Index To All Three Sections
PART I ... John 1:1, Theos, The Strikingly Significant Parallels between Yahweh In The Old Testament, and Jesus In The New
PART II ... Three Significant Titles Jesus Claimed For Himself, The Claims Jesus Made, Prerogatives Reserved Solely for God, Jesus' Appeal to Other Witnesses, Worship, Hypocrisy Unlimited? The Jehovah’s Witnesses and Hebrews 1:6
PART III ... Rebuttal Arguments..Matthew 19:16-17,Philippians 2:5-8, Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32, Luke 2:52, Colossians 1:15-18, Jesus and The Father, Conclusion
PART III... ON THIS PAGE
Matthew 19:16-17... There is None Good
Was Jesus really denying His own goodness,
Philippians 2:5-8.. Jesus "Emptied Himself"
like so many other verses, has been wrested from it's context, which has led to more erroneous interpretations than a dog has fleas.
Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32...Jesus Did Not Know
How could He say that he did not know the day and hour of a future event?
Luke 2:52... Jesus Increased In Wisdom And Stature.
Colossians 1:15-18... The Firstborn Of All Creation
Was Christ the first created being, therefore not eternal?
John 16:27-30... What Does Jesus "Came Forth" Mean
Jesus and The Father
Jesus Was From Everlasting
Jesus and The Father Are One, Yet Distinguishable From Each Other
Coming To A Decision About Jesus in Light Of His Claims
Four passages in particular are often used as proof that Christ was not Deity, Matthew 19:16-17, Colossians 1:15-18, Philippians 2:5-8, and Matthew 24:36, which we will examine in turn.
Matthew 19:16-17... There is None Good
And, behold, one came and said unto him, Good (Gr. agathos) Master, what good thing (Gr. agathos) shall I do, that I may have eternal life? And he said unto him, Why callest thou me good (Gr. agathos)? there is none good (Gr. agathos) but one, that is, God: but if thou wilt enter into life, keep the commandments. [Matthew 19:16-17. [Also See Mark 10:18 and Luke 18:19]
Many sects believe that Jesus was denying His own goodness, which was a characteristic of God alone.
However, the problem is that, the Greek word (agathos) used by both the ruler, and Christ Himself, is a very generic term used of many things. Jesus Himself said there were both "good" things and "good" people.
that ye may be sons of your Father who is in heaven: for he maketh his sun to rise on the evil and the good (Gr. agathos), and sendeth rain on the just and the unjust. [Matthew 5:45]
And those servants went out into the highways, and gathered together all as many as they found, both bad and good (Gr. agathos): and the wedding was filled with guests. [Matthew 22:10]
His lord said unto him, Well done, good (Gr. agathos)and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord...His lord said unto him, Well done, good (Gr. agathos)and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will set thee over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy lord. [Matthew 25:21,23]
Ye offspring of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh. The good (Gr. agathos) man out of his good (Gr. agathos) treasure bringeth forth good things (Gr. agathos): and the evil man out of his evil treasure bringeth forth evil things. [Matthew 12:34-35]
In the New Testament, Jesus was described by two Greek words... dikaios (righteous), and hagios which is the 'holy' in "Holy Spirit". If the same word is used to describe both the Spirit of God and Jesus, it is hardly likely that Jesus was saying that He Himself was not "good".
But ye denied the Holy (hagios) and Righteous (dikaios) One, and asked for a murderer to be granted unto you, [Acts 3:14. Also See Acts 7:52; 22:14]
My little children, these things write I unto you that ye may not sin. And if any man sin, we have an Advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous (dikaios) : [1 John 2:1]
Which leaves us but one sensible option, as outlined by J.P. Holding...
In Jewish thought, God was pre-eminently good, so that the ruler was indeed offering Jesus a compliment usually reserved for God. Since it is quite unlikely that the ruler truly believed that Jesus was identifiable as God the Son, this looks more like an effort by Jesus to make the man think about what he is saying before he blurts it out or engages in indiscriminate flattery. 
Jesus was not denying that He was "good", but was essentially asking the ruler if understood the implications of his own words. Whether he realized it or not, by calling Him "good" the Jewish man was identifying Jesus with God.
Note too that Christians are also instructed to be both Holy (hagios) and Righteous (dikaios). See What Is Holiness?]
Philippians 2:5-8... Jesus "Emptied Himself"
is one of the most controversial passages in the Bible, interpreted a myriad of different ways.
Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus: who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being made in the likeness of men; and being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, becoming obedient even unto death, yea, the death of the cross. [Philippians 2:5-8]
The discussion centers around whether or not Jesus was God prior to coming to earth, and whether or not He retained His Divinity when He took human form. Also what the phrase "emptied Himself" means.
How one answers these questions has huge implications, since they define how a person views Jesus. However, as said in my article "Context is Crucial,
No Biblical author simply strung together a number of lofty sounding phrases disconnected from one another. Since each verse is an integral part of a particular point the author was trying to make, no one should read, much less base their beliefs on stand alone verses. The reader can only be accurately informed by God's Word the way it is written... in its context, which means understanding what overall message the chapter is intended to convey.
Since virtually all individual verses in the Bible can only be fully understood and assessed as part of the surrounding verses, which form the setting, or the big picture, you should ignore verse numbers and read at least several paragraphs, if not the whole chapter more than once... perhaps several times. This will almost always result in the discovery of a very clear theme, and distinct message, which will often illuminate, or throw a different light on a particular verse. In other words, the verse may not mean exactly what you had previously been lead to believe, or thought it meant. [See Context Is Crucial]
Philippians 2:5-8, like so many other verses, has been wrested from it's context, which has led to more erroneous interpretations than a dog has fleas. What we have to do is examine the overall context, especially the verses leading up to the passage in question.
