“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.” (Colossians 1:16, ESV)
Paul wrote his letter to the Colossian church to combat heretical teaching that was going on in the day. It is difficult to determine the exact nature of the “Colossian Heresy,” but from the overall tone of the letter we can be certain that it diminished the person of Jesus.
It was most dangerous because it did not directly attack or deny Jesus; rather, it was a combination of Judaism and paganism that wore a mask of Christianity. “It did not deny Christ, but it did dethrone him; it gave Christ a place, but not the supreme place.”1 So Paul’s emphasis in the letter is the person and work of Christ.
In the larger context of our memory verse, Paul declares the supremacy of Christ. In verse 15 Jesus is the express image of God—the nature and being of God are perfectly revealed in him. In verse 18 he is the head of the church, the source of its very existence. In verse 16 (and 17) Jesus is the Creator of all things. This echoes what was written in John 1:2-3: nothing exists apart from Jesus. Jesus did not come into existence at his incarnation. He is before everything in creation both in time and authority.
Three phrases in verse 16 teach us much about the supremacy of Jesus:
- All things were created by him. It was by the word of God’s power and in the sphere of his sovereign authority that the creation came into existence. Nothing of this process was left to chance but is a result of his creative will. All things, therefore, are under the authority of Christ alone.
- All things were created through him. He is the agent or the mediator of creation. The same idea is carried in the truth that we are redeemed through Christ. He is the one through whom this is accomplished.
- All things were created for him. He is the end of all things. Vaughn says, “He is the end for which all things exist, the goal toward whom all things were intended to move.”2
The world tries to give lip service to Jesus by tipping the hat to him as a great prophet and moral example. But nothing less than absolute submission will do, for we exist by him, through him, and for him. Bow before him today in repentance, faith, and worship.
1 Vaughn, Curtis, Colossians and Philemon (Cape Coral, FL:Founders Press, 2016), 13
2 Ibid., p. 40