15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 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. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven,making peace by the blood of his cross.
Christ as Lord of Creation
Some people think that this section of Colossians is an ancient hymn that was sung by the early church. However, it is more probable that it is a poetic piece written by Paul to connect Christ with creation and the ancient concept of Wisdom.
The words at the beginning of Genesis, “In the beginning … ” has two components in Hebrew. The first component, which we translate, ‘In …’ can be translated as by, in, or through. Paul shows the supremacy of Christ by using all the possible meanings to talk about Jesus. ‘The beginning’, the second component, can be translated as head, or beginning. Paul shows how Jewish thinkers would use a word and mean all of its meanings rather than just one. Jesus, as the Wisdom of God in creation, transcends all of reality. This person exists within the system, but also predates the system. It is not that Jesus was created first, but that the system he sustains is the one that he has created.
There are so many levels to think about this. Those who want to limit Jesus to a man who walked two thousand years ago, and no more, try and discredit Paul. They say that Jesus, the man, walked the Earth, but Paul invented the cosmic Christ. However, the gospels point toward the developed theology of Paul so that the thoughts Paul communicates are seamless conclusions to gospel thinking. Jesus, then, as he claimed, is more than a man. He is a person, but he transcends any other person. All of creation, including angels, are subject to him. No aspect of creation can be fully understood without understanding Jesus.
This last point reaches into our education system and challenges our secularism. If all of the universe speaks of Jesus, we have learned to ignore that fact. If Jesus is the source and the sustainer of all reality, he is the source and sustainer of all truth. No curriculum that is silent about Jesus is complete. Can the complexities of Jesus’ connection to the curriculum ever be exhausted? No. There are infinite understandings that we have yet to uncover. Yet mankind, in his rebellion, thinks that he is intelligent because controversy has been eliminated by excluding religion from learning in many cases. This passage leaves such a perspective as the perspective of fools. The fool says in his heart there is no God. In our day and age fools rule the nations, and the people have become proud that they have left God out of the cosmos. They are blind and they boast that they can not see. I advocate what Duane Litfin calls the Christocentric unity of all truth. We put Christ back into his creation. Not as an addition or some kind of fraction, but as its whole – as its entirety. In fact, we ‘do’ nothing. We just proclaim what ‘is’. In so doing we bring the people back to truth.
Lord Jesus, you transcend all mankind and angelic beings because you are God. You reflect the reality of divine glory because it is the essence of who you are. You are the wisdom behind all mysteries, and you are the answer to all of our prayers. All creation speaks your name and the Scriptures point to you. You are a man and so much more. You are the sacrifice that reconciles creation with its divine purposes. May we keep you in your right place of preeminence. May we remember you more as we walk in your world. May we be mindful of you as we go about our lives. You are the life-giver and in worship we give our lives back to you.
- What was created by Jesus?
- Which words show the magnificence of Jesus?
- Why would Paul need his hearers to know the nature of who Jesus is?
- How does Paul’s description of Jesus affect how we should educate?
- How can you think of Jesus more like Paul’s example?