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4.6 JESUS Christ the son as Co-Creator

 

In Chapter 3, we demonstrated the overwhelming Scriptural evidence for the full deity of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. We have also shown that the New Testament presents the Son as the very object of divine worship. In addition to these verifiable proofs of the Son’s deity, the New Testament shows that the Son was the very Agent[1] of creation. Keeping consistent with the assumption of unitarianism, Oneness teachers (e.g., Bernard, 1983: 116-17; Segraves, 1996: 31-32) reject this idea. The normal Oneness response to passages that apparently show the Son as Creator is to argue that the Father (Jesus’ divine nature) was the Creator and had the future human non-divine Son in view or on His mind when He created. Thus, Oneness teachers are quick to point out that the Father, through the Son (i.e., the Son in view) created all things (cf. Bernard, 1983: 183; Weisser, 1983: 35).

To establish that the Son was the Creator would mean that He preexisted, hence refuting all Oneness claims. It would turn the Oneness position on its head. For if the Son were the actual Creator, that would mean that He 1) existed before time, thus, was not a part of creation, 2) coexisted with the Father, and hence, 3) is a distinct Person alongside of the Father, as co-Creator. We shall now examine John 1:3, Colossians 1:16-17 and Hebrews 1:2, 10, which affirm that the Son was the actual Creator.

 

John 1:3: “All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” The Greek reads: panta di’ autou egeneto, kai chōris autou egeneto oude en ho gegonen. As noted above, the prologue of John presents a well-defined contrast between all things created or that had origin (i.e., egeneto; cf. vv. 3, 6, 10, 14) and the eternal divine Word (ēn; vv. 1, 2, 4, 9) who created all things. In verse 3, we see the creative activity viewed as one event in contrast to the continuous existence in verses 1 and 2 (Robertson, 1932: 5:5). The phrase panta di’ autou seems to be particularly appropriate to describe the role of the Logos vis-à-vis God and the world (Rodgers and Rodgers, 1998: 175). 

What deepens the argument even more is John’s usage of the preposition dia, followed by the genitive autou. This is a very significant aspect as it relates to the exegesis of the passage. In Greek, dia followed by the genitive clearly indicates “agency” or “means” (cf. Greenlee, 1986: 31; Wallace, 1996: 368; Bauer, 2000: 225). In our exegesis of Colossians 1:16-17 below, this important grammatical point will take precedence in establishing that the Son was the Agent of creation—thus refuting again the Oneness notion of a non-eternal Son. In such a comprehensible and undeniable way, the Apostle John presents the Son, the eternal Word, who was “with” the Father, as the Creator of all things.[2]

 

Colossians 1:16-17: “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. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.” Despite the biblical simplicity, Bernard (1983: 116-17) attempts to circumvent the biblical truth that the Son is the Creator of all things:

 

Perhaps these scriptural passages have a deeper meaning that can be expressed as follows: Although the Son did not exist at the time of creation except as the word in the mind of God, God used His foreknowledge of the Son when He created the world … The plan of the Son was in God’s mind at creation and was necessary for the creation to be successful. Therefore, He created the world by the Son (emphasis added).

 

This is an obvious case of eisegesis. Bernard’s assertion is clear: passages that speak of the Son as the Creator mean that when the Father created all things, He had the “plan of the Son” in mind or in view, that is, “God used His foreknowledge of the Son when He created the world.” Bernard’s conclusion assumes unitarianism and disallows normal exegesis.

In the first place, Colossians 1:13-15 clearly differentiates Jesus from the Father. These verses contextually prohibit the Oneness notion that Jesus is both the Father and the Son: “For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. He [the Son] is the image of the invisible God [the Father].”  Consider also, as we have shown (cf. Chapter 2, 2.4.4), that Paul’s main purpose for writing the book of Colossians was to provide a meaningful refutation of the proto-Gnostic ideology concerning spirit versus matter.

