Jesus Was Not the Agent of the Material Creation

Ray Faircloth

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Oct 16, 2020
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Jesus Was Not the Agent of the
Material Creation



Trinitarians and others hold the view that Jesus was either directly the creator of the physical universe or the co-creator with God, the Father. In other words, Jesus was the agent of creation. However, sometimes God, the Father is viewed as being the architectural designer for everything in the universe who assigned “the Son” to do the ‘hands on’ work according to that blueprint, so that “the Son” is “the builder” or “the maker” of everything! Yet, in contradiction of these thoughts, the Scriptures use such terms as “builder,” and “maker” with his “own hands” with reference only to Yahweh as for example: “He that constructed all things is God” (Heb. 3:4). This is one of many Scriptures that we shall examine whereby Yahweh declares Himself to be, not just the designer of the universe, but also the ‘hands on’ maker of the universe. Note also that in the Genesis One account the words ‘create (Heb. bara) and ‘make’ (Heb. asa) are both attributed to God so there can be no argument to the effect that God was creator by virtue of being only the architect, but “the Son” was the maker by virtue of any supposed ‘hands on’ work. Such wrong-headed thinking would make for the existence of two creators. Therefore, this wrong thinking means that they are either independent creators or co-creators to one another—working in harmony.


NOTE: Evidently Jesus does act as God’s agent, but it is in producing the New Creation which does not bring about new material things. In being this agent, Jesus works in harmony with the Father and is therefore also the co-creator of the New Creation by virtue of his sacrifice.


With No Personal Agent Mentioned

Yahweh Alone Produced the Material Creation


ACCORDING TO YAHWEH HIMSELF

“I Yahweh made everything. I stretched out the heavens by myself. I spread out the earth all alone”

(Isa. 44:24).​

Also see NASB, ESV, NKJ, REB. The NLT renders it as: “I alone stretched out the heavens.” Indeed, according to The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges this means: “there was none to help me.” However, it has been argued that in Daniel 4:30 the king of Babylon’s boast of: “Is not this Babylon the Great that I myself have built for the royal house with the strength of my might…?” nullifies the thought that Yahweh did not have an agent as indicated in Isaiah 44:24. Nevertheless, this argument is invalid because this was merely a boast by Nebuchadnezzar and he gave no credit to his architects or actual builders. In contrast to such boastfulness, if Yahweh had used an agent for the creation of the universe, he would have given that person credit for such work. However, no such statements are made in any passage of the Scriptures regarding the making of the universe, because there was no personal agent. Although a few Trinitarian theologians claim that Yahweh is Jesus, we have seen in earlier chapters that this is not the case. According to the Scriptures Yahweh alone is God and is a separate person from Jesus. So, we can be confident when reading in the following scriptures that Jesus was not the creator of the heavens or the earth. But rather Yahweh says: “I myself made the earth, and created humans upon it. My own hands stretched out the heavens. I commanded all their forces” (Isa. 45:12 CEB). Furthermore, God says: My hands made the earth’s foundation and spread the heavens out” (Isa. 48:13 GNT), “Where were you when I founded the earth” (Job 38:4 CJB) and ‘“I have made all these things. That is why all these things have come into being,’ declares Yahweh (Isa. 66:2 NOG). Many hundreds of years later God is quoted as saying, “Did not my hand make all these things?” (Acts 7:50 ESV). So clearly, Yahweh is saying that He did not use a personal agent for the making of the universe.

ACCORDING TO HEBREW SCRIPTURE WRITERS

The consensus of all these writers was that God used no agent in the creating of the universe: they unanimously show that: “God…rested from His work of creation” (Gen. 2:3 CSB), “He alone stretches out the heavens” (Job 9:8), “Yahweh made the heavens” (Ps. 96:5) and thatYahweh made the earth by his power. He set up the world by his skill. He stretched out the world by his understanding” (Jer. 10:12 NOG). Indeed, the singularity of God as the only one who did all of the work is emphasized by Isaiah and Nehemiah who say:

Yahweh created the heavens. Elohim formed the earth and made it. He set it up. He did not create it to be empty but formed it to be inhabited. This is what Yahweh says: I am Yahweh, and there is no other (Isa. 45:18 NOG).

