Colossians 1:15 Index
"Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"
Research Material

"Who is . . . "

  • Having completed his prologue (Colossians 1:1-14), the apostle now enters his major theme, a discussion of the person and position of Christ. (7BC 191)

" . . . the image . . . "

  • Greek, eikon, "similitude," "likeness."
  • Compare (Colossians 3:10), where Paul declares the the Christian is renewed "after the image [eikon] of him that created him:" The image of the Roman emperor on ancient coins was call an eikon (Matthew 22:20). (7BC 191)

" . . . of the invisible God . . . "

  • "No man hath seen God at any time" (John 1:18), but Jesus, "Who is the image of the invisible God," [who] came to reveal Him to [us]. (7BC 191)

" . . . the firstborn . . . "

  • Greek, prototokos (Romans 8:29).
  • In (Matthew 1:25; Luke 2:7), prototokos is used of Christ as the first-born of Mary. In (Hebrews 11:28) the word is used of the first-born of Egypt who perished in the plagues. In (Hebrews 12:23) the word describes the members of the "church of the first-born." In the remaining references (Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:15; Colossians 1:18; Hebrews 1:6; Revelation 1:5) prototokos is applied to Christ. (7BC 191)
  • There has been much discussion throughout the centuries as to the meaning of prototokos in (Colossians 1:15). The early Church Fathers applied the expression to Christ as the eternal Son of God . . . . The passage must be understood in a way that brings it wholly [into] harmony with the general teaching of Scripture. This accords with sound principles of scriptural exegesis. (7BC 191)
  • In (Hebrews 1:6) prototokos clearly refers to the incarnation, and some have tried to make the same application in (Colossians 1:15). Others believe that in Colossians Paul is referring to the resurrection (Acts 13:33). However, neither interpretation fits the context, for Christ is here presented as the Creator (Colossians 1:16), and as preceding creation (John 1:1; John 1:2; John 1:3; John 1:14). (7BC 191)
  • It seems best, therefore, to regard prototokos as a figurative expression describing Jesus Christ as first in rank, the figure being drawn from the dignity and office held by the first-born in a human family, or, more precisely, the first-born in a royal family. Christ's position is unique, assortative, and absolute. He has been entrusted with all prerogatives and authority in heaven and earth. Paul emphasizes the position of Christ because he is seeking to meet the arguments of the false teachers, who declared that Christ was created, and who denied His supremacy. (7BC 191)

" . . . of every creature."

  • Greek, ktisis, "the act of creating," "a created thing," "a creature."
  • For "every creature" certain English versions read "all creation" (RV; RSV). The Greek may be translated either way. The context seems to favor the reading "every creature." Christ is shown to be above every created thing (Revelation 3:14). (7BC 191)