Names of Jesus: Image of the Invisible God
This week we are going to dive deeply into Colossians 1:15-18 and take apart the whole passage to identify exactly what is being said. This powerful passage is packed full of so many things that are vital for us to understand about Jesus Christ as the Image of the Invisible God.
Image of the Invisible God
He is the image of the invisible God,Colossians 1:15a CSB
What does it mean that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God? The best way to begin answering this question is by diving into the original Greek and exploring exactly what each piece means.
Jesus is the:
- Image (eikōn – G1504)
- the likeness of God’s divine nature and moral excellence
- of the invisible (aoratos – G517)
- unseen, that which cannot be seen
- God (theos – G2316)
- the only and true God
Jesus is the likeness of God’s divine nature and moral excellence. Jesus Christ is the one through whom God lets His absolute goodness, righteousness, and holiness be seen. God is all good, and all goodness comes from God. There is no good or holiness apart from God. God is the only one holy, just and good, and He chose to show us His absolute goodness, holiness, and righteousness through the person of His Son.
9 For the entire fullness of God’s nature dwells bodily[a] in Christ,Colossians 2:9-10 CSB
10 and you have been filled by him, who is the head over every ruler and authority.
Long ago God spoke to our ancestors by the prophets at different times and in different ways.Hebrews 1:1-3 CSB
2 In these last days, he has spoken to us by his Son. God has appointed him heir of all things and made the universe[a] through him.
3 The Son is the radiance[b] of God’s glory and the exact expression[c] of his nature, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After making purification for sins,[d] he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high.
15 This saying is trustworthy and deserving of full acceptance: “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”—and I am the worst of them.1 Timothy 1:15-17 CSB
16 But I received mercy for this reason, so that in me, the worst of them, Christ Jesus might demonstrate his extraordinary patience as an example to those who would believe in him for eternal life.
17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only[a] God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
Firstborn Over All Creation
the firstborn over all creation.Colossians 1:15b CSB
Jesus Christ, as the image of the invisible God, is also the firstborn of all creation. This does not mean that Jesus was created, though. In Hebrew culture, the heir of the family was referred to as the firstborn. This did not necessarily mean literally the firstborn, just that the one who was heir to tha family was given the title of Firstborn. Referring to Jesus as the firstborn means that Jesus Christ is the heir of God, and that He has priority of rank. Jesus is superior to, sufficient for the salvation of, and has authority over all of creation. Christ is before and above all of creation, has always been and will always be.
20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.1 Corinthians 15:20 CSB
Christ is the heir of God, and also is the first to experience true resurrection. His perfect life, death, and resurrection made the way for those who believe in Him to be saved from the penalty of our sins, which is eternal separation from God and therefore all that is good and holy, and makes it possible for those who believe in Him to be coheirs with Him and receive the promise of our own resurrections and eternal life with Him one day.
5 Adopt the same attitude as that of Christ Jesus,
6 who, existing in the form of God,Philippians 2:5-11 CSB
did not consider equality with God
as something to be exploited.[a]
7 Instead he emptied himself
by assuming the form of a servant,
taking on the likeness of humanity.
And when he had come as a man,
8 he humbled himself by becoming obedient
to the point of death—
even to death on a cross.
9 For this reason God highly exalted him
and gave him the name
that is above every name,
10 so that at the name of Jesus
every knee will bow—
in heaven and on earth
and under the earth—
11 and every tongue will confess
that Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
Jesus Christ is the redeemer of the world, the firstborn of all creation, the image of the invisible God. He humbled Himself and took on the sins of the world because He knew we could never pay the debt we owe for our sins, and therefore can never be made right with God on our own. In order that we may be made right with God and enter into a personal relationship with Him, Christ who is above all things paid our debts in full with His precious life.
All Things Created Through, By, For Him
16 For everything was created by him,Colossians 1:16 CSB
in heaven and on earth,
the visible and the invisible,
whether thrones or dominions
or rulers or authorities—
all things have been created through him and for him.
Not only did He pay for the sin debt of the whole world with His life, but we were created by Him, through Him, and for Him as well. This means that by Christ’s means, all things were created to answer to His purposes. All of creation was made by Him and for Him. We were made by the power, design, and work of Jesus, we were created to do the works of Jesus, and we are saved by faith in the works of Jesus so that we can live according to His purposes. We were made by Him and saved by Him to live for Him and with Him.
Colossians 1:16 tells us that everything was created by Him, through Him and for Him.
- in heaven and on earth:
- heavenly realms (G3772 – ouranos)
- earthly realms (G1093 – gē)
- visible and invisible:
- physical, things that can be seen (G3707 – horatos)
- spiritual, things that are unseen such as God, who is spirit (G517 – aoratos)
- kings, royalty, judges, elders (G2362 – thronos)
- power, lordship, government (G2963 – kyriotēs)
- leaders, rulers, authorities of angels and demons (G746 – archē)
- spiritual rulers, leading and powerful angels (G1849 – exousia)
19 Don’t you know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God? You are not your own,1 Corinthians 6:19-20 CSB
20 for you were bought at a price. So glorify God with your body.[a]
Christ created all things that exist which includes everything on earth and in heaven, and all levels of rulers and authorities on earth and in heaven. As we are made to answer to Christ’s purposes, and He created all things for His purposes, we are made to live by His design and plan.
28 We know that all things work together[a] for the good[b] of those who love God, who are called according to his purpose.Romans 8:28 CSB
21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.Philippians 1:21 ESV
His purposes are good, and all things work together for the good of those who have faith in Christ, love God, and live according to His purposes. We are called to live by the purposes of Jesus, live as Christ, and know in faith that God is working it all out for our good. We will struggle, we will suffer along the way, it will be difficult, but God’s plan is bigger and better than anything we could ask, think or imagine and He wants us to be a part of the big picture plan, and be with Him for eternity.
