Studying Colossians – The Preeminence of Christ
In these next few weeks we will continue studying the book of Colossians from the Bible. Colossians is a letter written by Saint Paul to the Colossian Church. The new Christians in the Colossian Church were excited about their newfound faith and were eager to follow Christ.
But then, false teachers found their way into the Colossian Church and started teaching lies and heresies. These false teachers were teaching that Jesus Christ was just a great man and a nice example to follow, but not the Son of God or our Savior. The new Christians in Colossae listened to these false teachers and were becoming confused about their faith in Christ. So, when Paul hears about this, he doesn’t stop praying for these beloved Colossians as well as writing them this letter. Today we will read more of Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church. Here it is: (Colossians 1:15-23)
“Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him (Jesus) all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether throne or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.” (Colossians 1:15-18)
“For it pleased the Father that in Him (Jesus) all the fullness should dwell. And by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” (Colossians 1:19-20) “
And you who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and blameless, and above reproach in His sight. If indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.” (Colossians 1:21-23)
When Paul realizes the Colossian Christians’ faith in Christ was being attacked, he writes his letter reminding them of the basic message of Christianity: - That Jesus Christ is God in the flesh. That He created and sustains the whole universe. That all things were made through Christ and for Christ. (verse 16) And as the Savior of the world, He is all our souls will ever need.
In the Scripture reading today, the term “firstborn” is used to describe Jesus. (Colossians 1:15) Bible scholars say that word “firstborn” does not refer to time, but to place or status. Jesus Christ was not the first being created, since He was never created. He is the Creator of all things. “Firstborn” simply means “of first importance, of first rank.”
Scripture tells us that Jesus is God the Son and is the Alpha and the Omega – the beginning and the end. (Revelation 22:13) One of the names for Jesus is the “Word”. Here we read: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through Him al things were made: without Him nothing was made that has been made. In Him was life, and that life was the light of humans. The light shines in the darkness, but the darkness has not understood it. (John 1:1-5) “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen His glory, the glory of the One and Only, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.” (John 1:14)
We also read in Paul’s letter to the Colossians that in Him (Jesus) all things hold together. (Colossians 1:17) A guide took a group of people through an atomic laboratory and explained how all matter was composed of rapidly moving electric particles. The tourist studied models of molecules and were amazed to learn that matter is made up primarily of space. During the question period, one visitor asked, “If this is the way matter works, what holds it all together?” For that, the guide had no answer. But the Christian has an answer: Jesus Christ! Jesus is also the glue that holds our faith together. (Hebrews 12:2)
Because our belief in Christ as our Lord and Savior is the very center of our Christian faith, the false teachers in Colossae, like the false teachers of our own day, will first attack who Jesus is. False teachers will always deny the importance of Jesus Christ. They will simply dethrone Him and deny that He died for our sins. They will play games with who He is. Clump Him in with Moses, Elijah, Buddha, Muhammad or Confucius as one of many religious teachers. But they will turn over heaven and hell to keep you from believing that Jesus Christ is Son of God and Savior. And that He bled and died for your sins.
The false teachers back then were trying to undermine the Colossians faith in Christ as Savior and Lord, as false teachers are trying to undermine our faith in Christ today. The Colossian church was fighting a spiritual battle. And so are we. As believers of Jesus as our Savior and Lord, we will be attacked! We must be on guard and ready to fight to protect our faith and that of others. It is a matter of life and death spiritually!
Scripture tells us to pray constantly and to put on the armor of God so that we can fight this on-going spiritual battle. God gives us our armor to fight with, which includes the belt of truth, the breastplate of righteousness, the shield of faith, along with the helmet of salvation. We fight with the sword of the Spirit, which is the Word of God. Also, we are given (by God) shoes fitted with the readiness to run with the gospel of peace. (Ephesians 6:10-18)
Paul knew that if the Colossians could see who Jesus really is, they would stop listening to these false teacher’s lies. One look at the real Jesus will do that. Our faith in Christ is our life and truth and salvation. Believing in Christ as our Lord and Savior is the most important decision we can ever make! Of course, Satan is going to try to take that away from us. We are warned about this in the Scriptures we read today, - Colossians 1:22-23.
Once I was talking to a young man who didn’t believe that Jesus could possibly rise from the dead or forgive our sins or give us salvation. He said that he was too intelligent to believe all of that. He believed that Jesus was just another famous religious leader, one of many. When I read him the Scriptures that proclaim that Jesus is the Son of God, Creator and Savior, the eyes of his spirit were opened! Finally, when he saw Jesus for who He really is, this young man was able to believe in Christ as his Savior and Lord. He is active in his Christian church today and his life has been forever changed. It was a wonderful thing to watch.
Paul’s teaching about Christ being God the Son, our Savior and Lord, lay a foundation for the new Christians in Colossae to battle false doctrines. And remembering who Jesus Christ really is, can shield us from Satan’s fiery darts of doubt and unbelief. And from being blinded by the lies of the enemy.
The new Colossian Christians had first believed in Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord. But then the false teachers came with their “knowledge”. Soon their eyes became dim and they could no longer see their Jesus, their Rock and their Redeemer! The false teachers were giving them a counterfeit watered down Jesus to believe in and the Colossians were losing their way. They were being tempted to give up their Christian faith.
Scripture says that we need to constantly watch and pray that we are not tempted to forget who Jesus is. That our eyes do not become dim and we no longer see the Light of Life. We need to hold onto Jesus, the Cornerstone of our faith. Stay true to Him and never run after the counterfeits. We need to study the Scriptures and believe the truths we find there, - the truth that Jesus Christ is Preeminent. Open our eyes Lord, we want to see Jesus!
Some of the ideas in this blog were taken from Max Lucado’s book, “Colossians and Philemon” and from the Wiersbe Bible Study Series.