Christ as Creator
Tim Temple

Introduction

In a world of confusion, instability and constant change, it is a wonderful thing to know that we have a personal relationship to the very God of the universe. If we can understand that truth, it should have a tremendous impact on our lives. And that is exactly the message of the book of Colossians. As we have mentioned several times before, as we have looked at this book in the last few weeks, the theme of the book is found in verse 27 of chapter 1:

Colossians 1

27…Christ in you, the hope of glory:

“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” The fact that we are personally acquainted and personally related to the God of the universe is a wonderful truth. As we have begun to look at chapter 1, we have been noticing the fact of our personal relationship to Jesus Christ established in its detail. It is one thing to say, “Christ in you, the hope of glory,” but it is another thing to look at the various ways in which our relationship to Christ is established, and that is what we have been doing as we have looked at chapter 1 in the preceding lessons.

First, in that chapter Paul deals with the general area of the Colossians and our relationship to Christ in verses 1-14. There we have him talking about Christ and the Colossians. Then in verses 15-19, which we want to think about together in this lesson, we are going to see Christ as Creator. Here is one of the ironclad proofs that Christ is the Son of God. Therefore if we have Christ within us, as Paul writes to the Colossians that we do, then we certainly have a close bond with the God of the universe. Then in verses 20-23, we're going to see Christ as conciliator, Christ as the One who brings reconciliation between God and man. Then in verses 24-29, kind of a summary and an application of these things, we will see Christ as confidence-giver.

Theories of Creation

Speaking of Christ, he says, beginning in verse 15:

Colossians 1

15Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

We will stop our reading there with verse 19. It goes without saying that there is a great deal of debate today about the subject of creation and the origin of the universe and the origin of our planet earth and the origin of the human race. Probably the most widely accepted explanation of how everything got here is the theory of evolution. As you probably know, this theory is so widely accepted that it really has the acceptance and respect that is usually only given to proven scientific facts. But since it is only a theory, it is very important for us to remember that there are some disturbing problems with the theory of evolution, some inequities, some questions to which it does not contain the answer.

It is not our purpose, and really it is beyond the scope of our discussion, to go into those kinds of problems and inequities. Let me just say in a general way, because I know many of you are familiar with these things specifically, I am talking about the problems that involve the jump that had to be made somewhere from nonliving matter to living matter. I'm talking about such things as the jump from subhuman animals and creatures to the human creature and to those kinds of problems–the missing link between man and the lower form of animal life, the jump from plant life to animal life–those kinds of things.

It is an interesting thing to notice that the problems with the theory of evolution are so extensive that even though not very much is said about it, many scientists today are beginning to go back to a theory that had held some sway before the theory of evolution was developed, the theory which is known–we might think jokingly, but really it is known seriously–as the big bang theory . One of the men who received a Nobel Prize during the past year, was a man who had done some developmental work in the big bang theory.

The big bang theory is just what its scientific name implies–that everything just kind of banged into existence. Isn't that an interesting, powerful statement of scientific truth? It demonstrates that those who are honest and those who are willing to look at all of the facts of the theory of evolution are groping for some other explanation to things.

God's Creative Work

My purpose is not to attack those who for whatever reason have decided it is the best explanation. If I have offended you already, I apologize. I hope you'll understand my point of view because the biggest problem of the theory of evolution, regardless of the other problems that I have only touched upon, is that it disagrees with the Word of God. The very opening verses, the very opening words of the Scripture, state, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” The testimony of the Word of God is very clear. Man did not evolve; things did not just happen into being. Rather, they are specifically the results of God's creative work.

