Summary: The Church in Colossae was being attacked with doctrines concerning the worship of angels this message includes what is thought to be an early hymn glorifying Christ as the Creator and Supreme over all creation.
“A Hymn to the Supremacy of Christ” (Part 1) Colossians 1:15-17
It is thought that these verses in Colossians 1 were perhaps sung as an early Christian Hymn. Paul ends with verses 13-14: “He (the Father) 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.”
From a shameful death on the cross 30 years before, Colossians 1:15-20 comprises a glorious tribute of exaltation to the Lord Jesus Christ: “He (the Lord Jesus) 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.”
18 “And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.”
The Supremacy of Christ in Creation: The Image of the Invisible
This hymn is divided into two separate tributes to Jesus and both are explicit and implicit in declaring Jesus as God. Verses 15-17 glorify the Lord Jesus Christ in a Hymn to the Supremacy of Christ in Creation. Verses 18-20 glorify Jesus in a Hymn to His Supremacy in Redemption, which we will look at in our next study. The divine description unmistakably declares Jesus as Deity in that He is the IMAGE of the invisible God. Although man was made in the image of God (Gen. 1:27), Man is NOT God. As the image of the invisible God, The Son is Himself God. The Son is GOD REVEALED in the Flesh.
How can we say that? Well, look at Colossians 2:3: “in whom ( in Jesus) are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Again in Colossians 2:9: “For in Him (again, in Jesus) dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.” Romans 9:5 proclaims this fact: “Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.” Philippians 2:6 also agrees: “(Jesus,) who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God.” All of the treasures, wisdom, knowledge…all of the fullness of God is in Christ, bodily: Jesus is God made manifest bodily: God “tabernacled” (made His dwelling) with man in the Son. “It is in the Son that the invisible God has become visible, so that man sees him who is invisible” ). (p. 72 William Hendriksen, “Colossians Commentary)
Two powerful examples appear in the first letter to Timothy. First, in 1 Timothy 1:17: “Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, to God who alone is wise, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.” Jesus is the King of Kings which is also stated in 1 Timothy 6:15-16: “He who is the blessed and only Potentate (He is the only sovereign ruler over all the created order), the King of kings and Lord of lords, 16 who alone has immortality, dwelling in unapproachable light, whom no man has seen or can see, to whom be honor and everlasting power. Amen.” Here, Jesus shares all of the same qualities of God.
To believe otherwise is to deny the true God and the deity of Christ, as Paul made clear in 2 Corinthians 4:4: “whose minds the god of this age has blinded, who do not believe, lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.” Hebrews 1:3 upholds this truth: “He (Jesus) is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.” To deny Jesus’ deity is proof that the god of this age has blinded you and you remain in unbelief. This battle was prevalent in Colossae, in Corinth, and it certainly continues today.
1 John 5:20 states so clearly as well: “And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life. 21 Little children, keep yourselves from idols. Amen.” Believe that Jesus is God and eternal life is in Him. Keep yourselves from any deviation of this truth.