The Gnostic system did not allow Jesus to be the Creator of something so inherently evil as “matter.” In light of this, Paul provides a clear anti-Gnostic polemic by firmly demonstrating that Jesus the Son of God did in fact create all things. Note the clear and forceful (and even redundant) way he presents this: “By Him [en autō] all things [panta] were created … all things [panta] have been created through Him [di’ autou] and for Him [eis auton]. He is before all things [autos estin pro pantōn], and in Him [en autō] all things [panta] hold together” (emphasis added). The following grammatical aspects pointedly codify Paul’s argument:

 

1. Along with John 1:3, Paul employs the neuter panta, which indicate that the Son was the actual Creator of all things. White (1998: 213) remarks on the theological implication of Paul’s use of the neuter:   

 

It is significant that Paul does not use the more popular terms pas or pan, both of which had meanings in Greek philosophy that allowed the creation to be a part of God or God a part of creation (as in pantheism). Instead, he uses a term that makes the creation a concrete, separate entity with the real existence.

 

2. Paul utilizes four different prepositions to magnify his affirmation that the Son was the Agent of creation: All things were created “by/in Him” (en + dative; vv. 16, 17); “through Him” (dia + genitive; v. 16); and “for Him” (eis + accusative; v. 16); and, He is “before all things” (pro + genitive; v. 17). To say again, Paul is speaking here of the Son, not the Father (cf. v. 14).

 

3. As a final point, as with John 1:3, what immediately demolishes the “Son in view” theory is that Paul specifically states that “all things” were created “through [dia] Him [autou]” (viz., the Son). As observed above, we find the preposition dia, followed by the genitive autou grammatically revealing that the Son was the actual Creator Himself. There is no stronger way in which Paul could have articulated that the Son was the real and actual Agent of creation.[3] If Paul wanted to convey the idea that the Son was merely “in view” of the Father or an absent mere conceptual instrument of creation, as Oneness teachers assert, he would not have used dia followed by the genitive.

Rather, he would have exclusively used dia followed by the accusative, but he does not.[4] The Oneness theological assumption that the Son was not the Agent of creation,[5] but merely in view of creation, cannot stand grammatically or contextually—it changes the intended meaning of the text and ignores the chief theme of Paul’s letter.

 

Hebrews 1:2, 10: “In these last days [God the Father] has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world ... And, ‘YOU, LORD, IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS.’” The prologue of Hebrews annihilates the Oneness position regarding its rejection of the preexistence of the Person of the Son. In this prologue the full deity and unipersonality of the Son is cogently expressed (esp. vv. 3, 8). Relative to the preexistence and creatorship of the Son, verses 2 and 10 more than adequately communicate both truths. As with John 1:3 and Colossians 1:16-17 (and 1 Cor. 8:6), verse 2 affirms that the Son was the Creator. In this passage we find again the preposition dia, followed by the genitive: “In these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom [di’ hou] also He made the world” (emphasis added).

Contextually, the core line of evidence that the author presents, which promptly affirms the Son’s creatorship, is the well defined contrast between created things (viz., angels and the heavens and the earth) and the eternality of the divine Son (cf. vv. 2-3, 8-10). In verses 10-12, the author (quoting the Father) applies Psalm 102:25-27 (101:25-27 in the LXX) to the Son.

This is so heavily significant because (a) the Psalm is a reference to Yahweh and (b) the Father is speaking to the Son differentiating Himself from the Son (esp. in light of vv. 8-9).

The referent to the pronoun su, “You” at the beginning of verse 10 (kai su) is back in verse 8: pros de ton huion— “but of the Son He [the Father] says.”  Irrefutably, it is God the Father directly addressing the Son. In verse 8, the nominative for the vocative of address[6] is used, whereas in verse 10, the actual vocative of kurios (kurie) is used, which strengthens the author’s argument even more: “YOU, LORD [kurie], IN THE BEGINNING LAID THE FOUNDATION OF THE EARTH, AND THE HEAVENS ARE THE WORKS OF YOUR HANDS.”

