Jesus Christ is Supreme
In Colossians 1:15-20 NLT says, “15 Christ is the visible image of the invisible God.
He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation, 16 for through Him God created everything in the heavenly realms and on earth. He made the things we can see and the things we can’t see – such as thrones, kingdoms, rulers, and authorities in the unseen world. Everything was created through Him and for Him. 17 He existed before anything else, and He holds all creation together. 18 Christ is also the head of the church, which is His body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So He is first in everything. 19 For God in all His fullness was pleased to live in Christ, 20 and through Him God reconciled everything to Himself. He made peace with everything in heaven and on earth by means of Christ’s blood on the cross.”
Many New Testament scholars believe that this section was based on a hymn written before Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians. If this was a hymn, we can assume that it was known to the church at Colosse and to other Christians. Paul would not have quoted something unknown to them. However, Paul was very capable of writing such poetic lines, as demonstrated in passages such as Romans 8:37-39 and 1 Corinthians 13:4-8. These verses are regarded as some of the most important verses in the New Testament establishing the deity of Jesus Christ.
In Romans 8:37-39 NLT says, “37 No, despite all these things, overwhelming victory is ours through Christ, who loved us. 38 And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. 39 No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.
No, instead of being separated from Lord Jesus Christ through all these things (the trials and hardships mentioned in Romans 8:35), we have overwhelming victory. This does not mean that we will be superheroes, but that our victory will be intensified by virtue of our union with Christ.
Yes, we are secure in Jesus Christ – Paul was convinced of this, and so should we be. Nothing can ever separate us from God’s love for us (Romans 8:39). In both death and the trials of life in this evil world, we will be in God’s presence. No spiritual forces, such as angels or demons, are powerful enough to undo what God has done for us. Nothing in the sphere of time itself (fears and worries) can threaten us; nothing that can happen in the present and nothing that can happen in the future, such as persecution and hardship, would cause God to leave us. No powers that exist (Satan, human governments, etc.) are more powerful than God; they can have no effect on our relationship with Him. Nothing in space, from high above or in the deepest ocean, can take us away from God’s love. Nothing in all creation can take us away from God’s love or thwart His purposes for us.
The point is simple and compelling: once in His care, it is impossible to be separated from our Lord Jesus Christ. His death for us is proof of His unconquerable love. Nothing can stop His constant presence with us. God tells us how great His love is so that we will feel totally secure in Him.
In 1 Corinthians 13:4-8 NLT says, “4 Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud 5 or rude. It does not demand its own way. It is not irritable, and it keeps no record of being wronged. 6 It does not rejoice about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. 7 Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
8 Prophecy and speaking in unknown languages and special knowledge will become useless. But love will last forever! 9 Now our knowledge is partial and incomplete, and even the gift of prophecy reveals only part of the whole picture! 10 But when full understanding comes, these partial things will become useless.”
Because love is so important among the believers, Paul described that love (Agape Love – God’s Unconditional Love) in more detail. How does such love look when lived out in the lives of believers? First of all, love is patient, the opposite of being short-tempered. Patience (sometimes translated “long-suffering” or “slow to anger”) is an attribute of God (see Exodus 34:6; Numbers 14:18; Romans 2:4; 1 Peter 3:20). In many places, God’s people are called upon to be patient (see, for example, Ephesians 4:2; Colossians 3:12; 1 Thessalonians 5:14). Patience is a fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). Such love bears with certain annoyances or inconveniences without complaint. It does not lose its temper when provoked. It steadily perseveres.
Love is also kind. Kindness takes the initiative in responding generously to others’ needs. The psalms and writings of the prophets say much about God’s kindness (Psalm 18:50; Isaiah 54:8; Jeremiah 9:24). Because believers have received kindness, they ought to act with kindness toward others. Such love is considerate and helpful to others. Kind love is gentle and mild, always ready to show compassion, especially to those in need.
Love is not jealous. The jealous person desires what another person has. This seems to have been a particular problem in Corinth – those with “lesser” gifts envied those with “greater” gifts. The seed of envy can lead to seething anger and hatred. Those who are too busy envying each other’s gifts are unlikely to be using their own gifts in loving service to God and others. When there is love, believers will gladly use whatever gifts they have been given to work together for the advance of God’s Kingdom. They will be glad that others have different gifts so that the entire job can get done.
