Peter Misselbrook's Blog
Apr 29 2020 - Colossians 1:1-23 – The reconciliation of all things

The church at Colossae was founded as a spin-off from Paul’s ministry at Ephesus. Epaphras, a native of Colossae, seems to have joined Paul’s ministry team (see Colossians 4:10-15). He took the message of Jesus Christ back to his home town of Colossae and it would seem to be primarily through his ministry that a church was formed at Colossae (1:7) – and probably the church in Laodicea and perhaps also Hierapolis (4:13).

Having heard how these folk in Colossae responded to the message preached to them, Paul gives thanks to God for their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and their love for all God’s people streaming from the hope they have in Christ. This is what is happening, says Paul, all over the world: as the good news about Jesus is preached, the message is bearing fruit in changed lives; people are brought out of the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of God’s much loved Son.

Paul wants these Christians at Colossae to capture the vision for what God is doing throughout the world. So, in 1:15-20, he paints a dramatic picture of God's cosmic purposes in the Lord Jesus Christ, purposes which have embraced them and which now embrace us.

Jesus, God's Son, is the "image of the invisible God" (1:15); he is the one in whom the character and purposes of God are most clearly and fully revealed (see also 1:19). He is the "firstborn over all creation"; he is heir to all creation – the one to whom it all belongs – for all things, in heaven and earth, were created by him and for him (1:16).

But the whole of creation has been deeply affected by sin; it is in rebellion against God; it is marked by alienation, disintegration and death. Jesus came into the world that he had made in order to bring it back to God. He suffered the death of a dying cosmos. In a manner that defies our present understanding, his death has reconciled God and his world – it has brought peace (1:20). His resurrection from the dead restored Jesus to the place of supremacy over the whole universe (1:18). He is the one in whom all things in heaven and earth are being put back together – reintegrated (1:17) – and are being brought again under the dominion of God their creator.

This is the big picture of what God is doing in Christ. And this process of reconciliation, submission and reintegration is being accomplished now in and through the church, the body of which Jesus Christ is the head (1:18). We are a foretaste and anticipation of that day when all things shall be made new. We are the prototype of the new creation – a people “rescued from the dominion of darkness and brought into the kingdom of the Son he loves”; a people who are “qualified … to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (1:13, 12). We are God's demonstration to the world, and to all spiritual authorities, of what his restored creation shall be like.

I find this vision tremendously exciting, but also both challenging and disturbing. Is the glory of God’s new creation in Christ being displayed clearly in us, a reconciled and reintegrated people? Are we truly the symbol of hope for the world?

Father God, we thank you for all that you are doing by your Spirit to rescue this world from the dominion of darkness and bring it under the dominion of your much loved Son. We bow the knee to the Jesus whom you have set as Lord over the whole universe. May something more of his resurrection glory be seen in us, his reconciled people, his new creation. Enlarge our vision and empower our testimony that many others may be drawn to bow the knee to the Lord Jesus Christ through our joyful and awe-filled testimony.

Peter Misselbrook