Colossians 1:19-23 Reconciled In Christ.
When it says that “it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,” it is referring to the incarnate Son, because the pre-incarnate Son has always had the fullness (v. 19). The point is that the person of Jesus Christ was fully God and fully man, two distinct natures in one person. These two natures are not mixed, nor is either diminished in the union. This is the orthodox understanding of the person of Jesus Christ, and the only position which takes into account all that the scriptures teach concerning Him. This is also the only way He could offer up Himself as a sinless spotless sacrifice for sin. The further proof that it is the incarnation which Paul has in view is borne out by what he states next-that “by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross” (v. 20). This is the finished work of the incarnate Son in His once for all sacrifice for sins (v. 14).
So the Son is the inheritor of all things, both because the Father created all things through Him, whether things in heaven or on earth, including principalities and powers, but also because through Him alone redemption has come (vv. 16, 20). Paul has already made note of the fact that we were once held captive by the power of darkness, and here Paul also states that this state showed itself “by wicked works,” works which stemmed from the reality that Paul’s readers and us with them, like the world, were alienated from God by our being enemies in our minds against Him (v. 21). It is through Christ’s offering up of Himself unto death, that His people have been reconciled to the Father, that we might then be presented to Him “blameless, and above reproach” (v. 22 Cf. II Cor. 5:18-19; Eph. 1:10; 2:1; 5:27). Perseverance, keeping the faith and bearing fruit to the end, is in fact a sign of this reconciliation (v. 23 Cf. 1:6).
Colossians 1:15-18 The Preeminence Of Christ.
Paul just noted the deliverance from the power of darkness that comes from the Father conveying us “into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins” (v. 14). Without the forgiveness that comes through His shed blood we would remain under the power of darkness. There is no neutral ground. Here Paul turns to the exalted position of the Son before and after His death. There never was a time when He wasn’t “the image of the invisible God” (v. 15a Cf. II Cor. 4:4). Paul affirmed the Deity of Christ in several places (Cf. Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Titus 2:13). Here he makes the point that Jesus reveals in His person what was otherwise invisible (I Tim. 1:17; 6:16). Any image of God men would seek elsewhere is idolatry. John also stressed this point (1:1-18), as did the writer to the Hebrews (1:3). “The firstborn over all creation,” refers to His position of inheritance, “the principle heir of an estate (Deut. 21:17; cf. Ex. 4:22; Ps. 89:27). Used of Christ, the term “firstborn” means that He has such honor and dignity” (NGSB p. 1885)
The chief proof which Paul gives for this honoured position of the Son is in fact His role as the One through whom the Father created all things. If it is through the Son that all things were created, it follows that He Himself was not created. Everything, things in heaven and on earth, “visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers,” were created through Him (v. 16ab). In fact, Paul states that everything was created as an inheritance for the Son. “All things were created through Him and for Him” (v. 16c Cf. Heb. 2:10). The fact that He was also before all these things that were created, also speaks to both His deity and position of being the Son who would inherit it all. That “in Him all things consist” also speaks to His ongoing Divine sovereign governance (v. 17). This includes all men, including those in positions of power, which also includes the powers of heaven (Cf. Eph. 1:20-22). In other words, there is no power outside of His power (Cf. Rev. 1:5). Christ is also the Head of the church, and the firstborn inheritor of everything rescued from darkness through the redemption He has provided (v. 18 Cf. v. 14).
Colossians 1:9-14 Knowledge And Redemption.
Again Paul reiterates that he prays for his readers, not as a replacement for God’s work in them, but because God is at work in them. It is also no surprise that the first thing Paul thinks of is “the knowledge” of God’s will (Cf. I Cor. 1:5). Epistemology, or the study of knowledge, comes before all other questions, and the Christian foundation of this knowledge is the scriptures-“the word of truth” (v. 5). In particular, what they needed to know was God’s will, which according to Paul comes “in all wisdom and spiritual understanding” (v. 9 Cf. Rom. 12:2; Eph. 1:8). God’s will, Paul is referring to here, is not some specific voice from God we must receive for every decision we need to make. The way of wisdom comes through the application of biblical principles to all of life. This “wisdom and spiritual understanding” is that which guides us how we are to “walk worthy of the Lord” (v. 10). This is what it means to be “in the Spirit” (v. 8). Walking worthy of the Lord means doing that which pleases Him.
