Scripture References – Colossians 1:13-20
The false teachers in Colossae, like the false teachers of our own day, would not deny the importance of Jesus Christ. They would simply dethrone Him, giving Him prominence but not preeminence. In their philosophy, Jesus Christ was but one of many “emanations” that proceeded from God and through which men could reach God. It was this claim that Paul refuted in this section.
Probably no paragraph in the New Testament contains more concentrated doctrine about Jesus Christ than this one. We can keep ourselves from going on a detour if we remember that Paul wrote to prove the preeminence of Christ, and he did so by using four unanswerable arguments.
Christ Is the Savior
He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins. – Colossians 1:13-14.
Man’s greatest problem is sin, a problem that can never be solved by a philosopher or a religious teacher. Sinners need a Savior. These two verses present a vivid picture of the four saving actions of Christ on our behalf.
He delivered us (verse 13a). This word means “rescued from danger.” We could not deliver ourselves from the guilt and penalty of sin, but Jesus could and did deliver us. We were in danger of spending eternity apart from God. The sword of God’s judgment was hanging over our heads!
But this deliverance involved something else: we were delivered from the authority of Satan and the powers of darkness. The gnostic false teachers believed in an organization of evil spirits that controlled the world (see Colossians 1:16; 2:10, 15): angels, archangels, principalities, powers, virtues, dominions, and thrones. John Milton used these titles when describing Satan’s forces in his classic Paradise Lost.
He conveyed us (verse 13b). This word was used to describe the deportation of a population from one country into another. History records the fact that Antiochus the Great transported (or conveyed) at least 2,000 Jews from Babylonia to Colossae.
Jesus Christ did not release us from bondage, only to have us wander aimlessly. He moved us into His own kingdom of light and made us victors over Satan’s kingdom of darkness. Earthly rulers transported the defeated people, but Jesus Christ transported the winners.
The phrase, “the Son of His love,” indicates just how precious the Son is to the Father. At the baptism and transfiguration of Jesus Christ, the Father declared that Jesus was His “beloved Son” (Matthew 3:17; 17:5). This fact reminds us of the price the Father paid when He gave His Son for us. It also reminds us that His kingdom is a kingdom of love as well as a kingdom of light.
The experience of Israel in the Old Testament is an illustration of this spiritual experience; for God delivered them from the bondage of Egypt and took them into the Promised Land of their inheritance. God brings us out that He might bring us in.
He redeemed us (verse 14a). This word means “to release a prisoner by the payment of a ransom.” Paul did not suggest that Jesus paid a ransom to Satan in order to rescue us from the kingdom of darkness. By His death and resurrection, Jesus met the holy demands of God’s Law. Satan seeks to accuse us and imprison us because he knows we are guilty of breaking God’s Law. But the ransom has been paid on Calvary, and through faith in Jesus Christ, we have been set free.
He has forgiven us (verse 14b). Redemption and forgiveness go together (Ephesians 1:7). The word translated “forgiveness” means “to send away” or “to cancel a debt.” Christ has not only set us free and transferred us to a new kingdom, but He has canceled every debt so that we cannot be enslaved again. Satan cannot find anything in the files that will indict us!
In recent years, the church has rediscovered the freedom of forgiveness. God’s forgiveness of sinners is an act of His grace. We did not deserve to be forgiven, nor can we earn forgiveness. Knowing that we are forgiven makes it possible for us to fellowship with God, enjoy His grace, and seek to do His will. Forgiveness is not an excuse for sin; rather, it is an encouragement for obedience. And, because we have been forgiven, we can forgive others (Colossians 3:13). The Parable of the Unforgiving Servant makes it clear that an unforgiving spirit always leads to bondage (Matthew 18:21–35).
Jesus Christ is preeminent in salvation. No other person could redeem us, forgive us, transfer us out of Satan’s kingdom into God’s kingdom, and do it wholly by grace. The phrase, “through His blood,” reminds us of the cost of our salvation. Moses and the Israelites only had to shed the blood of a lamb to be delivered from Egypt. But Jesus had to shed His blood to deliver us from sin.
To Be Continued