Saturday, January 21, 2017

Colossian 1:15

Following his greeting and prayer, Paul moves into a discussion on the pre-eminence of Christ in the areas of Creation, Redemption, and the Church. Since Paul is writing under the influence of the Holy Spirit and is developing this concept of the centrality of Christ in the Church, it is a viable set of ideas that he delves into. Paul is working to emphasize to the Colossians the headship of Jesus over the Church. So, he goes back to the very beginning of all things – Creation.

Paul in this letter is dealing with the heresies of the Gnostic beliefs slipping into the Colossian Church. They did not believe in the deity of Jesus Christ, and thus Paul is going to develop a logical set of arguments against this false belief. In the following verse, Paul provides us with nine distinguishing identifying marks of Jesus’ superiority to any other person who has ever lived.

Paul starts by telling us that Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The word he uses here, eikon, and means image or likeness. This is more than just a representation, it is a manifestation or revelation.[1] This is a different word than what he used in letter tot eh Philippians where he spoke of Jesus “existing in the form of God” (2:6 ASV). The word in the Philippian letter was morphe, and this carries the meaning of having the special or characteristic features, thus the nature and character of God in this passage.[2]

Jesus was born flesh (John 1:14) and thus could show us the invisible (Greek aoratos – “not visible”) God. He was God and thus could robe Himself in flesh and give us the manifestation or revelation of the One who is invisible (Heb. 11:27). Only because Jesus is God, could He then reveal the invisible God. Jesus was the fullness of the logos that John spoke about in the beginning of the Gospel bearing his name.

The second identifying mark he writes about, is that Jesus is the firstborn (Greek prototokos) of all creation. That reveals His relationship to the Father in the Godhead. “Firstborn” indicates His priority before all Creation.

Nowhere does the Scriptures teach that Jesus Christ had His beginning at Bethlehem. Micah 5:2 prophesies His being born at Bethlehem, but it clarifies it with the statement that His “goings forth are from of old, from everlasting. (ASV)” Isaiah 9:6 (ASV) tells us “For unto us a child is born, unto us a son is given", a child is born, but a son is given – in other words, He came out of eternity and took on humanity.

The point here is His pre-existence from all eternity, second, His supremacy of position over Creation, and finally, His being recognized as Messiah.[3]

Prayer: I give thanks that a child was born in Bethlehem, the eternal, everlasting Son of God, given for my redemption. Father, Your great love shines forth because of what lengths You went to secure my salvation. You are worthy of all praise and worship. May I never forget, nor take for granted this so-great salvation. Amen.

[1] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 318. 
[2] George Wigram, New Englishman’s Greek-English Concordance & Lexicon (Lafayette, Indiana: Sovereign Grace Publishers, 1982). Page 580. And, W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 251. 
[3] Psalm 89:27 states – “I also will make him my first-born, The highest of the kings of the earth.” This is understood as referring to the Messiah.

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