Every Creature Under Heaven

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“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23)

Before the Lord ascended back to heaven, He commanded His disciples to “preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15), and one might receive the impression from the words of our text that this had already been accomplished, just 30 years after the command was given.

Yet, it is hardly plausible to infer from this that Christian missionaries had already reached the entire globe. The problem may be our far-too-limited appreciation of God’s witness in the creation. The phrase “to every creature” in our text could better be read “in everything created.” That is, the gospel that was now being brought in explicit terms to the Colossians was consistent with what they already should have known from God’s great witness in the very structure and behavior of everything He had created.

This is the testimony of such familiar verses as Psalm 19:1 (“the heavens declare . . .”); Romans 1:20 (“the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen”); Acts 14:17 (“he left not himself without witness”); and Acts 17:28 (“in him we live, and move, and have our being”). In the verses just preceding our text (Colossians 1:16-22), Paul had defined this universal gospel as embracing the creation, salvation, and consummation of “all things” by Christ (vv. 16-17, 20). The essence of this truth can be seen (if one’s eyes are willing to see it) in “all the world” (v. 6) in the beauty, complexity, unity in diversity, purposefulness, continuance of energy, and process, as found in “every creature which is under heaven.” Every aspect of God’s creation has been designed to reveal Christ as Maker and Savior. HMM