Colossians 1:15-17

(15) He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

(16) For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.

(17) And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.


There is a story that has been going around the internet for years. I do not know if it is true or not, but it goes like this: John Bloor, a citizen of Great Britain, had a bad case of hemorrhoids. Early one morning, he decided to apply hemorrhoid cream to his problem, but in the semidarkness he grabbed a tube of super-glue instead. I leave the rest of that story to your imagination.

The scientific name of super-glue is cyanoacrylates. I am telling you that to prove that I can look things up on the internet as well as anyone else. Super-glue was accidentally invented in 1942 by Dr. Harry Coover and Fred Joyner of Kodak Laboratories. They were looking for a tough plastic. They found something that would glue together anything with great strength.

Stories about mishaps with super-glue have been going the rounds since the product first hit the market. One not-so-thoughtful man thought it was lip balm and super-glued his lips together. A lady used the miracle stickum to apply false eyelashes. In one study, researchers compiled a list of 14 different cases all of which occurred in a single year. The cases even have their own medical name. They are called "inadvertent self-administration of super-glue."

I confess that I have accidentally stuck my fingers together using super-glue. I am told that the best way to break the bond is with nail polish remover.

But I have to tell you about my introduction to super-glue. When Beth and I first got married, we had a neighbor who lived right across from us. I did not even know his name. I had waved at him a couple of times. Anyway, we came home one night and he was sitting on his steps. He got up and walked over to us. The first words he spoke were, “I have got some glue.” That is about the strangest opening of a conversation I have ever experienced. No “Hello, How are you doing,” just “I have got some glue.” What do you say to that? It turned out he had a huge tube of super-glue, and he wanted to glue things together. He was excited by how quickly the stuff worked and how strong a bond it formed. He was really into this and he wanted to know if I had anything I wanted glued. Well, I was polite. I told him I could not think of a thing, but I would keep his glue in mind, and I said goodbye--Like I said, that was a rather strange conversation.

But super-glue is interesting. In its purest form the stuff can withstand a ton of pressure on a one-square-inch bond. It sets in seconds and can be used to stick anything to just about anything else, permanently.

Which leads us to Jesus in an odd way. Jesus is the super-glue of the universe.

We Christians regard Jesus in a lot of ways. We picture him as a friend, as a good old boy with his arm around our shoulders, helping us along the way of life. I like that. All of us need that. But Christ is far more than that. These verses from Colossians speak of a Cosmic Christ, who is the creator of all that exists and the purpose of all that exists.

First we need to be reminded of the context of Colossians. Paul is concerned about a wrong way of thinking in the Colossian church. This heresy focused on the spirit world and the worship of spiritual powers and angels instead of Jesus. That tells you where the Colossians have gone wrong. Any worship that is not about Jesus is wrong. In v13, using the imagery of Israel's exodus from Egypt in the OT, Paul announces that God “has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.” Therefore, Jesus is the one whom we should follow, not the spirits or demons or angels. Then in the following verses, 15-17, Paul explains the identity and work of this Savior and Lord in terms of what scholars call the Cosmic Christ.

Many people think that Paul is quoting from an ancient Christian hymn--either that or he is writing poetry. Paul describes Jesus as creator and sustainer of the entire universe, and the purpose of the universe. The purpose of creation is a new creation.

Look at it this way, at the first microsecond of the big bang, at the very beginning of all things, Jesus was there and Jesus was the force bringing all things into existence, and Jesus is the direction in which all things are going. Jesus is the final goal of the universe.

This Jesus who lived in Nazareth of Galilee, who died and was resurrected, this jesus is the God of the OT. This Jesus is the full, incarnate revelation of the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. This Jesus we confess as Lord of the Cosmos. Thus, every pattern of belief or conduct that ignores or denies this Jesus must be radically transformed.

V15 says this Jesus is “the image of the invisible God.” Jesus, as the eternally begotten Son of God, is the very image of God in his person and nature, reflecting perfectly the character and life of His Father. All human beings are also made in God's image and likeness. We were designed to reflect God in the world, but we do not do what we are supposed to do. We are not what we are supposed to be. So Jesus as the Son and image of God became the babe of Bethlehem, became incarnate in the flesh to fulfill this task as a human being. Jesus was the new or second Adam. Jesus now is the only true representation and revelation of God to the world.

This is the same idea that is expressed in passages such as John 1:18, where we read, “No one has ever seen God. The only Son, who is the same as God and is at the Father's side, he has made him known.”

And Hebrews 1:3: “He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.”

The Nicene Creed, which dates from around AD 325 is especially clear on this same point, declaring Jesus to be “God of God,Light of Light, very God of very God; begotten, not made,being of one substance with the Father, by whom all things were made.”

The concept of Jesus as the embodied image of God not only teaches us that He is fully God, but that He also fulfills the purposes of God for humankind. Christ is both the climax of the first creation, and the beginning of the new creation Thus, Jesus and Jesus alone is the goal of our transformation. We are called to be like him in fulfillment of our own identity as redeemed images of God. Colossians 3:10 instructs us to “put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.”

