From Alienation to Redemption: The Supremacy of Christ over All Things in Colossians 1:15-23 (Part One)

By David Brown

Mankind’s tendency is to rest upon its laurels. We tend to focus on our own accomplishments: monetary possessions, titles, education, popularity, etc. One of the things that frustrates me to no end in our society is the never ending desire to honor man. And as a Christian pastor, it is really troublesome because oftentimes we replace God in our services with man and we honor ourselves and our accomplishments rather than God’s.

Think about the number of holidays that we have that honor ourselves.We have Valentines day, Mother’s day, Father’s day, Presidents day, Martin Luther King day, Veterans day, Secretaries day, Columbus day… and the list goes on.

The sad part about this is that on these holiday weekends, in many churches, sermon proclamation has been replaced with the philosophical views of humanism.

* Humanism – A philosophical or religious viewpoint that emphasizes human values, worth, and achievement. It is sometimes used in contrast to a theological viewpoint that gives God the place of supreme value.

Christians must be careful of this in church life.

Now, I’m happy to recognize someone’s birthday or anniversary, or military service, but we can go overboard with these holidays, honoring ourselves at God’s expense. The passage before us today (Colossians 1:15-23) is a passage that is made up of a single sentence that puts the focus squarely on Jesus Christ.

But to grasp this passage and its surrounding context we must first understand how Paul organized it.

Structure of the Context
* The Focal Point of Christ as He moves from Alienation
to Redemption (1:1-23):

  • A. Giving thanks to the Father for the Work of
    His Son (1:3-14)
  • B. The Supremacy of Christ in Creation and
    Redemption (1:15-20)
  • C. The Response to the Work of Christ (1:21-23)

All of this emphasizes Christ and His work as the focal point in life.

There are also a number of literary movements that we need to be made aware of as we look at this context:

Literary Movements

  • From You (v. 12) to Us (v. 13)
  • From Father (v. 12) to Son (v. 13)
  • From Alienation (v. 21) to Reconciliation (v. 22)
  • From being hostile in mind and engaged in evil deeds (v. 21) to being Holy, blameless, and beyond reproach (v. 22)

These literary movements are crucial for us to recognize because they all reflect the supremacy of Christ. And the constant literary movements reflect the work that He (Christ) has done and continues to do on our behalf. We also need to take a look at one other literary device and that can be seen in verses 15-20 which is also known as the Colossians hymn.

Repeating Concept that Emphasize Jesus’ Supremacy

The Supremacy of Christ:
A) He is the first born of all creation (v15b)
| B) He is before all things (v17a)
| | C) In Him all things are held together (v17b)
| B) He is the head of the body, the church (v18a)
A) He the firstborn from the dead… (v18b)

The emphasis in this structure is the Supremacy of Christ, and the truth that HE should be first in our lives as well.
So now, think about all of those national holidays that we have that honor man and our accomplishments. When we focus on honoring ourselves we automatically push Christ to the side.

Main Point:

Jesus Christ, the agent and goal of God’s act of creation, is the one through whom God reconciles all things through His death on the cross. Through this reconciliation, God will present believers as acceptable to Himself if they continue to stand firm in the Gospel they have received.

POINT I. Christ Has Supremacy Over All Things.

Read Colossians 1:15-17.

In the Colossian Hymn, Christ is described with imagery of the preeminent position (from both a grammatical and theological perspective) He has over all creation.Christ’ position in heaven is one of authority and this is noted in verse 15.

Authority & Hierarchy

  • In verse 15 the term “firstborn” denotes the image of rank
    or position.
  • In verse 17 Paul wrote that “all things are held together by Him.”
  • Notice the progression from creating (vv. 15, 16) to sustaining (v. 17) or bringing about order in all things.
  • All of these concepts (from the creation account in Genesis) emphasize the image of the supremacy that Christ holds in all creation.
  • And therefore, He should be first in every aspect of our lives.

Dr. David Brown (Ph.D, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Senior Pastor of Roseland Park Baptist Church in Picayune, Mississippi. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidbdwb.

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