Colossians 1:15-23, 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 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, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
Colossians 1:15-23 is among the most sweeping, universal, glorious, and Christ-focused passages in the entire Bible. Five times this biblical text uses the phrase “all things.” Of all things vying for consideration, Christ is the Main Thing. As the Main Thing, Christ is not in a tie with anything or anyone else, and there is no close second.
Christ alone is sufficient, and Christians mature as we take hold of this truth in our beliefs and actions (Colossians 1:24–29). The Apostles focus on the Savior’s identity in Colossians 1:16-17 focuses readers attention on the sufficiency of Jesus Christ. Jesus is the self-existent, eternal agent of God’s creative acts described in Genesis 1-2. John 1:1-18 describes Jesus as the Word- the Logos who is God and is with Him. In Jesus, all things were made, including the principalities and powers whom the Colossian false teachers trusted (Col. 1:16; 2:18). The hope of these false teachers in angels for advancement in spiritual things was folly because it meant turning from the Creator to created things. Since Jesus’ identity with the Creator is not enough to convince the Colossae readers of the sufficiency of Christ, the apostle goes on to explain in Colossians 1:17, “In Him all things hold together.” Christ is not an impersonal force; instead, He holds the universe together in order. Without Jesus, the cosmos would be chaos.
The Son of God Jesus Christ was sovereign over all the universe before it came into being (John 1:1-18). Scripture also highlights how Christ became Lord in His resurrection, when Jesus was declared the Son of God in power, elevated to the Father’s right hand, and secured preeminence in His exaltation, which began when He rose from the dead (Romans 1:1-4; Phil 2:5-11; Col. 1:18). With that said, Paul wants us to understand that Jesus didn’t become a King, He always was a King in His deity, the God-Man achieved a lordship that included His humanity through His sinless life and victory over sin and Satan through His death on the cross.
The deity of Christ guaranteed the success of His rescue mission. This is why it’s right for us to view the totality of His person and work, not only His divine nature as worthy of honor as Lord. Colossians 1:15-23 helps God’s people see clearly the deity of Christ, God in His fullness in Jesus (Colossians 1:19). In the incarnation, Jesus is fully God and fully man; He is missing nothing. He is entirely and utterly the Almighty and anyone who rejects the deity of Christ has no share in the salvation He offers (John 8:24).
Jesus is Lord of all, which is why no part of the created order can possibly escape the benefits of His work. God will “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (Col. 1:20). Cosmic reconciliation according to Paul is the final end of our Lord and Savior’s work. While it’s true Adam’s fall ruined humanity’s fellowship with the Creator; it also “broke” the cosmos, as people began hating one another, animals were set against us, and other animals, pests, and disease entered the picture. Even nature itself was thrown into chaos as weather, earthquakes, and more now cause death and destruction. The work of Christ fixes all of this, one day all that was thrown into chaos in the Fall will result in one day at the 2nd Coming of Jesus in creation no longer groaning for its rescue (Romans 8:18-23).
The Goal of Reconciliation
Paul has focused on the majesty and supremacy of Christ which undergirds the sufficiency of Christ for salvation and spiritual growth (Colossians 1:15-23) and now begins to outline the benefits of Christ to those who believe in Him. As he describes these benefits, he highlights the picture of the Christian’s life before Christ as one of alienation, hostility towards God, along with evil deeds, which are the natural overflow of the unregeneration (Colossians 1:21). Unregenerate people are not merely confused about the Lord, they also hate Him and suppress the truth in unrighteousness (Genesis 6:5; Psalm 116:11; Romans 1:18-32). People today like to think we are improving and also moving towards world peace and unity as a whole race, but that isn’t the truth. Instead, until we come to Christ, we can know nothing of real peace with God, and reconciliation with Him. And this is why, salvation from beginning to end is an infinite mercy of God who shows us His love, instead of giving us what we deserve His wrath. The Lord in this shows His great love, in that while we hated Him, He still sent His Son, Jesus, to die in place of sinners and for their sin (Romans 5:6-8).
The goal of reconciliation with God is our transformation into Christ-likeness. While this goal will not be complete until glorification (Romans 8:29-30), there should be real progress, or as J.C. Ryle says we should see even the tiniest sliver of growth in holiness year by year. Towards that end, we are in Christ and have the Holy Spirit working in our lives. John Calvin rightly remarks, “This holiness is nothing more than begun in us, and is indeed every day making progress, but will not be perfected until Christ shall appear for the restoration of all things.”
Persevering in Gospel Hope
Colossians 1:23, “If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven”
It is a significant misunderstanding of the doctrine of biblical perseverance to view it as “once saved always saved” which places the hope of salvation in an initial decision to follow Christ apart from the fruit of conversion. While many people today believe they or others are saved because they went up front, if there is no evidence at all of the converting work of God’s grace, and no fruit has manifested itself, there is no salvation. The point here is not that salvation is by works because we’re not saved that way, we’re saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone. Works are essential because they manifest the reality of our faith. Paul’s point here is true biblical perseverance perseveres because of Christ and His Lordship. It’s impossible to say you are a Christian and have never submitted to the Lordship of Jesus. Biblical perseverance, after all, is a cooperative work between the Christian and the Holy Spirit where the Christian responds to the Word of God by living a life of daily repentance by returning again and again to the promises of God in the gospel. Regeneration also guarantees those redeemed by God will make this response furthermore proving their regenerate state (James 2:14-26).
Colossians 1:21-22 emphasizes how Christians have been reconciled to God but then tells us in Colossians 1:23 how we are reconciled to God only if we continue in the faith. Paul’s point here is the consistent, continual possession of faith that saves us, not its mere profession. Remaining in possession of faith is accomplished only as we heed the Holy Spirit’s call to remain “stable and steadfast” in the gospel. Paul is telling the Colossians and God’s people today that to stay stable and steadfast in hope is to stay grounded in the solid foundation of the gospel as He is presented in the Word of God.
You and I may often wonder if we are among God’s children. One of the many ways to know is to consider as J.C. Ryle said if there is even the tiniest sliver of evidence in our life. Do we genuinely long and hunger for more of the Word of God? Do we also seek to cling, although, imperfectly to the promises of God’s Word on a daily basis? Further, do we aim to love our spouse each day and repent when they or we wrong us? How are we doing at work, submitting to our boss? And the list goes on and on. The point is each one of us has areas to work on our where the gospel needs to take a more in-depth hold. And that’s good. Running from the convicting work of the Holy Spirit is bad. The convicting work of the Holy Spirit helps us to know God is at work in our lives pointing us to Jesus. We should not run from it but into the arms of Jesus, the One who thoroughly knows us, and yet still loves us. In Christ, we are thoroughly loved and fully accepted by Him. It’s there, in ongoing repentance, we know and are assured, that we are in fact His, and our profession of faith is not fake and also not in vain. In Christ alone, there is security and hope. As we progress in these things, our assurance will soar, and we will, in fact, perserve until the end, not because of our hold of Christ, but because He will ever hold fast the redeemed of the Lord.