Monday, January 25, 2016

Studies in Colossians #13

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.”[1] 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.[2] 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.”[3] 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,”[4] 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.[5]
·         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.’[6]

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.[7] 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.[8] 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.[9] 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 Israel 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:
There is grace in the gospel which relates especially to Israel, but God’s dealings with Israel are based upon covenant promises with Israel 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).[10]

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,[11] 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.”[12] 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).

[1]  Wallace, GRAMMAR Beyond the Basic, 690.
[2]  Ibid, 690.
[3]  Ibid, 691.
[4]  Ibid, 691.
[5]  Charles Bing, “The Warning in Colossians 1: 21-23,”  83
[8]  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.
[9]   Campbell, COLOSSIANS AND PHILMEN, 64.
[10]  Charles F. Baker, A DISPENSATIONAL THEOLOGY, [Grand Rapids, Grace Bible College Publications, 1971], 328.
[11]  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). 

Wednesday, January 20, 2016

Studies in Colossians #12

The Supremacy of Christ (1:15-29)

B. Application of the Preeminent Work of Christ (1:21-23)

2. Reconciliation (1:22).

Yet He has now reconciled you…” (1:22). Yet is the Greek word de, a word denoting contrast, which many times and in different translations is translated “but.” Paul often uses the “but now” (“expresses the moment of divine reversal”)[1] contrast to highlight the status of believers (cf. Rom. 3:1; 6:22; 7:6; Eph. 2:13; 5:8, 2 Tim. 1:10; Phlm. 11). It is a change of position or state. The Colossians' former state of alination (v. 21) is in clear contrast to their present position and state (v. 22). The text indicates that the reconciliation was the personal and complete work of God. This new status is now a fact enacted by God through the work of His Son. Eadie makes this point; “The work of reconciliation is God’s. Man does not win his way back to the Divine favor by either costly offering or profound penitence. God reunites him to Himself; has not only provided for such an alliance, but actually forms and cements it.”[2] 

The work of reconciliation is twofold. The means (how) and the object (purpose) of the work of reconciliation is now revealed.
·         The means or how this was accomplished is “in His fleshly body through death” (1:22). The means of accomplishment is clearly by the death of Christ. Paul strongly emphasizes the physical act here. The phrase fleshly body cannot be overlooked, nor under emphasized. The phrase literally is “body of flesh.” The phrase denotes the fact of embodiment (body) encased in flesh.[3] It speaks of His work during His incarnation. While the term flesh carries in many cases a negative context, here it does not do so. It rather carries the neutral connotation denoting physical presence and existence. This neutral context of the physical is seen in other cases in Colossians (1:22 cf. 1:24; 2:11).  The act of death required a physical body, a body of flesh and blood (cf. Col. 1:20), but not necessarily a sinful body. Christ lived in a physical body, but not a sinful body. “Without the shedding of Christ’s Blood there could be no remission of sin, and without the remission of sin there could be no reconciliation, and without reconciliation all men would be eternally lost.[4] This is important in the light of the teaching of Docetism, who questioned the reality of the physical death of Christ. The essence of Docetism believed there were two entities, spirit and matter. Both are eternal. Spirit is God, and it is altogether good, and that matter is physical and is evil. The natural body is evil. It holds that Jesus only seem to have a physical body. Barclay says this belief has two serious effects: First, it “makes it impossible to believe in the incarnation in any real sense of the term.[5] Second, it “allowed a kind of limited incarnation.”[6] Thus, it alleged that the spirit of Christ entered into the man Jesus and left him before he was crucified. Renwick notes that they declare that “this heavenly Christ acted in the man Jesus but was never incarnate.[7] They held that the spiritual Christ could not take part in any type of suffering. That it was the man Jesus that suffered, but not the spiritual Christ. In other words, the spiritual Christ could not have suffered in the physical body. Paul is striking out against this view by declaring that reconciliation came by the suffering and death of Christ in a physical body. He is emphasizing the truth of incarnation of the Son of God. O’Brien is correct saying, “The whole phrase makes plain that the reconciliation of the Colossians was accomplished by one who was truly incarnate…and one who really died….[8] His physical suffering and death was the means of our reconciliation (cf. Rom 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-21).

