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Colossians 1:18

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

He is the head of the body - What the apostle has said in the two preceding verses refers to the Divine nature of Jesus Christ; he now proceeds to speak of his human nature, and to show how highly that is exalted beyond all created things, and how, in that, he is head of the Church - the author and dispenser of light, life, and salvation, to the Christian world; or, in other words, that from him, as the man in whom the fullness of the Godhead bodily dwelt, all the mercy and salvation of the Gospel system is to be received.

The beginning, the first-born from the dead - In 1 Corinthians 15:20, Christ is called the first-fruits of them that slept; and here, the chief and first-born from the dead; he being the first that ever resumed the natural life, with the employment of all its functions, never more to enter the empire of death, after having died a natural death, and in such circumstances as precluded the possibility of deception. The αρχη, chief, head, or first, answers in this verse to the απαρχη, or first-fruits, 1 Corinthians 15:20. Jesus Christ is not only the first who rose from the dead to die no more, but he is the first-fruits of human beings; for as surely as the first-fruits were an indication and pledge of the harvest, so surely was the resurrection of Christ the proof that all mankind should have a resurrection from the dead.

That in all - he might have the pre-eminence - That he might be considered, in consequence of his mediatorial office, as possessing the first place in and being chief over all the creation of God; for is it to be wondered at that the human nature, with which the great Creator condescended to unite himself, should be set over all the works of his hands?

Albert Barnes
Notes on the Whole Bible

And he is the head of the body, the church - Notes Ephesians 1:22; Ephesians 5:23, note.

Who is the beginning - In all things - alike in the work of creation and in the church. He is the fountain of authority and power, and commences everything that is designed to uphold the order of the universe, and to save the world.

The first-born from the dead - At the head of those who rise from their graves. This does not mean literally that he was the first who rose from the dead for he himself raised up Lazarus and others, and the bodies of saints arose at his crucifixion; but it means that he had the pre-eminence among them all; he was the most illustrious of those who will be raised from the dead, and is the head over them all. Especially, he had this pre-eminence in the resurrection in this respect, that he was the first who rose from death to immortality. Others who were raised undoubtedly died again. Christ rose to die no more; see the notes at 1 Corinthians 15:20.

That in all things - Margin, “among all.” The Greek will bear either construction, and either will accord with the scope of the apostle‘s remarks. If the former, it means that he is at the head of all things - the universe; if the latter, that he is chief among those who rose from the dead. Each of these is true, but the scope of the passage seems rather to require us to understand this of everything, and to mean that all the arrangements respecting him were such as to give him supremacy over the universe.

He might have the pre-eminence - Greek, “might be first” - πρωτεύων prōteuōnThat is, might be first in rank, dignity, honor, power. He has the pre-eminence:

(1)as over the universe which he has formed - as its Creator and Proprietor;

(2)as chief among those who shall rise from the dead - since he first rose to die no more, and their resurrection depends on him;

(3)as head of the church - all synods, councils, and governments being subject to him, and he alone having a right to give law to his people; and,

(4)in the affections of his friends - being in their affections and confidence superior to all others.

Matthew Henry
Concise Bible Commentary
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.
Ellen G. White
Welfare Ministry, 23-4

Christ Himself Suffers With Suffering Humanity—Christ identifies His interest with that of suffering humanity. He reproved His own nation for their wrong treatment of their fellow men. The neglect or abuse of the weakest, the most erring believers He speaks of as rendered to Himself. The favors shown them are accredited as bestowed upon Himself. He has not left us in darkness concerning our duty, but often repeats the same lessons through different figures and in different lights. He carries the actors forward to the last great day, and declares that the treatment given to the very least of His brethren is commended or condemned as if done to Himself. He says, “Ye did it unto Me,” or, “Ye did it not unto Me.” WM 23.1

