The Wisdom Argument
A common argument by the so-called “Jehovah Witnesses” is that Jesus is the “wisdom” mentioned in Proverbs the 8th chapter. Thus, Jesus is a created being (Proverbs 8:22).
If one lets them define the terms, such seems reasonable. But who ever said that “wisdom” here refers to Jesus? Not one New Testament writer ever makes such a point. These verses are never quoted and applied to Jesus. Never does any Bible writer here or elsewhere ever say that the reference here is to Jesus. Robert Morey writes, “This passage refers to ‘wisdom’ and not to Christ.” Another consideration is this, “wisdom,” that is being spoken of in Proverbs, is pictured as female. Notice that this is true (Read Prov. 1:20-23; Prov. 2:1-11; Prov. 8:1-3, etc.). This seems to be a significant blow to anyone that would attempt to use this passage to prove that Jesus was merely created. Robert Morey recommends this when studying with one who uses this argument, “Have him read Provers 2:1-7 and try putting Christ in every place where wisdom is mentioned. This does away with his argument in a hurry.” (Robert Morey, How to answer a Jehovah’s Witness, p. 20).
There is also the issue of how to interpret the Hebrew word which appears in the passage. The NKJV reads, “The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way, before His works of old” (Proverb 8:22). Some other translations read similarly (e.g., KJV, ASV, NASB, ESV). The NWT reads, “Jehovah himself produced me as the beginning of his way, the earliest of his achievements of long ago.” Some other translations read similarly (e.g., RSV, NIV, NRSV, NET). The original word is qanah. It has a wide range of meanings. Strong’s say, “To erect, i.e., create … to procure … to own” BDGB says, “gain, acquire, possess … get, acquire … buy.” Consider how the word is used in Proverbs: Proverbs 1:5; 4:5; 4:7; 16:16; 17:16; 18:15; 19:8; 23:23. It clearly is used in ways which do not mean create. The NWT recognizes this in how it renders these other occurrences in the book of Proverbs.
Even if one could establish that “produced” or “created” is the meaning (which seems unlikely from how the word is used in Proverbs), one would still need to prove that Christ is intended in the text. This cannot be done. Created wisdom may simply mean the wisdom by which God would have man live. Robert Morey suggests “wisdom in Proverbs is “seeing life from God’s perspective” (ibid).
The Firstborn Argument
Another argument comes from Colossians 1:15, where Jesus is referred to as “the firstborn of every creature.” Thus, it is concluded that if Jesus is called the “firstborn” then, He must be created.
The term “firstborn” can refer to rank, or authority, and does not always have to do with birth order. W.E. Vines indicates that the word can mean “priority” or “preeminence over … not in the sense of being the ‘first’ to be born.” Vines goes on to say, “It is used occasionally of superiority of position in the Old Testament – see Exodus 4:22; Deuteronomy 21:16-17…”
Consider these examples: (1) Ephraim is called the “firstborn” (Jeremiah 31:9). Yet, Ephraim was not Joseph’s firstborn, chronologically (Gen. 48:18-19). The reference is to Ephriam’s greatness and preeminence. (2) In Psalm 89:27 someone is spoken of with the words, “I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.” There are two views here. (a) Some think that the reference here is to David. If this be so, understand that David was not the first-born, chronologically of Jesse (1 Samuel 16:10-ff). The reference must be of position, or of rank. (b) Others have believed that the reference here is to Christ. In Bible studies with the Jehovah Witnesses they have so understood. If this refers to Christ, they have a serious problem with their ‘firstborn’ argument. This is the case because they acknowledge that Christ was already in existence at this point, yet the “I will make…” is in the future tense. The meaning is clear by looking at the last part of the verse. The meaning is that he will be made “higher that the kings of the earth.” Kittle’s says rightly that the wording can mean “first in rank.”
In the Israelite culture the firstborn son possessed special privileges. When the father died, the firstborn son succeeded the father as the head of the house (see Zondervan’s Pictorial Dictionary). Now God, the Father, has not died. Nor, was Jesus, the Son born into existence – as if never existing prior (Micah 5:2). But the Father has given the Son “All authority” (Matthew 28:18; John 5:22-23). The Son is “heir of all things” (Hebrews 1:2).
On Colossians 1:18 – Jesus was not the first to be raised from the dead. Others were resurrected. But He is the Pre-eminent Resurrected One. The Resurrected One that gives all others hope (Rom. 1:4; Heb. 9:12, 22-24, Rev. 1:18).
Adam Clarke had a slightly different take on this. He wrote, “As the Jews term Jehovah … the firstborn of all the world, or of all creation, to signify his having created or produced all things … so Christ is here termed (in Col. 1:15 – B.H.) and the words which follow in the 16th and 17th verses are the proof of this.”
The Beginning of the Creation of God Argument
Revelation 3:14 reads in reference to Jesus, “the beginning of the creation of God.” Thus, some have concluded that Jesus must be the first thing which God created.
The word translated “beginning” is “arche.” It is from this word that we get our word “architect.” Wayne Jackson wrote that this word “sometimes carries the meaning of ‘originator,’ conveying the idea of that by which something begins to be, rather than implying chronological commencement.”
Look at how the word is used. Hebrews 2:10 reads that Christ is “the captain (author-NASB) of their salvation…” The word is “arche.” Does the word here mean that Jesus was the first person saved? Or does this denote that He was the originator of salvation? The answer is obvious. Wayne Jackson wrote of Revelation 21:6, “God is designated ‘the beginning (arche) and the end’ … if beginning denotes the Lord’s commencement in time … would ‘end’ suggest an ultimate termination for God?” Clearly no! The reference is to His eternal existence in context.
Here is a couple of definitions. Vine’s says that the word can mean “the origin, the active cause.” Thayer says the word can mean, “beginning, origin …that by which anything begins to be, the origin, the active cause.”
Brother Coffman’s commentary says of Revelation 3:14, “Plummer pointed out that the words here bear two possible interpretations: “The two meanings are: (1) that which would make Christ the first created thing of all things created, and (2) that which would understand Christ as the source of all things God created.”
Well, Jesus certainly had a role in creating all things. John 1:3 declares, “All things were made by Him; and without Him was not anything made that was made.” Colossians 1:16 also says, “For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.”
Numerous passages teach that Jesus had a role in creating all things. Where is the clear passage which speaks of His being created?