From the general tone of the epistle to the Philippians, it seems that there was little in the church in Philippi that required rebuke. Paul, who never shrank from strong words of condemnation when it was deserved, writes to the Philippians in a very affectionate vein, more in the language of a spiritual father writing to a beloved flock, rather than the authority of an apostle writing to a wayward church.
The only problem area in Philippi seemed to be some disunity, and possible discord.
In the first four verses of chapter two, Paul beseeches the Philippians to make his joy full by "being of one accord, of one mind". He pleads with them to live in harmony and avoid strife, and adds that they should do nothing through conceit or selfishness, but consider the welfare of others before their own. Now read the disputed verses in context
If there is therefore any exhortation in Christ, if any consolation of love, if any fellowship of the Spirit, if any tender mercies and compassions, make full my joy, that ye be of the same mind, having the same love, being of one accord, of one mind; doing nothing through faction or through vainglory, but in lowliness of mind each counting other better than himself; not looking each of you to his own things, but each of you also to the things of others. [Philippians 2:1-4]
In this regard, Paul says in verse 5..
"Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" [Philippians 2:5]
Paul points to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of One who was the epitome of selflessness. Telling the Philippians to have the same "mind" as Jesus Christ, means that they needed to follow the example of Christ himself, and develop a Christ-like attitude. In other words, the apostles was telling the Philippians to think like Jesus, and act like Jesus.
But what did Jesus do to demonstrate the attitude Paul wanted the Philippians to adopt. The next few verses say that Jesus [All Emphasis Added]
 Who, being in the form (Gr. morphe) of God, thought it not robbery to be equal (Gr. isos) with God:  but emptied (Gr. kenoo), himself, taking the form (Gr. morphe) of a servant, being made in the likeness of men  And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.  Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:  That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; [Philippians 2:6-10]
The context makes it very clear that Paul wanted the Philippians to humble themselves, just as the Son of God humbled Himself by coming to earth as a poor man ridiculed by many, and then suffering an agonizing and humiliating death... all to save man. (“not to be served, but to serve and to give His life a ransom for many"... Mark 10:45; Matthew 20:28)
I have no idea how it could get any simpler. But humans, being what they are, seem determined to read all kinds of nonsense into this passage, which actually is a clear statement of Christ's Deity. Examining the details of the passage doesn't change a thing.
Equal: The Greek word translated "equal" is isos. Although used sparingly in the New Testament, the following few examples show that isos definitely means equal.
And when the first came, they supposed that they would receive more; and they likewise received every man a shilling. And when they received it, they murmured against the householder, saying, These last have spent but one hour, and thou hast made them equal (Gr. isos) unto us, who have borne the burden of the day and the scorching heat. [Matthew 20:10-12]
If then God gave unto them the like (Gr. isos) gift as he did also unto us, when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I, that I could withstand God? [Acts 11:17]
Equal is an absolute term. Either something is equal, or it is not. Therefore, nothing less than God Himself can be "equal with God”. Even while He was on earth, Jesus claimed equality with the Father. [See Section on The Claims Jesus Made]
Form of God and Form of Man: The term "the form of God" in verse 6, finds it's parallel in the very next verse, which says "form of a servant". We cannot separate the two, nor can we read a different meaning into each of them, especially considering that both phrases use the same Greek word morphe, which is where we get the English morph (to be transformed or changed), and metamorphosis (a complete change of physical form or substance). Note the use of the same word when Jesus appeared to some of the Disciples on the road to Emmaus (Also See Luke 24], an incident which took place after the resurrection.
And after these things he was manifested in another form (morphe) unto two of them, as they walked, on their way into the country. [Mark 16:12]
Some Christians believe the “form of God” to be a reference to the visible appearance as God, which makes no sense whatsoever, since this explanation can not be applied to the parallel "form of a servant". Jesus did not visually appear to be man, but became a real man... "And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us" [John 1:14]
Others consider that the "form of God" has to refer to the attributes and characteristics that make God, God. However, when Paul says Jesus took "the form of a servant", it is an obvious reference to Jesus Christ becoming a flesh and blood human being. Therefore, it should be equally obvious that, when he says that Jesus existed "in the form of God", Paul was referring to Jesus being God, not that He was always with God, and/or had all the characteristics of God.
Emptied Himself: Some versions have translated verse 7 ... But made himself of no reputation and took upon him of a servant..."
The phrase "of no reputation" does not convey the meaning of kenoo, the Greek word used. kenoo means to make empty. In other words Jesus emptied Himself.
One major problem is that people have added the word "of" into the verse [See Footnote IV]. They assume verse 7 says Jesus emptied Himself "of" something. They then proceed to list the various things He supposedly 'emptied Himself of". For instance, His divine attributes and characteristics, which would means He was not God on earth (See Galatians 4:8). However, we are reading into the text what is simply not there. The verse does not say Jesus emptied Himself "of" anything, just that He "emptied Himself", which makes perfect sense in the context in which it was written. Repeating what was said earlier...
In the first four verses of chapter two, Paul beseeches the Philippians to make his joy full by "being of one accord, of one mind". He pleads with them to live in harmony and avoid strife, and adds that they should do nothing through conceit or selfishness, but consider the welfare of others before their own. In this regard, Paul points to Jesus Christ as the ultimate example of One who was the epitome of selflessness. He tells the Philippians to "Have this mind in you, which was also in Christ Jesus" [Vs. 2:5]. They needed to follow the example of Christ himself, and develop a Christ-like attitude. In other words, the apostle was telling the Philippians to think like Jesus, and act like Jesus.
Instructing the Philippians to empty themselves just as Jesus emptied Himself, is simply another way of saying what Jesus Himself said
And he said unto all, If any man would come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow me. For whosoever would save his life shall lose it; but whosoever shall lose his life for my sake, the same shall save it. [Luke 9:23-24]
To "empty oneself' is exactly the same as to 'deny oneself".
