1:17 All things refers to everything created (v. 16). The preposition before most likely is a temporal reference to the preexistence of Christ before creation. The phrase by him all things hold together presents Christ as the one who sustains all creation.
1:17 A strong restatement of the temporal priority and universal significance of Christ, this verse makes explicit what was implicit in v. 16: Christ existed before all creation. He is Himself not created. Nor can it be said, as followers of Arius (c. a.d. 250–336) later maintained, that “there was a time when he was not.” The thought that Jesus is the moment-by-moment sustainer and unifying power of the universe is echoed in Heb. 1:2, 3.
1:17 in him all things hold together. Christ continually sustains his creation, preventing it from falling into chaos or disintegrating (cf. Heb. 1:3).
1:17 He is before all things. When the universe had its beginning, Christ already existed, thus by definition He must be eternal (Mic 5:2; Jn 1:1, 2; 8:58; 1Jn 1:1; Rev 22:13). hold together. Christ sustains the universe, maintaining the power and balance necessary to life’s existence and continuity (cf. Heb 1:3).
1:17 before all things: Both in time and in supremacy. Because of Christ’s supreme authority and oversight, all things consist (hold together).
1:17 He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. Paul says, “He is before all things,” not “He was before all things.” The present tense is often used in the Bible to describe the timelessness of Deity. The Lord Jesus said, for instance: “Before Abraham was, I AM” (John 8:58).
Not only did the Lord Jesus exist before there was any creation, but also in Him all things consist. This means that He is the Sustainer of the universe and the Source of its perpetual motion. He controls the stars and the sun and the moon. Even while He was here on earth He was the One who was controlling the laws by which our universe functions in an orderly manner.
17 Because Jesus exists before all things, one could not rightly say, as the second-century. heretic Arius did: ‘There was once when he was not’. As the pre-existent one (Jn. 8:58) Jesus is Lord of the universe. The emphatic he corresponds to the solemn ‘I’ of the OT which refers to Yahweh, the Lord himself. In him all things hold together. The whole of creation is established permanently in him alone. He is the sustainer of the universe and the unifying principle of its life. Apart from his continuous sustaining activity (indicated by the tense of the Greek verb) all would fall apart (cf. Heb. 1:2–3). Although there are similarities with the language of Stoicism here, Paul’s statement is different from the all-embracing world-soul of the Stoics. All men and women, whether they recognize it or not, are totally indebted to the Lord Jesus as Creator and Sustainer. For not only has he made every person who enters the world; he also sustains their lives daily, giving life and breath to each one. Those who are ‘in Christ’, and therefore know him in a personal way, should express their gratitude to him as Creator and Sustainer by living godly lives. Those who have not honoured him or given him thanks (Rom. 1:21) are urged to repent and turn to him in faith.
1:17. Jesus is eternally existent (an attribute that can only be true of God) because he is before all things. Jesus is also the powerful sustainer of the universe. Because of him all things hold together. His power guarantees that the universe is under control and not chaotic.
1:17 “He is before all things” There has never been a time when Jesus was not! Jesus is preexistent deity (cf. John 1:1–2; 8:58; 17:5, 24; Phil. 2:6–7; Heb. 10:5–7)! Notice the emphatic use of “He” (autos) in vv. 17 and 18, “He, Himself, is before all things” and “He, Himself, is head of the body”!
|NASB, NRSV, NJB
|“in Him all things hold together”
|“in Him all things consist”
|“in union with him all things have their proper place”
This is a PERFECT ACTIVE INDICATIVE of the “syn” compound “to stand with” (sunistēmi) which implies “to continue, to endure, or to exist.”
This is the doctrine of providence (cf. Heb. 1:3) and it is personal! “All things” refers to creation—material and spiritual. Jesus is the sustainer as well as creator of all things. In the OT these functions describe the work of Elohim (God).
17. Now if all things have been created through him and with a view to him (verse 16), it stands to reason that he preceded all created beings in time. In fact, “there never was a time when he was not.” He was “begotten of the Father before all worlds” (Nicene Creed). Accordingly, the “hymn” continues, And he is before all things. He is, accordingly, the Forerunner. The doctrine of Christ’s pre-existence from eternity is taught or implied in such passages as John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5; 2 Cor. 8:9; Phil. 2:6; Rev. 22:13. He is indeed the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end. And this temporal priority in turn suggests pre-eminence and majesty in relation to all creatures: And all things hold together in him. The central position of Christ is defended here over against those who rejected it. The One with reference to whom, through whom, and with a view to whom all things were created is also the One who maintains them. The unity, order, and adaptation evident in all of nature and history can be traced to the Upholder or Sustainer of all (cf. Heb. 1:1–3).
