Preeminence of Christ (pt 1)

July 14, 2019 Speaker: Scott Burdett Series: Colossians

Topic: Preeminence of Christ, Deity of Christ Passage: Colossians 1:15–20








The Bible is a book about Jesus Christ.  The OT anticipates His first advent or first coming.  The Gospels present Christ as God in human flesh to enter this world to save sinners.  Acts presents Christ as the message of the Gospel that was central in the expansion of the church. Letters or epistles, such as this letter to the Colossians, was used to edify the church and detail the theology of Christ and His central role in the Church.  And lastly, Revelation details Christ as the King of kings and Lord of lords.


Every aspect of the Bible points to Jesus Christ in some form or fashion.  If you were to remove Christ from the Bible, there would be no need for the book.


As stated last week, Colossians is a letter that can stand on its own when addressing the significance of Christ.  As we will see this morning, Paul removes any doubt over the purpose and identity of Christ.


There is a problem facing the Colossian church.  Heretics have entered the church and started to deny Christ’s humanity, and simply view Him a lesser spirit that originated from God.  They denied His deity, His eternal existence. They taught a philosophy called dualism, which emphasized that all matter was bad and spiritual things were good, therefore it was absurd to them that God would take on a human body which was composed of evil matter.


According to these teachings, Christ was simply inadequate for salvation.  Salvation came from a mystical and secret knowledge that need to be unlocked, not a salvation that was rooted in the Gospel of Christ.  They also emphasized the worship of angels and keeping Jewish ceremonial laws.  So after the typical Pauline greeting that we see in verses 1-3, and the thanksgiving and prayer that he expressed toward the Colossians in verses 3-14, Paul comes our swing and takes on this heresy.  In Chapter 2, Paul will address wrong teaching of their denial of Christ’s humanity, their teaching of angel worship and the emphasis of ceremonial laws.


But first, as we will see this morning, take on the heresy of the rejection of Christ’s deity.


& Colossians 1:15-20



  1. The Supreme Lord
    1. Over Creation (vv. 15-17)
    2. 15 – “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”


Christ is the image of the invisible. Paul uses the word, eikon, which involves two ideas of representation and manifestation.  Whether or not this word, eikon, is a perfect or full representation determines on the context it used.


For example, scripture tells us that Mankind was created in the image of God.  Just like God, we have a rational personality.  We have the ability to think, feel and make choices because, like God, we possess emotion, intellect and will.  However, our likeness of God ends there.  Because we are human, we are not divine, and we do not possess God’s divine attributes …we are not all-knowing, all-powerful or present everywhere.  We do not possess those divine attributes.


Also, we are also morally bankrupt and therefore in our fallen human nature, we are not free from sin, we are not holy, we are not perfect like God.  Therefore, in the context of our fallen nature, we are not the perfect or full representation of God.


Unlike man, Jesus Christ is the absolute perfect representation of God.  Christ did not become the image of God at his incarnation at his human birth, he was that way for all of eternity past.


Hebrews 1:3 describes Jesus as “the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”


Philippians 2:6 (which was read as our call to worship) tells us that Christ was the very form God.


Therefore, within context of how Scripture defines Christ, we know that He is the perfect and complete representation of God. To think anything less than this is simply blasphemy.



Christ is also “the firstborn of all creation.”  What does that mean?  The original meaning for our translated word “firstborn” implies ranking or importance over chronology.  If you have a copy of the NIV or NKJ, it reads “over all creation.”  This probably a better translation.  What Paul is saying here is that Christ is completely supreme overall creation. 


In verse 16, Paul goes on to reinforce the idea that Christ is the firstborn, or prominent figure over all of creation



& v. 16 (reasoning) – “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.”


Paul continues his reasoning that not only that Christ is prominent over all of creation, but creation owes its existence to Christ.


The opening verses of the Gospel of John emphasizes this:

“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.” [1] (John 1:1-5)


Clearly Scripture is consistent in Christ’s prominence over creation and the reason the creation even exists.  And it does not matter if it is the heavenly creation or the earthly creation, the visible creation or the invisible creation, Christ is still prominent, Christ is Lord over creation.