“You alone are Yahweh. You made heaven, the highest heaven, with all its armies. You made the earth and everything on it, the seas and everything in them. You give life to them all, and the armies of heaven worship you” (Neh. 9:6 NOG).

In the often-misapplied comments about personified wisdom we learn that:

“…He [God] made the land, the fields, or the first soil on earth. I [wisdom] was there when He established the heavens, when He laid out the horizon on the surface of the ocean, when He placed the skies above, when the fountains of the ocean gushed out, when He set a limit for the sea so that the waters would not violate His command, when He laid out the foundations of the earth”
(Prov. 8:26-29 HCSB).

All these inspired writers attest to the fact that God used no personal agent for creating the universe or for preparing the earth or for making the first humans. Why would He?


ACCORDING TO JESUS

Jesus speaks of, “…the creation that God created” (Mark 13:19 ESV) and “He who created them in the beginning made them male and female” (Matt. 19:4 CSB).

If Jesus had been the agent of the material creation, he gave no hint of this in spite of having many opportunities to do so. Furthermore, Paul and the heavenly beings also acknowledge that God was the constructor of the universe by His own hands:

ACCORDING TO PAUL

Paul speaks of, “God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them” (Acts 14:15 ESV), and “The God who made the world and everything in it” (Acts 17:24-26 ESV).


ACCORDING TO THE WRITER TO THE HEBREWS

“For it was fitting for him [God], for whom and through whom all things exist…”
(Heb. 2:10 NET).

“…but the builder of all things is God
(Heb. 3:4 NET).

“And God rested on the seventh day from all his works…” (Heb. 4:4 NET).


ACCORDING TO HEAVENLY BEINGS

“Fear God...Worship the one who made heaven and earth, the sea and springs” (Rev. 14:7 GWT).

“He swore an oath by the one who lives forever and ever, who created heaven and everything in it” (Rev. 10:6 GWT).

“Our Lord and God, you deserve to receive glory, honor, and power because you created everything. Everything came into existence and was created because of your will”
(Rev. 4:11 GWT).

Because all these statements are completely personal to Yahweh it is impossible to imply that He is only the architect and that a personal agent did all the actual work, especially in view of the statement that “God rested” after the creation work, rather than anyone else.

God Used His Word/Wisdom/Power/and Spirit
for Creating Everything



From Genesis to second Peter we learn that God’s only agency was from Himself, namely His own wisdom, word, and power: “And God said: Let there be light...” (Gen. 1:3 ESV), “The heavens were made by the word of Yahweh” (Ps. 33:6 NOG), “God’s spirit made me” (Job 33:4 CEB), and “God made the earth by his might; he shaped the world by his wisdom, crafted the skies by his knowledge (Jer. 10:12 CEB). Indeed, centuries later the Apostle Peter restated the above facts, saying, “…the heavens existed long ago and the earth held together out of water and through water by the word of God (2 Pet. 3:5 LEB). Although Jesus is the agent of the new creation (as shown in later chapters) there is no mention in the Scriptures of God’s use of another person as agent for creating the things described in Genesis chapters 1 and 2. Yahweh did it all by His own power/spirit/wisdom.