All things hold together; that is, they continue and cohere.
There is, accordingly, unity and purpose in all of Nature and History. The world is not a chaos but a cosmos. It is an orderly universe, a system. This, to be sure, does not always appear on the surface. Nature seems to be “raw in tooth and claw,” without harmony and order. Yet, a closer look soon indicates a basic plan. There is adaptation everywhere. For their perpetuation certain plants need certain definite insects. These insects are present, and so wondrously constructed that they can perform their function. The polar bear is able to live where there is ice and snow. It is kept from slipping on the ice by having fur even on the soles of its feet. The yucca plant can live in the hot, dry desert because not only does it have roots reaching down deeply into the soil for water but also leaves so formed that evaporation is very slow. Our lungs are adapted to the air we breathe, and our eyes to the light by which we see. Everywhere there is coherence.
This is true also in the daily events of History. Here, too, things are not as they seem. Often Confusion seems to be rampant. A Guiding Hand is nowhere visible. Instead, we hear the cry of battle, the shriek of anguish. The newspapers, moreover, are filled with accounts of burglary, murder, rape, and race-clash. If we compare the wheel of the universe to a machine, we might say that its gear-teeth seem not to mesh. To be sure, one day in the far-flung future, all will be harmony: the wolf shall dwell with the lamb, and the leopard shall lie down with the kid; and the calf and the young lion and the fatling together; and a little child shall lead them.… They shall not hurt nor destroy in all my holy mountain; for the earth shall be full of the knowledge of Jehovah, as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:6–9). But that time has not yet arrived. All is chaos now. But is it really? Should we not rather compare our world to a weaving, whose underside forms no intelligible pattern, but whose upperside reveals beauty and design? Or to an international airfield? Though its planes, constantly coming and going, make us dizzy, so that we expect a collision any moment, we need not really hold our breath, for the man in the control-tower directs each take-off and landing. Thus, too, all creatures in all their movements throughout history are being held together. And that which holds them together is not Chance or Fate or the laws of Nature or even the “nine orbs, or rather globes” of Scipio’s Dream. On the contrary, “all things hold together in him.” It is the Son of God’s love who holds in his almighty hands the reins of the universe and never even for one moment lets them slip out of his grasp (cf. Rev. chs. 4 and 5). Though the man of flesh regards this as so much pious twaddle, the man of faith proclaims with the inspired author of the Hebrews, “Now we see not yet all things subjected to him. But we behold … Jesus … crowned with glory and honor” (2:9). The believer knows that while the rule of Christ has not been established in every human heart, the over-rule is an actual fact even now (Rom. 8:28; cf. N.T.C. on Phil. 1:12). And at the sea of crystal the Church Triumphant will forever praise and glorify God for his mighty works and ways (Rev. 15:1–4).
Summarizing, the hymn has shown that with respect to all creatures, Christ is Firstborn (verse 15), Point of Reference, Agent, Goal (verse 16), Forerunner, and Sustainer—Governor (verse 17).
Ver. 17. By Him all things consist. That is, Christ upholds, rules, and governs all things by His providence, as is shown elsewhere (Heb. 1:2, 3; Prov. 8:15; John 5:12). Christ is not like a carpenter that makes his house and then leaves it, or like a shipwright that frames his ship and never guides it.
- All things are said to consist in Him in respect of 1. Conservation: in that He keeps all things in their being. 2. Precept: in that from Him are prescribed the laws by which nature, policy, and religion are governed. 3. Operation: in that all things move in Him. 4. His position of means to end. 5. As the universal cause of nature and natural instincts in all creatures, by which they further their own preservation.
- In Him all things consist. 1. As He is God—(1) In respect of ubiquity; He comprehends all things, and is comprehended of nothing. The nations are but a drop of His bucket, and time but a drop of His eternity. (2) In respect of power; in that this whole frame stirreth. (3) In respect of omniscience and wisdom, for all is within His knowledge, and receiveth order from His wisdom. (4) In respect of decree, for the world to be made did from everlasting hang in the foreknowledge and pre-ordination of Christ. 2. As He is Redeemer. All things consist in Him—(1) Because He is that atonement which kept the world from being dissolved. (2) Because the respect of Him and His Church is that which keeps up the world to this day. Were His body complete the world could not stand one hour. (3) Because the promise made to man concerning His prosperity in the use of all creatures is made in Christ.
