The Book of Colossians was written by Apostle Paul for the instruction of the saints. Being from a Jewish background himself, Paul understood that one of the chief objections to the Christian Message pertains to the Deity of Jesus Christ. This Paul referred to as a “mystery,” and prayed for the words to “make it manifest,” or make it known, to the saints.
The main problem presented by any teaching on the Deity of Jesus Christ arises from the undeniable fact of His humanity – How could Jesus Christ be both fully human and fully God? Misunderstanding of this dual nature of Jesus Chris has spawned great controversy throughout the history of the Church, and is still cause of divisions among the churches of the 21st Century.
I have found that a good general rule of distinction is to understand the Name ‘Jesus’ to be a reference to our Lord in His humanity – the Son of Man, made in a form lower than the angels; while the name ‘Christ’ refers to His Divinity – the Son of God, crowned with glory and honor, far above all principalities, powers, rulers, and dominion. (See Hebrews 2:9; Ephesians 1:20-21.)
Thus, in the Person of Jesus Christ dwelt “all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9; 1:19) – fully God and fully man. Mainstream Judaism considered such concepts to be blasphemy of the basest sort, worthy of death (John 10:33); and so troubled the Church at every turn. Paul himself confessed to his own role in the persecution of the Church “beyond measure” (Galatians 1:13), before the Mystery of Christ was revealed by God to him.
The Deity of Christ is a mystery revealed by God to the saints of all ages by the Indwelling Spirit of Truth. But God doesn’t leave His Children to wonder, or wander, in some ‘blind faith.’ To the contrary, Scripture teaches us to be ready always to communicate our faith to others (1 Peter 3:15; 2 Timothy 2:15). An intelligent faith then requires a clear teaching on this important subject. Accordingly, the Book of Colossians provides the student of Scripture with one of our fullest expressions of the Deity and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ.
We first note in our study that the name ‘Jesus’ is used very little in this epistle. Instead, Apostle Paul chose to focus on the Divinity of the God-Man, and so elected to use the Name ‘Christ’ when making reference to the Lord. The emphasis is thus moved away from any association of human frailty and weakness, and placed on the Power and Authority that belong to Him as the Anointed One (Acts 4:27; 10:38).
From this peculiar emphasis, we gain a most-important insight into the Supremacy, Superiority, and Sovereignty of Jesus Christ:
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” (Colossians 2:9)
“…Christ is all, and in all.” (Colossians 3:11)
The Person and Work of Christ is the central subject of the entire Bible, as God reveals Himself within Creation (Colossians 1:15-17). We understand the function of Christ in a Representative Role – the Perfect Man representing God’s totality to the Created Order (Colossians 1:19), which in turn bears witness to the Creator’s Glory. This is not to say that man became God, but that God took upon Himself the form of a man, in order to identity with mankind (Philippians 2:5-8).
It is important to note that the Greek word for “Christ” (Christos) means “the Anointed” (Hebrew “Messiah”). The word ‘Christ’ then has reference to the One who bears the Anointing of God for a particular service. All throughout the Bible we see examples of men being anointed for the service of prophet (1 Kings 19:16); priest (Leviticus 8:12); and king (1 Samuel 9:16). In His designation as the Anointed, Jesus Christ performs the office work of Prophet, Priest, and King, ministering about the Salvation of His People.
But there is another significance to this Anointing. “Christ”-ians have been baptized into Christ’s Body; and therein have been made partakers of His Anointing by the Holy Spirit of God. Our position in His Body means that His Anointing is very much our own – as He is the Anointed One, so too we are the Lord’s Anointed – and we are entitled to all the protections and provisions, as well as all the responsibilities and duties, that ensue from His Anointing.
“…because as he is, so are we in this world.” (1 John 4:17)
This portion of Scripture is a colloquialism, the meaning of which may be lost upon first reading. In modern English phrasing we would say: ‘We are as He is in this world’; or ‘We are as Him in this world’; or ‘In this world, we are as Him.’ The verse states the representative role of the Body of Christ. The thought being expressed is that we are the Presence of Christ (the Anointed One) in this world. This Presence is known as “our love [is] made perfect” (1 John 4:17); or we are made perfect, complete, full, in One (John 17:23; see also 1 John 4:12).