Love is not boastful or proud. While some believers may have a problem with envy, those with the “greater” gifts might have a problem with boasting or pride. Again, it seems that this may have been a problem in Corinth. While some pride can be positive, this kind of pride takes credit for an undeserved gift. Gifted believers who are caught up in pride and boasting over their gifts are unable to serve. Without love, they may feel that by using their gifts, they are doing someone a favor, that others should be grateful to them, and that they are far superior.
Love is not rude. This refers to actions that are improper, impolite, discourteous, or crude. Believers who use their gifts with love will be careful to act in a manner worthy of their calling before God. They will never humiliate others. This may also have been a problem in Corinth, especially in their worship services (see 1 Corinthians 11:2-16).
Love does not demand its own way. Love looks out for others, seeks their best interests, willingly gives up its own for the sake of another. A person who wants his own way may use his gifts but not with a serving attitude or a desire to build the Kingdom. Instead, the gifts are only used if they can somehow benefit the self-seeking person. This is not God’s way. Instead, because of love, the believers use their gifts to benefit others first, without “self” or selfish desires getting in the way.
Love is not irritable, meaning easily angered or touchy. Such people let things get on their nerves. One believer, in the process of exercising his or her gifts, may irritate another believer. These “easily angered” believers may not like the style or manner in which these others exercise their gifts. This is not the way of love. When believers exercise their gifts in love, they will be able to give one another some latitude to follow God as they see fit. They will not let themselves be easily provoked over disagreements, but they will be able to always respond in a loving manner.
Love keeps no record of when it has been wronged. Such people will remember every offense against them as though it were written in a book and tallied. These “wrongs” are not sins that need to be dealt with in the congregation (such as that described in chapter 5 of 1 Corinthians) but minor offenses or misunderstandings between believers. Those who keep record of these wrongs and personal injuries will harbor resentment against other believers. Love, however, makes allowances for people’s foibles or a minor weakness, failing of character and flaws and willingly forgets when wrongs were done. This frees all believers to grow and mature in the Lord Jesus Christ and to grow in their ability to serve and use their gifts. When mistakes are made, love overlooks them and allows believers to continue to serve with the gifts God has given them. God does not keep a record of believers’ wrongs (2 Corinthians 5:19).
Love is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. When believers show love, they do not show superior morality by taking pleasure in another’s fall. Love does not take pleasure in any kind of injustice. Instead, love does the exact opposite. Through their relationship with Lord Jesus Christ, believers possess the one and only truth (John 14:6). Those who love should remain untainted by evil. Instead, they ought to always seek truth, desire that truth wins out, protect the truth, and proclaim the truth whenever possible.
After explaining what love does not do (1 Corinthians 13:4-6), Paul listed four positive attributes of love. Love never gives up, but willingly protects others. The word in Greek means “cover” or “hide by covering.” This does not refer to hiding hurtful sin but to protecting someone from embarrassment, gossip, or any other such harm. When believers love one another, they refuse harmful gossip and protect one another from those who would try to inflict harm.
Love never loses faith. It is willing to think the best of others. It does not mean that believers must be gullible, trusting everyone; instead, it means that they are willing to think the best as opposed to the worst of others. Love gives the benefit of the doubt. With real love (Agape Love), believers can deal with conflict lovingly. When everyone willingly thinks the best of everyone else, people are freed to be honest and open.
Love is always hopeful. Believers who love look forward, not backward. They seek for growth and maturity in the church, knowing that God is working in every person.
Love endures through every circumstance. Believers who love are active and steadfast in their faith. They hold on, no matter what difficulties they face. Hardship and pain do not stop love. When believers persevere, they face suffering within the body. They face persecution. They hang on when the going gets tough. They strive to save their marriages despite disappointment, to continue to trust God despite setbacks, and to continue to serve God despite fear or sorrow. When believers truly persevere, nothing can stop them
All the spiritual gifts will eventually disappear, but love will last forever. On this earth, outside of heaven, everything is imperfect. No matter how much people may know, they know only a little. No matter how much prophecy is given, it still reveals little. Not until the arrival of God’s Kingdom (the end) will everything be made perfect and complete. At that time, all the special gifts of the Spirit will disappear. Because gifts are given for the building up of the body of our Lord Jesus Christ, they will no longer be needed but we still need them until that glorious day of spiritual separation from this earth called “Rupture“. The body will be completed, and God’s Kingdom will have arrived. Yet love will continue (1 Corinthians 13:8), because love is the very essence of God Himself. “God is love,” wrote John (1 John 4:8, 16). God’s love caused Him to reach out to undeserving humanity and send a Savior. His love saved people and will bring them into His Kingdom to be with Him forever. The Kingdom rests on God’s love.