  • The object or purpose of the presentation is “in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach” (1:22b). The parallel passage is Ephesians 5:27, where the purpose of the Christ’s work is used in the same terms. In Colossians the purpose is more personalized as indicated by the word you. The word present (paristemi) is a compound word meaning to set by, thus to place beside or before someone or thing. In this context it is a formal presentation before God that is in view here. When we are presented we will have a threefold characteristic which is completely the result of Christ’s work.

    • First, we will be “holy” (1:22). This holiness is not ours by merit or nature, but ours because the imputation of the righteousness of Christ to us (cf. Rom. 4:5, 24, KJV). God cleanses us by the “washing of water with the word” (Eph. 5:26). This is true of us now because of our position—being holy in status; at the presentation it will be actual—holy in reality.
    • Second, we will be “blameless” (1:22). It is hard to determine if this is to be taken as describing the word holy; or if it is another word for holy. The NIV seems to take it as a description of the holy, thus translating it: “to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.” While it may be possible to view it as such, this translation is somewhat bothersome. First, because it leaves the word and (kai) between holy and without blemish is untranslated, but does translate it between blamless and irreproachable. The Greek text reads literally: “to present you holy and (kai) blameless and (kai) irreproachable before Him.” The conjunction and (kai) makes it a series of results.
    • Third, the word irreproachable (anenkletos) indicates being unblamable; free from accusation. The irreproachable imputation of Christ’s righteousness unto the believer guarantees our acceptability by God.

The words are common sacrificial words used of OT sacrifices describing three elements for an acceptable sacrifice. All three words imply acceptance by God, thus assurance of our eternal security because of His work, not ours.  The three adjectives denote the effect of Christ’s work on the cross as cleansing us from our sins, blemishes, and faults. Paul is not talking about our conduct, but our position in Christ. Our conduct should match our position.

[1]  Dunn, NIGTC: COLOSSIANS, 107.
[2]  Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 81.
[3]  Wallace, GREEK GRAMMAR: BEYOND THE BASICS, 88 says the word flesh could be labeled a genitive of material. Indicating the material of the body.
[4]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 61.
[6]  Ibid, 51.
[7]  Renwick, Alexander M., “Gnosticism,” BAKER’S DICTIONARY OF THEOLOGY, 238.
[8]  O’Brien, COLOSSIANS, 68.

Friday, January 15, 2016

Book Review

A commentary on 1 & 2 Chronicles
Eugene H. Merrill
Kregel Exegetical Library
Kregel Academic, Grand Rapids MI 2015

This is a part of the Bible that most of us give only lip service, rarely reading it, let alone study it in depth. Part of the problem is that most helps in this effort are hard to read, mystifying, and perplexing. In sharp contrast, this commentary is plain, understandable, and readable. Aiding in understanding are a number of charts and special excurses, hymns-prayers, and theological discourses. The text is not over technical or critical. The format includes outline, theological principles, critical notes, and exposition.

Merrill does three commendable things in this commentary:
First, its views the history of the Ezra-Nehemiah in an understanding and relevant way. It’s history is more than merely supplemented Samuel-Kings.
Second, there is a strong emphasis on the Davidic rule. Merrill sees the Chronicler as a theologian, especially with emphasis on the Davidic covenant and its hope. This is fundamental for the Chronicler. He sees it as the stepping stone to the Davidic hope and its realization.
Third, the Chronicler weighs the spirituality of the people. It calls upon renewal as symbolized by the rebuilding of the Temple and restoration of the Levitical system. 

The are two major weaknesses:
First, the Hebrew text needs to be transliterated. Most of us are not that Hebrew savvy.
Second, the critical remarks are too brief at times. It is also true of some of the exposition sections.

Overall, this is one of the better commentaries on 1 & 2 Chronicles. It is Evangelical and balanced. It is biblical, sound and concise. It fits a needed space in the study of these books. It will be welcomed by any student or Pastor. It will be helpful and not overbearing. It will give the reader a good understanding of this book and history.

[Thanks to Kregel Academic for supplying this copy for the purpose of my honest review.]