One of several other passages of Scripture which touch on this point is here in the book of Colossians, chapter 1. That is the reason that I have chosen this particular thing to launch this vigorous attack against, simply because it's contained in the passage which is before us. Notice again in Colossians, chapter 1, verse 16:

Colossians 1

16For by him [Jesus Christ] were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

Notice carefully the boldness of these statements. There is no hesitation, there is no accommodation to the theory of Paul's day or our day. You know, it is an interesting thing to notice that the same thing is true in Moses' writing in the book of Genesis. The prevalent idea in Moses' day as to how things got here was that everything sprang from a cosmic egg made of the mud of the Nile River. Don't ask me to explain where the Nile River got into the act before the earth was created, but that was one of the things that was given for an explanation for the beginning of things in Moses' day. Yet as Moses was inspired by God to write those books of the Old Testament, he did not try in any way to accommodate the scientific theory of his day or to work it into the narrative somewhere.

By the same token, in Paul's day the theory concerning how things got here had to do with the Greek gods and goddesses and the various parts they had to play in the beginnings of things. Yet you will notice that here in Colossians, and in other places where the beginnings of things is touched on, the Word of God does not try in any way to work in any of the latest scientific data of the day in which it was written.

The interesting thing to notice is that had Moses in some way tried to accommodate or tried to show how up-to-date he was and that he was not just some fuddyduddy square who didn't understand the latest explanation of things, then we would have no use for the book of Genesis in our enlightened, scientific age, would we? Had Paul tried to work in somehow to show how up-to-date he was in his thinking, that perhaps somewhere along the line the Greek gods and goddesses possibly could have had some part in the creation activities, this book would be totally outdated and be of no value to us.

I am saying that because there seems to be a real temptation on the part of many in our day to want to play fast and loose with the Word of God and try in some way to accommodate, just a little bit, the powerful scientific thinking of our day. Because so many accept a theory as the explanation for the beginnings of things, there is a real temptation, many times, in our personal conversation, or in professional writing that is done by Christians, to try to somehow show that we are up-to-date and are not old-fashioned enough to think that God simply spoke all things into being. Let me remind you that that is not a biblical position to take. The Scripture states, unequivocally, boldly, without any hesitation, “God created the heavens and the earth! By Jesus Christ were all things created.” We would do very well to take our stand with the boldness and accuracy of the Word of God.

This verse simply says, “All things were created by Jesus Christ.” But it is also important to notice, in verse 16, that not only were all things created by Him, but it also says, “All things were created for Him,” as well. Here we find that the central issue of the theory of evolution, and as opposed to the doctrine of creation by God, is the issue of authority. Why do you suppose it is that people who are obviously brilliant and usually well-educated are willing to accept something as fact, and teach it as fact, that really is only a theory? Have you ever wondered why intelligent people are so adamantly opposed to the idea of creation and in many cases so adamantly adherent to the theory of evolution or perhaps to some other explanation for origin? Of course, it is because, whether they recognize it or not, either consciously or subconsciously, to accept some other explanation for origins relieves them of the responsibility of being under the authority of a Creator.

You see, it is a very simple matter. If God created all things, then He certainly has authority over all things. If God made you and me, then He has a right to say what you and I should do. So I say, it may be subconsciously in the minds of many, but those who are trying desperately to find some other explanation for origin are influenced by the fact, whether they realize it or not, of this central issue, the issue of authority. Jesus Christ created all things, including you and me. This passage is going to show us that Jesus Christ, therefore, wants to have, and should have, authority in our lives.

Christ's Credentials for Creation

With all of this in mind, let's notice Christ's credentials for creation. If we are going to think in terms of Christ having authority in the universe and authority in our lives, then it is very important for us to understand something of His credentials for creation. This is specified for us in verse 15. Notice:

Colossians 1

15Who [He] is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.” Christ's first credential for creation I am going to refer to as His equality with Go d . He is the image of the invisible God. His equality with God, His parity with God, is suggested by the use of this word image . Our English usage of the word image is not quite the same as what is meant by the Greek word that is translated here in Colossians. The American College Dictionary defines image as the appearance of an object, such as produced by a reflection from a mirror –the likeness of something. The word image carries that idea of a reflection, of something that is not the real thing but is a picture of the real thing, the reflection of the real thing. Actually the word that is used here in verse 15 is a translation of the Greek word eikon . There is no way to exactly give the specific meaning of the Greek word eikon , but the nearest that we can come is an exact and deliberate reproduction . The idea is not just a picture of something, but it is the counterpart, it is the exact same as that which it represents. The word eikon means that the thing spoken of has equality with the thing to which it is being compared. It is exactly the same.

