The Preeminence of Christ
THEME: The Lord Jesus Christ is Supreme
KEY WORD: HEAD – 3x FULLNESS – 2x
KEY VERSE: Colossians 1:16‑18 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:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
18 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.
DATE: 62 A.D.
Written from the Mamertine Prison in Rome.
Delivered by Tychicus and Onesimus (4:7-9)
Colossians is present truth of the Laodicean Christians (Rev. 3:14). The prevalent spirit in the body of Christ prior to the rapture is the Laodicean attitude of civil rights and personal satisfaction. The words Laodicea and Laodiceans occur seven times in the scriptures and five occurrences are in the letter to the Colossians. The word Colossians means the punishments. The self-serving attitude of the Laodicean Christian will be punished at the judgment seat of Christ. Lot pictures of carnal Christian who will be punished by the complete loss of his works of life. He lost everything in the fire except his soul.
The first half of the epistle to the Colossians contains pertinent doctrinal truths for the spirit of the Laodiceans and the second-half contains practical instruction. This is the usual pattern of Paul’s writings because doctrine affects practical Christian living. Sound doctrine promotes sound living. The major doctrine of the Bible is the Second Coming of the Lord Jesus Christ and the the Judgment Seat of Christ is the major judgment for the believer in Christ. The ideal standing for the believer of the judgment will be blameless, holy, and unreproveable (Col. 1:21-29; 1 Thess. 5:23).
Paul warned the Colossians of four schools of thought.
The Ebionites believed in following the lowly Nazarene and the Sermon on the Mount. They had improper and unrealistic view of the Lord Jesus Christ is a nice, non-offending, and peace-loving revolutionary.
The foolish Essenes believed works of self-denial and self-mutilation warranted eternal life. The Judaizers held to a system of religious fundamentals and standards of the law as a means of spirituality.
The philosophers of Alexandria dominated the schools of higher learning. All four schools of heresy still exist with variations. The doctrine of this epistle cautions against these errors.
Five hundred years before Paul’s time, Colosse was an important city. However, its neighboring city, Laodicea, had risen to greatness and had surpassed Colosse in importance. Hence, perhaps this is not one of the more important churches such as the church at Ephesus, etc. For that matter, it was not even started by the Apostle Paul. In the epistle of Colossians Paul mentions that they had never seen him. Paul was writing to a church whom he had never met, although he played a part in its founding. While Paul was preaching in Ephesus, he had the joy of instructing a young, zealous preacher named Epaphras. Epaphras was from the city of Colosse which was about 90 miles from Paul’s Bible College in Ephesus. Following his instruction under Paul, Epaphras returned to his hometown area and started the church in Colosse and may have even started the church in nearby Laodicea.
When Paul was in prison (He wrote four epistles from prison: Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians and Philemon) Epaphras came to visit him and told him of the terrible condition in the church at Colosse. The book of Colossians is written to warn the people concerning the danger of the condition. During the pastorage of Epaphras, the church became infested with a heresy called “Gnosticism.” This heresy had 4 major beliefs:
(1) Salvation is only obtained through knowledge; therefore only those with superior intellects could be saved. (Many lost people today claim salvation because of how many times they have read the Bible and lean on their own understanding as a means of “earning” their salvation.)
(2) Faith is useless since it doesn’t involve knowledge – “if you can’t see it, don’t believe it” was their motto.
(3) Matter is evil. This heresy taught that God created an angel who in turn created another angel who eventually created all visible things.
(4) They further believed in various “works” as contributing to salvation, such as dietary laws, observing the Sabbath and worship of angels.
Epaphras was unable to deal with the heretics and made a dangerous 1,000 mile journey to get Paul’s advice. While he was gone, the church was pastored by Philemon’s son, Archippus.
Colossians 4:17 – And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
Upon reaching home, Epaphras was imprisoned, probably because of his bold preaching. (Philemon 1:23)
Paul, upon learning of the heresy in the church concerning their distorted view of Christ, wrote this letter as a defense of the “Supremacy” or “Preeminence” of Christ. He sent one of his key preachers, Tychicus, to deliver the letter. Let us notice the different things that prevailed.