Thursday, January 14, 2016

Studies in Colossians #11

The Supremacy of Christ (1:15-29)

B. Application of the Preeminent Work of Christ (1:21-23)

A preeminent person does a preeminent work. Paul now picks up on what he has just written, elaborates on it, applying Christ’s reconciling work to the readers.  Paul brings this application out by the literary device of contrast: “once” and “now.” The impersonal third person style used in 1:15-20 is now dropped, and the direct, second person (you) takes effect. It is the style of direct application. “You” is in the emphatic position. It calls attention to the matter that Christ’s preeminent work affects them personally. The conjunction “and” (kai) is a connector, it connects what Paul is about to write to the preeminent work of Christ. 

a. Alienation (1:21).

Paul begins the application by going back to the reader’s original condition: “and although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds” (1:21). We have seen in identification who needs to be reconciled. It is those who are alienated, which describes everyone outside Christ. This is man’s natural condition. The word alienated (apallotrioo) means to be a stranger to, to be alienated from, estranged and indicates not only separation, but a disassociation of two parities. It denotes spiritual alienation from God here as a pagan (cf. Rom. 1:18-32). The word is used only here and in Ephesians 2:12; 4:18. This estrangement is from the privileges of the nation Israel (Eph. 2:11-12) as Gentiles, and exclusion from the life of God (Eph. 4:17-18). Alienation is being out of harmony with God. Since the context in Colossians is not dealing with an ethnic distinction, it is best to think of this alienation as from the life of God. While the term God is not used, it is plainly implied in verse 21. This alienation is twofold:

·         It is internal—“hostile in mind.” This speaks of our spiritual condition by nature. The word mind (dianoia) indicates “the brain in action.”[1] It is the working of the brain and indicates the mind-set, understanding, thinking, the mode of thinking, or attitude. The mind-set is described as hostile (echthros) which denotes hating or hostility, and is best taken in an active sense.[2] This can be conscious or unconscious, but clearly indicates the state of mind. This because the mind is blinded to the things of God (2 Cor. 4:4). Thus, the natural man cannot can not accept the things of God (1 Cor. 2:14), it has no spiritual understanding. It is the mind-set of independence from God (Rom. 1:28; 8:7; James 4:4), even an enemy of God (Rom. 5:10). This is the seat of the natural man’s problem. The phrase must not be taken to suggest that God was hostile to them; rather it is all the action of man toward God, not the other way around. “It is the mind of man, not the mind of God, which must undergo a change, that a reunion may be effected,” notes Lightfoot.[3] 
·         It is external—“engaged in evil deeds.” The internal manifests itself by the external acts that we engage in. The use of the word in (en)connects the two phrases, the former is the seat or cause, the second is the sphere of development.”[4] This is the product of our natural mind-set. These deeds of mind “can be characterized in terms of the indictment of Rom. 1:18-32.[5] These actions are called works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21). They are described in 2 Tim. 3:2-5; Titus 3:3. These are deeds that are controlled by our natural and sinful inclination.

The alienation for believers is a past condition. This is seen in the word formerly (1:21) and is contrasted with the word now in verse 22. We see the same in Ephesians 2:2-3. This alienation is described at threefold: (1) Ye walked to the direction of this age; (2) To the dictation of Satan; and (3) Under the domination of the flesh. This is broken by the work of Christ on our behalf, who made us alive with Christ, raised us up with Christ, and seated us with Christ (Eph. 2:4-6). Believers are no longer in this condition of alienation.

[1]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 58.
[2]  O’Brien, COLOSSIANS, 66.
[3]  Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS, 158.
[4]  Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 80.
[5]  Dunn, COLOSSIANS, 106,

Wednesday, January 13, 2016

Zechariah and the book of Revelation

1:16; 2:5-9
Measuring Jerusalem
Chps 1, 6
Chps 6, 19
1;7-14; 6:1-8
Four Horsemen
Gathering Nations
Chap. 3
Garments of the righteous
3:4-5; 4:4; 6:11; 7:9, 13-14; 14:14; 16:15, 19:13-15; 22:14
Chap. 4
Lamp or Menorah
Chap. 11
Chap. 4
Two witnesses
Chap. 6
2:10; 3:11; 4:4.
12:10, 12
Son of Man, pierced Shepherd
Earthquake in Jerusalem
11:13, 15; 16:19
New Jerusalem

Monday, January 4, 2016

Studies in Colossians #10

The Supremacy of Christ (1:15-29)

