Colossians 1:19-23

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 29, 2009


The church in Colosse was located in the Lycus Valley, in the area we know today as the nation of Turkey.

The church of Colosse was started by a man named Epaphras who probably came to know the Lord through Paul’s ministry while Paul was staying in Ephesus, about 100 miles to the west of Colosse.

One of the chief reasons for Paul writing this letter was to address heresy.

Strange doctrines were beginning to spring up in Colosse. Before Paul deals with the heresies, he will first clarify some important truths.

We’re now plowing our way through the first section of the letter which deals with the truth of who God is and who Jesus is.

Some of the phrases we’ve looked at:

:15 He is the image of the invisible God,

If you want a clear picture of what God is like, look at the best picture God has left us – Jesus.

:16 For by Him all things were created …

Jesus is the Creator. He has created everything, the heavens, the earth, EVERYTHING.

:16 All things were created through Him and for Him.

He not only created everything, but everything was created for Him. Do you wonder what your purpose is in life? You were made for Him.

:17 and in Him all things consist.

He not only made everything, He holds it all together. We talked about the mysterious force that holds atoms together. We talked about how He holds us together.

:18 And He is the head of the body, the church,

The church is made up of all true believers in Jesus Christ, and He is the head of that organization, not the pope. He’s in charge.

:18 that in all things He may have the preeminence.

All these things point to one thing – Jesus is above all. He is the one who holds “first place” in the Universe. Jesus needs to be “first place” in our lives as well. Who’s sitting in the pilot’s seat in your life? Who calls the shots? Who makes the decisions? Do I even bother to ask Him what I should do?

:19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,

it pleasedeudokeo (“good” + “think”) – it seems good to one; think it good; to do willingly; to be well pleased with, take pleasure in.  It’s used in:

(Luke 3:22 NKJV)  And the Holy Spirit descended in bodily form like a dove upon Him, and a voice came from heaven which said, "You are My beloved Son; in You I am well pleased."

This “fullness” thing … God was very happy about this.

fullnesspleroma – that which is (has been) filled; a ship inasmuch as it is filled (i.e. manned) with sailors, rowers, and soldiers; that which fills or with which a thing is filled; fullness, abundance

The Greek scholar J.B. Lightfoot says that word is … “A recognized technical term in theology, denoting the totality of the Divine powers and attributes”

After Paul wrote the Colossians, a heresy called “Gnosticism” would spring up.

One of the teachings of Gnosticism was that since God is Spirit, He is good, but matter, everything that is material is evil. Therefore God could not directly create things, but instead God created a being called an “aeon”, who in turn created another “aeon”, and then another … until a bunch of “aeons” later, one of these creatures would be sufficiently far enough from God to actually create the material universe.

Paul says:

Jesus created everything.
Jesus is fully God.

We will see this word pleroma pop up again in chapter two:

(Col 2:9 NKJV) For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily;

should dwellkatoikeo (“through out” + “to dwell”) – settle; inhabit; to be at home.

All divine attributes are at home in Jesus.


Jesus is fully God

Jesus claims to be God.
(John 10:30 NKJV) "I and My Father are one."
Thomas calls Jesus “God”
(John 20:28 NKJV) And Thomas answered and said to Him, "My Lord and my God!"
Paul calls Jesus “God”
(Rom 9:5 NKJV) of whom are the fathers and from whom, according to the flesh, Christ came, who is over all, the eternally blessed God. Amen.
John calls Jesus “God”
(1 John 5:20 NKJV) And we know that the Son of God has come and has given us an understanding, that we may know Him who is true; and we are in Him who is true, in His Son Jesus Christ. This is the true God and eternal life.
God Himself calls Jesus “God”
(Heb 1:8 NKJV) But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.
If that’s not enough for you, I have a handout with fifty-five points, over a hundred verses, all pointing to the very clear fact that Jesus was indeed God.
The truth that Jesus is fully God is not a “negotiable” truth. There are some things we believe that we aren’t too sure of, and yes we can agree to disagree. The truth that Jesus is God is not one of those truths. It is an absolute, necessary truth.
Why is it necessary to believe that Jesus is fully God?

The complete payment of your sins depends upon it.

If Jesus was just an ordinary fellow, the most He could do would be to die for one person. 

The Old Testament rule for sacrifice is:  One life for one sin.

Because Jesus laid down an infinite life, He was able to pay for the sins of the world, including yours.

