Friday, August 30, 2013

Jesus Christ - The Beginner of all things

Revelation 3:14 “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:

Among the titles that Jesus uses in His letter to Laodicea, the one that stands out is the one rendered by the NASB "the Beginning of the creation of God". In surveying several other English translations, "God's Word Translation" of 1995 renders it the best: "the source of God's creation".  In simpler terms, we could take this word and translate the Greek text as "the beginner of God's creation."  Hence in today's post we will briefly consider what Jesus meant when He termed Himself "The beginning (or beginner) of God's creation."

The church of Laodicea appears in Colossians and would had been familiar with Jesus' designation as the beginning (or beginner)
There is only one other place in the Bible where the city of Laodicea appear - Paul's letter to the Colossians.  In Colossians 4:12-13 "Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis."  Laodicea, Hierapolis and Colosse were little more than 5-10 miles from one another and drew their wealth and livelihood from living around the fertile area of the Lycus River. Now the reason why we are interested in the book of Colossians is because the Greek word translated "beginning" in Revelation 3:14 is the same word we find in Colossians 1:18. Colossians 1:18 states: "He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginningthe firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything."  Whenever you read the previous verses of Colossians 1:16-17, as well as the following verses of Colossians 1:19-20, you discover that all things were created through Him and for Him, and that all things (including the church) consist or hold together because of the Son.  Thus whenever you read the word "beginning" in Colossians 1:18, you could just as easily translate the word as "beginner".  Colossians 1:19-20 applies this same thought to Jesus being the Beginner or head of His church. With the Laodicean church having received Paul's circular letter to the Colossians, they would had been familiar with the terminology of Jesus being "the beginning" or more appropriately translated "the Beginner". 

All of creation began through the Son
John 1:3 says these words - "All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being." The message of this verse is powerful in that it states something about Jesus Christ as the Beginner both positively and negatively.  A positive statement tells us what something is, whereas a negative statement defines something by noting what is not present.  Positively, Jesus Christ is the Agent through which all things came into being.  By His action and agency, everything, both visible and invisible, came into existence.  To further reinforce this point, John states the same truth negatively, namely that without the Son, nothing could exist. This second phrase is important in that it proves that Jesus Christ is not a creature nor part of the creation.  Rather His sharing in the same nature with the Father and the Spirit makes Him, along with the Father and the Spirit, the Creator God.  As One God, the Father is the Author, the Son is the Agent and the Spirit is the Animator of creation. 

The Old Testament asserts the eternal pre-existence of the Son as the Beginner 
Proverbs 8:22-23 states: “The Lord possessed me at the beginning of His way, Before His works of old. 23 “From everlasting I was established, From the beginning, from the earliest times of the earth." The NASB handles this verse perhaps better than most English translations in that it captures the point that Solomon is making about the Eternality of Wisdom.  Wisdom is personified in Proverbs 8, prompting many able Bible commentators to conclude that this is an Old Testament appearance of Jesus Christ speaking. Despite the failed efforts of some, Proverbs 8:22-23 does not disprove the Deity of the Son, rather it reinforces the full Deity of Jesus Christ.  How? If the Son has been possessed or as some translations put it "acquired" from eternity, at what point in eternity would that had occurred? Answer: in eternity there is no beginning, since eternity by definition is an endless succession of moments. The following logical statements below will bear out (hopefully) the point I am making:

Major Premise: Eternity means an endless stretch of moments  had no beginning nor ending before creation

Minor Premise: God the Father had acquired or possessed the Son in eternity

Hence: The Son is eternal as the Father is eternal, having been with Him from all eternity.  
Conclusion about the title of the Son as being the Beginning (or Beginner) of creation
We looked today at the title used by Jesus in Revelation 3:14 "the beginning of God's creation".  Through word studies in Colossians 1:18 and Proverbs 8:22-23, we concluded that we could rendered this title as Jesus being the Beginner of creation and His church.  Such a title is Jesus' way of asserting His eternality and His co-shared role as Creator along with the Father and the Spirit. 

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