Advent: The Song of Christ’s Preeminence: Part Five.

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).

Balancing the Song of Christ’s Humility from Philippians 2:5-11 is the Song of Christ’s Preeminence from Colossians 1:15-23. Philippians 2:5-11 primarily addresses the doctrine of Christ’s humanity. Colossians 1:15-20 primarily addresses the doctrine of Christ’s Deity. Not only is Jesus Christ completely human, He is also completely God. Both doctrines are biblical and must be held together.

To begin with, we have examined that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation, that 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, Jesus is also before all things, and in him all things hold together. Jesus is the head of the body of Christ, which is the church. Today, we examine the latter part of Colossians 1:18 which says, “He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.”  

 The phrase, “He is the beginning” means that Jesus initiated the action, process, or state of being of when the beginning of the created universe began. In other words, Jesus is the one who began the beginning.

Jesus is also “the firstborn from the dead.” As we previously observed in the overall context, the word firstborn doesn’t just mean the first one born of one’s parents but rather the preeminent one in status and prestige. The hope for the Christian’s resurrection is founded upon the resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The result of Jesus being the preeminent One is so in everything He may receive and be recognized as having high rank and superiority.

Dr. John Walvoord writes that, “Christ is the Beginning (archē) and the Firstborn from among the dead (cf. Rev. 1:5). Christ was the first to rise in an immortal body (1 Cor. 15:20), and as such He heads a whole new order as its Sovereign (cf. “Firstborn” in Col. 1:15). Also Christ’s resurrection marked His triumph over death (Heb. 2:14; 1 John 3:8). He was the “Firstfruits” of those who die (1 Cor. 15:20) since, unlike others, He rose never to die again. He “was declared with power to be the Son of God by His resurrection from the dead” (Rom. 1:4). So He continues to live “on the basis of the power of an indestructible life” (Heb. 7:16). All this is so that in everything He might have the supremacy. Christ is given first place over all Creation. He is preeminent. The same eternal Logos (John 1:1) who “became flesh” (John 1:14) and “humbled Himself” (Phil. 2:8) is now “exalted” by God the Father “to the highest place” and has been given “the name that is above every name” (Phil. 2:9).”

Lewis Edson (22 January 1748 – 1820 in Woodstock, New York) was one of America’s first musical composers. He began working as a blacksmith, but soon after became a notable singer in his day. His most popular compositions were BridgewaterLenox and Green Field and were published in 1782 in the “Choristers Companion.” One of Edson’s hymns is entitled O, What a Preeminent Christ. The lyrics are as follows.

Oh, what a preeminent Christ!
You have the first place in all things.
Your name is above every name,
Exalted by God, Lord and King.
My portion is Yourself alone,
Allotted by God in the light.
I hold You as my Head today.
Lord, You are my focus, my life.

Oh, what a preeminent Christ!
My center, my hope, and my joy!
The power and wisdom of God!
The One I uniquely enjoy.
To grow up in You in all things,
I ask You to shepherd my soul.
Whatever You wish, Lord — amen.
I give You my heart as a whole.

Oh, what a preeminent Christ!
We look to Your coming again.
Your glory will fill the whole earth!
Your people will sound the Amen!
No darkness remains at the dawn
Of seeing Your glorious face —
We love Your appearing within;
Our God, our Beloved, what grace!

Soli deo Gloria and Merry Christmas.

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