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The Glory of Christ’s Person

Colossians 1:15 (ESV) … “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.”

Jesus Christ is ‘the image of the invisible God’ not only because he is man made in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27; 1 Cor. 11:7), but also because he has the same nature as God (Heb. 1:3), being co-eternal with him. The Father is invisible to us, yet God manifests himself by his Son (John 14:9). Christ pre-existed with the Father before the world was created as ‘the first-born over all creation’ (v. 15), being the Father’s heir.[1]

By bearing the image of God in this way, Christ stands apart from the created order as the firstborn over all creation. The phrase firstborn (prōtotokos) has often been taken in a temporal sense implying that Christ is the first one to be created and thus belongs to the created order. Apparently the false teachers at Colossae had relegated Christ to the status of a created being. This heresy has a long history, for it was championed by the Arians in the fourth century a.d. and continues to be perpetuated by the Jehovah’s Witnesses today.

Paul does not mean that Christ belongs to creation in a temporal way. The issue here is primacy of function, not priority in time. Since Christ participates in the act of creation, he stands over and beyond the created world as the agent by which everything came into existence.[2]

[1] McNaughton, I. S. (2006). Opening up Colossians and Philemon (p. 28). Leominster: Day One Publications. [2] Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 30). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.


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