Colossians 1:15-20; Brief Thoughts

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. [1]

The worthy Christian life is made possible through the work of Jesus Christ. It is only fitting, therefore, that Paul should expound on the glorious nature of Jesus. In verses 15-20 Paul composes some of the most profound prose about Christ in Christian history.

First, read all the way through and see the structure. The hymn follows what is called a chiastic structure, meaning that it highlights the central phrase.

  1. He is the image of the invisible God
  2. First born of all creation
  3. All things were created by him and for Him
  4. He is before all things and holds all things together

 

  1. He is the beginning
  2. First born from the dead
  3. That he might be preeminent and the fullness of God dwells in him
  4. He reconciles all things to Himself, making peace

He is the head of the body, the church

The starting line is that Jesus is God. He is the perfect image of God and He is God. Echoing John 1:1-3, Paul asserts the deity of Jesus as well as His humanity. He is the image of God, not marred by sin, but pure and perfect. Further, He is the beginning. He is God. Second, He is the first born. He is first born in priority and preeminence. He is the most important being in existence. This is what it means by “first born of all creation.” He then is the first born from the dead: the most important resurrected being on earth, for by His resurrection all believers are resurrected. In adition to these basic truths He also created everything, so that all things would be to the praise of His glory and He manifests within Himself the fullness of God, establishing Himself as the chief object of worship. Finally He holds all of creation together in a literal sense. Everything exists by His strength and power and is maintained by His constant watch care. Further, He holds all things together spiritually, uniting that which was fractured by sin.

At the center of the structure is the phrase, “He is the head of the body, the church.” Jesus is the Lord of the church. He is the object of worship. He is the leader of the church. He is the King, authority, master, etc… There is no other leader of the church. There is no other head. Christ alone holds that position. Pastors, elders, leaders, deacons, committees, and the like must submit to Christ’s leadership.

Often in the modern church, pastors begin to think that they are the head of the church. Leaders and deacons posture to make power plays and make sure their agendas are met. Committees politic and deceive in an effort to accomplish their own means. Yet, even in all the foolishness of modern wickedness, Jesus still is the head of the church. Jesus remains the Lord over His believers. Though the institutionalized church may forget such truth, the truth is consistent and remains unchanged.

The church does not have to remain so hobbled by the sinful ambitions of people. Leaders of western churches must surrender their authority to the effort to follow Christ and Christ alone.

How is this done? First it must be modeled that the chief authority in the church is Scripture. Everyone shares this authority. Where Scripture speaks, so everyone in the church must listen. The lowest member of the congregation bares the same coverage as all other members of the church. With the authority of Scripture, each person is equally equipped to address every other person in the church. It doesn’t matter what title is given. Pastors, elders, committee members, and deacons all must submit to Scripture and thereby mutually to every other member of the congregation who submits to Scripture.

After the leaders model this mutual submission, the church must structure itself according to scripture. The church must restructure to follow the precepts and designs of the New Testament church. In doing so the church will act in accordance with the directions and lead of the Word of God.

Finally, the church must submit itself to holiness in pursuit of justice on this earth and righteousness in individuals. In pursuit of Christ, and His kingdom, the church will find the victorious life intended by Christ.

[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 1:15–20). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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