In Colossians 1:6, by allusion Paul takes us back to Genesis 1:26–28.
Then God said, “Let us make humankind in our image, according to our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the wild animals of the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth.” So God created humankind in his image, in the image of God he created them; male and female he created them. God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it; and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the air and over every living thing that moves upon the earth.”
Here is God the creator at work, and the apex of his activity is the creation of humanity in the divine image and likeness. To the newly minted man and woman, he gives two tasks (the tasks are given to both the male and the female): they are to be fruitful and multiply, filling the earth they are then to subdue or govern. Paul picks up the language of Genesis 1 in Colossians 1:6, giving thanks to God that the gospel is progressing in their midst, “bearing fruit and growing” as it goes out into the entire world. He then repeats this in 1:10—the Colossians are to bear fruit and grow in their understanding of God and in their work on his behalf. Whether the tasks are the work of parenting, the multifaceted work of subduing the earth and governing it, or the work of ministry, in our work they and we are image-bearers of God who works. We were created as workers in the beginning, and Christ redeems us as workers.
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