Colossians 1:18
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

New Living Translation
Christ is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, supreme over all who rise from the dead. So he is first in everything.

English Standard Version
And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent.

Berean Study Bible
And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have preeminence.

Berean Literal Bible
And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, firstborn out from the dead, so that He might be holding preeminence in all things,

New American Standard Bible
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

King James Bible
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
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.

International Standard Version
He is also the head of the body, which is the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he himself might have first place in everything.

NET Bible
He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.

New Heart English Bible
He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Aramaic Bible in Plain English
And he is The Head of the body which is the church, for he is The Head and The Firstborn from among the dead, that he would be Preeminent in everything,

GOD'S WORD® Translation
He is also the head of the church, which is his body. He is the beginning, the first to come back to life so that he would have first place in everything.

New American Standard 1977
He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.

Jubilee Bible 2000
And he is the head of the body, the congregation {Gr. ekklesia – called out ones}, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence.

King James 2000 Bible
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

American King James Version
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

American Standard Version
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Douay-Rheims Bible
And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he may hold the primacy:

Darby Bible Translation
And he is the head of the body, the assembly; who is [the] beginning, firstborn from among the dead, that he might have the first place in all things:

English Revised Version
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Webster's Bible Translation
And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he may have the pre-eminence.

Weymouth New Testament
Moreover He is the Head of His Body, the Church. He is the Beginning, the Firstborn from among the dead, in order that He Himself may in all things occupy the foremost place.

World English Bible
He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

Young's Literal Translation
And himself is the head of the body -- the assembly -- who is a beginning, a first-born out of the dead, that he might become in all things -- himself -- first,
Study Bible
The Supremacy of Christ
17He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18And He is the head of the body, the church; He is the beginning and firstborn from among the dead, so that in all things He may have preeminence. 19For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him,…
Cross References
Psalm 89:27
"I also shall make him My firstborn, The highest of the kings of the earth.

Acts 26:23
that Christ would suffer, and as the first to rise from the dead, He would proclaim light to our people and to the Gentiles."

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.

1 Corinthians 11:3
But I want you to understand that the head of every man is Christ, and the head of the woman is man, and the head of Christ is God.

1 Corinthians 12:27
Now you are the body of Christ, and each of you is a member of it.

Ephesians 1:22
And God put everything under His feet and made Him head over everything for the church,

Ephesians 1:23
which is His body, the fullness of Him who fills all in all.

Colossians 1:24
Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions for the sake of His body, which is the church.

Colossians 2:19
and he loses connection to the head, from whom the whole body, supported and knit together by its joints and ligaments, grows as God causes it to grow.

Revelation 1:5
and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn from the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and has released us from our sins by His blood,
Treasury of Scripture

And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

he is.

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which …

Colossians 2:10-14 And you are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power…

1 Corinthians 11:3 But I would have you know, that the head of every man is Christ; …

Ephesians 1:10,22,23 That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather …

Ephesians 4:15,16 But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, …

Ephesians 5:23 For the husband is the head of the wife, even as Christ is the head …

the beginning.

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

1 John 1:1 That which was from the beginning, which we have heard, which we …

Revelation 1:8 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, said the Lord, …

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

Revelation 21:6 And he said to me, It is done. I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning …

Revelation 22:13 I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.

the firstborn.

John 11:25,26 Jesus said to her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believes …

Acts 26:23 That Christ should suffer, and that he should be the first that should …

1 Corinthians 15:20-23 But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits …

Revelation 1:5,18 And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first …

in all. or, among all.

Psalm 45:2-5 You are fairer than the children of men: grace is poured into your …

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

Songs 5:10 My beloved is white and ruddy, the most chief among ten thousand.

Isaiah 52:13 Behold, my servant shall deal prudently, he shall be exalted and …

Matthew 23:8 But be not you called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; …

Matthew 28:18 And Jesus came and spoke to them, saying, All power is given to me …

John 1:16,27 And of his fullness have all we received, and grace for grace…

John 3:29-31,34,35 He that has the bride is the bridegroom: but the friend of the bridegroom, …

Romans 8:29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed …

1 Corinthians 15:25 For he must reign, till he has put all enemies under his feet.

Hebrews 1:5,6 For to which of the angels said he at any time, You are my Son, this …

Revelation 5:9-13 And they sung a new song, saying, You are worthy to take the book, …

Revelation 11:15 And the seventh angel sounded; and there were great voices in heaven, saying…

Revelation 21:23,24 And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine …

