Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers - all things have been created through him and for him, He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross.
(Church in Wales Lectionary, New Revised Standard Version)
The letter of Paul to the Colossians is written to the Christians at Colossae in Asia Minor near Laodicea, around 100 miles from Ephesus. It's near modern-day Honaz in Turkey, and was likely written in 62 CE when Paul was in prison in Rome, although it's possible it was written by one of his disciples. The original church was established by Paul's colleague Epaphras, but the congregation seems to have been going off-track a bit and following gnostic* ideas and putting together a number of theologies and practices.
What we have here is a good explanation of Jesus and his work. We can only look briefly at it, but Jesus is seen as the image or eikon of God the Father, not just appearing to be like Him - Jesus is actually God, just as God the Father is actually God. He is also the firstborn. This can mean the first in importance or the first to be born. The term firstborn is often used of the Messiah, and God the Father is sometimes called the firstborn. We are also told that Jesus created everything and is not a created being himself. Because of this we worship him for the amazing creation of our universe - the colours, creatures, and sounds from the tiny atom to our whole world. We also praise him because he is the head of the Church that he created.
* Click 'Gnosticism' on bar at top of page for an explanation of Gnosticism.
sometimes language is simply not enough
to describe You and all You have done for us.
You are the image of the living God,
and created all that exists.
You are the firstborn of the Church
of which we are the body.
May we never forget You,
but continue to praise You.
You might like to remind yourself of the words of the Nicene Creed and of what it says about Jesus:
Or look up a map showing where the city of Colossae was situated: