A Study of Colossians 1:15-20 considers Jesus as the divine creator, head of the church, and source of reconciliation and peace.
Paul addresses a false teaching that adds extra teachings and religious practices to the gospel message. In effect, it lowered the importance of Christ and Paul refutes it by emphasizing the supremacy of Christ.
A Study of Colossians 1:15-20. Jesus is the divine creator
V.15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.
Who is Jesus Christ? The answer is vigorously debated today, but Paul provides a clear and confident answer.
The Greek word for “image” is ĕikōn, which means likeness and representation. And it’s used in two ways. The first is likeness as in a mirror reflection and the second is manifestation to mean God is perfectly revealed in Jesus. In Philippians 2:6, Paul says Jesus was “in the form of God.” And Greek word for “form” is morphe, which indicates God’s essence.
In short, Paul says Jesus Christ was fully God and man.
The Greek word for “firstborn” is prōtŏtŏkŏs and can mean first in time or supremacy in rank. In Jewish tradition, the firstborn son was both a position of honor and extra responsibility. And since Jesus was supreme in his divinity, first in time and supremacy in rank both apply to him.
V.16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible…
As one of the Trinity, Jesus created both the physical and spiritual worlds. Why does this matter? Because part of the Colossian heresy included errant teaching concerning the angelic world. So Paul makes it clear Jesus is not equal to the angelic world but God who reigns over it.
V.17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Jesus is both supreme and sovereign, The words “hold together” are from the Greek word synístēmi which means putting together or composed of. In other words, God didn’t create the universe then sit back to relax as a spectator. He actively holds the universe together and works to accomplish his divine purpose.
A Study of Colossians 1:15-20. Jesus is the head of the church
V.18 And he is the head of the body, the church.
The church is not simply a building or an organization. It is a body of believers united by the spirit of Christ. The Greek word for “church” is ĕkklēsia, and means a calling out. It communicates a sense of unified purpose and mission. The church is not a holy huddle or religious social group, but works to accomplish God’s purpose. As the head, Jesus spiritually leads it to carry out that mission.
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent
At the resurrection, Jesus defeated the power of sin. Those who compose the church follow by confessing and repenting of sin and are reborn through him. The Greek word for “preeminent” is prōtĕuō, which means first in rank or influence. It further reinforces the supremacy of Christ.
A study of Colossians 1:15-20. Jesus is the source of reconciliation and peace
V.19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell…
The Greek word for “fullness” is plērōma, and means completeness. It confirms that God’s full divine being is completely present in Jesus. And the Greek word for “dwell” is katŏikĕō, which means permanent residence. Jesus was fully God all the time and not just on weekends.
V. 20 And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
Why do we need reconciliation? Because sin separates us from God. As Paul writes in Romans 3:23: For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.
The Greek word for “reconcile” is apokatallássō and presents the idea of changing from enmity to friendship. What we as sinners can’t change, God does through Jesus Christ.
The Greek word for “peace” is eirēnopoiéō and is the counterpart to shālôm. the Hebrew word for “peace.” Shālôm goes beyond the idea of peace as a lack of conflict and presents the idea of a right relationship with God. In other words, Jesus’ blood sacrifice on the cross puts us in a right relationship with God and makes us his friends.