It is only by that revelation which the Lord has given that we can know that which pleases Him. Walking worthy of the Lord means, “being fruitful in every good work.” We should be filled and increasing in this knowledge of God (Cf. vv. 9-10). We also derive our power from God-power to live out this knowledge. By His power we are able to bear fruit consistent with the word (v. 11). His power gives us the patience and longsuffering that is required for this sanctifying work, because it is a lifelong ongoing work. However, it is also something which should be accompanied by joy. Once again Paul also gives thanks to the Father, because it is only by His sovereign will that any of this is possible. He alone has qualified us “to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (v. 12). His power has delivered us “from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love” (v. 13). This transfer is only made possible by redemption in the Son, and this only through the shedding of His innocent blood-“the forgiveness of sins” (v. 14).
Colossians 1:1-8 Thankful.
Paul was “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (v. 1 Cf. Eph. 1:1). An apostle is one who is sent, in this case, sent by and as a representative of Jesus Christ. Like an ambassador an apostle of Jesus Christ speaks for Him. Finally, one never gained this on their own, it was by the will of God. However, Paul was not alone in his work. Even though Timothy was not an apostle he was a brother and co-worker in the ministry of the word (Cf. I Cor. 4:17). Paul was also writing to “faithful brethren,” all of whom were saints (v. 2). There was no special class of saints different from other Christians. Furthermore, these were real historical people located in Colosse. In Paul’s usual greeting, grace precedes peace because peace is not possible without grace, and together this is indeed a blessed condition. Paul’s Trinitarian theology is also unmistakeable-the Father and the Son are equally God-from whom alone grace and peace come (Cf. Gal. 1:3), along with the Spirit (v. 8).
“We give thanks,” is a wonderful way to begin this letter. This is how we should begin our days, and this is also how we should begin our theology. Thanks is the only proper response from those who know that all that we know, are, and have, comes from the triune God (v. 3). This activity of the sovereign God did not preclude prayer on Paul’s part, but it was in fact the basis for Paul’s confidence to pray. In particular, Paul gave thanks for these saints because he heard of their “faith in Jesus Christ” and of their “love for all the saints” (v. 4). This faith was a gift from God, as was the evidence of that faith also seen in the love they had for all the saints (Cf. Eph. 1:15; Heb. 6:10). This faith and love is also motivated by our hope which is laid up for us in heaven (Cf. I Pet. 1:4). Paul uses the word ‘hope’ not like many use it today to express a wish. This is not wishful thinking, it is a hope founded on one foundation and one foundation alone-“the word of the truth of the gospel” (v. 5).
The gospel is true because the word of God says it is true. Everyone begins with some axiom-some proposition which stands on its own and cannot and is not subject to the test of another standard or proposition. For the saints, the word of God is the first axiom of all thought and existence, and by it we know that the gospel is true, because there is no other standard of truth than the self-attesting word. This word had come to Paul’s readers, as it had come to all the then known world-they didn’t just dream it up. This word only comes by revelation from the will of God (v. 6 Cf. Eph. 3:3). The evidence that they had indeed heard and knew the truth was the fruit brought forth in their lives. This was a truth which they had also learned from Epaphras, Paul’s and Timothy’s “dear fellow servant,” who with these men shared in being a “faithful minister of Christ Jesus” on their behalf (v. 7 Cf. Philem. 23). It was from Epaphras that they in fact learned of the Colossian’s “love in the Spirit” (v. 8 Cf. Rom. 15:30).