God has Reconciled Us (Colossians 1:22)

Colossians 1:22 begins with “but now” (νυνὶ δὲ). These are two very important words in the Greek, indicating an important contrast. The contrast is between time when we were enemies of God and the present time when we have experienced reconciliation with God. Reconciliation means the relationship is fixed, walls that existed between the two parties are torn down, and that they can now go about the business of building that relationship.

God has reconciled us through the death of Jesus. The basic idea behind reconciliation (καταλλαγή, καταλλάσσω) is the restoration of friendship between two estranged parties. This assumes an offense has separated two parties (political, social, familial, or moral, TLNT 2:263). In non-biblical Greek the word is virtually never used in religious sense primarily because the relationship between the gods and men is not personal. For most of the Greco-Roman world, worship appeased the gods, so a form of ἱλαστήριον (propitiation) would be used.

Josephus reflects the same usage of reconciliation. He uses the related term διαλλάσσομαι for a political agreement between Archelaus and Alexander (the son of Aristobulus) and Herod the Great. After a political arrangement is made, including due honors and gifts, the estranged parties entered into a formal friendship and they “spent their time feasting and agreeable entertainments” (War 1.513, 514).  In this example, Herod is in a far superior political position, but he honors Archelaus with great gifts in order to preserve the dignity of all parties.

Unlike secular Greek, Josephus uses καταλλάσσω in a religious sense.  In the context of the story of the twelve spies, Moses sought to reconcile God and the people (Ant. 3:315, using the noun.)  Similarly, when Saul offended God by sparing the Amalekites (Ant. 6:143), Samuel prays that God “be reconciled” to Saul (using a passive infinitive).

Returning to the earlier analogy of estrangement, the opposite of an estranged relationship is an reconciliation.  Rather than a divorce, the married couple overcomes their differences and has decided to remain married, they have reconciled their differences. God saw that we would not turn to him, so he had to provide the method of reconciliation himself.   Because the cause of the estrangement was our sin, and the fact that we could not pay for it ourselves.

God therefore provided a way for the debt of sin to be paid. He sent his own son to be killed as an atoning sacrifice so the problem of sin could be permanently solved, once for all.

Paul therefore describes a new state of being for the one who is in Christ. If this is the case and those who were once enemies have now been reconciled through the Cross, what are some implications for how we live out this in Christ life? Paul answers this in the second half of Colossians.

19 thoughts on “God has Reconciled Us (Colossians 1:22)

  1. In Colossians 1:20-21, Paul tells us that Christ reconciled us to God. For me personally when I read this I think of the relationship we had with God before Christ. For us to need reconciliation, it must mean that our relationship with God was broken. So we needed Christ to step in. our relationship with God was broken through sin and we were divided from him, since God is holy. Romans 5:10 states that we were once the enemies of God. However when Christ gave up his life on the cross, he washed our sins away. We no longer are enemies of God, we find peace in God, forgiveness and grace. In John 15:15 it says that “no longer do I call you servants, for the servant does not know what his master is doing; but I have called you friends, for all that I have heard from my Father I have made known to you”. God no longer called us servants, instead he calls us friends because of Jesus. Because of our sins we were against God but now we have found peace. Paul tells us in Philippians that peace surpasses all understanding. That is the kind of peace we have with God now.

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  2. You said it yourself. Paul answers how we are supposed to live out being transformed and reconciled through the cross in the second half of Colossians. In my Bible the heading over the first half of Colossians 3 says this: “Living as Those Made Alive in Christ.” Paul encourages the church in Colossae to “set their minds on things above” (v. 2) and to “put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature” (v. 5). They and we are to drop all kinds of idolatry from our daily lives and stop having “…anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language” (v. 8).We need to do this because we are all equal because of what Christ did on the cross. Christ is all, and is in all. When we take those things off, we are to put on compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience, being forgiving and most importantly, doing it with love. We would do well to follow just a few of these precepts; our lives would be so much improved. TTP points out that Paul puts the humility Christians are supposed to have up against the false humility that the philosophers have with their seemingly wise regulations (TTP 231).

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  3. From what we were kind of told in the post is that, when something needs to be reconciled there has to be a part of something that is broken. We were told in Col. 1:20-21 that we were reconciled through Christ. Christ is the person that mended the bad that we had done to hurt our relationship with Christ. We are the ones the torn a whole in our relationship with Christ, and he is the one who fixed it for us. Before we came to Christ we were against God and what he was doing in our lives, because of the sin that was in it. But with Christ in us and our faith in him, we are able to grow in our relationship with Christ. We should have peace in Christ and the works that he will be doing in our life.

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  4. Colossians 3 has a lot to say about how we ought to live as Christians. It tells us in verse 2 of the NIV version, that we should set our minds on things from above, rather than the things of this earth. Some examples of things that we should focus on are: obeying our parents, avoid sexual immorality, ridding ourselves of anger and rage, and many more are written in verses 3:2-4:6. Some further instructions that we are given include prayer and thanksgiving. Also letting our conversations be filled with grace and being ready to give an answer to everyone about the faith we have.

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  5. On chapter 3, Paul gives instructions to live according to the life that Christ wants us to live. The chapter is called “Put On The New Self”, which is pretty much a change of living style. A transformation from the old to the new.