Incidentally the phrase "emptied Himself" bears a striking resemblance to a section of Isaiah 53, which is a description of the suffering Servant. Verse 12 says "he poured out his soul unto death, and was numbered with the transgressors"
If "emptied Himself" refers to Jesus dumping out all His divine attributes and characteristics, then Paul's words make absolutely no sense, since human beings cannot do any such thing. Besides which, it certainly seemed that Jesus possessed any number of Divine attributes when He was on earth, such as Omniscience or 'all-knowing'. [See Section on Common Attributes in Part I]. In any case wasn't it Paul who said
Which brings us to another disputed verse...
Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32
Few passages of the Bible have caused more serious difficulties to readers, and more disagreement among interpreters, than Matthew 24:36 and its parallel in Mark 13:32. Both Gospels relate how one of the disciples, apparently taken with the splendor of the temple, commented on it's size and beauty, and the immensity of the stones of which it was constructed. To which Jesus made the dire prophecy that the time was coming when not one stone would be left still standing on another.
Some of the disciples then, asked Jesus in private (Matthew names these disciples as being Peter, James, John and Andrew) when this would come to pass, and when the end of the age would come (24:3). Jesus' answer is not immediately forthcoming, but a little later in each chapter, He is reported to have said that no one, except the Father, knew the day and the hour of the Second Coming. Not all Bible versions say the same thing, since some manuscripts have Jesus saying that even He did not know the exact timing of future events, while other manuscripts do not specifically include Him among those that did not know.
King James Version [KJV]
But of that day and hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels of heaven, but my Father only. [Matthew 24:36]
But of that day and that hour knoweth no man, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father. [Mark 13:32]
Youngs Literal Translation [YLT]
And concerning that day and the hour no one hath known--not even the messengers of the heavens--except my Father only; [Matthew 24:36]
And concerning that day and the hour no one hath known--not even the messengers who are in the heaven, not even the Son--except the Father. [Mark 13:32]
New American Standard Bible [NASB]
But of that day and hour no one knows, not even the angels of heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. [Matthew 24:36]
But of that day or hour no one knows, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but the Father alone. [Mark 13:32]
New International Version [NIV]
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [Matthew 24:36]
No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father. [Mark 13:32]
Some believe the omission can be explained by reluctance to attribute ignorance to the Son. However, this does not make sense, since even the commonly used versions that omit the controversial words from Matthew 24:36, include them in Mark 13:32. Besides which, the final phrase... "but the Father alone", already implies that Jesus did not know.
The problem, and, to some people it is a considerable one, is... If Jesus was God, how could He say that he did not know the day and hour of a future event?
Three Different Explanations
All three of the most reasonable explanations have been presented here. Each has it's own merits and shortcomings.
Some believe that the verb translated "knows" sometimes means to "make known" or to reveal. They appeal to 1 Corinthians 2:2 in which the word can be understood in that sense.
For I determined not to know (Gr. oiden) anything among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified. [1 Corinthians 2:2]
In other words, Paul resolved to teach nothing but Jesus Christ, and him crucified. In other words to make known Jesus... to preach the Gospel. Therefore, if eido is used in the same sense, Matthew 24:36/ Mark 13:32 would read
But of that day and that hour no man will make known, no, not the angels which are in heaven, neither the Son, but the Father (only will announce it).
Jesus' Human Limitations
The Bible Knowledge Commentary says this about Matthew 24:36 and Mark 13:32 respectively
"The precise moment of the Lord’s return cannot be calculated by anyone. When the Lord spoke these words, that information was said to be known by only the Father. Christ was obviously speaking from the vantage of His human knowledge (cf. Luke 2:52), not from the standpoint of His divine omniscience."
"This openly expressed limitation on Jesus' knowledge affirms His humanity. In His Incarnation Jesus voluntarily accepted human limitations, including this one (cf. Acts 1:7), in submission to the Father’s will (cf. John 4:34)." [Walvoord, John F., and Zuck, Roy B., The Bible Knowledge Commentary, (Wheaton, Illinois: Scripture Press Publications, Inc.) 1983, 1985.]
This explanation suggests that Jesus was, for want of a better term, a sort of a divided person, with a human side and with a divine side. However, the New Testament presents Jesus as someone who is both human and Divine. The Gospels speak clearly and eloquently of Jesus’ supernatural knowledge. For example, in Matthew 17.27 Jesus knew that the first fish Peter would catch would have a coin in its mouth, enough to pay the temple tax for both Peter and Jesus.
But, lest we cause them to stumble, go thou to the sea, and cast a hook, and take up the fish that first cometh up; and when thou hast opened his mouth, thou shalt find a shekel: that take, and give unto them for me and thee. [Matthew 17:27]
Jesus told Nathaniel that He had seen him under a fig tree and knew him to be a man without guile [John 1.48].
Also note how many times in the New Testament we are told of Jesus "knowing" things that only God could know
And knowing their thoughts he said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: [Matthew 12:25 and Luke 11:17]
But he knew their thoughts; and he said to the man that had his hand withered, Rise up, and stand forth in the midst. And he arose and stood forth. [Luke 6:8]
But there are some of you that believe not. For Jesus knew from the beginning who they were that believed not, and who it was that should betray him. [John 6:64]
Besides which, in both Matthew and Mark, in the verses between the asking and answering of the question about the timing of His return, Jesus was able to give the disciples great details about the many signs that would signal the nearness of the second coming. For example, in Matthew 24, He ...
warned the disciples of false christs (Vs. 4-5). Wars, famines, plagues and earthquakes which will be the beginning of sorrows (Vs. 7). Persecution of his followers (24:9-10). Apostasy from the truth and false prophets (Vs. 10-13). The Spread of The Gospel in all the earth (vs. 14). The Abomination of Desolation (Vs.15). The Severity of the Great Tribulation (Vs. 21-22), Warning against False Christs (24:23-28). The conditions immediately preceding the appearance of the Son of Man, and the fact that He will return "the clouds of heaven with power and much glory" (Vs. 29-31)
One has to admit that this makes it more than a little strange that the only thing that Jesus did not seem to know was the exact day and hour Heaven and earth would pass away.