III. In Him all things consist. Which word notes—1. Order. By an excellent order the creatures agree together in a glorious frame; for God is the God of order, not of confusion. (1) But are there not many evils in the world? (a) There may be order in respect of God, though not in respect of us. (b) It follows not that there is no order because we see none (Rom. 11:33). (c) Many of the reasons of human misery are revealed—sin entailing punishment. (d) There may be order in respect of the whole, though not in respect of every part. (2) But there are many sins in the world, and those consist not in Christ, neither tend they to order. (a) These are restrained by Christ. (b) Work out His purposes. 2. Continuance. The world, men, and lower creatures, &c., are maintained in being by Christ, 3. Co-operation. By the providence of Christ all things work together. (1) For Christ’s glory; (2) for His people’s good. 4. Immortality. Uses—1. For reproof of men’s security in sin. Seeing that all things consist in Christ, they cannot stir but He seeth them. 2. It should teach us to trust in Christ, not in second causes. 3. If all things consist in Christ, then much more are the righteous preserved with a special preservation. (N. Byfield.)
All things exist in Christ:—All things stand together in Him as the causal and conditional sphere of their continued existence. In Him they live and move and have their being, and in Him the sustentation or upholding of the universe rests. How wondrous, then, the glory and power of the Son of God! Without Him the sun would not shine, nor the seasons revolve; without Him the rain would not descend, nor the rivers run, nor the trees grow, nor the oceans ebb and flow. His power is necessary to summer and winter, seed time and harvest, to earth and sky. He upholdeth all things by the word of His power, and without Him creation would collapse. Every province of the empire of immensity, with all its contents of life, force, and motion, depends on Him. The intellect of angels reflects His light, the fire of seraphs is the glow of His love, the energy of our own souls is an evidence of His beneficence and skill. In Him all things consist—the power of their support, the primal centre of their order, the rule of their operation. This is the Being in whom we have redemption. What sublimity His greatness sheds around the gospel! What moral richness His gospel throws around nature and humanity! How lofty should be our adoration, how strong our confidence, how warm our love, how complete our submission! (J. Spence, D.D.)
17. Paul now sums up his statement of Christ as the intermediary of creation, before setting in parallel to this the fact of his work in the new creation. He (niv omits the ‘and’ at the start of the line, thus losing the exact parallel with 18a) is before all things, and in him all things hold together. ‘Before’, like ‘firstborn’ earlier, is ambiguous, and probably refers again to primacy of both time and rank. The second clause, asserting that the world is now sustained and upheld by Christ, transfers to him one more aspect of ‘wisdom’ thought (see Wisdom 1:7; Ecclus. 43:26; and in the NT cf. Heb. 1:3). The verb, again, is in the perfect, indicating that ‘everything’ has held together in him and continues to do so. Through him the world is sustained, prevented from falling into chaos. No creature is autonomous. All are God’s servants (Ps. 119:91) and dependents (Ps. 104).
17. All things were created by him, and for him. He places angels in subjection to Christ, that they may not obscure his glory, for four reasons: In the first place, because they were created by him; secondly, because their creation ought to be viewed as having a relation to him, as their legitimate end; thirdly, because he himself existed always, prior to their creation; fourthly, because he sustains them by his power, and upholds them in their condition. At the same time, he does not affirm this merely as to angels, but also as to the whole world. Thus he places the Son of God in the highest seat of honour, that he may have the pre-eminence over angels as well as men, and may bring under control all creatures in heaven and in earth.
1:17 / The phrase he is before all things reaffirms some of the things that Paul has already said about Christ. But the new thought is that, in him all things hold together. The Greek word synestēken here connotes preservation or coherence. Thus the Lord who creates the universe also sustains it.
The glory of Christ’s pre-existence (v. 17)
This verse speaks of Jesus Christ’s dignity: ‘He is before all things and in him all things consist’. Jesus was not part of Creation but he was before it. The Nicene Creed (A.D. 325) says ‘there never was a time when he was not’. The doctrine of the pre-existence of Christ from eternity is taught in several places (John 1:1; 8:58; 17:5; 2 Cor. 8:9). He is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last (Rev. 22:13). He did not pre-exist in human form but became man at the Incarnation (Phil. 2:6–8). Everything is held together and sustained by him (Heb. 1:1–3). Through him the cosmos is prevented from falling into chaos and the principle of coherence (unity) is found in him.
