriety we are commanded to believe on the Lord Jesus, with the assurance that we shall be saved. Glory be to God for this unspeakable gift! See my discourse on this subject.