Colossians 1:15-16

Painting by Stefan Robinson; photo by Trina Robinson.

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all 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. Colossians 1:15-16.

The Son is the image of the invisible God : This phrase opens one of the finest Christ Hymns in the entire Bible. Colossians 1:15-20 expresses the mystery and majesty of the true nature of Jesus Christ, one of the highest and most exalted Christologies found in the Bible. Jesus, the Son of God, is praised as the image of the invisible God. Image in Greek, EIKON, where we get our English word “icon,” means a visible representation of God who is not able to be seen with mere physical human eyes. God is Spirit we hear in John 4, and whoever worships God must worship God in spirit and truth.

the firstborn over all creation: one of the beautiful titles for Jesus in the Bible is “firstborn,” in Greek, PROTO +TOKOS, a title of preeminence or incomparability. No one and nothing can compare with the prototokos. Jesus is the One who is preeminent over all Creation, the sole authority and supreme sovereign power of all Creation.

For in him all things were created: Why is Jesus so supreme, as firstborn? Because everything (Greek: PANTA) in Creation was created “in him.” Not an atom or molecule or galaxy was formed except by the divine power and creative brilliance of Jesus bringing it into Creation.

things in heaven and on earth: This hymn expands our understanding of Creation, to include the realm of humans and all creatures of the earth, as well as all Creation beyond planet earth, including the rest of the entire solar system, our galaxy, and the myriads of other galaxies in the entire universe; but also includes invisible realms of heaven and creatures of divine glory.

visible and invisible: So much of our way of thinking is rooted in our physical senses, what we can see, hear, touch, taste, or smell. If we can’t experience it with our senses, then we assume it must not exist. That is a materialism world view that limits what is real to physical substances. This great Christ hymn stretches us into realms that lie far beyond our senses, into the worlds and eons and mysteries of the spiritual invisible realms of our eternal God of glory.

whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities: This list is an all inclusive gathering of four realms of visible and invisible power. Thrones (Greek: THRONOS) are the actual seats for kings and sovereign rulers. Powers (Greek: KURIOTES) may also be translated as “Lordship,” the realm of authority of a Kyrios, Lord, including divine authorities. Rulers (Greek: ARCHE), are kingly or royal authorities “from the beginning,” or eternal, long-ruling powers. Authorities (Greek: EXOUSIA), who rule from “out of their inner being,” who have their authority from within, especially as spiritual or moral authority. Note: all of these four realms of power have their origin in Jesus Christ who alone is the King over all kings, the Lord over all lords, the Authority over all authorities, the One who sits on the Throne above all thrones.

all things have been created through him and for him: Once again, the word PANTA, Greek for “all things” is repeated, meaning all-inclusive, everything in the universe, all things that have been created through Christ and for Christ. Jesus Christ is the agent of Creation, the One through whom all Creation came into being. Jesus Christ is also the completion and purpose of all Creation, the One for whom all Creation was made, as an expression of Christ’s power and glory and brilliance and beauty.