The Preeminence of Jesus Over All Things - Colossians 1:15-20
Who is Jesus? This is one of the most important questions that can ever be asked and it is a question that must be answered by every person. The way we answer is the difference between eternal life and eternal punishment. And while many in our world have answered this question incorrectly, as the people of God we should work hard to not only know the answer to this question, but to live in a way that reflects our belief in who Jesus is.
As Paul writes to the Colossians his primary aim is to help them know who Jesus is and what position He holds. He wants them to know that Jesus is preeminent; that He is over all things and that there is nothing above Him.
After a section of introduction (vv. 1-14) Paul begins the main part of the letter with what many have described as a Hymn of Christ. It is debated whether Paul is the composer or if he is quoting a hymn of his day, but either way the structure and flow of the hymn is incredible.
The first half of the ‘hymn’ (vv. 15-17) describes Jesus and His position of preeminence over creation. The second half of the ‘hymn’ describes Jesus and His position of preeminence over the church (new creation).
Christ and Creation – Creation is by Him, though Him and for Him (1:15-17)
- Jesus is Preeminent Over All Creation Because He is the Image of God - Paul makes it clear that Jesus is more than man and therefore He has a very different relationship to creation than we do. Jesus is the image of God in flesh. We cannot see God, but in Jesus we have seen the Father (Exodus 33:20; John 1:14, 18; John 14:8-9; Hebrews 1:3).
- Jesus is Preeminent Over All Creation Because He Created All Things (vv. 15-16) - Jesus is not simply part of creation, He is God over all creation; in fact He’s the creator of all creation. There is nothing that He didn’t create (John 1:1-3; Hebrews 1:1-2).
- Firstborn - When Paul calls Jesus the firstbornhe’s not emphasizing chronological order, he’s emphasizing a position of prominence. In the culture of Paul’s time to be the firstborn of the family was to hold a position of authority and privilege. Paul is not suggesting that Jesus was created, but that Jesus has a position of authority over all creation
- Jesus is Preeminent Over All Creation Because He Sustains All Things (vv. 17) - Jesus didn’t just create all things and then step back and let the world spin. Jesus is the one who sustains all things – He holds all things together (Hebrews 1:3).
- Jesus is Preeminent Over All Creation Because He is the Reason for All Things (vs. 16b) – While we receive the benefits of Christ’s creating and sustaining work, we are not the ultimate aim of creation. Paul makes it clear that all creation is by Him and for Him (Rom 11:36).
Application: We live in a world that is quick to dismiss or minimize Jesus. It’s common to hear people refer to Jesus as a good teacher or a religious leader, but He is so much more: Jesus is preeminent over all things.
As the people of God we should quick to stand up and give Him the praise that He deserves. We should want the entire world to know who the creator is and who’s holding all things together.
Christ and the Church – Redemption is by Him, through Him and for Him (1:18-20)
While all things were created good and perfect, because of sin there is separation between God and His creation – reconciliation is needed (Romans 8:22-23). But, this is our hope: That the same One who created all things is also the One who came to earth to reconcile all things to Himself.
- Jesus is Preeminent Over the Church Because He is the Head (vs. 18a) – According to the Biblical metaphor all believers are part of a body. As the head of the body Jesus is the authority – the one who is over all (Romans 12:4-5; Ephesians 1:19-23).
- Jesus is Preeminent Over the Church Because He is the Source and Fulfillment Redemption (vs. 18b-20) - First we are told that Jesus is the firstborn of creation and now that He is the firstborn from the dead. Jesus was the first to rise from the dead, and His resurrection is what makes our resurrection possible (1 Corinthians 15:19-23).
- When Jesus came to earth He came as God in flesh (vs. 19) so that He could die and make reconciliation and peace possible. Because of Jesus, the preeminent One, we can have peace (vs. 20) (Ephesians 2:13-20).
- Jesus is Preeminent Over the Church Because He is the Reason for Redemption (vs. 18b) - While we receive the benefits of reconciliation, the cross is primarily about the glory of Christ (Philippians 2:8-11).