17 With the glories of the Son as Creator—eikōn and prōtotokos—now spelled out in vv. 15–16, the hymn’s author recapitulates the whole in one simple sentence: “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” (1:17). Two claims are made, involving the Son’s temporal, hierarchical superiority and his life-enabling sustenance of “all things.” This verse emphasizes what has been said by repetition of vv. 15–16. There are but two concerns for the exegete: the meaning of “before” and the nuances of “hold together.”
Some scholars see here a focus on temporal priority: “he was before all in time.” But in light of what has been said in vv. 15–16, the superiority of the Son is complex: temporal, hierarchical, and ontological. The more correct rendering then is “above all.” Evidence for this understanding can be found in the hierarchical nuance of pro in Jas 5:12; 1 Pet 4:8, but even more at Col 1:15, 18, where the Son is given an all-encompassing preeminence. The problem with “above” as a translation is that it erases the temporal priority, but both are involved: the Son is superior in temporal priority as the preexistent one, and he is hierarchically superior in ontology.
All of this content is tied into one verb in the perfect tense, a tense (as we have indicated already) that is used by authors to depict hyperpresence: the Son is depicted right now in front of our very eyes as sustaining life, holding all things together by virtue of his temporal priority and hierarchical superiority. Because he is before all and above all, he can sustain life for all things. In fact, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews says that the “Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word” (1:3). Once again, the work of Christ sustaining all things occurs “in him” (see notes at 1:2). As Harris puts it, “What Christ has created he maintains in permanent order, stability, and productivity.”
Paul’s language and terms trade in the language of the Hellenistic Jewish wisdom tradition much more than in Stoicism or later gnostic thinking. Wisdom had temporal, creational priority (Sir 1:4), and the Logos sustained all of creation (Sir 43:26; Wis 1:7); though the Greek terms are not identical, the evidence suggests we are in the same world of thought:
Wisdom was created before all other things,
and prudent understanding from eternity. (Sir 1:4)
Because of him each of his messengers succeeds,
and by his word all things hold together. (Sir 43:26)
Because the spirit of the Lord has filled the world,
and that which holds all things together knows what is said. (Wis 1:7)
However much the language reveals a connection with the Jewish wisdom tradition, the startling fact remains that Paul sees cosmic, universal unity, not in an idea or personification (Word, Wisdom), but in a person. And not just a person, but one who had recently been crucified at the hands of Rome but raised from the dead by God. The language may be culturally connected, but the theology at work is remarkably bold.
17 The teaching of vv. 15 and 16 is now recapitulated in a twofold reaffirmation of the preexistence and cosmic significance of Christ: “he is indeed before all things, and they all cohere in him.” “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth,” says Genesis; but in that beginning, says John, which was the beginning of all created things, the divine Word already existed (John 1:1). No matter how far back our imagination may press, we can never reach a point of which we may say, with Arius, “there was once when he was not.” For he is “before all things”124—a phrase which not only declares his temporal priority to the universe but also suggests his superiority over it (as the title “firstborn” has already implied).
As for the statement that all things cohere or hold together in him, this adds something to what has been said about his agency in creation. What has been brought into being through him is maintained in being by him. Similarly, in Heb. 1:2–3 the Son of God is not only the one through whom the worlds were made but also the one who upholds them by his almighty and enabling word. The Greek verb translated “cohere” is found as a Platonic and Stoic term: according to Philo, the material of the human body “coheres and is quickened as into flame by the providence of God.” Ben Sira affirms that by the word of God “all things hold together” (Sir. 43:26). But for Paul the living Christ, who died to redeem his people, is the sustainer of the universe and the unifying principle of its life.
17 The assertion that Christ is the “firstborn over all creation” (1:15b) is reinforced in the statement “he is before all things.” Once again, while temporal overtones may well be intended here, as in 1:15b, the claim that Christ is before all things serves to emphasize Christ’s supremacy and not solely or even primarily his temporal priority (so Caird, 179). That being said, even though 1:17a affirms and underscores the present lordship of Christ (note the present tense verb estin, “is”), it does not deny and could well imply that the One who is before all things was (and forevermore will be) before all things. In fact, Lightfoot, 155, has suggested that the “he is” here corresponds precisely to the “I am” of John 8:58.
