Colossians 1v15-20 - "the image of the invisible God"
Colossians 1v15-20 - "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature".
1. Men looked on Jesus Christ, but "no man hath seen God at any time" - John 1v18...cp 1st Timothy 1v17;6v16. Jesus Christ revealed "the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth" - John 1v14. In Colossians 1v15 "the firstborn of every creature" refers to the spiritual creation - Jesus Christ is "the firstborn from the dead" v18 and "the firstborn among many brethren" Romans 8v29. Hebrews 12v23 speaks of "the general assembly and ecclesia of the firstborn (Greek = "firstborns" - see Diaglott)". In Revelation 5v9-14 we see "every creature" in this new creation praising God in Christ. This age is soon to dawn after the Lord's return. There is still the opportunity to be included in this blessed number, but time is fast running out.
2. The word translated "by" (v16 -1st occurrence- & v17) is translated "in" (v12,14,18,19,22 (1st occurrence). So it should be translated "in" also in the above places. The word translated "by" (v16 - 2nd occurrence) should be translated "through". The work of Christ extended backwards as well as forwards, cp Hebrews 9v14,15. We easily recognize the figure of speech employed in Revelation 13v8 where we read of "the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world". He is the fulcrum upon which the eternal purpose of God turns, and through whom the salvation of the redeemed will be accomplished, as Colossians 1 clearly shows.
3. The "heaven" and "earth" spoken of in these verses are the symbolic heavens and earth of this new spiritual creation.
The terms "heaven(s)" and "earth" are used in a symbolic sense in the Bible. Thus Deuteronomy 32v1 - "Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth". But was Moses speaking the words of God to the sky and to the ground? No! Deuteronomy 31v30 tells us - "And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended". In Bible symbology the "heavens" are the rulers & the priests, i.e. those who are in positions of power. The "earth" are those over whom they rule, i.e. the ordinary people. Understanding this gives us the key to discern various prophecies, especially in the Apocalypse, which is a book of symbol. And so in harmony with Deuteronomy, Isaiah 1v2,4,10,21,23 shows how the whole nation was involved in sin, and were addressed as "heavens" and "earth".
The Mosaic constitution became "the first heaven" in the symbology of the Bible, which Paul testified would "perish", being "shaken", and as "the first...covenant...decayeth and waxeth old" and was ready when he wrote to the Hebrews "to vanish away" -. Hebrews 1v10-12;12v26,27;8v13. Peter also foretold of this time in his 2nd epistle ch.3v10-13. Note carefully that he writes of "the heavens and the earth which are now" (v7) i.e. in his day, and these were the Mosaic. It is obvious that "the world" which had been (at the time of the Flood) "overflowed with water" and "perished" v6 was likewise symbolic. The Mosaic "heavens and earth" were shortly afterwards replaced by the Gentile "heavens and earth" in AD70 when the Mosaic Constitution was "dissolved" v12.
It is in the continuation of this time that we now live. But Peter tells us (and this applies to us today as well as to his hearers) that "nevertheless we, according to his promise, look for new heavens and a new earth, wherein dwelleth righteousness" - v13.This will be "the third (symbolic) heaven" of which Paul writes in 2nd Corinthians 12v1-4. It will fulfil the words of Isaiah 65v17-25, concerning "new heavens and a new earth", the subject matter of which includes Jerusalem and future blessings. It is also termed "paradise" (signifying a garden, cp Isaiah 51v3...it will in fact be "the garden of Eden" Genesis 2v15 restored) and Jesus called the Kingdom "paradise" in Luke 23v43 - link to 'mortal' - page 2.
There is only one literal heaven and one literal earth. And so Psalm 115v16 states - "The heaven, even the heavens, are Yahweh's: but the earth hath he given to the children of men". We can always distinguish literal messages from the symbolic ones by the context. And " the (literal) earth (unlike the symbolic) abideth for ever" (Ecclesiastes 1v4)..
"Yahweh...who laid the foundations of the earth, that it should not be removed for ever" (Psalm 104v1,5).."thou hast established the earth, and it abideth" (Psalm 119v90).."Yahweh..formed the earth and made it; he hath established it, he created it not in vain, he formed it to be inhabited" (Isaiah 45v18).
For an explanation of God's Memorial Name 'Yahweh' link to 'The Yahweh-Nissi Altar'.
4. Verse 17 should be translated "And he is above all things, and in him all things consist". The Greek 'pro panton', translated here "before all things", is translated "above all things" in the only other two occurrences in the N.T. i.e. James 5v12 and 1st Peter 4v8. This is simply another example of biased and inconsistent translation where apostate "learned men" felt they could indoctrinate the readers! Compare other examples in the pages on 'spirit' and 'devil' etc.