Scripture References – Colossians 1:13-20
Christ Is the Beloved of the Father
For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, 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. – Colossians 1:19-20.
Paul had already called Jesus Christ “the Son of His [God’s] love” (Colossians 1:13). Those who have trusted Jesus Christ as their Savior are “accepted in the Beloved” (Ephesians 1:6). For this reason, God can call us His beloved (Colossians 3:12).
Then Paul took a giant step forward in his argument, for he declared that “all fullness” dwelt in Jesus Christ! The word translated “fullness” is the Greek word pleroma which means “the sum total of all the divine power and attributes.” It was a technical term in the vocabulary of the gnostic false teachers. However, it should be noted that Paul used this important word eight times in the Colossian letter, so he was meeting the false teachers on their own ground.
The word “dwell” is equally important. It means much more than merely “to reside.” The form of the verb means “to be at home permanently.” The late Dr. Kenneth S. Wuest, the noted Greek expert, pointed out in his excellent commentary on Colossians that the verb indicates that this fullness was “not something added to His Being that was not natural to Him, but that it was part of His essential Being as part of His very constitution, and that permanently.”
The Father would not permanently give His “sum total of all the divine power and attributes” to some created being. The fact that it “pleased the Father” to have His fullness in Christ is proof that Jesus Christ is God. “And of His [Christ’s] fullness we have all received” (John 1:16). “For in Him [Jesus Christ] dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (Colossians 2:9).
Because Jesus Christ is God, He is able to do what no mere man could ever do: reconcile lost sinners to a holy God. When the first man and woman sinned, they declared war on God; but God did not declare war on them. Instead, God sought Adam and Eve; and He provided a covering for their sins.
The natural mind of the unsaved sinner is at war with God (Romans 8:7). The sinner may be sincere, religious, and even moral; but he is still at war with God.
How can a holy God ever be reconciled with sinful man? Can God lower His standards, close His eyes to sin, and compromise with man? If He did, the universe would fall to pieces! God must be consistent with Himself and maintain His own Holy Law.
Perhaps man could somehow please God. But by nature, man is separated from God; and by his deeds, he is alienated from God (Colossians 1:21). The sinner is “dead in trespasses and sins” (Ephesians 2:1-3), and therefore is unable to do anything to save himself or to please God (Romans 8:8).
If there is to be reconciliation between man and God, the initiative and action must come from God Himself. It is “in Christ” that God was reconciled to man (2 Corinthians 5:19). But it was not the incarnation of Christ that accomplished this reconciliation, nor was it His example as He lived among men. It was through His death that peace was made between God and man. He “made peace through the blood of His cross.”
Of course, the false teachers offered a kind of reconciliation between man and God. However, the reconciliation they offered was not complete or final. The angels and the “emanations” could in some way bring men closer to God, according to the gnostic teachers. But the reconciliation we have in Jesus Christ is perfect, complete, and final. More than that, the reconciliation in Christ involves the whole universe! He reconciles “all things to Himself . . . things on earth or things in heaven.”
However, we must not conclude wrongly that universal reconciliation is the same as universal salvation. “Universalism” is the teaching that all beings, including those who have rejected Jesus Christ, will one day be saved. This was not what Paul believed. “Universal restorationism” was not a part of Paul’s theology, for he definitely taught that sinners needed to believe in Jesus Christ to be saved (2 Thessalonians 1).
To Be Continued