This “hymn” not only celebrates Christ as the agent of and Lord over creation; it also proclaims his guardianship over all things. Bruce, 65, notes, “What has been brought into being through him is maintained in being by him.” Paul does not portray Christ as a distant deity away on an extended holiday; rather, he presents and praises an ever-present Power who has held and continues to hold the created order together. (Note the perfect tense of the verb synistēmi, “hold together,” GK 5319.) The cosmos (and all who inhabit it) owes its existence, coherence, and continuance to Christ (cf. Ac 17:28; Ro 11:36). Additionally, as the second strophe of this “poem” will pronounce, the One who holds all things together is the very One who placed all things together through his reconciling work on the cross (v. 20).
Jesus Christ in Relation to the Universe
For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. (1:16–17)
Paul gives three reasons for Jesus’ primacy over creation. First, He is the Creator. The false teachers at Colossae viewed Jesus as the first and most important of the emanations from God, but they were convinced it had to be a lesser being much further down the chain who eventually created the material universe. But Paul rejects that blasphemy, insisting that by Him all things were created. That truth is affirmed by the apostle John (John 1:3) and the writer of Hebrews (Heb. 1:2). Because the Colossian errorists viewed matter as evil, they argued that neither the good God nor a good emanation could have created it. But Paul maintains that Jesus made all things, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible. He refutes the false philosophic dualism of the Colossian heresy. Jesus is God, and He created the material universe.
By studying the creation, one can gain a glimpse of the power, knowledge, and wisdom of the Creator. The sheer size of the universe is staggering. The sun, for example, has a diameter of 864,000 miles (one hundred times that of earth’s) and could hold 1.3 million planets the size of earth inside it. The star Betelgeuse, however, has a diameter of 100 million miles, which is larger than the earth’s orbit around the sun. It takes sunlight, traveling at 186,000 miles per second, about 8.5 minutes to reach earth. Yet that same light would take more than four years to reach the nearest star, Alpha Centauri, some 24 trillion miles from earth. The galaxy to which our sun belongs, the Milky Way, contains hundreds of billions of stars. And astronomers estimate there are millions, or even billions of galaxies. What they can see leads them to estimate the number of stars in the universe at 1025. That is roughly the number of all the grains of sand on all the world’s beaches.
The universe also bears witness to the tremendous wisdom and knowledge of its Creator. Scientists now speak of the Anthropic Principle, “which states that the universe appears to be carefully designed for the well-being of mankind” (Donald B. DeYoung, “Design in Nature: The Anthropic Principle,” Impact, no. 149 [November 1985]: p. ii). A change in the rate of Earth’s rotation around the sun or on its axis would be catastrophic. The Earth would become either too hot or too cold to support life. If the moon were much nearer to the Earth, huge tides would inundate the continents. A change in the composition of the gases that make up our atmosphere would also be fatal to life. A slight change in the mass of the proton would result in the dissolution of hydrogen atoms. That would result in the destruction of the universe, because hydrogen is its dominant element.
The creation gives mute testimony to the intelligence of its Creator. Max Planck, winner of the Nobel Prize and one of the founders of modern physics, wrote, “According to everything taught by the exact sciences about the immense realm of nature, a certain order prevails—one independent of the human mind … this order can be formulated in terms of purposeful activity. There is evidence of an intelligent order of the universe to which both man and nature are subservient” (cited in DeYoung, “Design in Nature,” p. iii). It is no wonder that the psalmist wrote, “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world” (Ps. 19:1–4).
The testimony of nature to its Creator is so clear that it is only through willful unbelief that men can reject it. Paul writes in Romans 1:20, “Since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse.” Like those who deny Christ’s deity, those who reject Him as Creator give evidence of a mind darkened by sin and blinded by Satan.
Jesus also has primacy over the creation because He is before all things. When the universe began, He already existed (John 1:1–2; 1 John 1:1). He told the Jews in John 8:58, “Before Abraham was born, I am” (not “I was”). He is saying that He is Yahweh, the eternally existing God. The prophet Micah said of Him, “His goings forth are from long ago, from the days of eternity” (Mic. 5:2). Revelation 22:13 describes Him as “the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end.” As was previously mentioned, anyone existing before time began at the creation is eternal. And only God is eternal.
A third reason for Jesus’ primacy over creation is that in Him all things hold together. Not only did Jesus create the universe, He also sustains it. He maintains the delicate balance necessary to life’s existence. He quite literally holds all things together. He is the power behind every consistency in the universe. He is gravity and centrifugal and centripetal force. He is the One who keeps all the entities in space in their motion. He is the energy of the universe. In his book The Atom Speaks, D. Lee Chesnut describes the puzzle of why the nucleus of the atom holds together:
Consider the dilemma of the nuclear physicist when he finally looks in utter amazement at the pattern he had now drawn of the oxygen nucleus.… For here are eight positively charged protons closely associated together within the confines of this tiny nucleus. With them are eight neutrons—a total of sixteen particles—eight positively charged, eight with no charge.
