World English Bible translation
1:16For by him were all things created, in the heavens and on the earth, things visible and things invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers; all things have been created through him, and to him. 1:17 He is before all things, and in him all things are held together. 1:18 He is the head of the body, the assembly, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
Many scholars believe that some part of verses 13-20 of this chapter may have been an early catechism of the primitive church. If that is so then much of what we may have in this section might pre-date even Paul's ministry. Certainly, whatever its origin, what is contained here is a valuable treasure for those of us who believe. Paul began this section writing about the kingdom of the Son and the redemption that we have through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. It was written that Christ was the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. Yesterday we dealt with verse 16 that speaks of the role of Jesus in creation and of His supremacy over created things. Verse 17, which we will deal with today, recapitulates that idea and then adds even more to what we may know about the one that we call Lord and Savior.
"He is before all things, and in him all things are held together." Jesus is before all things in two different ways that Paul has already written about. He is before all things in the sense of time. All things were created by Him and for Him. He existed before any created thing existed. There is never a point in time when we can say that Jesus did not exist. He is the eternal Son of God.
But He is also before all things in the sense of rank and order. Jesus stands before all things because as part of the Godhead, He stands supreme over all created beings. His majesty is greater than any mankind can achieve and His power and glory surpasses any of those of the created spiritual beings. This is the same sense in which we are told that on the Day of Judgment, ever knee shall bow before Him. They will bow because Jesus Christ will be revealed as the True and Living God.
Not only does this verse re-emphasize the supremacy of Christ and His role in creation, but also the second phrase goes beyond even that to reveal something new. "…In him all things are held together." God did not simply create the world and leave it to run its own course. The world continues to exist because of the ongoing creative work of Jesus Christ. All things are held together by His work and by His person.
We can see this principle in action in our own lives. When God is forsaken, society collapses and chaos reigns. As spiritual values are neglected by a secular society, cultural values become increasingly destructive. When the poet W.B. Yeats wrote about this self-destructive tendency in the society in his day, the famous first lines of his poem, The Second Coming, read:
"Turning and turning in the widening gyre
The falcon cannot hear the falconer;
Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned;
The best lack all conviction, while the worst
Are full of passionate intensity."
The faith of Christians is delicately balanced. We can recognize that as society drifts farther and farther from Christian values that the center will not hold. Whatever innocence we may have had will be stripped away. However, we can take heart in what Paul has written to the Colossians. All things are held together in Christ. Just as Christ, having died once on the cross, has risen to an eternal life never to die again, God's control over this world will never cease completely. Though the world may fall around us, our own center will hold if Christ is at the center of our lives. When we are "in Christ", all things will hold together for our lives as well.
How can we keep such a blessing to ourselves? As the world becomes more and more chaotic everyday, we must offer Christ to this dying generation. Only in Christ will people find peace and wholeness. Only in Christ is there safety. He is the life preserver that we are able to throw out to a world drowning in sin. Are you willing to try to save a few of those that are sinking around you? Are you willing to show them the solid ground on which they can stand?
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