A Study of Colossians 1:21-29 discusses reconciliation, presented as holy and blameless, from adversary to advancing the Gospel, and the mission of discipleship.
A Study of Colossians 1:21-29. Reconciled and presented as holy and blameless
V.21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds…
The Greek word for “alienated” is apallŏtriŏō, which means alien and estranged. “Hostile” is the Greek word ĕchthrŏs, which also means hateful and represents an enemy and adversary. And “mind” is the Greek word dianŏia, which indicates thought, understanding, and disposition.
In other words, as sinful, unbelievers, the Colossians opposed God in both their thinking and moral actions. And the same is true today.
But people who follow Jesus align their thinking and moral actions to obey God’s will.
V.22 He has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him…
The word “reconciled” is apŏkatallassō, the same Greek word used in V.20, and Paul applies it to every Christ-follower. Reconciliation is initiated by God and can’t be earned through good behavior, but was paid for by Jesus’ sacrificial death. Paul confirms this in other writings.
For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (ESV, 2 Corinthians 5:21)
Not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— (ESV, Philippians 3:9)
V.23 If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard…
However, there is a condition. An “if.” It’s not a qualification for salvation, but a mark of discipleship. Christ-followers are expected to persevere in their faith. It is not a one and done. Simply receive Christ for an entrance pass into heaven and then live as you please. But rather, following Jesus is a life long commitment to imitating his example of sacrifice and pursuing a life that pleases God.
A Study of Colossians 1:21-29. From adversary to advancing the Gospel
V.24 I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,
Paul went from church persecutor to Gospel missionary. He was in prison as he wrote this letter and says he’s glad to suffer for their sake and for the body of Christ–the church. Nor is this the only time he ever suffered. He faced other hardships described in 2 Corinthians 11:22-28.
Furthermore, God foretold Paul’s suffering when speaking to Ananias in Acts 9:16. I will show him how much he must suffer for the sake of my name.
But what affliction does Jesus lack? His meaning is confusing at first glance. Scholars suggest, he probably doesn’t mean a lack in Jesus’ own suffering, but a lack of Jesus’ suffering in him. In other words, he sees himself as sharing in Christ’s sufferings.
V.25 To make the word of God fully known.
Paul was a prolific, New Testament writer, and global ambassador for the Gospel. His three missionary journeys recorded in Acts went through what is today Greece, Turkey and Syria. It’s estimated he travelled more than 10,000 miles and started at least 14 churches.
A Study of Colossians 1:21-29. The mission in making disciples.
V.27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory
The mystery Paul speaks of is not a detective crime novel, or a spiritual enigma understood by the religious elite. But rather, the person, Jesus Christ. And Christ in you could also be taken as Christ among you. In both however, he works in ways beyond our comprehension. Furthermore, prior to Jesus, the Jewish religion generally excluded Gentiles. But now, Jews and Gentiles can respond to Jesus.
The Greek word for “hope” is ĕlpis, and is more than wishful thinking. It includes a sense of confidence and expectation. And the Greek word for “glory” is dŏxa, which includes the ideas of honor, praise, and worship and indicates the promise of eternal life.
V.28 Teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.
Paul’s goal is to present everyone mature in Christ, which is the goal of discipleship. But does this mean absolute perfection?
The Greek word for “present” is paristēmi, which means to stand beside, exhibit, and recommend. Like Paul stands by their side and presents them to God. And tĕlĕiŏs, is the Greek word for “mature” and means complete in spiritual growth and moral character. So we are not expected to reach perfection, but continue growing in spiritual maturity.