Thursday, August 20, 2015
The Deity of Christ in the Epistle to the Colossians
In this Epistle, it is striking how many times that the Apostle Paul reminded the Christians at Colossae that Jesus their Redeemer was and is the God of the universe, incarnate in the flesh as a man like us.
Col. 1:15: "He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation."
Col. 1:19: "In Him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell."
Col. 2:9: "In Him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily."
Three times in the first two chapters, Paul reminds them of the incarnation of God, that the Jehovah of the Old Testament had lived among us as a man in Jesus Christ. Why the urgency? The answer is evident in the context of the three verses. In Col. 1:23, Paul warns these believers, "if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard." And in Col. 2:8, he says, "See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ."
So, soon after the first two verses, and immediately before the third, Paul warns the Colossian Christians about being diverted from the Gospel of salvation in Christ.
I don't know the historical context in which this epistle was written, but its implications for Christians today are clear. These verses tell us that it is no random chance that the false teachers attack us at exactly this point, the full deity of Jesus Christ. We face a three-pronged attack of Arians who teach that Christ is a subordinate, created being, e. g., the Jehovah's Witnesses; tritheists who try to tell us that Christ is just one more godling in our sky, e. g., the Mormons; and the Sabellians (also called Modalists), who tell us that Christ isn't God in His own right, but merely one facet of a shifting godhead, e. g., the United Pentecostal Church.
I am amazed at God's preparation of His scriptures, two-thousand years in advance, to give us the guarding principles that we need today to deal with false teachers. I am just saddened that these sects continue to grow, indicating that professing Christians are failing to heed Paul's message.