World English Bible translation
1:17He 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. 1:19 For all the fullness was pleased to dwell in him;
Paul is nearing the end of his hymn to Christ. He has written of Christ as King, Redeemer and Creator. He has stated that Jesus was of higher rank than all created beings, both physical and spiritual. He has spoke of the pre-existence of Christ and His central role in our lives. In Today's Scripture, he writes about Jesus' unique position as head of the church.
"He is the head of the body, the assembly…" In the Corinthian letters and in Romans Paul had previously used the concept of all believers together forming one body, what he had named the Body of Christ. So, here we have a Pauline concept repeated, the assembly (or in other words the church) as the body. What is new to this passage is the idea that Christ is the head of the body.
It is certainly a natural concept. If Christ is the head of the church and the church is pictured as the Body of Christ then certainly Jesus would be the head of the Body. Many analogies have been made concerning the leadership of the head. In particular, modern man sees the brain as the center of consciousness and reason and assigns the head a position of vital significance.
Men of Paul's day had different thought about the body than we would. They knew very little about the importance of the brain. What Paul is using in His picture of Christ as the head of the Body is a projection of the rank of Christ. The head was the topmost part of a standing man. To say that Christ is the head of the Body is another way of saying that Christ has the highest rank within the Body.
In fact, as we look at this hymn to Christ in these verses, there is much here that emphasizes the rank of Jesus Christ. "He is before all things…" He is "the firstborn of all creation." This has fueled the speculation that there may have been a heresy that Paul was combating that centered on a diminishment of the importance of Jesus. There are many heresies that exist in the world that have just such an origin. They cast Jesus as the first of many sons and, though glorious, they would deny Him divinity.
But Paul is clear throughout this whole passage. Christ is the head "that in all things he might have the preeminence." The reason why it is vitally important that we understand the role of Jesus is just so He might be rightly given His preeminence. The reason that the sacrifice that was made on the cross is of such significance is precisely because the one who underwent that sacrifice was so significant. It was divine blood that was shed for our sins. Thousands of people, perhaps millions, died on Roman crosses. What was different about the singular event that we call the Crucifixion is that the Holy Lamb of God was nailed to that crossbeam.
We cannot elevate Him enough in our thinking. We cannot heap too much glory on our Savior. We cannot over exaggerate His significance because the truth is that we can barely comprehend it. So Paul states and re-states this point over and over again. Jesus is Lord. Christ is preeminent over everything we will ever experience.
Does Jesus have preeminence in your life? Is there anything that is more important to you than your relationship with the Son of God?
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