Most scholars agree that the apostle Paul was likely imprisoned in Rome when he wrote his letter to the Colossians. Though he was constantly chained to guards, he was allowed to receive visitors, accept gifts—and fortunately for us—send letters. He wrote this letter primarily to combat heresies regarding Christ that were affecting the struggling first-century church in Colossae.
Colossians 1:15–18 is considered to be one of the greatest christological passages in all of Scripture. Though we could spend several weeks doing an exposition on all its theological implications, I want to encourage you with an overview of three important truths that are just as relevant today as when the apostle Paul first communicated them to the church in Colossae hundreds of years ago.
First, Paul tells us that Christ is the image of God: “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation” (v. 15). Jesus Christ has made visible to us the One who is invisible. So what is God the Father like? Christ has revealed Him to us. We can have assurance that one day when we stand in the presence of God, we will know Him intimately because He has revealed His character to us through His Son.
Second, Christ is the agent of creation. “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (v. 16–17). When we look at the beauty of creation—whether the Grand Canyon or the Rocky Mountains or anything else—we see a marvelous picture of the Creator. But Christ is not just Creator, He is also Sustainer, actively involved in the everyday inner workings of the universe.
And finally, Christ is the head of the body. In verse 18, Paul explains Christ’s relationship to the church: “And he is the head of the body, the church.” As members of the body, we must be careful to follow the direction of the head: Christ Himself. Christ gives definition to God (v. 15), design to the world (v. 16–17), and direction to the church (v. 18).
Paul puts to rest the false teaching of the day by declaring Christ’s sufficiency in all things. Though we may not be facing the same heresies as the Colossian believers, these reminders of Christ’s sufficiency and authority are still relevant today.
For example, in today’s economy, many of us are asking the difficult question: “Can God continue to provide for my needs?” Scripture says that Christ is Sustainer. He can provide. And in today’s world ridden with corruption, many of us are asking, who is in control? Scripture says that Christ has all authority. He is in control.
Can Christ meet our needs? Is He in control? Absolutely, yes.
By Dr. Paul Nyquist, President of Moody Bible Institute
Dr. Paul Nyquist is the ninth president of Moody Bible Institute and featured speaker on Moody Radio’s program “Moody Presents.” With his theological training, pastoral heart and global focus, Nyquist is leading Moody to go across the globe, cultures and generations to equip people with the truth of God’s Word, using new technology, in an agile and innovative community. He and his wife, Cheryl, have been married for 30 years, have four grown children, and are proud grandparents of one child.