08 LORDSHIP Colossians 1:13-28Philippians and Colossians – Joyful Living in Christ
All written materials for this series will be posted on this website, http://servingandsharing.com/, under the category, “Philippians and Colossians – Joyful Living in Christ.” Here is my video presentation introducing this series – https://youtu.be/VBg_Wdyu104. The video of this specific class presentation, as well as all the others in this series, will be posted to this YouTube playlist as they are recorded – Faith Builders Class: Philippians, Colossians: Joyful Living in Christ – YouTube. Please use the “Contact” button to request corresponding handouts and outlines.
Please forward this post to others that you think would benefit from this study and invite them to subscribe.
08 LORDSHIP Colossians 1:13-28
We are who we are, and we do what we do, because of who Jesus Christ is and what he has done and continues to do. In other words, the person and work of Christ are the basis for our own identity and purpose as those who are in him. As you study this text, write down in one column “Who He Is,” in a second column, “What He Does,” and in a third column, “Therefore I Will.”
After praying with thanks, Paul describes the reasons for all saints to give thanks. The Father qualified us to share in his light, rescued us from the power of darkness, and transferred us into the kingdom of his dear Son. How could we not be grateful and therefore effective and fruitful in living to his glory?
But just who is this Son? What rank or position does he hold? How does his position compare with all of creation, all people, all things, all spiritual and physical forces? What is his role in the church?
Also, what difference does he make in our lives? Can he deal with our two greatest issues, sin and death? What about connecting us with himself, though we were enemies estranged from him, hostile and evil in our thoughts and deeds?
Col 1:13-14 Jesus Christ: Location of All Blessings
Redemption – purchased off the slave auction bock by his priceless, precious blood.
Forgiveness – release, remission, or pardon for our sins. Forgiveness is related to redemption in the sense that it was sin to which we were slaves. When Christ removed our sins, he paid our debt and cut us loose from our chains and our bondage to sin.
Review the following Scriptures and note what is ours “in Christ.”
John 16:33; Rom 8:1; Eph 1:3-14; 2 Cor 5:7; 2 Tim 2:2; 1 Jn 5:11; Rev 14:13
By contrast Eph 2:1-12 describes being out of Christ as being dead, deserving God’s wrath, being without God’s promises, without hope, and “in the world.”
Col 1:15 Jesus Christ: God Made Visible
One may “see” God, though he is invisible, by seeing Jesus Christ as God in the flesh, as the visible image and exact representation of God. Lest one think that “image” means only a facsimile or picture of deity, note what Paul goes on to say about Christ in this same letter.
Col 1:19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him …
Col 2:9 For in [Christ] all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form …
We read this same truth in the gospel of John.
Jn 1:18 No one has seen God at any time; the only God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.
Jesus said it himself when questioned by Philip.
Jn 14:8 Philip said to [Jesus], “Lord, show us the Father, and it is enough for us.” 9 Jesus said to him, “Have I been so long with you, and yet you have not come to know Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; how can you say, ‘Show us the Father’?
The letter to the Hebrews also emphasizes the full deity of Christ.
Heb 1:3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and he upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high …
In light of this, the phrase “firstborn of all creation” cannot mean that Jesus is himself a creature, created earlier than all others and therefore superior to them. That ancient error originated with Arius in the fourth century. He proposed that God created Jesus as his son or as the highest angel. Arianism today is taught most emphatically by the cult known as “Jehovah’s Witnesses.”
This heresy is nullified by the very next verse. Christ is the “firstborn,” not because he is a creature, but because he is the creator of all! “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him” (Col 1:16).
The “Jehovah’s Witnesses” attempt to counter the obvious meaning of Col 1:16 and inject Arianism into it by inserting the word “other” no less than four times. Their “Bible,” the New World Translation, reads:
Col 1:16 For by Him all other things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all other things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all other things, and in Him all other things hold together.
The word “firstborn” in Scripture can mean first in rank or supreme. Such is the meaning in Ex 4:22 and Jer 31:9, where Yahweh calls Israel (or Ephraim) his “firstborn” son. Likewise, in Ps 89:27 he says regarding King David, “I also shall make him My firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth.”
For further confirmation, note that in Col 1:18 Christ is “the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.” He was not the first to be raised from death, but he was and is the supreme one resurrected.
Col 1:16-17 Jesus Christ: Source and Sustainer of All Creation
Scripture often asserts that Jesus Christ is the divine creator of all that exists.
Jn 1:1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. 2 He was in the beginning with God. 3 All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.
Heb 1:8 But of the Son [God] says, “Your throne, O God, is forever and ever, the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. 9 You have loved righteousness and hated wickedness; therefore God, your God, has anointed you with the oil of gladness beyond your companions.” 10 And, “You, Lord, laid the foundation of the earth in the beginning, and the heavens are the work of your hands; 11 they will perish, but you remain; they will all wear out like a garment, 12 like a robe you will roll them up, like a garment they will be changed. But you are the same, and your years will have no end.”
Our text declares that all things were created by him (as the cause), through him (as the means), and even for him (as the aim). He is both the subject of creation and the object of creation.
It’s not just the physical universe that is involved. Christ brought into being all things “both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” The unseen forces, the agents of power, those who appear to rule – it is he who rules them, because they would not exist without his creation.
He preexisted it all. He made it all. He holds it all together.
Col 1:18 Jesus Christ: Supreme Head of the Church and All Else
Of course, what is said of all creation is also true of the Lord’s church. He created it, and he directs it as one’s head directs one’s body. The church was fashioned by him, through him, and for him.