In the middle of verse 16, Paul lists four terms:  thrones, dominions, rulers, authorities.  There is some debate among commentators whether or not these four terms refer to human or spiritual, or both.  While we can safely say that Christ has authority over both human and spiritual thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities, but it appears that Paul is directing that language toward the angelic realms as he will address the angelic realm in the next chapter or two from now.



Paul affirms again - & v. 17 (affirmation):  And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.[2]


Not only does Paul affirms Christ’s Lordship over Creation, but he affirms Christ as Lord Over the Church




  1. Over the Church (v. 18-20)

& (vv. 18)  And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 


The one is who is lauded as Lord of Creation is recognized as Lord of the Church…or Lord of a new creation.  Romans refers Christ as a new or second Adam who restores that which is broken and reigns over His body, the church.


Paul also refers to Christ as the beginning.  The origin of the church rests in Christ.  New life for the believer comes from Christ.  It is Christ who gives life to His church.  It is through his sacrifice and death that we have new life.  Just as life through creation originates from Christ, so does the new life in Christ.  As the head of the church, Christ holds the high rank in the church.  He is its originator.


In verse 18, we also see that Christ is the firstborn from the dead. We saw this word “firstborn” in verse 15, where it meant first in rank, and here it means the same thing. Paul was not saying that Jesus was the first person to be raised from the dead, for he was not. However, he was the most important of all who have been raised from the dead, because without his resurrection there could be no resurrection for others. Christ chose to enter his own creation, take on a body created and sustained by his power, die, and then undergo resurrection and so be “the firstborn from among the dead”—and first in rank in salvation.  He was preeminent over all things. He is Lord over all things.


Lastly, & v. 19, 20 - For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. [3]



We have seen that Christ as first-place, or highest rank over all of creation and the church.  He is the Supreme Lord.  It is through Christ, the fullness of God, the reconciliation will take place.  This reconciliation is universal, meaning, not only is reconciliation made to humanity, but creation as well.


&  Romans 8:19-23 - For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God. 20 For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. [4]



We see in elaborate language, Paul describing that creation longs to see all of creation restored at the consummation. The entire creation suffered from the effects of the fall, coming under bondage to corruption, but with fallen humanity, creation will also experience the benefits of redemption. So humanity and the creation stand together as they await the glorious redemption and renewal promised by God. The consummation will bring a new garden of Eden, where all will be even more wonderful than it was initially.[5]


[Back to Col 1:19-20] - For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. [6]


How does reconciliation for all things come about?  Through peace offered by the blood of the cross.


God was pleased to reconcile all things to himself through Christ. There existed a need for restitution between the Creator and creation.  This division was due to the human rebellion against God. The divine solution to the human predicament was to turn a Roman cross as a means of execution into an implement of peace. Jesus, the Prince of Peace, has effected peace between God and humanity through his bloody and sacrificial death on the cross. Christ “gave himself as a ransom for all people” and is the “mediator between God and human beings”. Where spiritual disconnect exist, Christ comes to bring peace and reign in peace.


The scope of God’s reconciling work in Christ is universal. The proclamation and reception of the gospel are the means through which people are reunited with God. Those who embrace God’s grace through Christ and the gospel are reconciled to God.  Those who choose not to do so remain estranged from God and stand outside the realm of his salvation.


Why does this matter.  Without the proper view of Christ, his Lordship overall of creation and the church, there is no gospel.  Without Jesus Christ, the absolute perfect representation of God, who was willing to be executed in order to bring peace to humanity, there is no good news.  No Jesus Christ, no gospel.


What we have looked at this morning is the very heart of the gospel.  Without it, there is no hope.  Next week we will look at the hope of the gospel as seen through Our Sufficient Savior.



(Next Week:  Our Sufficient Savior – vv.21-23)










  1. The Supreme Lord
    1. _________________________ (vv. 15-17)













  1. _________________________ (v. 18-20)














(Next Week:  Part 2:  Our Sufficient Savior – vv.21-23)



[1] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Jn 1:1–5). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 1:17). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 1:18–20). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[4] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Ro 8:19–23). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

[5] Harrison, E. F., & Hagner, D. A. (2008). Romans. In T. Longman III &. Garland, David E. (Ed.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Romans–Galatians (Revised Edition) (Vol. 11, p. 138). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.

[6] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. (2016). (Col 1:19–20). Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles.

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