9 But you are a chosen race, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people for his own possession, that you may proclaim the excellencies of him who called you out of darkness into his marvelous light.1 Peter 2:9 ESV
23 For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.Romans 6:23 ESV
12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this darkness, against evil, spiritual forces in the heavens.Ephesians 6:12 CSB
We will be tempted by unseen spiritual forces that wage war around and within us, being led astray from the purposes for which we have been made. Only faith in Christ can lead us to truly live in His purposes and plans, which is what helps us to combat this warfare. When we have faith in Jesus Christ as the image of the invisible God we are given new life, made spiritually alive by the indwelling of God’s Holy Spirit, and go through the process of sanctification, which is the process of being made holy.
20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.
21 For since death came through a man, the resurrection of the dead also comes through a man.
22 For just as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.
23 But each in his own order: Christ, the firstfruits; afterward, at his coming, those who belong to Christ.1 Corinthians 15:20-28 CSB
24 Then comes the end, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father, when he abolishes all rule and all authority and power.
25 For he must reign until he puts all his enemies under his feet.
26 The last enemy to be abolished is death.
27 For God has put everything under his feet.[a] Now when it says “everything” is put under him, it is obvious that he who puts everything under him is the exception.
28 When everything is subject to Christ, then the Son himself will also be subject to the one who subjected everything to him, so that God may be all in all.
In All Things He is Preeminent, the Firstborn from the Dead
17 He is before all things,Colossians 1:17-18 CSB
and by him all things hold together.
18 He is also the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning,
the firstborn from the dead,
so that he might come to have
first place in everything.
Christ is the only way of salvation. Salvation through faith in Jesus as the image of the invisible God is the only way to be made right with God and be made holy for and by Him. He is before and above all things. He is preeminent, which means He is first, He has priority. We are designed to put Him first in all things, all areas of our lives, every relationship, every desire, everything. We were created by, for, and through the image of the invisible God – we were made by Christ, to live according to His will and purposes, which brings God glory and honor. He knew we in our sinful state could not accomplish this so He became the sacrifice for our sake so that through faith in Him as the sacrifice for our sin debt, we could fulfill His desires and purposes, and draw others to Him for the same purpose.
17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; the old has passed away, and see, the new has[a] come!2 Corinthians 5:17 CSB
20 But as it is, Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.1 Corinthians 15:20 CSB
Faith in Jesus opens the door to a personal relationship with God and the indwelling of His Spirit, and by this, we are made new in Him. Our old sinful self dies and we are spiritually born by His Spirit. When we choose to live surrendered to the will of God in love and faith in Jesus, His Spirit transforms us to become more like the image of the invisible God. We are called to bear the likeness of God’s holiness and nature through faith. He wants us to be made holy so we can be with Him for eternity and Christ makes this possible by washing us, His creation, clean by His blood.
17 When I saw him, I fell at his feet like a dead man. He laid his right hand on me and said, “Don’t be afraid. I am the First and the Last,Revelation 1:17-18 CSB
18 and the Living One. I was dead, but look—I am alive forever and ever, and I hold the keys of death and Hades.
18 For Christ also suffered for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring you to God. He was put to death in the flesh[a] but made alive by the Spirit,[b]1 Peter 3:18-22 CSB
19 in which[c] he also went and made proclamation to the spirits in prison
20 who in the past were disobedient, when God patiently waited in the days of Noah while the ark was being prepared. In it a few—that is, eight people[d]—were saved through water.
21 Baptism, which corresponds to this, now saves you (not as the removal of dirt from the body, but the pledge[e] of a good conscience toward God) through the resurrection of Jesus Christ,
22 who has gone into heaven and is at the right hand of God with angels, authorities, and powers subject to him.
21 He will transform the body of our humble condition into the likeness of his glorious body, by the power that enables him to subject everything to himself.Philippians 3:21 CSB
42 So it is with the resurrection of the dead: Sown in corruption, raised in incorruption;1 Corinthians 15:42-44 CSB
43 sown in dishonor, raised in glory; sown in weakness, raised in power;
44 sown a natural body, raised a spiritual body. If there is a natural body, there is also a spiritual body.
Faith in Jesus is the only way of salvation. By faith, we are saved, and then God’s Holy Spirit leads us and transforms us to be more like Christ, the image of the invisible God, and less like the world and our own sinful selves. This is all possible by the beautiful and precious grace of God, and can never be accomplished by our own doings. By faith, we grow and change by the power of Christ in us, and we will begin to produce works as evidence of our faith and begin also to accomplish the works which the Lord has prepared for each of us within His beautiful plan for His glorious purposes.
Have you accepted the grace of God?
If you have not accepted the grace of God and chosen to believe in Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, I encourage you to pray to God now and invite Him in, accept Jesus as the sacrifice for your sins, and repent of your sins. Submit it all to God, lay it at His feet, seek the forgiveness of God, welcome Him into your life, and believe that Jesus died and rose again to save you from your sins.
If you would like to learn more about salvation, you can find a couple of studies that may help here:
- Names of Jesus: Savior
- Don’t Neglect Your Salvation
- Prayer of Salvation
- What is grace and why do we need it?
- What does it mean to be justified by grace?
- Don’t Reject God’s Grace
- Don’t Reject Christ
- Godly Women – what it means to live a godly life
- Redeemed Women – what it means to be redeemed
- What is Biblical Love?
- What are Spiritual Gifts?
- How to live in Spirit and Truth
- How to test what is pleasing to God
- Names of Jesus as the Son of God
- Names of Jesus as the Son of Man
- Names of Jesus as the Truth
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