The apostle Paul records a prayer he prayed for the Colossian Christians in which he prayed that they would “be filled with the knowledge of His will… walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, … and increasing in the knowledge of God;” Col. 1:9,10. His desire was that they would have insight into the mystery of the unsearchable riches of Christ. He wanted them to increase in the knowledge of God.
He then unfolds these astonishing statements about Jesus:
“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 firstborn from the dead, that in all things He may have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.” Col 1:15-20
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. The first three verses of Hebrews tell us it is the Son “through whom also God made the worlds” and that He is “the brightness of His glory and the express image of His person”. That is, Jesus is the exact representation of His nature. In fact, Jesus Himself said: “If you had known Me, you would have known My Father also;” and “He who has seen Me has seen the Father;” John 14:7, 9
This word “image” in Col.1:15 comes from the Greek word “eikon” (i-kone’); which is where we get today’s term icon. It means a likeness, a profile or a representation of something. It is the word that is used in what is called representative art. This is art in which a figure or design in painting or sculpture is meant to represent something that is real in the physical realm. This “image” represents to the viewer what is actually and readily existent in another realm. In other words Jesus came to give us a physical, actual and literal image of Who God is.
The word “express image” as used in the Hebrews reference refers to the Greek word “charakter” (khar-ak-tare’), which is an engravers term meaning a figure stamped with an image, in other words, an exact copy or representation. Thus, the Hebrews reference means Jesus is the exact stamp of the reality of God, the Father, and the perfect essence of Who the Father literally is.
The apostle John begins his gospel from a different vantage point than the other gospel writers. He begins his account not from the historic point of Jesus’ entry into the human race, but rather all the way back into eternity past, and there we still find Jesus. He says: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made…. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we beheld His glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father, full of grace and truth.” John 1:1-3,14
We see that Jesus was preexistent with the Father and in fact was the Creator of all things. The Colossians’ passage goes on further to say.. “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.” Not only did He create all things that exist, they were created FOR Him.
Some have naively assumed that Jesus is only the New Testament representation of God. Actually, He is all that He is, all the time. He always has been and always will be. In the book of Revelation He is described to the apostle John as “the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End,” … “Who is and who was and who is to come, the Almighty.” (Rev 1:8). Jesus Who is, is the same Jesus Who was, and the same Jesus Who is to come. He is the same yesterday, today and forever. (Heb.13:8)
So the point of all this is that if you want to know about God, you need look no further than Jesus; He is the express image of His person; the exact representation of His nature. He is the fullness of God in bodily form. The fullness of what God is really like is revealed through Jesus.