Sadly, most church-goers today are awaiting Christ’s Return, and are galvanized in their church pews. As they wait, as a docile heifer in a pasture of pretty sermons and prosperity gospels (which are no gospel; Galatians 1:6-7); they are completely oblivious to His active, living Presence as a present Reality. No, dear saints, we must never deny that our Lord Jesus Christ is already here, indwelling His Body – the Church; and through it, He has ordained that He would be made known to the world (John 17:22-23).
This is the Mystery of Christ, which Apostle Paul expounded to the Colossians as “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27; see also Ephesians 3:3-6). Those in the churches looking for a bodily presence of Jesus are not living the Life of God ‘as Christ’ in this world. We belong to that wherein dwells the fulness of the Godhead (Ephesians 1:22-23). We are His Bodily Presence. We are Christ in this world (1 John 4:17).
Before anyone decides to brand and dismiss me as a heretic (for so this teaching may seem to the majority of church-goers), let me explain how these things are so. Through identifying with us in His Crucifixion, Christ died to make atonement for our sins – “the just for the unjust” (1 Peter 3:18). And so it is through His Death that we have been set free from the curse of sin. Because He died for our sins, we are no longer under the curse, and death has no claim on us.
Yet, it is through His Resurrection by the Power of the Holy Spirit, that we are raised together with Him, now to walk in Newness of Life (Romans 8:9-11). His Life was given for us at Calvary, and to us when the Holy Spirit quickens us, giving us Life, “who were dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1). This spiritual experience is a Sovereign work of God, bringing us into His Family, testified to by baptism (Romans 6:3-11). Thus Apostle Paul’s injunction:
“If [or since, because] ye then be risen with Christ… ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” (Colossians 3:1, 3-4)
Identification Truth not only teaches us that Jesus very much experienced every infirmity of sinful, fallen humanity (Hebrews 4:15); but we also learn that we may very much have the experience of every strength of Christ. Every promise and provision of God is made available to us through the Anointing of Christ, as we are sealed with the Spirit of Christ (2 Corinthians 1:21-22). In light of this recognition, the saint may triumphantly proclaim: “I can do all things through Christ [the Anointed One and His Anointing] which strengtheneth me” (Philippians 4:13).
“Behold, how good and how pleasant it is for brethren to dwell together in unity [or in Oneness]! It is like the precious ointment upon the head, that ran down upon the beard, even Aaron’s beard: that went down to the skirts of his garments; As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore.” (Psalms 133)
The psalmist here sings the Blessing of God on the unity, or Oneness, of the Church. The imagery pictures Aaron as a type of Christ, the High Priest, being the one that bears the Anointing of God. Aaron’s garments received of the oil which was poured upon his head in his consecration; and so his garment became the perpetual reminder of the Anointing, as he ministered in the Tabernacle services. Without the high priestly robes, Aaron was not able to minister. It was the Anointing that qualified him for the office; and it was the Anointing that placed him in that position.
The psalmist relates Oneness in the Body of Christ to the Anointing that covered Aaron’s robes. It must not be forgotten that it is according to our position of Oneness with Christ – the Anointed One (Isaiah 61:1-3) – that we are to have the experience of His Life in us. That is, when we recognize His Headship; when we surrender to His Will, submit to His direction, obey His Word, and endure in our calling; when we are in-line with Him – His Anointing has free course in our lives and becomes our Anointing, as we become the Lord’s Anointed.
As “Christ”-ians (Anointed Ones), we must view ourselves but empty vessels, fitted for the Master’s use – products of His Grace and Mercy (Romans 9:23-24). As we are thus filled with the precious Anointing oil of His Holy Spirit, His very Life infuses us with that same fullness of the Godhead Bodily. His Life becomes our life. As we become One with Him, we manifest Christ’s Bodily Presence in this world.
This is the Mystery of Christ, once spoken by the prophets as they were moved by His Spirit (compare 1 Peter 1:10-12); hidden in past ages but now revealed by the same Spirit of Christ (Ephesians 3:5-6).
Child of Grace, realize your representative role, as you have been baptized into Christ (Galatians 3:27), now to manifest His Life in and through you, as the Lord’s Anointed. As you have ‘put on Christ,’ answer your calling to make the Mystery of Christ – His Bodily Presence, God with us – known among men to the praise of His Glory (Ephesians 1:9-12).
“Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ [in the Anointing – Isaiah 10:27], and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” (2 Corinthians 2:14)