Proteuo only appears in Colossians 1:18. Paul uses this
word to express the position of Christ in relationship to all things
in heaven and on earth. In Colossians 1:13-18, Paul explains the
reasons Christ in considered preeminent as well as God's divine
plan in making Him preeminent.
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated
us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption
through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. He is the image of
the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For by Him
all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth,
visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities
or powers. All things were created through Him and for Him. And
He is before all things, and in Him all things consist. And He
is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the
first born from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence.
The greek word proteuo means to be first in rank and influence.
It is most often translated preeminence, but is also translated
supremacy (NIV). In our language, preeminent is defined as "having
paramount rank, dignity, or importance" (Webster). And, supreme
is defined as "highest in rank or authority ... highest in degree
or quality" (Webster). Now the point is that Christ is above all
others whether in heaven or earth with exception only to God who
Himself made Christ preeminent.
Why is Christ preeminent? From Colossians 1:13-18, we learn that
Christ is preeminent for the following reasons:
- In Christ's kingdom is deliverance from the power of darkness.
(Col. 1:13) God determined from the foundation of the world that
deliverance from sin would be by, through, and in His Son (Eph.
- In Christ we have redemption through His blood. (Col. 1:14)
In Christ we have been redeemed - purchased. A price had to be
paid so that men obedient to Christ could be cleansed from sin.
That price is Christ's blood (I Cor. 6:20).
- In Christ we have the forgiveness of sin through His blood.
(Col. 1:14) Only in and through Christ may sins be forgiven (Rom.
6:23; Eph. 1:3).
- Christ is the image of the invisible God. (Col. 1:15) In Christ
dwells the fullness of the Godhead bodily (Col. 2:9). Christ is
the express image of God's person (Heb. 1:3).
- Christ is the firstborn over all creation. (Col. 1:15) Firstborn
denotes Christ sovereignty as King of kings and Lord of lords
as well as His priority over all created beings (Rev. 1:5).
- Christ created all things that are in heaven and on earth,
things visible and invisible, thrones, dominions, principalities,
and powers. (Col. 1:16) Although Jehovah is Creator and Originator
of all things, He involved Christ in the creation of all things
so that all things were created by, through, and for Christ giving
Him preeminence over all things.
- Christ is before all things. (Col. 1:17) Except for God, there
is none other before Christ.
- In Christ all things consist. (Col. 1:17) Christ as Creator
is also Sustainer of all things "upholding all things by the power
of His word" (Heb. 1:3).
- Christ is the firstborn from the dead. (Col. 1:18) Christ rose
from the dead to become the firstfruits of those who have fallen
asleep (I Cor. 15:20).
- Christ is the head of the body - the church. (Col. 1:18) The
head of something always holds the preeminent position. So, Christ
holds the preeminent position in the church which is His body.
Now this is an impressive list. Although time and space do not
permit in depth comment on these items, spend time meditating on
their significance. With exception to God alone, is there anything
in which Christ is not preeminent or supreme? Was it not Christ
who created this world including man and woman? Was it not Christ
who created all that exists in the heavens of which we have only
a vague understanding? Is it not Christ who keeps all that was created
in perfect harmony? Was it not Christ who delivered salvation to
man and shed His own blood? Is it not in Christ that the saved live
What is owed to one who is preeminent over all that is in heaven
and on earth? Well, we can give nothing to Christ that He does not
already posses. But, man having been given rule over his own mind
and body, may freely give himself over to God and Christ. Or, man
may freely give himself over to sin. Paul says: "I beseech you therefore,
brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a
living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable
service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed
by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good
and acceptable and perfect will of God. (Ro. 12:1-2)
We are called to do much less than Christ in service to God. Christ
freely gave Himself to be a sacrifice through death. We are called
to simply offer ourself as a living sacrifice to God through obedience
to Christ. What do you think? If Christ, as the preeminent One above
all creation, died for us, should we not live for Him?