People are not known as things are known.  A person must choose to reveal himself before others can really know him.  If this is true of infinite man, how much more true is it of the infinite God?

“Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:”

God is Invisible.

“Who is the image of the invisible God”
Literally:  “Who is {the}the image of the invisible God”— The objects. here, as it is in the parallel place in Eph. 1:20-23, is to give a just view of the exaltation of the Redeemer. It is probable that, in both cases, the design is to meet some erroneous opinion on this subject that prevailed in those churches, or among those that claimed to be teachers there.

The invisible God displayed. Christ is the bodily image of God, as possessing perfect equality with the Father in substance and divine perfections. Compare His own words: “He that hath seen Me, hath seen the Father.” John 14:9. The first-born of every creature; or, the first-born of all Creation.  Since Christ is the Creator of all things, verse 16, He is not Himself one of the creation. But He is the First-born of all creation, as being before all things, verse 17, and above them as their supreme Head, verse 20.

Christ is the Image of God

In Gen. 1:27 we are told that God created Adam in His image.  People have had a lot of problems with this passage, but their problem ceases when they just take it literally, they way it is written.  Christ Jesus is the bodily image of God; therefore, when He created man He used His own image for the image of man.  I wouldn’t be surprised if, when they were standing side-by-side in the Garden of Eden, if Adam and Jesus didn’t look like a pair of bookends.  Perhaps Eve might even have been amazed when she first saw them together.

“the firstborn of every creature:”
Literally:  {the} First-born of all creatures”—Since Christ is the Creator of all things, verse (v. 16), He is not Himself one of the creation. But He is the First-born of all creation, as being before all things, verse 17, and above them as their Supreme Head, verse 20.       

He that “created all things that are in heaven and that are in earth” was not Himself created. That Paul did not mean to represent Him as a creature is also manifest from the reason which he assigns why he is called the firstborn. “He is the image of God, and the firstborn of every creature, for by Him were all things created.” That is, He sustains the elevated rank of the firstborn, or a high eminence over the creation, because by him “all things were created in heaven and in earth.” The language here used, also, does not fairly imply that he was a creature, or that he was, in nature and rank, one of those in relation to whom it is said He was the firstborn.

        FIRSTBORN:  (Grk.–prototokos)–Literally:  “the first one born.”  This neans the firstborn child of a father or mother, (Matt. 1:25; Luke 2:7); or the firstborn of animals. But two things are also to be remarked in regard to the use of the word:

1.   It does not necessarily imply that any one is born afterwards in the family, for it would be used of the firstborn, though an only child; and
2.   It is used to denote one who is chief, or who is highly distinguished and pre-eminent. Thus it is employed in Rom. 8:29, “That He might be the firstborn among many brethren.” 

So, in Col. 1:18, it is said that Christ was “the firstborn from the dead;” not that He was literally the first that was raised from the dead, which was not the fact, but that He might be pre-eminent among those that are raised. The meaning then is, that Christ possesses the most exalted rank in the universe;

1.      He is pre-eminent above all others;
2.      He is at the Head of all things.

The expression does not mean that He was “begotten before all creatures,” as it is often explained, but refers to the simple fact that He possesses the highest rank over the creation.
3.      He is the Son of God. He is the Heir of all things.
         All other creatures are also the “offspring of God;” but Christ Jesus is exalted as the Son of God above all.

“For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether {they be} thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers, all things were created by Him, and for Him.”

Christ–The Sphere of Creation

“For by Him were all things created,”
Literally: “For all things were created in Him.”–This gives the proof that He is not included in the things created, but is the “first-begotten” (before) “every creature” (Col 1:15), begotten as “the Son of God's love” (v. 13), antecedently to all other emanations: “for” all these other emanations came from Him, and whatever was created, was created by Him.

The gnostic heretics were teaching that creation centered in a series of angelic beings, but Paul is saying that creation centered in one Person.  Both the plan to create and the power to create centers in Him.

Christ–The Agent of Creation

        BY HIM:  (Grk.–en autōi)–Literally: “in Him.”   God revealed Himself in the Son, the Word of the Father, before all created existence (Col 1:15). His essential nature as the Word of the Father is not a mere appendage of His incarnation, but is the ground of it.

The original relation of the Eternal Word to men “made in His image” (Gen. 1:27), is the source of the new relation to them by redemption, formed in His incarnation, whereby He restores them to His lost image. This is one of the reasons why Christ is called “the image of God,” and the “firstborn.” He makes God known to us by His creative power, and by the same power in creation shows that He is exalted over all things as the Son of God.

Christ–The Object of Creation

All the Things in Heaven

“that are in heaven,”
Literally:  “the things in the heavens”—The division of the universe into “heaven and earth” is natural and obvious, for it is the one that is apparent. See Gen. 1:1.

       Heaven, then, according to this division, will embrace all the universe, except the earth; and will include the heavenly  bodies and their inhabitants, the distant worlds, as well as heaven, more strictly so called, where God resides. The declaration then is, that all things that were in the worlds above us were the work of his creative power.  

