“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on the earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through Him and for Him. He is before all things and in Him all things hold together.”
In verses 15-20 we learn a tremendous amount about Jesus Christ, perhaps more than any other passages in the Bible.
The deity of Christ is the image of the invisible God. There are two different Greek words for image and it is very important as to which one is used here. There is the Greek word “omoioma,” which means a representation. But this is the word that is not used here. Instead we have the Greek word “eikon,” which means an exact image. So there is no question that Jesus Christ is God, a member of the Trinity. Jesus Christ does not merely have the “spark” of God, Jesus Christ is God. Jesus Christ is the exact image of the
invisible God. This is the first of many refutations of the false teachings of the Gnostics.
The firstborn of all creation means firstborn as the head of a new creation. Christ has a new creation, the Church. If (first class condition meaning if and it is true) any person is in Christ (baptism of the Holy Spirit) that person is a new creation. Creation is the Greek word “ktisis” and refers primarily to the creative act in process. It is the believer who is being acted upon by God. This act of this new creation is when God, at salvation, creates a human spirit in the believer. In order to better understand what Paul is teaching we will use the term “a new spiritual classification” since this describes more precisely what occurs at salvation. This creative act by God creates something in the believer that previously did not exist. It is new and it is spiritual in nature and the believer becomes a different classification (Royal Family of God) than he was previously. (I Corinthians 2:9-14; Galatians 6:10; Ephesians 2:19)
All things refers to the heavens and the earth, the universe, angels, mankind. And all the things were created by Jesus Christ. God the Son “snapped His fingers” and the universe came into existence. The truth is that it did not take six days to create the universe. Its creation was instantaneous and occurred sometime in eternity past before man was created. Therefore, we cannot put a date on the age of planet earth. What we find upon examination of the Bible is that after the creation of the universe and between the creation of angels and man, the earth became chaotic. This chaos was most likely the result of a battle among the angels and God’s judgment of them. (Isaiah 14; Ezekiel 28:15-16)
The universe was created by an intelligent designer, God, not by the “big bang” theory. God is not the author of confusion; everything that He does is logical and organized. The Bible does not contradict true scientific data; it confirms it. And, a believer can have a personal relationship with the Creator of the universe. We can also place our complete confidence in God and His Word.
Thrones is the Greek word “thronos” referring to the sovereignty or the power of a national entity. With the creation of man God set up a system for man’s survival, in spite of the fact that Satan is ruling the world system in which mankind lives during the Angelic Conflict. So to protect us we have governments. It is not God’s will for mankind to be one national entity until the Millennium when Jesus Christ rules. So not only did Jesus Christ create the universe but He set up a system with a series of laws and with structure, for the protection of mankind. Dominions is the Greek word “kuriotes,” which means constituted authority. So we have the principle of the Laws of Divine Establishment.
In order to prevent people from destroying themselves, God introduced human government as a ruling factor for the nation. Human government was given by God for all nations. It was the confusion of languages and the dispersion of mankind that God used to introduce human government into the human race. Tribal or clan leaders sat as a governing board for various nations throughout the Old Testament. (Genesis 11:1-9)
As history has progressed, nations have risen and fallen, some good, some bad, but the concept of nations still exists. It is when individual nations fail to exist under a “one-world government” (as in the Tribulation) that freedom will no longer exist; marriage and family will disintegrate and the practice of nationalism will not be allowed. Nations are designed by God for the perpetuation of the human race, for freedom to accept or reject Jesus Christ, freedom to worship, freedom to succeed or fail and protection from interior and exterior predators. It is mankind that corrupts this divine institution and introduces evil into a national entity.
A Biblical pattern for a nation is one where freedom exists for all people (believers and unbelievers) and is governed by “the common good for all” concept. This pattern rejects anything that would subvert or corrupt the nation. This subversion or corruption can be, but is not limited to, music, art, literature, movies and television. When these cultural activities become corrupt, the people of the influenced nation begin to act out the pattern of behavior that they are being taught by the various media. This bad behavior eventuates in several cycles of divine discipline, until the nation is destroyed from within or from without. Only a nation that remains true to the Biblical concept of a nation will prosper and survive.
Rulers refers to demon rulers. Authorities is used for demon authorities. Satan is the ruler of this world system even though Jesus Christ controls history. Satan is a genius and has been observing mankind for thousands of years. He has a well-organized army of demons to do his work. Satan is not omnipresent or omniscient. Therefore, he is not personally after most of us, nor does he know everything about us. Satan relies on the influence of his army of demons, the world system and the sin nature to keep believers off track regarding their spiritual life.