He is our substitute and surety; He stands in the place of humanity, so that He Himself is affected as His weakest follower is affected. Such is the sympathy of Christ, which never allows Him to be an indifferent spectator of any suffering caused to His children. Not the slightest wound can be given by word, spirit, or action, that does not touch the heart of Him who gave His life for fallen humanity. Let us bear in mind that Christ is the great heart from which the lifeblood flows to every organ in the body. He is the head, from which extends every nerve to the minutest and remotest member of the body. When one member of that body with which Christ is so mysteriously connected, suffers, the throb of pain is felt by our Saviour. WM 23.2

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Ellen G. White
Education, 268

“He that is greatest among you,” He said, “let him be as the younger; and he that is chief, as he that doth serve. For ... I am among you as he that serveth.” Luke 22:26, 27. Ed 268.1

Love and loyalty to Christ are the spring of all true service. In the heart touched by His love, there is begotten a desire to work for Him. Let this desire be encouraged and rightly guided. Whether in the home, the neighborhood, or the school, the presence of the poor, the afflicted, the ignorant, or the unfortunate should be regarded, not as a misfortune, but as affording precious opportunity for service. Ed 268.2

In this work, as in every other, skill is gained in the work itself. It is by training in the common duties of life and in ministry to the needy and suffering, that efficiency is assured. Without this the best-meant efforts are often useless and even harmful. It is in the water, not on the land, that men learn to swim. Ed 268.3

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Ellen G. White
The Desire of Ages, 414

The Saviour did not commit the work of the gospel to Peter individually. At a later time, repeating the words that were spoken to Peter, He applied them directly to the church. And the same in substance was spoken also to the twelve as representatives of the body of believers. If Jesus had delegated any special authority to one of the disciples above the others, we should not find them so often contending as to who should be the greatest. They would have submitted to the wish of their Master, and honored the one whom He had chosen. DA 414.1

Instead of appointing one to be their head, Christ said to the disciples, “Be not ye called Rabbi;” “neither be ye called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ.” Matthew 23:8, 10. DA 414.2

“The head of every man is Christ.” God, who put all things under the Saviour's feet, “gave Him to be the head over all things to the church, which is His body, the fullness of Him that filleth all in all.” 1 Corinthians 11:3; Ephesians 1:22, 23. The church is built upon Christ as its foundation; it is to obey Christ as its head. It is not to depend upon man, or be controlled by man. Many claim that a position of trust in the church gives them authority to dictate what other men shall believe and what they shall do. This claim God does not sanction. The Saviour declares, “All ye are brethren.” All are exposed to temptation, and are liable to error. Upon no finite being can we depend for guidance. The Rock of faith is the living presence of Christ in the church. Upon this the weakest may depend, and those who think themselves the strongest will prove to be the weakest, unless they make Christ their efficiency. “Cursed be the man that trusteth in man, and maketh flesh his arm.” The Lord “is the Rock, His work is perfect.” “Blessed are all they that put their trust in Him.” Jeremiah 17:5; Deuteronomy 32:4; Psalm 2:12. DA 414.3

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Ellen G. White
Counsels to Parents, Teachers, and Students, 159

Our children are the Lord's property; they have been bought with a price. This thought should be the mainspring of our labors for them. The most successful method of securing their salvation and of keeping them out of the way of temptation is to instruct them constantly in the word of God. And as parents become learners with their children, they will find their own growth in grace and in a knowledge of the truth more rapid. Unbelief will disappear; faith and activity will increase; assurance and confidence will deepen as they thus follow on to know the Lord. Their prayers will undergo a transformation, becoming more earnest and sincere. Christ is the head of His church, and unfailing dependence of His people; He will give the needed grace to those who seek Him for wisdom and instruction. CT 159.1

God would have us consider these things in their sacred importance. It is the privilege of brothers and sisters and parents to co-operate in teaching the children how to drink the gladness of Christ's life by learning to follow His example. To the older children in these isolated families I will say: It is not necessary that all should drop the home responsibilities to attend our boarding schools, in order to obtain a fitting for service. Remember that right in the home there is a work to do for the Master. In the home there are younger children to be instructed, and thus relieve the mother's burdens. CT 159.2

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