THEY WERE TEACHING THAT THE ANGELS HAD A PART IN THE WORK OF CREATION. In other words, they worshiped angels. They had gotten so far that they associated angels with creation and gave them comparable standing in creation along with the Trinity. (Teacher: Spend a little tine here teaching the act of direct creation. Stress the importance of the errors of evolution. Explain to the class that God created from nothing all that is.)
THEY TAUGHT THAT THE ANGELS HAD A PART IN THE WORK OF REDEMPTION.
(Teacher: Tell the class the exact story of redemption, how that Christ paid the penalty for our sins, all are sinners, all have to go to Hell if they die in their sins, and Jesus paid the penalty as our Substitute and redeemed us by His own blood on the cross. Explain how that by faith we may be saved.)
THEY TAUGHT THAT ANGELS SHOULD BE WORSHIPED. Again and again in the Bible we are reminded that none is to be worshipped but Jesus; not the preacher, not an angel, not the church, none! Simply Jesus is the object of our worship. Notice Colossians 1:16. Here Paul reminds the Colossian people that everything was created by Jesus. In verse 17 he reminds us that everything is held together by Jesus. The word “consist” means “holds together.” It implies something like paste or another substance that holds something to another. Notice in verse 18, Jesus is supposed to have the preeminence in the church. All of these verses were written to combat the false teaching of angel worship.
THEY TAUGHT THAT ENTIRE SANCTIFICATION OR PERFECTION COULD BE ATTAINED IN THIS BODY AND IN THIS LIFE. Paul combats this.
THEY PRACTICED ASCETIC HABITS AND RITUALS. They were not practical. They were trying to learn sate new, spooky, spiritual, deep truth, but not putting into practice the carrying out of the Great Commission. This is always a danger in the Christian life. We want to learn more and more, but we want to do less and less. Learning more and more is of no value unless it makes us do more and more
THEY WERE NOT PLACING CHRIST AS THE SUPREME HEAD. The design of this letter was to correct these false teachings and to point out to the church the supreme headship of Christ, Who is above all principalities and powers.
THEY WERE TEACHING GNOSTICISM. The word “gnostic” is formed from the Greek word for “knowledge.” This teaching claimed to give a particular knowledge of the mysteries of the unseen world. At the beginning of Christianity when the Gospel was first preached, the western world was overrun with eastern magicians and soothsayers. They claimed for their peculiar knowledge the ability to communicate with a higher world. They advanced the theory that between God and men were various grades by which we might rise to the highest knowledge. Angels were intercessors here. This also was fought by the Apostle Paul.
Colossians 2:8-10 Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9 For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10 And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
The word philosophy means a lover of wisdom, but this wisdom usually stems from Greek education, mythology, and philosophy (1 Cor. 1:22; 2 Tim. 3:7; James 3:13-18). Science and philosophy are two false gods of heathen intellectuals. In philosophy the mind of man is it’s own guide, measure, and rule. Philosophers absolutely believe that there are no absolutes. The motives of philosophy are to ignore the final authority of the absolute truth of the written word of God and to ignore man’s final accountability to God (Matt. 12:36-37). The philosophy of self-asceticism or sanctification through the will of one’s flesh hinders the work of the spirit in the sanctification of the believer. Justification and sanctification are by grace through faith in the words of God (Acts 26:18; Rom. 6:6-11; Gal. 5:16-26; Col. 2:6).
Vain deceit is the root of humanism. Every man decides what is right or wrong based upon his personal opinion or public policy Gen. 3:5; Jud. 21:25).
The main rudiment or rule of the world is everybody’s doing it (Eph. 2:2-3), but the main rudiment of Christ is bringing glory to God (1 Cor. 10:31; Rev. 4:11).
Colossians 4:15-16 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house.
16 And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea.
This epistle should be read publicly in the local church of the Laodicean age (Neh. 8:1-8; Rev. 3:14-22). Laodicean churches are plagued with worldly education, wicked philosophy, and wanton tradition. Worldly Christians stem from worldly Bibles and they sing the worldly music of Africa with its fleshly and satanic beat (Ex. 32:17-20; Ezek. 16:26; Amos 5:21-24). The Laodicean age is influenced by Roman tradition in regards to apparitions, experiences, holidays, and sacraments because they have adopted the Roman Bibles of Alexandria instead of the words of the reformation text in the AV 1611. Laodicean Christians will receive punishments and the loss of rewards at the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 cor. 3:15).
