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Christ Is . . . Preeminent

He is the head of the body, the church;
he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,
so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Colossians 1:18-19

Paul is gaining momentum. The false teachers in Colosse and the surrounding region were doing their best to usurp the authority of Christ. Jesus is not just Jesus of Nazareth as the heretical story goes. After all, He was there in the beginning, before the beginning of it all. He is fully God. As well, in His fully human form He is the visible expression of God. It was time to elevate Jesus to His rightful position.

To make certain the fledgling church understands, Paul first adamantly asserts that Christ is its head. Body imagery will soon become his signature word picture for the function of God’s people in community. The human body needs the brain, hence the head, to do what it is intended to do. The church needs Christ, to act as God intended.

Next Paul expands his thought about firstborn over all creation (1:15) to firstborn from among the dead (1:18). I can only imagine what the heretics were saying, things like: well, you know, Lazarus was raised from the dead (John 11:43-44); and how about the son of the widow in Nain (Luke 7:11-15); and the daughter of the regional ruler (Matthew 9: 18,23-25)—they all died and were raised to life again. Paul would simply answer that these all would die again; only Jesus would rise, never to die again.

The bottom line to Paul is this: in everything, in living and in creating and in rising from the dead, Jesus has the supremacy! The Greek word here, proteuo, is elsewhere translated preeminence (KJV).

I don’t know about you, but preeminence is a big word to me, a mighty big word. Eminence means fame or recognized superiority. Preeminence then means super eminence. The Greek dictionary defines it as: “to be in first position with the implication of high rank and prominence; to be the first, to have superior status”. Websters defines it as: “paramount rank, dignity, or importance”. No one but God is preeminent.

Now that is truly something to sing about: Christ is exalted, lofty, celebrated, a standout, towering above, surpassing all others. He has the supremacy in everything!

Nancy P

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