Earlier physicists had discovered that like charges of electricity and like magnetic poles repel each other, and unlike charges or magnetic poles attract each other. And the entire history of electrical phenomena and electrical equipment had been built up on these principles known as Coulomb’s law of electrostatic force and the law of magnetism. What was wrong? What holds the nucleus together? Why doesn’t it fly apart? And therefore, why do not all atoms fly apart? ([San Diego: Creation-Science Research Center, 1973], pp. 31–33)
Chesnut goes on to describe the experiments performed in the 1920s and 1930s that proved Coulomb’s law applied to atomic nuclei. Powerful “atom smashers” were used to fire protons into the nuclei of atoms. Those experiments also gave scientists an understanding of the incredibly powerful force that held protons together within the nucleus. Scientists have dubbed that force the “strong nuclear force,” but have no explanation for why it exists. The physicist George Gamow, one of the founders of the Big Bang theory of the origin of the universe, wrote,
The fact that we live in a world in which practically every object is a potential nuclear explosive, without being blown to bits, is due to the extreme difficulties that attend the starting of a nuclear reaction. (cited in Chesnut, The Atom Speaks, p. 38)
Karl K. Darrow, a physicist at the Bell (AT & T) Laboratories, agrees:
You grasp what this implies. It implies that all the massive nuclei have no right to be alive at all. Indeed, they should never have been created, and, if created, they should have blown up instantly. Yet here they all are.… Some inflexible inhibition is holding them relentlessly together. The nature of the inhibition is also a secret … one thus far reserved by Nature for herself. (cited in Chesnut, The Atom Speaks, p.38)
One day in the future God will dissolve the strong nuclear force. Peter describes that day as the one when “the heavens will pass away with a roar and the elements will be destroyed with intense heat, and the earth and its works will be burned up” (2 Pet. 3:10). With the strong nuclear force no longer operative, Coulomb’s law will take effect, and the nuclei of atoms will fly apart. The universe will literally explode. Until that time, we can be thankful that Christ “upholds all things by the word of His power” (Heb. 1:3). Jesus Christ must be God. He made the universe, existed outside and before it, and preserves it.
Jesus Christ in Relation to the Unseen World
whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities (1:16b)
Thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities refer to the various ranks of angels. Far from being an angel, as the Colossian errorists taught, Christ created the angels. The writer of Hebrews also makes a clear distinction between Christ and the angels: “Of the angels He says, ‘Who makes His angels winds, and His ministers a flame of fire.’ But of the Son He says, ‘Thy throne, O God, is forever and ever, and the righteous scepter is the scepter of His kingdom’ ” (Heb. 1:7–8). Jesus has been exalted “far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age, but also in the one to come” (Eph. 1:21). As a result, “At the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of those who are in heaven, and on earth, and under the earth” (Phil. 2:10). With that truth the apostle Peter agrees: “[Christ] is at the right hand of God, having gone into heaven, after angels and authorities and powers had been subjected to Him” (1 Pet. 3:22).
Scripture is clear that Jesus is not an angel, but the Creator of the angels. He is above the angels, who in fact worship Him and are under His authority. Jesus’ relation to the unseen world, like His relation to the visible universe, proves He is God.
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 Wright, N. T. (1986). Colossians and Philemon: an introduction and commentary (Vol. 12, pp. 77–78). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
 Calvin, J., & Pringle, J. (2010). Commentaries on the Epistles of Paul the Apostle to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (pp. 151–152). Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software.
 Patzia, A. G. (2011). Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (p. 31). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.
 McNaughton, I. S. (2006). Opening up Colossians and Philemon (p. 29). Leominster: Day One Publications.
 McKnight, S. (2018). The Letter to the Colossians. (N. B. Stonehouse, F. F. Bruce, G. D. Fee, & J. B. Green, Eds.) (pp. 153–154). Grand Rapids, MI: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company.
 Bruce, F. F. (1984). The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (pp. 65–66). Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.
 Still, T. D. (2006). Colossians. In T. Longman III & D. E. Garland (Eds.), The Expositor’s Bible Commentary: Ephesians–Philemon (Revised Edition) (Vol. 12, pp. 290–291). Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan.
 MacArthur, J. F., Jr. (1992). Colossians (pp. 47–50). Chicago: Moody Press.