Paul’s prayer in the previous passage ended with reference to the saving works of God through Jesus Christ. In this passage, He emphasizes Christ’s preeminence over all things and God’s work of reconciliation through Christ. He also tells the Colossians that it is because of this great mystery that he became a minister of the gospel and labored for the believers.
Did You Know...?
1. Laodicea (2:1) was a city on the banks of the Lycus River, situated about 11 miles from Colosse.
As a preliminary, read the following passages and form a concept about the Godhead: Deut 6:4; Isa 9:6; Jn 1:1, 14, 3:13, 8:58 with Ex 3:14; Jn 10:30, 14:17, 18, 23; Mt 28:19 with Acts 2:38.Hide Answer
Deut 6:4 – there is one God; Isa 9:6—the Child is also the Father and the Counselor; Jn 1:1, 14—Jesus is God from the beginning; Jn 3:13—Jesus while on earth was also in heaven at the same time; Jn 8:58 with Ex 3:14 – Jesus used the name ‘I AM’ which was used by God when He appeared to Moses; Jn10:30—Jesus and the Father are one; Jn 14:17, 18, 23—Jesus, the Holy Spirit and the Father are the same; Mt 28:19 with Acts 2:38—the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit is Jesus. The True Jesus Church believes that God is one and that the Father, Son and Holy Spirit are three different titles of God that are a result of the three different functions of God in the salvation plan, i.e., the Father as Sustainer and Ruler who cannot be seen by man (Ex 33:20), the Son in the form of flesh as Saviour (Heb 2:14; Rom 8:3, 4) and the Holy Spirit to live in the hearts of believers (Jn 14:17). We do not believe in the concept of Trinity where the Godhead is seen to consist of three different persons and yet one God.
To refute the heresy that Jesus was less than God, the preeminence of Christ is stated in 1:15-20 with the use of words and phrases which imply superlative or first. List all that you can find.Hide Answer
The image of the invisible God.
The firstborn over all creation.
By Him, all things were created through Him and for Him.
He is before all things.
In Him all things consist.
He is the head of the church.
The firstborn from the dead.
In all things, He may have the preeminence.
In Him, all the fullness should dwell.
By Him, to reconcile all things to Himself.
Now these statements clearly elevate Christ above all created beings but a further clarification needs to be made. If you ever come across the interpretation that the phrase ‘the firstborn over all creation’ (1:15) implies that Jesus Himself is created and is thus less than God the Father, how would you reply? Further note: In many translations, the phrase is rendered as “firstborn of all creation.”Hide Answer
The word “firstborn” means the preeminent one and this position is not restricted to a chronological order of birth. Thus though Ephraim was the second son of Joseph, he was considered the firstborn by God (Gen 48:17-19; Jer 31:9). We first acknowledge that, by itself, the verse can be interpreted to mean that Jesus was also created if we take it that the firstborn of a group must also have the characteristics of the group. However, we introduce a second possible interpretation which is that the firstborn here refers to the dominance of a group that does not include the subject itself. This means that Jesus is above all creation but is not part of the creation Himself. A third interpretation is that by taking on the form of flesh and blood, God Himself became part of His creation without nullifying the fact that He exists by Himself. This temporary state of being in the flesh for 33 years allows Himself to be called the firstborn of all creation. Similarly, the temporary state of being dead for three days allows Jesus to be called the firstborn from the dead. Thus, the firstborn here does not mean that Jesus was the first to be created but rather that He is the greatest of all who have been flesh and blood (Heb 2:14; Rom 8:3, 4). In addition, the same Greek word ktisis meaning creature is used in both 1:15 and 1:23. Clearly, the gospel that is to be preached to every creature is to be preached to every human being. We now have a probable understanding of ‘firstborn of all creation’ to mean ‘the best of mankind’. The next stage for competing interpretations would be to see how they fit into a cohesive concept backed by other verses of the Bible. The preliminaries established in Question
1 contradict the first interpretation that Jesus is created and is a lesser god.
How did God reconcile all things to Himself?Hide Answer
God sent His Son to die on the cross and make peace through His blood (20-22). Whereas sin alienated us from God, the forgiveness of sin made possible by the redemption of Jesus Christ has brought us back to God (14).
What is the purpose of reconciliation?Hide Answer
Through the atonement of Christ, we may be holy, blameless, and above reproach in God’s sight (22).
What makes a person an enemy of God (21)?Hide Answer
What do the words, “if indeed you continue…” teach us (23)?Hide Answer
While God has offered us reconciliation through His Son, we can receive this grace and become blameless before Him only if we continue in the faith and not turn away from the gospel (1Cor 15:1-2; Heb 3:6).
What is a “minister” (25)?Hide Answer
The Greek word here is diakonos which generally means a servant. The same word is used in
1Tim 3:8 which the English Bible translates as the ‘deacon’ which we know well. The act of ministration in the church (Acts 6:1) is diakonia which leads one to conclude that the seven chosen in Acts 6:3-6 were the first deacons.
Who is the reason for the sufferings and the labor of Paul?Hide Answer
The Lord Jesus and His body, the church (1:24).
What is the goal of the ministry of Paul?Hide Answer
That he may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus (1:28).
What does Paul mean by the words, “fill up in my flesh what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ” (24)?Hide Answer
Paul is not teaching that there is deficiency in the sufferings of Christ. Rather, he is saying that through his ministry, he continues to bear the afflictions Christ suffered in His earthly ministry. Whenever we suffer for the name of Christ, we partake of Christ’s suffering (1Pet 4:13). Thus, to fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ means to suffer as a believer and as a minister of the gospel.
What can we learn from Paul’s words about our responsibilities, objectives, and attitudes as servants of Christ?Hide Answer
As ministers of Christ, it is our duty to preach, warn, and teach everyone in order to present them perfect in Christ Jesus (1:28). In other words, we ought to proclaim the gospel and build up our brethren in the word of God. Our final goal is for all believers to be mature in faith, love, and knowledge (2:2-5).
In ministering to the needs of others, we need to be ready to suffer, for the work of the Lord involves great effort, patience, and endurance (1:29, 2:1). But out of our love for the Lord and for the church, we should rejoice in our sufferings (1:24).
What is the source of our strength in being a minister of the gospel?Hide Answer
The mighty working of God that works in us (1:29; cf. Phil 2:13). It is not by our efforts that we can accomplish our mission. We must constantly depend on the mighty power of God that works in us.