Texts Misapplied to Jesus as If He

Were the Agent of Creation



GENESIS 1:26

“Let Us Make Man in Our Image”


In the Genesis account these words were most likely spoken to the angels who had been on hand to observe at least parts of God’s creative activity. As God said to Job: “Where were you when I laid the foundation of the earth? … when the morning stars sang in chorus, and all the sons of God shouted for joy?” (Job 38:4, 7). So, the New International Bible Commentary notes that: “The rabbinic interpretation that God is speaking to the angels is more attractive for man’s creation affects them (Ps. 8:5; 1 C. 6:3), cf. Job 38:7. But there is no suggestion of angelic cooperation.” (p. 115). Also, the Notes to the NIV give the same understanding: “Us...our...God speaks as creator-king, announcing his crowning work to the members of his heavenly court (see Gen. 3:22; 11:7; Isa 6:8; see also 1 Ki. 22:19, 23; Job 15:8; Jer. 23:18).” This harmonizes with the Psalmists words of:

“God has taken his place in the divine council; in the midst of the gods [“angels” Syriac Peshitta] he holds judgement” (Ps. 82:1 ESV). (See also note Daniel 7:9-10).


If the words of Genesis 1:26 were spoken to the assembly of angels, then surely the pre-existent Jesus would have been included if he were an archangel; but that does not in any way mean that God was speaking only to someone who supposedly was to become Jesus later. However, the Scriptures clearly show that Jesus came into existence in Mary’s womb (Luke 1:35). Note 47sn of the NET Bible explains that:

The plural form of the verb has been the subject of much discussion through the years, and not surprisingly several suggestions have been put forward. Many Christian theologians interpret it as an early hint of plurality within the Godhead but this view imposes later Trinitarian concepts on the ancient text. Some have suggested the plural verb indicates majesty, but the plural of majesty is not used with verbs. C. Westermann (Genesis, 1:145) argues for a plural of “deliberation” here, but his proposed examples of this use (2 Sam 24:14; Isa 6:8) do not actually support his theory. In 2 Sam 24:14 David uses the plural as representative of all Israel, and in Isa 6:8 the Lord speaks on behalf of his heavenly court. In its ancient Israelite context, the plural is most naturally understood as referring to God and his heavenly court (see 1 Kgs 22:19-22; Job 1:6-12; 2:1-6; Isa 6:1-8). (The most well-known members of this court are God’s messengers, or angels. In Gen 3:5 the serpent may refer to this group as “gods/divine beings.” See the note on the word “evil” in 3:5.) If this is the case, God invites the heavenly court to participate in the creation of humankind (perhaps in the role of offering praise, see Job 38:7), but he himself is the one who does the actual creative work (v. 27). Of course, this view does assume that the members of the heavenly court possess the divine “image” in some way. Since the image is closely associated with rulership, perhaps they share the divine image in that they, together with God and under his royal authority, are the executive authority over the world.


In fact, Genesis 1:26 is a reference only to the creation of mankind on Day 6 and not to the earlier creative activity. It therefore harmonizes with the statement in Isaiah 44:24 that Yahweh created the heavens and the earth by Himself and asks rhetorically: “Who was with me at that time?” (ISV). This implies that no one else participated in that creative work.


THE THREE OTHER OCCURRENCES OF GOD’S REFERENCE TO “US”

“Then Yahweh Elohim said, “The man has become like one of us, since he knows good and evil”
(Gen. 3:22 NOG).


“Come, let us go down and confuse their language…”
(Gen. 11:7 LEB). Yet in Genesis 18:21 God says, I will go down now.”

“Whom should I send? Who will go for us?”
(Isa. 6:8 CJB).

Additionally, it is evident in 1 Kings 22:19 that Yahweh encourages the angels to get involved in the decision-making process. Therefore it appears that in each of the above cases Yahweh is speaking to His assembly of angels and not to a so-called second person of the Godhead. Indeed, reputable theologians today never use Genesis 1:26 in any attempt to prove the Trinity.

~

PROVERBS 8:22, 23, 24 and 30

“Yahweh Possessed Me, the First of His Ways”


In these texts God’s wisdom is wrongly taken as being an actual person who acted as agent of creation rather than correctly viewed as personification (prosopopoeia). Personification is a figure of speech whereby something such as an inanimate object or an abstract idea e.g. a quality, is given animated (human or animal) characteristics. Personification never involves a literal person. So, The Adam Clarke Commentary on Proverbs 8 says: “Nor has it any other meaning in this whole chapter, whatever some of the fathers may have dreamed, who find allegorical meanings everywhere.”



