The key to understanding: A reflection on Colossians 1:17

I had the privilege recently of guiding the teaching time in my congregation at church. We’ve just completed a series looking at what the bible has to say about the environment. I was lucky enough to get Colossians 1:15-20 as my passage—possibly one of the most beautiful passages in the whole of the New Testament! Here it is (it’s speaking about Jesus):

15He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.

16For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;

all things were created by him and for him.

17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

18And 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.

19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,

20and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

What struck me more clearly than ever is this verse (speaking about Jesus): ‘in him all things hold together’ (Colossians 1:17b).

Some take this to mean that Jesus sustains the whole of the created order. I agree. But I think what is being said here is much grander than that. The word translated in English as ‘hold together’ or ‘consist’ (Greek: συνίστημι, synistēmi) means to bring together, or to organise in such a way as to comprehend.

What’s the point? In Jesus, we find the meaning and fulfilment of all things. All things is another interesting phrase, but it means just that: everything.

In this man Jesus, all things finally make sense!

This is a beautiful thing. For me, at least, it is a confirmation that when we look at Jesus of Nazareth, the beginningless Creator who became a part of his creation, died, and was raised to new life, all the pain and purposelessness of the world are accounted for and dealt with. In him we know our value, as created beings worth the life of the creator, and see reconciliation promised in his resurrection.

If this is true, it’s also a challenging thing. It presents a real challenge to all our human attempts to organise information and understand the world around us, and to understand each other. If Jesus is as central as this passage seems to indicate, if he is the key to understanding everything, then no one can have a full, proper understanding of human existence without him.

If Jesus of Nazareth truly died, truly was raised, and truly is God in the flesh, then he is also the key to everything. What difference might that make to the way we view the world and seek to understand it?

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One thought on “The key to understanding: A reflection on Colossians 1:17

  1. yes.

    we reflected briefly on this passage tonight, having looked at genesis 1-3.

    All things were created FOR Jesus. You, me, everybody I see every day. Every item in my house. For Jesus.

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