:20 and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him,

to reconcileapokatallasso (“from” + “through out” + “to exchange”) – to reconcile completely; to reconcile back again; bring back a former state of harmony

That “harmony” thing – sometimes we can get a little out of tune, like this worship leader who forgot to put his capo on his guitar before starting the song …

There’s a simpler form of the word if you chop off the first three letters (katallasso) which would have worked just fine here.

The root idea of both words comes from the idea of “exchanging coins”. When you travel to a foreign country, if you are going to pay cash for anything, you might need to “exchange” your currency. You exchange your “dollars” for the currency of the land. Dollars for rubles, dollars for shekels or pesos.

We get an idea of what God’s kind of “exchange” is all about in:

(2 Cor 5:18-21 NKJV) Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, {19} that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. {20} Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God.
And here’s the actual exchange …
{21} For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.
God’s great exchange goes like this – you come to God with your sin and God comes to you with the righteousness of Christ. That means that God comes to you with all the credits in heaven for what Jesus did on earth – like feeding the 5,000, raising the dead, healing sick people, stuff like that.
You stick out your hand with all your sin, God takes your sin, and in exchange gives you the righteousness of Christ.

But Paul doesn’t use the simpler word, he chooses to use a stronger, more intense word here. Adding those three letters to the front of the word makes it more intense. Not just to “reconcile”, but to “reconcile completely”.

There is no room for debate on this.  Jesus makes you absolutely right with God.

:20 whether things on earth or things in heaven,

What does it mean that things in heaven were “reconciled”? Not sure. Perhaps it is talking about those who trusted in God before the time of Jesus, because they too are covered by Jesus’ death on the cross.

:20 having made peace through the blood of His cross.

There were some who claimed that Jesus was God but denied that He was also man.

They would say that Jesus showed up kind of like a ghost and just floated everywhere, not having real flesh or blood.

Yet Paul makes it clear here that Jesus did have blood.  He will mention later He also had a body.

Jesus was fully God and He was also fully human. Sound complicated? You bet. But still true.

blood There is an interesting principle in the Old Testament concerning sacrifices and specifically concerning blood:

(Lev 17:11 NKJV) 'For the life of the flesh is in the blood, and I have given it to you upon the altar to make atonement for your souls; for it is the blood that makes atonement for the soul.'
When we talk about Jesus shedding His “blood” for us, we are talking about Jesus pouring out His life for us.
He exchanged His life for ours.

:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled

were alienatedapallotrioo (“from” + “to be a stranger”) – to alienate, estrange; to be shut out from one’s fellowship and intimacy

enemiesechthros – hated, odious, hateful; hostile, hating, and opposing another

in your mind – the alienation doesn’t have to come from doing bad things, simply thinking them brings alienation.

wicked works – is it possible for a person to have “wicked” things going on in their mind. OF COURSE!!! Who are you fooling?!?!?!


My sin is bad … real bad

Sometimes we don’t like things to sound too bad.
Your bedroom isn’t cluttered; it’s “passage-restrictive.”
You’re not having a bad hair day; you’re suffering from “rebellious follicle syndrome.”
It’s not called gossip anymore. It’s “transmission of near-factual information.”
The food at the school cafeteria isn’t awful. It’s “digestively challenged.”
You’re not sleeping in class; you’re “rationing consciousness.”
You don’t have smelly gym socks; you have “odor-retentive athletic footwear.”
When it comes to the things we do that are not in agreement with the ways of God, they are called “sin”.
And “sin” is bad. Real bad.
My sin makes me an “enemy” of God.

What do you think of Osama bin Laden? Would you call him an “enemy” of our country?

My sin makes me God’s enemy. I am to God what Mr. bin Laden is to the United States.

Yeah, but it was just a little lie”
The problem is that our idea of what’s bad and the appropriate consequences doesn’t even come close to reality.
In reality, my sin is offensive to God.

A pastor was asked to dinner by one of the folks in his church who he knew was a bad housekeeper. When he sat down at the table, he noticed that the dishes were the dirtiest that he had ever seen in his life. “Were these dishes ever washed?” he asked his hostess, running his fingers over the grit and grime. She replied, “They’re as clean as soap and water could get them”. He felt a bit apprehensive, but blessed the food anyway and started eating. It was really delicious and he said so, despite the dirty dishes. When dinner was over, the hostess took the dishes outside and yelled, “Here Soap! Here Water!”

Does that gross you out?  It should.  But it’s a great picture of just a fraction of how different God’s idea of right and wrong are from our ideas.

We think that we are “neat and clean”, when in reality our sin is quite offensive.

My sin separates me from God.

