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.

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 invisible God.

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