Many of the Christians at Colossae had been influenced by false teaching. Paul’s letter to the church there contained some of the most powerful truths about the person of Jesus to be found in the Bible. The late scholar Professor FF Bruce described the Colossian heresy in these words, “All this was presented as a form of advanced teaching for a spiritual élite. The Christians of Colossae were urged to go in for this progressive wisdom and knowledge (gnōsis), to explore the deeper mysteries by a series of successive initiations until they attained perfection (teleiōsis). Christian baptism was but a preliminary initiation; those who wished to proceed farther along the path of truth must put off all material elements by pursuing an ascetic regimen until at last they became citizens of the spiritual world, the realm of light.” [Note 1].
Paul in his letter attempted to correct those with a false understanding of the Christian gospel by reminding them of the pre-eminence of Jesus as a person and of the perfection of the work He had come to do on earth. He begins here by pointing out the blessings that had come to the believers when they put their trust in Christ.
A]. WHO BELIEVERS ARE IN CHRIST
They Were Made Strong In Christ. Verses 11-12
Paul uses most of the words for power in just the one sentence in explaining the power given to believers in their conversion. I include them underlined here with the original Greek New Testament words to show the range of meanings. 11 “being strengthened [dynamoō; δυναμόω] with all power,[dynamis; δύναμις] according to his glorious might [kratos; κράτος], for all endurance [hypomonē; ὑπομονή] and patience [makrothymia; μακροθυμία] with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified [hikanoō; ἱκανόω] you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” [Note 2].
As a result of this strengthening by God, they were able to have endurance and patience with joy as they faced persecution. That meant having steadfastness in their faith and being long-suffering as they sought to live faithfully and joyfully as believers. They had already been qualified or enabled by God to share in their future inheritance in heaven.
They Had Been Set Free To Live For God
Paul went on to remind them of the freedom they had come to experience as believers. It was as though they had been captives in one dominion [of darkness] and been released into the freedom belonging to a new dominion, the kingdom of Christ. 13 “He has delivered [rhyomai; ῥύομαι] us from the domain [ἐξουσία exousia] of darkness and transferred [methistēmi; μεθίστημι] us to the kingdom [basileia; βασιλεία] of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption [apolytrōsis; ἀπολύτρωσις] the forgiveness [aphesis; ἄφεσις] of sins.” [Note 3].
Again in just these 2 verses there is so much being said. Many of these single words have had books written on them.
B]. THE PERFECTION OF CHRIST IN HIS PERSON AND HIS WORK
15 “He is the image [eikōn; εἰκών] of the invisible God, the firstborn [prōtotokos; πρωτοτόκος] of all creation.” Christ is the exact image or representation of God. Jesus said of Himself, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” John 14:9.
“Firstborn” implies both Christ’s priority to all Creation (in time) and His sovereignty over all Creation (in rank). In Revelation 1:5, Christ is called “the Firstborn from the dead.” [Note 4].
Creator Of The Universe. 1:16
Whatever type of authority or power that may exist in the world, Christ reigns supreme over all of them. 16 “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones [thronos; θρόνος] or dominions [kyriotēs; κυριότης] or rulers [archē; ἀρχή] or authorities [exousia; ἐξουσία] —all things were created through him and for him.” [Note 5].
Paul makes the point here that every power of any sort was created by Him and for Him. He has allowed them to exist according to and for His purposes. He ultimately is in control of any power that exists or will ever exist in the universe.
Sustainer Of The Universe. 1:17
17 “And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” [synistaō; συνιστάω.] As the creator of the universe, Christ existed before all things and ranks before them. He not only created the universe, but He keeps it all going. He is both creator and sustainer of the universe.
Head Of The Church. 1:18
18 “And he is the head [kephalē;κεφαλή] of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.” [prōteuō; πρωτεύω]. Christ has called all believers to belong to Him. They are the “called out ones.” This is the meaning of the Greek word [ekklēsia; ἐκκλησία]. And He is the head of the body of believers who constitute the church. As such the members of the church are to be led by their head, Christ himself. He as the head of the body is meant to direct the members of the body as He determines. They are to live in subjection to Him. That applies to all created beings, “that in everything he might be preeminent.” [prōteuō; πρωτεύω] from [prōtos; πρῶτος] meaning the first or foremost in time, place, order or importance.
