mmmmpie02Colossians 1 Part 6

New King James Version 20. and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

The Resultant Version 20. And through Him, who metamorphosed all these creations to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether they be those creations on the earth or those creations among the heavens.

Now through Jesus Christ the Father works to reconcile all these creations to Himself. This word “reconcile” is a very important one that we need to carefully study if we wish to understand what God is telling us through this passage.

The word for “reconcile” is the Greek apokatallasso. The base word here is allasso, which means to change, or to make other than what it was. The word kata is then added to the word as a prefix. This prefix means “down,” but “down” in the sense of going down the aisle. When one goes down the aisle, one does not go randomly, for then one might crash into the seats on either side. To go down the aisle, one must go down the lines formed by the aisle. Therefore, the idea of “down” in kata is down along certain lines. If we put these two things together, we get katallasso, which would mean “to change down along certain lines.” When used with the word “to,” the idea is of configuring something to some standard. Now we have a third component to this word, which is the prefix apo. This means “from.” Therefore, the idea here is of a thing being changed from what it was down along certainly lines in order to conform it to something else.

Otis Sellers suggests that apo accelerates katallasso until it means such a complete transformation unto God that it can best be called a metamorphosis. Therefore in his Resultant Version, he makes it “to metamorphose all these creations to himself.” They are completely changed in order to make them congruous with Jesus Christ.

Now in the Bible we can read of many of the God-chosen rulers of the past. We can see that some of them were good, but we can see that all of them had faults. We can see, too, that many of these have been chosen to hold an even higher place than they held in the past in the kingdom of God to come. For example, we read of King David. He was a Godly man, and through much of his life he served God faithfully and well. However, there were times in his life when his faith in God waned. He resorted to his own devices, and sought refuge among the Philistines when he was on the run from Saul. This did not work out for him, and only brought on him humiliation. However, that did not stop him from trying it again sometime later! Then, when he became king, we are all aware of the temptation he ran into when he saw Bathsheba, and his failure to resist it. Then, we see his sad attempts to cover up his sin, culminating in his order to murder Bathsheba’s husband, one of his most faithful and loyal men.

But the past is not the only time we read of David. We also read that God has plans for him in the future. Jeremiah 30:9 says of Israel:

9. But they shall serve the LORD their God,
And David their king,
Whom I will raise up for them.

The same thing is stated in the book of Ezekiel, chapter 34 and verse 24.

23. I will establish one shepherd over them, and he shall feed them—My servant David. He shall feed them and be their shepherd. 24. And I, the LORD, will be their God, and My servant David a prince among them; I, the LORD, have spoken.

Here, we have a picture of Jehovah, Who in the New Testament is called the Lord Jesus Christ, sitting enthroned as God in heaven, and David raised from the dead and sitting as a prince under Him and over Israel. The Lord Jesus Christ is the great Shepherd in heaven, and David is a shepherd under Him ruling upon the earth. The same thing is stated in later in Ezekiel in 37:24-25.

24. “David My servant shall be king over them, and they shall all have one shepherd; they shall also walk in My judgments and observe My statutes, and do them. 25. Then they shall dwell in the land that I have given to Jacob My servant, where your fathers dwelt; and they shall dwell there, they, their children, and their children’s children, forever; and My servant David shall be their prince forever.

So Jeremiah and Ezekiel agree that David will be ruling over Israel on his throne on earth in the kingdom. Finally, a third witness establishes this truth, as we look at Hosea 3:5.

5. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the LORD their God and David their king. They shall fear the LORD and His goodness in the latter days.

In the days when Jeremiah, Ezekiel, and Hosea were writing, David had been long dead. The only way these things could be true, then, is if David rises from the dead in order to take the throne over Israel once again. So we are certain that he will be raised, and will reign once again upon the earth. Yet this might cause some doubts to come into our minds. When David is brought back to life, will his faults not come with him? Might he not be liable to lose his faith and confidence in God, as he appears to have done in the case his flight to the Philistines? Might he not see a future Bathsheba, and fall into the same sin again that he did in the past? Might he not make a human error, and thus bring disgrace upon His Lord once again?

If David was no better off in the kingdom to come than he was in the past, then these questions might be troublesome. And yet this passage in Colossians assures us that this will not be the case. All the rulerships that God will create at that time, He will also metamorphose those holding those rulerships in order to make them congruous with Jesus Christ Himself. Once David is like Christ, he will never again fail by losing faith in God’s watch-care over him. He will never again fall into lust and dishonor his Lord through sin and attempting to cover it up. No, he will live and work all in conformity to His Master and Ruler, the Lord Jesus Christ.

