Ephesians; 1:4 – Elected to be blameless. The church presented blameless – Col 1:22.

Class Outline:

Thursday March 21, 2019


[slide] The first stanza:


COL 1:15 And He is the image [eikon - exact image as a stamp from a press] of the invisible God, the first-born [prototokos - priority and sovereignty] of all creation.


COL 1:16 For by Him [the: definite article] all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities —  all things have been created by Him and for Him.


[slide] The transitional link:  


COL 1:17 And He [Himself: pronoun used for emphasis] is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.


COL 1:18a He [Himself] is also head of the body, the church;


[slide] The second stanza:


COL 1:18b and He is the beginning [Greek arche: originating power, author, or ruler], the first-born from the dead [the originator of a new spiritual life]; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.


COL 1:19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him,


COL 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.


The Christology of this poem is striking. It reveals the majesty and eternity of the Son of God as deity, sovereign, all-powerful, unchangeable, to be feared; and it reveals the humility and mercy of the Son of Man as man, obedient, sacrificial, dying, to be loved.


He was the meekest and lowliest of all the sons of men, yet He spoke as coming on the clouds of heaven with the glory of God. He was so austere that evil spirits and demons cried out at His presence, and yet the little children loved to play with Him and nestled in His arms. His presence at the innocent gaiety of a Jewish wedding was like the presence of sunshine. No one was half so kind and compassionate to sinners, yet no one spoke such red-hot scorching words about sin. A bruised reed He would not break. His whole life was love, yet He demanded of the Pharisees how they ever expected to escape the damnation of hell. He was a dreamer of dreams and a seer of visions, yet for sheer stark reality He has all of the self-styled realists soundly beaten. He was the servant of all, washing the disciple’s feet, yet He masterfully strode into the Temple and the hucksters and money-changers fell over one another as they saw the fire blazing in His eyes. He saved others, but in the end, Himself He did not save.


The mystery of Jesus, the unity of contrasts, is the mystery of divine personality. He alone is the fulness.


ISA 45:18 For thus says the Lord, who created the heavens

(He is the God who formed the earth and made it,

He established it and did not create it a waste place,

But formed it to be inhabited),

"I am the Lord, and there is none else.


ISA 45:19 "I have not spoken in secret,

In some dark land;

I did not say to the offspring of Jacob,

'Seek Me in a waste place';

I, the Lord, speak righteousness

Declaring things that are upright.


It is no use complaining about what we cannot understand when the Person of Christ has invited us to know Him, and the life of Christ is open for us to live in. That’s like saying that you refuse to use your brain because you don’t know how it works.


Take for instance one dimension - you have a line. Take two dimensions - you have a figure, like a square. But the square is made up of lines. The two-dimensional world does not leave behind the one-dimensional world, but includes it, yet in ways that the one-dimensional world could not fathom. If we only knew one dimension then we would understand lines only. The two-dimensional world is only a combination of our one-dimensional world, our lines, in new ways that we cannot hope to comprehend. Now take three dimensions - you have an object, like a cube, which is made up of six squares. The cube combines the lines of the one-dimensional world and the squares of the two-dimensional world, and combines the squares in new ways that those living in the two-dimensional world could never fathom and the one-dimensional world would only throw up its hands and laugh.


Understanding the hypostatic union, the Trinity, time and eternity, sovereignty and free-will, predestination and faith is like the one-dimensional world trying to understand the three-dimensional world.  


We see things that are like God all around us, but they are not God. Everywhere in this world are things that are like God and this is due to His influence on all things. The vastness of space is like the hugeness of God, but space is not the same as the greatness of God, but a symbol of it. Matter is like God in that it has energy and mystery, but it is not the same energy and mystery as God. In fact, it has just been discovered that at the atomic level, the quantum level, two people could witness the same event, conclude two completely different things about it, and both of them would be right.




This experiment with photons, which experiments like them are leading us to discover things about the invisible nuclear world, are like God in that when we look at Him, we see one thing, say compassion, and then another which seems to be a contradiction, say judgment, but it is not.


The vegetable world is like Him in that it is alive, but this sense of biological life is not the life of God. When we come to insects, we get even closer to representing God; fertility, unceasing activity, purpose.


PRO 6:4 Go to the ant, O sluggard,

Observe her ways and be wise,


PRO 6:7 Which, having no chief,

Officer or ruler,


PRO 6:8 Prepares her food in the summer,

And gathers her provision in the harvest.