Was Jesus really ignorant of the time of His return, or is it possible that the original Greek says ...
Nobody Has Known
A second school of thought believes that the English translations do not accurately reflect the original Greek. They say that while
is a linguistically possible sense of the Greek, the literal translation is:
(Note that Young's Literal Translation of the Bible does say nobody has known)
The Greek word word translated 'knows' is oiden ,
Vine's Expository Dictionary of Biblical Words says oiden comes from the same root as eido (to see) and is the 3rd person singular perfect tense. Although the perfect tense is used for completed actions in the past, oiden is a perfect tense with a present meaning... literally to have seen or perceived, hence, to have knowledge of, although it is often translated as if it were a present, “I know.”
In other words, one knows what one has seen.
'No one has known', or 'Nobody has seen' has a completely different connotation from 'no one knows', because it is actually saying 'nobody has known in the past'.
However, for Jesus to answer a question of when "these things" would come to pass, with a nobody has known seems, somehow, not to make a whole lot of sense. The answer seems not to fit the question very well.
None of these interpretations are without difficulty and although the matter has been wrestled with by theologians for eons, it may be near impossible to come to any final conclusion as to what exactly Jesus meant. There is little question that the overwhelming lesson of this chapter is a very important warning from our Lord to be very spiritually aware.
However, it seems almost inescapable that Jesus' plainly stated that he did not know when the end of the age would come. We quite simply do not have the slightest idea of why He would not know the date of such momentous importance. It is possible that since His return depended on the completion of his earthly mission, He could not really know the time of his return until after His death and resurrection.
However, this simply cannot be used to prove that He is not Deity since He had already given the disciples innumerable details of the many signs that would precede His return.
A similar argument has been made for the verse which states that ...
Luke 2:52... Jesus Increased In Wisdom And Stature.
In any case, to some, this is not the only puzzling statement in the Gospels. For example Luke 2:52 tells us that Jesus increased in wisdom and stature.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man. [Luke 2:52]
However, I see little or no problem with this statement. It is highly unlikely that Jesus was completely aware of His mission from the day He was born. Can one even imagine even Jesus as a baby or a toddler being actually aware that... for example, 1) The world was created through Him and 2) he was going to be crucified for the sins of mankind? This seems like an extremely silly notion.
What makes far more sense is that, regardless of the fact that He was God, Jesus quite simply "increased in wisdom and stature" as He grew into adulthood. The knowledge, and burden, must have become ever more crushing as He got older, finally reaching it's culmination in the garden of Gethsemane, when He "fell on his face, and prayed"...
O my Father, if it be possible, let this cup pass from me: nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt. [Matthew 26:39]
However, perhaps what we are forgetting is that although Jesus was, and is, God, He and the Father are one, yet separate. While this is a concept very difficult for the finite mind to grasp, perhaps we will be aided by a clearer understanding of ...
Colossians 1:15-18... The Firstborn Of All Creation
In the verses below, the words "firstborn of all creation" have been, and continue to be, the cause of much debate, especially when talking to members of some groups who claim that this is clear proof that Christ is the first created being, therefore not eternal... that while Christ is certainly 'the first and highest' of God's creation, He is not God.
 who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;  for in him were all things created, in the heavens and upon the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and unto him;  and he is before all things, and in him all things consist.  And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.  For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; [Colossians 1:15-19]
In the first place, using the words "firstborn of all creation" as 'proof' that Christ is the first created being, therefore not God, flies in the face of two other verses in the same book...
For it was the good pleasure of the Father that in him should all the fulness dwell; [Colossians 1:19]
for in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, [Colossians 2:9]
Given below are some New Testament examples of the use of the same Greek word translated "fullness". These make it clear that the word means "complete", or literally "full".
but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, [Galatians 4:4]
And when the seven among the four thousand, how many basketfuls full of broken pieces took ye up? And they say unto him, Seven. [Mark 8:20]
Now if their fall, is the riches of the world, and their loss the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [Romans 11:12]
In other words, Colossians 2:9 does not say that some of the Godhead dwelt in Jesus, but (all) the "fullness" of the Godhead dwelt in Him. In other words, Christ possessed every element of Deity. It would be very difficult to find a clearer statement about the essential deity of the Son, but wasn't that what He and other New Testament writers said all along?
Note: the Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation adds the word "other" five times to Colossians 1:15-20, a word that is not found in the original Greek. [See Footnote IV]
The Standard Christian Rebuttal ...
is usually twofold. They say
1) This interpretation is inconsistent...
a) with the immediate context, which says that all things were created in (by) Him, through Him, and for Him. (Verse 16 above)
b) with the rest of the New Testament, which often affirms Jesus' role as creator.
All things were made through him; and without him was not anything made that hath been made. [John 1:3]
hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; [Hebrews 1:2]
2) The word prototokos has two connotations ...(1) priority, and (2) sovereignty. And, in view of Paul's words "...the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Vs. 18), "it seems probable that Paul has the thought of sovereignty primarily in view". 
Apologist Norman L. Geisler says
So ""Firstborn" implies both Christ's priority to all Creation (in time) and His sovereignty over all Creation (in rank). 
First Born, First in Eminence, or First Created?
Unfortunately I cannot agree. One has to be grateful that, in our day, technology has made it possible for any ordinary person to look up the construction of a Greek word, without having to spend years studying the language. Strong's Hebrew and Greek lexicon says the Greek word prototokos is derived from two other words...
protos which means foremost in time, place, order, or importance and
tikto, which generally means to produce, literally or figuratively, (from seed, as a mother, a plant, the earth, etc.), or to be born/delivered.
In other words prototokos means first-born.
