Within the first chapter of Colossians these two words occur at least six times. These six are but a small sample of what scripture records of the ‘all things’ of Christ.
Divine Power in Creation, Col. 1. 16, 17
Verse 16 says ‘by him’, or ‘in him’, or ‘in the power of whose person’ (Jnd). There was and is none other in whom such power could be found. He was the executor of that which was conceived in the counsels of deity.
The scope of His creation is given, John 1. 3, ‘All things were created by him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.’ Things heavenly, things earthly, things visible or invisible all owe their existence to Him.
But the end of the verse also gives us the significance of His creation, ‘for him’. What end was in view in creation? Without a creator there is no meaning to the universe. But we are told here that all things were created ‘for him’. As Paul wrote in Romans 11. 36, ‘For of him, and through him, and to him, [are] all things: to whom [be] glory for ever. Amen’. They are for His glory. We have the thought in Genesis 1. 31, ‘And God saw everything that he had made, and behold., it was very good’. This truth is implicit in Romans 1. 20; creation is a testimony to His ‘eternal power and Godhead’.
We see glimpses of that glory displayed during His time on earth. You will remember at the end of Mark 4 as they crossed the sea of Galilee in a boat a great storm arose. As the disciples were failing to keep the small craft afloat they panicked and sought the Saviour’s help. Verse 39 tells us, ‘He arose, and rebuked the wind, and said unto the sea, ‘Peace, be still’. And the wind ceased and there was a great calm’. Such was His power in the natural realm. In chapter 5 we see the Lord in the country of the Gadarenes healing a man possessed of the legion of demons – His power in the spiritual realm. Later in that same chapter we see Him with the woman with the issue of blood and Jairus’ daughter. One He healed, the other He restored to life and in both cases He demonstrated His power in the physical realm.
But Colossians 1. 17 takes us a little further: By Him all things consist’, or ‘all things subsist together by Him’, (jnd). This is the support of His creation. Were it not for the Lord Jesus Christ whom men despise and scorn, all things would tumble into chaos. Everything is maintained in its ordered path as a consequence of His control and power. As the writer of Hebrews puts it, ‘Who being the brightness of [His] glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the world of his power’, Hebrews 1. 3.
Divine Purposes in Salvation and Reconciliation, Col. 1. 20
But for what purpose was such power used? He could say at the commencement of His earthly ministry, ‘All things are delivered to me of my Father’, Luke 10. 22. The all things of the Father’s will were committed unto the Son. We have commented upon His power in the natural, spiritual, and physical realms. We see that men ‘were beyond measure astonished, saying, He hath done all things well: he maketh both the deaf to hear, and the dumb to speak’, Mark 7. 37. And again, they wondered every one at all things which Jesus did’, Luke 9. 43. But the wonder of His miracles were but manifestations of His character and power. The perfection of His character was the evidence of His moral suitability for the work He had been given to do, His power illustrated His ability to complete it.
At the completion of His earthly ministry, Luke 24. 44, He said, ‘these [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me’. He indicates part of the significance of His cry from the cross, ‘It is finished’. How perfectly God’s will had been undertaken and completed, cp. Heb. 10. 12. Every jot and tittle of the divine requirement were met.
It was only one who was truly God who could undertake and complete the work of reconciliation, Colossians 1. 20, ‘And having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him, to reconcile all things unto himself. Paul emphasizes that He has made peace, and that the way by which that peace was established was by the blood of His cross.
Perfect Knowledge in Exposition, Col. 2. 3
But we can see, if we stray a little into chapter 2 of Colossians, a further truth is revealed: His perfect knowledge. Paul writes, ‘In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge’.
Men would ask in John 7. 15, ‘How knoweth this man letters, having never learned?’ They marvelled at what He knew and what He taught. Even His disciples asked the Lord to speak unto them plainly. They found what He had to say so difficult to understand, Mark 4. 34,’ and when they were alone, he expounded all things to his disciples’. Thus the statement of John 16. 30 is the more remarkable, ‘Now are we sure that thou knowest all things, and needest not that any man should ask thee: by this we believe that thou earnest forth from God’. Sadly, it was at the close of those days prior to the cross that this statement was made. The confidence that they spoke of soon evaporated when put to the test.
This perfect knowledge is the characteristic of deity. It is a testimony to His omniscience. John records, ‘But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, and needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man’, John 2. 24, 25. The woman at Sychar’s well came to realize and testify to this fact, John 4. 29, ‘Come, see a man, which told me all things that ever I did: is not this the Christ?’. Peter too, fresh from his denial of the Lord could say, John 21. 17, ‘Lord, thou knowest all things; thou knowest that I love thee’. Peter realized and acknowledged that the Lord was fully acquainted with everything about him. ‘For he knoweth our frame, he remembereth that we are dust’, Psa. 103. 14.
Pre-eminence and Headship in Dominion, Col. 1. 17, 18
Verse 17, ‘He is before all things’. This speaks of His eternity – His supremacy in glory. The fact of the use of the present tense, ‘He is’, emphasizes that the measurement of time is an irrelevance. To creatures so bound to time in thought and deed this is inexplicable but still gloriously true.
Verse 18 ‘That in all things He might have the pre-eminence’. This is His sovereignty in government. It was God’s intention in creation that man should have the first place. God placed man in the garden, ‘to subdue it and to have dominion over it’, Gen. 1. 28; Heb. 2. 8 ‘Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet. For in that he put all in subjection under him, he left nothing [that is] not put under him. But now we see not yet all things put under him’. Sadly, what God gave, man forfeited on account of sin. But in Christ what God purposed will yet be realized. Ephesians 1. 10, ‘That in the dispensation of the fullness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; [even] in him’. Christ is to be supreme in the earthly and heavenly scenes.
But while this is yet future in terms of its realization He is still sovereign in government: Eph. 1. 22, ‘And hath put all [things] under his feet, and gave him [to be] the head over all [things] to the church’. Today, that government is only owned among His people; in a future day it will be universally acknowledged.