Colossians 1:15-20 – Image of the Invisible God & The Firstborn
(Verse 15) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Jesus was the image (G1504) (“representation”) of the invisible God
The phrase “image of the invisible God” is always in reference to him who is “both” the God and Father of Jesus Christ.
(2 Corinthians 11:31; Ephesians 1:3, 17; 3:14; 1 Peter 1:3; 2 John 1:3)
What (Verse 15) is telling us:
Jesus is the image of the invisible father, the firstborn (from the dead Col 1:18)
of all that God is creating (to be Sons and joint heirs with Christ)
(Galatians 3:28-29; Galatians 4:4-7; Romans 8:17)
#1 (Understanding the “Image” of the “Invisible”)
- Many point to Colossians 1:15 (“Who is the image of the invisible God”) in support of this incarnation claim. Now, if something is truly invisible, the only way you can be the image of anything invisible is figuratively speaking, by reflecting its character, not its physical make-up.
- If one thing is the “image” of another thing, then the “image” and the “original” are not the same things!!! When you look at someone standing in front of a mirror you see a reflection of their image. The Father is called “God” in many verses, and that is why there is no verse that calls the Father the image of God.
- Just as Jesus is called the image of God, we also are called the image of God. (1 Corinthians 11:7) says, “A man ought not to cover his head since he is the image and glory of God.”
Words in the Bible must be read and understood in their common or ordinary meaning unless good reason can be given to alter that meaning. In this case, the common meaning of “image” is “likeness” or “resemblance, representative” (Ref: G1504) and it is used that way every time in the New Testament.
#2 (Understanding the “firstborn” of every “Creature”)
In the Bible, the word “firstborn” is always used as either being the firstborn offspring of a father (as in Genesis 25:13) or as part of a group being spoken of (as in Exodus 11:5).
1) A “birth” reflects a life has been delivered into the world (brought forth into existence);
2) A “creature” reflects a type of species, and all creatures (species) were created by God (Yahweh) (Isaiah 44:24).
Jesus came into existence through the creative act of God (1 Ch 17:11-13; Acts 13:33; Heb 1:5), yet Jesus was certainly not the first living creature God created.
How can this statement be true?
As it pertains to his “birth” we know that this passage is also not speaking of Jesus’ first birth, his human birth at Bethlehem. It is speaking after He was physically born of the Virgin Mary—because many were born (of human birth) before Jesus.
In Luke 3:38, we find a lineage of Christ that traces him back to Adam. Here we have it stated that Adam was the Son of God. Knowing that Adam was the first created of the physical race.
Adam was considered a son of God because he had no natural father, Jesus is likewise considered the Son of God, for he also had no natural father.
Jesus The Firstborn of Those Who Will Be Born Again
We read in Psalms 89:27 that GOD would make him (Jesus) his firstborn. The key word in this reference is the use of the word “make”, that GOD would make him his firstborn. By his natural birth, Jesus was not the “firstborn” of all of God’s creatures.
In 1 Corinthians 15:45, we have Jesus referred to as the “last Adam.” As the first Adam is the head (beginning) of a race of people, so is the last Adam the head (beginning) of a race or family. Because of his obedience to the Father’s commands (John 8:29, Romans 5:19) those related to the last Adam (Jesus) are related to life and eternal blessings as is Christ (1 Corinthians 15:22, Php 3:21)
This is why the dialogue with Nicodemus was so important (John 3:3-6). We must be born again in the same manner as Christ. When we are given this new life, it is the same new birth/born again experience Jesus speaks of.
(Rom. 8:28-29) “And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose. For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.”
Since Jesus is the firstborn of many brethren, these many brethren will be born having the same kind of birth experience as Christ.
The Bible says we will one day be like Christ (not like God) when he appears (1 John 3:2, Col 3:4, Heb 9:28, Php 3:21) – and joint heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17).
