Summary: Christ must be central to ALL belief and doctrine of the church... to stray from the centrality of Christ, one strays from the TRUTH...
October 10, 2012
Oak Park Baptist Church – Wed Bible Study Series
Colossians Bible Study
The Centrality of Christ
Up to this point of the letter to the Colossian church Paul has been very encouraging to the believers. He gives them personal encouragement after he greets them and then he gives them spiritual encouragement through a direct prayer for God to work in their midst.
But now it is time for Paul to begin to get to the meat of the matter as to why he is writing this letter. Paul had heard that there were some issues going on within the church regarding the teaching of the church and he is sending this letter to instruct them on what was proper to teach and what we was NOT…
In v.15-23 Paul lays out one of the most wonderful recorded descriptions of Jesus… and in NO uncertain terms Paul lets the believers in Colossae know that anything being taught outside of Christ is wrong!
Let’s look at these verses and then we will begin to break them down
Colossians 1:15-23 [HCSB] –
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For everything was created by Him, in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17He is before all things, and by Him all things hold together. 18He is also the head of the body, the church;
He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He might come to have first place in everything. 19For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20and through Him to reconcile everything to Himself by making peace through the blood of His cross—whether things on earth or things in heaven. 21Once you were alienated and hostile in your minds because of your evil actions. 22But now He has reconciled you by His physical body through His death, to present you holy, faultless, and blameless before Him—23if indeed you remain grounded and steadfast in the faith and are not shifted away from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become a servant of it.
15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
He in this verse is a reference to Jesus. In fact all throughout these next several verses the masculine pronouns used by Paul are direct references to Jesus!
I want us to take notice of what Paul says here… He says, “He IS…”Paul is using the present tense for the verb… it is NOT the past tense verb ‘was’ or the indecisive rendering of ‘might or could be’ but Paul speaks with confidence here and proclaims without hesitation “He IS…”
The implications for this proclamation are that Christ is risen! That Christ IS God and what Paul has preached to them was NOT about a great man who came and died and they were trying to carry on for Him… BUT that Christ is God and yes He came and died, but He is now risen and at the right hand of the Father in heaven interceding on our behalf… ‘He IS…’
“He is the image of the invisible God…” In Acts 17 Paul preached a sermon to the philosophers in Athens where he had seen all their idols and had noticed an idol dedicated to the unknown God… Paul told them that God could be known and that Jesus was how…
Here Paul reinforces that sermon and teaching by sharing that Jesus was the physical representation of the God of Heaven and Creation… God wrapped in flesh!
This statement coincides with what John tells us in John 1 where John says: “…in the beginning was the Word and the Word was with God and the word WAS God…and the Word dwelt among us!”
God wrapped Himself in flesh to come to earth…The angel announcing the birth of Jesus spoke of Immanuel – God with us! Jesus was the physical manifestation of God in the world with us… this is what Paul is saying here in this verse!
The phrase that Paul uses at the end of this verse is a confusing phrase that many have twisted to suit their own theology… it states, “…the first born over all creation…”
All Paul is stating here is simply a position of authority… in the Jewish tradition AND in the traditions of the 1st century, the 1st born had ALL the rights and would inherit all of what the Father had… this was Jesus’ position in the Godhead… He is the Son!
But to clarify his statement on Jesus in v15 we find Paul using a different angle in v16…[read v16]