Prototypes and Image-Bearers

“The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And 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. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and 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.”—Colossians 1:15–20 (NIV)

The dictionary defines prototype as “a first, preliminary model of something from which other forms are developed or copied.” It’s an original model on which something is patterned, one that exhibits the essential features the subsequent models should also exhibit.

In today’s passage, Paul tells us that Jesus “is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.” The Greek word for firstborn (prototokos) here doesn’t actually mean what we think. It’s not talking about the eldest child in a family. You see, Jesus wasn’t born; otherwise He’d be created by God and thus wouldn’t be God. In John 8:58 (NKJV), Jesus confirmed this truth, saying, “Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.”

The statement Jesus was making was not that He was born before Abraham, but that He actually never came into being at all. Instead, Jesus, the eternal Word incarnate, existed before Abraham had a being . . . In other words, He always existed.

So, the use of “firstborn” is telling us that Jesus is the preeminent, self-existent prototype for all humanity. He is the model, the image and likeness of God we were created in. He is God in the flesh, God incarnate. That’s why Paul follows it by saying, “For in him all things were created . . . all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.” It’s almost a mirroring of what John wrote in John 1:1–3 (NIV), which tells us, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God . . . Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made.” And as we see a few verses later in John 1:14 (NIV): “The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.” The image (eikōn) of the invisible God made manifest for us to behold, be reconciled to, have peace with, be subject to, and be sustained by (Colossians 1:20).

Friends, not only is Jesus our Creator, but He’s also our example. He made us, He sustains us, and He leads us as Lord of our individual lives and Head of our common life as His Church. How does He accomplish this? Well, in the same way that God dwells with Jesus, He’s also pleased to have His Spirit dwell in us! So, as His Spirit dwells in us, we’re sustained by Him and guided by Him to live in submission and imitation of our Lord and Savior. What a beautiful reality of who our all-sufficient, all-supreme Savior is and what it really means for us to be indwelled by the Spirit. Let’s reflect on that truth today!

DIG: What does it mean that Jesus is “the image of the invisible God” and “the firstborn over all creation”?

DISCOVER: How are you living in submission to His headship and following His example?

DO: Today’s passage wraps up by telling us that “God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things . . . by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.” Friends, by His Spirit you and I have been made ambassadors of Christ and ministers of reconciliation. He wants to use us to reconcile lost people to Himself and help them experience peace with Him through the blood of Jesus. Spend some time this week praying about who God is calling you to preach reconciliation to. And as He puts that person on your heart, be bold and share the gospel with them!

About the Author

Danny Saavedra

Danny Saavedra has served on the staff of Calvary since 2012, managing the Calvary Devotional and digital discipleship resources. He has a Master of Arts in Pastoral Counseling and Master of Divinity in Pastoral Ministry from Liberty Theological Seminary. His wife Stephanie, son Jude, and daughter Zoe share a love of Star Wars, good food, having friends over for dinner, and studying the Word together as a family.