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Does Revelation 3:14 Teach That Jesus is God’s First Creation? Pt. 1

Unless noted otherwise, all biblical references will be taken from the 2013 edition of the New World Translation (NWT) http://www.jw.org/en/publications/bible/nwt/books/.

Various anti-Trinitarian groups, and in particular Jehovah’s Witnesses (JWs), employ Revelation 3:14 to prove that Jesus is the first thing that God created. Here is how the JW Bible renders this verse:

“To the angel of the congregation in La·o·di·ce′a write: These are the things that the Amen says, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation by God (he arche tes ktiseos tou theou):”

And here is how the Society explains this passage:

God’s Firstborn

The Bible indicates that there was a time when God was alone. In his love he decided to share the gift of life BY BECOMING A FATHER—but not in the human sense. Rather, Jehovah used his unfathomable creative power to form a living, intelligent spirit person—“the beginning of the creation by God,” whom we now know as Jesus Christ. (Revelation 3:14; Proverbs 8:22) Because Jesus was directly created by God when God was all alone, Jesus is rightly called the “only-begotten son” and “the firstborn of all creation.”—John 1:14; Colossians 1:15.

Clearly, then, as the very first of God’s creations, Jesus could not be the Creator, “the only God.” (1 Timothy 1:17) On the other hand, God granted his Son many privileges. For example, through Jesus, God created “all other things,” including even the angels. These angels are referred to as “sons of God”—Jehovah being their Life-Giver as well.—Colossians 1:16; Job 1:6; 38:7.

After preparing the earth for human habitation, God, apparently speaking to his firstborn Son, said: “Let us make man in our image.” (Genesis 1:26; Proverbs 8:22-31) Thus, Jehovah also created the first human son of God, Adam, through the spirit creature who would become Jesus.—Luke 3:38. (Awake!, March, 2006, “Was Jesus Really the Son of God?,” p. 13: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/102006085; capital, italicized and underline emphasis ours)

And:

Rev. 1:1; 3:14, RS: “The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him . . . ‘And to the angel of the church in La-odicea write: “The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning [Greek, ar·khe] of God’s creation.”’” (KJ, Dy, CC, and NW, as well as others, read similarly.) Is that rendering correct? Some take the view that what is meant is that the Son was ‘the beginner of God’s creation,’ that he was its ‘ultimate source.’ But Liddell and Scott’s Greek-English Lexicon lists “beginning” as its first meaning of ar·khe.(Oxford, 1968, p. 252) The logical conclusion is that the one being quoted at Revelation 3:14 is a creation, the first of God’s creations, that he had a beginning. Compare Proverbs 8:22, where, as many Bible commentators agree, the Son is referred to as wisdom personified. According to RS, NE, and JB, the one there speaking is said to be “created.”) (Reasoning From the Scriptures, “Trinity,” p. 409: http://wol.jw.org/en/wol/d/r1/lp-e/1101989276; bold emphasis ours)

Responding to the Jehovah Witnesses’ Misuse of Revelation 3:14

There are several majors problems with the JW interpretation of Revelation 3:14, which we will highlight here.

In the first place, no reputable translation renders the Greek sentence he arche tes ktiseos tou theou as “the beginning of the creation BY God.” In fact, we have examined over a dozen English versions and none of them translate the genitive tou theou as “by God.” They uniformly rendered this phrase as “OF God,” as can be seen from the following examples:

“And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;” Authorized (King James) Version (AV)

“And to the angel of the church in La-odice′a write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.’” Revised Standard Version (RSV)

If the inspired author meant to say “by God” then he could have signified this by placing the preposition hupo before the words tou theou, just as we find in the following two instances:

“who comforts us in all our affliction, so that we may be able to comfort those who are in any affliction, with the comfort with which we ourselves are comforted by God (hupo tou theou).” 2 Corinthians 1:4 RSV

“but just as we have been approved by God (hupo tou theou) to be entrusted with the good news, so we speak to please, not men, but God, who examines our hearts.” 1 Thessalonians 2:4

There is a subtle difference between rendering tou theou as “BY God” and “OF God,” since the former means the creation that God made, whereas the latter can have that meaning or it can refer to the creation that belongs to God. This could then be interpreted to mean that it was Christ whom the Father designated to personally create all things for God. However, since the Society could not allow for that they went ahead and translated the genitive as “by God” in order to turn Jesus into a creature that God made.

For a more thorough comparison of how various English versions translated this text please consult the second part of our response.