“and that are in earth,
Literally:  “and the things on the earth”–The things that are in heaven, are the things that are in the airy and starry heavens, and in the heaven of heavens (the “third” heaven–II Cor. 12:2).

         The things in the airy heavens, the fowls thereof, were on the fifth day created by him; and the things in the starry heaven, the sun, moon, and stars, were on the fourth day ordained by Him; and the inhabitants of the third heaven, the angels, were made by Him.
         The earth comprises the whole globe, consisting of land and sea; and the things in it are all that are in the seas, the fishes and other things in it; and all that are in the bowels of the earth, as well as on the surface of it, all metals and minerals, all plants, herbs, and trees, every beast of the forest, the cattle on a thousand hills, the fowls on the mountains, and the wild beasts of the field, and all human creatures. All the animals, plants, minerals, waters, hidden fires, etc.; everything which the earth contains. 

All the Things Seen and Unseen

“visible and invisible,”
Literally:  “the visible and the invisible


        VISIBLE:  (Grk.–-orata)–The visible things in heaven are the fowls that fly in the airy heaven, the sun, and moon, and stars in the starry heaven, and the bodies of those saints that have been either translated, or raised, in the third heaven;.

The visible things in the earth are all creatures, animate and inanimate, rational and irrational, all bodies, all corporeal and material beings: the invisible things in earth are not only those that are in the innermost parts of it, but the spirits or souls of men; and those in heaven are not the invisible God, Father, Son, and Spirit, but the angels, who are incorporeal and immaterial spirits, and so invisible.

        INVISIBLE:  (Grk.–aorata)–That is, the world of spirits.  We see but a small part of the universe. The angels we cannot see. The inhabitants of distant worlds we cannot see. Nay, there are multitudes of worlds which, even with the best instruments, we cannot see. Yet all these things have been created by Christ.

“whether {they be} thrones, or dominions”
Literally:  “whether thrones, or lordships, or rulers”—The thrones are the greater of the two.         

The Devil has his minions arrayed and organized in battle array,
rank upon rank.

                 THRONES: (Grk.–thronoi)–The reference is to the ranks of angels, called here thrones, dominions, etc..

The word “thrones” does not occur in the parallel place in Ephesians; but there can be no doubt that the reference is to an order of angelic beings, as those to whom dominion and power were entrusted. The other orders enumerated here are also mentioned in Eph. 1:21.  The term is applied only to the rulers of the most widely extended tracts; there is no part of the globe to which their influence does not extend, and where their dark rule does not show itself.

 DOMINIONS: (Grk.–kuriotētes)—Little petty kings, or lords.  Demons with lesser ruling authority

         “principalities or powers”|
         Literally:  “rulers or authorities”–”-

         PRINCIPALITIES:  (Grk.–archai)–these are the demons who have the oversight over nations; Chief rulers; beings of the first rank and order in their own kingdom. They would correspond to the rank of generals.  One of these is mentioned in Daniel 10. 

         POWERS:  (Grk.–exousiai)–Literally:  authorities, derived from, and empowered by the archai. Those who had power, or to whom the name of powers was given. Milton represents Satan as addressing the fallen angels in similar language. Those who had power, or to whom the name of powers was given.

         There is a demonic world around us and it is displaying itself at this present hour. Today, demonism is a popular subject and is plainly exhibited.  We have the Church of Satan in many of our cities.  People are being ensnared and led into all kinds of demonism.  There are spiritual forces working in the world, evil forces working against the Church, against the believer, against God, against Christ.  Don’t try to ignore such things.  It is happening, and you and I alone are no match for it.

“all things were created by Him”–The repetition, and the varied statement here, are designed to express the truth with emphasis, and so that there could not be the possibility of mistake or misapprehension.

The importance of the doctrine, and the fact that it was probably denied by false teachers, or that they held philosophical opinions that tended to its practical denial, are the reasons why Paul dwells so particularly on this point. 

Christ–The Purpose of Creation

“for Him —That is, for His pleasure, that He may take delight and complacency in them, and in His own perfections displayed by them; and for His service and use, as the angels, to worship Him and minister to Him and for others,

1.      For His glory;
2.      For such purposes as He designed.
         Four things are here asserted:
         a.    That Jesus Christ is the Creator of the universe; of all things visible and invisible; of all things that had a beginning,
Whether they exist in time or in eternity.
         b.    That whatsoever was created was created FOR Himself; that He was the sole end of his own work. 
         c.     That He was prior to all creation, to all beings, whether in the visible or invisible world.
         d.     That He is the Preserver and Governor of all things
                 For and by Him all things consist.

If this passage be understood literally, it settles the question about the divinity of Christ. Accordingly, Unitarians have endeavored to show that the creation here referred to is a moral creation; that it refers to the arrangement of affairs in the Christian church, or to the kingdom of God on earth, and not to the creation of the material universe. By the “things in heaven and in earth” some Unitarian expositors have understood the Jews and the Gentiles, who are reconciled by the gospel; others, by the “things in heaven” understand the angels, and by the “things on earth” men, who are brought into harmony by the gospel plan of salvation. But the objections to this interpretation are insuperable.

