The apostle Paul continues the theme of Christ’s preeminence by noting His relation to the church and His power over death. The headship of Christ over His church immediately draws our attention to the authority of Christ and His prerogative to oversee and direct His church (Matt. 16:18; 28:18). All things concerning the church are “under His feet,” subservient to Him (Eph. 1:22). The church does not belong to us; it belongs to Jesus. The church is composed of Christians; each one is a member of His body (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:12-13, 26-27). The church of Christ is His body and is valuable because Jesus loved it and died for it (Acts 20:28; Eph. 5:25-29). To devalue the church is to devalue Jesus Christ. Christ also has power over death. He is the beginning (the origin, the source) of resurrection. Without Him, there would be no power over death. As the “firstborn from the dead,” His resurrection attests to His power and superiority over death (Acts 2:24, 30-32; Rom. 1:4). “Alive forevermore,” Jesus has “the keys of Hades and of Death” (Rev. 1:18). With just a few sentences, the Holy Spirit has made the case that Jesus Christ is King, Redeemer, Creator, Firstborn over all creation, Sustainer, Head of the church, and Supreme Victor over death (Col. 1:13-18). Jesus has preeminence in all things. Our faith is secure, our salvation is sure, and our hope is complete in Christ.
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. (Colossians 1:15–17, NKJV)
Paul turns our attention to the Godhood of Jesus Christ. 1) Jesus is the image of God whom we have not seen (v. 15). Jesus said, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father” (Jno. 14:9). He is the brilliance and exact image of God’s real nature (Heb. 1:3). He is God with us, Immanuel (Matt. 1:23). 2) Jesus is the firstborn over all creation (v. 15). Here, “firstborn” does not mean the Son was “the first one born.” It speaks of His preeminence, priority, and first place, even as Israel was God’s “firstborn” among the nations even though it was not the first nation to exist, Exo. 4:22; Psa. 89:27). 3) Jesus is Creator of all (v. 16). John declared this great truth in John 1:1-3. Everything was created through Him and, for Him, both in the material and immaterial realms, including domains, dominions, positions, and powers. This universe serves His purposes; He is Sovereign over it all. 4) Jesus is eternal (v. 17). Micah prophesied the eternal nature of the Messiah, “Whose goings forth are from of old, from everlasting” (Micah 5:2). 5) Jesus actively sustains all things (v. 17). He holds together all things. He is not a distant God who is disinterested in us, “In Him we “live and move and have our being” (Acts 17:27). Jesus is our King, Redeemer, Sovereign, Creator, and Sustainer. His Deity compels our honor, humble devotion, and faithful obedience.
13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, 14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1:13–14, NKJV)
The letter to the Colossians displays and describes the preeminence of Jesus Christ. Colossians 1:13-20 details His primacy and our incentives to entirely submit our hearts and lives to Him. Today’s passage unequivocally states that Jesus has a kingdom and, therefore, a King (v. 13). It also views Jesus as the Redeemer whose death gives forgiveness of sins (v. 14). The kingdom of God (also called the kingdom of heaven, Matt. 13:11; Mk. 4:11) exists today. Therefore, Jesus is now reigning as King (Heb. 1:8-9). The Son’s kingdom is the church He built, the kingdom of heaven (Matt. 16:18-19; Heb. 12:28). Sinners escape the “power of darkness” (sin and death) by entering “the kingdom of the Son.” This transfer from the spiritual realm of darkness to the Son’s kingdom happens when the Redeemer’s blood is applied to the sinner, forgiving his or her sins (Col. 1:14). The blood of Jesus is the ransom price paid to deliver sinners (1 Tim. 2:6). Redemption is only in Christ (v. 14; Acts 4:12). The gospel calls sinners to Christ for forgiveness through His blood. When sinners believe in Jesus Christ, repent, and are baptized into Christ, the blood of Jesus washes away their sins (Acts 2:37-41; 22:16; Rom. 6:3-4; Gal. 3:26-27). Jesus, the King, and Redeemer, continues to save sinners. He is worthy of our undying praise and devotion (Rev. 5:8-14).
6 They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues, 7 greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, ‘Rabbi, Rabbi.’ 8 But you, do not be called ‘Rabbi’; for One is your Teacher, the Christ, and you are all brethren. 9 Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 And do not be called teachers; for One is your Teacher, the Christ. 11 But he who is greatest among you shall be your servant. (Matthew 23:6–11, NKJV)
This passage from Christ’s lips should forever eliminate the clergy-laity distinction. And yet, such hierarchies thrive in many of the churches and denominations of men. Yes, the Scriptures identify different functions of work in the church (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers, Ephesians 4:11-12), but these are works of service, not positions of ordination given by the church. An ordained clergy establishes a pecking order of preeminence among Christians that does not exist in the New Testament. We are taught to submit to one another in the fear of God, not elevate a clergy to direct the people in the pews (Ephesians 5:21). The Lord washed feet, but now, people kiss a man’s feet as if he were God (John 13:12-17; Acts 10:25-26)! Pride feeds the desire for power and to be recognized above others. The clergy-laity distinction, that wraps people in garbs of religious hierarchy, separating and elevating one above another, is not from God (1 Corinthians 4:6).