He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. – Colossians 1:15-18 (NKJV)
Paul uses the term “firstborn” here, but this does not point to Jesus as a created being. The word is rich in background:
Scripture refers to Israel as God’s firstborn child (Exodus 4:22; compare Jeremiah 31:9; Isaiah 64:8) and so expresses God’s election of Israel for salvation and defines its special place in God’s redemptive plans. Especially in the Exodus text, the phrase expresses the Lord’s faithfulness to Israel, a faithfulness that ultimately ensures its salvation from the evil pharaoh. In Paul’s handling of this biblical tradition, Christ and not Israel is cast as God’s Son (1:13). God’s faithfulness to Christ ensures His resurrection and triumph over death, and in Him over all those evil powers that keep a fallen creation captive to spiritual darkness and the consequences of human sins (1:13-14).
It is possible that another ingredient of the background to Paul’s use of firstborn is the ancient idea of a birthright, which gave the firstborn a privileged status and responsibility within the family (Lightfoot 1879:144-45). … If Paul had in mind the birthright, it would be only as a metaphor for Jesus’ unique and distinctive role within the creation as agent of its salvation. – IVP Commentary (found under the “Study This” tab).
Jesus occupies a unique place, the first place. He is over and above all things. He is, in all senses of the word, the King. He rules. He reigns. Further, He is the image of God. Everything that God desires to reveal and express to humanity is found in Jesus. Justice and mercy, truth and grace, transcendence and immanence, righteousness, holiness.
Jesus is majesty.
For all entries in the Jesus: 31 Days with the Savior series, go here.