The Majesty of the Lord Jesus

December 21, 2021

In the first two chapters of the book of Colossians we receive a stunning view of the glory and majesty of our Lord Jesus Christ.  We get an inspired glimpse of who He is, and who He was from all eternity.  Listen to these splendid words: “For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions 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.” (Colossians 1:16-17, NASB).  Nothing has been made, whether visible or invisible, that wasn’t made by and for Jesus Christ.  There is no throne or dominion, whether human or in the spiritual realm, that Jesus Christ is not far above.  Even as you read these words, Jesus Christ is holding together the entire universe by the word of His power.  Should He stop holding it all together, everything we know, everything we can see and can’t see—from the smallest atom to the most distant galaxy—would cease to exist.

And if anything could be more stunning than the amazing majesty and power of our Lord, it is this:  that the creator and sustainer of all things would empty Himself, take on a human body, and give up His life for us.  Jesus, the Eternal One, the All-Powerful One, gave everything so that sinful, undeserving people like you and me can share in His life.  “And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach (Colossians 1:21-22, NASB) Even though we were hostile to God, even though we were living in evil, Christ came to save us.  He came so that we could be holy and without blame in His sight.  The One in whom all the fullness of Deity dwells came so that we would be filled up to His fullness (Colossians 2:9-10, Ephesians 3:19).

Each Lord’s Day, we gather to fall down and worship the One who created all things, who is above all things, and yet who humbled Himself to the point of death on a cross so that we might truly live through Him.  May our souls magnify the Lord and rejoice in God, our Savior.     

— Scott Colvin


Firstborn of Creation

February 7, 2020

The English phrase, “the firstborn of all creation,” is difficult in Colossians 1:15. Our English word, firstborn, simply means “the first to be born, the eldest.” If one stopped with the phrase, it could mislead someone into thinking that Jesus is the first created thing. But the context won’t allow this meaning:

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. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:16–17 ESV)

Paul proclaims Christ as the agent in creation. All things were created by him. He himself can’t be created, so we must do some research on the word firstborn.

Among translations that attempt to be form equivalent there is a great deal of consistency: “the firstborn of all creation” (ESV, NASB, NRSV) and “the firstborn over all creation” (NKJV, NIV, NET, CSB). When we turn to translations that are functional equivalent, that is that are trying to evoke the same meaning as the original readers would have had, we see a glimmer of another meaning for firstborn: “Supreme over all creation” (NLT) and “He ranks higher than everything that has been made” (NCV). This gives us a clue that there is more going on.

One tool that is accessible to English Bible readers is the footnotes of the NET Bible. They are very helpful because they deal with translation issues. The footnote at Colossians 1:15 reads:

The Greek term πρωτότοκος (prōtotokos) could refer either to first in order of time, such as a first born child, or it could refer to one who is preeminent in rank.

Another example of this usage as noted by the NET footnote is Psalm 88:28 in the Septuagint, the Greek translation of the Old Testament. It reads:

And I will place him as firstborn
High above the kings of the earth. (Lexham English Septuagint)

This is case where “firstborn” (prōtotokos) only refers to supremacy of rank. It does not seem to be concerned about time. Time of birth is missing from this passage. That means the Greek word “firstborn” has a range of meaning which are English word does not have. This makes it difficult for the English reader to get the right meaning without some checking.

Why does Paul use “firstborn” (prōtotokos)? Colossians 1:15-20 is poetic. My Greek text even prints it as poetry. For a discussion of the poetic nature of the section, see the NET Bible footnote. “Firstborn” in 1:15 is balanced by “firstborn from the dead” in 1:18, which doesn’t present problems for us in English. Paul links together in this wonderful passage creator and savior.

— Russ Holden