A. The Preeminent Person of Christ (1:15-20)

3.  In relation to the Church (1:18-20).

Up to this point, the preeminence of Christ has been based upon what had been in Old Testament Scriptures. Now Paul adds what is uniquely a part of the revelation that was revealed to and through him; the Church, the Body of Christ (Eph. 3:1-10). Bruce calls this section Paul’s “contribution to apostolic Christology which is distinctively his own.”[1] Interestingly, Paul now parallels Christ headship over the old creation, with His headship over the church, the new creation.
Notice His threefold relationship to the church:
a. “He is also head of the body, the church” (1:18).
Paul alone reveals that Christ is the head of the Church and that the Church is the Body of Christ. He has been rejected as King by the leadership of Israel (Matt. 7:1-2; Acts 4:1-4; 7:51-54), thus they have been set aside (Rom. 11:25). God in His Grace established the Church, the Body of Christ, of which Christ is the Head (Eph. 1:22-23). The words “body” and “church” are in apposition to each other thus describing the same entity.[2] The idea of head speaks of the functional leadership and authority. As the head is to the natural body, so Christ is to the church. It is used of the husband/wife relationship and of the relationship of Christ and the church (Eph. 3:25).  Supremacy of Christ is the very heart of the problem confronting these believers.  The application of headship of Christ to the body confronts this problem head on.[3] As the head, the church and its members are inseparable from each other.  It speaks of identity and unity, as well as supremacy. All of this is the heart of Pauline theology.
b. “And He is the beginning” (1:18).
The Greek word is apche, meaning beginning or origin. It can be taken as supremacy in rank, precedence in time, or creative initiative.[4] Here it is best to take it as origin. He is the originating power and source of the church. As He is the creator of the old earthly creation, He is also the creator of the new spiritual creation. 
The beginning is now expounded, “firstborn of the dead” (1:18). It is an apposition to the word beginning. The phrase portrays Christ as the first in resurrection, no doubt both in order and in rank (cp. 1 Cor. 15:20). This is the word that unites Christ’s supremacy over both the old and new creation. It is the uniting factor for the of ministry Paul to the Jew and Gentile (Acts 26:23). Christ is the first resurrected one. His resurrection is the basis and the certainty for our resurrection (1 Thess. 4:14).
d. His preeminence (1:18c-20).
(a) The purpose—“so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything” (1:18).
The Greek word is hina (that) introduces a purpose clause, which is clearly to have first place. The Greek word is proteuon, is only here in the New Testament, and means to be first in time, rank, or both. Christ is to have first place “in everything.” The Greek is en pasin, can be taken as masculine, but in this case is neuter, which is the ordinary meaning of the phrase in the New Testament (2 Cor. 9:6; Eph. 1:23; 1 Tim. 3:11; 2 Tim. 2:7; Titus 2:9; 1 Pet. 4:11). Christ is to have first place in all aspects in the lives of the members of His body, the Church.
(b) The reason—“For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness dwells in Him” (1:19).
For” (1:19), is the preposition hoti, giving the reason why Christ is supreme. It could be translated “because.” It reveals the basis for His preeminence or supremacy. The reason is stated in our text: “…it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness dwell in Him” (1:19). However, the Greek text reads: “because in Him was pleased all the fullness to dwell.[5] This brings about two questions:  First, who or what was pleased? Second, what is the fulness?   
The word pleased is the Greek word eudokeo, meaning to be well pleased, and sometimes carries the idea to choose, determine, or elect. It stresses here an intention or resolve, thus, Bruce translates it “it was decreed” and implies a subject.[6] Who or what is the subject certainly is not Christ for He is the sphere in which the fulness is found. The implied subject is God the Father. The Greek word is pleroma, meaning that which is full to capacity, a full measure. Some take the word fulness as the subject, which is grammatically possible.[7] However, most agree that the implied subject is God (cf. Col. 2:9). The evidence for this view seems to be the strongest:
·         It is certainly true that this was one word that Gnostics favored. It is hard to determine how developed the Gnostic used of the word in the first century and if it were developed to the point where Paul would be indebted to them for the meaning. However, this type of development is unlikely. 
·         Paul was an Old Testament trained Jew. “There is no need to look beyond the Old Testament for the source of Paul’s ideas[8] observes O’Brien.
·         In the Greek Old Testament the word pleroma is used in the active sense of fulness of content (1 Chron. 16:23; Psa. 24:1, 50: 12, 96:11, 98:7; Jer. 8:16, Ezek. 12:19, 19:7). It also draws attention to the filling of God in his creation, His immanence and involvement in His creation (Psa. 72:19; Isa. 6:3; Ezek. 43:5).[9]
·         The words ‘be pleased’ in the Old Testament denote the good pleasure of God, indicating election and the exercise of His will (Psa. 44:3, 147:11, 149:4).[10] It is more likely that Paul would have used the word in the Old Testament sense, and that God would naturally be the implied subject.