NOTE: The feminine gender of “wisdom” (Heb. hokma and Gk Sophia) does not bear on our study.


Wisdom Is Not an Actual Person


Regarding Proverbs 8 Professor James Dunn states that: “there is no clear indication that the wisdom language of these writings has gone beyond vivid personification.” The text says:

“Yahweh possessed me, the first of his ways, before his acts of old. 23From eternity, I was set up from the first, from the beginning of the earth” (Verses 22, 23).


Word-for-word from the Hebrew it is: “he-possessed-me....from-eternity” (Heb. 'oh.lam = antiquity, ancient time, days of old. Brown, Driver and Briggs, p. 761 1a). Indeed, Proverbs 1:20,21; 2: 2-4; 3:13-18; 8:1-21; 8:22-36; 9:1-5 all personify wisdom by using the pronouns she and her in almost all Bible translations, as well as the Hebrew interlinear and the Septuagint. So, Catholic theologian Karl-Josef Kuschel says:


Nor is there any tradition that Lady Wisdom was ever misunderstood in Israel as a ‘real’ goddess appearing alongside Yahweh ... If we look at the texts closely, wisdom in Proverbs 8, as throughout the Hebrew Canon, is not an intermediate or middle being...


The “Master Worker” Is Not a Pre-existent Jesus


Traditionally verse 30 reads: “…then I came to be beside him as a master worker, and I came to be the one he was especially fond of day by day” (verse 30). However, there is no disconnection between Proverbs 8:21 and 8:22. The word “me” connects both verses. So, it is still the personified Lady Wisdom speaking and therefore, the master worker of verse 30 is also “her.” However, this text is obscure. The Hebrew interlinear reads: “Then I was beside him craftsman and I was delights day day one rejoicing in presences of him at all of time.” The smooth rendering here is:


“I was beside the master craftsman, delighting him day after day” (NJB).


This shows God to be the master craftsman. Also, the Complete Jewish Bible renders it as: “I was with him as someone he could trust” and the JPS renders it as: “Then I was by Him as a nursling.” Others have “nursling” or as a footnote: “little child.”

The Reasons Jesus Is Not in View in Proverbs 8

Although, Jesus “became wisdom to us from God …” (1 Cor.1:30 also 1 Cor. 1:24; Col. 2:3) because he “went on progressing in wisdom” (Luke 1:52), this does not mean that he is in view in Proverbs 8. The New American Commentary volume 14 explains why 1 Corinthians 1:24 should not be used to interpret the Wisdom of Proverbs 8 as being a pre-existent Jesus when it says:


Perhaps the strongest argument for taking Prov. 8 to be an Old Testament portrait of Christ is 1 Cor.1:24, where Paul calls Christ “The wisdom of God”. Close examination of the text, however, reveals that Paul’s description of Christ is not an allusion to Prov.8 and that it provides no basis for interpreting Proverbs in this way. First, Paul’s purpose in 1 Cor. 1:24 is not to point to Old Testament texts that relate to Christ but to address the scandal of the cross. In particular he faces the issue of the offence created when he proclaims that the crucified Jesus is the Son of God and Savior of the World. To the Greeks this is sheer folly. When he says that Christ is the wisdom of God, he means it functionally in the sense that the crucified Christ is God’s profound way of salvation despite whatever human reason might think of the idea. He also calls Christ the Power of God in the same verse in response to Jews who expect the Messiah to come in overwhelming power. Second, it is not appropriate to take Paul’s comment and make it the interpretive grid for an Old Testament text to which Paul made no allusion whatsoever. Similarly, one should not take a text that describes the power of God (e.g., Ps. 78:4 ff.) and claim that it is really a description of Christ on the basis of 1 Cor. 1:24. It would be as if one were to take 1 John 4:8 (“God is love”) and on that basis claim that 1 Cor. 13 is really intended to be read as a description of God. p.112.

