The book of Colossians is a wonderful expose’ on the glory and goodness of God. In its pages are also instructions regarding faithful Christian living and service but preceding all that are statements of the magnificence of God and his glorious Christ. Written by the Apostle Paul, there is one remark in particular that captures his grandeur and ties it to one single event, one moment in history. Observe.
For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him (Jesus), and through Him to reconcile all things to himself whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.
First, let it be noted that these marvelous words are contained within a greater context. There are verses leading up to this revelation as well as those that follow, and I will endeavor to be true to that context; however, these are my primary focus.
On the side of “leading up to” these verses, the following observations will help to establish context. Paul began his epistle by offering praise to the saints in Colosse for their faithful response to the gospel of God’s grace and the brotherly love it had produced in their lives. The spiritual success of the Colossian believers was reported to Paul by Epaphras, a colleague, who had relayed this information to him while he was a prisoner in Rome. This news inspired Paul and his coworkers to pray that these saints would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will so that they would live their lives in a manner worthy of the Lord… pleasing him always… bearing fruit in every good work… increasing in the knowledge of God… being empowered to persevere with patience whatever suffering or hardship they might face as a result of their faith… and to joyously give thanks to Father God who had qualified them to share in the inheritance of the saints of light. And why should Christians be joyous in the midst of trial, hardship, adversity, suffering, and uncertainty? The reason is because God has rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (vs. 13-14).
It is at this point in Paul’s letter that he shifts his attention off of the saints and onto Jesus. Who is this Jesus character, what has he accomplished, and why does it matter? Those are big questions. They are questions we should all be asking, believer and unbeliever alike.
To start with Paul describes Jesus as the image of the invisible God. What is God like? He is like Jesus. What is Jesus like? Well, he is like God! God is not one way and Jesus another, they are of one heart and one mind in all things. In fact, I would go so far as to say they are inseparable in thought, word and deed. The two are one and act as one, with one distinguishable difference – Jesus is human (God incarnate).
By Jesus “all things” were created – things in the heavens and on earth, things visible and invisible, things that include thrones, dominions, rulers and authorities. All things were created through him and for him and in him all things are sustained. He is before all things, meaning in everything he has preeminence or superiority. This, as Paul explained, means that apart from Jesus there would be no church of which he is the head; it started with him. Apart from Jesus there would be no resurrection, for he is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. From Paul’s description of Jesus so far one begins to understand his significance to both the universe and humanity but he is not quite finished as we now come to the italicized verses above, which stand at the pinnacle of Paul’s portrayal of Christ.
It’s as though Paul was building up to this capstone text as he revealed to the Colossians that it was Father God’s good pleasure for all the fullness (of deity) to dwell in Jesus, and through him to reconcile all things (things on earth and in heaven) to himself, having made peace by the blood of the cross.
A few obvious questions: Why do “all things” need to be reconciled to God? Why does Paul identify Jesus as the Creator of all that exists, including spiritual powers, dominions, rulers and authorities? Who was it that crucified our Lord? Was it not those in power, whether visible or invisible? Was it not those in rebellion to the will of God? And finally, where did the rebellion against God and his Christ begin? It seems to me that Paul is describing is a grand reversal of what theologians label as “the fall,” which is outlined in Genesis 3. At the cross everything that went wrong in Genesis 3 was reversed and the prophetic word of Genesis 3:15 was fulfilled.
To further substantiate the grand reversal notice the tense of the verbs Paul used to describe it. God, the Father, sent Jesus, the Son, to earth where humanity was rescued (past tense) from the domain of darkness and transferred (past tense) to the kingdom of Christ, in whom we have redemption (past tense), and forgiveness of sins, and reconciliation (past tense) to God, having made peace (past tense) through the blood of his cross. Rescued from the realm of darkness? Done. Transferred to the realm of Jesus? Done. Redeemed? Forgiven? Reconciled? At peace with God? Done, done, done, and done!
It might also be interesting to note that the Greek word that Paul used for “reconcile” conveys the idea of the restoration of a previously existing relationship as well as reconciliation to a former state or condition. To be reconciled to God is like being reunited, restored, redeemed, and reconnected. Why is this an important truth? Why does the fact that we have been reconciled matter? It matters because of what Paul wrote immediately following his explanation of reconciliation.
“And you were (past tense) at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, but now he has reconciled you (past tense) by his physical body through death to present (past tense) you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him.”
Let me ask another question. Before you understood that you were reconciled to God through Christ’s blood on the cross were you an actual enemy of God or were you simply an enemy in your mind? I suggest to you that the spiritual battle over our souls has always been fought in our minds. Do you view God as an ally? Is he friend or foe? Your answer to the question reveals how you view God, not how God views you. The truth is God has reconciled “all things” to himself through Christ’s blood on the cross whether you believe it or not; however, what you believe matters because if you believe you are an enemy of God you will act out of that belief and the result will be evil deeds. But if in your mind you believe you are reconciled then you will act as one who has been forgiven his/her sins. You will experience the grace of God and his love will grow in your heart just as it did in the Colossian believers of whom Paul wrote.
Finally, Paul concludes his argument with an exhortation to continue in the faith, steadfast and firm, not being moved away from the hope of the gospel of God’s grace. Some would see Paul’s words here as a condition. They would contend that one is only reconciled to God if one continues to believe. If that were the case he would be contradicting his preceding statements regarding the superiority of Christ to reconcile “all things” to God. I believe it is more accurate to say that Paul is encouraging the Colossian believers to persevere in the faith despite the potential hardships and trials they might face due to persecution. In light of those circumstances the temptation to renounce one’s faith would be great. Remaining steadfast in the face of opposition only serves to confirm what is already true, which is, right now, today, you stand before God holy, without blemish, and blameless – not because of what you’ve done, but because of what Jesus did on the cross. Either you believe it or you don’t. If you don’t but want to all you have to do is change your mind about what you believe, which is precisely what it means to repent.
 Christ, meaning “The Anointed One”
 Colossians 1:19-20 (NASB2020)
 Those who have been enlightened to the truth of God’s grace.
 Those who remain ignorant to the truth of God’s grace.
 Psalm 2 is a great depiction of the spiritual warfare Paul alludes to here.
 The Complete Biblical Library (Missouri: Springfield, 1990) Vol. 11: Greek-English Dictionary, Alpha-Gamma, 371
 Colossians 1:21-22 (The NET Bible)
 The Complete Biblical Library (Missouri: Springfield, 1990) Vol. 14: Greek-English Dictionary, Lambda-Omicron, 171