"The firstborn of every creature: for by (Jesus) 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: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead..." (Col.1:15-18). This is typical of those passages which can give the impression that Jesus actually created the earth.
1. If this were true, then so many other passages are contradicted which teach that Jesus did not exist before his birth. The record in Genesis clearly teaches that God was the creator. Either Jesus or God were the creator; if we say that Jesus was the creator while Genesis says that God was, we are saying that Jesus was directly equal to God. In this case it is impossible to explain the many verses which show the differences between God and Jesus (see Study 8.2 for examples of these).
2. Jesus was the "firstborn", which implies a beginning. There is no proof that Jesus was God's "firstborn" before the creation of the literal earth. Passages like 2 Sam.7:14 and Ps.89:27 predicted that a literal descendant of David would become God's firstborn. He was clearly not in existence at the time those passages were written, and therefore not at the time of the Genesis creation either. Jesus became "the Son of God with power" by his resurrection from the dead (Rom.1:4). God "hath raised up Jesus again; as it is also written in the second psalm, Thou art My Son, this day have I begotten thee" (Acts 13:32,33). Thus Jesus became God's firstborn by his resurrection. Note too that a son standing at his father's right hand is associated with being the firstborn (Gen.48:13-16), and Christ was exalted to God's right hand after his resurrection (Acts 2:32 R.V.mg.; Heb.1:3).
3. It is in this sense that Jesus is described as the firstborn from the dead (Col.1:18), a phrase which is parallel to "the firstborn of every creature" or creation (Col.1:15 R.V.). He therefore speaks of himself as "the first begotten of the dead...the beginning of the creation of God" (Rev.1:5; 3:14). Jesus was the first of a new creation of immortal men and women, whose resurrection and full birth as the immortal sons of God has been made possible by the death and resurrection of Jesus (Eph.2:10; 4:23,24; 2 Cor.5:17). "In Christ shall all (true believers) be made alive. But every man in his own order: Christ the firstfruits, afterward they that are Christ's at his coming" (1 Cor.15:22,23). This is just the same idea as in Col.1. Jesus was the first person to rise from the dead and be given immortality, he was the first of the new creation, and the true believers will follow his pattern at his return.
4. The creation spoken about in Col.1 therefore refers to the new creation, rather than that of Genesis. Through the work of Jesus "were all things created...thrones...dominions" etc. Paul does not say that Jesus created all things and then give examples of rivers, mountains, birds etc. The elements of this new creation refer to those rewards which we will have in God's Kingdom. "Thrones...dominions" etc. refer to how the resurrected believers will be "kings and priests, and we shall reign on the earth" (Rev.5:10). These things were made possible by the work of Jesus. "In him were all things created in the heavens" (Col.1:16 R.V.). In Eph.2:6 we read of the believers who are in Christ as sitting in "heavenly places". Thus these verses are teaching that the exalted spiritual position which we can now have, as well as what we will experience in the future, has all been made possible by Christ. The "heavens and earth" contain "all things that needed reconciliation by the blood of (Christ's) cross" (Col.1:16,20), showing that the "all things...in heaven" refer to the believers who now sit in "heavenly places...in Christ Jesus", rather than to all physical things around us.