Summary: Paul is telling us, "Jesus is Creator God and head of the Church." Who we have been and who we become are both relevant to this single, important fact.
Who is Jesus? Who are You?
Love and wisdom, God and you
Colossians 1:13 – 23
The passage answers two questions:
• Most importantly, who is Jesus?
• Then, as a result of His identity, who am I?
The passage begins and ends with an assessment of who the Colossians were compared with who they have become.
But, by far the centerpiece and focal point of the passage is Paul’s huge point of identifying Jesus.
Who was I?
As Paul introduces the passage, he describes the Colossians in terms of what they have been delivered from. Colossea is a has-been city, small and eclipsed in significance by a "newer" city, Laodicea. However, Colossea has had a proud history as a center of religion and philosophy.
Paul does not yet go into the ideas that cause Colossae problems. He just refers to them as having been delivered "from the power of darkness." He emphasizes that it was not just a matter of thoughts, but says, "you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds."
Paul doesn’t go into it here. He does not explain what the evil deeds are. The fact that he can mention them in passing at the beginning of the letter and not expound means that the Colossians knew what deeds he was talking about. He did not need to explain.
That’s the way it is with us. If you are like me, when your mother or dad sat you down and said, "I know what you did." I would not be inclined so much to believe immediately that they were wrong, as I would wonder, "which time? How do they know?"
The sin in our lives makes us prisoners of the darkness of fear and doubt. The things we do that are wrong are not all simply mistakes. They grow out of minds that have been conditioned in an evil world and are assaulted by Satan. They come from hearts that are drawn away by sinful desires. Our sin whatever it is, is no surprise to us and we know how tenacious its hold on our lives was before we knew Jesus, and can still become.
But then Jesus comes into the picture
And who is He?
He is the image of the invisible God. What is that? How can you have an image of something that can’t be seen? It is interesting to me, because of two facts:
We are made in God’s image. In one sense, though certainly not in the same sense, we are the image of the invisible God. This is secondary, because of the method of our creation:
Then God said, "Let us make humankind in our image, after our likeness ...." (Genesis 1:26 NET)
The "us" in this introduction is the trinity God: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. In this way, we are the image of both the Father and the Son. As much as we can be the image of God the Father and His Son, who was at the time invisible, so the Son is the image of the invisible Father.
Another phrase that comes to mind is something said by Jesus Himself in response to a question:
Philip said, "Lord, show us the Father, and we will be content." Jesus replied, "Have I been with you for so long, and you have not known me, Philip? The person who has seen me has seen the Father! How can you say, ’Show us the Father’?
(John 14:8-9 NET)
It is as if Jesus is saying: If the Father could be seen, He would look like Me.
Paul is forceful in his identification of Jesus with the Creator God, not just as His Son, but as being one and the same with Him. Paul calls him "the firstborn over all creation,"
Then, in order to avoid misunderstanding Paul says exactly what he means:
all things in heaven and on earth were created by him whether
• visible or invisible,
• thrones or dominions,
• principalities or powers --
all things were created through him and for him.
In other parts of the book we are told about the spiritual confusion that the Colossians experienced, no doubt, brought on by the confluence of pagan religions and philosophies in their society. So Paul makes it clear that nothing, whether physical, societal or spiritual exists without the power of Jesus. He is the Creator.
This section of Scripture is vitally important. The whole teaching of the trinity draws incredible strength from this passage. When you are through with this passage, if you are at all familiar with the first part of Genesis, you can only conclude that Paul taught:
Jesus is God
Paul in unity with the other apostles presented Him in this light:
The Word was with God in the beginning. All things were created by him, and apart from him not one thing was created that has been created.