We claim that the Biblical authors were inspired, yet we do not trust the precision of Paul's words. It seems to me that if Paul, as an inspired apostle, and author of two thirds of the New Testament, was trying to say that Christ was first-created, then he would have probably used the Greek word protoktisis (never applied to Christ in the New Testament). If he wished to express the idea of sovereignty, superiority, or priority, he would chosen a term that accurately reflected his thoughts. This is especially true since the apostle was writing in Greek, a language known for it's extensive vocabulary.
The fact remains that Paul said "first-born".
"First-Born" In The Bible
There is no question that, in the Bible, the "first-born" did not necessarily mean just the order of birth. Remember that the one who was born first had special rights, privileges, and a double portion of the inheritance, not shared by the younger siblings. However, there were several circumstances under which the rights of the first-born could be transferred to one who was not first in the birth order. This was especially true if the one who was born first messed up (Esau and Reuben), or a younger sibling was, in some way, more worthy or deserving (David).
Esau sold his rights to his younger brother Jacob (Genesis 25:33)
Reuben defiled his father's bed and, in doing so, lost the pre-eminence of dignity and power.. both rights of the first born. [Genesis 35:22. Genesis 49:3-4]
Jeremiah 31:9 says Ephraim is the first-born. However Genesis 41:50-52, very clearly states that he was born after Manasseh, Joseph's eldest child and therefore, his first-born
Also Hosah, of the children of Merari, had sons: Shimri the chief, (for though he was not the first-born, yet his father made him chief), [1 Chronicles 26:10]
Norman Geisler says "The description "firstborn" was not a fairly common Old Testament designation of the Messiah-God"  which implies that the NT does refer to the Messiah as "firstborn.. however rarely. But, a computer search on the term seems to show that the only time in the Old Testament that the term "firstborn" was used for the Messiah was in the strongly Messianic 89th Psalm, in which David, the youngest of Jesse's sons, is referred to as a "type' of the Messiah.
'I also will make him my first-born, The highest of the kings of the earth.
Israel Was God's "First-Born".. to Salvation
In Exodus 4, God tells Moses.
And thou shalt say unto Pharaoh, Thus saith the Lord, Israel is my son, my first-born: and I have said unto thee, Let my son go, that he may serve me; and thou hast refused to let him go: behold, I will slay thy son, thy first-born. [Exodus 4:22-23]
The Pharaoh, who was called “son of Ra”, would have been perfectly comprehended the expression "first-born". However, the Pharaohs believed that they were the sons of deity, and it would must have been very insulting (or amusing) for him to hear Moses saying his slaves were God's first-born.
So how was an entire nation God's "first-born". The standard explanation is that this designation was based on Israel's unique relationship with the Lord. However, this is not the whole picture. Until the time the gospel was preached to the Gentiles, which only happened after Christ, the Jews were the only ones to know God and His salvation. The offer of the eternal life in God's kingdom was made to them first, and to all the other nations later. In a sense Israel was literally the Lord's "first-born.
Jesus Was God's "First-Born".. to Immortality
Similarly Jesus was the first-born of the dead. While Jesus was not the first person ever to be raised from the dead, He is the first, and only one, who rose to immortality. All the others, like Lazarus, who Jesus Himself raised, undoubtedly died again.
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. [Colossians 1:18]
and from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loveth us, and loosed us from our sins by his blood; [Revelation 1:5]
However, none of the above explains what Paul meant when He said that Jesus was "the firstborn of all creation". The explanation may very well lie in a fascinating passage in the sixteenth chapter of the Gospel of John.
John 16:27-30... Jesus Came Forth
Note carefully the words in bold...
for the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came forth (Gr. exerchomai) from the Father. I came out (Gr. exerchomai) from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go unto the Father. His disciples say, Lo, now speakest thou plainly, and speakest no dark saying. Now know we that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou camest forth (Gr. exerchomai) from God. [John 16:27-30]
If the intended meaning of the verses above was solely that Jesus was despatched on a mission by the Father, John would probably have used the word apostello or it's derivative exapostello, both of which mean to, literally or figuratively, send out (properly on a mission). While there is no question that Jesus was sent on a mission by the Father, as the following two examples show....
but when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth (Gr. exapostello) his Son, born of a woman, born under the law, that he might redeem them that were under the law, that we might receive the adoption of sons. And because ye are sons, God sent forth (Gr. exapostello) the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, Abba, Father. [Galatians 4:4-6]
And this is life eternal, that they should know thee the only true God, and him whom thou didst send (apostello), even Jesus Christ. [John 17:3]
However, the Greek verb exerchomai that John used three times in 16:27-30, is a compound word, composed of a preposition ek, which denotes origin, and a verb erchomai ... "to come." In other words, it means to, literally or figuratively, issue from. The word is used overwhelmingly of emerging, or coming out of something. For example....
Prison: Verily I say unto thee, thou shalt by no means come out thence, till thou have paid the last farthing. [Matthew 5:26]
A City: And as many as receive you not, when ye depart from that city, shake off the dust from your feet for a testimony against them. [Luke 9:5]
Sodom: but in the day that Lot went out from Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all: [Luke 17:29]
A Courtyard: And he went out, and wept bitterly. [Luke 22:62]
A Boat: And when they were come out of the boat, straightway the people knew him, [Mark 6:54]
Tombs: And when he was come to the other side into the country of the Gadarenes, there met him two possessed with demons, coming forth out of the tombs, exceeding fierce, so that no man could pass by that way. [Matthew 8:28]
Perhaps most interestingly, exerchomai is often used in terms of a demon (or demons) coming out of people.
And he said unto her, For this saying go thy way; the demon is gone out (exerchomai) of thy daughter. And she went away unto her house, and found the child laid upon the bed, and the demon gone out (exerchomai) . [Mark 7:29-30]
And he was casting out a demon that was dumb. And it came to pass, when the demon was gone out (exerchomai) , the dumb man spake; and the multitudes marvelled. [Luke 11:14]
"Came Forth From" Vs. 'Sent By'
There is at least one verse where Jesus, using both words, says He came forth "from" the Father and was sent "by" the Father.