What Is the Wisdom Spoken of in Proverbs 8?

Verse 24 says that wisdom “was brought forth.” Yet God’s wisdom has always been with Him—it never came into existence. However, the specific wisdom that is God’s creative purpose and plan i.e. His “word” working in creation and which was produced at a particular point in past time was “brought forth.” Again, The New American Commentary explains saying:

Finally, Woman Wisdom of Prov 8 does not personify an attribute of God but personifies an attribute of creation. She is personification of the structure, plan, or rationality that God built into the world. She is created by God and fundamentally an attribute of God’s universe. p. 113.

So, because we are dealing with personification, Lady Wisdom, as the figure of speech, would have been born at a point in time. Nevertheless, Jesus was not “brought forth” until his birth from Mary (Luke 1:35). Therefore, Jesus is not in this Proverbs 8 picture of wisdom. For example, just because Jesus also becomes “righteousness and sanctification” (1 Cor.1:30), we are hardly expected to come to the conclusion that it is speaking of Jesus whenever we see these words in the rest of the Scriptures. This, too, must be true of the word “wisdom.” ________

The synoptic parallel accounts Luke 11:49/Matthew 23:34 show God’s wisdom is not a second person, but is Himself, e.g. “…the wisdom of God said, ‘I will send to them prophets…” (Luke 11:49 NASB). However, the parallel text in Matthew shows that it is actually a paraphrased quotation from 2 Chronicles 36:15 and therefore refers to God Himself in Matthew 23:34: “…here I [God] am sending forth to you prophets...” In fact, right within the Proverbs 8 passage are contained statements that Yahweh was the actual maker of the original creation as a careful reading of the passage shows.



In Proverbs 8
Yahweh Is the Actual Maker of Creation



It is the context and the proper understanding of the type of language used that helps one to properly understand this section of Proverbs which is evidently not speaking of a literal person but concerns personification of God’s wisdom in making the material creation. So, for Proverbs 8 such context leads us to know that the passage is speaking of Yahweh and not of a pre-existent Jesus as the creator of the universe. In harmony with all the above Scriptures we learn that:



“…before he [Yahweh God] made the earth and its fields, or the beginning of the dust of the world. 27 When he established the heavens, I was there; when he marked out the horizon over the face of the deep, 28 when he established the clouds above, when the fountains of the deep grew strong 29 when he gave the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass over his command, when he marked out the foundations of the earth” (Prov. 8:26-29 NET).

​

However, confusion arises over this subject of a pre-existent Jesus because of four passages in the Christian Greek Scriptures. These are Colossians 1:15-18, Revelation 3:14, Hebrews 1:10-12, and 1 Corinthians 8:6. It is by a thorough examination of the contexts of these passages that it can be seen that the writers’ intentions were to speak of Jesus’ role as the agent of the new creation, so this is the next subject that we will consider.


Jesus Is the Agent of God’s New Creation



As shown in the previous chapters, the Scriptures make it abundantly clear that only Yahweh was the creator of the physical universe as well as of the Genesis creation regarding the earth. Indeed, He had no agent just as He stated in Isaiah 44:24 that:


“I Yahweh am the maker of all things, stretching out the heavens alone, spreading forth the earth by myself (Isa. 44:24 Rotherham).


There are many other Scriptures that also directly state that only Yahweh was the sole creator of the universe and dozens more which strongly imply the same and so giving some fifty texts in all. However, a few Scriptures also inform us that Jesus is an agent of creation. Clearly there is no contradiction in the Scriptures, so we have to ask: in what context or in what regard is Jesus an agent of creation? The answer we discover concerns the many biblical statements concerning “the new creation” such as:

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17 NET).

“…the only thing that matters is a new creation!”
(Gal. 6:15 NET).

“For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works…”
(Eph. 2:10).