Mt 16:18 “… on this rock I will build my church …”
Eph 1:19 [that you may know] what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might 20 which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places, 21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet and gave Him as head over all things to the church, 23 which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.
Eph 4:15 … but speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in all aspects into Him who is the head, even Christ, 16 from whom the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.
Eph 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, as Christ also is the head of the church, He Himself being the Savior of the body.
“The beginning,” reminiscent of Gen 1:1 and Jn 1:1, indicates that Christ eternally preexisted all things.
“Firstborn from the dead,” as noted above, implies that he is the prototype, the key to the resurrection of all.
1 Co 15:20 But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep.
“First place in everything” includes, well, everything. To make it personal, I acknowledge that Jesus Christ is sovereign over my life, my marriage, my finances, my time, my decisions, and every other segment of my life.
Abraham Kuyper is famously quoted as saying, “There is not a square inch in the whole domain of our human existence over which Christ, who is Sovereign over all, does not cry, Mine!”
Col 1:19-23 Jesus Christ: Reconciler of All Things
Note the “for.” Christ has first place, for (because) it pleased the Father that all the fullness – all the fullness – would dwell in him. In addition, it pleased the Father (satisfied his justice and wrath) to provide reconciliation through him.
As is evident throughout the New Testament, “reconcile all things” cannot mean universal salvation for all people. As one of my mentors used to say, the death of Christ is sufficient to save all people, but it only becomes efficient for those who respond to the gospel biblically. Paul made this clear to the Corinthians as well.
2 Co 5:19 … namely, that in Christ God was reconciling the world to Himself, not counting their trespasses against them [sufficient for all], and He has committed to us the word of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were making an appeal through us; we beg you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God [efficient for those who respond].
1 Tim 4:10 refers to the living God, who is the Savior of all men, especially of believers.
Paul further describes the nature of Christ’s work of reconciliation by noting that he “made peace through the blood of His cross” and then “in his fleshly body through death.” Only by Jesus Christ, not by oneself or any other, can a sinner be reconciled to God. Only through the cross (his blood, his flesh, his death), not by another other means, can one who is lost become right with our holy, just, awesome God.
It is Jesus Christ alone who can present us before the throne as “holy, blameless, and beyond reproach.” Therefore, we must resist any notion suggesting that human effort can earn such status. At the same time, if we are faithful in Christ, we must fully enjoy blessed assurance, the security that is ours.
When a Christian says, “I’m not sure that I’m saved!” we must ask, “Do you believe that Jesus Christ as able to present you holy, blameless, and beyond reproach? Or are you to some extent implying that you think you are the one expected to do that? Since you are not perfect, but you are faithful, can you accept the truth, the promise of God, and live with blessed assurance?”
Note the “if” in Col 1:23. It is vital. Must the child of God, though saved by the cross, still keep the faith? Absolutely. Though we cannot save ourselves, we must continue to trust the only one who can. If we abandon that faith, or refuse to live by that faith, we will lose our reconciled status.
1:23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister. if they discontinue their faith and move away from their hope (Col 1:23).
How can so many in the denominational and community-church world miss this? How can they claim, “once saved, always saved?” How can they deny that one who denies the faith (refuses to be faithful) destroys one’s link to the saving grace of God?
An example of this false teaching comes from William MacDonald in the Believer’s Bible Commentary. He writes, “… true faith always has the quality of permanence, and that one who has really been born of God will go on faithfully to the end. Continuance is a proof of reality. Of course, there is always the danger of backsliding, but a Christian falls only to rise again (Prov. 24:16). He does not forsake the faith.”
In other words, he is saying, “If you have genuine faith, you cannot lose it. If you lose it, you never had it!” Such circular thinking can be seen in commentaries on multiple passages that warn of the loss of one’s salvation.
The root of it all is the Calvinistic belief that faith is a gift of God and has nothing to do with one’s personal willingness to have faith. Since God predetermined to give one person faith (but not most people), it is unthinkable that his eternal decree to save that person could be thwarted. Therefore, no one who has real, God-given faith can ultimately leave it!
Col 1:24-28 Jesus Christ: Worthy Object of Full Devotion
Suffering for Christ and for his body, the church, was a joy – yes, a joy – to Paul.
Php 3:10 … that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death …
2 Co 4:8 we are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; 9 persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed; 10 always carrying about in the body the dying of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our body. 11 For we who live are constantly being delivered over to death for Jesus’ sake, so that the life of Jesus also may be manifested in our mortal flesh.
Though Christ’s suffering alone is sufficient to save, Paul recognized that there was more suffering to be experienced for the sake of the gospel. Only in this sense was Christ’s suffering “lacking” and needing to be “filled up.” It is the same for us. Instead of thinking, “Jesus paid it all; therefore, there is no sacrifice required of me,” we shall say, “Christ gave his life for the church, his body. I will gladly do the same. He suffered for me; I will suffer for him.”
As Thomas Shepherd wrote in 1693, “Must Jesus bear the cross alone and all the world go free? No, there’s a cross for ev’ry one, and there’s a cross for me. The consecrated cross I’ll bear ‘til death shall set me free, and then go home my crown to wear, for there’s a crown for me.”
We hear often today of personal “mission statements.” We may become confused regarding mission, vision, and purpose. However, in Col 1:28 Paul declares the following regarding himself and those with him:
Col 1:28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.
Oh, that that might be the mission, vision, and purpose of every child of God!
That leads to the question, “What is it worth to you to fulfill that mission?” Here it is:
Col 1:29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.
“Labor” renders a word that connotes toiling and working to the point of exhaustion. “Striving” translates the word from which we derive “agonizing.” It refers to the exertion necessary in an agon, that is, a race, a battle, or a contest.