Jesus said unto them, If God were your Father, ye would love me: for I came forth (Gr. exerchomai) and am come from God; for neither have I come of myself, but he sent (Gr. apostello) me. [John 8:42]
In other words, Jesus was not "created" by the Father but, in His words, He literally "came out" of the Father. Or, perhaps was "born" of the Father... which would make Him the "first-born of creation", as Colossians 1:15 says.
However, the paradox is that there was no particular point in time when Jesus was "born" of the Father, because He too was from everlasting. Although Jesus "came out" of the Father, He and the Father have always been.
Jesus Was From Everlasting
Since John 3:3 says Jesus was the agency through whom all things were created... ("All things came into being through Him (the Word), and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being)... we can safely infer that Jesus came before all creation.
However, the prophet Micah gives us a little more information. In obvious reference to the Messiah, he spoke of one coming from Bethlehem who would be ruler of Israel, then added... His "goings forth are from everlasting".
But thou, Beth-lehem Ephrathah, which art little to be among the thousands of Judah, out of thee shall one come forth unto me that is to be ruler in Israel; whose goings forth are from of old (ôlâm), from everlasting. [Micah 5:2]
The Hebrew word used (ôlâm) denotes eternity, and is used of the eternity of God, as in the following verse from the book of Isaiah.
Hast thou not known? hast thou not heard? The everlasting (ôlâm) God, the Lord (elôhîym), the Creator of the ends of the earth, fainteth not, neither is weary; there is no searching of his understanding. [Isaiah 40:28]
However, Isaiah also refers to the Messiah as the "Mighty God" and "Everlasting Father."
For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given; and the government shall be upon his shoulder: and his name shall be called Wonderful, Counsellor, Mighty God (Heb. ęl), Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. [Isaiah 9:6]
In other words, God the Son who was born in human form in Bethlehem, was as "everlasting" as God the Father. In case any doubt remains as to whom Micah was speaking about, his prophecy was quoted by Matthew as referring to Jesus
And thou Bethlehem, land of Judah, Art in no wise least among the princes of Judah: For out of thee shall come forth a governor, Who shall be shepherd of my people Israel. [Matthew 2:6]
Jesus and The Father Are One
All of which goes a long way towards explaining so many, many, verses in the Scriptures. For example, when Jesus said He and the Father were one, and that He was in the Father and the Father was in Him...
I and the Father are one. [John 10:30]
If ye had known me, ye would have known my Father also: from henceforth ye know him, and have seen him. Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father? Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I say unto you I speak not from myself: but the Father abiding in me doeth his works. [John 14:7-10]
...He was not just saying that they had the same mindset, nature, or attributes, although they do.
He was not simply saying that they were united in purpose, although they are.
He was not just saying that He was Divine, although He is.
Jesus went much further than that... He literally meant that He and the Father were one.
...Yet Distinguishable From Each Other
Yet the paradox is, that although Jesus and the Father are One [John 10:30] and not separable from God, He is, in some sense, distinguishable from God... for "the Logos was with God". God's Word literally became flesh and dwelt among us [John 1:14], but that Word remains forever a part of the Father.
All of which makes it very clear that John's intent in the opening verse of his Gospel was “...the Word was God”
I am not sure if humans, accustomed to a three dimensional world, can find words to explain something that is almost impossible for the finite mind to comprehend. Although any analogy quickly proves itself less than adequate, second century apologist, Justin Martyr's words do go a long way towards expressing the inexpressible. [All Emphasis Added]
“I shall give you another testimony, my friends,” said I, “from the Scriptures, that God begat before all creatures a Beginning, [who was] a certain rational power [proceeding] from Himself, who is called by the Holy Spirit, now the Glory of the Lord, now the Son, again Wisdom, again an Angel, then God, and then Lord and Logos; and on another occasion He calls Himself Captain, when He appeared in human form to Joshua the son of Nave (Nun). For He can be called by all those names, since He ministers to the Father’s will, and since He was begotten of the Father by an act of will; just as we see happening among ourselves: for when we give out some word, we beget the word; yet not by abscission, so as to lessen the word [which remains] in us, when we give it out: and just as we see also happening in the case of a fire, which is not lessened when it has kindled [another], but remains the same; and that which has been kindled by it likewise appears to exist by itself, not diminishing that from which it was kindled. 
That Jesus came forth from the Father, but is yet one with the father [John 10:30], explains the first line of the Shema, the Jewish declaration of faith in one God
Sh'ma Yis'ra'eil Adonai Eloheinu Adonai echad. ("Hear, O Israel: the Lord is our God, the Lord is one)"
That Father and Jesus are One Explains
all the fascinating parallels between YHWH in the Old Testament, and Jesus in the new. For example (For many more parallels see earlier chapter).
* Why both Jesus and The Father are called The "Holy One", "Mighty God", "Lord of Lords", "Lord of Glory" "The Alpha and the Omega", " The First and the Last", "The Beginning and the End". They also share common Divine attributes such as Omnipresence, Omniscience, Immutability, and Omnipotence.
* Why the Bible tells us that there is only one Creator and one Saviour/Redeemer. Nehemiah 9:6 says YHVH is the creator and sustainer of heaven and earth, while Hebrews 1:1-3 says God made the worlds through His Son, who upholds all thing.
Thou art Lord (YHVH), even thou alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth and all things that are thereon, the seas and all that is in them, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee. [Nehemiah 9:6]
God, having of old time spoken unto the fathers in the prophets by divers portions and in divers manners, hath at the end of these days spoken unto us in his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, through whom also he made the worlds; who being the effulgence of his glory, and the very image of his substance, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had made purification of sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high; [Hebrews 1:1-3]
* Why when YHVH says He is the only saviour, Luke says salvation comes only through Jesus
I, even I, am the Lord (YHVH); and besides me there is no saviour. [Isaiah 43:11]
And in none other is there salvation: for neither is there any other name under heaven, that is given among men, wherein we must be saved. [Acts 4:12]
* Why, when here are several verses in the New Testament that speak of God raising Jesus from the dead [Acts 2:24, 2:32, 4:10,10:40, Colossians 2:12], Jesus said that He would raise Himself up.