THEY COMPROMISED WITH THESE HERESIES. Instead of opposing the heresies as they should, they tried to blend heresy and truth, and the Gospel was perverted. Notice Colossians 2:18. Perhaps this is the key verse to the entire book.
CONCLUSION: Let us notice the outline of the book of Colossians.
CHRIST IS SUPREME IN THE WORLD AND IN THE CHURCH.
SANCTIFICATION COMES THROUGH CHRIST AND HIM ALONE. Chapter 2.
As the Saviour justifies the sinner who believes the gospel so the Spirit sanctifies the saint who believes he is dead unto sin and alive unto God (Rom. 6:6-11; gal. 5:16-26; Col. 2:6).
THERE ARE FRUITS OF UNION WITH THE RISEN CHRIST. Chapters 3 and 4. What are these fruits? Some mystical experience? Some ascetic event? No! They are the fruits of purity, truth, love, etc.
It is a dangerous thing for a church to think they have risen above the simplicity which is in Christ and obeying His Great Commission. This was the danger of the church in Colosse. Paul wrote them to get them back on the track of obedience to a command rather than constant searching for doctrines that oftentimes do not even exist or seeking to major on things that are minor.
The rewards of an inheritance and reign for the born again believer are conditioned upon serving and/or suffering for the Lord Jesus (Luke 19:11-27; Rom. 8:17; 2 Tim. 2:11-13). The opportunity to reign with the Lord Jesus during the Millennium is earned through works.
OUTLINE OF THE BOOK OF COLOSSIANS
Col. 1:5 – For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
Col. 1:11 – Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Paul now reminds them that they had already seen the power of God demonstrated in their own lives because they had been delivered from “the power of darkness.” (Col. 1:13) – “Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”
Col. 1:14 – In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
Hebrews 10:4 speaks of the impossibility for animal blood to take away any sins – yet it was the “Supreme” blood of Jesus that had covered all of their sins.
Col. 1:16 – 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:
Col. 1:17 – And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
Col. 1:18 – 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
Every born-again believer in the church, every good work done by the church, everything connected with the church is to be subjected to His will since He is the head. He is Supreme in the church and over the church, regardless whether or not they recognize it. And His church will only be blessed in relation to their willingness to submit to Him as being Supreme.
Col. 1:29 – Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
Paul’s vast and enormous missionary labors which were no doubt legendary to these Colossians, were only because Paul was surrendered to Jesus Christ – his Lord and Savior, his Supreme love!
THE DEMALS OF CHRIST’S SUPREMACY.
Col. 2:4 – And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
“Enticing words” simply means that which the people enjoy hearing. Liberalism is simply a watering-down of the Bible to the point where sin isn’t painted so black.
Col. 2:8a – Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit,
A lost person who doesn’t understand the Bible, doesn’t know enough about God to even have an educated opinion concerning God.
Col. 2:8b – after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Over again, when the Supremacy of Christ is challenged or ignored, man always reverts back to a god of his own making. All traditions are not bad, but those which are used as a bridge to heaven (sacraments of Roman Catholicism, etc.) are not only wicked but are abominable!
Col. 2:16-17 – Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.
Paul is trying to teach these people that, as far as salvation was concerned, it made no difference whether they ate certain foods or observed certain days of the week.
Col. 2:8 – Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
These heretics were willing to bow down and worship anything -angels, saints, anything as long as it wasn’t Christ!
II THE DESIGN OF CHRIST’S SUPREMACY
Col. 3:2 – Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.
If Christ is truly Supreme throughout the universe, then why should He not be our #1 passion? Christ reigns Supreme everywhere, except in the hearts of His greatest creation – man!
Col. 3:17 – And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
If Christ is number one in our hearts and lives, then He ought to be and will be reflected in our speech and in our behavior.
Col. 3:18 – Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.
Col. 3:19 –Husbands, love your wives,
and be not bitter against them.
Col. 3:20 –Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.
Col. 3:22 – Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:
Col. 4:3 – Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:
If Christ is #1 in our lives, we would be constantly looking for opportunities to tell others how to be saved.
Col. 4:17 – And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.
After sending words of greetings to various people, Paul closes with a special commendation to the temporary Pastor – “take heed to the ministry.”