405. Jesus “Has The Whole World In His Hands.“ Colossians 1:15-23. A NT reading for Sunday 17 July 2022

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“He’s got the whole world in his hands.” That was the beginning of a song many of us sang decades ago without perhaps realising the significance of these words. It is a reference to Christ as we see in many Bible verses and especially now in this passage from Colossians 1:15-23.

The church in Colossae had been influenced by concepts that were not Christian and there was a danger that Christ would not be given his rightful place in the church. So in verses 15 to 20 we have one of the most concentrated expressions of the doctrine of Christ in the New Testament. They speak of His pre-eminence in the world and in the church.

A]. THE PRE-EMINENCE OF CHRIST IN HIS CREATION. 1:15-20

We look at these descriptions of Christ in turn.

  1. He is “the image of the invisible God .“ 1:15

“Image” is [eikōn; εἰκών] meaning likeness or representation. Jesus fully represents what God is like in every way. He said of Himself “I and the Father are one” John 10:30, and “he who has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9.   The invisible God has been made known through the incarnation of His Son Jesus Christ. When people saw Jesus in His ministry, they were seeing God at work through Him. As Jesus told His followers, “Don’t you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work.”

  • He is “the firstborn of all creation.” 1:15.

The term “first born” has to do with pre-eminence.  [NOTE 1.] Jesus is pre-eminent because He was the author of all things, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. “ The prepositions “by”,  “through” and “for “are significant in relation to Jesus as Creator. “By” and “through” are concerned with Jesus as being the instrument of creation. Jesus created the whole creation!

Not only that but it was created ”for” Him as well. The whole purpose of creation is for fulfilling God’s purpose for Him in His creation by God. Creation was His because He was its creator. 

  • And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 1:16-17

Not only was Jesus responsible for creation but He also sustains it. “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.“ [NOTE 2.] In other words Jesus not only created the universe but also maintains its existence to eternity. He does indeed “Hold the whole world in His hands!” 

In brief, we live as creatures in a world that Jesus has created for Himself and over which He exercises control as its Sustainer. That is a magnificent truth in itself but Paul has other truths about Jesus to bring out in this passage. 

  • He is the head of the body, the church.  1:18

We note three quick things about the church. The church is the ekklesia, the called out” ones, called out from the world to belong to God. [NOTE 3.] It is called a “body” for it is composed of different members or individual believers. And Christ is seen as the “head” of this body. [NOTE 4]. The church which Christ has called out from the world to belong to Him has to take its directions from Him.

  • He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 1:18

As we have seen, Christ is the pre-eminent One for He is the creator of all things and everything in heaven and on earth owes its origin to Him. He began it all and everything and everyone owe their existence to Him. 

  • in Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell. 1:19

In words calculated to convince doubters, Paul magnifies the Person of Jesus by signifying that He is equal to God, for God’s fulness dwells in Him. [NOTE 5]. Jesus is sufficient in every way for He shares the sufficiency of God for His world and for His people! The Colossians need look no further than Jesus for all their needs!

  • He reconciled all things to himself.  1:20

He reconciled all things to himself, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. The greatest need for all sinful humans [that means every person ever born] is the need  to be brought back into a right relationship with God. That is the process of reconciliation, the bringing together of 2 parties who were once separated. [NOTE 6]. This verse also tells us the means and the result of the reconciliation Christ has achieved. The means was the shedding of His blood on the cross whereby forgiveness of sins became available for those who would seek it, in Jesus. The result was that those reconciled to God through Christ, could know peace, peace with God and an inner peace of knowing that their sins had been cast away and a relationship with God could be experienced.  

B]. THE APPLICATION OF THE MESSAGE OF THEIR RECONCILIATION. 1:21-23

After a long explanation of the reconciliation Christ had came to achieve, Paul briefly applied the implications of that message.

The Fact Of Their Reconciliation. 1:21

“And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh.” Paul reminded them that they owed their standing as believers and as members of Christ’s body, the church,  due to the amazing grace of God in reconciling such hostile and evil people through Jesus’ reconciling death. They were now joined together in the body of Christ. They now belonged, to Him.

The Means Of The Reconciliation Jesus Achieved.  1:22

“He has now reconciled in his body of flesh.” It was through Christ’s body offered once for all on the cross that this reconciliation had come.

The Purpose Of the Reconciliation Jesus achieved. 1:22

“In order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him.”

The reconciliation had a great purpose. So that they could be changed into holy and blameless people who could stand without reproach before Him. 

The Conditions Of Maintaining The Reconciliation Christ Achieved. 1:23

Their reconciliation had been costly in its process, for it required the death of the Son of God, the Creator. The maintenance of their standing before God required effort on their part. “If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”

It required them to continue in their faith, being steadfast and stable and holding on securely to the hope promised in the gospel message. 

SUMMING UP

One can imagine the believers gathered together to hear the words of this epistle written by the great apostle Paul to them, and being struck with the contents and significance of what was being read to them. 

Their appreciation of the gospel message must have soared as they were reminded in this passage of the pre-eminence of Jesus in His creation and in His church. And hopefully their improved understanding of the Christian message would have steered them away from the heretical teachings to which they had been exposed. 

This passage is a great reminder to us today not to be led astray by any false teaching, but may cause us to enthrone Jesus in His pre-eminent place in our lives as individuals and in His place as head of the church! It is HIS! WE need to make sure yet it is HIS!

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[NOTE 1.] “Firstborn” is from [prōtotokos; πρωτοτόκος] is used of the firstborn of humans and here for Jesus as the firstborn of creation. In a commentary on this passage, John F. Walvoord and Roy B. Zuck explain in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: Old Testament An Exposition of the Scriptures by Dallas Seminary Faculty, the following, “Firstborn” implies both Christ’s priority to all Creation (in time) and His sovereignty over all Creation (in rank). 

[NOTE 2.] “Hold together” is from [synistaō; συνιστάω] meaning to set together, to exhibit or to maintain something already existing. 

[NOTE 3.] “Church” is [ekklēsia; ἐκκλησία] from [ek] meaning out of and [kaleo] to call. It stands for the Christian community of members on earth or saints in heaven or both whom Jesus has called to Himself through the gospel message.  

[NOTE 4.]  “Head” is [kephalē; κεφαλή.] meaning the literal head or the important part.  It is the head that guides the rest of the body as Christ is meant to be the prominent one guiding His body in the world. 

[NOTE 5.] “Fulness” is [plērōma; πλήρωμα] from plēroō; πληρόω to fill. In other words there is nothing in Yahweh God that is not found in the Person of Jesus. They are indeed one!

NOTE 6.] “Reconcile” is [apokatallassō; ἀποκαταλλάσσω], meaning to return to favour or to bring together parties that were once separated. 

Blog No.405 posted on Friday 01 July 2022

About Jim Holbeck

Once an Industrial Chemist working for the Queensland Government but later an Anglican minister in Brisbane, Armidale and Sydney. Last position for eighteen years before retirement in 2006 was as the Leader of the Healing Ministry at St Andrew's Cathedral Sydney.
This entry was posted in BIBLE PASSAGE OUTLINES, Bible verses. Comments, Creation, Evangelism, Faithfulness, Forgiveness, Holy Spirit, Justification, Lectionary Readings Year C 2019, New Covenant, Prayer, Salvation, Sanctification, spiritual warfare and tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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