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The Supremacy of Christ October 5, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Colossians 1:15-23.

Summary: Paul begins by asserting that Christ represents and manifests the unseen God; He existed prior to all creation, and He is sovereign over all creation. He is the source of the universe of things – heavenly and earthly – including:

  • angels in the immediate presence of God
  • angels who are next in rank to the above-mentioned class
  • evil and good earthly and heavenly rulers

as all creation is reconciled in Him. Paul asserts Christ’s pre-existence and states that all things cohere in Him. Now He is also the source of the church; He is its origin, and He is sovereign over it – so that He is the head of the universe and the church. This stems from the fact that the Father – in His good pleasure – made the plenitude have its permanent abode in Christ. The Father, then, restores the whole universe of things – through Christ and His sacrifice – to Himself.

Paul then asserts that at one time the Colossians were estranged from God and were hostile to Him in their intent. In the New Testament dispensation, though, the Father has reconciled them to Himself through Christ’s physical body; He presents them as a flawless sacrifice against whom no charge can be leveled. Paul concludes by expressing his hope that the Colossians will remain in their faith that is built on a firm foundation – the Gospel; this Gospel has been proclaimed to all creation, and he – though he is weak and unworthy – has been commissioned to proclaim it to the Gentiles.

Thoughts: This passage does not have a direct analogue in Ephesians, though one can find elements of this passage sprinkled throughout Ephesians.

In verse 16, we see that the universe of things was created “for” Christ. Lightfoot offers some insights on this point:

All things must find their meeting point, their reconciliation, at length in him from whom they took their rise – in the Word as the mediatorial agent, and through the Word in the Father as the primary source. The Word is the final cause as well as the creative agent of the universe…The eternal Word is the goal of the universe, just as he was the starting point.

For me, the concept of Christ being the Creator of the universe is much easier to comprehend than the concept of Christ being the “meeting point” of the universe. After some contemplation, I came to understand it as follows: basically, Christ is guiding all of creation to fulfill His ultimate purpose, which is to glorify Himself for eternity. One way in which His glory will be manifested is His ultimate redemption of a people – His church – for Himself – note that the gulf between man’s sinfulness and His holiness should have rendered this an impossible task. Of course, many questions remain: for example, how will the current financial crisis fulfill Christ’s ultimate purpose? Any thoughts on this are welcome.

In verse 23, we see Paul expressing a hope that the Colossians will not abandon the Gospel message that they had initially received. The historical context of this letter shows that the Gnostic heresy weighed on Paul’s mind as he composed it. This passage – and indeed, the entire letter – reminds me of the recurring theme of the sermons at our church: Christians should hold fast to the Gospel, even in the midst of persecution, because Christ is supreme, and He is ready and able to judge those who do not worship Him. This passage presents an interesting slant on this theme, in that Christ is supreme due to His pre-existence and sovereignty over both creation and the church; indeed, these are weighty reasons for believers to hold fast to Christ.

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