We can see David acting like this in prophecy in Psalm 101. There, we read in the words of David this beautiful Psalm.

A Psalm of David.
1. I will sing of mercy and justice;
To You, O LORD, I will sing praises.
2. I will behave wisely in a perfect way.
Oh, when will You come to me?
I will walk within my house with a perfect heart.
3. I will set nothing wicked before my eyes;
I hate the work of those who fall away;
It shall not cling to me.
4. A perverse heart shall depart from me;
I will not know wickedness.
5. Whoever secretly slanders his neighbor,
Him I will destroy;
The one who has a haughty look and a proud heart,
Him I will not endure.
6. My eyes shall be on the faithful of the land,
That they may dwell with me;
He who walks in a perfect way,
He shall serve me.
7. He who works deceit shall not dwell within my house;
He who tells lies shall not continue in my presence.
8. Early I will destroy all the wicked of the land,
That I may cut off all the evildoers from the city of the LORD.

If these words were applied to David of the past, they are most empty things. Yet when we consider that the David of the future, once raised from the dead, will not only be set on the throne of Israel by God, but also will be conformed in all things to Jesus Christ his Lord, then we can understand that at that time David will act exactly this way, and will be as blameless and righteous as this Psalm declares.

The same is true of so many others of Scripture. Abraham, who through weakness pretended Sarah was his sister; Jacob the heel-grabber, who through deception sought for his own way; Moses, who failed to honor the LORD by striking the rock twice at Kadesh; Elijah, who despaired in the face of adversity and desired to die; Peter, who denied his Lord three times; or the rest of the disciples, who abandoned the Lord in the day of his trouble. How do we know these same weaknesses will not come out in these men when in future time they are elevated to positions of rulership in God’s kingdom? The answer is that they will never fall into these fallen ways again, as they will at that time be conformed in word and conduct to the Lord Jesus Christ. They will be metamorphosed to become like Him. Praise God that in His government there will be such rulers!

Now we read how He accomplishes this metamorphosis. We see that He makes peace through the blood of His cross. The Greek word for peace here is the word eirene, as we had it back in verse 3. It means not just a feeling of tranquility, nor simply the cessation of war. Rather, real peace is a true union with God. Through the transgression of Adam, sin and death were brought into this world, and this resulted in the human race being sadly out of union with our God. Yet because of Christ’s cross, this sad division will someday come to an end. Because of the blood He shed on our behalf, our sins are forgiven, and we are able to be brought into a true union with God. This is what will happen to all rulers in God’s government to come. All of them will have a union with God through the blood of their Lord, Jesus Christ.

Now Paul repeats most emphatically that this is done through Him. Moreover, we learn that it is not just the earthly rulers who will enjoy the benefits of this, nor is it exclusively the heavenly rulers. Rather, he tells us, all these God-created rulers will be made congruous with Christ, whether they are those on the earth or those among the heavens.

Now most Bible expositors down through the ages have been unable to resist taking the beautiful idea of reconciliation through the blood of His cross and applying it to the salvation of sinners. Thus, they make this passage to be soteriological, or having to do with God’s plan of salvation for men today. This is no surprise, as many who are of an evangelical bent think that there is no greater topic in the Bible than that of the salvation of sinners, and so they make every passage they possibly can have to do with this. This error having been propagated, the universalists have then come into this passage and, using the common interpretation of this passage as having to do with salvation, then point out the universal character of the statements made, and conclude that this passage is telling us that ultimately all who have ever lived will ultimately be saved, whether it be men on earth, or angels, or demons, or even Satan himself. This is the passage from which universal reconciliation is pled, and to which the universalist will always retreat as his final, impregnable bastion of argument.

However, whether it be the average expositor or the universalist, both are entirely mistaking the passage when they apply it to salvation at all. This passage is not speaking of all mankind, nor is it speaking of all heavenly beings. Rather, from verse 16, we learn that this passage is speaking of those creations which are thrones, lordships, sovereignties, or authorities under God’s rule. It is these in their rule, wherein they represent God, who will be made congruous with the Master they serve. This is not the reconciliation of sinners, but the metamorphosis of His ruling saints into flawless representations of Christ.

