Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | September 16, 2006

Colossians – Part 5

Have you ever been approached by a Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon missionary? 

Colossians – Part 5:  Preeminence of Christ (Paul explains to the Colossians Christ’s position over creation) 

1.  Do you know what they believe about Christ Jehovah’s Witness or Mormon missionary?

2.  Is it important for us to distinguish between the biblical Christ and false christs?

Christ Preeminent in Creation (Ch 1:15-17): 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.   

Upon reminding the Colossians of the message of the cross of Christ, the Apostle plunges into the heart of the false teaching, to correct the error of devaluing the Person and Work of Christ.  In a formidable fashion, the Apostle constructs in unambiguous (clear) terms the Person of Christ.  Being ascribed the very image of God no less equates Him with God.  This is a more forceful statement than is attributed to man, who is made in the image of God.  Just by comparing the two phrases against each other – is the image versus made in the image proclaims the significance of the Apostle’s statement.  The term firstborn is not made in the sense we commonly use the term as a father-son relationship.  No, in the Bible the term firstborn does not always imply the order of the offspring.  The firstborn signifies the rights and privileges that are imparted to the one that acquires the inheritance.  For example, God throughout Church history has reversed the order of the privilege of birthright from Isaac and Ishmael, Jacob and Esau, Ephraim and Manasseh, David and Eliab to affirm His right to choose.  Yet, the rights and privileges referred to here are not concerning natural things, but the right to reign over the cosmos.  This we see elsewhere in Scripture has been agreed to be the Son’s role in creation.  And lest we are still preoccupied with the term firstborn as subordinate to God the Father, let us continue reading the Apostle’s defense.  We can conclude that any subordination is voluntary and not contingent of a lesser Person.  For who else can be ascribed the creation of the world, ruler of all authorities or holding all things together except God Almighty.  Nonetheless, if you are still willing to ascribe these attributes and still insist on subordination you do no less than affirm more than one God.  This position violates nothing else but the entire Biblical revelation, which advocates unequivocally (with certainty) that there is only. The Apostle Paul turns to the heart of the false teaching, and swiftly dismantles the errors of a lesser Christ.  The false teachers through their schemes and trickery had sold the Colossian Church a false christ.  This false christ was a fraud and the Church at Colossae had been taken in by this error due to a combination of things.  First, they had replaced the emphasis of the Gospel with the teaching of men.  Secondly, this teaching left them susceptible to implementation of pagan systems of thought.  Finally, by embracing this pagan system of thought including a corrupted view of God, of good and of evil, they were diminishing the glory and majesty of the Savior.  Thus, the Apostle eloquently upholds the Person of Christ in an effort to correct the erroneous doctrines and proclaim His preeminence over all things.     

3.  Who is Christ?  How was the false teaching at Colossae causing confusion?

4.  Why does Paul say “firstborn”?  Isn’t that confusing considering how we use it in our day?

5.  Why was this term helpful to address the problems at Colossae? Did they think that:  A. Christ was less powerful than other powers and authorities (i.e. angels) in the universe, B. Christ was one with God, or C. Christ was the archangel Michael.

6.  What is the best way for us to understand who God is and what He is like? 

Who is the image of the invisible God:  “He mounts up higher in discoursing as to the glory of Christ.  He calls him the image of the invisible God, meaning by this, that it is in him alone that God, who is otherwise invisible, is manifested to us, in accordance with what is said in John 1:18, –No man hath ever seen God: the only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, hath himself manifested him to us…The sum is this – that God in himself, that is, in his naked majesty, is invisible, and that not to the eyes of the body merely, but also to the understandings of men, and that he is revealed to us in Christ alone, that we may behold him as in a mirror.  For in Christ he shews us his righteousness, goodness, wisdom, power, in short, his entire self.  We must, therefore, beware of seeking him elsewhere, for everything that would set itself off as a representation of God, apart from Christ, will be an idol.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

7.  Why is Paul careful to point out that “all things” includes thrones, dominions and authorities? 

8.  Based on what the Apostle Paul tells the Colossians, which category should Christ be included with below? 

Uncreated

  Created

9.  If Christ created all things and is uncreated, who is He?  The terms can be replaced with Creator and creature. 

All things were created by him, and for him:  He places angels in subjection to Christ, that they may not obscure his glory, for four reasons:  In the first place, because they were created by him; secondly, because their creation ought to be viewed as having a relation to him, as their legitimate end; thirdly, because he himself existed always, prior to their creation; fourthly, because he sustains them by his power, and upholds them in their condition.  At the same time, he does not affirm this merely as to angels, but also as to the whole world.  Thus he places the Son of God in the Highest seat of honor, that he may have the pre-eminence over angels as well as men, and may bring under control all creatures in heaven and in earth in.  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

10.  Why is a proper understanding of the creation important?  Why would this have helped the Colossians? 

11.  Who holds all things together?  Do we sometimes forget that Christ even holds our lives together?

12.  Are you familiar with the Trinity?  Or is this confusing to you? 

13.  Did we see Christ in our study today? 

For more on this topic please see previous posts for further information on this topic starting here:  one-god-three-persons  and following subsequent posts.

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