Giving Christ the Preeminence
J. R. Snell
"And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence" (Col. 1:18).
Here Christ is held forth as the revelation of God "And he that seeth me seeth him that sent me" (Jn. 12:45). In him dwells the fullness of God. The church at the same time is the fullness of God's wisdom. Christ and the church are inseparably joined.
"He is the head of the body, the church." The church is the spiritual body of Christ. Christ is the head. The body is made up of individual Christians All these are moved and directed by the head. The paramount thought in this epistle, as in Ephesians, is an inseparable unity between Christ and the church. "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church" (Col. 1:24). "And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all," (Eph. 1: 22-23).
Christ is the creative force behind the church; to it he is all. He is life, "because I live, ye shall live also" (Jn. 14:19). He is the center of its unity. Believers are all one in Christ. "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit" (I Cor. 12:13). He is the source of all blessing and comfort. He is the center of all its activity. "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus giving thanks to God and the Father by him" (Col. 3:17).
Subjection to head of the body, Christ, necessitates the rejection of all heads except Him. Priestly domination is subversive; the Pope cannot be head of the body in any sense. When men divide their allegiance in any respect, they succeed only in dishonoring the true head of the body, Christ.
Everything which belongs to Christ belongs to the church. When he is in Christ he is in the church.
"Who is the beginning, the first born from the dead"--Christ is the beginning of new life for mankind. As he was the beginning of life, so he also is the beginning of material spiritual life. Christ as the beginning of a new creation involves two important considerations: (1) Priority from the standpoint of time. "But now is Christ risen from the dead, and become the first fruits of them that slept" (I Cor. 15:20). (2) The origin of spiritual life is of him and in him. As he was the administrator in the material creation so also in the new spiritual creation.
"The first born from the dead" presupposes: that he was among the dead; that he was the first to be so born. His resurrection is his title to leadership and attests to the resurrection of all. Thus he is the cause, pledge and pattern for our resurrection. "For to this end Christ both died, and rose, and revived, that he might be Lord both of the dead and living" (Rom. 14:9)
" That in all things he might have the preeminence." This is the only occurrence of the word "preeminence" in the New Testament. Here it stresses the rank of Christ in all. The central place assigned to him is the place he must occupy with every Christian. Every thought and deed must bow in subjection to Him. He must truly become the King of life and the Lord of heart. There is need for elevating him back to the preeminence God gave him.
Is God receiving the preeminence when: (1) The work of the church is executed through human organization? (2) When divine law is set aside to accommodate human desires? (3) When family ties take precedence over divine demands? (4) When the Lord's work is made to falter because of material loves? Obviously the answer can only be "No."
The answer to every problem before the church or the world is found in the idea of giving Christ "the preeminence." Are you relegating Him to a position of secondary importance in anything? "Yes," Then you have denied him the preeminence he must have if he truly is your Lord and Saviour.
Truth Magazine VII: 10, pp. 7, 24