Colossians 1:19

“And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell…” Colossians 1:18-19.

Christ is shown in this chapter as the firstborn over all creation, not because He was born or created but because as God the Son He has the preeminence over all of creation.

He has preeminence over thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, visible and invisible.

He has preeminence because He holds all things together by the word of His power.

He has preeminence because He is the firstborn from the dead, having been crucified, buried, and rising again never to die evermore.

He has preeminence because He is the head of the church having shed His own blood for her.

Jesus Christ has preeminence over everything in all of creation, visible, and invisible, everything. Yet mankind, Satan’s ally, does not recognize Him as such.

Even the devil has to come to Christ, hat in hand, and ask His permission to do something. And you know what? Even with God’s permission, he would be nearly helpless to do anything if it were not for his eager friends in the world of men.

Godless men of this earth complain that if there were a God why does He not do something about evil in this world. And as these unbelievers speak they are busily doing or ignoring evil all around them, handing Satan more ammunition.

“The only thing necessary for the triumph of evil is for good men to do nothing.” Edmund Burke.

“For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell…” Colossians 1:19.

Christ in the form of a man is all that God is, dwelling in Jesus Christ. Consider then the God who created, from nothing, the smallest atom to gigantic stars some of which are so large that it would take a photon of light eight years (186,000 miles per second) to go around its equator, and surely there are much larger ones.

God put these things in space at incredible distances from each other and they have to be measured in light years instead of miles. A light year is 5.88 trillion miles, and many stars are millions of light years away.

Yet an angel can cross the distance from heaven to earth in minutes, perhaps seconds. God then goes on to say this of Himself.

“Am I a God near at hand,” says the Lord, “And not a God afar off? Can anyone hide himself in secret places, so I shall not see him?” says the Lord; “Do I not fill heaven and earth?” says the Lord.” Jeremiah 23:23-24.

“Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence? If I ascend into heaven, You are there; if I make my bed in hell, behold, You are there. If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea, even there Your hand shall lead me, and Your right hand shall hold me.” Psalm 139:7-10.

“…in Him all the fullness should dwell” Colossians 1:19b; all of it Jesus Christ lacked nothing of His Godhood, His omniscience, omnipresence, omnipotence, His holiness, love, and courage. Fullness means exactly what it says. If this is so, what does the following verse mean?

“But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels, for the suffering of death crowned with glory and honor, that He, by the grace of God, might taste death for everyone.” Hebrews 2:9.

Jesus, at His incarnation, when He became a man, occupied a position which is below that of the angels. This did not mean that He became any less God; merely that He took the place of a servant rather than the head of the household.

You might compare it to the difference between a general and a sergeant in the army. One is far superior to the other in rank, yet they might both be excellent golfers or woodworkers, making them both peers, even admirers of each other otherwise. Man’s position is given scripturally in the following Psalm.

“When I consider Your heavens, the work of Your fingers, the moon and the stars, which You have ordained, what is man that You are mindful of him, and the son of man that You visit him? For You have made him a little lower than the angels, and You have crowned him with glory and honor.” Psalm 8:3-5.

David, the psalmist, asks a powerful question here; “…what is man that You are mindful of him”. It is a question that must have come to mind in his youth as he tended his father’s sheep.

Lying on his back in the fields at night and looking up at the stars, he must have realized how small man is and marveled at the loving-kindness of God for even considering us.

Years later the Holy Spirit was able to draw on this beautiful imagery and produce this psalm.

We have presidents and politicians who are not worthy to hold God’s sandals and yet they only go to the great unwashed below them when they need their votes.

Men carp at God and then treat others created by Him like trash. The mendacious hypocrisy of mankind is something that will become exceedingly evident on Judgment Day.

But the question is a good one, why would someone so holy and so powerful even consider us? In fact many people seem to have this attitude, “God is busy, running the universe, why should He care about my piddling troubles?”

Many say that God created everything and wound up the clock, so to speak, and wandered off to do something else.

Others might say, “I am just a sinner living in a rundown tenement in a ghetto in a wretched city nobody in their right mind wants to live in; God does not even know that I exist!”

