The apostle Paul declares
the preexistence of Jesus Christ, the Son of God. He
was full of Christ. The letter to Colossians
stresses the all-sufficiency of Jesus Christ more
than any of his letters.
Jesus Christ "is the
image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all
creation" (Colossians 1:15).
"It was the Father’s good
pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him" (Col.
In Christ Jesus "are
hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge"
"In Him all the fullness
of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have
been made complete, and He is the head over all rule
and authority . . ." (Col. 2:9-10).
self-revelation of God is at the foundation of
Christianity. God revealed Himself in the person and
work of Jesus Christ. He revealed His perfect will
The place of knowledge in
the Christian life is extremely important. However
in the Colossian church there were teachers who had
made their own brand of spiritual knowledge the goal
of the Christian life. They claimed a higher
superior knowledge reserved for a select few of
super-Christians. They considered themselves the
elite. They claimed a higher knowledge, a super
spiritual experience that exceeded everyone else.
The apostle Paul
responded to this nonsense. The heretics called
themselves Christians because they included Christ
in their name and scheme much like cults do in our
day. You can use the name of Jesus Christ and still
be a cult. These false teachers assumed that the
person and work of Jesus Christ was not adequate for
a complete salvation. They were teaching that Christ
is only one among many spiritual authorities. They
claimed Christ was a lord, but not the one true Lord
God. They said Jesus was only one among many lords.
They denied the true gospel by denying the
all-sufficiency of Christ.
Paul’s message is
powerful: "For He rescued us from the domain of
darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His
beloved Son" (Colossians 1:13).
God has delivered us from
a terrible situation. It is another way of saying He
"The domain of darkness"
is that evil force that enslaves and imprisons
people. The power of sin enslaves men and women.
However, God in Christ has delivered those who
believe on Christ. The believer has a new master and
we live under his authority. "The reign of Christ
has already begun. His kingdom is a present kingdom"
Jesus Christ "has
delivered us from the power of darkness and
transferred us to the kingdom of the Son He loves"
(Col. 1:13 NET). We are not just delivered from sin,
but we are transferred us from one kingdom to
another. This is a vivid description of the reality
of God’s saving grace and power. The word
"transferred" in the original meant to literally
remove a group of people from one place and put them
somewhere else. It was used of deposing a king,
terminating employment, and executing a person.
Believers in Christ have been transferred from the
power of sin to the kingdom of His beloved Son. This
is an actual present reality. It is true of you
right now if you have placed your trust in Christ.
Great is God’s power to deliver us.
We have been transferred
from the kingdom or rule of sin to the sovereign
lordship of Christ. We are members of His kingdom
and He is our master.
When did this take place?
God makes us heirs of an inheritance the moment we
believed on Christ as our savior. Our actual full
possession of our inheritance will take place when
Christ returns, but the criterion to receive an
inheritance took place at our conversion. He has
already delivered us from Satan’s dominion, but even
this will become more evident in the future.
How did God accomplish
this? Paul adds: in Christ "we have redemption, the
forgiveness of sins" (Col. 1:14). In Christ Jesus we
have redemption. The background of this word was
slavery which was common when the apostle Paul was
writing in the first century AD. Slaves could be set
free upon a price and this price was called
redemption. The picture of salvation in this passage
of Scriptures is the imagery of a slave who is under
dominion of a hard and cruel master. The slave had
no power to negotiate his own freedom. However,
Jesus Christ paid the full redemption price and set
him free. Christ does for the believing sinner what
the sinner cannot do for himself. He delivers us
from the bondage of sin. Jesus Christ purchased us
and set us free. We have been emancipated.
Therefore, we become His bond-servants. He is our
lord and master and we serve Him out of love and
Believers in Christ Jesus
have received "forgiveness of sin." What a great
sense of peace to know that every sin, all my sins
are forever forgiven. There is no greater sense of
peace than that. No matter what Satan may try to
throw in my face. All of my sins are forever under
the cleansing blood of Jesus Christ. This is true of
you if you have put your trust in Christ. The
central feature of redemption is the forgiveness of
all our sins.
This is why the apostle
Paul can sing about Jesus.
Such deliverance and
forgiveness make the world ask, who is this Jesus?