Therefore doth the Father love me, because I lay down my life, that I may take it again. No one taketh it away from me, but I lay it down of myself. I have power to lay it down, and I have power to take it again. This commandment received I from my Father. [John 10:17-18]
Jesus answered and said unto them, Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up. The Jews therefore said, Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou raise it up in three days? But he spake of the temple of his body. [John 2:19-21]
There is apparently no difference between the Father doing something and Jesus doing something. They are one.
* Why the Scriptures sometimes refer to "the Gospel of God" and, at other times says it is the "Gospel of Jesus". For example...
that I should be a minister of Christ Jesus unto the Gentiles, ministering the gospel of God, that the offering up of the Gentiles might be made acceptable, being sanctified by the Holy Spirit. [Romans 15:16]
in the power of signs and wonders, in the power of the Holy Spirit; so that from Jerusalem, and round about even unto Illyricum, I have fully preached the gospel of Christ; [Romans 15:19]
* Why the prophet Isaiah was very clear that he saw YHVH on His throne "high and lifted up", while John says Isaiah saw the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the year that king Uzziah died I saw the Lord sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up; and his train filled the temple. ...Then said I, Woe is me! for I am undone; because I am a man of unclean lips, and I dwell in the midst of a people of unclean lips: for mine eyes have seen the King, Lord (YHVH) of hosts. [Isaiah 6:1, 5]
But though he had done so many signs before them, yet they believed not on him: that the word of Isaiah the prophet might be fulfilled, which he spake, Lord, who hath believed our report? And to whom hath the arm of the Lord been revealed? For this cause they could not believe, for that Isaiah said again, He hath blinded their eyes, and he hardened their heart; Lest they should see with their eyes, and perceive with their heart, And should turn, And I should heal them. These things said Isaiah, because he saw his glory; and he spake of him. [John 12:37-41]
Seeing one is exactly the same as seeing the other. But isn't that what Jesus said in the first place?
Philip saith unto him, Lord, show us the Father, and it sufficeth us. Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and dost thou not know me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; how sayest thou, Show us the Father? [John 14:8-9]
That the Father and Jesus Are, In Some Way Distinguishable From Each Other, Explains
why the Lord Jesus, described in so many places as God, would describe the Father as greater than Him. Using Justin Martyr's analogy, it is very likely that the first fire is greater in some way than the one it kindled.
Ye heard how I said to you, I go away, and I come unto you. If ye loved me, ye would have rejoiced, because I go unto the Father: for the Father is greater than I. [John 14:28]
That the Father and Jesus are, in some way distinguishable from each other, also explains why Jesus addressed the Father as "His" God, and prayed to Him [John 17:1-26].
and he made us to be a kingdom, to be priests unto his God and Father; to him be the glory and the dominion for ever and ever. [Revelation 1:6]
Jesus saith to her, Touch me not; for I am not yet ascended unto the Father: but go unto my brethren, and say to them, I ascend unto my Father and your Father, and my God and your God. [John 20:17]
It also explains why Paul said
and ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's. [1 Corinthians 3:23]
And when all things have been subjected unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subjected to him that did subject all things unto him, that God may be all in all. [1 Corinthians 15:28]
As said by Bible commentator Albert Barnes
As mediator, as appearing in human form, as commissioned to perform the work of redemption, and to subdue the world to the divine authority, it was proper thus to address his Father as "His" God, and to, acknowledge Him as the source of all authority and law.
When the disciples first met Jesus, they must have, at first, understood Him to be a man, which is perfectly understandable.
How could they have understood otherwise? They had heard how Satan tempted Him. They saw Him hungry and weary. They knew Him in need of companionship and prayer. They saw Him weep. They heard Him in prayer and saw Him in action surrendering His will to the Father's will, claiming the Father's will to be His bread. His words: "The Father is greater than I" were intelligible to them. How else should they have understood? Or we, had we been with Him on earth?
Only after the disciples' association with Jesus had deepened, after they heard His words and witnessed His deeds, did they and others begin to wonder and ask questions about Him: "Who is this man?" "From where does He come?" They saw Him feed the multitudes, heal the sick, control nature, raise the dead. They heard Him forgive sins, they heard Him speak in an extraordinary manner about His purpose in coming, about His relation with the Temple, the Law and the prophets, about the love of God and His personal relationship with God. Even then, there were those who misinterpreted Him and His works, willfully or otherwise. 
The disciples' understanding of both Jesus and His ministry evolved gradually, and was, at times, a painful process. In fact, full understanding did not come until after Jesus had risen from the dead!
But now, with the advantage of being able to look back over the centuries, and examine all the data, the sheer weight of evidence is overwhelming. Certainly you can argue a point here, and a point there, but picking off, and discarding, small pebbles will not affect the sheer weight and mass of the mountain, which remains immovable.
Even if the early Church had never applied the title Theos to Jesus, his deity would still be apparent in his being the object of human and angelic worship and of saving faith; the exerciser of exclusively divine functions such as creatorial agency, the forgiveness of sins, and the final judgment; the addressee in petitionary prayer; the possessor of all divine attributes; the bearer of numerous titles used of Yahweh in the OT; and the co-author of divine blessing. Faith in the deity of Christ does not rest on the evidence or validity of a series of ‘proof-texts’ in which Jesus may receive the title Theos but on the general testimony of the NT corroborated at the bar of personal experience. 
