I first taught about the Cosmic Christ more than 30 years ago. It was so exciting to share with other Christians the Power and Glory of our Lord. I loved the truth then and love it even more now. One of the neat things about being a child of God is how we continue to grow in Him year after year. We can go back to Scriptures we’ve read and studied many times before and receive new insight and guidance from God’s Spirit. I love studying with the Holy Spirit because He is the Author of the Word of God. He can tell us how to interpret and understand the Bible better than anyone else. Let’s look at what we find in Colossians about the Cosmic Christ.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Colossians 1:1-2
Colossae was a city of mercantile importance on the Lycus River, about 12 miles from Laodicea. Most likely the church had been founded by Epaphras. Paul had probably never visited there. The modern town of Chonas is at the Colossian ruins. It’s a real place. People lived there – died there. Christians worshiped there and shared their faith with their neighbors, families and friends.
Apparently, Epaphras and his colleagues went to Rome about 60 A.D. to see the Apostle Paul, who was waiting to appeal his case to the emperor. Epaphras loved the people of Colossae. They were his people. He had preached the Word of God to them, had seen them receive Christ with gladness and grow in their faith. But Epaphras was also greatly concerned about what was happening in the Colossian church. They faced a great enemy that could potentially destroy them from the inside. It was beyond Epaphras’ ability to solve the issues as an elder of the church, so he traveled a great distance to get help from the Apostle to the Gentiles. The Colossians would certainly listen to him. Paul was in Roman custody, so he dealt with the church’s problems through a letter he sent to Colosse with Tychicus and Onesimus.
The primary problem in the Colossian church was the teaching of false doctrine. The heresy would be given the name of “Gnosticsm” in the second century because of its emphasis on spiritual redemption through knowledge (gnosis). The heresy could adapt itself to Jewish, Christian or pagan religions as the ocassion required. General ideas included metaphysical dualism, mediating beings, and redemption through knowledge. These people taught that because man was bound in the world of evil matter, he could approach God only through mediating angelic beings. By the aid of these powers and through allegorical and mythical interpretations of the sacred writings, spiritual enlightenment could be achieved and one’s redemption from the world of sin and matter could be assured.
Does this sound familiar to you? It should. We’re surrounded by gnostic “newagism” today. Visit some of the best-known secular bookstores in your city and see how many bookshelves are dedicated to Christian books and how many are dedicated to New Age books. Then, look at some of the titles that are included on the Christian book shelves and you’ll see how “new gnosticism” is influencing the Church today. Many of the so-called “Christian books” I’ve looked at in book stores are thinly disguised new age books. It wasn’t like that 30 to 40 years ago. Most Christians would have known better back then, but gnosticism is a sinister belief that slowly infiltrates the Church – then steals, kills and destroys the faith of many. It’s been growing steadily in that direction for decades, but is now a full blown heresy in the 21st Century. How Paul addressed the Colossian problem is similiar to what we need to do in our churches today. In a strategy used elsewhere, Paul took the terminology of the errorists to attack their teaching, and in the process, presented the Christian Church with the precious doctrine of “The Cosmic Christ.”
The first two chapters of Colossians are doctrinal (what to believe). The last two chapters are practical (what to do with what you believe). Its dominant theme is the fullness and pre-eminence of Jesus Christ, and the full completeness of Christian believers in Him, as against the mysticisms and asceticisms enjoined by the philosophies and traditions of men.
The Supremacy of Christ
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. 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 have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Colossians 1:15-20
Here are some basic observations of this portion of Scripture:
- Important Words
- image, invisible, firstborn, all, creation, created, before, head, beginning, preeminence, fullness, reconcile
- He, Him, His, Himself — 12 of the pronouns refer to to Christ. This paragraph centers on the person and work of Jesus Christ.
“He” is Christ Jesus – “image” is eikon. It means “likeness, representation, manifestation.”
“invisible” is aoratou. It means “unseen.”
Jesus is the “firstborn” over all creation. Though the word “over” is not in the original text, it does help us understand the meaning of the word. Dr. Wuest wrote: “The Greek word implied two things: priority to all creation and sovereignty over all creation.” (“Word Studies in the Greek New Testament,” Dr. Kenneth Wuest, 1953, Eerdman’s Publishing) The International Standard Bible Encyclopedia states: “Christ, as the ‘firstborn of all creation,’ is not only prior to it in time, but above it in power and authority … it denotes His status and character and not His origin; the context does not admit the idea that He is part of the created universe.”
The term “firstborn” is used in relation to Christ in five passages:
- Colossians 1:15 where His Eternal relationship with the Father is in view
- Colossians 1:18 and Revelation 1:5 in reference to His Resurrection
- Romans 8:29 for His position in relationship to the Church
- Hebrews 1:6 where it speaks about His Advent
Being the “firstborn” means Christ is first in every way. The Church should never allow anyone or anything to usurp Christ’s prominence and preeminence in faith and worship. But look at the message and practice of the Church today and what do you see? Is Christ truly #1 or are we only paying lip service to Him? Have we exchanged the glory of Christ for the glory of another? If we have, what can we do to return the beliefs of the Church to the doctrines of the Apostles and Prophets? How can we be true again to the Truth of God?
In Christ’s Love and Grace,
“Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.”