From this answer I gather that LDS teaches that all beings are eternal and that by eternal it is not meant existing timelessly beginning at some point but, rather, not actually having any starting point. Indeed the answer asserts that the first "stage" in the existence of every person (and also every God) is that of "intelligences". An intelligence then becomes a spirit being (the manner of this transformation is unrevealed) and a spirit being is embodied in flesh at mortal birth, lives on after mortal death, and has the opportunity to be exalted to Godhood.

The "intelligence" is asserted to be uncreated and self-existent.

This related question indicates that the LDS view of the Genesis account is that God did not create matter in the beginning but, rather, organized already existing matter. I have not ascertained if this pre-existing matter is self-existent. It is clear, however, that LDS teaches it was not created ... at least not by the God of Genesis.

Given that LDS teaches that all beings are self-existent (not created) and that matter was not created (at least not by the God revealed in Scripture), how does LDS interpret Colossians 1:16 which appears to clearly state that there is not anything anywhere that the God of Genesis did not create?

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 Colossians 1:16 


2 Answers 2


"Create" is understood in the sense that the word is used in virtually all non-theological discussions--"create" means to organize. In the process, the creation is often imbued with attributes it did not previously have.

Beliefs on Creation ex Nihilo in General

One of the most direct discussions of creation ex-nihilo comes from Joseph Smith's King Follett discourse:

You ask the learned doctors why they say the world was made out of nothing, and they will answer, “Doesn’t the Bible say he created the world?” And they infer, from the word create, that it must have been made out of nothing. Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize; the same as a man would organize materials and build a ship. Hence we infer that God had materials to organize the world out of chaos—chaotic matter, which is element, and in which dwells all the glory. Element had an existence from the time He had. The pure principles of element are principles which can never be destroyed; they may be organized and re-organized, but not destroyed. They had no beginning and can have no end. (source)


The specific passage

A parallel argument can be made with respect to the Greek word , employed in Colossians 1:16. This verb is used to describe God's creation of both the earth & humans, and means "to create", "to build", "to form", or "to shape" (source). "Forming" & "shaping" are unambiguously not acts of creation ex nihilo, but involve working with existing materials.

As such, even if κτίζω meant creation out of nothing in some circumstance, it cannot be taken to always carry that meaning. I submit that there is no unambiguous usage of κτίζω to mean "creation out of nothing" in the New Testament (which is why the early Christian writers who supported creation ex-nihilo used 2 Maccabees, not the New Testament, as a proof text--see section 5.1 here). There are, on the other hand, examples in the New Testament where κτίζω clearly means to create out of something that already exists:

  • Ephesians 2:15
  • 1 Cor 11:9
  • Ephesians 4:24
  • Matthew 19:4 (critical text)

In particular, compare 1 Cor 11:9 & Matthew 19:4 to the description of those events in Genesis 2:7,22. God created (κτίζω per 1 Cor, Matthew) out of things/entities that already existed.


Additional relevant scriptural statements include:

Man was also in the beginning with God. Intelligence, or the light of truth, was not created or made, neither indeed can be. (Doctrine & Covenants 93:29)

The elements are eternal (Doctrine & Covenants 93:33)

Note this does not say that the body or the spirit has existed from eternity past, but that the "intelligence" (or "self" or "inner person") has always existed.

For a more in-depth discussion of philosophy, physics, and history regarding creation ex-nihilo, see my answer here.

  • "Now, the word create came from the word baurau, which does not mean to create out of nothing; it means to organize" This is incorrect. Create comes from κτιζω (ktizo) in Colossians and means to come into being because of the will of a founder. Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 12:50
  • Also, "made" in Matthew 19 is ποιεω (poieo) not κτιζω (ktizo) as you say. Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 12:51
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    @MikeBorden the Joseph Smith quote is not a commentary on the Colossians passage, but outlines the LDS view of creation ex nihilo. The verb κτίζω is indeed found in Matt 19:4. Note that in English "made"/"created" shows up twice. You are referring to the 2nd instance, I am referring to the first, which is κτίζω Commented Mar 20, 2022 at 13:07
  • Must be a different manuscript. KJV has ποιεω in both places. I understand Smith was commenting on a Hebrew word but his point can't stand in the face of Colossians where the word used does not mean "to organize" but "to be willed into existence". Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 15:02
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    @MikeBorden I looked it up--looks like the Textus Receptus has ποιεω and the critical text has κτίζω. I updated my answer, added a few more relevant passages, and provided further response per your comments. Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 1:36

Referencing the Greek lexicon for the word create:

κτίζω (ktizō)

Root Word (Etymology): Probably akin to κτάομαι (G2932) (through the idea of proprietor-ship of the manufacturer)

Outline of Biblical Usage:

  • to make habitable, to people, a place, region, island
    • to found a city, colony, state
  • to create
    • of God creating the worlds
    • to form, shape, i.e. to completely change or transform

Strong’s Definitions: κτίζω ktízō, ktid'-zo; probably akin to G2932 (through the idea of proprietorship of the manufacturer); to fabricate, i.e. found (form originally):—create, Creator, make.

One can see a similarity to this answer, in that this verse indicate not creation ex nihilo but making a place habitable, founding, forming, or shaping with pre-existing material/matter.

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 Colossians 1:16

The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day saints do believe that God organized/created the heaven, earth, visible and invisible. With the understanding that he formed matter into what we have today. Even though we don't believe he created the matter, he formed everything and so he is regarded as the Creator. (if someone builds a home for you, they are the creator even if they didn't personally create/gather the materials-God could also be considered the architect as all things were created spiritually first)

From unofficial apologist site (wording is clear and concise):

Thus, Jesus certainly participated in the creation of all created things—but He worked with preexisting chaotic materials. The angelic ranks of "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers" were also created by Christ, for these beings did not assume their angelic status or form without divine creative power, even though some aspect of their "intelligence" pre-dated God's creative acts in their behalf.

  • And these preexisting chaotic materials are uncreated? Self-existent? Created by someone or something else? Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 15:12
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    @MikeBorden uncreated matter/materials source
    – depperm
    Commented Mar 21, 2022 at 15:42
  • Spirit trees? Spirit amoeba? God had a beginning and these did not? Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 12:08
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    @MikeBorden see this answer about beginning. I don't understand you question about trees/amoeba
    – depperm
    Commented Mar 22, 2022 at 13:47
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    @MikeBorden yes all things were created spiritually first before being placed on the earth. Millenial Messiah or same topic, easier access spirit creation
    – depperm
    Commented Mar 23, 2022 at 10:33

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