Our Lord Jesus Christ is the visible image of the invisible God – the verb is present tense, describing our Lord Jesus’ position now and forever (John 10:30, 38; 12:45; 14:1-11). God as Spirit – the Holy Spirit is invisible and always will be (1 Timothy 6:16). God’s Son is His visible expression. He not only reflects God, but, as God, He reveals God to us (John 1:18; 14:9; Hebrews 1:1-2).
Our Lord Jesus Christ existed before God made anything at all. Thus He is supreme over all creation. He has all the priority and authority of the firstborn prince in a king’s household (Hebrews 1:2). He came from heaven, not from the dust of the earth (1 Corinthians 15:47), and He is Lord of all (Romans 9:5; 10:12; Revelation 1:5; 17:14). Our Lord Jesus Christ is supreme over all creation, including the spirit world.
We as Born-Again Christian believers need to focus on the deity of our Lord Jesus Christ (that Jesus is God) or our Christian faith would fall prey to false teaching. To put Jesus Christ any lower is to lose the central truth of Christianity.
All things were created through our Lord Jesus Christ (John 1:3). Just as all the fullness of Deity is in Him (John1:19), so in Him are all the creative powers that make Him the supreme Lord. Because the false teachers believed that the physical world was evil, they thought that God Himself could not have created it. If Christ were God, they reasoned, He would be in charge only of the spiritual world. But Paul explained that everything in heaven and earth was created by our Lord Jesus Christ, things we can see and the things we can’t see, the visible and invisible world (physical government and spiritual forces). Our Lord Jesus Christ has no equal and no rival. Because our Lord Jesus Christ is the Creator of the world, all powers, whether the spiritual forces the Colossians wished to study or any material force, were under our Lord Jesus Christ’s final authority.
Paul’s words here refuted the false teaching that Jesus Christ was one of many intermediaries and that the angels were to be worshiped. All angelic and celestial powers in heaven and on earth are subject to our Lord Jesus Christ. He is the Lord of all.
Our Lord Jesus Christ existed before everything else began. He is not only the Creator of the world, He is also its Sustainer. By Him everything came to be, and by Him everything holds together. In Him, everything is held together, protected, and prevented from disintegrating into chaos (see Acts 17:28). Because our Lord Jesus Christ is the Sustainer of all life, nothing in creation is independent from Him. In Him alone and by His word, we find the unifying principle of all of life (Hebrews 1:2-3). The Colossians, and all Born-Again Christian believers, are His servants who must daily trust Him for protection, care, and sustenance.
While John 1:15-17 unveiled the Son’s relationship to the “old creation” (the world), this verse describes His relationship to the “new creation” – that is, the church. The church (meaning the body of believers) existed because Lord Jesus Christ was its beginning, its source, its head. Just as the parts of the body function under the direction of the brain, so we as Born-Again Christian believers are to work together under the command and authority of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul repeated that Lord Jesus Christ is the first of all who will rise from the dead. He was the first to die and come back to life. He was “first” both in time and rank; there will be many more who will live forever after physical death (1 Corinthians 15:20). All who trust in our Lord Jesus Christ will also defeat death and rise again to live eternally with Him (1 Corinthians 15:20; 1 Thessalonians 4:14). This makes Him first in everything.
Our Lord Jesus’ resurrection is the cornerstone of the Christian faith, the reason that the church even exists. Only Christianity has a God who became human, died for His people, and was raised again in power and glory to rule the old creation and the new creation (the church) forever. The Resurrection assures believers that our Lord Jesus Christ is not a legend; He is alive and ruling His Kingdom. Because our Lord Jesus Christ is spiritually supreme in the universe, surely we should give Him first place in all our thoughts and activities. You can watch the true life related stories; movies of “God Is Not Dead” 1 and 2.
The little word for explains why our Lord Jesus Christ will have first place in everything. God wanted His fullness (meaning “completeness” or “totality”) to live (meaning “live permanently”) in our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul wanted to explain to the Colossians that Lord Jesus Christ is God’s dwelling place; therefore, our Lord Jesus Christ is divine, sovereign, and preeminent. Our Lord Jesus Christ perfectly displays all the attributes and activities of God: Spirit, Word, Wisdom, and Glory.
By this statement, Paul was refuting the Greek idea that Lord Jesus Christ could not be human and divine at the same time. Our Lord Jesus Christ is fully human; He is also fully divine. Nor is there more than one God; this one God, in all His fullness, resides in Lord Jesus Christ. Our Lord Jesus Christ has always been God and always will be God. All of God (including His attributes, characteristics, nature, and being) indwells the Son. When we have Jesus Christ we have all of God in human form. Any teaching that diminishes any aspect of Jesus Christ – either His humanity or His divinity – is false teaching.
