“He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together” (Colossians 1:17).
Colossians 1:17 continues the doctrinal portion of this epistle and its emphasis upon the divinity of Christ. While this continued focus upon Jesus’ deity may seem repetitive, it serves an important purpose, For instance, consider the Apostle Paul’s observation in the New Testament book of 2 Corinthians: “For we are not, as so many, peddling the word of God; but as of sincerity, but as from God, we speak in the sight of God in Christ” (2 Corinthians 2:17).
This implies that there were many first-century charlatans who were seeking to profit from the ministry of God’s Word. Unfortunately, this situation is no less true today. This illustrates the importance of knowing what others are “selling” in regard to the person and work of Christ. It also explains why the following idea bears repeating…
“This revelation clearly separates Christ from every created entity. ‘He’ has the force of ‘He and no other’ in the Greek text. The word is an intensive pronoun. He is before all temporally (preexistent) and authoritatively (sovereign). This assertion, combined with the earlier one that He is the first-born of all creation (v. 15b), proves that Christ is not a ‘creature’ (created being).
If He were, He would have had to create Himself. To do that, He would have had to exist before He existed, which is absurd and impossible! ‘The phrase ‘before all things’ sums up the essence of His designation as ‘Firstborn before all creation’ and excludes any possibility of interpreting that designation to mean that He Himself is part of the created order (albeit the first and chief part).'” (1)
So Jesus is not only the agent and fulfillment of creation, He is the one who holds everything together. To put it more concisely, Colossians 1:17 tells us that Jesus personally sustains all that exists. This astonishing reality brings an important perspective to the following passage from the book of 2 Peter…
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare. Since everything will be destroyed in this way, what kind of people ought you to be? You ought to live holy and godly lives as you look forward to the day of God and speed its coming. That day will bring about the destruction of the heavens by fire, and the elements will melt in the heat” (2 Peter 3:10-12 NIV).
If Jesus were to stop holding everything together, we would surely see the conditions described in the verses quoted above.
(1) Constable, Thomas. DD. “Commentary on Colossians 1:17”. “Expository Notes of Dr. Thomas Constable”. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/dcc/colossians-1.html. 2012.