How can one man accomplish such a feat? Who is Jesus
Christ? The apostle Paul turns his attention to that
subject and gives us a fuller knowledge of Christ so
we can reject false teachings. The doctrine of
Christ was the basic truth threatened by the Gnostic
teachers at Colossae. Since their teachings are
repackaged about ever fifteen to twenty years by the
media it is good for us to focus our attention of
this all important question. Who is Jesus Christ?
CHRIST THE LORD OF
A well educated, well
traveled man asked me recently, "Do you really think
Jesus Christ can save a person in this sophisticated
world? This is nothing like the day in which
He lived." The truth is man has not changed. He is
still a radically depraved sinner. There is no other
solution to our sin problem. "There is salvation in
no one else; for there is no other name under heaven
that has been given among men by which we must be
saved" (Acts 4:12). Jesus said, "I am the way, and
the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father
but through Me" (John 14:6).
We live in a
Christ-centered universe. Jesus Christ is Lord over
Note carefully, however,
that Christ is distinct from creation. He is not a
part of creation. He was not created. "His is the
primacy over all created things" (NEB). Throughout
this passage of Scripture the apostle Paul assumes
the preexistence of the Son of God.
Christ is the image
of the invisible God
"He [Christ] is the image
of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation"
This is one of four great
Christological passages of the apostle Paul. Paul
addresses the deity of Christ. Jesus is the exact
likeness of God; He is a mirror image and perfectly
represents God to us. He makes God known to us.
While God made man in the image of God, Christ is
the image of God. All the fullness of God is
revealed in Him. Jesus reveals the nature, power and
majesty of God.
Let’s be careful not to
fall into the trap of the cults that teach the image
of God in a material or physical manner. "Christ
always has been, is, and always will be the image of
God," writes Curtis Vaughn. "Christ is the image of
God in the sense that the nature and the being of
God are perfectly revealed in Him."
Paul uses the word
"image" (eikon) which does not imply a
weakened or feeble copy of the original, but the
illumination of its inner core and fundamental
nature. The "image" shares in reality what it
represents. In the person of Jesus Christ the being
and nature of God has been perfectly demonstrated.
In Jesus the invisible has become visible. Christ is
the image of God in the sense that He is the exact
likeness of God. Christ is the perfect likeness of
God. He not only represents Him but also fully and
completely manifests Him.
The apostle Paul assumes
the real humanity of Jesus and affirms His full
deity. Jesus Christ is God with us. He is fully
human and fully God. He is the one and only God-man.
The writer of Hebrews
wrote: "And He is the radiance of His glory and the
exact representation of His nature, and upholds all
things by the word of His power. When He had made
purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand
of the Majesty on high" (Hebrews 1:3).
Jesus is the perfect
imprint of the very image of God; He bears the very
stamp of God’s nature.
What is God like? Jesus
said, "He who has seen Me has sent he Father" (John
14:9). He is the genuine likeness of the God
men have never seen. He is the perfect revelation of
He is the visible
representation and expression of God. He is the
incarnation of the invisible God. When the disciples
looked into the face of Jesus they saw the
unapproachable and unseen God. The nature and being
of God are perfectly revealed in Jesus Christ. We
have the knowledge of the glory of God in the face
of Jesus Christ. "In the exalted Christ the
unknowable God becomes known" (Peake).
"No one has seen God at
any time; the only begotten God who is in the bosom
of the Father, He has explained Him" (John 1:18).
"Jesus is the idea of God and the expression of God.
. . . Jesus is the Shekinah glory of God for those
who have eyes to see," notes A. T. Robertson.
Jesus Christ is the
authentic revelation of God to man and God’s agent
in creation and redemption. He is the all-sufficient
and supreme manifestation of God and worthy of our
Proverbs chapter eight
describes the personification of Wisdom. The ancient
Jews interpreted Wisdom as God’s image. Therefore,
to praise Christ as the image of God was to affirm
that He is the preexistent Lord of creation. Jesus
is the living incarnation of God’s power, wisdom and
Jesus Christ is on par
with God the Father and always has been throughout
Christ is the
firstborn of all creation
Let me make it very
clear, it would be impossible for the Creator to be
created. When the apostle Paul says that Christ is
the "firstborn of all creation" he does not mean
that Christ was a creature like all the rest of
creation. Christ is prior in time and superior in
rank to all of creation. He is eternal and never had
a beginning. He is prior in time and superior in
rank to all of creation. He stands apart and above
Jesus Christ is the
eternal Word, the Son of God in an absolute and
unique sense. He is the very image and embodiment of
the Father and the complete revelation of His unique
The absolute supremacy of
Christ is proclaimed by Paul against every Gnostic
assumption. Christ "is the image of the invisible
God, the firstborn of all creation" (Colossians
The word "firstborn" (prototokos)
has the idea of priority in time and supremacy in
rank or dominion or sovereignty. The word emphasizes
the preexistence and uniqueness of Christ and His
superiority over creation. "Christ is before all
creation in time; He is also over it in rank and
dignity," observes Curtis Vaughn.