Moreover, it is not just earthly rulers, but also heavenly who will thus be metamorphosed. Now we know that there are many wicked rulers among the heavenly powers today. This is made clear in Ephesians 6:12, wherein we read:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Of course, this is not just true of heaven. There are many rulers on earth as well, and yet some of these are wicked rulers, and most of them are ungodly. So does this mean that all these rulers will be metamorphosed to resemble Christ? I do not believe so. We know that God can do such a thing, as He did in the case of wicked Manasseh in II Chronicles 33:11-17, when He got ahold of this wicked man at last and turned him to himself. Yet far more often, God changes a rulership or authority by removing the one holding it and replacing him with someone more worthy of holding it. Certainly we see this multiple times in the history of the books of Samuel, Kings, and Chronicles, when God removes a wicked king and puts a righteous one in his place.

The same way will be true in this future act of God to change all rulerships from what they are to conform them to Himself. Some He will change by changing the person on the throne from the inside. Many of them, however, He will change by removing the ruler from the throne, and filling the throne instead with someone more worthy of it. It is these God-chosen leaders who will thus be metamorphosed. It is not that the wicked heavenly rulers will be saved, any more than the wicked earthly rulers. Instead, the seats of power among the heavens and on the earth will be filled by God’s chosen, whom He will then work to conform to Himself. What a glorious day that will be, indeed!

New King James Version 21. And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled

The Resultant Version 21. And you, who at one time were estranged and enemies in your mind in acts of wickedness, yet now have you been metamorphosed

Now Paul changes from speaking of the Divine creations to speaking directly to the Colossians. We can see that he is now applying apokatallasso, the idea of being changed from what you were down along certain lines to conform to Christ, to them. It is clear that the translators of the New King James Version wanted to take this verse and make it apply to us as ungodly sinners and what happened to us when we came to faith in Christ. However, I once again do not believe that salvation is the topic here. The word translated “once” by the New King James and “at one time” by The Resultant Version is the short word pote in Greek. The idea of pote is of some indefinite time, and might be represented by the English phrase “at some time or other.” One might even imagine an indefinite shrug when saying this word. It means at some unspecified time in the past. Then, he speaks of being estranged and enemies in your mind. When was this?

The fact is that when any of us come to God through Jesus Christ for the very first time, all of us are far off from the truth in our thinking. We might, in our initial excitement and enthusiasm for Christ, do some things which in our minds are good and honoring toward God, but that a mature believer would realize are simply not good, right, or appropriate. The problem is how estranged we have been from God, and how our minds are programmed to think like enemies of God, not like His friends. This corruption in our thinking can result in our doing acts of wickedness without even realizing that that is what we are doing. At some time or other, we have all been guilty of this. What we need is the thing described in Romans 12:2.

2. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.

We need a transformation in our thinking, a renewing of our minds, to change our very thoughts from the way they were when we were estranged and at enmity with God to bring them into line with Jesus Christ. Once this has taken place, our minds will no longer be estranged from God and at enmity to Him. Then, we will be thinking rightly in order to know what it is that God truly desires, and then we will be able to serve and please Him accurately. Without such a renewal, however, we will just prove time and again that our minds are alienated from God.

For the Colossians, they had been metamorphosed so that they came into conformity with Jesus Christ. Their minds were no longer estranged or at enmity. The process of apokatallasso had taken place in their lives. May it take place in each of ours as well!

New King James Version 22. in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—

The Resultant Version 22. In the body of His flesh through death, to present you hallowed and flawless and blameless in His sight—

The metamorphosis that Christ had accomplished in the Colossians He had accomplished in the body of His flesh through death. He took their thoughts, their opinions, their words, and their very character and in the body of His flesh through His death for them he metamorphosed these so that they would conform to Himself. Once He had done this, He could present them as holy. This is again the Greek word hagios, which means hallowed or set apart to God. He also presents them as blameless. This word is used of a sacrifice under the law, that it had to be flawless or without any spot or blemish. That sinful men could ever be presented before God as flawless or without blemish takes a metamorphosis indeed, and there has been such a metamorphosis for those of us who are in Christ. Finally, He presents them as being without blame. This is again impossible without the death of Christ to wash us free from every sin and stain. Praise God for such an incalculable gift!

The truth expressed here is the same truth as we have in Ephesians 1:4. There, we learn:

4. just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and without blame before Him in love,

So we who are in Christ are chosen by God before He founds His world order to come, and we are chosen to be hallowed and flawless before Him. This was true of the Colossians, and it is equally true of all those of us who are “in Christ.”