"In Whom all things are to be reconciled to God" Page 1 of 2 (series: Lessons on Colossians)
by John Lowe
Title: IIB5― In Whom all things are to be reconciled to God ―Colossians 1:20
• “Special Notes” and “Scripture” follow related verses.
• NIV Bible is used throughout unless noted otherwise.
Colossians 1:20 (NIV)
(Text) 1:20: “And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the Cross.”
(1:20) “And through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the Cross.”
“And through him to reconcile to himself all things,” means that by His paying the penalty on the Cross for your sin and my sin, peace has been made between God and the sinner. The Cross made peace with God possible. God’s message for today is “I have already borne the punishment; I have already paid the penalty for all our sin. I want you to know that you can come to Me. Peace has already been made in Christ Jesus, if you will just turn and come to Me.”
This is what Paul meant when he wrote, “Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ” (Romans 5:1). Peace has been made through the blood of His Cross. Paul puts forgiveness of sin right alongside the blood of His Cross. God can forgive because the penalty has already been paid. Jesus paid that penalty through the blood of His Cross; therefore a righteous God can forgive you. God is not a disagreeable neighbor who is waiting around the corner to pounce on the sinner and to find fault with him. God has His arms outstretched and is saying, “Come, and I will give you redemption rest.”
“Through him to reconcile to himself all things.”
Reconciliation is toward man; redemption is toward God. God is saying to all men today, “I am reconciled to you. Now will you be reconciled to Me?” That is a decision a man must make.
Paul explains this very clearly in his letter to the Corinthians.
“18 All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: 19 that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. 20 We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.” (2 Corinthians 5:18-20)
A lot of people today have the idea that a man must do something to win God over to Him. My friend, God is trying to win you over―the shoe is on the other foot. God is reconciled. He is asking man to be reconciled to Him.
What are the “all things”? We will see that it is limited to all things that are to be reconciled, those who are appointed for reconciliation; good angels and redeemed people; since only things on earth and things in heaven are mentioned. “Things under the earth” (Philippians 2:103) are not reconciled. It is important to note that people are reconciled to God (“to Himself”) not that God is reconciled to people. For mankind has left God and needs to be brought back to Him.
Maybe it would help us if we look at Philippians 3:8 where Paul says, “What’s more, I consider everything a loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord, for whose sake I have lost all things. I consider them garbage, that I may gain Christ.” What are the “all things” here? Does Paul include everything in the whole world? No, it refers to all the things that Paul had to lose. In the previous verses Paul had enumerated all the religious pluses which he had had in his life. It is all these things which Paul counted for loss. Paul couldn’t lose something that he didn’t have.
Peace with God comes when we have been reconciled to Him, but how can a person become reconciled to a holy God, who always operates on the principle that everyone must receive “justice.” Reconciliation is achieved through a process that has been dubbed “justification2.” The Greek word is dikaioo, which means “to acquit” “to vindicate,” or “to pronounce righteous.” The early church rejoiced that God pronounced righteous all those who believed in Jesus: “Through him everyone who believes is set free from every sin, a justification you were not able to obtain under the law of Moses” (Acts 13:39).
Paul begins his argument in Romans by showing that no human being is righteous in God’s sight (Romans 1-3). Since all are sinners, salvation can come only if God acts to justify—to pronounce sinners righteous. Romans 3:21-31 announces a “righteousness from God” that is given freely, and received by faith in Christ Jesus. Paul shows that the substitutionary death of Jesus provided a basis on which God can make this judicial pronouncement. Since human beings always fall short of the divine standard of righteousness, humanities only hope is a righteousness that comes apart from human actions.
“Whether things on earth or things in heaven,”
You will notice that Paul limits the “things” that are appointed to reconciliation―he doesn’t mention things under the earth. In Ephesians 1:22 it says, “And God placed all things under his feet and appointed him to be head over everything for the church.” What are the “all things” that are going to be put under His feet”? Well, in Philippians Paul wrote, “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth” (Philippians 2:10). Notice that all things are going to acknowledge the lordship of Jesus Christ―all things in heaven, in earth, and under the earth thus denotes everything in God’s universe. That doesn’t mean that they are all reconciled. Paul doesn’t mention things under the earth being reconciled to God.
One must be careful not to interpret this in such a way as to make it contradict the clear teachings of other Scriptures. Apart from personal trust in Christ there is no salvation. Our Lord, in fact, spoke of the unrepentant as going away into “eternal punishment” (Matthew 25:46). We should therefore understand this statement to be a reference to the cosmic significance of Christ’s work, the thought being similar to, but not identical with, that of Romans 8:19-224. There the general sense is that the dishonor that has characterized creation will be done away and divine harmony restored. Here perhaps the main idea is that all things eventually are to be decisively subdued to God’s will and made to serve his purposes.
Dear friends, don’t listen to the deception that is around today, the siren song, that all is going to work out well. Don’t think you can depend on God being nice and sweet and pleasant like a little old lady. Things in heaven and in earth are reconciled to God, but not the things under the earth. The things under the earth will have to bow to Him, but they are not reconciled to Him at all. This is the place and this is the life in which we need to be reconciled to God.
“Things in heaven”―not only must we be made ready for heaven, but heaven must be made ready to receive us. The Lord Jesus said, “My Father's house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you?” (John 14:2). By the incarnation God came down to man; by the blood of Jesus man is brought up to God. This blood also purifies things in heaven according to Hebrews 9:23-241. Heaven must also be reconciled.
“By making peace through his blood,”
To make “peace through His blood” means to cause God’s enemies (Romans 5:105; Colossians 1:21) to become by faith, His friends and His children (Ephesians 2:11-19).
Just before His ascension, Jesus said to His disciples, “Peace I leave with you; my peace I give you. I do not give to you as the world gives. Do not let your hearts be troubled and do not be afraid.” (John 14:27). It was the Lord who “filleth all in all” who spoke these words. The peace Jesus purchased at the tremendous price of His blood certainly applies to the individual—the sinner saved by grace; but it goes much deeper and reaches much, much further than the redemption of the individual. When we study the Word of God and search the Scriptures, we don’t need to wonder at the far reaching results, yea, and the infinite results— of the death of the Lord Jesus Christ.