That Jesus Christ is "the image of the invisible God" (Col. 1:15) tells us something, first of all, about God. Neither John in his visions in the book of Revelation, nor Moses on Mount Sinai, nor Adam in the Garden of Eden, saw God. God has never been seen and never will be seen, not on the judgment day nor in the eternal ages. For God is, by nature, spirit not matter. He is without colour, extension or shape, for He is eternally and necessarily invisible. In fact, God cannot be sensed with any of our senses. Not only can He not be seen but He cannot be heard or smelled or tasted or touched.
The invisibility of God leads us to the truth that He is hidden, far off, transcendent and incomprehensible to man. Thus God must reveal Himself to us for us to know Him. His invisibility necessitates His revelation if ever we can be His covenant friends.
Our text also tells us something about Christ and His relationship to God, that He is "the image of the invisible God." Certainly, the eternal Son is the image of God the Father. All that the Father is so is the Son and all that the Son is so is the Father, excluding, of course, their personal properties of begetting (the Father) and being begotten (the Son). These exceptions excluded, the Son perfectly images the Father.
Colossians 1:15, however, is focusing on the incarnate Christ as the image of God, for we are in the mediatorial "kingdom" (13) of the crucified Saviour "in whom we have redemption through his blood" (14). Thus our text speaks of Christ as the image who makes the "invisible God" visible (15).
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God as the Word made flesh who dwelt among us, "and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father" (John 1:14). The apostles declared, "We heard Him and saw Him and handled Him" (cf. I John 1:1-3). Thus Jesus said, "He that hath seen me hath seen the Father" (John 14:9).
As the image of God, the incarnate Christ images God in his attributes (holiness, love, truth, etc.), works (creation, providence and redemption) and will. He is "the image of the invisible God," even "the expressimage of God" (Heb. 1:3). Christ is the absolutely perfect image of God in everything without exception. No divine features are missing in the image; nothing is misplaced; no glory is impaired or diminished. As the express image of God, Jesus Christ is God, for only One who is God can be the express image of God. Thus "all men should honour the Son, even as they honour the Father" (John 5:23).
- Volume: 10
- Issue: 11
Rev. Angust Stewart (Wife: Mary)
Ordained - 2001
Pastorates: Covenant Protestant Reformed Church of Ballymena, Northern Ireland - 2001Website: www.cprf.co.uk/
Address7 Lislunnan Road
State or ProvinceCo.Antrim
Zip CodeBT42 3NR
Telephone(01144) 28 25 891851