Still others may say, “God’s got no use for me and I have no use for Him. He just does not exist as far as I am concerned.”

Often even Christians have attitudes like this; robbing them of so many blessings that God has in store for those who will just ask.

David’s question was a rhetorical one that he answered in the next few verses of Psalm 8 so this would be a good Psalm to study sometime.

There is also another Psalm that glorifies God, for who He is, an intimate, great and sovereign God who is continually concerned for each one of His creatures, and though He is holy beyond comprehension, still humbles Himself and looks on those who trust Him.

“The Lord is high above all nations, and His glory above the heavens. Who is like the Lord our God who dwells on high, who humbles Himself to behold the things that are in the heavens and in the earth?” Psalm 113:4-6.

Ultimately God humbled Himself to become a man and dwelt among us. Even then, Jesus Christ did not have an entourage of angels going before Him announcing to all His importance and deity, but He humbled Himself to the point of becoming the servant of all. One of whom it could be said as in Isaiah 53 below.

“He is despised and rejected by men, a man of sorrows and acquainted with grief. And we hid, as it were, our faces from Him; He was despised, and we did not esteem Him.” Isaiah 53:3.

If you ever read the works of some of the Christian expositors from seventy-five years or so ago you will on occasion notice that they call Jesus’ time here on earth, the days of His humiliation. This term most surely came from the above verses and ones like the following.

“Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a servant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross. Therefore God also has highly exalted Him and given Him the name which is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those in heaven, and of those on earth, and of those under the earth, and that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” Philippians 2:5-11.

Pay careful attention to the first phrase of this verse, “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus…” Christians who endeavor to carefully follow in Christ’s footsteps will also be glorified when they stand before him in heaven.

“For if anyone thinks himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceives himself.” Galatians 6:3.

“For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.” Romans 12:3.

“And let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.” Galatians 6:9.

“Humble yourselves in the sight of the Lord, and He will lift you up.” James 4:10.

“Therefore humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time, casting all your care upon Him, for He cares for you.” 1 Peter 5:6-7.

As the master is, so should the servant be.

“But why do you call Me ‘Lord, Lord,’ and do not do the things which I say?” Luke 6:46.

Before we leave verse 19 in Colossians it may be helpful to examine the passage in Philippians 2 quoted a bit earlier as it is translated in the New American Standard Bible.

“Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus, who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant, and being made in the likeness of men.” Philippians 2:5-7.

The phrase, “…but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bondservant” tells us a lot about His humbling Himself to become a Man. The words “emptied Himself” actually means that Jesus laid aside His privileges.

Jesus could not have actually remained God if He got rid of His privileges on earth altogether. He did not lose or give away the qualities that made Him God.

Christ merely did not use them, laying them aside and relying instead on God the Father to tell Him what to do at all times.

As humans this is inconceivable; imagine being God from eternity past and being able to say, “I need this” and zap there it is and then going to earth and not using those powers for your own comfort.

I need a warm blanket, zap, there it is, I would like a decent meal, zap, there it is, these people are shoving and hitting me, zap, a one way ticket to hell for them.

I always think of the television series, “I Dream of Jeannie” from the sixties. A man named Major Nelson finds a bottle with a genie in it, the woman inside is so grateful for being released after two thousand years that she vows to serve him constantly.

It is a cute show with one huge flaw; the Major does not want anything from his genie, while at the same time his best friend another officer named Major Healey is dying to use her powers.

The flaw is this; the sin nature dictates that Major Nelson would eventually use her powers occasionally then constantly, and if he were like most men he would soon use it for evil.

One of the benefits of studying the Bible is that in time one begins to see just how remarkable the Lord Jesus is.

Some of the first things we begin to notice, if we are seeking them, is His love, then His tirelessness in His ministry, His compassion shows up soon enough, as well as His hatred for sin. Now you can chalk up His discipline to your list.

We are now beginning to see more than a one dimensional cardboard cutout of Christ and beginning to see a remarkable Man, God incarnate, worthy of our loyalty.

Colossians 1:19 taken from posted on 12-11-13, updated on 2-23-20.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version, copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission, all rights reserved.

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