Conclusively, the prologue of Hebrews is one of the most theologically devastating prologues in all of the New Testament for Oneness defenders. Not only does the prologue affirm the deity and eternality of the Son as well as the distinction between the Father and the Son, but also it clearly presents the Son as the actual Agent of creation, the Creator Himself.


 

[1] In the New Testament, agency is commonly expressed in three ways: ultimate agency (the ultimate source of the action; the one directly responsible for the action—apo, hupo, para, + the genitive); intermediate agency (that which the ultimate Agent uses to carry out the action—dia + the genitive); and impersonal agency (that which the ultimate Agent uses to perform the action—en, ek + the dative; cf. Wallace, 1996: 431-32). Biblically, then, the Father was the source (ultimate Agent) of creation, the Son being the intermediate Agent in that He carried out the act for the ultimate Agent (cf. ibid, 431). That the Son is the intermediate Agent of creation does not mean that He was a mere “helper” of sorts, or a secondary agent of God, but rather, He was the actual Agent of creation—namely, that which the ultimate Agent (the Father) used to carry out the action—namely, the Creator of all things. As further discussed in detail, several passages unambiguously and exegetically reveal this important truth (viz. John 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:2, and vv. 10-12). To say again, this point alone utterly collapses and destroys the entire theological foundation of Oneness theology.

[2] Another interesting note pertains to our repeated contention that the Targum may have been the source of John’s Logos theology. Both the Targum and John present the “Word” as the Creator of all things. For example, we read in places such as the targumic rendering of Isaiah 44:24: “I am the LORD, who made all things; I stretched out the heavens by my Memra….” And Isaiah 45:12: “I by my Memra made the earth, and created man upon it; I by my might stretched out the heavens.” There are many other places where the Targum identifies the “Word” (Memra) as the Creator of all things as in John 1:3 (cf. also Gen. 14:19 [Neofiti]; Ps. 33:6; Isa. 48:13; Jer. 27:5; etc.).

[3] In 1 Corinthians 8:6 and, as discussed below, Hebrews 1:2, dia, is followed by the genitive signifying the Son as the Agent of creation. 

[4] Although Paul does use the accusative case in verse 16 (auton), but he uses it after the preposition eis meaning “for” or “because of” and not after dia.  

[5] Oneness teachers along with other unitarian groups (esp. Jehovah’s Witnesses and Muslims) argue that the Son could not have been the Creator because passages such as Isaiah 44:24 and 1 Corinthians 8:6 teach that God (viz. the Father) alone created all things. But as consistently pointed out, Oneness teachers assume unitarianism/unipersonalism in that they envisage God as one Person—the Father. The doctrine of the Trinity, in contrast to a unitarian assumption, teaches that God is one undivided and unquantifiable Being who has revealed Himself as three distinct coequal, coeternal, and coexistent Persons. The three Persons share the nature (ousia) of the one Being. As fully God it can be said that the Father is the Creator (cf. Acts 17:24), the Son was the Creator (cf. John 1:3; Col. 16-17; Heb. 1:2, 10), and the Holy Spirit is the Creator (cf. Job 33:4). For the one God is indivisible and inseparable (cf. Deut. 6:4; Isa. 45:5). Therefore, passages like Isaiah 44:24, which speak of God creating by Himself and alone are perfectly consistent with Trinitarian theology. Again, the three Persons are not three separate Beings; they are distinct self-conscious Persons or Selves sharing the nature of the one Being. Unless one clearly realizes what the biblical doctrine of the Trinity actually teaches, the doctrine will be confounded and misrepresented as Tritheism.

[6] The fact that the nominative theos with the vocative force is used does not in any way remove the meaning of direct address. The usual way of addressing God in both the LXX and the New Testament was the nominative for the vocative (cf. Wallace, 1996: 56-57; Reymond, 1998: 272; also cf. John 20:28; Rev. 4:11). So common was the nominative for the vocative that every time theos is directly addressed in the New Testament, only in one verse (Matt. 27:46) does theos actually appear in the vocative case: thee mou thee mou— “My God, My God ...”