Does Revelation 3:14 Teach That Jesus Was Created?
Eric V. Snow, sermonette, November 1, 2008, UCG-Detroit, MI
Is Jesus Christ God? Could Jesus be only the Son of God, but not God? Did God the Father create Him? Did the One who became Jesus have a beginning millions of years ago? Unfortunately, some associated with the Church of God are now teaching that Jesus isn’t God, but that He was created. You could also encounter this teaching the next time you answer your door and get preached at: Jehovah’s Witnesses also claim that the Father created Jesus. Today, let’s look at one “difficult scripture” that’s commonly used to argue that the One who became our Savior was created.
S.P.S. Revelation 3:14 doesn’t prove that Jesus was created, despite it could be interpreted that way.
Does this verse prove Jesus was created? Now, because God is the Creator, He wasn’t created. Therefore, by using a standard definition for “God,” He didn’t have a beginning in time. So then, if Jesus had a beginning to His life, He couldn’t be God. Of course, this kind of reasoning has its limits. The God Family itself doesn’t have a beginning, but could Jesus as a Member of it have had a beginning?
Let’s now remember one fundamental, basic principle of interpreting the Bible correctly: Always use clear, unambiguous Scriptures to determine doctrine. Use clear, unambiguous texts to clarify the meaning of obscure, unclear, ambiguous texts. True, this verse taken by itself could be interpreted either way: Does “the beginning of the creation of God” refer to the first being or entity made by the Father? Or does it mean Jesus was “the beginning of the creation of God” by starting to make the universe?
The crucial Greek word here is “arche.” It has more than one meaning. First of all, it can mean “ruler.” The NIV translates part of this verse as “the ruler of God’s creation.” Second, “arche” can mean “source” or “origin.” This merely confirms again Jesus is the Creator. For example, the Moffatt translation reads: "the origin of God's creation." The TEV (GNB) has "the faithful and true witness, who is the origin of all that God has created."
True, this text theoretically could mean Jesus was created. It is ambiguous standing just by itself. Suppose the rest of the Bible is ignored when interpreting it. Then it could mean God created the Word as His first creative act when making the universe.
Let’s now think about the problem of “cafeteria exegesis” when interpreting the Bible. In a cafeteria, we can choose what food want you want when we’re in line. But now, should we interpret the Bible this way? Suppose we open up a heavy-duty Greek-English lexicon. Much like a Spanish-English dictionary, it allows us to look up the words in another language that correspond with the English words. Suppose for a given Greek word there are 5 meanings in English. However, suppose only one of those five meanings supports the particular interpretation of a Scripture that we prefer. Do we then dogmatically insist that that one meaning is correct, and the others wrong, in order to prove the doctrine we want to prove? Could one of those other meanings be what God intended for us to understand? If so, shouldn’t we admit that we can’t prove our case then? (Church government example).
This then leads to a key point about the Bible’s teaching about Jesus being God. It’s far easier to reconcile the few unclear texts that could say Jesus isn’t God to fit the many more that show Jesus is God. It’s much harder to constantly have to reinterpret and explain away the many texts that prove Jesus is God in order to fit the few unclear Scriptures that could be interpreted to mean Jesus isn’t God.
Basic problem in COG subculture: Jews assumed to be right because they can read Hebrew and respect God’s law. And, of course, the Jews believe God is one Person only. Their traditions should not be assumed to be true. Jesus made that very clear in his debates with the Pharisees, won’t turn to here. For example, the Jews are wrong concerning interpretation of the Messianic prophecies, the date for the Old Testament Passover (Nisan 14 vs. 15), and the date for Pentecost (Sivan 6 vs. the 7th Sunday after the weekly Sabbath during the Days of Unleavened Bread). Jewish tradition should be no more respected than Catholic tradition: Just because God used the Catholic (or Eastern Orthodox) church to preserve the New Testament doesn’t mean they are right when interpreting it. The same goes for the Jewish interpretation of the Old Testament. We shouldn’t assume the Jews are any more right than the Catholics!
It’s very difficult for Unitarians and Arians to explain away this section of Scripture, although they do try really hard.
V. 1: Instead of saying God was in the beginning, it says the Word was in the beginning, compare to Genesis 1:1. Poetic language indicates unusual significance.
V. 3: If the Word created all things, He couldn’t have been created. If someone says “all” doesn’t mean “all,” that this universal term isn’t universal, one needs a clear text from elsewhere in the Bible to limit it.
V. 14: The Word became flesh. The incarnation of God is a true Biblical teaching.
Conclusion: The Bible teaches that Jesus is both God and the Son of God. Revelation 3:14 does not teach that Jesus was created. True, this Scripture could mean Jesus had a beginning when the rest of the Bible’s teaching on this subject is ignored. But it’s important as a rule of Bible interpretation that we should use clear, unambiguous verses to determine doctrine, not unclear, ambiguous verses. So let us rejoice in our salvation knowing that God so loved us that God Himself died for us.