The Preeminence of Christ

by Mike Ratliff

1 Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, 2 but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. 3 He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs. (Hebrews 1:1-4 ESV)

Much of what we see in the “Post-Modern” version of “Christian” teaching is that if Jesus were here now He wouldn’t be a Christian. In other words, the “Church” has got it wrong. While much of what I see “Christian” leaders doing these days seems to verify that statement, there is still the core of genuine Believers who make up the Invisible True Church that do not have it wrong. They know in whom they have believed. They know that their Lord and Saviour is God. I read a book review the other day about a book by Dennis Johnson titled The Triumph of the Lamb. The reviewer stated, “…Revelation fortifies the church against the Enemy’s wiles by disclosing the profound paradoxes of Christ’s victory and glory. The central themes of Revelation converge with Christ’s triumph over the Enemy.” We serve a risen Saviour whose Preeminence is over all.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 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. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:15-20 ESV)

Jesus Christ is the perfect image or exact likeness of God. He is the very form of God because He is God. Yes, He became a man in His incarnation. He is both. He is the God/Man. (Philippians 2:6; John 1:14; John 14:9) However, He is still fully God.

30 I and the Father are one.”
31 The Jews picked up stones again to stone him. 32 Jesus answered them, “I have shown you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you going to stone me?” 33 The Jews answered him, “It is not for a good work that we are going to stone you but for blasphemy, because you, being a man, make yourself God.” (John 10:30-33 ESV)

8 But of the Son he says,
“Your throne, O God, is forever and ever,
the scepter of uprightness is the scepter of your kingdom. (Hebrews 1:8 ESV)

In v15 from Colossians 1 we see the phrase, “firstborn of all creation.” What does that mean? If we misinterpret this phrase we will be well on our way to being a cult, or at least part of one. The cults say that this proves that Jesus was a created being. However the Greek word for “firstborn” here, while it can be firstborn as in birth order, most often refers to pre-eminence in position or rank as in the following passage.

29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. (Romans 8:29 ESV)

In the culture of the Jews and the Greeks the firstborn son was first in rank. This gave him the right of inheritance whether he was the first born chronologically or not. In the Old Testament we see the Nation of Israel, while not being the first Nation on Earth was the preeminent Nation to God.

22 Then you shall say to Pharaoh, ‘Thus says the Lord, Israel is my firstborn son, 23 and I say to you, “Let my son go that he may serve me.” If you refuse to let him go, behold, I will kill your firstborn son.’” (Exodus 4:22-23 ESV)

9 With weeping they shall come,
and with pleas for mercy I will lead them back,
I will make them walk by brooks of water,
in a straight path in which they shall not stumble,
for I am a father to Israel,
and Ephraim is my firstborn. (Jeremiah 31:9 ESV)

This tells us clearly that “firstborn” means the highest rank or position. What does this tell us then about our Lord Jesus Christ? Look at Matthew 28:18.

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. (Matthew 28:18 ESV)

In many cases the word “all” is used alliteratively to mean a large number or to convey the idea of a number that is larger than we can count, however, in v18 of Matthew 28 the word “all” means all. Jesus has all authority. He is preeminent. He existed before creation and is exalted above it.

16 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. (Colossians 1:16 ESV)

The Son created all things, both the material and spiritual things. Why? He created them for Himself for His pleasure and glory. Jesus is the most abused person to have ever lived. His character is besmirched and mocked. He is presented in ways that are blasphemous. He is preached as if He is impotent and just wants people to get along and be happy. However, He is the creator and He is above all things and He will be the judge of it all soon.

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

Christ is eternal and He holds the Universe together. He is the one who maintains everything so that life can exist here.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. (Colossians 1:18 ESV)

If a body loses its head then it dies. Paul uses a metaphor of a body to portray the Church. Christ is the head. Christ controls it. Those in it (the true invisible Church) are His sheep who hear His voice and follow Him. What does it mean that He is the beginning? The source of the Church is Christ. He gave it life through His death on the cross as a perfect sacrifice acceptable unto God to purchase the Church and become its Sovereign. He rules and reigns over it right now. He is the firstborn from the dead. What does that mean? As a Man he is the first to be resurrected to never die again. He is the first of all who will be resurrected unto eternal life with Him. Because of what He has done, He is preeminent or supreme.

19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. (Colossians 1:19-20 ESV)

Christ contains all the fullness of God. There are no other entities that share the fullness with Him. He has it all. The word “reconcile” here is the Greek word that refers to a change in the sinner’s relationship to God. In other words, through Christ, men can be reconciled to God and have peace with Him whereas before that, they were enemies of God because they were still in their sins against which God’s wrath burns. This reconciliation was made possible for the elect at the cross through our Saviour’s blood.

Are you in Christ? If so then you should thank Him with your entire being for what He did for you through His perfect sinless life and His sacrifice on the cross in your place. We must worship Him! We must not take Him for granted. He is our Saviour, our all-in-all. He is the Lamb of God who took away the sin of His people through His perfect sacrifice on the cross. Oh Praise Him! Soli Deo Gloria!

Here is a link to a magnificent article about our Saviour.

10 thoughts on “The Preeminence of Christ

  1. Mike,
    Thank you for that thought provoking post. It made me cry. Our wonderful and precious Jesus! I was just sitting here wondering why I was so blessed! We area a very very blessed people, that’s for sure. Yes, Praise Him!

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  2. Hi Mike, Wow the Spirit is working in some of us on the same ‘wave length’ so to speak. We just finished Dennis Johnsons book you mentioned, and we are currently in the commentary on the Heidelberg catechism by Ursinus and we JUST read the part you have written about in your article!! Amazing……..what a mighty God we serve!! 🙂

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  3. Deborah,

    Yes, we are very blessed. I know you are hurting right now and are in a place where you must trust Him even when it looks crazy. You have done that. He is good! He will take care of you.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  4. Paul,

    What a great God we serve! Amen! I haven’t read Dennis’ book yet,but I intend to order it very soon. It comes highly recommended.

    In Christ

    Mike Ratliff

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  5. Mike,
    I am so thankful for both you and Rick and for your constant reminders how wonderful and amazing our Lord is. He who deserves so much praise, does not receive half of what He deserve. He should be exalted much more by His own.

    Give unto the LORD the glory due to His name; Worship the LORD in the beauty of holiness.
    Psalms 29:2.

    Cristina

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  6. For it is written, As I live, saith the Lord, every knee shall bow to me, and every tongue shall confess to God. So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God. Rom 14:11-12

    That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth; Php 2:10

    Not only does man ignore the majesty of our Lord and Creator, but many Christians today seem to have missed these verses as well as the warning Christ gave his twelve disciples in Luke 12:5. Honour, fear and respect for God, the Father, Son and Holy Spirit, have been lost in this “it’s all about me” generation. The purity and absolute holiness and wonder of God is not considered, recognized or realized by man because we have fallen so far into self.

    But, what a wonderful hope we have in Him when we honour and seek Him. La 3:21-26

    In Christ,
    Paul

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