Believers in Relation to Christ
“He is the image of the invisible God,
the firstborn of all creation,
for in him all things were created in the heavens and on the earth,
both what is seen and what is unseen,
whether thrones or lords, or rules, or powers;
all things have been created by him and for him;
and he is before all things and all things have held together in him,
and he is the head of the body of the church;
he is the beginning,
he is the firstborn from among the dead,
in order that he might come to have first place in everything,
for in him all the fullness was pleased to dwell
and through him all things to reconcile to him,
making peace through the blood of his cross,
through him whether all things on the earth or all things in the heavens.
“And you who were formerly alienated and enemies in the mind with evil deeds, but now have been reconciled in the body of his flesh by the death for you to stand holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, if indeed you remain established and steadfast in the faith and do not shift away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was proclaimed to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a servant.
“Now I rejoice in suffering on your behalf and I fill up that which is lacking of the tribulations of Christ in my flesh on behalf of his body, which is the church, of which I became a servant according to the household of God which was given to me for you to fulfill the word of God, the mystery that was hidden from the ages and from the generations–but now it has been revealed to his saints, to those whom God desired to make known what is the richness of the glory of this mystery in the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory; whom we proclaim by warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, in order that we might present every man complete in Christ; for which also I toil while striving according to his working which is working in me in power.” (my translation)
At the start, the letter breaks out in song (or a hymn) and speaks about Christ, especially as he relates to the world and the church. Christ is the icon, the image of the invisible God. He is the firstborn of all of creation, meaning that he has preeminence over all creation and is not indicating that he is the first creation God made. Rather, Christ was part of the creation process for everything in heaven and on earth, whether seen or unseen. All thrones, rulers, powers, and authorities were created through Christ. Christ is first and foremost before all things. He takes precedence. But this precedence is to the world, not just the church. However, he is indeed the head of the church, which is his body. Christ is the beginning. He is the the preeminent of the dead as well, taking the position of first place. The fullness of God dwells in him. In other words, he is fully God. It is through him that all things are reconciled or brought together. It is through him that peace is made, and this by his blood shed on the cross. And this reconciliation and peace is not for the church only, but for all things in heaven and on earth.
Christ’s lordship extends to the whole world. However, it is the church that is depicted as his body. Those in the church were formerly alienated with God and were enemies in thought with evil deeds. But now there is a stark contrast, for they have been reconciled in the flesh of Christ’s body through death to be able to stand holy, blameless, and irreproachable before him. This stance is for those who remain grounded and steadfast in faith, and it is not for those who shift away from the hope of the gospel. This hope has been preached to every creature under heaven, and it is of this hope that Paul declares he has been made a servant
Paul the servant rejoice in suffering on their behalf in addition to Christ’s suffering for them. He says that the believers are his body, the church, and Paul serves the church as administrated by God. Paul’s mission was to fulfill the word of God. The word of God is the mystery that was hidden from the ages and generations, but it has now been revealed to the saints. God revealed the glory of this mystery in the Gentiles. What is the mystery in the Gentiles? It is Christ is them. And Christ is their hope. Paul says that he and Timothy preach by warning and teaching every man in all wisdom, in order that they might present every man to be complete in Christ. It is for this preaching that Paul says he toils by striving according to his working which is working in him in power.
Much has been said, but what does it mean?
Christ is the image of God. He is not a fake; he is the real deal, being fully God, but he is visible rather than invisible.
Christ is first before all creation. He is supreme. He is preeminent. In fact, it is through Christ that all things exist. Additionally, all things have been reconciled in him and peace comes through him alone.
Christ is the head of the church. The church is his body. Those in the church were once alien, separated, enemies in thought by their evil deeds, but now, in Christ, they have been reconciled. Those in the church have been caused to stand holy.
To be in the church, you must remain in the church. You must have an enduring faith. And it is not enough simply to hear it; you must abide in it.
The mystery of the relationship between Christ and the Gentiles has been revealed to the saints, to those whom God desired to make it known. This mystery is to make every person mature in Christ.
Paul was made a servant of the church. He was called to suffer for them as Christ suffered for them. He was called also to preach, admonish, teach, and toil for them. But his toiling was not by his own power. The power of God was working in and through Paul.
How can we put all of this together?
Everyone is related to Christ in one of two ways. Either Christ is simply that person’s creator, or Christ is that person’s Savior. Which one is Christ for you?
Everyone is under Christ’s authority. He is supreme. He is first. Everyone else is second. Given his supreme status, it is in him that anything can be and has been done to reconcile all things and to bring peace. But if you are estranged from him, alienated, at war as an enemy with him, you are missing out on the hope that he offers his body. He will cause you to stand holy, blameless, and irreproachable before him if you remain grounded and steadfast in faith. Through God’s powerful work that is at work in his servants and in us, we can be presented as mature in Christ. His blood, which was shed on the cross, was the ransom paid to free us from our sins. Since the shackles of sin have been broken, we can, through God’s power, live a life worthy of the Lord, a life that is holy and blameless.
How then shall we live? Are we striving towards maturity? Are we living as though we are enemies with God? Are we alienated from God? Are we remaining in faith or have we wavered from it? Are we taking hope in the work of God through Christ, which is a mystery? Is God’s work actually at work in us? The Christian life is not about living for one’s self or by one’s self. The Christian life is all about living with respect to the supremacy of Christ, by allowing God to work in the person to bring about sanctification. We do not make ourselves holy. Christ does that work. Christ the creator is also at work to create us as a righteous entity. We are his church. Therefore, we ought to live like it. There is no such thing as a stagnant Christian. Our lives should demonstrate that Christ is at work in our lives. We should be growing and maturing in relation to Christ. Are you?