“And He is before all things, and by Him all things consist.”

 Christ–Before Creation

         “And He is before all things”–As He must be, if He created all things.  

        BEFORE ALL THINGS:  (Grk.–pro pantōn)–But the fair and proper meaning of the word before “pro” is, that He was before all things in the order of existence. Comp. Matt. 8:29; John 11:55; 13:1; Acts 5:36; 21:38; II Cor. 12:2.

         It only makes sense that if Christ had not been before creation then He could not have done the creating.  It is equivalent to saying that He was eternal–for He that had an existence before anything was created must be eternal. Thus it is equivalent to the phrase, “In the beginning,” (Gen. 1:1). He was before all things in existence. As He must needs be, since they are all made by Him.

1.      He was before John the Baptist, His forerunner,
2.      He was before Abraham who saw His day and was glad,
3.      He was before the first man was made,
4.      He was before the angels were in being,
5.      He was before the heavens and the earth, or any creature were formed;.
        Therefore He must be God, Who is from everlasting to everlasting:

The precedence of Christ in time and the preeminence as Creator are both stated sharply. See the claim of Jesus to eternal timeless existence in John 8:58; 17:5. See also Rev. 22:13 where Christ calls Himself the Alpha and the Omega   the Beginning, (Grk.–archê) and the End, (Grk.–telos). Paul states it also in II Cor.8:9; Phil. 2:6.

Christ–The Preserver and Sustainer of Creation

“and by Him all things consist.”
Literally:  “and all things have subsisted in Him”—The meaning is, that they are kept in the present state; their existence, order, and arrangement are continued by His power.

        If unsupported by Him, all creation would fall into disorder, or sink back to nothing. This then is the ascription to Christ of infinite power–for nothing less could be sufficient to uphold the universe; and of infinite wisdom–for this is needed to preserve the harmonious action of the suns and systems of which it is composed. None could do this but one who is deity Himself.   He upholds all things by the word of His power; the heavens have their stability and continuance from Him.  If not for Christ, that and the inhabitants of it would be dissolved; the angels in heaven are confirmed in their estate by Him, and have their standing and security in Him.  All the affairs of Providence relating to all creatures are governed, directed, and managed by Christ, in conjunction with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.

The Head of the Church

“And He is the Head of the body, the church:  Who is
{the} beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all {things} He might have the preeminence.”

“And He is the Head of the body, the church”
Literally:  “And He is the Head of the body, the church”–The Source of its life, light, and all its blessings.  The same One who is the Head of all things and beings by creation, is also, by virtue of being “the first-born from the dead,and so “the first-fruits” of the new creation among men, the Head of the Church.


Christ is Head of the Church–i.e., the Author and Dispenser of light, life, and salvation, to the Christian world.  In the church He is pre-eminent. It is His spiritual body, and He is the Supreme Head. Compare I Cor. 11:3 Eph. 1:10,22.       

“Who is {the} Beginning,”
Literally:  “Who is the Beginning”—He is the fountain of authority and power, and commences everything that is designed to uphold the order of the universe, and to save the world.

         In all things–alike in the work of creation and in the church.  

1.      He is the Principality, as the word may be rendered;
2.      He is the Principality of principalities, the Head of all principality and power, the angels.
3.      He is the Prince of the kings of the earth;
4.      He is King of saints; the kingdom of nature and providence is His,
         And the government of His people in a special manner is on his shoulders: or this may design His being the first cause of all things;
5.      He is the Beginning of the creation of God; the efficient Cause of all created beings;
6.      He is the Beginning of the church, of which He is the Head;
        As Eve was from Adam, so is the church from Christ;
        a.      It is a body of His preparing,
        b.      It is a temple of His building, and where He sits as a priest on his throne, and has the government of it.

The Firstborn from the Dead

         {the} firstborn from the dead”–Christ is called the first-fruits of them that slept; and here, the Chief and First-born from the dead; he being the first that ever resumed the natural life Jesus Christ is not only the first who rose from the dead to die no more, but he is the first-fruits of human beings; for as surely as the first-fruits were an indication and pledge of the harvest, so surely was the resurrection of Christ the proof that all mankind should have a resurrection from the dead.

The One of Pre-eminence

“that in all {things} He might have the preeminence.”
Literally:  “that He may be preeminent in all things”–That He might be considered, in consequence of His mediatorial office, as possessing the first place in and being Chief over all the creation of God. 

        PREEMINENCE:  (Grk.–prōteuōn)–This is the only place in the N.T. where this word is used.  This word is a participle meaning, “to have first place.”  It denotes a permanent position of priority and authority.

As Head of the created universe, and the object of supreme affection to all who put their trust in Him. As Christ owns the bodies and souls of men by the right of creation and redemption, and as He made, redeemed, and preserves them for Himself, not to devote themselves to His service is injustice and dishonesty.