Author: Ron Graham
Christ, Master of All Rulers
—plus “A Master in Heaven”
Paul says, "In Christ dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily" (Colossians 2:9). As we think about the fullness of Christ's divinity, we must also consider his absolute sovereignty.
Thus Paul, in the next sentence, says that Christ "is the head of all principality and power." (Colossians 2:10). All rulers of every realm are subject to the Sovereign Christ.
We have already, in connection with Christ as Creator, discussed to some extent Christ’s sovereignty over all rulers and dominions. "...whether thrones, dominions, rulers, or authorities, all things were created through him and for him" (Colossians 1:16). In this lesson we look into it further.
We consider three realms, each quite distinct. Christ is the King in the greatest of these realms. The rulers of the other two realms are much inferior to him and will, with absolute certainty, be subjected to him who is mightier than all.
1 Sovereignty Over the Power of Darkness
There is a "power of darkness" (Colossians 1:13). This authority was never granted by God. It was ursurped —its king crowned by spirits who rebelled against God’s authority and opposed themselves to the Light.
That is the great weakness of this power. Although frighteningly strong, this power will never overcome God’s "glorious might" (Colossians 1:11) granted to Christ. Darkness has no glory.
Christ has shown his sovereignty over the powers of darkness, because he is able to offer all human beings sure redemption from that power —thus having victory over its dark rulers (Colossians 1:12-14).
We are made "partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light... delivered out of the power of darkness and conveyed into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son, in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins" (Colossians 1:12-14).
2 Sovereignty Over Earthly Kingdoms
All thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers, were created by Christ whether spiritual or earthly (Colossians 1:16). Those who ascend to power owe their existence to Christ their Creator. They may oppose him, but even the most mighty are absolutely answerable to him.
Christ is not to blame for all that kings and authorities do, but they most certainly will be judged by him. Kings have claimed “divine right” to reign. However God assigns the ultimate “divine right” to no king but Jesus.
3 Sovereignty Over the Kingdom of Heaven
Christ is "head of the body, the church" He is its "firstborn" and its throne is his birthright. His place in the church is "first place" (Colossians 1:18).
This is why, at the beginning of his letter, Paul calls Jesus "Lord" (Colossians 1:2-3). It is our magnificent privilege to be chosen for citizenship in this kingdom of God’s dear Son (Colossians 1:13, 3:12).
A Master in Heaven
Paul tells the Masters of households to treat their slaves fairly. Then he adds, "...knowing that you have a Master in heaven" (Colossians 4:1). Christ is Master of us all, from the greatest ruler, to the lowliest peasant.
Paul reminded the slaves as well, "You serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:22-24). They were to work for their earthly masters in the knowledge that the earthly master was not the only Master they served. Christ was their Master, and their masters’ Master too.
1 The Great Equalizer
Both slave and master serve the Lord Christ in an equal relationship to him. That is why Paul says that in the church, "there is neither slave nor free" (Colossians 3:11) and "there is no partiality" (Colossians 3:25).
Nevertheless, in their relationship to each other, both slave and master retain their normal responsibilities. The slave does not cease to be a slave. The master does not cease to be the master. The earthly relationship remains.
This illustrates how all who serve Christ are equal in him, if not equal in the world. The rich, the educated, those in authority, the famous —these have no more status in the church of Christ than the poor, the unschooled, the peasantry, and those in obscurity.
All are "elect of God, holy and beloved" (Colossians 3:12), equally "qualified to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light" (Colossians 1:12).
2 The Great Simplifier
Some people cope with the complex and arcane. Others are “just simple folk”. How awful it would be if there were many spiritual masters, each with secret and unfathomable knowledge to grant to an elite.
To prepare yourself for heaven you would have to go through various rights of passage and learn lofty secrets. But heaven is not like that. There is one Master in heaven, whose mystery has been revealed for everyone to know.
"The mystery kept secret from ages and generations is now made known to his saints" (Colossians 1:26). This mystery is now revealed to all in the gospel.
"There is a hope laid up for you in heaven about which you heard before in the word of truth, the gospel" (Colossians 1:5-6). It's a beautifully simple knowledge of Christ that anyone can obtain and understand.
"We proclaim Christ, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ" (Colossians 1:28).
3 The Great Advancer
The principles above don’t mean, of course, that there is no advancement in Christ. We are given our equal status in Christ through the knowledge of the grace of God. That does not leave us with nothing to do.
We need to "be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and understanding... walking worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him, being fruitful in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God" (Colossians 1:10, cf 2:2,6-7).
There must be no slackness, but growth and increase in the body of Christ and its members. Paul condemns "not holding fast to the Head from whom the whole body... grows with a growth from God" (Colossians 2:19).
This advancement, however, comes from our Master’s voice. There is no value for advancement in the "commandments and doctrines of men" (Colossians 2:22-23), but only in the wisdom and power of "a Master in heaven" our Lord and God, Jesus Christ.