OceanSide church of Christ
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The Preeminence of Christ
Text: Col 1:15-18
Thesis: to show Christ’s preeminence in the physical and spiritual creation.
1. Colosse was located in a region of Asia Minor called Phrygia (dry, barren). It was bordered by Bithynia, Galatia, Lycaonia, Pisidia, Lydia, Mysia. Nearby cities in Phrygia, Laodicea and Hierapolis. 100 miles east of Ephesus. Most date the book around 61-62AD, written by Paul from his Roman cell, along with 3 other letters: Ephesians, Philippians & Philemon.
2. 3 times, Paul identifies himself as the author.
A. Col 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
B. Col 1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
C. Col 4:18 The salutation by the hand of me Paul.
3. It was written to “saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse” (Col. 1:2).
4. Chapters 1 & 2 stress the preeminence (supremacy of Christ); chapters 3 & 4 stress submission to Christ.
5. There was taught that which is known as the “Colossian Heresy.”
A. Jews all throughout the history of time had been allowing the Gentile or pagan world to influence them (Acts 13:6; 19:13-14). So here, we have a combination of human wisdom, the speculation of philosophy and the mysticism of some of those in the Gentile world mixed with some of the Judaistic principles (altogether different from the Gentiles) from the Pharisees and others like in Galatians insisting that the Gentiles be circumcised and keep the law.
B. Those who through human speculation and philosophies were teaching things contrary to the nature of God and the nature of Christ.
i. Col 2:8-9 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (9) For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
C. Because of this philosophy, they thought that they had to go to God through angels.
i. Col 2:18 Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,
· This heresy was the early stages of “Gnosticism,” an error that grew and developed over several years, and which necessitated a strong denunciation which was the burden of 1 John.
o“Gnosticism” is from the Greek word gnosis, a term meaning “knowledge.” “The very term itself thus claims for its devotees superior knowledge in matters beyond the range of mere human observation....as later set forth in fully developed Gnosticism “ (Warren, New Testament Survey, pp.180f).
oThe Docetic Gnostics denied the actual humanity of Christ; they regarded all flesh as inherently sinful, thus decreed it would have been impossible for Christ, who was sinless, to abide in a sinful body of flesh. They argued that the body of Jesus was not real, but an illusion and that he only appeared to suffer on the cross.
oThe Cerinthian Gnostics attempted to distinguish between Christ and Jesus; they claimed that Jesus was the offspring of Joseph and Mary, and that Christ descended upon Jesus at his baptism and left him on the cross.
· Gnosticism of either kind is evil for at least two reasons.
oIt denies the Incarnation of Christ, a truth that is basic to Christianity. John 3:16; 1:1-3,14; Luke 24:39; 1 John 1:1ff.
oIt assumes that flesh is inherently evil, which contradicts the basic Bible truth that everyone enters the world free of the guilt of sin. Ezekiel 18:20; 28:15; Matthew 18:3; 19:14.
· Gnostics argued that the body is always evil and that the spirit was independent of the body, and thus could not be contaminated by the body, regardless of what the body did. In their view, when one was regenerated, he was pure in the spirit, and it did not matter what the body did (it was always evil anyway), the spirit remained pure.
o“This view is much the same as that upheld by some modern day theologians who contend that a child of God (the soul) cannot sin but that the body can sin” (Warren, New Testament Survey, p.183).
o“They lived lives of unrestrained indulgence, on the ground that a jewel might lie in a dunghill and be just as much of a gem as in the most costly case! They believed that it was inevitable that their bodies should sin, and they argued that a thorough understanding of these matters left them free to indulge in any course of action which they preferred” (Guy N. Woods, Commentary on 1 Peter - 3 John, p.205).
D. In order to refute this heresy, Paul is going to show the preeminence of Christ in the creation of the world.
6. The apostle Paul will also show that Christ is to have preeminence in all things.
A. Specifically, in the church.
B. In application, in our lives.
7. So, the letter to the church at Colosse tells us the place that Christ ought to have in our thinking, living, praying, and in our expectations as far as the future is concerned.
8. In this lesson, we will show forth Christ’s relationship to both the physical creation as well as the spiritual creation.
I. CHRIST’S RELATIONSHIP TO PHYSICAL CREATION (1:15-17)
A. Who is the image of the invisible God (15a)
1. Image = icon (the complete expression or representation of God)
2. Williams says, “the exact likeness” of God
a. John 1:18 No man hath seen God at any time; the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.
b. John 14:9 Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?