"In the beginning was the
Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was
God. He was in the beginning with God. All things
came into being through Him, and apart from Him
nothing came into being that has come into being."
Jesus is superior to
every aspect of creation. He stands above every
creature. He is the agent in the work of creation.
He is the Creator of the whole universe. Elliott
says Christ is "the creative center of all things,
the causal element of their existence."
Jesus Christ stands at
the head above all created things. The apostle Paul
is stressing the priority of Jesus’ rank as over and
The Greek word translated
"firstborn" here cannot be interpreted to mean that
Christ was a creation or a created being. He was not
created; Christ was not the first created being. He
was not procreated like any human being. He was God
incarnate. In the great mysteries of God He was
contracted to a span and placed in the womb of the
Virgin Mary and grew and in time was born of the
flesh. This guaranteed His sinlessness.
"The Judaic Gnostic
heretics had their grades of angels whom they
exalted while they degraded Christ from his primacy
over all creation," notes Robertson.
before all things and is the Creator.
One of the modern cults
teaches, "God (Heavenly Father) is an exalted man
with a physical body of flesh and bone. The first
spirit born to our heavenly parents was Jesus
Christ, so he is literally our elder brother." Wow!
That is far removed from Biblical truth. Jesus said,
"God is Spirit, and those who worship Him must
worship Him in Spirit and truth." God is not an
exalted man with a physical body of flesh and bone.
Jesus was not born to heavenly parents. He was born
of a virgin, but He did not have a human father, and
God the Father did not have sex with Mary as the
cults teach. When the apostle John says Jesus is
"the only begotten Son," he is saying that Jesus is
unique, one of a kind. It is true that all
Christians are children of God, but Jesus is God’s
Son in a unique, one-of-a-kind sense. This is the
meaning of monogenēs in all its uses in the Gospel
of John (Jn. 1:14, 1:18, 3:16, and 3:18).
Another cult teaches that
Christ created all other things after He was
created. However, Christ is before all creation in
time, and He is over all creation in authority.
Why is Christ the
Lord over creation?
The apostle Paul
stresses: "For by Him all things were created, both
in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or
authorities—all things have been created through Him
and for Him" (Colossians 1:16).
The universe was created
by means of Christ and for Him. He is the owner. All
things have been created in Him, by Him, and for
Him. He planned it and produced it for His own good
Christ is the architect
or originator and designer of creation. Everything
originated with Him. He is the agent of creation. He
is the builder.
Christ sustains the
universe. Paul leaves no room for any Gnostic
angelic agents in creation. "By Him" or "in Him all
things were created" teaches that Christ is the
"sphere" within which the work of creation takes
place. Lightfoot notes that all the laws and
purposes which guide the creation and government of
the universe reside in Christ.
Did you notice how Paul
brings all of creation into subjection to Christ?
Things in heaven, on the earth, visible, invisible,
thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities are all for
Him. No matter whatever angelic powers that exist,
Christ is the One who made them and is their Lord.
Christ is not only the
immediate instrument of creation, but also the Lord
of all creation.
"All things" meaning the
universe as a collective whole came into being "in
Him," "through Him," and "unto Him." Everything is
centered in Christ. Creation occurred within the
sphere of Christ’s person and power. The act of
creation rested in Christ. God made the whole
universe through Him. Christ is the means of
creation. He is the sphere, the intermediate
mediating agent and the purpose of its existence.
"All things" includes
everything with no exceptions. Whatever is "in
heaven" or "on earth," "visible" or "invisible" is
included. "All things" were created points to a
particular time when creation took place, and the
resulting action of that creation is that it stands
created. The whole universe owes its being to
The ancient Jewish rabbis
taught that the world was created for the Messiah.
Christ is the end for which all things exist. He is
the goal toward whom all things were intended to
move. Everything in creation was intended to serve
Him and contribute to His glory.