(18-20) In these verses St. Paul returns from dwelling on the eternal nature of the Son of God to describe Him in His mediatorial office as Son of Man, becoming the "Head" of all humanity, as called into "His Body, the Church." In this he touches on a doctrine more fully developed in the Epistle to the Ephesians. (See Ephesians 1:10; Ephesians 1:20; Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 2:19; Ephesians 2:21; Ephesians 4:15-16.) But still, as has been already noted, there is in this Epistle more stress on the supreme dignity of the Head, as in the other more on the unity, and blessing, and glory of the Body. It should be observed that in this, His mediatorial office, there is throughout a mysterious analogy to His eternal sonship. In both He is "the Head," first, of universal creation, next, of the new creation in His Church; He is "the beginning," in the one case in eternity, in the other in time; He is "the firstborn," now in Eternal Sonship, now in the Resurrection making Him the new life of mankind.

(18) He is the head.--"He" is again emphatic. "He who is the image of God, He also is the Head." (On the title itself, see Ephesians 1:22.)

The beginning.--Chrysostom reads here a kindred word, the first-fruits. The reading is no doubt a gloss, but an instructive one. It shows that the reference is to Christ, as being in His humanity "the first principle" of the new life to us--the "first-fruits" from the dead (1Corinthians 15:20; 1Corinthians 15:23), and "the bringer of life and immortality to light" (2Timothy 1:10).

The firstborn from the dead.--The same title is given to Him in Revelation 1:5. In his sermon at Antioch in Pisidia (Acts 13:33), St. Paul quotes the passage, "Thou art my Son; this day have I begotten thee," as fulfilled in that "He raised up Jesus again." (Comp. Hebrews 5:5.) In Romans 1:3, he speaks of Christ as "declared" (or, defined) "to be the Son of God with power by the resurrection from the dead." The Resurrection is (so to speak) His second birth, the beginning of that exaltation, which is contrasted with His first birth on earth in great humility, and of His entrance on the glory of His mediatorial kingdom. (See Ephesians 1:20-23, where the starting-point of all His exaltation is again placed in the Resurrection.)

That in all things he might . . .--Literally, That in all things He might become pre-eminent. The words "He might become," are opposed to the "He is" above. They refer to the exaltation of His humanity, so gloriously described in Philippians 2:9-11. Thus absolutely in His divine nature, relatively to the mediatorial kingdom in His humanity, He is "the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last" (Revelation 1:8; Revelation 1:11; Revelation 1:17-18).