Inasmuch as Jesus’ sacrifice reconciles humans to God this has brought about “the new creation”—a new order of society. Furthermore, the point of focus in Isaiah 51:16 is “the new creation.” Here God says to the future Messiah:

“And I have put my words in your [Messiah’s] mouth…to plant the heavens and to found the earth, saying to Zion, ‘You are my people” (Isa. 51:16 LEB).


The Word Biblical Commentary, the Fausset Commentary, and others all recognize this verse as applying, not to the original creation, but to Messiah and the new heavens and earth. So, with God’s words in his mouth Jesus, as Messiah, plants the New Heavens and lays the foundation of the New Earth by his ransom sacrifice. Additionally, the focus of the New Testament Scriptures is forward looking, toward the reconciling of mankind to God through Jesus and not backward looking toward the physical creation.

So now we will begin to examine the three passages which directly show Jesus to be an agent of creation. These are: Colossians 1:15-18, Hebrews 1:10-12, and Revelation 3:14. Our examination will concern a few aspects of translation, grammar, the context, and background of these passages, as well as taking into account the overall context of “the new creation” in the New Testament Scriptures. Additionally, 1 Corinthians 8:6 speaks of “one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things, and we are through him.” But what does “all things” include in these contexts? Are there factors showing that this does not refer to the entire universe?



The New Creation in 1 Corinthians 8:6

As with many other passages in the New Testament Scriptures, 1 Corinthians 8:6 shows that the One God has made new creatures by reconciling us to Himself through the One exalted Lord who is also over all gods. Paul writes that:

“…to us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things, and we are for Him, and there is one Lord, Jesus Christ through whom are all things and we (God’s people) are through him (LEB).



THEME
AND CONTEXT

The context of Paul’s words is shown in verse 4 where he says: “We know that an idol is nothing, and there is no God but one.” So again, this is not about past material creation but about the present worship of the one God of the Shema (Deut. 6:4).



THE “ALL THINGS” ARE “NEW THINGS” THROUGH CHRIST


From 8:6a we have already learned that “all things” are from the “one God, the Father.” So, it must be a different “all things” which come through Christ and which involve “we” i.e. God’s people which is called “a new creation.”


“Therefore, if anyone is in the Messiah, he is a new creation. Old things have disappeared, and—look!—all things have become new (including the new creation reconciled to God, life in the age to _come, immortality, and new heavens and earth)!” (2 Cor. 5:17 ISV).


“…and through his Son to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace through him, through having his Son shed his blood by being executed on a stake”
(Col. 1:20 CJB).

Indeed, all (new) things are from God because we are reconciled into Him, i.e. “we for Him.” And all (new) things are through Christ, mediated through him because of his sacrifice. So, as we will see in a moment in Colossians 1:16, the phrase ‘all things’ must be understood in its context as the new creation. So, too, in the case of 1 Corinthians 8:6 the “all things” is limited to those new things concerning those who worship the One God only and avoid idolatry and which new things come through the “one Lord Jesus Christ.” So here we find that it is the New Creation rather than the original material creation which is referenced. In commenting on 1 Corinthians 8:6, theologian Karl-Josef Kuschel notes that:

Jesus Christ is certainly the mediator of God in establishing the new creation, but he is evidently not the divine mediator at creation, before time. Born Before all Time? p. 291.



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LeeB

Well-known member
Dec 3, 2022
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Where was the third member of the trio ? After all scripture confirms that the Holy Spirit is the Father of Jesus and not the one called the Father. The Holy Spirit gets left out of almost everything. In Revelation there is the throne of the Father and the throne of the lamb/Jesus. Jesus always prayed to the Father but not his real Father the Holy Spirit.
In may of the letters of the Apostles is says, God the father and the Lord Jesus Christ. There is no instance anywhere of anyone praying directly to the Holy Spirit. Why is it that the Holy Spirit gets left out of almost everything ? As Mr. Faircloth explains above, the Father is the Holy Spirit. There is only one God, the Father, who is Holy and who is Spirit.