Revelation 3:14 – “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation. (ESV)
Many people who read the Bible get cuaght up on a single interpretation that they begin to insist that their interpretation is correct and that the Bible will be forced to match to their interpretation. When looking at controversial passages such as this one it is best not to get caught up in debates. Those who believe that Jesus is God obviously reject the interpretation on this verse that Jesus is God’s first creation. But they automatically discard this interpretation because of their presumption that Jesus is God. The first rule of Biblical hermeneutics is to never allow our theologies to dictate the way the Bible is read. Thus, those who automatically toss the interpretation that Jesus is God’s first creation here have abandoned a primary principle of Biblical hermeneutics and those who take it to mean that Jesus is God’s first creation abandon the primary principle of Biblical hermeneutics.
We should probably ask questions about what other Bibles have to say.
Revelation 3:14 – “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write: The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the origin of God’s creation: (NRSV)
Revelation 3:14 – “To the angel of the church in Laodicea write: These are the words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation. (TNIV)
Revelation 3:14 – “Write this letter to the angel of the church in Laodicea. This is the message from the one who is the Amen—the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s new creation: (NLT)
The NLT and the TNIV are meaning for meaning translations. As such, they are more theologically biased than other translations are. Nevertheless, looking at meaning for meaning translations is smart to do because often times, you will see that the actual, intended meaning of a passage and they make it easier to understand. However, this does not mean that a meaning for meaning translation is correct.
When we examine the word ἀρχὴ, we find that no where is it translated “origin” and in Revelation 1:5, the author has already decided to use the word ἄρχων to denote Jesus’s status as a “ruler”. Thus, it seems that the word ἀρχὴ was in fact intended to mean “beginning”.
However, the NLT, a meaning for meaning translation of the Bible, adds the word “new” to the passage making Jesus the beginning of God’s “new” creation. So the question now follows is what creation was Jesus referring to here? Was he referring to a “new” creation? He might have been. It is very possible.
The word κτίσις can also mean “institution” if my sources are correct (http://biblesuite.com/greek/2937.htm). So if this is the case, then it should be asked if Jesus was actually calling himself the beginning of the institution. And if he was describing himself as the beginning of the institution, then what might this imply?
It is traditionally held by Christians that Paul wrote a letter to the Colossians (in reality, we are uncertain as to who precisely wrote it). In it, the author argues that Jesus is the head of the Church and the first raised from the dead. We see this in Colossians 1:18.
Colossians 1:18 – And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (ESV)
And in 2 Corinthians we see a concept of a new creation.
2 Corinthians 5:17 – Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. (ESV)
So Jesus is more than likely speaking of himself as the beginning of God’s institution of the Church as he is the head of the Church. And as such, he is also the first one instituted and created by God.
Sometimes, the Bible is meant to be ambiguous on such topics. When it remains ambiguous, many people tend to be troubled. They believe everything that they have heard in church from their pastors but they are frightened of new interpretations of the Bible. This leads to verse wars which are bad. Always remember that the Bible is an ambiguous book that has many interpretations to it and that yours might not be correct.