The fulness of deity “dwells in Him” (1:19). The word is katoikesai (dwell) means to take up residence, dwell permanently. This is important because it contradicts the basic idea of Gnosticism, that the dwelling was temporary. Today, Christian Science carries on this idea by teaching that the divine power in Christ was only temporary. 

Christ is to have preeminence because of who He is. Christ also is to have preeminence because of what He has done: “and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven” (1:20). This is an additional reason and seen by the conjunction “and” (kai). The work of Christ was for reconciliation. The word reconcile is apokatallaxai, meaning to transfer from one state to another, to change. The word is intensive, therefore meaning to change completely or perfectly. The word does not appear outside the New Testament (Col. 1:20, 22; Eph. 2:16). It is exclusively used by Paul. The word presumes hostility and estrangement, thus it is an act of changing from enmity to friendship. It is to restore harmony where there is hostility. The word is never taken as a mutual reconciliation; rather it is looked upon as a one-way event.[11] It is God the Father who reconciles man to Himself.  

The method of reconciliation is by “having made peace through the blood of His cross” (1:20). It is clear from the text that the work of reconciliation is accomplished by the work of Christ on the cross (2 Cor. 5:18-19). Christ and the cross are agents of reconciliation. This act does not become effective until the reconciliation that has been made is “received.” Paul states in Romans 5:11 of believers, through Christ “we have now received the reconciliation.” To receive Christ by faith is to receive reconciliation, thus making the act effectual on an individual level. Reconciliation “is a finished work of God by which man is brought from an attitude and position of enmity with God to an attitude and position of amity and peace with God by means of the removal of the enmity through the cross.[12]

The purpose is to reconcile “all things” unto Himself. The all things are described as “things on earth or things in heaven” (1:20). We can understand the need for reconciliation of things on earth. Man is a sinner and needs to be reconciled to God. Universalism teaches that all men, even Satan and the fallen angels will be saved eventually, and this is a key verse that they use. This is not so! Both common sense and Scriptures are clear:
·         First, this text says nothing of a third classification, “things under the earth” (cf. Phil. 2:10, Rev. 5:3, 13), which is commonly connected with the place of the lost.
·         Second, Scripture is clear that Satan and the fallen angels are eternally lost. They are consigned to the “lake of fire” where they are tormented “forever and ever” (Rev. 20:10). It is also clear that the lost at the Great White Throne Judgment are consigned to the same place (Rev. 20:15). The Universalist has to do word games with “forever and ever,” by saying the word forever means age lasting, and when the ages are over, they will be saved. That is nonsense! Such a concept does away completely with anything being eternal, including God. As Baker points out, “For ever and ever means time indefinitely extended. The life of God is eternal. The life of the believer is eternal. And the punishment of the unsaved sinner is eternal. To deny one of these is to deny them all.”[13]

[1]   Bruce, “Colossians Problem—Part 2,” 105.
[2]   Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 66
[3]   Johnson, “”Studies in Colossians—Part 3: Christ Pre-eminent,” 18.
[4]  Vaughan, COLOSSIANS, 183.
[6]  F.F. Bruce, COLOSSIANS, 72.
[7]  This is held by Moo, COLOSSIANS, 131.
[8]  O’Brien, COLOSSIANS, 52.
[9]  Ibid, 52.
[10]  Ibid, 52.
[11]  S. Lewis Johnson, Jr., “Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians. Part 4: from Enmity to Amity,” 143.
[12]  Ibid, 144.