Thought to Cherish
“He is the image of the invisible God”
Colossians 1:15a (NET)
I am really bad about recognizing celebrities. Several times I have been in New York, and one of my family members has pointed out a well-known person right in front of me. I would have missed him without the help of someone more in tune with those around us!
The same is true of Jesus. We may have heard His name, and we may have thought of Him as a great person, but we may have missed His presence because we didn’t tune in to His real identity. If we don’t know who He is, we won’t recognize Him although He is right here!
This week we look at Jesus as we walk in the clouds!
Day One Study
Today we consider the entire passage on Jesus. Then each remaining day this week we will focus specifically upon one aspect of who Jesus is, allowing us to drink deeply of these truths.
Most scholars identify Col. 1:15-20 as a first-century hymn quoted here by the authors to remind the Colossians of the truths they believed. They were apparently facing false teaching and this hymn struck at the heart of that teaching.
Read Colossians 1:15-20.
1. List the things these verses say about Jesus. Do not try to understand them at this point or even use your own words. Just write down what the Scriptures actually say about Him. This is the first step of good Bible study, observation, which answers the question, “What does the Scripture say?”
You could understand this hymn as recognizing Jesus’ pre-eminence and lordship over two general things.
2. Without looking at any commentaries or even the notes at the bottom of the page in your study Bible, divide this hymn as best you can into two areas of Jesus’ lordship. Where did you divide it and why did you divide it as you did?
3. What questions do you have about this passage? What is hard to understand?
Digging for Diamonds: Read in your commentaries for other interpretations of this passage. Compare their divisions of this hymn into strophes (stanzas) with yours.
4. Sharing Question: What one phrase about Jesus’ greatness is most meaningful to you today? Why?
5. Responding to God: Write a prayer, poem, or song to Jesus, worshipping Him for the aspect of His character that you mentioned in #4.
Day Two Study
Reread Colossians 1:15-20.
First, we want to consider what it means that Jesus is the image of the invisible God (v. 15). Dr. Spiros Zodhiates defines the Greek term for image: “Eikon; from eiko, to be like, resemble. A bodily representation, an image as of a man made of gold, silver, etc.; a monarch’s likeness impressed on a coin; image, resemblance, likeness. . . This word always assumes a prototype, that which it not merely resembles, but from which it is drawn.”3
1. In light of that meaning, write down how the following Scriptures help explain what it means for Jesus to be the image of God:
a. Heb. 1:3 (referring to Jesus)
b. Phil. 2:6-7
c. Jn. 14:9
d. Jn. 1:14
2. Sharing question: How does recognizing that Jesus is the very image of God affect you personally? How does it change your actions or your worship?
Jesus is called the firstborn. The Greek word for firstborn is prototokos. It can mean first born chronologically or to the one with highest position or rank. In both Greek and Jewish culture, the firstborn received special inheritance rights.
Digging for Diamonds: Study your Bible reference tools and read about the Arian heresy of the 4th century, led by Arius. How do these first two phrases describing Jesus in Col. 1:15 relate to it?
3. According to vv. 15, 18 over what two things is Jesus firstborn?
4. Read these verses and write down who is called firstborn. In what sense do they hold first place position or rights?
a. Ex. 4:22
b. Ps. 89:27 (see context from v. 20)
c. Rom. 8:29
5. How does Heb. 1:2 reinforce the idea that Jesus is the firstborn in the sense of having priority as a firstborn son?
6. Responding to God: Worship Jesus as the image of the invisible God. Write down a description of your time with Him.
Day Three Study
Reread Colossians 1:15-20.
You may be wondering why we keep reading these verses over and over. It is because we want to keep all these verses in context. They are rich in meaning and so we are moving through them slowly; however, the risk in doing so is that we lose sight of their context and change the meaning. That is why we keep rereadingJ
1. What relationship do you see between Jesus and creation (vv. 15-17)?
2. What reason do you see for all of creation (v.16)?
3. Sharing question: How does it make you feel to recognize this reason for your creation (v. 16)? Why?
4. Verse 17 says that Jesus is “before all things.” What do these verses say that explains that?
a. Jn. 1:1-2
b. Jn. 8:58
c. Micah 5:2 (prophecy of Messiah)
Digging for Diamonds: Look for other verses that teach that Jesus is “before all things” in a topical Bible or a Bible encyclopedia.
5. Responding to God: Write a prayer based on Col. 1:15-17.
Day Four Study
Review Colossians 1:15-20.
1. What illustration for the relationship of Jesus to the church did the author use in the first part of v. 18?
2. What does the use of that illustration say about your relationship with Jesus and how it should work practically?
3. Sharing question: In what one area of your life do you attempt to be supreme or first rather than letting Jesus have what is His by right?
4. How does the statement that all the fullness dwells in the Son (v. 19) relate back to v. 15a?
5. Jesus reconciled us to God through His death (v.10). What do you learn about reconciliation from these verses? How do these truths make you feel?
a. Rom. 5:10
Digging for Diamonds: Look in your concordance for cross-references on reconciliation. What do you learn from them?
Have you been reconciled to God by trusting in Jesus, in whom God’s fullness dwells, and His death and resurrection on your behalf? If not, today can be the day that you believe in Him. Understand that you have been God’s enemy, in that you did your own thing and thought you could please Him through your own goodness, but are unable to live up to the perfection that God requires. Simply trust that Jesus is fully God, who came to earth as a man who died for your sins and rose from the dead. He will reconcile you to God to be His daughter.
6. Sharing question: Share a summary of your personal story of being reconciled to God through Jesus.
7. Responding to God: Spend time silently before God, asking Him to show you the practical ways in which you deny Jesus’ lordship through your actions. Write down your thoughts.
Day Five Study
We have spent four days considering Jesus and His supremacy. The last three verses we will consider this week deal with what He has done for us.
Read Colossians 1:21-23.
1. Contrast what we were before we turned to Christ in faith with what we are afterward (vv. 21-22).
2. Sharing question: Consider the way you lived before you believed in Jesus. Describe one specific way in which your deeds expressed the hostility of your thoughts toward God.
3. Col. 1:23 can mean that those who remain in the faith over the long-haul exhibit true belief. How does 1 Jn. 2:19 support that perspective?
Digging for Diamonds: Study the doctrine of the perseverance of the saints in your theology book, or find cross-references which support that doctrine.
4. Sharing question: Share a story of how God drew you back when you strayed or doubted Him.
5. Responding to God: Write a poem, prayer, or draw a picture thanking God for His love, which does not let you go when you belong to Him.
These may not be exactly stories, but these women do share the importance of worship in their prayer lives and how it changes their perspectives. It allows them to see life from the clouds.
We live in a society where most people serve themselves as their own “god”. It’s difficult for many people to understand the importance and significance of worshipping a God who created the universe. We often think it’s arrogant to serve or worship another person. But worship means to me that God is the only one in this world deserving of my praise for his sovereignty, his guidance, his love, and his attributes. God is deserving of my praise and worship by his children. God is not just here to meet my needs, or to “give me stuff”. He is awesome in a way that I don’t think we can truly comprehend until we meet in heaven some day.
Worship is about God: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit. When God is the focus of my prayer and the subject of my sentences, I am engaging in the activity for which I was created. God is worthy of all praise and glory. He is the beginning and the end, the first and the last. His worship does not have to benefit me, because it is not about me. However, because God is so good, He has made it so that worship of Him does benefit the one who worships Him. When I remember what God has done for me, His great salvation, His love and care, His provision, His grace and mercy, His forgiveness, I not only know, in some small way, who He is, but I also recognize my own place: the value He has put on me, and how little I deserve it, and how much I need Him.