Tuesday, August 3, 2010

The Supremacy of Christ in Colossians 1:15-20

Last semester, I did an in-depth study on Colossians 1:15-20. I would like to share some of the application I found at the end of my study. It is such a beautiful passage that I will include it here:

"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross." Colossians 1:15-20 (NIV)

If Christ is Lord over everything in the universe, I must ask myself whether he is Lord over every area of my life? I acknowledge that nothing I can do will change the fact that Christ is Lord of my life. But at a functional level, we all have to make the choice to submit each area of our life to Christ on a daily basis. For most people it is probably easier to submit to the Lordship of Christ when things are going well. But when something goes wrong, our tendency is to resort back to self-reliance. We must be reminded daily that it is in Christ that all things hold together and not in us. This assurance will not prevent the inevitable storms of life from coming. It will give us a strong foundation to stand firm and weather the storm.

Another area of life that this passage speaks to is the stewardship and dominion of God's creation. If all things were created in Christ, and through Christ, and for Christ, this ought to change the way I treat creation. This applies most obviously to my relationship with others humans, but I think it also applies to how we treat animals, plants and all the resources of the earth. Unfortunately, many Christians have been very critical of recent trends to take better care of the environment. Anyone who shows concern for the environment is immediately labeled a "tree hugger" or something worse. If anything, it seems that Christians ought to be leading the way in environmental efforts. (Maybe this line will elicit some fun comments) This does not mean that we have to put the rights of animals or care for the earth above the needs of fellow humans. A commonly cited critique of animal rights activism is that we should advocate for the rights of unborn babies rather than the rights of animals. Must we choose one or the other? Is Christ not Lord over all creation? Is he not concerned to see justice abound in every aspect of life and creation?

Finally, this verse is a strong exhortation that we must continue to preach that Christ is the only source of human redemption. This is no longer a popular belief in America. This passage highlights the unique role of Christ on several levels. Christ is the one through whom all creation came into existence. He reigns supreme over all that exists. He also reconciled us to God through the work of the cross. This is the way that God has chosen to redeem the broken relationship between humanity and Himself. This role of reconciliation was a role ordained by God, for Christ alone, since the foundations of the world. We must not attempt to displace Christ from this position by trusting in our own good deeds or any other source. It also must be noted that the redemption of Christ is not universally applied to all humanity; rather, only to those who place their faith and trust in Jesus.

Paul knew that many false philosophies and teachings were present in Colossae. Is our current situation any different? One of the major problems at Colossae was not an outright rejection of Christian beliefs, but rather their "apparent inability to see anything wrong in combining faith in Christ with their previous religious practices." {1}This same problem is prevalent in the religious landscape of America today. It is becoming popular for people, including those who claim to be Christians, to pick and choose various religious beliefs and practices to assemble a "create your own combo meal" version of Christianity. This passage has a strong word of correction for such a practice. Christ will not share his throne as supreme Lord with anyone or anything. He alone is the Lord. He alone reigns supreme. There is nothing that comes above him in the entire universe. If we take away nothing else from this study, it should be a reaffirmed commitment and holy boldness to hold fast to our convictions about Christ. Not only in our own hearts, but as we share the gospel of Christ with those around us.


Works cited:
1. Teresa Okure,  “‘In Him All Things Hold Together’: A Missiological Reading of Colossians 1:15-20.” International Review of Missions 91 (2002): 62-72.


  1. Some great stuff here. I have spent the past year being ever so gently taught by the Holy Spirit about trust. I thought I trusted, I tried to trust, but in my pride and arrogance, I would pull back when it either got uncomfortable or it got too comfortable. I agree we as Christians should be much more engaged at all levels. Adam was clearly given the mandate as the steward of the earth, but we tend to pick and choose where and how we put our time and energy. Back to my arrogance. Sigh.

    I think at the end of the day, we need to decide if the Bible is the truly the Word of God or a book of Jewish fairy tales. And if it is the Word of God, then what should our response be? As our friend Kemp Otto says, "What would that look like?" I think starting here at your essay with the Supremacy of Christ is a good starting point.

  2. Thanks for the feedback. Passages like this are so powerful and packed with life-changing truth that often it leaves us stuttering and without an adequate response. Sometimes, the answer to the question, "What would that look like?" is so overwhelming we don't know where to begin. Fortunately, we get to live this thing out in the context of community. We have others to help and encourage us. It is for this reason many people walk away from faith in Christ after leaving the Church. They claim to be spiritual but not religious...giving up on the church and not God. Sadly, it is not realistic for them to walk by faith without a community.

    Also, never forget that you have an advocate interceding for you before the Father on a daily basis. Ponder that thought this day.

    Grace and Peace, AE