Jesus declared: "I am the
Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the
beginning and the end" (Revelation 22:13). There is
a day coming when "every tongue will confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the
Father" (Philippians 2:11). The apostle Paul tells
us that when Christ returns in glory He will subject
all things unto the Father, after He has first
subjected all things to Himself. That sovereignty
includes every rule, authority and power.
"He is before all things,
and in Him all things hold together" (Colossians
1:17). Christ sustains the universe. Christ Himself,
Christ and no other, is before all things and He
holds it all together. It is impossible for Him to
have been created. He is the eternal preincarnate
Son of God, the Second Person of the Holy Trinity.
Again, the apostle Paul places emphasis on the
priority in time and rank. His existence is before
Jesus Christ is the
center of the universe. As Creator, Jesus Christ is
prior in time and rank. He existed before all
creation. The apostle Paul declares the absolute
preexistence of the Son of God. Jesus stated this
clearly in John 8:58. "Truly, truly, I say to you,
before Abraham was born, I am" (John 8:58).
The apostle Paul stresses
not only that Christ is the creator, but He holds
all of creation together. "And in Him all things
hold together" simply means Christ is the principal
of cohesion in the universe. Christ makes the
universe "a cosmos instead of a chaos" (Lightfoot).
How does Christ
sustain the universe?
Christ sustains the
universe by the word of His power. If He didn’t the
universe would disintegrate.
In his great speech
before the Athenians the apostle Paul declared that
it is in Christ that "we live and move and exist . .
." (Acts 17:28).
How tragic if we like
those philosophers in Athens fail to understand this
great truth and bow in submission to Him.
Christ is Lord of
Just as Christ is the
head of the creation He is the head of the new
creation. He is head of the local church and the
CHRIST THE HEAD OF THE
The apostle Paul states
that Christ "is also head of the body, the church;
and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the
dead, so that He Himself will come to have first
place in everything" (Colossians 1:18).
Christ is the "head" of
His body, the church. There is a vital relationship
between the body and the head. The body does not
give order to the head; the head gives direction;
Christ is its sovereign. He is the source of life
for the church. He guides and governs it. He
energizes it. Remember the allegory of the vine?
Jesus said: "I am the vine, you are the branches; he
who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit,
for apart from Me you can do nothing" (John 15:5).
The pronoun "He" is in
emphatic position in the original language and means
"He and he alone" is the head of the church. Christ
alone, Christ and none other is the head of the
church. The words "head of the body, the church"
also suggests an intimate relationship or vital
union between Christ and the members of His body.
How easy that truth is
forgotten in our day. We take pride in independence
and democracy. How sad when we forget that Christ
alone is the head of the local church. He must at
all times be Lord of the local congregation or
In this passage it is
best to take "church" as embracing all of God’s
redeemed people. The "church" is the living organism
composed of believers who have been joined in vital
union with Christ and one another. This body of
Christ is the means by which Christ accomplishes His
eternal purpose. "Christ is the head of each local
church as He is the head of the general or universal
church. . . We are all members of one body in Christ
who is our head," notes A. T. Robertson. The Gnostic
heretics in Colossae did not hold Christ as head of
Why is Christ the
head of the church?
Christ is the origin and
source of the church’s life. He gave His life for
her. Christ loved the church and "gave Himself up
for her" (Eph. 5:25). Moreover, "He is the
beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He
Himself will come to have first place in everything"
(Col. 1:18b). Christ is the firstborn from the dead.
He is the first to come from the dead in true
resurrection life, never to die again. Yes, others
had been brought to life only to die again with the
exception of Elijah. However, the body of Christ
shares in this new and higher life by virtue of our
vital union with the resurrected Christ. "Now Christ
has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of
those who are asleep" (1 Corinthians 15:20).
He is "the firstborn from the dead." He is the
Prince of Life, the conqueror of death, and because
He lives we too shall live. He is the life-giving
Because Christ is the
"first fruits" from the dead He reigns as the
sovereign living Lord. This is why He has
preeminence in everything. He is the Lord of the
As the Creator, Christ is
the Lord of creation, and as the resurrected Christ
He is Lord over His new Creation. Again the emphasis
in the original language suggests the preeminence of
Christ. "He Himself, He and He alone" will have
first place in everything! He alone is the supreme
head over all things. What a great God and Savior we
worship. There is no other comparison.
