So often, Colossians has been called the epistle that exalts the Christ of the church. These particular verses have been called “the Christ hymn.” Notice how Paul sings His praises in this paragraph of his epistle. How is His preeminence demonstrated?
He is the picture of God (15). John, introducing Christ in his gospel, says, “No one has seen God at any time” (John 1:18; cf. 1 John 4:12). People have tried to depict God many times, but from Michelangelo to George Burns, all fail. Only Christ is the accurate image of the invisible God. John writes, “And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we behold His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
He is the firstborn (15). This means that He is supreme and preeminent, not a created being. The very next verse tells us that He created everything that was created (He couldn’t create Himself). He is placed above His creation, but He is not aloof or detached from us.
He is the agent of creation (16-17). When we look at what Paul says here, we are in awe of Christ. His participation in creation was exhaustive (16). Paul keeps repeating the word “all.” The phrase “all things” is used by Paul three times here, just in case we miss the point! The production of His creation is exquisite (16). Just examine the heavens and the earth. Look at photos of underwater life, outer space, and all seven continents. Think about what you can see but also what you cannot see–wind, sound, involuntary actions of the body! Further, the place over His creation is exalted (16-17). All is subject to Him! His power over His creation is extreme (17). He holds it all together. The earth is rotating at a speed of 1040 miles per hour. There are approximately two million asteroids one kilometer across or larger hurtling through our solar system at any given time. The earth averages 93 million miles from the sun. If it was 83 million or 103 million, we’d all be dead. If the gravitational forces extended by the sun and moon with the rotation of the earth changed or ceased, we would have a tidal wave of catastrophes. Why do things continue to exist on this earth? Christ holds it all together!
He is the head of the church (18). The next time you feel sorry for yourself, think about the role Christ plays right now–today! In addition to His sustaining work over the earth, He is the head of the church (Matt. 28:18). Contrary to what some teach, Christ does not share His authority with anyone. Paul mentions the headship of Jesus later in the letter (2:10; 2:19). If He is the head, only He can make the rules and determine right and wrong. There is radical change occurring in the religious world right now. Religious leaders are reversing previous stances or creating new beliefs. That’s not how it works! He will come to have first place in everything!
He is the firstborn from the dead (18). He is not just before us in the creation, but He’s also the forerunner of the new birth. “Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep” (1 Cor. 15:20). This has been the message since the first gospel sermon (Acts 2:24). This is the reason we have hope today (1 Pet. 1:13).
He is the One in Whom is all fulness (19). If he missed anything, Paul sums it all up by saying “all fullness dwells in Him.” He will soon say, “In Him all the fulness of deity dwells in human form” (2:9).
The false teachers Paul addresses in this letter had it wrong. Christ is not just sufficient. He is supreme! I’m afraid the Christ of too many people’s religion and personal life is far inferior to the Christ revealed in Colossians. They have reduced and replaced His teaching. They have denied His creation. They have ignored His sustaining. They have forgotten His second coming.
Steven Hawking was asked what the biggest unsolved problem is in physics today. He said, “The theory of everything…We feel that we are near, but we never get there. It always seems just over the rainbow’s edge.” But that question was solved 2000 years ago for people who accepted God at His Word. Men will continue to grope for that pot of gold somewhere over that rainbow, until they accept Christ.