And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (Colossians 1:17)
One of the irrefutable laws of physics is the First Law of Thermodynamics or the Law of Conservation, which states that matter and energy can neither be created nor destroyed — at least as it is observed today. However, the Bible makes it clear that matter and energy did indeed have a starting point. “In the beginning [time] God created the Heaven [space] and the earth [matter/energy]” (Genesis 1:1). Scripture also makes it clear that the Creator was Jesus. “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same [Word] was in the beginning with God. All things [matter/energy] were made by him [the Word], and without him was not any thing made that was made” (John 1:1-3).
Our verse further emphasizes this truth: “He is before all things.” Before there was matter/energy, before there was time, before there was space, there was Christ. Space and matter/energy can only be experienced in time, so it only makes sense that the Creator created time “in the beginning” for us to experience the rest of the universe. It also makes sense that the Creator must exist outside of time in order to create time; hence, “He is before all things” including time. The Greek word translated “all things” is pántoon, which simply means “all.” This phrase could more accurately and simply be translated “He is before all” – not just things, but everything: time, space and matter/energy.
Not only did He exist before all, but He also created all. “For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him” (v. 16). Very simply, there is nothing that exists that Christ did not create!
The second part of the Law of Conservation is confirmed by the second part of our verse: “by him all things consist.” The verb “consists” is the Greek verb sunésteeken, which means to “set together” or “to constitute.” He holds all things together. “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God ended his work which he had made” (Genesis 2:1-2). So, matter and energy are no longer being created. He made it all, and he maintains it all; so we sing “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created” (Revelation 4:11). By the way, we too were created for His pleasure. Would that He might find pleasure in us!