Secondly, the word arche is applied elsewhere in Revelation to God the Father:

“And he said to me: ‘They have come to pass! I am the Alpha and the O·mega, the beginning (he arche) and the end. To anyone thirsting I will give from the spring of the water of life free. Anyone conquering will inherit these things, and I will be his God and he will be my son.’” Revelation 21:6-7

There is no JW that would argue that the use of arche here proves that the Father had a beginning or that he was created. It is evident that what is meant by the phrase is that God has been there from the very beginning of creation since he is the One that created all things. As such, it implies that God is timeless and his years will therefore never end since to exist before creation means that God existed even before time itself began.

Now this puts the JW in a dilemma since these same titles are applied to the Lord Jesus Christ!

“‘“Look! I am coming quickly, and the reward I give is with me, to repay each one according to his work. I am the Alpha and the O·mega, the first and the last, the beginning (he arche) and the end. Happy are those who wash their robes, so that they may have authority to go to the trees of life and that they may gain entrance into the city through its gates. Outside are the dogs and those who practice spiritism and those who are sexually immoral and the murderers and the idolaters and everyone who loves and practices lying. I, JESUS, sent my angel to bear witness to you about these things for the congregations. I am the root and the offspring of David and the bright morning star.”’… ‘The one who bears witness of these things says, “Yes, I am coming quickly.”’ ‘Amen! Come, Lord Jesus.’” Revelation 22:12-16, 20

The context is explicitly clear that the One identifying himself as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end is the risen and exalted Christ. This is brought out from the fact that the Speaker not only goes on to say he is Jesus, but even John himself concludes this chapter by affirming that the One who is coming is none other than the risen Lord.

The following citation further confirms this point:

“To the angel of the congregation in Thy·a·ti′ra write: These are the things that the Son of God says, the one who has eyes like a fiery flame and whose feet are like fine copper: ‘I know your deeds, and your love and faith and ministry and endurance, and that your deeds of late are more than those you did at first… so that all the congregations will know that I am the one who searches the innermost thoughts and hearts, and I will give to you individually according to your deeds.’” Revelation 2:18-19, 23b

Here we are clearly told by the Son of God himself that he shall personally repay each person according to his/her work, a claim which Jesus had already made to his disciples while he was with them on earth:

“For the Son of man is to come in the glory of his Father with his angels, and then he will repay each one according to his behavior.” Matthew 16:27

Astonishingly, the Lord Jesus took the very words that the OT uses to describe what Jehovah shall do,

“Look! The Sovereign Lord Jehovah will come with power, And his arm will rule for him. Look! His reward is with him, And the wage he pays is before him.” Isaiah 40:10 – cf. 62:11

“I, Jehovah, am searching the heart, Examining the innermost thoughts, To give to each one according to his ways, According to the fruitage of his works.” Jeremiah 17:10 – cf. 11:20; 29:23; Psalm 62:12; Proverbs 24:12; Romans 2:6

And applied them to himself! In so doing, Christ was basically claiming to be the very Jehovah God whom the prophets announced would someday come to repay each individual according to what s/he has earned!

In fact, the Lord personally informed his disciples that the Father judges no one since he has committed all judgment to the Son:

“For the Father judges no one at all, but he has entrusted all the judging to the Son…  And he has given him authority to do judging, because he is the Son of man.” John 5:22, 27

It is, therefore, crystal clear that the One speaking in Revelation 22:13 as the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end is none other than the risen Lord of glory.

Now in order for Jesus Christ to be Jehovah he must be eternal, which proves that the JW interpretation of Revelation 3:14 is simply erroneous. Christ is arche not in the sense that he is the first thing that God created, but rather in the sense of being its Source and Ruler. This is brought out by the following passages:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was a god. This one was in the beginning with God. All things came into existence through him, and apart from him not even one thing came into existence.What has come into existence by means of him was life, and the life was the light of men… The true light that gives light to every sort of man was about to come into the world. He was in the world, and the world came into existence through him, but the world did not know him.” John 1:1-4, 9-10

“Now at the end of these days he has spoken to us by means of a Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the systems of things. He is the reflection of God’s glory and the exact representation of his very being, and he sustains all things by the word of his power. And after he had made a purification for our sins he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high… And: ‘At the beginning, O Lord, you laid the foundations of the earth, and the heavens are the works of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; and just like a garment, they will all wear out, and you will wrap them up just as a cloak, as a garment, and they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will never come to an end.’” Hebrews 1:2-3, 10-12

Jesus is identified as the active Agent of creation whom the Father appointed to bring every created thing into existence and then sustain it by his (the Son’s) powerful word. And in Hebrews 1:10-12 cited above, the Father even goes as far as to describe Christ as the unchanging Creator and Sustainer of the universe by applying to him the very words which the following Psalm uses in reference to Jehovah:

O Jehovah, hear my prayer; Let my cry for help reach you… But you remain forever, O Jehovah, And your fame will endure for all generations… I said: ‘O my God, Do not do away with me in the middle of my life, You whose years span all generations. Long ago you laid the foundations of the earth, And the heavens are the work of your hands. They will perish, but you will remain; Just like a garment they will all wear out. Just like clothing you will replace them, and they will pass away. But you are the same, and your years will never end.’” Psalm 102:1, 12, 24-27

Thus, the inspired author has the Father identifying Jesus as Jehovah God Almighty, the One who created and sustains all creation!

