John T. Willis

Sunday, February 07, 2010

Past, Present, Future of the Godly Life--Colossians 1:21-23

The words "and you [plural]" in Colossians 1:21 is an introductory transition to a new beginning in thought. In Colossians 1:21-23, Paul and Timothy describe in brief the "story" of the past, the present, and the future or a godly life. This blog is a discussion of these three "stages" of the Christian life.

I. The Past. Colossians 1:21.
a. From a Jewish perspective, all Gentiles were estranged and hostile to God. Ephesians 2:12. But from a godly perspective, all human beings were at one time estranged and hostile to God. Psalms 58:3; 69:8; Ephesians 2:3; 4:18. We have all been enemies or adversaries of God.
b. The real problem was the human "heart" or "mind." Mark 7:21-23; Luke 1:51; Jeremiah 31:33; Hebrews 8:10; 10:16.
c. This motivation from the heart led to "evil deeds." John 3:19; 7:7; Romans 1:18-32.

II. The Present. Colossians 1:22.
a. God the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord has changed our lives by his mysterious and miraculous "reconciliation" to God. Romans 3:21; 5:9; 7:6; 11:30-31; 16:26; 2 Corinthians 5:16-21; Ephesians 2:13; 3:5; 2 Timothy 1:10.
b. God the Father accomplished this "in Jesus Christ's fleshly body through death" on the cross. Romans 8:3.
c. As a result, reconciled people are now "holy and blameless and irreproachable" before God. This terminology is rooted in the thought of the Hebrew Bible in reference to atonement by means of offering sacrifices. Exodus 29:36-37. By reconciliation to God and redemption from sin, God causes the believer to become an unblemished animal set apart for God to be sacrified to God daily--Romans 12:1-2; Hebrews 9:11-14; 1 Peter 1:17-19. As irreproachable "before God" (see 1 Corinthians 1:8), the true believer is not without fault or stain--Philippians 2:15; Ephesians 5:27; Revelation 14:5.

III. The Future. Colossians 1:23.
a. Christian living does not stop when God through Christ reconciles a person to God. On the contrary!!! Now, one is responsible to "continue" in his or her deep commitment to God. Ephesians 3:2; 1 Corinthians 15:2.
b. The child of God must be "established" and "steadfast" [Ephesians 3:17; 1 Corinthians 15:58], founded on the firm foundation of "faith," that is, deep trust in God--Matthew 2:24-27; 1 Corinthians 3:10-11; Ephesians 2:8-10; 2 Timothy 2:19.
c. Hence, the true believer must not "shift from the hope proised by the gospel that each Christian has heard." Faith [Trust] and hope walk hand in hand in the Christian walk. See Colossians 1:5, 27; Romans 8:24-25; Hebrew 6:13-20.
d. Paul comments at the end of verse 23: "I, Paul, became a SERVANT of the gospel." Here Paul does not exalt himself as an authoritative apostle or church leader or ruler, but as a simple servant of the gospel through God in Christ. Paul repeatedly emphasizes his own relationship to God as God's "servant"--see Romans 1:3-4; 1 Corinthians 3:5; 6:4; 2 Corinthians 11:23. Hence, it is inappropriate for people who appear in the eyes of human beings to be in "an exalted religious position" as LEADER or RULER or HEAD. We are all SERVANTS, subservient to God and to each other. Jesus Christ himself emphasizes this important truth--Mark 10:41-45; Matthew 20:20-28.
Colossians 1:21-23 portrays a powerful picture of the life of every Christian as we all were, as God changed us through Jesus Christ, and as we thus should be daily in our lives.
What are YOUR insights and thoughts? Share YOUR ideas with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis


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