“The universe of Paul’s thought revolved around the Son of God, Jesus Christ. Paul’s christology illumined his thought in its entirety, sometimes shedding its light on aspects of his thought that one might have expected would have gone relatively untouched by christology. For instance, who would have expected Paul, in midrashic fashion, to tell his Corinthian listeners that the rock that gave forth water to the Israelites during their period of wilderness wanderings was Christ (1 Cor 10:4)? Here he draws on sapiential ideas about the role of personified Wisdom in Israel… Paul’s view of Christ was so broad that he could conceive of him as being involved in God’s dealings with his people long before he was born and began his earthly ministry. This is apparently because he saw Christ as Wisdom come in the flesh (cf. 1 Cor 1:24), and therefore whatever had been said of Wisdom in early Jewish thought, including its existence in heaven before creation (cf. Prov 8; Sir 24; Wis 7), was now predicated of Christ…” (Dictionary of Paul and His Letters, 103)
The apostle Paul closed the end of his life writing that he wanted to gain Christ and know him more (Phil. 3:8-11). There’s no doubt that the center of Paul’s universe, and the universe that Paul wrote about and lived in, was Jesus, the Son of God and fulfillment of the OT promises. Paul’s Christology was centered on Jesus, the one whom was to be given all preeminence (Col. 1:18). We can learn a lot from Paul…
Luke is a pastor-theologian living in northern California, serving as a co-lead pastor with his life, Dawn, at the Red Bluff Vineyard. Father of five amazing kids, when Luke isn’t hanging with his family, reading or writing theology, he moonlights as a fly fishing guide for Confluence Outfitters. He blogs regularly at LukeGeraty.com and regularly contributes to his YouTube channel.
It really is amazing how much Paul exalts Christ above the universe (or creation). There is a LOT of significance packed into small portions of Paul’s writings… a few examples:
Col 1:16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.
Eph 1:21 far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come. 22 And He put all things in subjection under His feet, and gave Him as head over all things to the church,
Eph 4:10 He who descended is Himself also He who ascended far above all the heavens, so that He might fill all things.)
Christ is before and the beginning of all things (preeminence). He is exalted far above all things (supremacy). All things exist by Him, through Him and for Him (centrality). He fills all things and in Him all things hold together (no exact term comes to mind, but essentially that Christ is the anchor of the universe). I think of Paul’s prayer in Eph, where he asks that the saints “may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth.” I think he is asking specifically that the saints be able to comprehend the love of God, but I can’t help but find application to comprehending Christ; the breadth, length, height and depth of who He is and all the power and wisdom of God in Him. Jesus came to reveal the Father and it is only through Christ that we can know the Father, because He is in the Father and the Father in Him… and I cannot conceive of a greater thought than that for all eternity we will explore the depths of God in Christ and be continually blown away by ever increasing revelations of who He is.