Before I came to faith in Jesus, I’d heard the gospel preached but wrestled with His identity. How could He offer forgiveness for my sins when the Bible says only God can forgive sins? I discovered I wasn’t alone in my struggles after reading J. I. Packer’s Knowing God. Packer suggests that for many unbelievers the “really staggering Christian claim is that Jesus of Nazareth was God made man . . . as truly and fully divine as He was human.” Yet this is the truth that makes salvation possible.
When the apostle Paul refers to Christ as “the image of the invisible God,” he’s saying Jesus is completely and perfectly God—Creator and Sustainer of all things in heaven and earth‒but also fully human (Colossians 1:15–17). Because of this truth, we can be confident that through Christ’s death and resurrection, He’s not only carried the consequences for our sins but has also redeemed human nature, so that we—and all of creation—can be reconciled to God (vv. 20–22).
In an amazing, initiating act of love, God the Father reveals Himself in and through Scripture by the power of God the Holy Spirit and through the life of God the Son. Those who believe in Jesus are saved because He is Emmanuel—God with us. Hallelujah!
Paul wrote Colossians to refute false teachings. He doesn’t specifically state what these heresies were other than they pertained to who Christ is. Paul sets forth the deity of Jesus (1:15–16), His superiority and authority (vv. 17–23), and His sufficiency for salvation and spiritual growth (2:6–15). Probably no passage in the New Testament contains more concentrated doctrine about Christ than Colossians 1:15–23. Paul affirmed four things about His identity and authority: He’s God (v. 15); He’s the Creator and Sustainer of all creation (vv. 16–17); He’s the Head of the church, His new creation (v. 18); and He’s our Redeemer and Savior (vv. 19–23)