In Colossians 1:18 Paul says that Christ is the head of the body. Then he exhorts us to make sure that we give Christ priority attention like we do with our own head and face. This verse concludes, “that in all things He may have the preeminence.”
The word preeminence is the Greek word proteuo, which means “to be first in rank or influence.” It comes from the word protos, meaning “foremost in time, order, or importance.” We see this word in the English word prototype—“the first type or model of something.” It is therefore the idea of being first, and in that sense, holding the number one position in the order of things.
Now, preeminence simply means that Christ, as the head of the church, should be held in the highest esteem in each of our lives. As we think about His exalted status, there ought to well up within us an appreciation for His supreme position in the universe. In the priority structure of everything, He is in first place. He is the preeminent One.
Think about the human head for a minute. The head is the most prominent and preeminent feature about us—the color of our hair and eyes, the shape of our nose, the attractiveness of our smile. Many people spend a lot of money on their hair and teeth. It is not surprising that the cosmetic industry is a multibillion dollar business. It could be said that heads are who we are—the most preeminent aspect of our being.
In like fashion, we are to give that kind of attention to Christ. He deserves to be preeminent in all things. And why should we do that? Well, in Colossians 1:15-19 Paul offers great motivation.
The first reason Paul gives in verse 15 is that Christ is God. Jesus Christ is “the image of the invisible God.” This means if you want to see God—to know His character, values, purposes, and desires—then take a long look at Jesus as He is revealed in Scripture. Also, He is the “firstborn over all creation,” indicating that Christ has the firstborn rights to everything. Actually “firstborn” has nothing to do with His birth but is a legal term for beneficiary rights. As the rightful heir, everything belongs to Him.
Secondly, Christ is the creator of the entire universe. The God (Elohim) of Genesis 1:1 is Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:16; John 1:3). When Paul writes, “For by Him all things were created,” that leaves nothing out. Everything related to planet earth, as well as the starry heavens, was the product of Christ’s creative work. Out of nothing He created everything, including the unseen world of angelic beings. In the light of this, to say that Christ is preeminent is certainly an understatement.
Yet, Paul is not finished. A third reason is that Christ, as the progenitor of the universe, continues to sustain it—“in Him all things consist” (verse 17). Physicists tell us that they have no idea what holds the protons and neutrons together in the nucleus of an atom. This cohesive force is a mystery to scientists, but Paul states that it is simply the controlling influence of the Creator. In other words, all the material elements that comprise everything in the universe would disintegrate into absolute chaos were it not for Christ holding it all together.
Finally, Paul concludes with Christ’s resurrection from the dead, highlighting His enormous power—“the firstborn from the dead” (verse 18). In Psalm 8 we read that God sprinkled the stars into the universe with His fingers (verse 3). But when speaking of Christ’s work of redemption (Isaiah 53), the prophet asks, “To whom has the arm of the Lord been revealed?” (verse 1). Creating the stars may have been a mighty miracle, but even greater was overcoming death in order to redeem us from our sin. This is the exclamation point for Paul as he encourages us to acknowledge the preeminence of Christ.
As you can see, Colossians 1:15-19 is one of the most significant passages in the Bible on the supremacy of Christ. As our head, He is certainly preeminent in all things.
So, look in the mirror and ask yourself, “Do I acknowledge Christ’s preeminence? Do I give Him first place in all I do and think? Is His character what people see when they look at me? Preeminence doesn’t mean only once a week on Sunday. It means every day and all the time—in everything—that in all things He might have preeminence.