Colossians 1:21-23

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Christ the Reconciler

Colossians 1:21-23

Colossians 1:20–23 ESV “1:20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. 

1:21 ¶ And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 

1:22 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, 

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, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.” 

One of the most beautiful passages in the New Testament because it describes the work of reconciliation.  Christ has reconcile all things unto Himself, both on earth and in heaven by the blood of His cross.

He has made it possible for a person, who is at enmity with God, to be reconciled with God.

Reconciliation is when an enemy has become a friend.  It is the work of Christ where He brought peace between sinful man and a holy God.  Now, a person can have peace with the Lord through Jesus Christ.

So many times, we think that we have to do something to have God accepted us so we can be reconciled to Him.  When in fact, God has already done what is necessary for reconciliation because He has been reconciled with us and is waiting on us to be accept the reconciliation.

James Vernon McGee puts it this way:  “Reconciliation is toward man’ redemption is toward God.  God is saying to all men today, “I am reconciled to you.  Now will you be reconciled to Me?”  That is the decision a man must make.”⁠1

Will a person accept what God has done for him through the Jesus Christ and His death on the cross?  Will he accept the gift of a Saviour who died for him?  God has done His part, will the person accept and be reconciled to God?

Some have used verse 20 to teach universal salvation for all.  But, this is not what it teaches.  Christ died for all and He made reconciliation, but the person still has to accept Christ.  Christ died for all but all do not believe in Him.  One must accept Christ by faith by believing that Jesus took his or her place on the cross.

Reconciliation is made by the blood of the cross; without the shedding of blood their is not remission or forgiveness of sins.

1 Peter 3:18 ESV “¶ For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit,”

Reconciliation comes when the just or righteous dies in the place of the unrighteous or unjust.  If the righteous died for the sins of the unrighteous, then the unrighteous is no longer under the penalty or guilt of sins.  He has been made free because the righteous paid his debt.  It is applied to the person’s account when he accepts what Christ did for him on the cross.  Therefore, the person is brought near to the Lord and made peace with Him because of the price Christ paid.

1 Peter 2:24 ESV “He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.”

Romans 5:8–9 ESV “5:8 but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 

5:9 Since, therefore, we have now been justified by his blood, much more shall we be saved by him from the wrath of God.”

Reconciliation is by the blood of Jesus that speaks of the sacrifice He made to purchase our salvation.  He is our Passover Lamb and His sacrifice is the ultimate and complete sacrifice for our sins.

Reconciliation between God and sinful man is made possible because of Christ’s death on the cross.  Reconciliation happens when the sinful person accepts by faith Christ as his or her Saviour.  Christ made reconciliation possible but the individual must believe on the Lord Jesus Christ.  Without faith, it is impossible to please God.  Without faith, there is no salvation.

Ephesians 2:8–10 ESV “2:8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 

2:9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. 

2:10 For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”

Reconciliation while we were enemies of God

Colossians 1:21 ESV “¶ And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,”

The Greek word translated alienated means to be estranged or be alienated from God.

The Greek word translated hostile comes from the root word ‘to hate’ which means to be an enemy of.

Before a person comes to Christ, he is estranged from God and is an enemy of God.  In other words, there is no relationship between the person and God.

With the use of the word ‘mind’, it shows there is both a mental and moral rebellion against God.  Not just the sins of actions, but of thoughts, they rebel against God.

God in His great mercy and love sent His son, Jesus Christ, to die on Calvary’s cross so man can be reconciled to Him.  So the relationship might be fully restored because of the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

Note that in this verse, while we were enemies of God, He still sent His Son.  Which shows us that He does not wait for us to clean ourselves up or get better before we are saved.  He wants us to come to Him right where we are now so He might do a work within us.

No one can blame God if they are lost, God has made all the provision for reconciliation through His Son.  A person is lost because they rebel against God.

John 3:16–19 ESV “3:16 ¶ “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.

3:17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him.

3:18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.

3:19 And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.”

Reconciliation by His body

Colossians 1:22 ESV “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,”

Two aspects to verse 22 we must see.

First, Jesus died physically on the cross of Calvary.  Some of the Gnostics claimed Jesus had a metaphysical body instead of a physical body.  Paul reaffirms the Son of God was made flesh and dwelt among us.  Christ had a physical body.  He felt the pains of the scourging, beatings, and crucifixion.  He bore in His body the pain of the cross for us.

He died that awful death for our salvation.  His body was broken and His blood was shed so we might be reconciled to God.

Second, He died on the cross so He might present us as His bride to the Father.  Notice the three descriptions Paul uses for the church.

Holy – separation from all that is unclean and consecrated to the Lord

Blameless – without blemish – because He took our place that He might present us perfect before the Father

Above reproach – blameless, unaccusable, unchargeable.

Reconciliation by faith

Colossians 1:23 ESV “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.”

Paul gives a call for the Colossae Christians to continue in their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Since they have been reconciled to the Lord, they are called to continue walking in their faith and not be carried away by a false teacher.

Two main points we must see in this verse.

First, faith is active, not passive.  It is not that I have believed but I am believing in the Lord Jesus Christ.  Faith is part of our life.  Paul is calling them to grow in their faith so they are grounded and stable as they live their life.

James 1:4–7 ESV “1:4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. 

1:5 ¶ If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him. 

1:6 But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for the one who doubts is like a wave of the sea that is driven and tossed by the wind. 

1:7 For that person must not suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;”

Second, make sure of your faith in Christ.  Do you just say you believe but there is no evidence in your life?  A person who thinks he believes in the Lord who is tricked or seduced by a false teacher will be given a false hope.  

James 1:22 ESV “¶ But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.”

James 2:14–23 ESV “2:14 ¶ What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? 

2:15 If a brother or sister is poorly clothed and lacking in daily food, 

2:16 and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, be warmed and filled,” without giving them the things needed for the body, what good is that? 

2:17 So also faith by itself, if it does not have works, is dead. 

2:18 ¶ But someone will say, “You have faith and I have works.” Show me your faith apart from your works, and I will show you my faith by my works. 

2:19 You believe that God is one; you do well. Even the demons believe—and shudder! 

2:20 Do you want to be shown, you foolish person, that faith apart from works is useless? 

2:21 Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered up his son Isaac on the altar? 

2:22 You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by his works; 

2:23 and the Scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was counted to him as righteousness”—and he was called a friend of God.”

Make sure you are grounded in the Lord that you faith is real.  Real or true faith in Jesus brings a transformed life and heart.  If there is not a change in your life when you come to Christ, then you need to make sure you really came to Christ.

2 Corinthians 5:17–21 ESV “5:17 Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. 

5:18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 

5:19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 

5:20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 

5:21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.”

Christ’s sacrifice on the cross of Calvary brought one of the greatest blessings to the world; He brought reconciliation between God and us.  By faith when a person receives Christ, he or she is reconciled to God, no longer an enemy but now part of the family of God.

Copyrighted 2020 – Michael K. Hudson – all rights reserved

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1 J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible volume 5, p 341

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