Summary: Sermon 5 in a study in Colossians
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”
The opening verses of the letter to the Hebrews closely parallel the words of our text today. Hebrews says “He is appointed heir of all things”, here in Colossians we read “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything”.
Hebrews says, “Through whom also He made the world”, and here we read, “all things have been created through Him and for Him”.
Hebrews says, “and upholds all things by the word of His power”, and in Colossians it says, “in Him all things hold together”.
The writer to Hebrews tells us that “He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature”, and to the Colossians Paul wrote, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation”.
Now we shouldn’t be surprised at these like statements, of course. This is the New Testament of the Bible and we know and expect that there is going to be nothing but agreement from one book to the next. The Bible is infallible, inerrant, authoritative and God-breathed. He inspired every word through every man who wrote and from one book to the next we are going to find His proclamation of His Son.
But over the years there has been much speculation as to who wrote the letter to the Hebrews, and it is interesting to note these likenesses and realize that if Paul did not write that letter, he certainly would have been in good fellowship with whoever did.
Now that’s all I want to say about that. It’s just good for us to note these things and think about the way the Bible came together and the way God has chosen to speak to us. Because having spoken through the prophets, sometimes clearly, sometimes cryptically, He has now spoken to us in His Son, who is preeminent, who now sits in the place of authority as one who has finished His work, until the Father makes His enemies a footstool for His feet.
Preeminent: having paramount rank, dignity, or importance
This passage is just jammed full with references to the preeminence of Christ in everything.
We’ll look at those in a moment but I do not want you to be thrown by the phrase, “…the firstborn of all creation”.
Paul was not saying Christ was created. The rest of the passage and so many other places in the New Testament make that clear. He created. That which is created cannot create itself, and the one who can create is by definition the creator.
Now you and I say we create when we’re speaking of art or music or fiction writing or cooking and so forth. But in the case of Christ we know that John wrote, “All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:3
John offered no exceptions there. In saying ‘All things’, he precludes the possibility of some tiny ball of matter spinning around in space and suddenly exploding and beginning a universe of matter. In saying ‘All things’ he means that there was nothing until the Creator said ‘Let there be’.
Therefore in saying ‘firstborn of all creation’ Paul is saying He is preeminent, paramount in rank or importance, over all creation. How can He be less, when it was He who created all that is?
Now just listen to the list of words extracted from these four verses of our text that point to the supremacy of Christ.
Image of the invisible. Firstborn. All things created by Him and for Him. He is before all things. In Him all things hold together. Head of the body, the church. He is the beginning. First place in everything.
There is a song on so-called Christian radio stations that I have heard pieces of in passing. I do not care for most of what is dubbed ‘gospel’ music and only hear radio stations when I’m in a room where someone else has turned it on, so take this with that in mind and please endure me…
I don’t care for the song because it smacks of a white collar boot licker sidling up to his boss to get in his good graces. The tag line of the song is “It’s all about you, Jesus”.