3. He is the image of the Father, and He is Deity himself.
a. Heb 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;
b. 2Cor 4:4-6 In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them. (5) For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus' sake. (6) For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
c. 1John 1:1-3 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we have seen with our eyes, which we have looked upon, and our hands have handled, of the Word of life; (2) (For the life was manifested, and we have seen it, and bear witness, and shew unto you that eternal life, which was with the Father, and was manifested unto us;) (3) That which we have seen and heard declare we unto you, that ye also may have fellowship with us: and truly our fellowship is with the Father, and with his Son Jesus Christ.
d. Exo 33:19-23 And he said, I will make all my goodness pass before thee, and I will proclaim the name of the LORD before thee; and will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and will shew mercy on whom I will shew mercy. (20) And he said, Thou canst not see my face: for there shall no man see me, and live. (21) And the LORD said, Behold, there is a place by me, and thou shalt stand upon a rock: (22) And it shall come to pass, while my glory passeth by, that I will put thee in a clift of the rock, and will cover thee with my hand while I pass by: (23) And I will take away mine hand, and thou shalt see my back parts: but my face shall not be seen.
4. He is the very essence of God. He has His nature, and that is what Jesus claimed.
B. the firstborn of every creature (15b)
1. He was Deity in the flesh.
a. JWs try to use this “firstborn” to say that Christ was a created being and that he was the first one that God created, and thereby, they deny the Deity of Christ.
b. Others also take that position, but “the firstborn” does not necessarily mean that God brought him into being.
2. The word “firstborn” carries with it the idea of RANK rather than simply the matter of beginning.
3. Williams NT renders it like this: “He is the exact likeness of the unseen God, His first-born Son who existed before any created thing,” (Col. 1:15 WNT)
4. The New English Bible renders the verse like this: “His is the primacy over all created things.”
5. In the Old Testament, the firstborn enjoyed the chief blessings.
a. Christ then, as being “the firstborn” in reference to rank, was superior to every creature.
b. The next verse shows that this is the truth.
C. for by him were all things created… (16)
1. If he created all things, he must be God.
2. BUT, If he created Himself, then He did not create “all things.”
3. Some contend that b/c matter is evil (Gnostics and others); therefore, God could not have created the world.
a. To them, it would have had to come about in some other means or way.
b. They deny the relationship of Christ with the physical creation.
4. The Word of God clearly states that by Christ “all things were created.”
5. He made everything; this is a clear-cut denial of evolution.
a. John 1:1-3 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. (2) The same was in the beginning with God. (3) All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.
b. Winkler: “God was the great architect, the Son was the executor and the Holy Spirit was the beautifier.”
6. Notice also from this verse that now we know the purpose of our existence… “for him”
a. Evolution conflicts what Paul has said here in these verses, and it is clear to see just how wrong it is.
b. Christ created the
D. and he is before all things (17a)
1. J.W. Shepherd said, “He and He only is; all else is created. This refers to the “I am” of eternal existence, as claimed by himself: “Verily, Verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am” (John 8:58).
2. Not only before Abraham, but before the world (John 17:5).
3. He was “in the beginning” (John 1:1).
E. and by him all things consist (17b)
1. “Consist” means to “cohere, to hold together.” [ASV footnote – “hold together”]
2. It is by His word that the universe in which we live holds together.
3. Not only Creator, but also “Sustainer”
II. CHRIST’S RELATIONSHIP TO SPIRITUAL CREATION (1:18-20)
A. And he is the head of the body, the church (18a)
1. The idea of preeminence is still shown through the use of the word “HEAD.”
a. Eph 1:22-23 And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, (23) Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.
b. Matt 28:18 And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
c. The “head” denotes three things: authority, intelligence, & direction.
2. The existence of the church is dependent upon Christ, his purpose, and his deity (Matt 16:18-21).
B. Who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead (ones) (18b)
1. The church owes its origin to Christ, not man (Matt 16:18; Acts 20:28).
2. According to Psalm 89:27, “firstborn” denotes position, rank, & authority.
3. Jesus was not the 1st to be raised from the dead (2 Kgs. 4:32ff; Lk. 7:11-16; Jn. 11:43-44), but he was the 1st to be raise never to die again (Rom. 6:9; Rev. 1:18).
a. That assures us, of course, of our resurrection in that he has conquered death.
b. Death is a result of sin (Rom. 5:12).
c. Therefore, Christ being the firstborn from among the dead ones has conquered death, showing that the scheme of redemption has now opened as far as man is concerned.
d. Christ has adequately dealt with the consequence and guilt of sin.
C. That in all things he might have the preeminence (18c)
1. The problem in Colosse is that they were giving preeminence unto the angels instead of Christ (2:18).
2. Interestingly, the only other time the word “preeminence” is used is when John speaks of Diotrephes (3 John 9).
3. “in all”, Christ must have preeminence; Paul has shown him to be preeminent (his rightful position).
1. Consider the Preeminence of Christ
2. He is preeminent b/c He is God, b/c He is the Creator, & b/c He is the Head of the church.
3. But is He preeminent in your life (chapters 3-4).
A. Teaching us how to put off the “old man” and put on the “new man” in Christ Jesus.
B. There is another lesson to come concerning the hope of glory that is found only in Christ Jesus.