“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15).
Like many of Paul the Apostle’s New Testament letters, the Epistle to the Colossians features a doctrinal section that establishes a foundation for genuine spiritual truth. The primary doctrinal portion of this book is found in Colossians 1:15-20 and addresses the person and work of Christ. One source provides us with a list of important truths contained within these verses…
“In this paragraph (Col_1:15-20) Paul mentioned seven unique characteristics of Christ, which fittingly qualify Him to have ‘the supremacy’ (Col_1:18). Christ is: (1) the image of God, (2) the Firstborn over Creation, (3) Creator of the universe, (4) Head of the church, (5) Firstborn from the dead, (6) the fullness of God, and (7) the Reconciler of all things.” (1)
Another commentary expands on this list with the following insight…
“This is one of the strongest statements about the divine nature of Christ found anywhere in the Bible. Jesus is not only equal to God (Php_2:6), he is God (Joh_10:30, Joh_10:38; Joh_12:45; Joh_14:1-11); as the visible image of the invisible God, he is the exact representation of God. He not only reflects God, but he reveals God to us (Joh_1:18; Joh_14:9); as supreme over all creation, he has all the priority and authority.
He came from heaven, not from the dust of the earth (1Co_15:47), and he is Lord of all (Rom_9:5; Rom_10:11-13; Rev_1:5; Rev_17:14). He is completely holy (Heb_7:26-28; 1Pe_1:19; 1Pe_2:22; 1Jn_3:5), and he has authority to judge the world (Rom_2:16; 2Co_5:10; 2Ti_4:1). Therefore, Christ is supreme over all creation, including the spirit world.” (2)
This passage also highlights the supremacy of Christ and His work. For instance…
- Jesus is the image of the invisible God (verse fifteen).
- All things were created through Him and for Him (verse sixteen).
- He is before all things (verse seventeen).
- All things consist in Him (verse seventeen).
- He has preeminence in all things (verse eighteen).
- All the fullness of God dwells in Christ (verse nineteen).
- Jesus reconciles all things to Himself (verse twenty).
Finally, there are many who believe that this portion of Scripture originally formed the basis of an early Christian hymn. If so, the act of placing these important theological truths into song undoubtedly helped the first-century church learn about the preeminence of Christ before the inspired New Testament Scriptures began to appear. Nevertheless, it is somewhat ironic that Jesus’ name does not appear once within Colossians 1:15-20 despite the fact that it exalts Him so highly. (3)
(1) Geisler, N. L. (1985). Colossians. In J. F. Walvoord & R. B. Zuck (Eds.), The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures (Vol. 2, p. 672). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.
(2) NASB Life Application Study Bible, Second Edition (Colossians 1:15-16) Copyright © 1988, 1989, 1991, 1993, 1996, 2004 by Tyndale House Publishers Inc., all rights reserved. Life Application® is a registered trademark of Tyndale House Publishers, Inc.
(3) Sturz, Richard Studies in Colossians. In William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary Colossians 1:14, pg.1993