Colossians 1:20-22 — Reconciled to God through Christ

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.

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

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

reconcile (v.20) = to change (from enmity to friendship) — here “to change completely” — Grammatically connected to “for it pleased” in v.19 (parallel with “dwell” in v.19).

Reconciliation in the case of God and man is twofold. A holy God is reconciled in that justice has been satisfied at the Cross, and sinful man is reconciled in that, in the case of the believing sinner, his attitude of enmity towards God is changed to one of friendship. The verb “reconcile” is apokatalasso. The compounded preposition apo gives the force of back, hinting at a restoration to a primal unity. The whole universe of things, material as well as spiritual, shall be restored to harmony with God. We must be careful here to remember that when Paul wrote “the all things” he did not include the lost in eternity. Any portion of Scripture must be considered in the light of what the rest of Scripture teaches. — Wuest, page. 188

all things (v.20) — the universe (Romans 8:19-22)

The Universalist reads the verse this way, “By Him to reconcile all things unto Himself, all things, I say” — but the apostle Paul does not say that here. He says, “By Him to reconcile all things to Himself; by Him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:20).

The thought here is that the only one through whom men can possibly be reconciled to God is the Lord Jesus Christ. And you’ll notice that those who were reconciled occupy earth and heaven, not Hades or the lake of fire. This is very important, for in Philippians 2 we have another subject, not universal reconciliation, but universal subjugation, and more than heaven and earth is involved here:

Wherefore God also hath highly exalted Him, and given Him a name which is above every name: that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.

Here the celestial, the terrestrial and the infernal are included.

And that every tongue should [will] confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

But this is universal subjugation, not universal reconciliation. — Stam, pages 76-77.

by Him (v.20) — emphatic — “only by Him” — further emphasized by “by Him, I say.”

peace (v.20) = bound together — Peace is the action of the Father through the Son.

alienated (v.21) = transferred to another owner

enemies (v.21) — in their thoughts, attitudes, minds, outwardly expressed by wicked works — hostile, antagonistic

body of His flesh (v.22) — to counter the heresy that Christ’s body wasn’t real or that angels are involved

holy (v.22) — consecration, dedication

unblamable (v.22) = without blemish — a term used of sacrificing, used of an animal without flaw and worthy of being offered to God

unreprovable (v.22) — with no accusation or blame — a legal term

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