Coming To A Decision About Jesus in Light Of His Claims
In summary, Jesus claimed the authority of God, claimed the attributes of God, claimed for himself prerogatives reserved solely for God, and encouraged others to worship Him as God. In other words, Jesus claimed to be God.
In light of which, let's examine the different opinions about Him
Jesus Was A Good Man. Even in a world that can be extremely depraved, virtually everyone would agree that good people do not lie. While even a 'good person' may occasionally lie to save themselves, or some one else, they do not go around deceiving hundreds of thousands with claims that they know are untrue.
If Jesus knew that He was not God, and did not know the way to eternal life, He has sent countless numbers to their deaths for believing in Him and His message. This would make Him one of history's greatest villains, not the world's saviour. It also would have made Him one of history's greatest fools, because it was this lie that sent Him to an agonizing death.
Jesus Was A Great Moral Teacher. It would also be completely illogical to believe that Jesus was a great moral teacher if He made up such grandiose claims about Himself. Only a colossal hypocrite would teach holiness, while making a false claim to be God. The fact that He accepted worship, showed that either He understood Himself to be God, was mentally deranged, or was the most conceited, arrogant man who ever lived.
Jesus Was Mistaken. If Jesus was not Divine, but yet truly believed He had created the world, was pre-existent in heaven before His incarnation, saw Abraham two thousand years earlier, was the unique Son of God, had authority to judge the world, could both give and send the Holy Spirit of God, and was able to raise himself from the dead, then He was not simply "mistaken", but a raving lunatic. However, as so well stated by Pat Zukeran of Probe ministries ...
"... when you study the life of Jesus, He clearly does not display the characteristics of insanity. The abnormality and imbalance we find in a deranged person are not there. His teachings, such as the Sermon on the Mount, remain one of the greatest works ever recorded. Jesus was continually challenged by the Pharisees and lawyers, highly educated men whose modern day equivalent would be our university professors. They were fluent in several languages and were known for their scholarship of the Old Testament and Jewish law. They challenged Jesus with some of the most profound questions of their day and Jesus' quick answers amazed and silenced them. In the face of tremendous pressure, we find He exemplified the greatest composure". 
All of which makes it impossible to be neutral about Jesus Christ. Only one of three conclusions is a logical possibility.
a) You can dismiss Him as a deluded fool, or mad man, b) avoid Him as an extremely evil man, or c) fall at His feet and call Him God.
Of course you can ignore the whole question and turn on the television instead. But, what you cannot do is come up with some patronizing nonsense about Him being a great human teacher/philosopher/good man. The door to that option is slammed shut, if we apply a modicum of common sense and logic to the issue.
Much of the problem lies in the fact that many people are unwilling to accept things that not explainable by modern science. Even those that believe that God exists, seem not to realize how far His abilities lie far beyond our present knowledge and understanding, however advanced that may seem to be. There is no question that faith does play a major role. However, God has never asked us to accept anything on 'blind faith', but has provided evidence by the truckload. [See Section A Remarkable Book Called The Bible] It is us that refuse to fairly examine this evidence, but come to it with preconceived ideas and, all too often, misinformation from others who often had an axe to grind, or were themselves deluded.
Immanuel...God With Us
If one accepts the Bible as true, then one must also accept that Jesus is God, and that the words of the angel to Mary's husband, Joseph, recorded in the book of Matthew, were not meant to be that God was with us inasmuch as He had fulfilled His promises to send a savior, but literally meant that God Himself was physically with us.
But when he thought on these things, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared unto him in a dream, saying, Joseph, thou son of David, fear not to take unto thee Mary thy wife: for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit. And she shall bring forth a son; and thou shalt call his name Jesus; for it is he that shall save his people from their sins. Now all this is come to pass, that it might be fulfilled which was spoken by the Lord through the prophet, saying, Behold, the virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, And they shall call his name Immanuel; which is, being interpreted, God (theos) with us. [Matthew 1:20-23. These words were a reflection of a prophecy made by Isaiah in Isaiah 7:14]
(Immânűęl is of Hebrew origin [H6005] and is derived from the words im (in conjunction with) and el (God)
As said by Hank Hanegraaff of the Christian Research Institute
"The real question is, "Whose words are you going to trust - Jesus' or the cults?" Decide wisely, your destiny depends on it". 
Footnote IV... Jehovah's Witnesses New World Translation of Colossians 1:15-20
The word "other" is not in the original Greek
 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;  because by means of him all [other] things were created in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and the things invisible, no matter whether they are thrones or lordships or governments or authorities. All [other] things have been created through him and for him.  Also, he is before all [other] things and by means of him all [other] things were made to exist,  and he is the head of the body, the congregation. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that he might become the one who is first in all things;  because [God] saw good for all fullness to dwell in him,  and through him to reconcile again to himself all [other] things by making peace through the blood [he shed] on the torture stake, no matter whether they are the things upon the earth or the things in the heavens. 
 J.P. Holding. Did Jesus deny being God in Mark 10:18? http://www.tektonics.org/lp/mark1018.html
 HTMLBible Software by johnhurt.com. http://www.greeknewtestament.com/B40C024.htm#V36
 The Supremacy of the Person of Christ (Col. 1:15-18) Study By: J. Hampton Keathley, III.
 Norman L. Geisler, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament edition, ed. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck (Victor Books, Wheaton, 1983), electronic media. As quoted in The Supremacy of the Person of Christ (Col. 1:15-18) Study By: J. Hampton Keathley, III. http://bible.org/seriespage/supremacy-person-christ-col-115-18
 Justin Martyr (110-165) Dialogue with Trypho, Chapter 61. Translated by Alexander Roberts and James Donaldson.
 Luther Engelbrecht and Ernest Hahn. Jesus as the Son of God. http://answering-islam.org/Hahn/son.html
 Pat Zukeran. The Uniqueness of Jesus.. Liar, Lunatic or Lord?
 Hank Hanegraaff. Did Jesus Claim to Be God? Part 5: The Conduct of God.