Foundations Colossians 1:1-2
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
(Colossians 1:15–17 ESV)
I believe that we come now to one of the most powerful and one of the most challenging verses in all the Scriptures!
Is Jesus God?
These are outrageous claims! Firstborn, creator, holder of the universe!
It seems that these verses have been taking from one of the superheroes movies! Indeed if religion is real, then it is private, and you have no business sharing your religious beliefs with mine!
We live in a pluralistic society, and we have been living in this postmodern world for a while. A world where there are no absolutes, where there are no objective truths and where all truth are equals.
In a book that I bought almost ten years ago called “The Supremacy of Christ in a Postmodern World” edited by John Piper and Justin Taylor – Tim Keller says that we live in a day where there is a deep and profound crisis of Truth, Guilt and Meaning.
Truth: is no longer absolute; there is no longer a reference point that we can call the truth! So when Jesus said: I am the truth! That is ok for Jesus, but not for me. He is one truth among many!
Guilt: we live in a world where guilt has increased due to no moral values, and there seems to be a massive vacuum of what is right and what is wrong, which has led to the rise of making our decisions based on our feelings not in our logic. This has produced a kind of shame culture, expressed in a deep sense of guilt, leading many to suffer anxiety and depression.
Meaning. There is a crisis of purpose and a great suspicion against ancient texts, like the Bible. So, who are we to say that the definitions found in this old book are the correct ones?
What are we to make ok all this?
What are we to believe?
The Church is no longer the centre of our society.
We are no longer at the cutting age of forwarding thinking. We are told we are irrelevant, blind, and intolerant.
We are a church living on the margins, and I believe that is where we should be.
I will never forget a conversation I had with one of my sons, and he was telling me how much the Church has contributed to so much suffering, wars, abuse, and passing judgement. So, I asked him: if Jesus was here, living in this age, with you and me, would you listen to him? He said yes!
Isn’t this interesting? I believe this is what Paul wants to say to us.
Paul is teaching about the Supremacy, the Sufficiency of Christ over creation over the Church.
“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.”
(Colossians 1:15–17 NIV11-GKE)
I want you to see that the words ALL and the construction ALL THINGS are written five times in these three verses!
So Jesus is:
- Firstborn over ALL Creation
- In Him, All Things were created
- All Things have been created through Him and for Him.
- He is before All Things
- He holds All Things
Paul is telling us that Christ Supremacy not only is about creation but those who live within his created order. What I mean is this: Christ is Sufficient to hold and to sustain everything He crates. Things that are visible and invisible and those in authority.
He cannot be Sufficient if he is not Supreme!
At first read, we may conclude that there isn’t much difference between In Him, all things were created, and All things have been created through him and for him! It seems to be saying the same thing!
But I believe that there is a very subtle difference, and it has to do with the context.
Paul says that “In him, all things were created” this points to Jesus inner capacity to create. Jesus is Creator! He is the firstborn of all creation; that is his Supremacy.
To say that “all things have been created through him for him”, points to what he has created or continues to create. It is his capacity or sufficiency to create and to hold all things together. He was alone responsible for creation.
Let me explain this with a biblical example! Let me ask you this question?
Why do we pray in Jesus’ name?
In Acts chapter, three have Peter and John going to temple where they came across a paralysed man begging. As they were entering the Temple, Peter saw this man who was expecting to receive something from them, and Peter “… said, “I have no silver and gold, but what I do have I give to you. In the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise and walk!” Acts3:6 ESV)
- What does he have? He has the Spirit of the Lord in him. This is the same creative Spirit that we see back in Genesis one and two. So, in Peter dwells the fullness of Jesus, this is what Paul says in Colossians 2:9-10 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” (Colossians 2:9–10 NIV11-GKE). So, when we pray, we do so, appealing to the Supremacy of Christ, which is in us. We pray into the fullness of God that dwells in us as it dwelt in Peter.
This is mind-blowing! It is the power that we have, which Paul prayed in verses 11-14.
- In whose name do we pray? We pray in Jesus’ name. Christ is sufficient to create a miracle, to heal, to bring salvation, to restore. Jesus’ name is the means of salvation and healing.
So, every time we pray in Jesus’ name, please understand it is not a formula or chanting, a calling to the one who is the Original, Creator.
I would like to say three things about these verses:
- Jesus Image:
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” (Colossians 1:15 ESV)
Jesus supremacy means that Jesus is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn of all creation.
There are two ideas here that we need to grasp:
• Jesus is what God looks like. If we want to know God, we need to know Jesus. We know from the Scriptures that no one has seen God. We know that God is Spirit and even those who have been very courageous like Moses, who asked to see God face to face and couldn’t. God did not allow it. Why because he is Holy, therefore he is also known as God the Holy Spirit. Now, we know that God is Creator and Supreme Ruler. Jesus is consequently his very image, and he is of the same essence as the Father, full of glory, grace, and truth.
This is what John said: “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.”(John 1:14 ESV).
“No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” (John 1:18 NKJV).
“The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers, so that they cannot see the light of the gospel that displays the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.” (2 Corinthians 4:4 NIV11)
• Jesus is the firstborn of all creation. When Genesis said that the Lord God was walking in the cool of the day, I genuinely believe that this is a reference to Jesus as Col. 1:16 says. Jesus was a Son before he became human.
o To say that he is the firstborn of all creation is to say that he inherited all of what belongs to God the Father as a son.
“But in these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.” (Hebrews 1:2–3 ESV) – “And again, when he brings the firstborn into the world, he says, “Let all God’s angels worship him.” (Hebrews 1:6 ESV)
Not only Jesus is the firstborn of creation, but he the firstborn from the dead “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.” (Colossians 1:18 ESV)
Jesus is the image of God and the firstborn of creation as the Son of God and the Son of Man.
- Jesus Authority
“For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.” (Colossians 1:16 ESV)
I have already mentioned the difference between his Supremacy and his sufficiency in terms of creation.
He, as supreme creator, has all authority over his creation on earth and in heaven. We have a list created by the Son:
So, if there is any doubt, all that is in heaven belongs to Christ, and He has authority over all the things in heaven. Likewise here on earth, but with only one crucial difference: He has chosen his Church to be his body on earth. We are Jesus to the world. That is why it is so important to come together and congregate.
Some realms belong to the spiritual world and the physical. Jesus is supreme of both.
“For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.”
(Ephesians 6:12 ESV)
Here we have a structure of authority from thrones, dominions, rules, and authorities Jesus stands above and beyond. – I think the Message can help us to understand the magnitude of this verse:
“For everything, absolutely everything, above and below, visible and invisible, rank after rank after rank of angels—everything got started in him and finds its purpose in him.” (Colossians 1:16 MESSAGE)
- Jesus Sustains
“And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17 ESV)
Therefore, I believe that he was walking on the cool of the day! He is before all things, and he holds all things together.
Jesus is supreme, sufficient, and sovereign.
When Jesus said, I gave you all authority. He was not kidding. We have the authority of the Supreme King Jesus to be his people.
Tim Keller said that we live in a crisis of Truth; Jesus is Truth, his truth is absolute and supreme. Keller says we are living in a crisis of Guilt; Jesus is the only one that can genuinely wipe away our guilt by taking the guilt of this world because of the sins of men to the cross. Therefore, as Keller has said, we are living in a crisis of meaning; Jesus is the only one who can truly bring sense to our lives as he defeated death and gave us true hope of eternal life. We find our meaning in the resurrected Christ.
Christ is Supreme and sufficient.
“For in him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell,” (Colossians 1:19 ESV)