The Supremacy of Christ (1:15– 20) 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 letter: • 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 visible invisible whether thrones dominions rulers authorities 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 2:18) – 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 creation. – 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 preeminence. – 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 5:11). THE RECONCILIATION OF BELIEVERS TO GOD THROUGH CHRIST (1:21–23) 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?