So when Paul writes to the Colossians, in verse 15, that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God, he is saying very clearly to those who spoke in the Greek language, “Jesus Christ is God.” “Jesus Christ is God.” It was as clear as it could be to those who read these words in the original text. In fact, what he is basically saying is that Jesus Christ is God in the sense that He is the One that we can see. He is the person of the Godhead that we can see. He is the image of the invisible God. That is, we cannot see God the Father, but we can see God the Son in the person of Jesus Christ. That really is the essence of what he is saying. In fact, Christ is so much the image of God that this is clearly stated in a couple of other passages of Scripture. Turn with me, for example, to John, chapter 14. Notice there in John 14, verses 8-9, Jesus talking to His disciples:

John 14

8Philip saith unto him, Lord, shew us the Father, and it sufficeth us.
9Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou then, Shew us the Father?

You see, Jesus himself claimed that He was the presentation of God. Jesus claimed for himself that same equality with God that Paul is claiming for Him as He writes to the Colossians.

And then go back just a few pages in the Gospel of John, chapter 1, verse 18, John, speaking about the Lord Jesus, said:

John 1

18No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.

Notice that. No one has seen God the Father, but when you have seen Jesus Christ His Son, you have seen Him. The only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, He hath declared Him.

Going back to Colossians, chapter 1, we have the testimony of Paul that Jesus Christ is God. He is qualified for creation because He is God; it is as simple as that. Of course, added to the testimony of Paul writing to the Colossians, we have seen the testimony of John, and we have seen the testimony of Jesus Christ Himself.

Christ's Pre-existence as God

In Colossians chapter 1, verse 15, we have another of Christ's credentials for creation, and that is His pre-existence as God. He based this qualification upon the use of the term in verse 15, “the Firstborn of every creature.” You notice what it says. “He is the image of the invisible God.” We have looked at that, but also the Firstborn of every creature. That term Firstborn is a very important and significant term because in saying that Christ is the Firstborn, Paul is using a familiar Old Testament term. Any of his readers who were familiar recognizes an Old Testament terminology, the Firstborn . In Scripture the Firstborn does not have to do primarily with the first one being born into a family, but it has primarily to do with qualification or authority.

The firstborn in the Jewish economy, the way God set things up, was the one who received the birthright. The one who had the birthright was the one who was the spiritual head of the family. After the father had died, the son who had the birthright was the one who became the priest of that family, the spiritual head and usually the financial and material head of the family as well. Obviously, in most cases, the firstborn was the first child born in the family, but there are some notable exceptions to that. It does not necessarily mean that the one having the birthright is the firstborn, physically speaking. For example, before we look at the examples from the Old Testament, we can think about the usage of this term in other places in the New Testament. In Revelation, chapter 1, verse 5, we have a reference to Jesus Christ being the Firstborn from the dead. Obviously, that does not mean that Jesus Christ was born out of or by means of death. That would make no sense at all. What it means is that He has authority over death. He is qualified to be the victor over death, and obviously that is true because He rose from the dead.

Even in Colossians, chapter 1, verse 18, we have the same kind of idea. “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead.” Not that He is the son of death or anything like that—that is obviously not what it is talking about. It is the fact that He had authority over death, that He was qualified to be the victor over death.

Perhaps the best example, though, of the idea of being the firstborn is the usage of this concept in the Old Testament. For example, in the Old Testament we read about Isaac and Ishmael. Remember, Ishmael was Abraham's firstborn son. He was the one who was born first physically, but Isaac was the one who would inherit the spiritual leadership and the ancestry of Jesus Christ. Isaac was the younger, but he was the one who inherited the leadership in the family. So in that odd sense, Isaac was the firstborn, even though he was the younger of the two.

