The Preeminence of Christ

by Mike Ratliff

1 God, after He spoke long ago to the fathers in the prophets in many portions and in many ways, 2 in these last days has spoken to us in His Son, whom He appointed heir of all things, through whom also He made the world. 3 And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power. When He had made purification of sins, He sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, 4 having become as much better than the angels, as He has inherited a more excellent name than they. Hebrews 1:1-4 (NASB) 

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 Savior is God.  We serve a risen Savior 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, 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. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:15-20 (NASB) 

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 showed you many good works from the Father; for which of them are you stoning Me?” 33 The Jews answered Him, “For a good work we do not stone You, but for blasphemy; and because You, being a man, make Yourself out to be God.” John 10:30-33 (NASB) 

8 But of the Son He says,
“YOUR THRONE, O GOD, IS FOREVER AND EVER,
AND THE RIGHTEOUS SCEPTER IS THE SCEPTER OF HIS KINGDOM. Hebrews 1:8 (NASB) 

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 become conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brethren; Romans 8:29 (NASB) 

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 son, My firstborn. 23 So I said to you, ‘Let My son go that he may serve Me’; but you have refused to let him go. Behold, I will kill your son, your firstborn.”’” Exodus 4:22-23 (NASB) 

9 “With weeping they will come,
And by supplication I will lead them;
I will make them walk by streams of waters,
On a straight path in which they will not stumble;
For I am a father to Israel,
And Ephraim is My firstborn.” Jeremiah 31:9 (NASB) 

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 up and spoke to them, saying, “All authority has been given to Me in heaven and on earth. Matthew 28:18 (NASB)

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 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. Colossians 1:17 (NASB)

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

18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. Colossians 1:18 (NASB) 

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 it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. Colossians 1:19-20 (NASB) 

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!