I’m studying through the book of Colossians because I plan to teach through the book during the month of March (and the first Sunday in April). So far, I’ve written about the beginning of my study, and I’ve presented a preliminary outline along with the reasoning behind that outline. Then I discussed the letter’s salutation which identified the author and the recipients, and included a greeting. I’ve also examined Paul and Timothy’s prayer for the Colossians (see Part 1 and Part 2).
At the end of the second sentence in Paul and Timothy’s prayer, they say that one of the reasons that the Colossians should joyfully give thanks to God (and thus live in a manner worthy of God) is because God has moved them from the authority of darkness into the kingdom of God – which is described as the kingdom of his Son. This then leads into a discussion of the Son of God, and specifically, the preeminence of the Son of God over both creation and the church (with the church in general and the church in Colossae specifically in view).
Now, in reality, this section begins (in Colossians 1:15) with the relative pronoun “who,” not with the personal pronoun “he.” Thus, this description of Jesus Christ as preeminent over creation and the church is part of the prayer. It continues from and is attached to the end of the prayer. (I will need to decided if I’m going to change this in my outline or not. Right now, I could go either way.)
Here is the first part of this section:
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)
The authors begin with adjective after adjective and phrase after phrase describing the extent to which Jesus is preeminent over creation. He is 1) the image/form of the invisible God, 2) the firstborn of all creation, 3) the one by who all things were created (this is further explained as all things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, thrones and dominions/lordships and rulers and authorities – thus, all encompassing), 4) before/in front of/more important than all things, and 5) the one that holds all things together.
This part is pretty straightforward. The authors not only set Jesus as preeminent over all creation, but somehow also different than all creation. In fact, they say that everything else depended on the Son for its beginning and its continued existence. And, furthermore, they make it clear that they mean everything, including the word “all” five times in this short section, even spelling out several different kinds of spiritual or human kings and rulers and governments.
While there are many things that we can learn from this declaration, don’t forget how Paul and Timothy are using it. They are declaring that Jesus is preeminent over creation (and the church) both as a reason for thanking God (the passage before this) and as a reason for Paul’s service (the passage after this).
Why would you add to my discussion of these three verses?