17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
While declaring the greatness of Christ, the apostle Paul talks about His existence before the world and His role in maintaining it. Paul has already introduced Christ as the Creator of all things in the preceding verses (cf. vv. 15-16). Because Christ is the Creator of all things, it is a forgone conclusion that He precedes all things.
Christ has no beginning as He is not a created being. His birth as Mary’s child was not His beginning. His birth was His incarnation, coming in human form. He co-existed with God the Father through all eternity past. So the apostle John said of Christ, the Word, in John 1:1-3 – “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. The same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” How could He have created all things if He were not before all things?
During His public ministry, Jesus Himself declared that He was before all things. In John 8:58, He said to the Jews, “Verily, verily, I say unto you, Before Abraham was, I am.” In Revelation 1:8, Jesus said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty.” Jesus further said, “I am the first and the last: I am he that liveth, and was dead; and, behold, I am alive for evermore, Amen” (Revelation 1:17-18). In Revelation 2:8, He declared that He is “the first and the last, which was dead, and is alive”. As “the first”, Christ is the First Cause, the beginning source of all things. Again in Revelation 22:13, He said, “I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end, the first and the last.” Then in verse 16, He declared, “I am the root and the offspring of David, and the bright and morning star.” In other words, Christ, “the son of David”, is also the Creator of David!
Since the creation of all things, He holds them all by His power. So Paul said, “by him all things consist.” Hebrews 1:3 says that He is “upholding all things by the word of his power”. Christ is the Sustainer of everything in the universe. The coherence and continuity of the world around us, as well as the things above us and in the depths of the oceans, are all under Christ’s purview. The continued existence of the universe and all that are in it, though full of unexplained complexities, is Christ’s work of providence. Oh, how lofty should our praise and adoration of Christ be!