The Supremacy of Christ (1:15-29)
Application of the Preeminent Work of Christ (1:21-23)
3. Continuation (1:23)
The third key word is continuation. If indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I Paul was made a minister” (Col. 1:23). Some see this verse as teaching the loss of salvation if he one does not continue in the faith. However, the statement is positive, not negative. The word “if indeed” is a first class condition. Wallace says that it “indicates the assumption of truth for the sake of argument.” He also argues that the first class condition should not be translated since, which many do. “This is saying too much about the first class condition.” There are several words for since that could have been used instead of the first class condition. Support of this is seen in:
· There are places where the first class condition does not correspondence to reality. In fact there are places where there is opposition and cannot be translated since. Example: Matthew 12:27-28. Both conditional statements can be true. “If I cast out demons by Beelzebul…. But if I cast out demons by the Spirit of God.” Clearly these conditions are opposed to the other, both cannot be actually true. Wallace writes: “Obviously it is illogical to translate both sentences as since I cast out, because the arguments are opposed to each other. And it would be inconsistent to translate the first participle if and the second since.” While the first class condition assumes both are true for the sake of argument, it does not mean it is actually true. Another example of a first class condition not being actually true is 1 Cor. 15:13. “It is self-evident that the apostle Paul could not mean by the first class condition “since there is no resurrection,” says Wallace. It is clear that one cannot automatically assume that because a first class condition is used that it means the statement is actual, true, or a reality. The writer is making an assumption of truth for argument; it may not be true at all. In essence he is saying, let’s say it is true. Bing is correct: “In view of the flexible use of this conditional construction, it is not the best key to unlocking the meaning of this warning.”
· To tell if the statement is true, it is to be found in the context; not the first class condition itself.
In this case, Paul is making an assumption of truth for argument sake to advance their faithfulness in the gospel. He has already declared that the result of reconciliation is being presented before God as blameless (1:22). It declares the fact that they have been reconciled. It is an aorist indicative indicating that the reconciliation is a past finished action. Therefore, as Baker notes:
This verse is not an argument against the eternal security of the believer…. The fact that the “if” (eige) is followed by the indicative and not the subjunctive mood shows that Paul is not doubting the Colossian’s continuance in the faith. Trench says that this grammatical construction ‘converts a hypothesis into a hope.’
They are to continue “in the faith firmly established and steadfast” (1:23). Their continuance or steadfastness is to be in the faith. The faith here is not referring to personal faith, but rather the faith, the body of truth given to them by the Apostle Paul. The faith refers to what is believed, not the act of believing. Calvin calls it “an exhortation to perseverance.” Perseverance is normal for true believers (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Phil. 1:6; 1 John 2:19). The object of this warning is to prevent them from being fooled by the false teachers as to their legalistic doctrine (cf. Col. 2:16-23). The subject has to do with their sanctification, not their salvation (cf. 2:6-7). This is seen in the fact that this clause refers back to the word presentation, not reconcile. Paul’s concern is that believers not be defrauded by these false teachers (Col. 2:18). Thus, this warning should not be taken lightly. The conditional clause is real. It is a warning about the human responsibility of believers not to be deceived by false doctrine. It has a real effect—being robbed of our rewards at the presentation to God at the judgment seat.
The point of the clause is to carry out our responsibility by three means:
· Being “firmly established” in the faith. The Greek word is tethemeliomenoi, meaning to lay the foundation, grounded, firm, unwavering. It is here a perfect participle in the nominative case and has the idea of “those who have been and continue to be grounded.” It speaks of being firm in the knowledge of our faith and the Word and thereby continuing in that knowledge. The consequence of being well founded is stability in the faith amid the storms that hammer against the truth.
· Being “steadfast” in the faith. The Greek word is edraioi meaning settled, steady, steadfast, established, or firmly fixed. This speaks of endurance in the faith.
· Not being “moved away from the hope of the gospel.” They are not to be shaken away form their hope—the gospel of grace. This phrase enhances the idea of endurance not only in the faith, but the hope of the gospel (cf. 1:5). The life of faith is one of hope.
