Thursday, December 16, 2010
And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. (Colossians 1:15)
The heretics viewed Jesus as one among a series of lesser spirits descending in sequential inferiority from God. Paul refutes that with two powerful descriptions of who Jesus really is. First, Paul describes Him as the image of the invisible God. Eikon (image) means "image" or "likeness." From it we get our English word icon, referring to a statue. It is used in Matthew 22:20 of Caesar's portrait on a coin, and in Revelation 13:14 of the statue of Antichrist.
Paul further describes Jesus as the first-born of all creation. From the Arians of the early church to the Jehovah's Witnesses of our own day, those who would deny our Lord's deity have sought support from this phrase. They argue that it speaks of Christ as a created being, and hence He could not be the eternal God. Such an interpretation completely misunderstands the sense of prototokos (first-born) and ignores the context.
Although prototokos can mean first-born chronologically (Luke 2:7), it refers primarily to position, or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the first-born was the son who had the right of inheritance. He was not necessarily the first one born. Although Esau was born first chronologically, it was Jacob who was the "first-born" and received the inheritance. Jesus is the One with the right to the inheritance of all creation (cf. Heb. 1:2; Rev. 5:1--7, 13)...