God’s fullness dwells in our Lord Jesus Christ and in that fullness He reconciled everything to Himself. This reconciliation was accomplished through our Lord Jesus Christ’s blood on the Cross. “Reconciliation” means reestablishing a relationship, causing a relationship to become friendly and peaceable when it had not been so. Because Jesus Christ is Creator and Sustainer of everything (John 1:17), His death on the Cross provided reconciliation for everything.
But what did Paul mean by “everything”?
First, consider what this reconciliation means for humanity. There can be no peace between sinful humans and a holy God. Because people are born into sin, they cannot become good enough to be acceptable to God. In Old Testament times, God accepted symbolic offerings. Jesus Christ had not yet been sacrificed, so God accepted the life of an animal in place of the life of the sinner. When our Lord Jesus Christ came, He substituted His perfect life for our sinful lives, taking the penalty for sin that we deserve. The penalty for sin is death. We are guilty and culpable, but Jesus Christ took the punishment. Thus, He redeemed us from the power of sin and reconciled us to God.
Second, does this reconciliation of “everything” mean that everyone will be saved? From other passages, we know that Paul understood salvation to be something accepted or rejected by humans, who are given the choice (for example, see 2 Thessalonians 1:5-10). The scope of God’s reconciliation is universal – it is offered to all people. But reconciliation is accomplished only for those who accept Jesus Christ as Savior (2 Corinthians 5:17-18).
Third, what does this reconciliation mean for “everything” (besides humans)? Just as all of creation fell when Adam sinned, so all of creation will be reconciled. Sin has caused all creation to fall from the perfect state in which God created it. Thus, the world is subject to decay so that it cannot fulfill its intended purpose. One day, all creation will be liberated and transformed (Romans 8:19-21).
In addition, Paul’s reference to things in heaven and on earth was meant to be another blow to the false teachers. Nothing in the universe escapes Jesus Christ’s reach. There is no neutral ground; everything falls under His power. No alien force of darkness can undermine His work or His church. Satan and demons will not be reconciled to God; instead, their end is certain (see Revelation 20:7-10).
“Prologue: Christ, the Eternal Word”
In John 1:1-4, 14 NLT says, “1 In the beginning the Word already existed. The Word was with God,
and the Word was God. 2 He existed in the beginning with God. 3 God created everything through Him, and nothing was created except through Him. 4 The Word gave life to everything that was created, and His life brought light to everyone. 14 So the Word became human and made His home among us. He was full of unfailing love and faithfulness. And we have seen His glory, the glory of the Father’s one and only Son.”
When John wrote of the beginning, he was paralleling the words of the creation account. John called Jesus, “the Word.” John did not identify this person immediately, but described His nature and purpose before revealing His name (see John 1:17). As the Word, the Son of God fully conveys and communicates God.
Theologians and philosophers, both Jews and Greeks, used the term “word” in a variety of ways. The Greek term is logos. It could mean a person’s thoughts or reason, or it might refer to a person’s speech, the expression of thoughts. As a philosophical term, logos conveyed the rational principle that governed the universe, even the creative energy that generated the universe. In the Hebrew language of the Old Testament, “the Word” is described as an agent of creation (Psalm 33:6), the source of God’s message to His people through the prophets (Hosea 1:2), and God’s law, His standard of holiness (Psalm 119:11).
John may have had these ideas in mind, but his description shows clearly that he spoke of our Lord Jesus Christ as a human being he knew and loved (see especially John 1:14), who was at the same time the Creator of the universe, the ultimate revelation of God, and also the living picture of God’s holiness. Jesus Christ as the logos reveals God’s mind to us.
By using the expression “He was with God,” John was explaining that the Word (the Son) and God (the Father) already enjoyed an intimate, personal relationship in the beginning. The last verse of the prologue (John 1:18) tells us that the Son was at the Father’s side; and in our Lord Jesus’ special prayer for His followers (chapter 17), He expressed that the Father loved Him before the foundation of the world.
Not only was the Son with God, He was Himself God. John’s Gospel, more than most books in the New Testament, asserts Jesus’ divinity. One of the most compelling reasons to believe the doctrine of the Trinity comes from the fact that it was revealed through a people most likely to reject it outright. In a world populated by many gods, it took the tough-minded Hebrews to clarify the revelation of God’s oneness expressed through “three-in-oneness.”
