Home > Mallinak, The Lord Jesus Christ > A Look at the True Christ (Colossians 1:12-22)

A Look at the True Christ (Colossians 1:12-22)

January 18, 2010

All of the confusion created in Colosse could be corrected by a look at the true Christ.  Gnostics taught a doctrine rife with error.  But the error began (as all error does) with a wrong view of God.  Gnostics erred in their doctrine of Christ.  They erred in their view of man.  They erred in their doctrine, they erred in their applications.  They erred theoretically, they erred practically.  And in the end, their worldview was whirled from beginning to end, from their fundamental assumptions to their ultimate conclusions.

Gnostics ultimately believe that they have a higher knowledge, that revelation is not enough, that one must think higher and obtain more information.  Of course, as with so much error in the world, they consider themselves to be the ultimate standard of truth, only trusting whatever they think to be the truth. 

Gnostic error is fundamentally the same as every other kind of error.  The names change, the characters change, the details change, but the plot remains the same.  We encounter the same kind of unbelief almost every day.  And when we encounter this kind of unbelief, we are left to wonder, what is the best way to approach this?

Paul shows us how.  Unbelief is entirely detached from anything that even remotely resembles reason.  Unbelief masquerades as logic, as higher intellect, as wisdom.  But in Christ are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 2:3).  Unbelief couldn’t pick logic out of line-up.  Wouldn’t know wisdom if they shook hands.  Unbelief is like the skilled counterfeiter who got to be so good at it that he tricked himself.  But what unbelief lacks in logic it more than counteracts with conceit and self-reliance.  And that is our struggle.  We wish to persuade men to seek the Lord.  But how do we do this, when their mind is already made up?

The answer?  Show them the true Christ.  Christ said, “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.”  If we would draw men to their Savior, we must lift Christ up from the earth.  Paul shows us how. 

Gnosticism begins with self, but Paul begins by offering thanks to the Father (v. 12).  And I would emphasize that this is a wonderful starting point.  Resentment holds most unbelievers away from Christ.  Thanksgiving makes everything easier to swallow, and when a man comes to the Father with thanks, he is prepared to see God in all His glory. 

Gnosticism taught that man must qualify himself for blessing through higher enlightenment and good works.  But Paul gives thanks to the Father, who has already qualified us, made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light.

Gnosticism portrayed itself as enlightened, but God the Father delivers us from the power of darkness, translating us into the kingdom of his dear Son.

Gnosticism taught that Christ was an emanation from God.  They taught they we must approach God by climbing the emanation ladder through angels, who would pass the message to the higher emanation Christ, who would give a sort of remote access to God.  Paul preaches Christ crucified. 

In Christ the Son we have redemption.  Man is not redeeming himself.  We have redemption in Christ, through his blood.  Blood means flesh — human flesh, which the Gnostics denied.  Christ is beyond emanation, and more than a phantom.  He is real flesh and blood, and yet fully God.  And through Christ, in Christ man has redemption, even the forgiveness of sins. 

Christ is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature.  By Christ the world was created.  And that includes everything.  Angels did not emanate — they were created.  All things that are in heaven, all things that are in earth, all things visible, all things invisible, no matter what they are, they were created by Christ the Son.  Thrones were created by Him.  Dominions were created by Him.  Principalities were create by Him.  Powers were created by Him.  All things were created by Him and for Him.

Christ is eternal – the eternally begotten Son of God.  He is before all things in time, for He is Himself timeless.  He is preeminent over all things.  He holds all things together, including (ironically) the vain minds of unbelievers.  He is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning (arche), the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. 

Christ is fully God, for it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell. 

Being those things, Christ made peace, not through enlightened thinking, not through avoiding contamination with the world, not by being a higher emanation for man, but through the blood of his cross.  By Christ, all things are reconciled to God.  That includes all things that are in heaven and all things that are in earth.  And, Paul says, that includes you Colossians.  You, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works (note, he does not say by coming into contact with the world, but by their own wicked works), yet now hath he reconciled.

I put a period at the end of that statement, but Paul doesn’t.  He says, “…yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death…”  Gnostics taught that Christ was not a person, that his body was not a true body and that He was but a phantom.  Paul counters this lie by simply stating the facts.  In the body of His flesh through death, Christ presents you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight. 

Think of that.  All the pressures brought on by false doctrine, all the bondage of the will imposed by Gnosticism, all evaporated by the truth.  Christ freed us and gave us liberty, not so that we could live a life of self-indulgence and unrestrained pleasures, not so that we could do whatever we wanted to do, but so that we might serve God without fear. 


  1. January 21, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Dear Pastor Mallinak,

    I am wondering about:

    “And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.” If we would draw men to their Savior, we must lift Christ up from the earth.

    Isn’t John 12:32 talking about Christ being crucified? Didn’t the Pharisees and the Romans lift up Christ from the earth by crucifying Him? Wouldn’t it actually be the Papists today with their transubstantiation that claim to lift up Christ from the earth again? Why is this passage about exalting Christ in preaching? Thanks.

  2. January 25, 2010 at 2:03 pm

    We preach Christ crucified, as Paul said.

  3. Bobby
    January 26, 2010 at 10:32 am

    I think Thomas’ question is interesting. Like you, Dave, I want Christ exalted in preaching. Nobody can be saved without knowing Who Christ is and what He has done. Paul said that he preached Christ crucified and we must also. Many times I’ve wanted to use John 12:32 as a proof text for preaching Christ, but I’m not positive that we should. There are certainly other texts that undoubtedly demand that we preach Christ. Should we consider this to be in the same group as them?

    The very next verse after the one that you quoted says, “This he said, signifying what death he should die.” One thing I like so much about the Jackhammer crew is your attention to context. So, contextually, is John 12:32 referring to Christ being preached, and if so, could you explain how you reached this conclusion? Thanks.

  4. January 26, 2010 at 2:26 pm

    No, it is not referring to Christ being preached. Christ was referring to His crucifixion here, and Christ crucified draws all men to Himself. That was His point.

    Paul says that he preached Christ crucified. I think there is a connection to be made there. In our preaching, we continually lift up a crucified Christ. I don’t believe that it is our preaching that draws all men to Christ. I believe that Christ does that work of drawing men. My job is simply to exalt Christ.

    I’m sure that I skipped a step in the post, and should have added Paul’s statements about preaching Christ crucified. I’m assuming that most of our readers are making that connection.

    However, I also believe that the Gnostics fault was in holding to a Christ that was of the earth and earthly… certainly not the true Christ, Christ crucified. And I believe that the correct answer to this and any kind of theological error has to come back to the cross.

    For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

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