"For it was the Father’s
good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him
and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself,
having made peace through the blood of His cross;
through Him, I say, whether things on earth or
things in heaven" (Colossians 1:19-20).
Here is the ultimate
reason we bow and worship Him. God has decreed the
supremacy of Christ over His church and the
John Calvin said, "It was
so arranged in the providence of God." It was the
will of God that Christ reign as sovereign because
in Him dwells all the fullness of God and it is
through Him that God has reconciled all things to
Himself through His precious blood.
The fullness of God
Christ is Lord because
"it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the
fullness to dwell in Him." God willed that in Christ
all the fullness should dwell. God had the good
pleasure in the indwelling of all the divine powers
and attributes in the Son. The Father willed for the
plentitude of the Godhead to make Himself at home in
The fullness of God
dwells in Jesus Christ in a permanent dwelling. "For
in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily
form" (Colossians 2:9; cf. Eph. 1:23; 3:19; 4:13).
"Whatever God has He has conferred upon His Son,"
observes Calvin. All of God’s attributes are
conferred upon His Son in the weight of glory. It is
the whole of the divine perfections.
God in all His fullness
is all that God is. It is that which makes Him God,
and "it was the Father’s good pleasure for all" that
"fullness to dwell in Him." Don’t miss the word
"dwell." This is a permanent residence as opposed to
a temporary journey. The fullness of deity
permanently abides in Christ. It is a lasting abode.
The fullness of deity is eternally resident in the
Son. The divine fullness is eternally resident in
What a great God and
Savior we worship! Christ is not just one of many
deities, or ways to get to heaven. There is no other
name under heaven by which you may be saved. He is
the only mediator between sinful men and a holy God.
No one comes to the Father but through Him.
And this is the One who
became flesh, dwelt among us, "and through Him to
reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace
through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say,
whether things on earth or things in heaven"
(Colossians 1:20 ). There is nothing more
humbling than that thought. He did it to redeem and
reconcile depraved sinful men and women. The false
teachers denied the full humanity of Jesus. L. S.
Chafer said, "The union of Christ’s two natures is
so complete that His blood becomes the blood of
God." Philips translates, "Christ is the visible
expression of the invisible God." He is the one who
The Father was pleased
through Jesus Christ to reconcile all things to
Himself. Only the One in whom all the fullness of
God dwells could accomplish reconciliation to a holy
"Reconciliation" is a
unique word for the apostle Paul. He alone uses it
in relation to God’s work in Jesus Christ on behalf
of sinful men. It is never God being reconciled to
man, but always it is sinful man who is reconciled
with God. It is man who needs to be reconciled to
God. Man chose to disobey God and separate from His
ways. However, God is the One who chose to take the
initiative to reconcile sinful man through the
sacrifice of Christ.
Jesus Christ is God’s
agent in reconciling sinful man to Himself. None
other could ever accomplish such a work. God’s agent
of reconciliation is holy and righteous. He is
sinless and pure.
God has made it possible
for sinful man to have a changed relationship with
Himself from enmity to friendship. The word
"reconcile" suggests the effecting in man a
condition of submission and harmony with God. The
original language uses a double compound verb
meaning to change completely, to change so as to
remove all enmity. The emphasis is on the
completeness of Christ’s reconciliation.
PRINCIPLES AND PRACTICAL APPLICATIONS
The apostle Paul
emphasizes the preexistence of Christ before all
creation. That is the great assumption throughout
The second assumption
Paul makes is Christ is at work reconciling the
world to God. "Now all these things are from God,
who reconciled us to Himself through Christ and gave
us the ministry of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians
A holy God is reaching
down to you right now and offers you forgiveness of
all your sins and an invitation to come to Him and
enter into a perfect relationship with Him.
This passage does not
suggest universalism, but a call to come freely and
receive God’s offer of eternal life by believing on
Christ. There is nothing like the peace that God
gives through the blood of His cross.
When God makes
reconciliation with man the change takes place in
man, not in God. It is the sinner who is turned to
God. God is always reaching down to man in love and
grace, calling for sinful man to repent and turn to
God in faith.
Everything in the
Christian life is at stake when we consider the
person and work of Jesus Christ. Your response to
the question "Who is Jesus Christ?" challenges every
professing Christian. It not only determines your
eternal destiny, but the quality of your Christian
life and testimony. Jesus Christ is Lord. Jesus
Christ is my Lord. I pray that He is your Lord and