LINK: Colossians 1:15-23
The false teachers believed matter was evil. This matter included the human body. Therefore, they taught that Jesus Christ did not have a real body. God would not have come to earth as a human being and come in contact with evil matter.
To combat this, Paul stated that Christ is the exact image of the invisible God. Christ is not only equal with God (Philippians 2:6), He is God (John 10:30, 38; 12:45; 14:1-11). The Greek word, eikōn, means the "very substance or essential embodiment of something or someone" (The Bible Knowledge Commentary:Volume 2, p. 672).
Christ also holds the highest rank in the universe because He is the "firstborn of all creation." Like the firstborn son in a Hebrew family, He is heir to His Father's household with special rights and responsibilities. He is preeminent over creation. Further than that, He created it all! The "firstborn" cannot be part of creation if He created "all things" because He cannot create Himself. He is worshiped by all the angels (Hebrews 1:6). This also indicates He is God, and Paul probably emphasized this because the false teachers put a great emphasis on angels (2:18). The Greek word for "firstborn" here, prōtotokos, implies priority to all creation and sovereignty over all creation.
Christ is also "head of the body, the church." This Greek word, kephale, means "source, like the head of a river." Our body would not function without our head. The church cannot function without Christ. He is our source of life through His risen life.
"For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him" (1:19). I love this verse. Remember that "fullness" (plērōma) is a key word and means "completeness." The Greek word for "dwell" (katoikēsai) means "to be at home permanently." This indicates that God fullness was "not something added to His [Christ's] Being that was not natural to Him, but that it was part of His essential Being as part of His very constitution, and that permanently" (Ephesians and Colossians in the Greek New Testament, Eerdmans, p. 187). Meditate on this: The completeness of God resides permanently in Christ (Ephesians 3:19)! I believe it is such a powerful statement of Christ's deity! "For of His [Christ's] fullness we have all received and grace upon grace" (John 1:16). Hallelujah!
Because Christ is God in the flesh, He could do what no mere man could do: reconcile sinful man to a holy God. Reconciliation is the "removal of hostility and the restoring of friendly relations to parties who have been at war" (Holman New Testament Commentary: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, p. 284). We know from our reading in Romans that when Adam sinned, the harmony in the garden between God and man was destroyed leading to a war between God and mankind; but Christ, through His death on the cross, brought us "back to a former state of harmony." We are now at peace with God and not at war. The creation is also at peace with its Creator (Romans 8:19-22) with the full realization of this happening at Christ's return.
The Colossians would be presented to God holy because of the blood of Jesus. "If" in 1:23 is better rendered "assuming that" they continued in their faith, established and settled and not moved away from it by the silly false teachers! "If" implies that they would have to work at their eternal salvation. He is expressing confidence that they will continue in their faith!
I have studied Colossians, in depth, twice! I think this passage is so important; and when I heard the national leaders from the movement I am a part of declare there is no assertion of Christ's deity in the writings of Paul, I said, "Say what? What about Colossians 1?" (Hate to say it, but being a woman, they did not really hear me when I said it. Studying it again this morning makes me want to shout it louder, but I will just pray. Sigh.)
When one of the young, immature followers in this movement also declared this in the gatherings we host in our home, I did boldly proclaim that Paul does make it clear in the book of Colossians! So, we spent the next few weeks going through this book.
By the way, this is my number one concern about some of the young, zealous believers in our midst, they are NOT grounded in the Word of God, yet they are sharing their faith passionately without the best offensive weapon (Ephesians 6:17). I have seen some get tripped up when people challenge them on the deity of Christ. Please pray. (Update: more recent years have brought us people more solidly grounded in God's Word.)
If you are reading this, you are probably NOT one of those people. You want to be grounded in the Word of God, and I applaud that. Please learn this well and carry on, good and faithful servant!
I also believe that as we walk in obedience to what Jesus said to do, we will become more convinced that what He said about Himself is true!
Try to find other verses that assert the deity of Christ. Memorize some of them. As you share your faith, you will be challenged in this area, and I encourage you to STAND STRONG!
Jesus, You are GOD! Thank You that You came to reconcile me to the Father! Amen.