By Steven Bancarz| Those who deny the deity of Christ will often say that he never claimed to be divine, and that his divinity is something that was ascribed to him later by the early church. This is not historically accurate. Not only did Jesus claim to be divine in a variety of different ways during his earthly ministry, he claimed to be the creator of the universe specifically.
This puts Jesus into a whole different category all together. For those who want to say Jesus was just a prophet, what kind of prophet would claim to be the God of the universe? We could look at verses where he claimed to be the Messiah and the fulfillment of prophecy, or verses where he claimed to have attributes and authority only God had.
We could look at how Jesus said only God should be worshiped, but then allowed himself to be worshiped, or we could look at all the verses in the Bible demonstrating that Jesus is God. Here is an article on the topic of Jesus claiming and proving himself to be God. But right now, we are going to something much more narrow in scope.
We are going to look at scripture communicating that Jesus believed himself to be the creator of heaven and earth; the God of Isreal. If we could prove from scripture that Jesus is God (which we can), then we could infer that Jesus must have created the universe. But we are going to cut to the chase and look at verses indicating directly that Jesus was the primary agent in the act of creation.
This is expressed most clearly in a verse found in John 8:58, where Jesus is having a discussion with the Pharisees. After Jesus claimed that Abraham rejoiced to see his day, Jesus made a self-proclamation that was so radical that the Pharisees wanted to stone him.
When they asked Jesus how he could have seen Abraham seeing that he was not even 50 years old yet,
“Jesus said to them, ‘Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I Am.’
So they picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and went out of the temple.” – John 8:58-59
What does “I Am” mean?
“I Am” is one of the names of God in the Old Testament. This is the name God referred to himself as when Moses asked him who he should tell Isreal had sent him to speak to them.
In Exodus chapter 3, it reads: “Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” God said to Moses, “I am who I am.”
And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel: ‘I am has sent me to you.’” – Exodus 3:13-14
This is why the Jews wanted to stone Jesus on the charge of blasphemy. This is why they said to him: “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” – John 10:33
He said he existed before Abraham (which implies divinity), and then further claimed to be the God of the Old Testament specifically. And the phrase he used when he said “I am”, is the same words God used in the book of Exodus in the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible):
“ἐγώ εἰμί” – ego eimi
The God of the Old Testament is the creator of the universe as revealed in Genesis 1:1:
“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
If the God of the Old Testament created the universe, and the God of the Old Testament called himself “I Am”, and Jesus claimed to be the “I Am” that existed prior to Abraham, then this means Jesus believed himself to be the creator of the universe. The Jews would have taken this as Jesus claiming to be Yahweh, the proper name of the God of the Old Testament used over 6000 times in Scripture.
And Yahweh claimed to have created the universe by Himself:
Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, who formed you from the womb: “I am the Lord, who made all things, who alone stretched out the heavens,
who spread out the earth by myself, – Isaiah 44:24
If Yahweh said He created the universe by Himself, and Jesus claimed to be the I Am of the Old Testament (Yahweh), then Jesus was claiming here to be the Creator of the universe.
The apostles believed Jesus created the universe
The apostle John believed that Jesus created the universe, and says this in two different places within the very first 10 verses of his Gospel. This indicates that this doctrine was important to the apostle and that he wanted the readers of his Gospel to know that Jesus had this role in creation right out of the gate:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” – John 1:1-3
“He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.” – John 1:10
This is a powerful statement coming from an eyewitness of the ministry of Jesus. That Jesus is the eternal Word sharing deity with the Father, and that this Word (or Logos) became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). The apostle Paul also believed that the universe was created through Jesus. Paul, who claimed to have seen the risen Jesus, gives us independent attestation that Jesus had a fundamental role in creation.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” – Colossians 1:15-17
“yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.” – 1 Corinthians 8:6
So from Paul, we learn that all things that are visible and invisible were created by and through Jesus Christ. 1 Corinthians is one of the earliest of Paul’s epistles, dating to around 55-56AD, meaning this is a very early belief held about Jesus Christ.
In the King James version exclusively, we see a verse in Ephesians where it reads:
“And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ:“ – Ephesians 3:9
While translations that translate from the majority text (such as the ESV or NASB) do not end with “who created all things by Jesus Christ”, this does give us another example of Jesus being involved in creation depending on what text and documents you believe hold most authority and weight in the translation process.
An interesting verse is found in the book of Acts, where Peter tells the Jews:
“But you denied the Holy and Righteous One, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and you killed the Author of life, whom God raised from the dead. To this we are witnesses.” – Acts 3:15
The Greek work for “Author” here is “archegos”, which means “originator, beginner, founder, prince, leader, head”:
Can you imagine how the Jews would have felt being told they killed the Author of life? This means that Jesus is the one who began, initiated, and originated life in the first place. This is something God was said to do in the Old Testament, and something the apostles believed about Jesus right after the resurrection of Jesus.