Verse 18. - The words, And he is the Head of the body, the Church (Colossians 2:10, 19; Ephesians 1:22, 23; Ephesians 3:8-10; Ephesians 4:15, 16; Hebrews 1:3; John 15:1-6), identify the mediatorial Lord of creation (vers. 15-17) with the redeeming Head of the Church, and claim the prerogatives belonging to him in the former capacity as the basis of his position and offices in the latter (comp. Ephesians 1:22). The Pauline doctrine of the Church as the body of Christ is developed in Colossians and Ephesians, especially in the later Epistle, where it receives its fruitful application. Here the doctrine of the Person of Christ and the doctrine of the Church find their meeting-point as mutually implying each other, and together opposed to the double effect of early Gnosticism, which tended first to lower the dignity of Christ, and then to impair the unity of his Church (see Colossians 2:19, note). In 1 Corinthians 12:12-27 and Romans 12:4, 5 the figure of the body and members is merely a passing illustration of the mutual relation of believers in the Church; now the body of Christ becomes the formal title of the Church, expressing the fundamental and fixed conception of its nature as related to him, who is the centre of its unity, the source of all vital energy and directing control within it (comp. the vine and branches, John 15.). In vers. 16, 17 the writer passed from the thought of the origin to that of the constitution of the cosmos; now he proceeds in the reverse order. (He is the head) who is (the) Beginning (Revelation 3:14; Revelation 21:6; Revelation 22:13; Acts 3:15; Acts 5:31; Hebrews 2:10; Hebrews 12:2). Αρχή is without article, used as a proper noun. It is arbitrary to identify it with ἀπαρχὴ ("firstfruits") of 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23; Romans 11:16. As explained by the following words, it denotes, as in philosophical Greek, a first principle, originating cause, fens et origo (see Lightfoot's note and references). To borrow "of the dead" from the following parallel clause weakens the force of both. His body, the Church, begins in him, dating and deriving from him its "all in all" (Colossians 3:11, 4; 1 John 5:12; Revelation 21:5; 2 Corinthians 5:17). This is quite consistent with the "all things are of God" of 2 Corinthians 5:18; for the apostle is thinking here of the relative, historical beginning of "the kingdom of the Son" (ver. 13), there of the absolute beginning of the Divine work of redemption (comp. 1 Corinthians 1:30; 1 Corinthians 3:23; and note on "unto him," ver. 16). St. John, writing to the neighbouring Laodicea, echoes, apparently, this language of our apostle (Revelation 3:14) As Firstborn out of the dead (Colossians 2:12, 13; Colossians 3:1; Ephesians 1:19, 20; Romans 1:4; Romans 6:1-14; 1 Corinthians 15:13-18; 2 Corinthians 13:4; Acts 13:30-39; 1 Peter 1:3, 21; Revelation 1:5, 18; Revelation 2:8; John 11:25), this Beginning actually begins; Christ becomes the source, of a new humanity, a new creation (2 Corinthians 4:14 and Romans 8:21). The apostle derives the whole life and power of Christianity, whether as seen in Christ or proved by his people, from his resurrection (see parallels). The name Firstborn brings over with it into this verse the glory which surrounds it in ver. 15. The Divine Firstborn, who is before and over all things, wins his title a second time for his earthly brethren's sake (Hebrews 2:10-15). As he appears "out of the dead," born anew from the dark womb of the grave, the nether abyss (Romans 10:7; Ephesians 4:9; Philippians 2:8), the Father declares to him, "Thou art my Son, this day have I begotten thee" (Acts 13:33; Hebrews 1:5); the Church exclaims," My Lord and my God" (John 20:28); "all authority in heaven and on earth" becomes his (Matthew 28:18; John 17:2); he is made "Firstborn over many brethren," who call him Lord (Romans 8:29; Romans 14:9; Revelation 5:12); and proceeds to "subdue all things unto himself" (Philippians 2:9, 10; Philippians 3:21; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Hebrews 10:13; Revelation 19:11-16). "Firstborn out of the dead" in the source of his new birthright of lordship in the Church, he is" Firstborn of the dead" (Revelation 1:5, R.V.: comp. ver. 15) in his abiding relation to dying humanity. And he won this title so as to carry out an antecedent purpose in his mind (comp. Romans 14:9; "In the mind of the father," say Meyer and others - a thought true in itself, but interpolated here), viz. that he might become in all things pre-eminent (ver. 13; Colossians 2:6; Ephesians 5:5; 1 Corinthians 15:25; Luke 19:12-27; Luke 22:29, 30; John 18:36; Revelation 1:5; Revelation 3:21; Revelation 19:16; Psalm 2:7, 8). The purpose of creation as "unto Christ" (ver. 17) had been frustrated, so far as related to man, by the entrance of sin and death, and his rightful pre-eminence denied him (John 1:10). He must, therefore, recover it, must become pre-eminent; and this he does by his death and resurrection (John 12:31, 32; Hebrews 2:14, 15; Hebrews 12:2; Philippians 2:6-11; Isaiah 53:12). "To this end Jesus died and lived again" (Romans 14:9: comp. 2 Corinthians 5:15; Revelation 1:18). And he is the head of the body, the church,.... By "the church" is meant, not any particular congregated church, as the church at Colosse, or Corinth, or any other; but the whole election of grace, the general assembly and church of the firstborn, whose names are written in heaven in the Lamb's book of life; the church which Christ has given himself for, and has purchased with his blood, and builds on himself the rock, and will, at last, present to himself a glorious church without spot or wrinkle, or any such thing; this is compared to an human body, and therefore called "the body"; which is but one, consisting of many members in union with each other, set in their proper places in just symmetry and proportion to each other, and subservient to one another, and are neither more nor fewer; see 1 Corinthians 12:12, &c. and of this body, the church, Christ is "the head"; he was the representative head of this body of elect men from all eternity, and in time; he is a political head of them, or in such sense an head unto them, as a king is to his subjects; he reigns in them by his Spirit and grace, and rules them by wholesome laws of his own enacting, and which he inscribes on their hearts, and he protects and defends them by his power; he is an economical head, or in such sense an head of them, as the husband is the head of the wife, and parents and masters are the heads of their families, he standing in all these relations to them; and he is to them what a natural head is to an human body; of all which See Gill on 1 Corinthians 11:3. The Messiah is called one head, in Hosea 1:11; which Jarchi explains by David their king, and Kimchi on the place says, this is the King Messiah:

who is the beginning; which either denotes the eternity of Christ, who was not only in the beginning, and was set up from the beginning, from everlasting, but is also the beginning and the end; and who is, indeed, without beginning of days, or end of life: or his dominion; he is the principality, as the word may be rendered; he is the principality of principalities, the head of all principality and power, the angels; he is the Prince of the kings of the earth; he is King of saints; the kingdom of nature and providence is his, and the government of his people in a special manner is on his shoulders: or this may design his being the first cause of all things; he is the beginning of the creation of God; the efficient cause of all created beings; he is the beginning of the church, of which he is the head; as Eve was from Adam, so is the church from Christ; it is a body of his preparing, and a temple of his building, and where he sits as a priest on his throne, and has the government of it: the second number, wisdom, in the cabalistic tree of the Jews, is called "the beginning" (n), as is the Logos, or Word, by Philo the Jew (o):

the firstborn from the dead; the first that rose from the dead by his own power, and to an immortal life; for, though others were raised before him, and by him, yet not to a state of immortality; the path of life, to an immortal life, was first shown to him as man; and who also is the firstfruits of them that sleep, and so the pledge and earnest of the future resurrection of the saints; and is both the efficient and exemplary cause of it; the resurrection of the dead will be by him as God, and according to his own, as man:

that in all things he might have the pre-eminence; or might be the first and chief over all persons, angels, and men; having a superior nature, name, and place, than the former, and being the firstborn among many brethren designed by the latter: and in all things he is the first, and has the precedence and primacy; in sonship, no one is a Son in the sense he is; in election, he was chosen first, and his people in him; in the covenant, he is the surety, Mediator, and messenger of it, he is that itself; in his human nature, he is fairer than the children of men; in redemption, he was alone, and wrought it out himself; in life, he exceeded all others in purity, in doctrine, and miracles; and in dying he conquered death, and rose first from it; in short, he died, revived, and rose again, that he might be Lord both of dead and living; and he ought to have the pre-eminence and first place in the affections of our hearts, in the contemplations of our minds, in the desires of our souls, and in the highest praises of our lips,

(n) Cabala denudata, par. 2. p. 7. & Lex. Cabal. p. 679, 681. (o) Philo de Conf. ling. p. 341. 18. Revelation of Christ to the Church and the new creation, as the Originator of both.

he—emphatical. Not angels in opposition to the false teachers' doctrine concerning angel-worship, and the power of Oeons or (imaginary) spirit emanations from God (Col 2:10, 18).

head of the body, the church—The Church is His body by virtue of His entering into communion corporeally with human nature [Neander], (Eph 1:22). The same One who is the Head of all things and beings by creation, is also, by virtue of being "the first-born from the dead," and so "the first-fruits" of the new creation among men, the Head of the Church.

who is—that is, in that He is the Beginning [Alford]. Rather, this is the beginning of a new paragraph. As the former paragraph, which related to His originating the physical creation, began with "Who is" (Col 1:15); so this, which treats of His originating the new creation, begins with "who is"; a parenthesis preceding, which closes the former paragraph, that parenthesis (see on [2403]Col 1:16), including from "all things were created by Him," to "Head of the body, the Church." The head of kings and high priests was anointed, as the seat of the faculties, the fountain of dignity, and original of all the members (according to Hebrew etymology). So Jesus by His unction was designated as the Head of the body, the Church.

the beginning—namely, of the new creation, as of the old (Pr 8:22; Joh 1:1; compare Re 1:8): the beginning of the Church of the first-born (Heb 12:23), as being Himself the "first-born from the dead" (Ac 26:23; 1Co 15:20, 23). Christ's primogeniture is threefold: (1) From eternity the "first-begotten" of the Father (Col 1:15); (2) As the first-born of His mother (Mt 1:25); (3) As the Head of the Church, mystically begotten of the Father, as it were to a new life, on the day of His resurrection, which is His "regeneration," even as His people's coming resurrection will be their "regeneration" (that is, the resurrection which was begun in the soul, extended to the body and to the whole creation, Ro 8:21, 22) (Mt 19:28; Ac 13:33; Re 1:5). Sonship and resurrection are similarly connected (Lu 20:36; Ro 1:4; 8:23; 1Jo 3:2). Christ by rising from the dead is the efficient cause (1Co 15:22), as having obtained the power, and the exemplary cause, as being the pattern (Mic 2:13; Ro 6:5; Php 3:21), of our resurrection: the resurrection of "the Head" involves consequentially that of the members.

that in all things—He resumes the "all things" (Col 1:20).

he might have the pre-eminence—Greek, "He Himself may (thus) become the One holding the first place," or, "take the precedency." Both ideas are included, priority in time and priority in dignity: now in the regenerated world, as before in the world of creation (Col 1:15). "Begotten before every creature, or "first-born of every creature" (Ps 89:27; Joh 3:13).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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