Jesus is the first born of creation. All things were created in him and through him and for him. He is before all things. Paul’s lofty language in Colossians 1:15-16 is not rooted in abstract speculation about the nature of Jesus’ pre-existence in heaven before the beginning of time or in reflecting on the mystery of the Holy Trinity. Rather, Paul’s assertions are rooted in his confidence in the power of Christ’s death and resurrection.
Jesus was the agent of all creation because he is the agent of the new creation. He is the firstborn of creation because he is the firstborn of the dead. Paul sees Jesus’ resurrection as the vanguard of the resurrection of the faithful to eternal life in the age to come. In his death, Jesus reconciled all things in heaven and earth to himself by making peace through his blood on the cross. Through his death, Jesus has turned believers from their former evil deeds to a life of holiness and blamelessness.
In overcoming evil, estrangement and even death itself, Jesus has fulfilled God’s purpose in creating the world. In that sense, Jesus is the agent of all creation. Jesus brings into existence what God intended from the very beginning. All things are “through him” because creation is not complete without the effects of his death and resurrection. All things are “for him” (or “toward him,” Greek eis autou) because the world which he makes possible was the goal of God’s creative activity.