Life-Study of Colossiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
In this message we shall consider what it means for Christ to be the firstborn of all creation (1:15-17). The main purpose of the book of Colossians is to show that Christ is everything, that He is all. In the universe everything that exists is included under one of two basic headings: the Creator and the creation. In order to show us that Christ is all, the Bible tells us that Christ is both the Creator and the firstborn of all creation. If He were only the Creator but not the firstborn of creation, then He would not be all.
In Colossians Paul deals with such things as Jewish observances, Gentile ordinances, mysticism, Gnosticism, and asceticism. Of all the negative things that he deals with, one stands out as especially serious—the worship of angels, which is a form of idolatry. To worship anything other than God, including such creatures as angels, is idolatry. Nevertheless, because they regarded themselves and others as being unworthy to contact God directly, certain heretical teachers in Colosse advocated angel worship. They taught that God is very high and that we are very low, that God is glorious and that man is corrupt. Therefore, according to their heretical teaching, we could not be worthy to contact God directly. According to them, we must have some kind of intermediary. These teachers said that the angels are the intermediaries between us and God. This was the concept behind the angel worship that had invaded the church in Colosse.
The angel worship Paul dealt with in this Epistle was related to a sense of humility. Some thought it was a sign of humility to believe that they were not worthy to worship God directly. Apparently they had some ground in the Bible for their position. The Bible records that the law was not given to Moses by God directly; it was given through the mediation of angels (Gal. 3:19). Hence, in the giving of the law the angels functioned as intermediaries. The heretical teachers went on to say that the angels should be the intermediaries between God and fallen man. They encouraged the saints to show humility by following this way of worship. It seems as if these teachers were telling those in Colosse, “You shouldn’t be so proud as to think that you can go directly to God. You must humble yourselves and recognize your need of angels to serve as intermediaries between you and God.” Paul was fighting against such a concept when he said, “Let no one purposely defraud you of your prize, in humility and worship of the angels” (2:18). We should not be carried away by someone’s humility or by a teaching regarding angel worship.
In 2:9 and 10 Paul says, “For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, and you in Him are made full, Who is the Head of all rule and authority.” The words rule and authority refer to the angels. Christ is the Head of all the angels, not only of subordinate angels, but of those angels that have rule, power, and authority.
We need to see why Paul inserts the phrase in 2:10, “Who is the Head of all rule and authority.” It is rather easy for us to understand that all the fullness of the Godhead dwells in Christ bodily, that is, in bodily form (2:9). When Christ was on earth, He had a physical body, and in that body all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt. Because the fullness dwells in Him and because we are in Him, it follows that in Him we are made full (2:10). But then Paul suddenly speaks of Christ being the Head of all rule and authority. The One in whom all the fullness of the Godhead dwells and the One in whom we are made full is the very Head of all rule and authority. It is crucial that we see the significance of this.
In order to understand the insertion of this clause, we need to consider it in the context of the whole book. Colossians reveals that Christ is all. Paul emphasized this to the Colossians because they had accepted the heresy of angel worship. Apparently the saints in Colosse did not think that Christ could be the intermediary between them and God. To their concept, Christ was too exalted to help them in this way. Hence, they felt they needed angels as intermediaries. This was the reason Paul told them that Christ is the Head of all angels. As long as we have Christ, who is everything, there is no need for us to rely on angels. If we need an intermediary, Christ is our intermediary. This is not the function of angels. Yes, God is high, and we are very low. But this does not mean that we need angels as intermediaries. In Christ we have been made full; we are short of nothing. Because the Colossians were regarding angels as intermediaries, they needed to see that Christ is the Head of all the angels. Christ is everything. As long as they had Him, they had been made full. Both doctrinally and experientially, we should be able to testify that in Christ we have been made full and are short of nothing. In Christ we have God, righteousness, life, and all the positive things in the whole universe. By having Christ we have the One who is the Head of all angels. How mistaken the Colossians were in accepting the heresy of angel worship! Because Christ is all, we should go to Him for everything we need. Now we see that Paul added a clause in 2:10 in order to impress the Colossians with the fact that we do not need angels as intermediaries because our Christ is the Head of all rule and authority. He is the Head of all angels.
Colossians reveals that Christ is everything, both the Creator and the firstborn of all creation. If Christ were only the Creator but not anything of the creation, He would not be all. Thus, the fullness, the expression of the Triune God, would not be complete. Paul’s concept in Colossians is profound. The fullness, the full expression of the Triune God, dwells in Christ. As the One who is all, He is both the Creator and the firstborn of all creation. This is a basic principle.
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