In the same way, Jacob was younger than Esau in the Old Testament story, but Jacob was considered the firstborn because Esau sold him the birthright, and from that day forward Jacob, even though he was younger, was considered the firstborn. In Genesis, chapter 25, verse 23, it said in advance, speaking prophetically, that the elder would serve the younger.

As we go back to Colossians, chapter 1, this verse is not saying that Jesus Christ was born first, and it is very important for us to keep that in mind. But rather it is saying that Jesus Christ had authority over all creatures. He is the firstborn of every creature—that is that He has authority over all creatures. That, of course, tells us that He is the Creator. He has authority over all created things. The only one who could have authority over all created things is the Creator, and so these are Christ's credentials for creation.

The Completeness of His Creativity

Having now looked at those credentials for creation, let's think now about the completeness of His creativity, as it is pointed out in verse 16. Notice there we read:

Colossians 1

16For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

It is not obvious in the English, but in the Greek text it's interesting to notice that the statement is made that “By Him were the all things created.” The definite article the is present in the Greek text, so that what we read in Colossians, chapter 1, verse 16, is not that He created all other things, not that He created the rest of the things besides Himself, but He created all things .

Why am I stressing that? It is particularly important for us to recognize that He created all things, as it shows us that He Himself was not created. Obviously, if He was in existence in order to create all things, He is not one of the created things. Paul is being very specific about that with the Colossians, because remember that the Colossians were caught up in the false teaching that Christ was one of the created things and that He was an overflow of God, that somewhere along the line Christ was created and then He created everything else after Himself.

The Word of God wants us to be very careful to understand that that is not the case. Jesus Christ created all things—not just the things that came after Himself, but all things. In fact, just in case there is any question, Paul spells it out very clearly here in verse 16. First, he spells it out from the standpoint of locality. Notice, “He created all things that are in Heaven and that are in earth.” From the standpoint of visibility, “all things visible or invisible.” From the standpoint of authority, “whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.” You see, from every standpoint Paul wants the Colossians and us to be sure that we understand that Jesus Christ created all things; and so he has to hammer it out and be very specific and consider every possibility that someone might bring up.

It is interesting to notice that Paul uses this same technique in Romans, chapter 8, in talking about eternal security, and it would give us the idea that it is equally important for us to understand the creative power of Jesus Christ as it is for us to understand the doctrine of eternal security. Paul uses the same technique inspired by the Holy Spirit in explaining both of those doctrines.

The Continuation of His Creation

Not only did Christ completely create everything, verse 17 talks about the continuation of His creation. Notice there in verse 17:

Colossians 1

17And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

He is before all things from the standpoint of time, as we have already talked about. He was not created. He has always existed. He created all things, and therefore He had to pre-exist all things. He is before all things from the standpoint of time. Not only that, notice, “By Him all things consist.” We could more literally translate it, “All things hold together.” Jesus Christ is the One who is holding the molecular structure of the universe together. Jesus Christ is the One who keeps the planets in their orbits and who keeps all other things going along in their orderly path. That is Jesus Christ who does that.

It is interesting to notice also, and it goes without saying, in Paul's day, very little or nothing was known about ideas such as centrifugal force. Very little or nothing, except perhaps in the area of very broad theory, was known about an atomic structure, molecular structure, and things of that nature. And yet God the Holy Spirit had Paul write, many years before those things came into such prominent, everyday understanding, “Jesus Christ holds all things together.” So not only did He create, but He continues His creation.

Control of His Creation

Finally, as we conclude our thinking, notice that this passage also shows us Christ's capacity for control of His creation in verses 18 and 19:

Colossians 1

18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Here is probably the big idea of the whole passage. I think that this is the point to which Paul has been building in all of these verses in which he has been talking about Christ's credentials as Creator and Christ's activities as Creator and Christ's continuation of His creation.

