He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
“He is the image of the invisible God, …,”
We come to a grand and lofty section of Colossians. The Holy Spirit presents the Son of God in all his towering preeminence.
Verses 15-20 presents the glory of Christ. Jesus is unique in seven distinct ways. These distinctives qualify him to have supremacy (v.18). In seven strokes, the Holy Spirit sets forth the imposing superiority of the Son of God:
The Image of God
The Firstborn Over All Creation
Creator of the Universe
Head of the Church
Firstborn from the Dead
The Fullness of God
The Reconciler of all Things
These qualities are why he is King Jesus, the sovereign King of the world.
We can also view His superiority by seven descriptions:
He is the image of God
He has priority over all creation
He is the Creator
He antedated everything and everyone
He personally holds the universe together
He is the Lord of the church.
He is the originator of the church by rising from the dead.
“He is the image of the invisible God”
First, Christ is the image of the invisible God. “Image” means more than that Jesus is like God; he is the representative and manifestation of God. “Image” denotes not only the image but pattern, the original which sets forth likeness or resemblance of God. Jesus represents the Father, like the picture on a dollar bill represents the President (Heb 1:3). If we have seen Jesus, we have seen the Father (John 1:14;14:9). He is not made in the image of God as man is made in the image of God. He is the “express image” of God (Heb 1:3). Since he is God, he reflects all that God is.
The “Son” is the exact image, not the derived image of God. He does not merely resemble but represents God (Rom 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:29). He has all the essence of deity. He is sovereign, eternal life, omniscience, omnipotence, immutability, etc. He is God himself (2 Cor. 4:4). The Son is essentially and eternally the image of God. We see God best in the person of Christ. He is the highest form of special revelation. We see God in Christ like we see images from rays of light. The Son is the revealer of God.
His image is that of the “invisible God.” The Son is the only person of the trinity manifest to man (John 1:18; 6:46; 1 Tim 6:16; 1 John 4:12). He is the revealer of the trinity. God is perfectly seen in Christ.
“Image” implies that there is a prototype of which the image is a copy. As a Son to the Father, he is an exact derived reproduction of God (Heb 1:3; Phil 2:6). The next verse demonstrates that Paul is speaking of the Son as prior to all creation.
Jesus is all of God that we will ever see (John 10:30; 14:9; Col. 2:9).
The Lord Jesus is the great, grand, and glorious theme of Scripture. He is both the center and the circumference of the Word of God. The Old Testament predicted his coming, the gospels announced that he came, the remaining Scriptures predict his coming again. Delete the Lord Jesus from the Bible. You have a theme without a plot, music without harmony, and a car without a motor. In this passage, Jesus is set forth in all his towering superiority.
Jesus stands set apart from David, Solomon, John, Peter, and Paul. He is incomparable to any human being. He is far removed from a simple human being. To put Jesus on the same level with men infuriates God, “And a cloud came and overshadowed them, and a voice came out of the cloud, saying, “This is My beloved Son. Hear Him!” (Mark 9:7). Peter, James, and John had just made a comparison of Jesus with Moses and Elijah. The Son is absolutely unique and shares his glory with no man.
Are you beginning to realize how wonderful the Lord is?
I have had been thrilled to use your verse by verse commentary to help me study scripture and teach a Bible study on Colossians. Thank you, Grant.
A quick correction or notice on this page: Christ’s 7 distinctives seem to be different here than in the rest of your commentary for later verses.
In the rest of your commentary, this is what changes”
4) Before all things
5) All things consist
6) Head of the Body
7) Beginning and firstborn from the dead
Thought you might want to correct this page so future readers wont be confused.
Brad, thanks for calling attention to this confusion. I attempt to clarify by adding “seven descriptions” which culminate in “that in all things he may have the preeminence.”
How can Jesus denote not only image but pattern which sets forth likeness or resemblance
Of God if God is a spirit? Are you referring to physical Resemblance – as shape or
The argument of Colossians teaches that the Son of God is the Creator. “In him all things hold together” (Col 1:17). This passage shows that He is the manifestation of God and not a mere agent of creation. His creation power reveals His eternity, power, wisdom and omnipresence. As the Creator He is “before all things” (v.17) and is therefore eternal. It is such a God who became such a Savior. Thus, within the eternal trinity, the Son is the perfect image of the Father. Hebrews 1:3, for example, explains Jesus as “the brightness of the Father’s glory, and the express image of His person.” The word “image” indicates that there is some likeness or resemblance between Christ and God and that this likeness is manifested in Christ. In saying “he is the image of the invisible God,” Paul is saying that there is some kind of visible manifestation of God which is seen in him. In itself this expression does not indicate the deity of Christ. Man was created in the image of God (Gen. 1:26–27). The context of Colossians 1, however, points to a much stronger relationship to God than that of ordinary men. He is the Creator of all things (1:16). He is before all things, and he is the sustainer of all things (1:17). His authority is much greater than that of any man or any creature. He, the Creator, is the visible image of the sovereign authority of God. His authority is not a delegated or diminished authority. It is the authority of one “in whom all the fullness of deity dwells in bodily form” (2:9). These passages point to the revelation of the Father through the Son as a revelation which is different in kind from the revelation that has been given through the prophets. That difference is based on the fact that the Son has the same divine nature that God the Father has, that he has an intimate relationship with God, that he knows God intimately, that he perfectly manifests the character and glory of God, and that seeing him is the same as seeing God the Father.
Grant, your answers are so clear, concise and scriptural… Such a blessing, thank you for all your work with these commentaries and for taking the time to personally respond.
I really appreciate the explanations/narratives related to Colossians.
Thanks for enriching me spiritually with the scriptures. May I please have an explanation of Colossians 7:15.
It talks about peace.
Mahlatse, thanks for your comment. Note that you gave the wrong verse. However, I have done studies on every verse in Colossians. All you have to do is use the book then the verse search option at the upper right of the page.
Iam so blessed with this commentary. May the Lord reward you abundantly. Please kindly give more inspired explanation on “the firstborn over all creation” for proper understanding.Does this mean Christ was the first creation of God the fathet before He became the word of God through who all other things were brought to existence or not? Thank you.
Samuel, if you go to the next study by tapping 1:15b you will find your answer. Or, you can hit this link: http://versebyversecommentary.com/colossians/colossians-115-2/
Great post! Have nice day ! 🙂 csuki