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.
Sunday, 8 March 2015
Colossians 1:15 - Jesus shows God to us (Col. 1:15)
In the closing section of his prayer for the
Colossians (Col. 1:13), Paul had mentioned that they were members of the
kingdom of Jesus. This may have led him to focus on the greatness of Jesus,
which is described through his relationship with his Father, with the created
universe, and with his church (Col. 1:15ff). The desired outcome for the
Colossians is that they would grow in their appreciation of the dignity and
majesty of their King.
The first aspect identified by Paul of the greatness
of Jesus is that he is the image of the invisible God. This description of God
is a reference to his essential nature. Our first response to such statements
may be, ‘There are several occasions in the Old Testament where individuals met
with God. Abraham, Job and Isaiah saw God, spoke with him and heard his words.’
The explanation of these encounters is that God took on a temporary form in
order to meet with them, usually in a form that was human in appearance (each
is called a theophany). But they did not see God in his essence.
The word ‘image’ indicates that in Jesus we can see
everything about God. Of course, Jesus claimed this for himself when he said
that anyone who had seen him had seen the Father (John 14:9). God has revealed
himself partially in other ways: his invisible attributes have been shown in
creation (Rom. 1:20) and in the theophanies of the Old Testament. But in Jesus,
who is fully divine, God is revealed fully. This does not mean that Jesus is
like God in a physical way; instead it means that he possesses all the
attributes, abilities and aims of God.
Paul is also saying that Jesus is the only
revealer of God. It is possible that the church in Colosse was affected by a
false teaching that diminished the uniqueness of Jesus and suggested that
others could also reveal God. There is only one Person who can truly reveal God
and that is his eternal Son.
Further, Jesus is the permanent revealer of
God. He does not only exclusively reveal God to us in this life, he will also
be the One through whom his redeemed people will discover truths about God in
the eternal ages ahead. And he will reveal God to them personally and
corporately for ever.
So Jesus is great as the perfect image of the