Colossians 1:15
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

New Living Translation
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. He existed before anything was created and is supreme over all creation,

English Standard Version
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Berean Study Bible
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

Berean Literal Bible
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,

New American Standard Bible
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

King James Bible
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

International Standard Version
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

NET Bible
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,

New Heart English Bible
who is the image of the invisible God, preeminent over all creation.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
He who is the image of The Unseen God and is The Firstborn of all creation.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

New American Standard 1977
And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation.

Jubilee Bible 2000
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature;

King James 2000 Bible
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation:

American King James Version
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

American Standard Version
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;

Douay-Rheims Bible
Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

Darby Bible Translation
who is image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation;

English Revised Version
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation;

Webster's Bible Translation
Who is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature:

Weymouth New Testament
Christ is the visible representation of the invisible God, the Firstborn and Lord of all creation.

World English Bible
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

Young's Literal Translation
who is the image of the invisible God, first-born of all creation,
Study Bible
The Supremacy of Christ
14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For in Him all things were created, things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities. All things were created through Him and for Him.…
Cross References
Psalm 89:27
"I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

John 1:1
In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:18
No one has ever seen God, but the one and only Son, who is Himself God and is at the Father's side, has made Him known.

John 14:9
Jesus replied, "Philip, I have been with you all this time, and still you do not know Me? Anyone who has seen Me has seen the Father. How can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Romans 8:29
For those God foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, so that He would be the firstborn among many brothers.

2 Corinthians 4:4
The god of this age has blinded the minds of unbelievers so they cannot see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.

1 Timothy 1:17
Now to the King eternal, immortal, and invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.

Hebrews 11:27
By faith Moses left Egypt, not fearing the king's anger; he persevered because he saw Him who is invisible.
Treasury of Scripture

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

the image.

Exodus 24:10 And they saw the God of Israel: and there was under his feet as it …

Numbers 12:8 With him will I speak mouth to mouth, even apparently, and not in …

Ezekiel 1:26-28 And above the firmament that was over their heads was the likeness …

John 1:18 No man has seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is …

John 14:9 Jesus said to him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet have …

John 15:24 If I had not done among them the works which none other man did, …

2 Corinthians 4:4,6 In whom the god of this world has blinded the minds of them which …

Philippians 2:6 Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:

Hebrews 1:3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his …

the invisible.

1 Timothy 1:17 Now to the King eternal, immortal, invisible, the only wise God, …

1 Timothy 6:16 Who only has immortality, dwelling in the light which no man can …

Hebrews 11:27 By faith he forsook Egypt, not fearing the wrath of the king: for …

the firstborn.

Colossians 1:13 Who has delivered us from the power of darkness, and has translated …

Psalm 89:27 Also I will make him my firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth.

John 1:14 And the Word was made flesh, and dwelled among us, (and we beheld his glory…

John 3:16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that …

Hebrews 1:6 And again, when he brings in the first-begotten into the world, he …

of every.

Colossians 1:16,17 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that …

Proverbs 8:29-31 When he gave to the sea his decree, that the waters should not pass …

