He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together (Colossians 1:15–17, ESV).
In Colossians 1:15–17, Paul breaks into a doxology, highlighting the uniqueness and supremacy of Jesus Christ. Specifically, he notes that Jesus is the image of God (v. 15a), preeminent over all creation (v. 15b), and the Creator and Sustainer of all things (vv. 16–17).
These affirmations clue us into an essential component of the Christian faith: Christianity requires affirming clear-cut truths about Jesus Christ. Therefore, we affirm the following:
We affirm that Jesus is the image of God. In Christ, the nature, being, and character of God are perfectly revealed. In him we see who God is, what God is like, and what God does. Other New Testament verses amplify this point. The writer to the Hebrews affirms, “He [Jesus] is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature” (Heb. 1:3). Likewise, the apostle John writes, “No one has ever seen God; the only God, who is at the Father’s side, he [Christ] has made him known” (Jn. 1:18). In John 14:9, Jesus tells his disciples, “Whoever has seen me has seen the Father.” These verses underscore the uniqueness of Christ. While you and I are created in the image of God, Christ is the image of God (2 Cor. 4:4, et. al.). We are being conformed into his image (Eph. 4:24; Col. 3:10), not the image of anyone else. We are Sons in the Son.
We affirm that Jesus is preeminent over all creation. Paul identifies Christ as “the firstborn”—a title indicating primacy of rank or honor. The title does not imply the Father’s elevation over the Son, but the Son’s exaltation over all image-bearers. Christ is from the Father since the Father sent him to accomplish our salvation (Luke 19:10), but he is not after the Father since no person of the Trinity enjoys temporal priority over the others (Col. 1:17; cf. Gen. 1:1–2; Jn. 1:1). This follows from the fact that the three Persons of the Trinity are not three parts of God. Rather, as Athanasius—and all the fathers at Nicaea—taught us, “the whole Trinity is one God.” Affirming Christ’s preeminence over all creation, therefore, is the same as affirming that he is the “last Adam” (1 Cor. 15:45), or the “pioneer of eschatological humanity,” who “abolished death and brought life and immortality to light” (2 Tim. 1:10), and who promises to share this blessing with all who embrace him as Lord and entrust themselves to him unreservedly.
We affirm that Jesus is the Creator and Sustainer of all things (vv. 16–17). He is the agent by whom God the Father brought the world into existence (cf. Jn. 1:3; Heb. 1:2). This includes the invisible realm, whether “thrones, dominions, rulers, and authorities,” which refer to four classes of angelic powers, the last two specifying the highest orders of the angelic realm. Jesus created them all. Since he is the source and end of all things, Paul concludes, “all things were created through him and for him” (v. 16). He owns everything and all things exist for his glory.
Dear Christian, let this sink in: You are united to this One. Your union with Christ is so close that the apostle Paul coined new words to express it. He added prefixes to Greek verbs to illuminate this truth: We were co-crucified with Christ (Gal. 2:20). We were co-buried with him (Rom. 6:4). We have been co-raised with him (Eph. 2:6), co-seated with him in the heavenly places (Eph. 2:6), and co-glorified with him (Rom. 8:17). Our closeness with Christ is such that Paul says, “he who is joined to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor. 6:17)
At times life can feel so suffocating and so overwhelming, that I try to find stability by mastering my circumstances, controlling people, or planning more effectively. Inevitably, this fails. Instead, I need to fix my eyes and heart on Christ and rejoice in my union with him—the one who lived for us, died for us, rose again from the dead, has been enthroned at the Father’s right hand, and who intercedes for us now. One day he will take us to live with him for all eternity.
Glory be to God the Father,
Glory be to God the Son,
Glory be to God the Spirt,
Ever Three and ever One.
 John Webster, “Eternal Generation,” in God without Measure: Working Papers in Christian Theology, Vol. 1, God and the Works of God (New York: T&T Clark, 2018), 31, 33.
 St. Athanasius, Letters to Serapion, 1. 17. 1.
 St. Maximus the Confessor, On the Cosmic Mystery of Christ, trans. Paul M. Blowers and Robert Louis Wilken (Crestwood, NY: St. Vladimir’s Seminary Press, 2003), 36.