Commentary on Colossians, 1:15-16 (Deity of Christ)

Colossians 1:15-16


“15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”


“image”  (Gr. eikon – 1504)


The exact imprint


Within the context, this word conveys the truth that Jesus is the exact visible representation and manifestation of the invisible God. Jesus reveals God in a way that man can see. As Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). The nature of God is perfectly revealed in Him.


To me, the deity of Christ and the Trinity of God is one of the easiest things to demonstrate in all of Scripture. There are so many verses and passages that reveal this to be so, that there can be no reasonable and honest conclusions to the contrary. I have every verse in my Bible marked that reveals the deity of Christ and the Trinity of God. However, since there are so many, we will confine ourselves mostly to this passage (verses 15-19), as verse 19 provides one of the strongest descriptions of the deity of Christ in the Word of God. As to the Trinity of God, I will provide one passage that clearly describes it:


“But you are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if so be that the Spirit of God dwells in you. But if anyone has not the Spirit of Christ, he does not belong to Him. And if Christ is in you, the body is dead because of sin; but the spirit is alive because of righteousness. But if the Spirit of Him who raised up Jesus from the dead dwells in you, He who raised up Christ Jesus from the dead shall give life also to your mortal bodies through His Spirit that dwelleth in you.” (Ro 8:9-11)


Jesus is God in the flesh. He left His throne in Glory and came into this world in human form. Furthermore, as already noted, God is a trinity. He exists in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. We’re not talking about three Gods, but one God, consisting of three Persons. Some describe the Trinity of God as “God revealing or projecting Himself in three different ways.” But that’s not an accurate description of the Trinity. God doesn’t simply “project” Himself in three different ways, He is literally three Persons. In other words, if you remove any member of the Trinity, God ceases to exist. If God simply revealed or projected Himself in three different ways, then you could remove one or more members of the Trinity, and God would still exist. For if He was just projecting Himself, He could do so in any number of ways. That’s the difference, and that’s why we must be very careful how we describe the Trinity.


As a God who exists in three Persons, the Father and Son and Holy Spirit, think and do all things in total harmony with one another. There is never any contradiction between any member of the Trinity. Each One works according to the nature and attributes that characterizes God as God.


“firstborn of all creation”


NIV/LEB:  “firstborn over all creation”


First of all, contrary to what the cults teach, this does not mean that Jesus is “firstborn” in the sense that He has a beginning as a created being. Jesus was not created, and He has no beginning. Since Jesus is God, that cannot possibly be the meaning here.


The word “firstborn” refers not to first as in the order of things, but to first in the preeminence and supremacy and superiority over all things. For example, we might refer to the CEO of a company as the first in the position of power or authority. Thus Jesus is the first in the position of power and authority as the unique Son of God. He is the Supreme Manager over all creation.


The Expositor’s Bible Commentary is helpful at this point:


“Christ is before all creation in time; he is also over it in rank and dignity. The major stress, however, seems to be on the idea of supremacy. Some see in the word as an allusion to the ancient custom whereby the firstborn in a family was accorded rights and privileges not shared by the other offspring. He was his father’s representative and heir, and to him the management of the household was committed. Following this line of interpretation, we may understand the passage to teach that Christ is his Father’s representative and heir and has the management of the divine household (all creation) committed to him. He is thus Lord over all God’s creation.”


“16 For in Him all things were created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through Him and unto Him.”


Summarizing what we learned in verse 15, false teachers among cults believe that Christ is a created being, and therefore twist this passage to fit their false theology. They view the word “firstborn” as a reference to Him as the first of all of God’s creations. However, that word actually refers to His preeminence and supremacy over all things as the unique and eternal Son of God. He is the Supreme Manager over all creation.


“in Him….through Him….unto Him”


Expositor’s:


“Three prepositional phrases define the creative activity of Christ: All things came to be “in him,” “through him,” and “for him.” Creation was “in [en] him” in the sense  that it occurred within the sphere of his person and power. He was its conditioning cause, its originating center, its spiritual locality. The act of creation rested, as it were, in him. Creation is “through” (dia) Christ in the sense that he was the mediating Agent through whom it actually came into being. The preposition is frequently used of Christ’s redemptive mediation between God and men (cf. Eph 2:18; 1 Thess 5:9, et al.), but the thought here is that the entire life of the universe is mediated from God through Christ (cf. John 1:3,10). Creation is “for” (eis) Christ in the sense that he is the end for which all things exist, the goal toward whom all things were intended to move. They are meant “to serve His will, to contribute to His glory….Their whole being, willingly or unwillingly, moves….to Him; whether, as His blissful servants, they shall be as it were His throne; or as His stricken enemies, ‘His footstool’” (H.C.G. Moule, p 78).”


Preceptaustin:


“By Him (3754) (en) is literally “in Him“, the preposition “in” (Greek = en) denoting that Christ is the sphere within which the work of creation takes place. All the laws and purposes which guide the creation and government of the universe reside in Him. Vine adds that “In Him” “describes Him as the Designer, the One Who, in fellowship with the Father, determined the condition of all things and the laws which govern and control them.”


Vincent:


In is not instrumental but local; not denying the instrumentality, but putting the fact of creation with reference to its sphere and center. In Him, within the sphere of His personality, resides the Creative will and the creative energy, and in that sphere the creative act takes place. Thus creation is dependent on Him.”


Preceptaustin:


By Him (1223) is more literally “through Him” (see study on Through Him), the preposition through (dia ~ by means of) with the genitive indicating that Christ is the immediate instrument of creation.  “For Him” is literally “unto Him” where the preposition “for” (eis) indicates that Christ is the goal of creation. The rabbis taught that the world was created for the Messiah. Two other New Testament verses parallel this description of Christ: “Through Him all things were made” (John 1:3), and Christ the Son is the One “through whom [the Father] made the universe” (He 1:2note).


Wiersbe:


“Everything exists in Him, for Him, and through Him. Jesus Christ is the Sphere in which they exist, the Agent through which they came into being, and the One for whom they were made. Paul’s use of three different prepositions is one way of refuting the philosophy of the false teachers. For centuries, the Greek philosophers had taught that everything needed a primary cause, an instrumental cause, and a final cause. The primary cause is the plan, the instrumental cause the power, and the final cause the purpose. When it comes to Creation, Jesus Christ is the primary cause (He planned it), the instrumental cause (He produced it), and the final cause (He did it for His own pleasure).” (Wiersbe, W: Bible Exposition Commentary. 1989. Victor)”


“all things were created, in the heavens and on earth”


In other words, everything in the universe.


“things visible and things invisible”


No explanation needed for “visible” things. However, for “invisible,” Paul probably has angelic beings in mind, both good and evil (Eph 6:12), as the next phrase indicates:


“whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers”


NAS:  “whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities”


Preceptaustin:


“The terms thrones (thronos)…dominions…rulers…authorities supports the premise that the supernatural spirit world is highly organized, even though we may not completely understand this hierarchy at this time. Paul’s main point of course is that whatever the specifics of the hierarchy, Jesus created it and is over it all!”


Invisible things may also refer to all the things in creation that can only be seen by a Scientist under powerful microscopes, and likely many things that microscopes cannot see.