We have further mention of this in the book of Hebrews. While we are not sure that Hebrews was written by an apostle (although some believe it was written by either James or Paul), it says:
“In these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom also he made the universe.” – Hebrews 1:2
The author of Hebrews pulls from an Old Testament verse in Pslam 102:25-27 and attributes it to Jesus:
And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands;” – Hebrews 1:10
“For it was fitting that he, for whom and by whom all things exist, in bringing many sons to glory, should make the founder of their salvation perfect through suffering.” – Hebrews 2:10
Other verses such as Hebrews 3:3, Hebrews 11:3, and Pslam 33:6 also indicate in a more indirect way that the universe was created through Jesus Christ. This is a very pervasive and consistent belief held by the disciples, Paul, and other New Testament authors.
What does it mean when it says the universe was created “through” Jesus?
The Greek word for “through” is “dia” which means ‘through’, ‘via’, and ‘by’. Dia is used 660 times in the New Testament, where it translates to “through” 184 times, “by” 131 times, and “because” or “because of” 77 times.
In the Septuagint, it also means “thanks to” or “with the aid of”, but in this case this word is translated to “through”. “Through”, according to Merriam-Webster, is a word “used as a function word to indicate means, agency, or intermediacy: by means of, by the agency of, because of. ”
To say the universe was created through Jesus is to say it was created by the means of and because of Jesus. By the agency of Jesus Christ the universe was created. This is clearly established in the New Testament from the verses we just looked at, but is there any Old Testament support for this idea?
Let us make man in our image
Since we know that the New Testament clearly teaches the universe was created by the means of Jesus Christ as a primary agent of creation, this shines light on the creation account in the book of Genesis it reads:
Then God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” – Genesis 1:26
Notice how God says “let US make man in OUR image”, seeming to indicated a unity and plurality within God Himself. Who was the Father speaking to as co-creators in the initial act of creation? Who else is said to share the same image as God?:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” – Colossians 1:15
There are many different interpretations of “us” and “our” in this verse. While some argue this is God referring to Himself in a deliberately plural sense, this verse is now best understood as being a reference to the unity of a persons within the Godhead. A communion between the Father, the Son, and The Holy Spirit to bring about man as an act of their creation.
This interpretation is highly supported by the New Testament passages we have already looked at, where Jesus is said to be the creator of all things in Heaven and earth. While the people reading the Old Testament would not have originally known that God was a trinity in nature, God’s progressive revelation in the New Testament regarding the person of Jesus shines a new interpretive light on Genesis 1 and is best explained by the plurality of persons within the Godhead.
In fact, this verse in Genesis 1:26 would allow us to conclude that Jesus was involved in the creation the universe by merely establishing a trinity in the New Testament. If there is a trinity, Jesus was involved in the creation of the universe by virtue of the fact that a plurality within the Godhead is conveyed here. That would be enough.
But in addition to this inference from the doctrine of the trinity, we have many specific and direct references to Jesus as creator of the universe in particular.
Jesus claimed to be the God of the Old Testament (John 8:58) which means he believed to share divine nature with the Father. He didn’t claim to be the Father, but claimed to share unity with the Father (which is best understood under trinitarianism.)
The God of the Old Testament brought man into existence by referring to plurality/unity of persons in the Godhead (Genesis 1:26) which gives us Old Testament precedence for believing Jesus was involved in creation at some level. But we have many New Testament verses demonstrating that Jesus was a primary agent of creation itself.
He didn’t just agree with the Father’s act of creation, he was intimately involved in the act of creation itself as a causal agent. Here is a list of the verses we have looked at so far which demonstrate Jesus is the creator of the universe:
1. John 8:58
2. John 1:1-3
3. John 1:10
4. Colossians 1:15-17
5. 1 Corinthians 8:6
6. Ephesians 3:9
7. Acts 3:15
8. Hebrews 1:2
9. Hebrews 1:10
10. Hebrews 2:10
11. Hebrews 3:3, Hebrews 11:3, Psalm 33:6
12. Genesis 1:26
Jesus’ role in creation as it is revealed in scripture creates a fascinating and compelling case for the deity of Christ. This view was held by the apostles, by other New Testament writers, by Jesus himself, and it is evidenced in the creation account of Genesis 1. Jesus is not only Christ, he is also Creator and God.
“The Word, who in the beginning bestowed on us life as Creator when He formed us, taught us to live well when He appeared as our Teacher that as God He might afterwards conduct us to the life which never ends.” – Clement of Alexandria (AD 150–215), Exhortations to the Heathen, 1.