Therefore, since Christ is plainly described as the immutable Creator and Sustainer this means that he is the One who is the Source and Originator of all creation. And since he is the One who originated creation Christ is also the One who rules over it, which is precisely why he is said to be the arche of God’s creation. I.e., Christ is the arche of God’s creation because he is the One who brought it into being and rules over it:

“and from Jesus Christ, ‘the Faithful Witness,’ ‘the firstborn from the dead,’ and ‘the Ruler of the kings of the earth.’ To him who loves us and who set us free from our sins by means of his own blood—and he made us to be a kingdom, priests to his God and Father—yes, to him be the glory and the might forever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

“The seventh angel blew his trumpet. And there were loud voices in heaven, saying: ‘The kingdom of the world has become the Kingdom of our Lord and of his Christ, and he will rule as king forever and ever.’” Revelation 11:15

“And the dragon kept standing before the woman who was about to give birth, so that when she did give birth, it might devour her child. And she gave birth to a son, a male, who is to shepherd all the nations with an iron rod. And her child was snatched away to God and to his throne… I heard a loud voice in heaven say: ‘Now have come to pass the salvation and the power and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ, because the accuser of our brothers has been hurled down, who accuses them day and night before our God!’” Revelation 12:4-5, 10

“These will battle with the Lamb, but because he is Lord of lords and King of kings, the Lamb will conquer them. Also, those with him who are called and chosen and faithful will do so.” Revelation 17:14 – cf. 19:11-16

“And he showed me a river of water of life, clear as crystal, flowing out from the THRONE of God AND OF the Lamb down the middle of its main street. On both sides of the river were trees of life producing 12 crops of fruit, yielding their fruit each month. And the leaves of the trees were for the healing of the nations. And there will no longer be any curse. But the THRONE of God AND OF the Lamb will be in the city, and his slaves will offer him sacred service; and they will see his face, and his name will be on their foreheads.” Revelation 22:1-4

This brings us to our next point. In the following example, John sees and hears every single created thing which exists in every single place worshiping the risen and exalted Christ in the same exact way that God himself is worshiped:

“When he took the scroll, the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, and each one had a harp and golden bowls that were full of incense. (The incense means the prayers of the holy ones.) And they sing a new song, saying: ‘You are worthy to take the scroll and open its seals, for you were slaughtered and with your blood you bought people for God out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation, and you made them to be a kingdom and priests to our God, and they are to rule as kings over the earth.’ And I saw, and I heard a voice of many angels around the throne and the living creatures and the elders, and the number of them was myriads of myriads and thousands of thousands, and they were saying with a loud voice: ‘The Lamb who was slaughtered is worthy to receive the power and riches and wisdom and strength and honor and glory and blessing.’ And I heard EVERY CREATURE in heaven and on earth and underneath the earth and on the sea, AND ALL THE THINGS IN THEM, saying: ‘To the One sitting on the throne AND TO THE LAMB be the blessing and the honor and the glory and the might forever and ever.’ The four living creatures were saying: ‘Amen!’ and the elders fell down and worshipped.” Revelation 5:8-14

Not only does this show that Jesus is worthy of the same exact honor that God himself receives, just as he himself had stated while he was on earth,

“For the Father judges no one at all, but he has entrusted all the judging to the Son, so that all may honor the Son JUST AS they honor the Father. Whoever does not honor the Son does not honor the Father who sent him.” John 5:22-23

It also confirms that Christ cannot be a mere creature since John separates him from every created thing that exists, and places him on the same level with God!

Now if Jesus was God’s first creation then we would have expected him to have been placed alongside every created thing and joining them in worshiping God alone. Instead, we find the risen Lord being worshiped by every creature that exists in every place in the same exact way that God himself is worshiped. To say that this is a truly remarkable and astonishing depiction would be a wild understatement.

Once again, in order for Jesus to be uncreated by nature he must be Jehovah God, even though he is not the Father or the Holy Spirit. And if he is Jehovah then he cannot be a creature, which again illustrates why the Society’s explanation of Revelation 3:14 is grossly mistaken.

So much for the Society’s misuse and misinterpretation of Revelation 3:14 to prove that Jesus is a creature.

With that said, do make sure to read the next section of our response in order to see how various translations and commentaries interpret this particular verse https://answeringallah.com/does-revelation-314-teach-that-jesus-is-gods-first-creation-pt-2/

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