Perhaps it is fair to say, then, that both the world and humankind were originally conceived in view of the incarnation of Jesus as the image of God. Perhaps God created the world so God could become man in it so that we could become His image by grace, and thus become partakers of divine life.

V15 also says that “Jesus was the first born of all creation.” Some have taken this to mean that Jesus was the very first created being, but this is a mistake. For if Jesus is the eternally begotten Son and image of God, now incarnate, He is not a created being at all, but the fullness of God in the flesh. Hence, this unique phrase--”the first born of all creation”--proclaims the supremacy and preeminence of Jesus in relation to the created order. Christ is before anything else. Time itself is a part of the fabric of the universe. Jesus was first in time. Again this is a way of saying that at the first moment of the big bang, Jesus was there. And it is a way of saying that Jesus is the most important part of creation.

This is a point that the next two verses make clear. V16 reads, “For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him.” This means that Jesus was the force that brought creation into being. He is the source of the universe. More than that. Paul wants to emphasize that Jesus created absolutely everything. He writes, “in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities.” In other words, If it exists, it was created by Jesus. Paul mentions the invisible world of spiritual realities, and the visible world of physical realities. He is referring to the Colossian heresy--their worship of spirits, angels, and demons. Obviously his point is: they got it all wrong. They should worship the Christ-creator of those things. Jesus is Lord. Worship and follow Him. The gospel of John declares “All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.” (John 1:3).

Notice that at the end of Colossians 1:16, Paul says that “all things were created through him and for him.” He is both the agent and goal of creation. Christ is the one for whom the creation was made. He is the end or final purpose of the universe. The whole creation exists not only because of Christ but for the sake of Christ, for the fulfillment of his sovereign purposes, and for His glory.

Paul makes a similar point in Romans 11:36 about God Himself, saying, “For from him and through him and to him are all things.” Christ, then, is the spiritual inside of all things. What we see, with our physical eyes is the outside. The inner spiritual reality is Christ. Wherever we look, or whatever things we can think of, Those things exist through Christ--All the animals, from ants to zebras, all the mountains, from mount Ararat to Mount Zion, all the trees,flowers, rivers, rocks and so on. Christ is present in all molecules and atoms, all protons and electrons, all energy and all space.

But this is not all. V17 states that Jesus is not only the source of creation, but also that he also holds the universe together. As I said earlier, Jesus is the super-glue of the universe. Christ sustains the universe. He keeps it in existence. He keeps things going. His power, his divine control, gives direction to the universe. He holds it all together. He keeps it from falling into chaos.

Jesus is the glue that keeps the molecular, atomic and subatomic worlds, as well as the astronomical and macrocosmic realities intact--And everything in between. Nothing is independent of Christ in its existence and preservation. No creature is autonomous. Everything is dependent upon Christ.

This leads me to a little bug of mine. When we use the word “nature,” we speak of the physical world as thing that exists on its own. The word “Nature” implies that the physical universe is its own thing, autonomous, independent and self existing. Biblically speaking, there is no such thing. Christ is present in every time and place as creator and sustainer. All things come from Him and he is in all things.

Jesus is the cosmic purpose of what He has created. Thus we move from creation to new creation.

In v18, the apostle Paul says that Jesus is “the first born from the dead.” we count the dead as the end. Jesus offers us a new beginning. He is the Lord of new beginnings. He was first at the moment of creation. He was first to be resurrected. Now he offers us a new beginning in his kingdom.

When Jesus was among us in the flesh, during his trial, if you want to call that kangaroo court we read about in the gospels a trial,during his trial, he was brought before Pilate, and Pilate was rather desperately trying to figure out what is going on. Pilate asked him "Are you the king of the Jews?" Jesus replied with a question: has someone told you about me? Pilate seems provoked by this he says, "Do you think I am a Jew? It was your own people who handed you over to me. What have you done?" Jesus then answered, (John 18:36) "My kingdom does not belong to this world; if my kingdom belonged to this world, my followers would fight to keep me from being handed over to the Jewish authorities. No, my kingdom does not belong here!" His kingdom is not of this world order. His kingdom is the crest and climax and crown of this world order—where all things become what they were meant to be, under the ministry and power of Christ.

Now we perceive the kindgom by faith. Our faith in Christ is our key to the kingdom. That makes a kind of sense in that Christ himself is the creator of the kingdom. Indeed, Jesus is preeminent in everything since He is God. Jesus is the image of God, the first born of creation,the creator and upholder of all reality.. . He is the first born from the dead.

In Col. 1:19, we read, “For in him (that is in Christ) all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” This amplifies v. 15 which says that Jesus is the image of the invisible God, and now in v19 the fullness of God dwells in him. But his supremacy is not only based on his Godhood, but also on his work of creating, sustaining, and bring to completion all things. Through Christ, the totality of things achieves its purpose, whether things on earth or things in heaven . the whole cosmos achieves its final purpose in a relationship with God.

Who is Jesus?

The image of God

The first born of all creation.

The maker of heaven and earth

The sustainer of the universe

The goal of the universe

All that is is by Christ, through Christ, and for Christ. Everything that exists speaks Jesus. The whole earth is full of His glory!


If you have questions or comments, email Tony Grant

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Last Modified: 05/02/13