Revelation 3:14 And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things …

(15) The image of the invisible God.--This all important clause needs the most careful examination. We note accordingly (1) that the word "image" (like the word "form," Philippians 2:6-7) is used in the New Testament for real and essential embodiment, as distinguished from mere likeness. Thus in Hebrews 10:1 we read, "The law, having a shadow of good things to come, and not the very image of the things;" we note also in Romans 1:23 the distinction between the mere outward "likeness" and the "image" which it represented; we find in 1Corinthians 15:49 that the "image of the earthy" and "the image of the heavenly" Adam denote actual identity of nature with both; and in 2Corinthians 3:18 the actual work of the Spirit in the heart is described as "changing us from glory to glory" into "the image" of the glorified Christ. (2) Next we observe that although, speaking popularly, St. Paul in 1Corinthians 11:7 calls man "the image and glory of God," yet the allusion is to Genesis 1:26; Genesis 1:28, where man is said, with stricter accuracy, to be made "after the image of God" (as in Ephesians 4:24, "created after God"), and this more accurate expression is used in Colossians 3:10 of this Epistle, "renewed after the image of Him that created him." Who then, or what, is the "image of God," after which man is created? St. Paul here emphatically (as in 2Corinthians 4:4 parenthetically) answers "Christ," as the Son of God, "first-born before all creation." The same truth is conveyed in a different form, clearer (if possible) even than this, in Hebrews 1:3, where "the Son" is said to be not only "the brightness of the glory of the Father," but "the express image of His Person." For the word "express image" is character in the original, used here (as when we speak of the alphabetical "characters") to signify the visible drawn image, and the word "Person" is substance or essence. (3) It is not to be forgotten that at this time in the Platonising Judaism of Philo, "the Word" was called the eternal "image of God." (See passages quoted in Dr. Light-foot's note on this passage.) This expression was not peculiar to him; it was but a working out of that personification of the "wisdom of God," of which we have a magnificent example in Proverbs 8:22-30, and of which we trace the effect in the Alexandrine Book of "Wisdom" (Wisdom Of Solomon 7:25-26). "Wisdom is the breath of the power of God, and a pure stream from the glory of the Most High--the brightness of the everlasting light, the unspotted mirror of the power of God, and the image of His goodness." It seems to have represented in the Jewish schools the idea complementary to the ordinary idea of the Messiah in the Jewish world. Just as St. John took up the vague idea of "the Word," and gave it a clear divine personality in Christ, so St. Paul seems to act here in relation to the other phrase, used as a description of the Word. In Christ he fixes in solid reality the floating vision of the "image of God." (4) There is an emphasis on the words "of the invisible God." Now, since the whole context shows that the reference is to the eternal pre-existence of Christ, ancient interpreters (of whom Chrysostom may be taken as the type) argued that the image of the invisible must be also invisible. But this seems opposed to the whole idea of the word "image," and to its use in the New Testament and elsewhere. The true key to this passage is in our Lord's own words in John 1:8, "No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son" (here is the remarkable reading, "the only begotten God"), "who is in the bosom of the Father, He hath revealed Him." In anticipation of the future revelation of Godhead, Christ, even as pre-existent, is called "The image of the invisible God."

The firstborn of every creature (of all creation).--(1) As to the sense of this clause. The grammatical construction here will bear either the rendering of our version, or the rendering "begotten before all creation," whence comes the "begotten before all worlds "of the Nicene creed. But the whole context shows that the latter is unquestionably the true rendering. For, as has been remarked from ancient times, He is said to be "begotten" and not "created;" next, he is emphatically spoken of below as He "by whom all things were created," who is "before all things," and in whom all things consist." (2) As to the order of idea. In Himself He is "the image of God" from all eternity. From this essential conception, by a natural contrast, the thought immediately passes on to distinction from, and priority to, all created being. Exactly in this same order of idea, we have in Hebrews 1:2-3, "By whom also He made the worlds . . . upholding all things by the word of His power;" and in John 1:3, "All things were made by Him, and without Him was not anything made which was made. Here St. Paul indicates this idea in the words "firstborn before all creation," and works it out in the verses following. (3) As to the name "firstborn" itself. It is used of the Messiah as an almost technical name (derived from Psalm 2:7; Psalm 89:28), as is shown in Hebrews 1:6, "when He bringeth the first begotten into the world." In tracing the Messianic line of promise we notice that; while the Messiah is always true man, "the seed of Abraham," "the son of David," yet on him are accumulated attributes too high for any created being (as in Isaiah 9:6). He is declared to be an "Emmanuel" God with us; and His kingdom a visible manifestation of God. Hence the idea contained in the word "firstborn" is not only sovereignty "above all the kings of the earth" (Psalm 89:28; comp. Daniel 8:13-14), but also likeness to God and priority to all created being. (4) As to the union of the two clauses. In the first we have the declaration of His eternal unity with God--all that was completely embodied in the declaration of the "Word who is God," up to which all the higher Jewish speculations had led; in the second we trace the distinctness of His Person, as the "begotten of the Father," the true Messiah of Jewish hopes, and the subordination of the co-eternal Son to the Father. The union of the two marks the assertion of Christian mystery, as against rationalising systems, of the type of Arianism on one side, of Sabellianism on the other.

Verse 15.

(a) Who is Image of God the invisible, Firstborn of all creation: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. 1.15. 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," etc. (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."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.
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