Why would God the Holy Spirit want us to know these things? Why would Paul want the Colossians to know these things about Christ's being the Creator? Here is the point: If He can and does control the universe, then He can and He should control His people, the Church, you and me. Think about that. If Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe, then He is worthy and powerful enough to control the universe. And the Scripture tells us He does. “By Him all things hold together.” He is the One who keeps the sun coming up morning after morning and causing it to go down evening after evening. Perhaps to be more scientific, He is the One who keeps the earth coming up every morning and going down every evening–however you want to look at it. He is the One who keeps all things going as they do, and that same One wants authority and control in your life.

You know, this ought to be very reassuring to us. The One who wants authority in your life, and the One who wants authority in our lives as a group, as His Body the Church, is the One who has authority in the universe already. We sometimes balk at this idea of giving Jesus Christ control of our lives. We sometimes are hesitant about that, either consciously or unconsciously. When we are hesitant about it, we don't say very much about it publicly, but the idea crosses our minds, “No I'm not ready to give Christ complete control of my life. There are some things that I need to make the decisions about.” And yet, do you recognize that we have just been through a passage which clarifies that Jesus Christ is the Creator? That is who wants authority in your life.

The Resurrection Confirms His Deity

Do you realize that we have seen established in the Scriptures that the Creator keeps these things going in their orbits and in their passages as they should? That is Who wants authority in your life. He is the Head of the Body, the Church, and He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from the dead. And as if to remind us that He has the capacity for that control, Paul refers to two things in verses 18 and 19. First, He is the Firstborn from the dead, in verse 18. We touched on that verse a minute ago. It means He has authority over death. It means that He rose from the dead. Death could not keep Him captive because His work was finished, He rose from the dead.

Romans, chapter 1, tells us all the ways Jesus Christ was demonstrated to be the Son of God. There were many ways that God could have demonstrated that, but as the Holy Spirit was inspiring Paul to write to the Romans, he said, “Jesus Christ was declared to be the Son of God with power according to the resurrection from the dead.” How do we know that Jesus Christ was the Son of God? The miracles that He did, the teaching that He did, the life that He lived–all of those things point to the fact that He was the Son of God. But what did the Holy Spirit choose to illustrate that He was the Son of God? The resurrection from the dead!

That was what Paul was reminding the Colossians and us here in verse 18. He ought to have pre-eminence in all things, in our church and in our personal lives. Why is that? Because He is the Firstborn from the dead. We can give control of our lives, can't we, to a person who has victory over death. We can give control of our lives, can't we, to the One who created us in the first place. Certainly we should be able to.

Fullness In Him

There is a second thing in verse 19. Not only was He victorious over death, but:

Colossians 1

19For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Paul uses this terminology here in verse 19 as we have seen before, because of the false teaching that was abounding there in Colosse. Historians believe, Bible scholars believe, that it must have been the false teaching known as Gnosticism . We have referred to that before in our studies. But the Gnostics, you remember, were saying that Jesus Christ was a fullness of God, one of many fullnesses. God was so full of goodness that He overflowed and created another fullness, pleroma , and that overflowed and created another, and one of those was Christ. The Apostle Paul writes to the Colossians, “No, Jesus Christ was not one of the fullnesses. Jesus Christ was not a pleroma . Jesus Christ—it pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell.”

What does that mean to you and me? Remember, He is asking for authority in our lives. He is qualified for that authority because He is Creator. He is qualified for that authority because He is so powerful that He overcame death–the Firstborn from the dead. It means also that not only is He qualified to have authority in our lives, but He is qualified to meet any need that would ever come into our lives. In Him all fullness dwells.

Conclusion

You see, there is no problem, there is no need, there is no shortcoming that might ever arise in your life or mine as we give Him authority in our lives that He is not full enough to meet. “It pleased the Father that in Him all fullness dwells.”

As we conclude our thinking, notice again, in verse 18:

Colossians 1

18And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Jesus Christ is asking for the pre-eminence in your life and mine, just as He was the Colossians. It pleased the Father that in Him all fullness should dwell. It pleased the Father that He be pre-eminent in all things. Does it please you to put Him in that place of pre-eminence? God help us to recognize the importance of the pre-eminence of Jesus Christ in all that we do and say.


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