LamininThe image to the left is a diagram of the protein molecule Laminin. Laminin ‘is a protein found in the “extracellular matrix”, the sheets of protein that form the substrate of all internal organs also called the “basement membrane”. ‘ Basically, Laminin is the protein molecule that holds our bodies together. Now, you are probably notice, as many do, that this protein molecule happens to be in the shape of a cross.

The question that I ask is whether this is a great illustration of the truth of Col. 1:17 or simply a great illustration of it. Because of the recent talk by Louie Giglio, some in the evangelical community have begun to see Laminin as the ‘proof’ that God cares about us enough to hold our very cells together. There is no need to cite sources just google ‘Laminin’ and ‘Col. 1:17.’ The examples are plentiful. But let us take a look at Col. 1:17 and see what use we can make out of the Laminin example.

Col. 1:17 Reads:

kai autoj estin pro panton kai ta panta en autw sunhsteken.

He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. (NRSV)

The key phrase is kai ta panta en autw sunhsteken (‘and in him all things hold together’). The term, sunhsteken, when it is used, as here, as an intransitive verb has the meaning ‘hold together, have one’s proper place’ (UBS Lexicon). But what does this mean in the context of Colossians 1?

Colossians 1 is one of the great christological passages in all of the Bible. It clearly proclaims Christ’s supremacy to all things. He is the ‘image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation’ (v. 16), ‘in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell’ (v. 19), etc. So what does ‘in him all things hold together’ mean in the context of a beautiful poem about Christ’s supremacy?

James Dunn notes that first of all, “it is important to realize that this is not language of clinical analysis but of poetic imagination” (Dunn, 93). Secondly, this phraseology and concept “reflects Jewish reflection on Wisdom” (ibid.). For it was by God’s divine wisdom that all things are held together. Some passages of Jewish wisdom literature that reflect this are:

 Sir. 43:26 – “by his word all things hold together” (en logw autou sugkeitai ta panta)

Wis. 1:7 – “For wisdom is a kindly spirit… because GOd is a witness of their inner feelings… Because the spirit of the Lord fills the world and that which holds all things together” (to sunecon ta panta).

This is therefore, not making some kind of claim that Jesus ‘physically’ holds the world together, though it allows for that. Rather, its emphasis is that “the wisdom which holds the universie together is most clearly to be recognized in its distinctive character by reference to Christ” (Dunn, 94).

Therefore, I find Louie Giglio’s claim that Laminin functions as proof that God loves us and holds us together to be a bit dubious. That is 1) drawing the wrong emphasis from the passage and 2) making a scientific observation your proof that God loves us rather than the Scriptural claim that through this supreme wisdom, this very image of the invisible God, “God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of the cross” (Col. 1:20). I think the example of Laminin is a fantastic visual representation and makes a wonderful illustration. Just like Laminin holds together our very cells so we ‘in Christ’ are united and held together as his Church. After all an actual picture of Laminin is not always as visually helpful as the graph:

Laminin_Pic

Bibliography

James D.G. Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemen, NIGTC (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1996). 

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