Christ has unique authority in the church and in the world and everyone needs to be willing to submit to His rightful authority.
The Fulness Of God Is In Him. 1:19
19 “For in him all the fulness [plērōma; πλήρωμα] of God was pleased to dwell.”
Why does Christ command the utmost respect and obedience of every person ever born? Because of who He is. This verse gives us the answer. He is divine. He is not only the perfect image of God but all the fulness of God exists in Him. There is nothing about God the Father that is not to be found in His Son. As Jesus said, “I and the Father are one. “John 10:30.
The Reconciler Of All Things. 1:20
20 “and through him to reconcile [apokatallassō; ἀποκαταλλάσσω] to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.”
Reconciliation involves bringing together 2 parties who were previously estranged. We note here that it is God who effects the reconciliation. He alone was in the position to do so. He was the One sinned against and He alone can forgive those who sinned against Him. He made peace possible for those who would receive it in Him. He did it through His death on the cross, “making peace by the blood of his cross.”
What a fascinating passage of scripture this is. So much is given about the Person of Christ and about the work He came to do on earth in His reconciling a sinful world to Himself. It shows the magnitude of the love and grace of God in reaching out to sinners and bringing them back to relationship with Himself. He is the Perfect Person who offered the Perfect Sacrifice for sins in offering Himself to die on the cross.
His letter should have had the effect of bringing misled sinners back to God through Christ as they repented of their rejection of His authority over them and as they recommitted themselves again wholeheartedly to Christ.
I am often amazed as I hear or read of some people who say they have no time for Jesus Christ, as though He was an optional extra. What a stupid attitude to adopt as mere creatures towards their loving Creator! It’s true that He lived on earth over 2000 years ago but He is alive today and is the ruler of the whole world. He is never an optional extra for “those who like that sort of thing.” Rather He is the unique Son of God, the long-promised Messiah who by His life on earth showed us how to live as humans, and who by His death paid the ultimate sacrifice for our sins. He offers Himself to be our Saviour but also demands that we submit to His rule over us. Then and only then, as we embrace him as Lord, can we have peace with God and an internal peace that passes all human understanding. May it be so in your life and in mine!
Christ the Perfect One DOES love imperfect people but He loves them so much that He will not leave them as they are! He wants them to have the joy and freedom of becoming more like Him!
F. F. Bruce, “Paul: Apostle of the Free Spirit” (Milton Keynes, UK: Paternoster, 1977), 413, 414.
[dynamoō; δυναμόω] to strengthen
[dynamis; δύναμις] strength, power
[kratos; κράτος], might, dominion
[hikanoō; ἱκανόω] qualify, to enable, to make sufficient, to render fit
[rhyomai; ῥύομαι] to rescue or deliver
[ἐξουσία exousia] authority, delegated power, domain
[methistēmi; μεθίστημι] to carry away, remove, transfer
[basileia; βασιλεία] royal power, kingship, dominion, rule. It is Christ’s kingdom.
[apolytrōsis; ἀπολύτρωσις] redemption, deliverance, liberation procured by the payment of a ransom.
[aphesis; ἄφεσις] from [aphiēmi] meaning to let go, release, forgive. Thus remission, forgiveness, deliverance, liberty. Set free from sin.
[eikōn; εἰκών] an image, figure, likeness. Christ is the exact image or representation of God.
[prōtotokos; πρωτοτόκος] firstborn.
thrones [thronos; θρόνος] the seat of one in power, or in a position of authority.
dominions [kyriotēs; κυριότης] powers, governments, rulers.
[archē; ἀρχή] first or chief in order of time, place, or rank.
[exousia; ἐξουσία] all those with delegated authority.
Blog No.425 posted on Tuesday 13 September 2022