THE BOOK OF COLOSSIANS
Delivered by Redemption
Colossians 1:13-17 SCC 2/19/12
WE NOW SHARE LIFE IN CHRIST’S NEW REALM 13-14
This realm belongs to the Son God loves 13
First, He delivered us:
In order to get into this realm we were rescued from another realm. That realm is classified as the domain of darkness. This realm is one characterized by a ruling principle of darkness before our conversion to Christ. Darkness in Scripture is symbolic of ignorance, falsehood, delusion, sin, and Satan. Power means ‘authority, power, or ruling power’. Here it refers to the dominion of Satan, which exercises control and tyranny over men and the world, a world blinded and controlled by Satan and sin. This is a deliverance that, as explained in the next blessing, severs us from the necessity of being under Satan’s domain and control by our transference into the Kingdom of God’s Son.
Second, He transferred us:
Now we have been removed from one domain and into another. This realm is the Son’s kingdom. One characterized by ‘the light’. This realm belongs to the Son who is the object of the Father’s love. This domain is described as a ‘kingdom’. So this is the realm in which the Son has dominion. This is the kingdom we have been transferred to. It is characterized as ‘light’ and ‘love’. The exact opposite of the one we were living in. Such transference means God's rule and personal care or provision for our lives.
This realm is one in which we share new life 14
First, in Him we have redemption:
So getting into this kingdom required a payment of a price. The Son is the One who made this payment. Of course, this is a reference to the work of Jesus Christ on the cross. It was there that he actually paid the price that completely released us from the clutches of the realm of darkness in which we lived and moved and had our being. A realm that condemned us to judgment.
Second, redemption was forgiveness of sin:
This explains the redemption. That is, we have been forgiven of sins. One great unavoidable fact faces mankind and its universal and inescapable sense of guilt. Thus, redemption means liberation because of a payment made. What we have here is Jesus doing for us and providing for us that which we could neither do nor provide for ourselves. Sin is something we have done against God. God paid our penalty for that by having His Son pay it as our sin substitute. He became guilty so we could be liberated, set free, forgiven, and transferred.
NB: It is very clear that all of this was the work of Jesus Christ alone. Christianity preserves this fact, which makes it the only authentic faith in existence. You cannot have Christ without the cross. There is no cheap version of Jesus.
IT IS GOD’S INTENTION FOR CHRIST TO BE PREEMINENT IN ALL THINGS 15-17
(1) Christ is the exact likeness and manifestation of God 15
First, He is the exact image or copy who shares in the perfect likeness of the invisible God. Christ is the perfect likeness of God. The very nature and character of God have been perfectly revealed in him. In him the invisible has become visible. To see what God is like, we must look at Jesus. There is a derived likeness. He possesses the attributes of deity as an exact copy. The Trinity is the only perfect relationship that exists in the universe. That is so because each person possesses the same divine attributes perfectly. Jesus also manifested that copy in His incarnation. While God was not capable of being seen, Jesus in His earthly flesh and ministry revealed God to us. Jesus even declared that, He who has seen me, has seen the Father (John 14:7-10).
Second, He is uniquely superior over all. The translation ‘the firstborn over all creation’ sounds like Christ is the first created being as part of creation. (1) It is inconsistent with the context (cf. vv. 16–17). He existed before all things. (2) It is inconsistent with the rest of the New Testament, which often affirms His uniqueness and responsibility for creation (John 1:3). (3) Two ideas give this phrase it’s meaning: He is the priority (before all) and sovereign (over all) in the context. His incarnation did not mean He never existed before nor did it mean he was inferior. Actually, His incarnation placed Him at the head of the class of all humanity since it stresses His pre-existence as God the Son in the Flesh, and His uniqueness, as both God and man. In terms of time, Jesus preceded creation. In terms of rank, He is sovereign over all creation. This is the meaning of ‘first-born’.
(2) Christ is the architect, contractor, and purpose of all creation 16
Jesus is sovereign because of His relation to creation. That relation is described in three ways:
1. All creation has meaning only in Christ. Three prepositions explain Jesus relation to creation. The first is in Him meaning that the Son is the place where the eternal plans and ideas of creation have their abode. He is the architect. The second is by Him acting as the builder and contractor of those plans. He actually created the universe. The third is for Him the creation belongs to Him and is to reflect His glory. So creation only has meaning as it is connected to Christ and recognized to reflect the glory that belongs to Him. History is moving toward a goal when the whole created universe will glorify Christ. He is the goal and purpose of creation. Evolution would take that away.
2. This includes heaven and earth. The all-encompassing scope of the Son’s creation is described in the words, all things (repeated twice for emphasis, once at the beginning and once at the end of this verse). But even this is expanded by the words, the things in the heavens and upon the earth, the things visible and invisible. Heaven corresponds to the invisible and on earth to things visible. This includes the creation of human beings and angelic beings. This includes their specific abodes, on earth and in heaven. Christ is Creator of all of it.
3. Christ’s authority is unrivaled. Then, the all-encompassing scope of Christ’s authority is expanded even further by the inclusion of thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, which are references to the invisible world of angels, both good and evil. The terms thrones, powers, rulers, and authorities show that in the angelic or spirit world there is a highly organized dominion. Later in this epistle, false teachers were attempting to influence some of the Colossians to engage in the worship of angels (Col. 2:18), but the apostle declares that Christ reigns supreme over all of them (Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; Phil. 2:9-10; Col. 2:10, 15). Angels, at least the good angels, are ministering spirits, sent out by the Lord to render service to the body of Christ (Heb. 1:14), but they are never to be made preeminent or worshipped in any way as in prayer or in seeking guidance from angels (Rev. 19:10; 22:8).
(3) Christ is the Sustainer of all creation 17. Christ sustains all things for two reasons:
1. Christ is clearly separated from every created entity. He has the force of He and no other. This assertion, combined with the earlier one that He is the first-born of all creation proves that Christ is no creature. If He were, He would have had to create Himself. To do that He would have had to exist before He existed, which is absurd and impossible.
2. Christ is the Person who preserves and maintains the existence of what He has created. He is the principle of cohesion in the universe. He impresses upon creation that unity and solidarity which makes it a cosmos instead of a chaos. Every law of science and of nature is, in fact, an expression of the thought of God. It is by these laws, and therefore by the mind of God, that the universe hangs together, and does not disintegrate in chaos. So the thought passes from creation to preservation.
NB: Christ created all and is above all. Give your worship and devotion to Him alone. There is no other name under heaven by which we must be saved. Creation is for Christ. All things are in Him.