|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
1:15-23 Christ in his human nature, is the visible discovery of the invisible God, and he that hath seen Him hath seen the Father. Let us adore these mysteries in humble faith, and behold the glory of the Lord in Christ Jesus. He was born or begotten before all the creation, before any creature was made; which is the Scripture way of representing eternity, and by which the eternity of God is represented to us. All things being created by Him, were created for him; being made by his power, they were made according to his pleasure, and for his praise and glory. He not only created them all at first, but it is by the word of his power that they are upheld. Christ as Mediator is the Head of the body, the church; all grace and strength are from him; and the church is his body. All fulness dwells in him; a fulness of merit and righteousness, of strength and grace for us. God showed his justice in requiring full satisfaction. This mode of redeeming mankind by the death of Christ was most suitable. Here is presented to our view the method of being reconciled. And that, notwithstanding the hatred of sin on God's part, it pleased God to reconcile fallen man to himself. If convinced that we were enemies in our minds by wicked works, and that we are now reconciled to God by the sacrifice and death of Christ in our nature, we shall not attempt to explain away, nor yet think fully to comprehend these mysteries; but we shall see the glory of this plan of redemption, and rejoice in the hope set before us. If this be so, that God's love is so great to us, what shall we do now for God? Be frequent in prayer, and abound in holy duties; and live no more to yourselves, but to Christ. Christ died for us. But wherefore? That we should still live in sin? No; but that we should die to sin, and live henceforth not to ourselves, but to Him.
(a) Who is Image of God the invisible, Firstborn of all creation:
Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible
Who is the image of the invisible God,.... Not of deity, though the fulness of it dwells in him; nor of himself, though he is the true God, and eternal life; nor of the Spirit, who also is God, and the Spirit of the Son; but the Father, called "God", not to the exclusion of the Son or Spirit, who are with him the one God: "and he is invisible"; not to the Son who lay in his bosom, and had perfect and infinite knowledge of him; nor, in some sense, to angels, who always behold his face, but to men: no man hath seen him corporeally with the eyes of his body, though intellectually with the eyes of the understanding, when enlightened; not in his essence and nature, which is infinite and incomprehensible, but in his works of creation, providence, and grace; nor immediately, but mediately, in and through Christ, in whom he gives the light of the knowledge of the glory of his person and perfections; and this not perfectly now, but in the other state, when the saints shall see him face to face. But chiefly the Father is said to be invisible, because he did not appear to Old Testament saints; as his voice was never heard, so his shape was never seen; he never assumed any visible form; but whenever any voice was heard, or shape seen, it was the second person that appeared, the Son of God, who is here said to be his "image", and that, as he is the Son of God; in which sense he is the natural, essential, and eternal image of his Father, an eternal one, perfect and complete, and in which he takes infinite complacency and delight: this designs more than a shadow and representation, or than bare similitude and likeness; it includes sameness of nature and perfections; ascertains the personality of the Son, his distinction from the Father, whose image he is; and yet implies no inferiority, as the following verses clearly show, since all that the Father hath are his. Philo, the Jew (f), often speaks of the or Word of God, as the image of God. Also, this may be understood of him as Mediator, in whom, as such, is a most glorious display of the love, grace, and mercy of God, of his holiness and righteousness, of his truth and faithfulness, and of his power and wisdom:
the firstborn of every creature; not the first of the creation, or the first creature God made; for all things in Colossians 1:16 are said to be created by him, and therefore he himself can never be a creature; nor is he the first in the new creation, for the apostle in the context is speaking of the old creation, and not the new: but the sense either is, that he was begotten of the Father in a manner inconceivable and inexpressible by men, before any creatures were in being; or that he is the "first Parent", or bringer forth of every creature into being, as the word will bear to be rendered, if instead of we read which is no more than changing the place of the accent, and may be very easily ventured upon, as is done by an ancient writer (g), who observes, that the word is used in this sense by Homer, and is the same as "first Parent", and "first Creator"; and the rather this may be done, seeing the accents were all added since the apostle's days, and especially seeing it makes his reasoning, in the following verses, appear with much more beauty, strength, and force: he is the first Parent of every creature, "for by him were all things created", &c. Colossians 1:16, or it may be understood of Christ, as the King, Lord, and Governor of all creatures; being God's firstborn, he is heir of all things, the right of government belongs to him; he is higher than the kings of the earth, or the angels in heaven, the highest rank of creatures, being the Creator and upholder of all, as the following words show; so the Jews make the word "firstborn" to be synonymous with the word "king", and explain it by , "a great one", and "a prince" (h); see Psalm 89:27.
(f) De Mund. Opific. p. 6. de Plant. Noe, p. 216, 217. de Coufus. Ling. p. 341. de Somniis, p. 600. de Monarch. p. 823. (g) Isidior. Pelusiot. l. 3. Ep. 31. (h) R. Sol. Urbin. Ohel Moed, fol. 50. 1.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
15. They who have experienced in themselves "redemption" (Col 1:14), know Christ in the glorious character here described, as above the highest angels to whom the false teachers (Col 2:18) taught worship was to be paid. Paul describes Him: (1) in relation to God and creation (Col 1:15-17); (2) in relation to the Church (Col 1:18-20). As the former regards Him as the Creator (Col 1:15, 16) and the Sustainer (Col 1:17) of the natural world; so the latter, as the source and stay of the new moral creation.
image—exact likeness and perfect Representative. Adam was made "in the image of God" (Ge 1:27). But Christ, the second Adam, perfectly reflected visibly "the invisible God" (1Ti 1:17), whose glories the first Adam only in part represented. "Image" (eicon) involves "likeness" (homoiosis); but "likeness" does not involve "image." "Image" always supposes a prototype, which it not merely resembles, but from which it is drawn: the exact counterpart, as the reflection of the sun in the water: the child the living image of the parent. "Likeness" implies mere resemblance, not the exact counterpart and derivation as "image" expresses; hence it is nowhere applied to the Son, while "image" is here, compare 1Co 11:7 [Trench]. (Joh 1:18; 14:9; 2Co 4:4; 1Ti 3:16; Heb 1:3). Even before His incarnation He was the image of the invisible God, as the Word (Joh 1:1-3) by whom God created the worlds, and by whom God appeared to the patriarchs. Thus His essential character as always "the image of God," (1) before the incarnation, (2) in the days of His flesh, and (3) now in His glorified state, is, I think, contemplated here by the verb "is."
first-born of every creature—(Heb 1:6), "the first-begotten": "begotten of His Father before all worlds" [Nicene Creed]. Priority and superlative dignity is implied (Ps 89:27). English Version might seem to favor Arianism, as if Christ were a creature. Translate, "Begotten (literally, 'born') before every creature," as the context shows, which gives the reason why He is so designated. "For," &c. (Col 1:16, 17) [Trench]. This expression is understood by Origen (so far is the Greek from favoring Socinian or Arian views) as declaring the Godhead of Christ, and is used by Him as a phrase to mark that Godhead, in contrast with His manhood [Book 2, sec. Against Celsus]. The Greek does not strictly admit Alford's translation, "the first-born of all creation."
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