In order to be like Christ, we must all be born again, as was Christ. Our flesh body must first somehow DIE or, as we know it, cease from existing as a blood functioning/breathing human being. Only then could a man be literally born again (given new life)!
This Experience is obtained at the Resurrection, Jesus obtained it and so shall we!
Yes, Jesus was also born again (given new life) — but this time born of God by the resurrection from the dead.
(Romans 1:3-4) “Concerning his Son Jesus Christ our Lord, which was made of the seed (born) of David according to the flesh [His human birth of Mary — making Him the Son of man]; and declared (confirmed) to be the Son of God with power, according to the spirit of holiness (God), by the resurrection from the dead.”
(1 Peter 1:3) Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead,
Yes, some will still be alive when Christ returns, during what we call the Rapture, and they too will be caught up to meet Christ in the air (1Th 4:16-17). Either way, the old body of flesh will die (Jas 2:26) and will be changed or given new bodies (1 Cor 15:52-53).
(Ref: What Does it Mean To Be Born Again? – Frequently Asked Questions About Salvation and Heaven )
(Verse 16) For by him were all things created, …. all things were created by him, and for him:
What (Verse 16) is telling us:
because before him all things were created….. on account of him and for him
#1 (The Greek Words “Dia” & “En”)
In order to truly validate and understand this passage, you first have to understand the two Greek words “Dia” and “En”. This important topic is covered in detail, Ref: (Who Is The Creator, God or Jesus? – Frequently asked Questions About Creation )
This is why:
We do NOT consider the various translations as the Word of God (just the original manuscripts), but that these translations from the original manuscripts have been born out of the need for the Word of God to be transmitted to men of different races and languages.
We do NOT claim that these translations are without error; for the translations are the works of mortal men who have made no claims that their works are the products of the inspiration of God or the assistance of the Holy Spirit.
The best transliteration of this particular passage (Colossians chp1) that I have been able to find most in-line and in harmony with that of the apostles’ belief, teachings and understanding as contained in their “original writings” is given in:
The Book of Yahweh which reads as follows:
16 Because (hoti- G3754) before (en- G1722) Him all things were created that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones, or rulerships, or principalities, or powers; all things were created on account of (because of) (dia- G1223) Him, and for Him.
In contrast to the KJV which reads; [Col 1:16 “For (G3754) by (G1722) him were all things created..”]
This version is undisputedly contradictory to the word of God (Gen 1:27, Isaiah 44:24; Nehemiah 9:6) and harmony of the scriptures. Jesus NEVER claimed to have created ANYTHING!! It is “modern man,” (not the original writers), who created and printed this very serious mistransliteration and continue to discriminate this falsehood.
(Verse 17) And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. (KJV)
What (Verse 17) is telling us:
And He (Jesus) is above……And all the things have been placed together under him.
The phrase in verse 17 that “he is before all things” has been used to try to prove that Jesus existed before everything else. However, the word “before” (G4253 – pro) can refer to time, place or position (i.e., superiority). The point of the passage here is to show that Christ is above or “superior to” all things, and the following passages reflect his superiority (words such as the fulness, the head, the beginning, before).
This passage aligns with what vs 18 signifies, Jesus is indeed (above us, superior to, the head) of the church.
18 And 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.
This is confirmed in the Corinthians writings:
1 Corinthians 15:27-28 (NIV)
(NIV) 27 For he (God) hath put all things under his (Jesus) feet. But when he saith all things are put under him, it is manifest that he is excepted, which did put all things under him. (NIV – For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ.)
28 And when all things shall be subdued unto him, then shall the Son also himself be subject unto him that put all things under him, that God may be all in all.
(Verse 19) For it pleased the Father (God) that in him (Jesus) should all fulness (completion) dwell;
(See also: God Was In Christ)
(Verse 20) And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him (Jesus) to reconcile all things unto himself; by him (Jesus), I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
What (Verse 20) is telling us:
And, through Jesus, to reconcile all things to Himself God, having made peace through his blood on the cross, whether they be things in earth or things in heaven.