PRO 6:9 How long will you lie down, O sluggard?

When will you arise from your sleep?


PRO 6:10 "A little sleep, a little slumber,

A little folding of the hands to rest" — 


PRO 6:11 And your poverty will come in like a vagabond,

And your need like an armed man.


In the higher mammals we start to see instinctive affection, but that is not the same as the love of God. And when we come to man, we get the closest representation of God in our world, but we are not gods. We are like Him in a way that a painting is like the actual landscape it depicts or a statue is like the man it depicts. Man has energy, he lives, he loves, he reasons, he has a will, an intellect, and a conscience. He is in the image of God, but he is still the line when God is the cube. God has all of these characteristics, but we never understand the way they go together while we continue to live in our one-dimensional world.


But then, Jesus, the Son of God, comes into the world and as a man claims to be God. He claims to be the only revelation of God.


JOH 1:18 No man has seen God at any time; the only begotten God, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has explained Him.


So now, we have in our world the one, true image of God among us.


HEB 1:3

And He is the radiance of His glory and the exact representation of His nature, and upholds all things by the word of His power.


The effulgence of God, meaning the light of God, the glory of God, and the knowledge of God in our world and shining forth to each one of us. He enlightens every man.


JOH 1:9 There was the true light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man.


JOH 1:10 He was in the world, and the world was made through Him, and the world did not know Him.


And because Jesus, the Son of God has come into the world, there is a rumor going around that some of the statues are going to become alive.


The Jews magnified light, the Greeks knowledge, the Romans glory. Paul was a Jew born in Greek city and a citizen of Rome - he wrote:


2CO 4:5 For we do not preach ourselves but Christ Jesus as Lord, and ourselves as your bond-servants for Jesus' sake.


2CO 4:6 For God, who said, "Light shall shine out of darkness," is the One who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.


COL 1:19 - Paul knocks out Gnostic pleroma: that fulness = all God’s creations.


COL 1:18b and He is the beginning [Greek arche: originating power, author, or ruler], the first-born from the dead [the originator of a new spiritual life]; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything.


COL 1:19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him,


COL 1:20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.


This Gnostic pleroma was the emanation of God in creation and in revelation to angelic mediators. All of it combined, the material world and the many emanations, they called pleroma. Each of these mediators, of which there were several levels, some closer to the divine and some farther away, retained something of the divine being, but in all cases the pleroma was diluted and darkened by mixing with foreign substance. One emanation led to another which had less of the divine and so on down to the last emanation which had almost none of it. It’s not a novel concept. It’s just like a family. Isaac has a DNA most like his father Abraham’s and Jacob less so, and Joseph less so, and so on. The Gnostics simply put Jesus into one of these emanations as an angelic mediator. The cults continue to do the same thing.


The fulness is not composed of everything in the universe. It is only in Jesus Christ, which makes everything outside of Him ultimately lacking and meaningless.


He alone is the life, and that life was the light of men, JOH 1:4.


Though not given the name pleroma, many forms of belief still carry the idea that all things are parts of god, that each soul is a piece of god. There are many variations, but what they hold in common is that the pieces of god in the universe will return to him and somehow the good will be judged from the bad due to their works. All of it looks like man-made religion because it is. There is only one fulness, one pleroma, and that is Jesus Christ.


In the first centuries there were many mystery cults that syncretized many different kinds of thought. Gnosticism was heavily influenced by Greek philosophy, and so it made its followers feel smart or intellectual, but it also had the rituals of Judaism, and the dualism of eastern religion. There are many religions like it today that have evolved from it. Satan fashions his religions to make them appealing to the various cultures in the world, and all of these various religions elevate some aspect of man or the creation. They place fulness in man and his achievements, or in creation, and paints the future as being very bright if they work hard enough in the religion.


God paints man’s future without Him as bleak. God says that all the fulness is in one person, the Lord Jesus Christ, which obviously means that without Him, without salvation in Him, everything outside of Him is empty or vain.


Christianity, unlike other religions doesn’t make you feel good about the potential of your flesh or any of your human abilities, but does quite the opposite. Christianity says that you are totally depraved and cannot do one good thing. Christianity puts us all in the same pit of depravity and says anything we do that we conclude is good is nothing but a filthy rag.