(Rom 6:23 NKJV)  For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

My sin makes me His enemy.
My sin sends me to hell. Eternal damnation.

Does this sound too harsh?

It’s only because I have minimized the truth about my sin.

Hell is not a place you want to risk going to.  Hell is a terrible place. 

There is no one who talked more about hell than … Jesus. 

Why was that?  Because Jesus came to this planet for ONE reason – to keep you from going to hell. He said,

(Mark 9:43-44 NKJV)  "If your hand causes you to sin, cut it off. It is better for you to enter into life maimed, rather than having two hands, to go to hell, into the fire that shall never be quenched; {44} "where 'Their worm does not die, And the fire is not quenched.'

In order to pay for MY sin, God had to send His Son to die on a cross.

Look at what Jesus did for me on the cross. My sin was that bad.

Do you think God would have sent His only begotten Son to earth in order to die a horrible death, if simply putting a nickel in the heavenly washing machine would have done the trick?

If you’re still not convinced about your sin, let me ask you a question – Do you know what guilt is?  Do you experience guilt?  Your sense of guilt may sometimes be wrong, but the truth is that most of the time your own conscience is trying to get through to you, letting you know that you are WAY OFF BASE.

And I’m here to tell you today that God has an answer for your guilt.

God offers to “reconcile” you.  He offers to exchange your sin for His Son’s righteousness.  God made this possible …

:22 in the body of His flesh through death,

Again, Jesus was a real human.  Fully God.  Fully man.  He had a body.  God heaped our sins upon His Son’s body.  He was broken for us.

(Isa 53:5-6 NKJV)  But He was wounded for our transgressions, He was bruised for our iniquities; The chastisement for our peace was upon Him, And by His stripes we are healed. {6} All we like sheep have gone astray; We have turned, every one, to his own way; And the LORD has laid on Him the iniquity of us all.

We were the ones who should have been punished.  But instead, God put our sins on His own Son, and we were made right with God.

:22  to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight;

There will be a day when Jesus will present us to His Father as His Bride.  Three things will be noticeable about you at that time:

holyhagios – a word usually used for God, separated to God, morally clean and pure

blamelessamomos (“not” + “blemish”) – without blemish; faultless

As if God takes care of all your spiritual “zits

above reproachanegkletos (“not” + “accusable”) – that cannot be called into account

in His sight – not just in our own eyes, but in God’s eyes.

Sound too good to be true?  It’s still true.

Anyone can become right with God. Anyone.

:23 if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

groundedthemelioo – to lay the foundation; to make stable, establish

steadfasthedraios – sitting, sedentary; firm, immovable, steadfast

There is a condition to being “holy, blameless, and above reproach” before God.  You must continue in the faith.

Paul doesn’t say that if you went forward at a Billy Graham crusade twenty years ago, but have backslidden, that you have nothing to worry about.

It doesn’t sound to me as if Paul is saying that “once saved, always saved”.

Paul clearly lays out a condition, that you continue in the faith.

This isn’t the same as saying you have to earn your way to heaven.

Paul does not say that you have to become sinless.

Paul does not say that you have to go door-to-door witnessing five times a week.

Paul does not say that you have to attend church, OUR CHURCH, every week.


Keep believing

All you do is keep believing that Jesus died for you.
You keep believing in hope that you will one day be in heaven because of what Jesus did for you.
Is there something that can help us make sure that we do this?
(Heb 3:12-14 NKJV)  Beware, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief in departing from the living God; {13} but exhort one another daily, while it is called "Today," lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin. {14} For we have become partakers of Christ if we hold the beginning of our confidence steadfast to the end,

The writer of Hebrews is warning his readers about the dangers in their own heart.

Our hearts are pretty good at deceiving us into doing the wrong thing.


There’s the story of the guy on a diet.  He’s starting to get a hankerin’ for Krispee Kreme donuts.  He gets in the car and starts toward the nearest store.  He prays, “Lord, if it’s your will for me to not have Krispee Kreme donuts, don’t let there be any parking places near the store”.  But wouldn’t you know it?  There is was, an open parking spot right in front … the twelfth time around the block.

Hebrews 3 tells us how to keep from deceiving ourselves.  Hang around other believers.  Have people in your life who will encourage you to follow the Lord.  Have people in your life that YOU encourage to follow the Lord.

Church is a great place for that to happen.

Getting involved in one of the smaller groups is best.  Go to a Men’s Study, a Ladies’ Study, Sunday night Refresh, dinner on Thursday night.  Those are the places to be. That’s where the encouragement happens.