Who are we?

In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Monday, 9 March 2015

Colossians 1:15-17 – Everything belongs to Jesus

Paul in this verse also calls Jesus by the title ‘firstborn of all creation’. Jehovah Witnesses use this title to argue that Jesus is the first of the creatures, that ‘firstborn’ points to him having a beginning. Their idea is not new – it is an ancient heresy connected to the Arians whose ideas caused problems in the early church. Of course, we only have to read the next line which says that the Son created all things to see their error. Since he is the cause of all created things, he himself cannot be a creature.
The correct way of understanding ‘firstborn’ is to realise that it is a title that indicates pre-eminence. It is a name that reveals sovereignty and rule. Paul is saying that the Son of God rules over all the universe. In what ways does he do so?
First, the Son of God brought all things into being. When we stop and consider all the details that are found within the universe, and then realise that the One who conceived them all was the Son of God, we should automatically bow down and worship him. We are familiar with persons who design a house or a street or a town. Plans have to drawn up, obstacles have to be recognised, and everything has to be calculated to work together. It takes me all my time to get my study into a coherent arrangement, and I admire those who can design large houses, parks, palaces and even entire cities. But what are these achievements in comparison to what the Son of God put together when he made the universe! He is the architect of it all.
Paul also points out that the Son of God maintains authority over his entire creation. The apostle mentions four levels of authority in verse 16 (thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities). These powers refer to those with authority in heaven and in earth, a reminder that Jesus is superior to angelic and human power structures. The powers may be friendly (good angels), hostile (demons and some human rulers), or ambivalent (some human powers), but they are all under the control of the Son of God.
A third aspect of creation that Paul mentions is that all of it exists for the Son of God. This means that every single thing in the universe – whether visible or invisible, whether in the heavens or on earth, whether angels or humans or lower creatures – was created for the pleasure of Jesus. Understanding this should cause us to marvel at the centrality of the Son. He is the reason for the existence of all things. Everything eventually will be seen to have contributed to his glory, whether his grace, or his justice, or his wisdom, or his power.

Paul mentions a fourth feature of the Son’s involvement in the universe, and that is, he holds it all together. Why does the cosmos not fall apart? The Son of God has and is maintaining it all in existence. The reason why the solar system keeps on functioning is only because of the Son of God’s activity. Jesus pointed to this in John 5:17 when he reminded his audience that since creation his Father had been working, and that he had been working as well.

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