The second verse of the prologue underscores the truth that the Word, the Son, was in the beginning with God. A wrong teaching called the “Arian heresy” developed in the fourth century of Christianity. Arius, the father of this heresy, was a priest of Alexandria (in Egypt) during the reign of Emperor Constantine. He taught that Jesus, the Son of God, was not eternal but was created by the Father. Therefore, Jesus was not God by nature. Arius’s views gained some support. At the Church Council in Nicea in A.D. 325, Athanasius defeated Arius in debate and the Nicene Creed was adopted, which established the biblical teaching that Jesus was “one essence with the Father.” Yet this controversy raged until it was defeated at the Council of Constantinople in A.D. 381. This heresy still exists, however, in several cults. Yet John’s Gospel proclaims simply and clearly that the Son of God is coeternal with the Father.
The New Testament portrays the Son of God as the agent of creation, for all things were created through Him (see 1 Corinthians 8:6; Colossians 1:16; Hebrews 1:2). Everything came into being through Christ and ultimately depends upon Him.
Creation needs to receive life from the Word – for life itself was in Him. Our Lord Jesus Christ gives physical life to all. But He also gives eternal life to all those who believe in Him. The Greek term used for “life” is Zoe; in the Gospel of John, it is always used to describe divine, eternal life. Our Lord Jesus Christ used this specific term during the Last Supper when He told His disciples, “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life …” (John 14:6).
The divine life embodied in our Lord Jesus Christ gives light to everyone – revealing divine truth and exposing their sin. Everywhere Lord Jesus Christ went, He brought light (see John 3:21; 8:12). Light means understanding and moral insight, spiritual vision. But more than just shining or reflecting, the light of our Lord Jesus Christ penetrates and enlightens hearts and minds. Everyone who comes into contact with our Lord Jesus Christ can be enlightened. When Lord Jesus Christ’s light shines, we see our sin and His glory. We can refuse to see the light and remain in darkness. But whoever responds will be enlightened by our Lord Jesus Christ. He will fill our minds with God’s thoughts. He will guide our path, give us God’s perspective, and drive out the darkness of sin.
Returning to the powerful term used at the beginning of the Gospel, John continues the theme of the prologue. The first thirteen verses summarize “the Word’s” relationship to the world as its rejected Creator, Visitor, Light, and Savior. Yet throughout the opening paragraph, John does not identify the Word as being human, except in the personal pronouns.
The phrase, became human, is striking and arresting, despite its familiarity. Understanding its meaning simply increases our wonder. When Jesus Christ was born, He was not part man and part God; He was completely human and completely divine (Colossians 2:9). Before Jesus Christ came, people could know God partially. After Jesus Christ had come, people could know God fully because He became visible and tangible (Hebrews 1:1-3). Our Lord Jesus Christ is the perfect expression of God in human form. The two most common errors that people make about our Lord Jesus Christ are minimizing His humanity or minimizing His divinity. Jesus Christ is both divine and human (see Philippians 2:5-9).
God, in our Lord Jesus Christ, lived on earth among people. The man living with the disciples was God incarnate! John was overwhelmed with that truth. He began his first letter by describing the experience of seeing, touching, and hearing this Word who became flesh and was with them (1 John 1:1-4). In our Lord Jesus Christ, God came to meet with people; through Lord Jesus Christ we can come to meet with God. John described Him as full of unfailing love and faithfulness.
Glory refers to our Lord Jesus Christ’s divine greatness and shining moral splendor. (For a specific instance of “seeing His glory,” see John 2:11.) This is perhaps the clearest example of what John was thinking when he and two other disciples saw Jesus’ Transfiguration (see Matthew 17:1-13. Peter spoke of it specifically in 2 Peter 1:16-18). This was the glory of the only Son of the Father. The Son was the Father’s one and only, His unique Son. Although all believers are called “children” (John 1:12-13), our Lord Jesus Christ is one of a kind and enjoys a special relationship with God. Eastern thought teaches a cycle of reincarnation. Many Hindus believe that Jesus Christ was one in a series of reincarnations of Krishna. But John teaches that our Lord Jesus Christ, as the unique Son of God, has a special glory and an unrivaled, unparalleled, and unrepeatable place of honor.
Father God, we come to you, in our Lord Jesus name, and in the power and presence of the Holy Spirit, may we ask You to help us to acknowledge our sins, confess and repent of them. We thank for your agape love and forgiveness, in Your mighty name Lord Jesus. Amen!