Before all things is a reference to the eternality of Jesus Christ. The eternality of Jesus Christ is declared in Isaiah 9:6; Micah 5:2; John 1:1-13; John 8:58; Colossians 1:17; Ephesians 1:4; Revelation 1:11. All things hold together refers to the preservation of all of creation. By means of Jesus Christ all things: the universe in which we live, the angelic creatures who are a part of the unseen conflict, and the human race continue to exist.
We have seen Him as the Creator of the universe, as the sustainer of the universe. We have seen Him as to the uniqueness of His Person, the hypostatic union, and to the uniqueness of His work on the Cross. Now all of these things are brought together in verse 18-20: Jesus Christ is the head of the Church.
“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. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His Cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
There is no higher rank or authority in the Church than the Lord Jesus Christ. The word “body” is used in a special sense. It always refers to the Church on earth, believers in the Church Age on earth. During the Church Age Jesus Christ is seated at the right hand of the Father and the Church universal is located in two places. The “dead in Christ” are with Jesus Christ and the “living in Christ” are on the earth. The word “body” here is used for both groups; the living on earth and the dead in Christ. However, it is always used for the designation of the Church before the Rapture. For the living on earth Jesus Christ is the head. Any believer located on the earth is a part of the body of Christ. After the Rapture of the Church, believers are called the bride. Bride always refers to the Church or believers of the Church Age in resurrection body, so we must learn to distinguish between body and bride as the two most commonly used designations for the Church. The Church is made up of every believer. Every believer is in union with Christ in anticipation of the future day when the Church will be the bride of Christ.
The firstborn from the dead refers to the Resurrection, the Ascension and the Session of Christ where He takes His rightful place of being first place in everything. All blessing, all happiness, everything worthwhile is found in the Person of Jesus Christ. All the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ. Fullness is the Greek word “pleroma,” which Paul used to summarize everything about Jesus Christ. While it was a technical word in the vocabulary and theology of Christianity, it was also a technical word in the field of Gnosticism. In Gnosticism it was used for the word for heaven (utopia, so to speak). So, we can see why Paul used it with regard to the Lord Jesus Christ. “Utopia” can be found only in Christ and not in human intelligence or reasoning. God the Father decreed in eternity past that all the quintessence of blessing should dwell in Christ alone. Jesus Christ is the quintessence of all divine blessing and happiness for every human being. If a person fails to find Jesus Christ, they also fail to find eternal, lasting happiness and blessing.
For the above reason, God put into place by divine decree the Doctrine of Reconciliation. It is God’s will that no one should perish by spending eternity in the Lake of Fire. It was not God’s will for Satan and one third of the angels to revolt and it was not God’s will for Adam and Eve to sin and become spiritually dead.
There are two words for reconciliation in Greek. One word “diallasso” means to reconcile two parties who are mutually hostile toward one another. The second word “katallasso” means to reconcile two parties where only one party is hostile toward the other. “Katallasso” is the word used for reconciliation to God. This means that it is man who is “hostile” towards God and has become rebellious by means of his inherent sin nature. It means that mankind is the enemy of God and it is man who needs to be reconciled to God.
Literally, “katallasso” means to change or to exchange (originally referring to money). It came to mean a change from being one’s enemy to being one’s friend. This is the meaning throughout the New Testament. At salvation, the believer is reconciled to God. This means that the believer is no longer God’s enemy but that peace has been made as a result of the person’s change of mind towards Christ (the true meaning of repentance). (Romans 5:10)
Reconciliation is accomplished by the removal of a barrier that exists between God and man. Once this barrier is removed, the possibility exists for peace between God and man. The barrier that separates God from man is sin. Since God can have nothing to do with sin, the “sin barrier” must be removed so that mankind can have a relationship with God. Jesus Christ is the Sin-bearer, which means that He was judged for our sin (inherent sin, Adam’s original sin and our personal sins). The judgment of sin satisfied the righteousness and justice of God. The person who accepts Jesus Christ as his “sin-bearer” is immediately reconciled to God, having been placed in union with Christ. This means that a believer is no longer God’s enemy but that peace now exists between this individual and God. Since God is not a “respecter of persons,” (He is impartial and unprejudiced) anyone (both Jew and Gentile) who believes in Christ as Savior (the Sin-bearer) will be reconciled to God.