In the first chapter of Colossians Paul gives an extensive description of Christ. Paul, nowhere else in his epistles, describes Christ in such an extensive manner. It is apparent that the Apostle was addressing the influence of false teaching (see Col. 2:4) in the church at Colosse. False doctrine cannot prevail within the church when the focus is upon Christ and Christ alone. This epistle has been preserved as scripture such that individual believers may stand against the enticing words of them who oppose God’s truth.
In verse 15, Jesus is described as the image of the invisible God. The literal image of something invisible would be invisible. Jesus was (and is) visible. It is through Christ (the visible) that we see God the Father (the invisible). In Christ —in His conduct and His actions— we are able to see the will and character of God the Father.
Jesus is described as the first-born of every creature. This does not mean that Jesus was not preexistent. It means that Jesus holds ranking above every creature. There is no creature before or equal to Him. Jesus is the visible image of the One who is before all else.
Jesus is the visible image of the Creator (v. 16). All things which are in heaven and in earth were created by Him. All is an inclusive word. There is no exception. All includes both the visible and the invisible —the tangible and the intangible. Learned scientists of today with the aid of technology are able to observe many things which were invisible in Paul’s day. The invisible things which were created by Him include all ruling authority, powers, and dominions of power and authority. These invisible things affect tangible things which can be seen, but are, of themselves, intangible.
Secular science holds the world view that there is no supernatural and that everything that we observe is the result of mindless evolution. This is not what verse 16 clearly states. Man’s understanding of God’s creation has dramatically increased in the last century. That this should happen was foretold by the prophet Daniel (Dan. 12:4). God is not the author of confusion. Evolution of the species and evolution of the universe itself, if not the product of the imaginations of men, are subject to Him who created all things. Verse 16 declares it.
The existence of angelic entities is likewise proclaimed by the holy scriptures. Angels, seen and unseen, are creatures made by Him who created all things.
The message that Paul has for the Colossians is that Christ and Christ alone is before all things. Nothing can exist without Him. Paul’s message for us is the same. Christ is the head of the church. The church is a new creation consisting of all who have been born from the dead. Paul described Christ as the first-born of every creature in verse 15, and, now in verse 18, as the first-born from the dead. Christ is head of both the original creation and the new creation. He is preeminent because the church consists of all who have been born from the dead through Him.
The problems within the church at Colosse that Paul addresses would cease to exist if believers would hold Christ in His rightful position. God the Father has placed Him above all things. Verse 19 states that it pleased the Father that all fullness should dwell in Him (Christ). Again, that word “all”. It is impossible to separate the Father and the Son. The only means by which all fullness can be in Christ is that His fullness (His deity) be the same as that of God the Father. Christ is to be preeminent because He is God.
Verse 20 lists an additional reason why Christ is to be held preeminent. He earned His preeminence. By His blood upon the cross He has reconciled all things unto Himself. His blood has reconciled all things in earth and all things in heaven.
In the closing verses, Paul states the purpose for which Christ reconciled the Colossians (and us). We shall be presented holy, unblamable, and unreprovable to Him by Him. We are to be as He. This is the good news. The gospel is to be realized in us.
The gospel cannot be realized in them who turn from the truth (those who never inwardly believed). The outward walk of a believer testifies of his inward belief.
Christ has done what no man could do. Through Him we have a new relationship with the Father who is in heaven. It is by the blood of Christ, and by His blood alone, that we are reconciled. No other works needed. No intermediary needed. Praise God the Father for His plan; praise God the Son for His work; and praise God the Spirit for revealing the truth of His word to us.
We, in addition to the Colossians, have been given these words such that we might walk in His way and direct others to the love that is bestowed upon all who believe.