This gospel of hope has been hinted at and expressed to the Colossians. We have already in this epistle seen that it involves: (1) that which is reserved in heaven for all believers (1:5). (2) Is a key part of the gospel of truth. This gospel of hope has been proclaimed in the world. They “heard” it and it took root in their lives. It also “was proclaimed in all creation under heaven” (1:23). Some see this phrase as a fulfillment of the great commission (Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10). That is reading into the passage that which is not there. First, this gospel which is preached to the whole word is the kingdom gospel, which deals with the specific gospel to
that deals with the Messiah and the Messianic kingdom which was promised under
the Davidic Covenant (2 Sam. 7). It is distinct from the gospel of grace. As
C.F. Baker so apply points out: Israel
There is grace in the gospel which relates especially to
but God’s dealings with Israel
are based upon covenant promises with placed as Head over the
Gentiles (Deuteronomy 28:13). In the present dispensation, Israel ’s covenant dealings have
been set aside. Israel
has fallen and has been cast away as enemies of the gospel (Romans 11:12, 15,
28). Now God is dealing with an alienated world of both Jews and Gentiles who
have absolutely no claim upon God. God’s extension of salvation to
such a world is completely upon the basis of grace. For this reason, the gospel
of this dispensation is called the gospel of the grace of God, just as the
dispensation is called the dispensation of the grace of God (Ephesians 3:2). Israel
Second, the phrase does not teach the universal preaching to everyone in the world. The word preached (KJV) or proclaimed (NASB) is found in the aorist passive tense implying that it had already been preached to the world. The Greek text reads literally reads “in all the creation which [is] under heaven,” not “to every creature” (KJV). The clear intent of Paul is not saying that it was preached to every creature (or person), but among every creature or in all creation. Here the Greek preposition en is that of sphere or location. “It has regard to place and space, or sphere of action.” A literal translation of the phrase should be “preached in (or among, throughout) all creation under heaven,” The gospel was preached in all creation under heaven, not to every creature under heaven. It does not support the idea of the fulfillment of the great commission, nor historical fact; even today the gospel has not been preached to all the nations and peoples of the world. This will not be fulfilled until the Tribulation period when man and especial the angel “will preach to those who live on the earth, and to every nation and tribe and tongue and people” (Revelation 14:6).
This gospel of which Paul speaks is further defined. It is the preaching of the hope of the Gospel of Grace through Paul. This is clear from the phrase: “and of which I, Paul, was made a minister (1:23). The phrase “of which” refers back to “the hope of the gospel.” He was a participate of preaching the gospel to the world. Paul makes clear in Corinthians that he was a minister of reconciliation with the message of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:16-20 cf. Col. 1:22). “I, Paul, was made a minister.” Paul not so by His own will, but the will of God who made him a minister of the Gospel (cf. Acts 9:13-16; Gal. 1:1, 15-16, Eph. 3:1-5). This is a transition phrase. It ties what Paul has written about the gospel to what follows—that he was a minister with a message (1:24-29).
 Wallace, GRAMMAR Beyond the Basic, 690.
 Ibid, 690.
 Ibid, 691.
 Ibid, 691.
 Charles Bing, “The Warning in Colossians 1: 21-23,” 83
 Baker, UNDERSTANDING THE BODY OF CHRIST, 125.
 Calvin, John, CALVIN’S NEW TESTAMENT COMMENTARIES: GALATIANS, EPHESIANS, PHILIPPIANS AND COLOSSIANS, [
Eerdmans, 1965], 315. Grand Rapids
 Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 84; Bing, “The Warning in Colossians 1: 21-23,” 85. Bing argues that the conditional clause has to do with the presentation of believers before the judgment seat.
 Campbell, COLOSSIANS AND PHILMEN, 64.
 Charles F. Baker, A DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY, [Grand Rapids,
1971], 328. Grace Bible
 This is the literal reading of the Textus Receptus, Stephens text of 1550. (George Ricker Berry, THE INTERLINEAR LITERAL TRANSLATION OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT, Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1969). 522. It is translated that way in the early English Bibles: Geneva Bible; Cloverdale Bible (among all creatures); Tyndale (among all creatures), Wycliffe (in all creature).
 THE COMPANION BIBLE, 149.