The Book of Colossians – part 3, Dr. Alan Bandy (PowerPoint)

The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
• Col. 1:15-20 is often regarded as a christological “hymn.”
– There is symmetry through the repetition of words or phrases.
– It represents a shift from God the Father to Christ the Son as
the one through whom salvation is accomplished.
– Words and Phrases in this hymn reappear throughout the
• The image (v. 15; 3:10)
9, 10, 13. . . )
• created (v. 16; 3:10)
• earth (vv. 16, 20; 3:2, 5)
• the head (v. 18; 10, 2:19)
• the church (v. 18, 24)
• fullness (v. 19; 2:9, 10)
• peace (v. 20; 3:15)
all (v. 15, 16, 17, 18, 19, 20, 23; 2:2, 3,
heaven vv. 16, 20; 4:1)
rulers, authorities (v. 16; 2:10;15)
the body (v. 18; 2:11, 17, 19; 3:15)
from the dead (v. 18; 2:12, 13)
to dwell (v. 19; 2:9; 3:16)
cross (v. 20; 2:14)
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
He is the image of the invisible God
the firstborn of all creation
for in him all things were created,
in heaven
on earth
whether thrones
all things were created
through him and for him
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
He is before all things, and in him all things are held together;
He is the head of the body, the church.
He is the beginning
the firstborn from the dead,
so that in all things he may become supreme,
for in him
all the fullness was pleased to dwell
through him to reconcile all things to him,
by making peace through the blood of his cross
[through him]
whether things on earth, or
things in heaven.
you were once alienated and hostile in your mind
through your evil deeds
now he reconciled you in his body of flesh,
through death to present you
holy, without
blemish, blameless
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
• 1:15 Paul identifies the beloved
Son (Col 1:12-13) as the image
of the invisible God.
• The word image refers to an
exact visible representation of
something or someone.
• Jesus the Son represented the
invisible God of the OT (cf. Jn 1:18).
• Jesus also represented true sinless
humanity (cf. Gn 1:26-27).
• Interestingly, Paul states in 3:10 that
believers are new creations being
renewed in knowledge in order to
bear the image of their Creator.
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
• 1:15 - Jesus is also the firstborn
over all creation.
– The title firstborn does not
mean that Jesus was created
(cf. Col 1:16a), but indicates His
priority of rank as supreme
over all the created order.
– Some interpreters also see this
as a reference to Christ as the
wisdom of God (cf. Col 2:3; Pr
8:22) contrasted with false
wisdom (Col 2:23).
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
• 1:16 - Christ is supreme over
creation because He is the Creator.
– He is the one who created everything
including all beings both the visible
and the invisible.
– Paul’s mention of
thrones, dominions, rulers, and
authorities refers to four classes of
angelic beings (possibly directing human
affairs). This most likely constitutes a
strike against the false teaching
promoting the worship of angels (Col
– Paul posits the supremacy of Christ over
all creation because all things were
created through Him and for Him.
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
• 1:17 - All things refer to
everything that has been created
(v. 16).
– He is “before” most likely is a
temporal reference to the
preexistence of Christ prior to
– The phrase, by Him all things
hold together, presents Christ
as the one who actively
sustains all creation.
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
• 1:18 - Paul shifts his focus from Christ as
the supreme Creator and Sustainer of
the universe to His supremacy as head
over the Church.
– Paul uses the word head in both a
literal and metaphorical sense (cf. Col
2:10, 19).
– Literally, it implies authority, rule,
and supreme rank.
– Metaphorically, it plays on the
imagery of Christ’s relationship to
the Church as head of the body (cf.
Eph 1:22; 4:15; 5:23; 1Co 12:12-27).
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
• 1:18 -He is the head because he is
the beginning and the firstborn
from the dead.
– The parallel language to the
creation (v. 15) significantly
identifies the Church as part of
the new creation inaugurated
with the resurrection of Christ.
– His resurrection resulted in the
fulfillment of God’s purpose for
Christ that He might come
to have first place in everything.
The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
1:19-20 – For introduces the reason of His
– God is pleased carries the sense of “taking
pleasure in something” or “being delighted” and
is used elsewhere when describing God’s
purposes (cf. Ps 44:3; 147:11; 149:4; Mt 3:17;
1Co 1:21; Gal. 1:15; 2Pt 1:17).
– Specifically, what pleased God was that His
fullness, which is another way of saying the
entirety of God’s being, would dwell in the Son.
– Jesus was fully divine as well as fully human.
– God took pleasure in this because, in Him and
through Him, God would reconcile (i.e.,
reestablishing a right relationship) all things back
to Himself through the cross (cf. 2Co 5:19, Rm
The Reconciliation of Believers to
God through Christ
• 1:21 – Paul explains the need for reconciliation to
God by appealing to the believers’ spiritual condition
prior to their salvation.
– Before they heard the gospel they were alienated
from God because their thinking was against Him
(hostile in mind) based on and perpetuated by their
evil actions.
– Bad thinking results in immoral behavior, which in turn
produces more wrong thinking and further
estrangement from God.
The Reconciliation of Believers to
God through Christ
• 1:22 – Paul contrasts (“But now”) their former life with their
current salvation.
– They have been reconciled by the means of Jesus’ death bearing
the punishment for sin in his physical body (cf. Rm 7:4; 8:3).
– The reference to His physical body also highlights his humanity,
where Col 1:19 expresses His divinity.
– The purpose of this reconciliation is so that believers may be
presented holy, faultless, and blameless before Him instead being
“hostile in mind” and practicing “evil actions.”
The Reconciliation of Believers to God
through Christ
• 1:23 – The only way they will be presented holy,
faultless, and blameless is if (conditional clause)
they do not abandon their faith in Christ as
presented in the gospel.
• Faith refers to the content of the gospel with Jesus as
the object (Col 1:4, 23; 2:5, 7, 12). Paul warns them
regarding their adoption of syncretistic beliefs that
perverts the true message of the gospel,
subsequently abolishing their hope (Col 1:5).
Questions for Reflection
• What does this passage teach us about Christ?
• What is the significance of the relationship
between Christ as creator, head of the church,
and reconciler?
• How can we apply this passage to our churches
and ministries?
• How can we apply this passage personally?

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