Restoration of the ‘image of God’ Colossians 1:15–17 (Bible)


False teachers were infiltrating the church of Colossae and teaching falsehoods. The church was confused by heretical teachings. The Apostle Paul wrote a letter to the Colossian church in such a situation. This passage is sudden, but I think it will be the most important part of the letter to the Colossians. Paul’s theory of Christ (what kind of person Jesus Christ is) is developed. Paul was wrongly taught about Jesus Christ in the church of Colossae, so here he reveals the correct and true Christology.

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (Colossians 1:15-17)

The character of the teachings that entered the Colossian church was philosophical. Some people have become unsatisfied with the simple gospel. It’s called Gnosticism. Gnosis means “knowledge” in Greek. It was very popular at the time and was characterized by dualism. Simply put, it taught that the spirit is good and the flesh (matter) is bad.

If Jesus took the flesh (has been incarnated), then he cannot be God. because flesh is evil. They claimed that Jesus was not physical, but was a spiritual being, a vision. They denied being a real person. Therefore, the explanation is that when Jesus walked on the ground, he left no footprints. They see it as a spiritual fluffy being. Paul, on the other hand, emphasizes that Jesus is God incarnate (verse 22).

On the other hand, some people in the church of Colossae see Jesus only as a human Jesus. Some might have seen him as just a carpenter’s son. I think it’s the same today. But Jesus was not only a human Jesus, he was certainly born as a human being. But the Apostle Paul explains that Jesus is God Himself. The Gnostics preached salvation by knowledge. Paul, on the other hand, claimed the atonement and forgiveness of sins through his Son, Jesus Christ.

Paul writing

Heretical teachings are characterized by their denial of Jesus’ divinity (that he is God). This was true then and now. This is where Paul develops his doctrine of Christ.

In verse 15, the Bible says that the Son, Jesus Christ, is “the image of the invisible God.” This means that Jesus Christ is “the visible appearance of God”. God is invisible to us. Therefore, humans do not understand God very well. By revealing himself visibly as a human being, Jesus revealed to us what God is like. John 1:18 says No one has ever seen God. The only-begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, has explained God . When Philip asked, “Show me God,” Jesus replied, ” He who has seen me has seen the Father ” (John 14:9).

The Son is the invisible “image of God,” that is, God Himself, God incarnate. The image of God can be said to be the appearance of God, the nature of God. Hebrews 1:3 tells us that the Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the perfect expression of God’s nature, sustaining all things by his mighty word .

Verse 15 says that the Son is the firstborn before all creation, but Jesus Christ, the Son, was born before all things and was the first. The Son was there before the creation of the world. All things were created in him (verse 16). Therefore, the Son was involved in the work of creation. The article in Genesis 1:1 was just fulfilled by the Son.

John 1:3 says that all things were created by him (Jesus Christ). There is nothing that is made that is not made by him (Jesus Christ) . Jesus pre-existed all creatures (v. 17). The expression “firstborn” does not mean that Christ is a creature made by God the Father. It means that the Son Jesus Christ is the Alpha, the first. Even today there are heretical teachings that try to make Jesus a creature, so we have to be careful.

The church of Colossae worshiped angels (2:18), but angels were creatures: “It was Jesus Christ his Son who created the angels, Jesus Christ is the Creator,” Paul wrote.

I think this part of the book of Colossians is so important because here we see the original of the “image of God.” In other words, Jesus Christ, the Son of God, existed before the creation of the world, but in terms of how he existed, he existed as “the image of God.” . Christ is God Himself, the second person of the Trinity, but is the original “image of God” and the archetype of the man to be created in the “image of God”. I think we can see here that Jesus Christ is both God and man in eternity.

The first man, Adam, was created “in the image of God” (Genesis 1:26,27). It can be said that it was created in the likeness of the original “image of God”, the Son Jesus Christ. In other words, as descendants of Adam, we can live like the original human beings created by God only when we live like Jesus Christ, the Son of God, who is “the image of God.” Through Jesus, we can see and know God, and at the same time we can see and know what human beings are supposed to be.

Genesis 1:26,27 shows the true nature of human beings. It is “the form of God”. Man, Adam, was created in the image of God. Having a good and wholesome relationship with God, being breathed with life, being created as living beings, and being placed in the Garden of Eden to rule the earth and to work for the glory of God. It has been destroyed by sin. The “image of God” has been broken. His relationship with God was distorted, and he became a lifeless, mortal being, living for his own glory.

Created “in the image of God,” humans were created to live in three relationships: relationship with God, relationship with others, and the task of ruling this world. No creature can exist alone, but lives and exists in relationship to God and to each other. As individuals endowed with freedom and independence, humans have a responsibility and a mission to live in relationships with God, with people, and with the world. However, man rebelled against God and the “image of God” was damaged. Because the “image of God” was broken by sin, our relationship with God was broken, our relationships with others were broken, and our social life was broken. If we look at modern society, we can see that.

From that moment on God’s work of restoration began. The climax is the crucifixion and resurrection of Jesus. Humans were broken and severed from their relationship with God, but through His Son, Jesus Christ, they are reconciled with God. Through Jesus we have been set free from sin and the devil’s dominion (verse 13), and redemption and forgiveness have been given through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ (verse 14).

Human beings were originally created to be representatives of God, to represent God. But through sin, the “image of God” has been marred. God’s desire is to restore our “image of God”. The Bible speaks of salvation as the restoration of original humanity. In the beginning God created man “in the image of God”, but salvation is said to be the work of re-creation that restores “the image of God”. The Bible (2 Corinthians 5:17) declares: If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away, and behold, all things have become new.

Through the cross and resurrection of Jesus Christ, “the image of God” is restored. It is the work of the Holy Spirit that is necessary for the restoration of “the image of God” to go further toward perfection. By the Holy Spirit, we are further restored to “the image of God” and transformed into the likeness of Christ. And by the work of the Holy Spirit, we will be able to bear the fruit of the Spirit.

Through our Christian life, church life, and life, we hope that the “image of God” will be further restored, and that we will be transformed into the image that God desires, and let us pursue it.

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埼玉県で10年間&北海道で10年間牧師の働きをしました。現在は神奈川県の教会で協力牧師をしています。私自身が様々なことば(特に聖書のことば)で力づけられてきたので、希望に満ちたことばをお伝えしたいと願っています。I used to be a pastor in Saitama prefecture for 10 years and Hokkaido for 10 years. Now I am a cooperating pastor in Kanagawa prefecture. I myself have been empowered by various words(especially Bible ), so I would like to tell the hopeful words. 


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