A Study of Colossians 1:19–23
For it pleased the Father that in Him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of His cross, by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight: 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 1:19-23)
This wonderful Person that the apostle just spoke of who in ALL THINGS is preeminent now is shown to take upon Himself the reconciliation of His enemies. Make no mistake, the world that we live in is no friend of God, yet God, Who owes nothing, and in fact is the one that we owe much that we cannot pay, took it upon Himself in the Person of our Lord Jesus to reconcile us to Himself.
It is because that in Him all fulness dwells that He is able to make full reconciliation for us. Because God is satisfied with the offering up that the Lord Jesus made of Himself, He has reconciled the world unto Himself:
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. (2 Corinthians 5:19)
Yes, at present, and for the past roughly 2000 years, God has been at peace with the world that has openly declared itself to be His enemy. The cross still shines as the way that all the world can enjoy peace with God. The very absence of God’s direct judgment on this earth and its inhabitants at this time is witness to the reconciling work of Jesus our Lord on the cross. For anyone in the world to enjoy this peace that God offers, the condition is faith. As Paul explained to the Romans, since we are justified by faith, we have peace with God:
Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: By Whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:1-2)
In Christ, sin debt is paid in full and the sinner is fully and completely forgiven (Colossians 1:14, 2:13). As we saw the blood of Christ required for the forgiveness of sins, we now see that the precious blood of Christ is what makes possible the reconciliation of all things. The context of this reconciliation of all things is all things visible and invisible, “whether thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers” (1:16) and the “things in earth, or things in heaven” (1:20). While this world of mankind declared, and still declares its enmity toward God and His Anointed, God has by His grace made the very ultimate act of that enmity the way that mankind, His enemy, may be reversed in his relationship toward God. God has reconciled mankind through the blood of Jesus Christ which was shed on the cross, and this reconciliation is without exception and without distinction. While not all are saved because they have rejected this offer (whether actively refusing, or by indifference by ignoring it), the offer is available to all. Now, in the day of salvation (2 Corinthians 6:2), God is at peace with mankind and is not at present angry or enemies with mankind. And Christ, Who was despised and rejected of men (Isaiah 53:3), sitting at the right hand of God “expecting till his enemies be made his footstool” (Hebrews 10:13), sits as Savior. He is seated on the throne of Grace. Sinner, do not reject or ignore this grace! This period of amnesty that God does not owe to anyone and He has never promised will last even one millisecond longer is a wonderful period of the grace and peace of God toward man in reconciling the world to Himself. God will take vengeance on this world and upon sinners, but He is longsuffering, and “not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” But when He is through waiting, “the Lord Jesus shall be revealed from heaven with His mighty angels, in flaming fire taking vengeance on them that know not God, and that obey not the gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:7-8).
This should give every man, woman, and child pause and cause to think and to act on God’s offer of peace through the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. When the Day of the Lord comes, it will be the “great day of His wrath” (Revelation 6:17), and His return will be to “judge and make war” (Revelation 19:11).
But who may abide the day of His coming? and who shall stand when He appeareth? for He is like a refiner’s fire, and like fullers’ soap… (Malachi 3:2)
So as we consider the coming day of the Lord, let us now consider the day of His grace and reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. For He hath made Him to be sin for us, [Christ] Who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in Him. (2 Corinthians 5:20-21)
So now when we consider the individual believer’s standing in this grace and peace, we must remember our past condition. As we hear things said like “it should be about the relationship”, or other such catch phrases, we should remember what our natural relationship to God is. We are alienated and enemies by wicked works on our part. Yet the relationship of the believer in Jesus Christ is that he is reconciled and no longer His enemy, but standing “holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight”. Remember that this is in the sight of Him Whose word is “quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with Whom we have to do” (Hebrews 4:12-13).
Now as we continue in this passage, we see an “if”. While this can seem to cause concern that there are conditions to the reconciliation that we are standing in, let us consider that this is connection with what is later being taught. In chapter 2, Paul says that he is in the spirit joying and beholding the order of the saints, and the “stedfastness of [their] faith in Christ” (2:5). He continues with the following:
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: Rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7)
This continuing in the faith and being grounded and settled is not a condition to enter into and maintain the relationship that Christ purchased with His blood. It is our walk and how we are rooted, built up, and established. It is what Paul is laboring and striving for. It is what Paul is eager to preach, warn, and teach (verses 28-29). Paul wants the Colossians to keep their roots where they belong and not to stray into “philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ” (2:8). Paul is God’s minister of the gospel to them—to every creature under heaven—and the point of this epistle is that in Christ dwells our hope. The hope of the gospel is Christ Himself, and the fulness of God that is found in Him. The roots are to go into the ground deeper as they come to know Christ more, and not try to establish themselves in man’s wisdom or religion. Christ is all in all, and in Him we are complete, because He is complete!
For in Him dwelleth all the fulness (πλήρωμα plērōma) of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete (πληρόω plēroō) in Him… (Colossians 2:9-10)
There is nothing that religion can add to completeness, but it will spoil you and take away the enjoyment of what we have in Christ. There is also an application, not just to individuals, but to assemblies. As assemblies think that they can add to the fulness of Christ, they turn back to religion and the things of poverty, and in so doing, they eventually become part of “world religions”, rather than finding their fulness in Christ.
Take Paul’s warning seriously. Do not be not moved away from the hope of the gospel that Paul preached. Our hope is in Christ alone. He died for our sins, He is risen, He is ascended, and He is seated far above all in the heavenlies. The things of this world and world religions have nothing in Him. He is ALL IN ALL!