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Discover the original intent of Scripture. Make good application to our everyday lives.
Become equipped to correctly handle the Word of Truth!

Read His Words Before Ours!

Colossians 1:13-22

He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves. 14 In him we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For everything was created by him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities— all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and by him all things hold together. 18 He is also the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile everything to himself, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds as expressed in your evil actions. 22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through his death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him…

The Original Intent

1) How is Jesus the “firstborn over all creation”? (verse 15)

Colossians 1:15 states Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” The use of the term firstborn has been problematic for some readers. It would seem to indicate that Jesus was created first, implying He is a created being, similar to an angel, and not co-existent with God before time began.

According to author Arthur Peake, “there have been some false doctrines who assert that “angelic mediators usurped the place and functions of the Son in nature and grace.”

Author David Guzik explains, “The Greek word for firstborn, prototokos, “can describe either priority in time or supremacy in rank. As Paul used it here, he probably had both ideas in mind, with Jesus being before all created things and Jesus being of a supremely different order than all created things.”

Calling Jesus firstborn in the original language was a way to describe Him as being above all, not born or created first. There are several other Scriptural instances of the term firstborn to indicate exalted state or rank, including God telling Pharaoh that Israel is His firstborn son (Exodus 4:22) and God calling David, Jesse’s youngest son, His firstborn, “greatest of the kings of the earth.” (Psalm 89:27)

Author William Barclay also points out that the word firstborn is “a title of the Messiah.” The Bible tells us clearly that Jesus is God, not just an angel or some other marvelously created being. Colossians 2:9 declares, “the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily in Christ.

We can be secure in knowing that the Jesus who came to save us (John 14:6) is the same God who created all things (Colossians 1:16).

The Everyday Application

1) How is Jesus the “firstborn over all creation”? (verse 15)

When Paul called Jesus “the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,” (Colossians 1:15), he was declaring Christ’s supremacy over all things God (as Father, Son, and Spirit) had created. It was part of his teaching about the power and purpose of Jesus on earth.

Jesus is our Creator, and He desires to help His creatures. Paul reminds us that Jesus is not just a great moral leader created by God, as some false teachings suggest, but that He is Almighty God Himself, one part of the triune Godhead.

Author R.C. Sproul says of Jesus, “We are called not simply to follow His guidelines but to throw ourselves at His feet in adoration and praise. Consequently, if we want others to have a proper view of the Messiah, then we need to be careful and always speak of Him as God incarnate, who rules over all.”

This is why Paul declares Jesus to be pre-eminent over all things. Paul’s message to anyone who will listen is that the omnipotent God, because of His great love for us, came to earth as our Redeemer and covered our sins. (Colossians 1:14)

It is astonishing to realize that the God over all creation longs to be in relationship with the finite, sinful beings He created and for them to each be reconciled back to Him! (Colossians 1:22)

The Original Intent

2) What does it mean that God is “before all things, and by Him all things hold together”? (verse 17)

We read in Colossians 1:17 that God “is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.” If God is before all things, then He existed before creation. We read the truth of this in Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Before the beginning, there was God. The “beginning” was when time began!

Author and researcher Ken Ham explains that before the creation, there was “God existing from everlasting to everlasting—God existing in eternity.” God was there, before all things, being “I AM” (Isaiah 48:12) He also holds all things together.

Author Albert Barnes states that God keeps all things “in the present state; their existence, order, and arrangement are continued by His power. If unsupported by Him, they would fall into disorder, or sink back to nothing.” Hebrews 1:3 makes a similar statement, that God “is sustaining all things by His powerful word.

As author James Coffman puts it, “Not only did Jesus Christ create the universe, He sustains, upholds, and supports it!” God is the Author of all things and the maintainer of all things. Without Him, we would have nothing, and without Him, nothing we do have would hold together. We are divinely blessed that not only did God create everything, but He also continues to support everything He made.

The Everyday Application

2) What does it mean that God is “before all things, and by Him all things hold together”? (verse 17)

My friend taught at a school where the longtime secretary retired at the end of the school year. The next school year was quite chaotic for my friend because folks in the office didn’t seem to know what to do, or when to do it. The teachers received last minute requests to submit paperwork, schedules were revised multiple times, and annual events were forgotten or cobbled together at the eleventh hour. When the secretary who held the office together retired, everything fell apart! I think of this situation when I read Colossians 1:17, stating that God “is before all things, and by Him all things hold together.”

Not only did God create everything, but He holds it all together in ways we don’t even suspect or understand.  If He suddenly stopped holding things together, nothing would be the same and everything would come crashing down. 

David Guzik describes Jesus as “the personal sustainer of all creation.” Not only does He hold all things together, but the verse also says He is before all things. I have sometimes wondered about that time before creation, before God spoke the world into being. Author Adam Clarke calls Jesus “the unoriginated and eternal God.” He is outside of time as we understand it. 

R.C. Sproul proclaims that God’s “Eternality goes in the other direction as well. There will never be a time in the future when God will cease to be. His being remains self-existent for all eternity.” It is both awe-inspiring and comforting to know that the eternal God is the One sustaining all creation, including you and me and all whom we hold dear.

The Original Intent

3) What does it mean that Jesus is the “beginning, the firstborn from the dead”? (verse 18

When Paul called Jesus “the beginning, the firstborn from the dead” in Colossians 1:18, he was referencing Christ’s resurrection. Calling Jesus the “firstborn” was a way to say that He was pre-eminent, the highest of those ever to come back from the dead. He obviously didn’t mean he was the first to come back from the dead, because Jesus Himself had raised Lazarus from the dead in John 11:42-44.

Author Don Stewart explains, Jesus was the first person in time to come back from the dead never to die again. In addition, He is preeminent over the dead and death itself. Jesus said that He has the keys, or the authority, to death and Hades.”

Paul alludes to Jesus’ resurrection, but He also refers to a beginning, a new age, ushered in by the resurrection. R. C. Sproul explains that people redeemed by Jesus “now experience a taste of the power of the age to come through the ability to resist sin by the Holy Spirit. This future age will arrive in its fullness when all are raised from the dead, and our union with Christ assures us that we will then be raised unto eternal life just as He was.” The resurrection of Jesus points to the day when all Christians will have eternal life with Christ. What a day of rejoicing that will be!

The Everyday Application

3) What does it mean that Jesus is the “beginning, the firstborn from the dead”? (verse 18

I bought a book for my friend about the names of God because he liked to pray using the various names given to God in the Bible. The cover featured Immanuel, which means “God with us,” Jehovah Jireh, “God provides,” Prince of Peace, and Light of the World, among others. Nowhere on the cover did I see the name Firstborn From the Dead, though that is one of the names of Jesus in Colossians 1:18.

It doesn’t sound as dazzling as Alpha and Omega, but the meaning behind it is just as powerful. The name firstborn indicates that Jesus is above all and over all, and in this case, it means He has power over death. He is the only one to come back from the dead and not die again.

Author Scott Hubbard explains, “Only Jesus, the second Adam, has gone from dust to dust to glory. Jesus is the first human to have a heart that will never stop beating, lungs that will never stop breathing, legs that will never stop walking, eyes that will never stop seeing.”

When Jesus rose from the dead, He conquered death (Romans 6:9) and sin (1 Peter 2:24) Because of His victory over death, we have the opportunity to live forever with Him in Heaven when we repent of our sins and accept His forgiveness (John 3:16)

While Firstborn From the Dead might not sound like a great name, it conveys the best news ever shared…Jesus died to set us free from sin!

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