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First-born of all Creation

Greetings All,

This weeks 'thought' comes to you from William Barclay (formerly Professor of New Testament and Hellenistic Greek at the University of Glasgow, in Scotland). It comes to you from his book "The All-Sufficient Christ."

I thought it would be an appropriate quote to meditate upon during Holy Week, since the events of this week make little sense, and have even less significance, unless we recall who it is that is being betrayed, put on trial by men, mocked, spit on, beaten, flogged and crucified.
It explains Paul's words in
Colossians 1:15-16 where he says of Jesus:
"He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him were all things created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible..." Enjoy!

"In its English dress the phrase "the first-born of all creation" is misleading. The word for 'first-born' is prototokos, and it has two connected but quite distinct meanings.

First, it has what may be called a time meaning, and does mean quite simply born first in point of time. If that meaning is taken here, it will simply mean that Christ was the first of created persons to be born. It would make him a part of creation rather than make him separate from creation. But the whole tenor of Paul's thought forbids us to take that meaning, for Paul is concerned to show, not that Jesus is simply a part of creation, but that he is above and beyond creation; and in any event Paul goes on to say that all things were created by him and that he was before all things. This means we must seek the meaning of prototokos along its other line.
Second... the word prototokos came to have the meaning of primacy in honor rather than mere priority in time. 'Israel,' says God, 'is my first-born son' (Exodus 4:22). Israel was certainly not the first-born nation in the point of time, but Israel was certainly the first-born nation in the plan and design and the heart of God.

God says of the Davidic king: 'And I will make him the first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth' (Psalm 89:27). There, quite clearly, the word 'first-born' has to do with place and prestige and honor and not with time at all... In the rabbinic writings God himself is called the first-born of creation, which can only mean that God is the sovereign of all creation.

So when Jesus Christ is called the first-born of all creation, it does not mean that he was the first created person to be born. What it does mean is that to him God has assigned the first place, the lordship, the sovereignty of all creation. Here, therefore, the translation of the New English Bible is much to be preferred: 'His is the primacy over all created things.' (By this term first-born) Paul lays down the sovereignty of Jesus Christ over the whole creation of God.

Jesus is also called, 'the image of the invisible God.' The word is eikon. This word is a regular word for that which is a precise copy, reproduction, or replica. An eikon is an accurate picture or description... So, then, to call Jesus the eikon of God is to say that Jesus is the perfect portrait of God. If you wish to see what God is like, look at Jesus. In Jesus the invisible God becomes visible to men. So, then, as Lightfoot puts it, Jesus is the perfect representation of God (See Hebrews 1:3).

Yet ordinarily we can go and look at the person of whom the portrait or description is a representation. We cannot do that in the case of the infinite and invisible God. So not only is Jesus the representation of God; he is also the perfect manifestation and revelation of God. In one sentence, in Jesus we see God.
When we look at Jesus, we can say, 'This is what God is like.' And what a blinding revelation it is to see God in the one who healed the sick, and fed the hungry, and comforted the sorrowing, and chose ordinary men to be his right-hand men, and was the friend of those whom the conventional and the orthodox and the pious regarded with contempt and supercilious disgust. Here indeed is a revelation that changes a man's whole relationship to God."

With prayers that this week will bring for you a renewed sense of devotion, reverence and joy in Christ,
Pastor Jeff