    He says – “If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” (vs 1)
    Then he keeps – “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.” (vs 2)

    What things? Everything that is the opposite of what he says:
    – “sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” (vs 5b)
    – “anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.” (vs 7b)
    – “Do not lie to one another”. (vs 9a)

    The conclusion that can be drawn from this, is that that Paul urges the church to focus and to “put” on their new selves are “compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience” (vs 12b).
    Things that come from God, and not from the world.

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    • I love that these things seemingly result from our unity in Christ. For example, when we put on or “clothe” ourselves in that righteousness believing first that God has counted us an innocent and pure before his throne, the rest seems to fall into place. Take care of the majors and the minors will eventually take care of themselves.

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  6. One of the easiest ways to answer this questions stems from what I believe to be the “center” of Paul’s theology; being one with Christ. in Colossians 3 Paul has this to say; “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” This is one of my favorite passages of scripture because it describes the whole of what living out faith in God looks like. Our posture of upward living eventually branches out to inward and outward living as well, reaching others and changing our hearts. As far as the element of reconciliation is concerned I like what was said in the post; “Rather than a divorce, the married couple overcomes their differences and has decided to remain married, they have reconciled their differences.” I have never thought about it that way. It truly seems to be an act of mending that which has been broken.

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  7. This post draws for me great implications about marriage. Like the analogy drawn about the married couple who’s relationship was headed toward the drain. They could not save themselves, they were estranged. God himself was estranged from us when we were dead in our trespasses. What get’s me is that God did not divorce mankind, but saved the relationship, ‘through the death of his Son, Jesus Christ’. It taught me an invaluable lesson, and a new dimension of God’s grace.

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  8. In Col. 4 Paul instructs us to pray. It is something that most Christians have a difficult time doing. Not because its hard or confusing, but because most times, we just don’t think about taking time out of our busy day to talk to God. & I’m not talking about when we pray before we eat or right before bed. I’m talking about any time of the day. To have that personal relationship we need to make time. Not just when it’s convenient. If you drive often, you can take the time to talk to God in your car. 1 challenge that I heard of was that on your way to work & back home, turn the radio off, don’t talk on your phone, & talk to God during that time. This is 1 way that Paul says how we should live reconciled.

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  9. Because I am mildly interested in Greek mythology, I found the reference to the relationship mentioned between the Greek gods and the humans who worshiped them to be very interesting. The gods were always pictured as being far above the humans worshiping them, except when they would come down to have affairs with humans, which I suppose was quite often, but still, they were not personal in regard to worship. As was stated above in the blog, sacrifices were made to appease them, but the relationship between the true God and His people is far different: we worship Him and are able to love both God and others because He first loved us! (1 John 4:9). He is a personal God who genuinely cares about His people, which I believe holds major implications for how we ought to live as Christians. According to Longenecker in reference to Colossians 1:10-12, it means we ought to “bear fruit, grow in the knowledge of God, be strengthened, and give joyful thanks to the Father” (227). God is personal and cares about His people, so our lives should reflect the desire of our Father.

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  10. I agree completely with what Adam said above. Other gods in our history have been about how well you can worship those gods. If you do not worship them well enough than you failed. Our God is completely different when it comes to worship. We worship Him because He is holy and all powerful no matter how much we worship him. He will never change no matter how many people are following Him. Just like you said in the blog, God reconciled himself because he knew we would turn away from Him. “Im commenting upon Colossians 1:17, H. G. C. Moule made this memorable remark, ‘Christ keeps the cosmos from becoming a chaos.” (TTP 228). God asks us to be just like Him. We have to be friends with our enemies and love our neighbors. Other gods tell us to focus completely on worshiping that god. Christ is about loving Him, the church, and others. That is why reconciliation is so important.

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  11. Rachel Smith

    “Paul therefore describes a new state of being for the one who is in Christ. If this is the case and those who were once enemies have now been reconciled through the Cross, what are some implications for how we live out this in Christ life?” (Long, blog – God has Reconciled Us (Colossians 1:22). Paul gives many instructions to the Colossians about to live in Christ. His instructions include: being thankful, putting to death deeds of earthly nature, being compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient and forgiving, working with all their hearts as working for the Lord. Paul encourages the Colossians to be wise with how they act toward outsiders; he encourages them to make the most of every opportunity with outsiders. These instructions apply to us as the Church the Body of Christ today. To live in Christ, we need to honor God with our actions; we need to be thankful, compassionate, kind, humble, gentle, patient, and forgiving. We need to put to death the earthly deeds of the body; specifically the earthly nature that sins profusely and leads us away from God. Cf. Colossians 3.

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  12. I really appreciate seeing the different ways gods were looked at. We are so blessed to have a relationship with God. It is sad to me that the Greeks felt like they are on a completely different spectrum, where we know we were made in His image. I have only really heard reconcile in the Christian community, so it was extremely interesting to me to hear about it in the secular sense. As we strengthen our relationship with God, we are honoring the fact that he gave us the opportunity to have a relationship with him. He made a huge sacrifice, just so we can have a reconciled relationship with God.

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  13. Paul challenged the Colossians to live in a way that would set them apart from the world. “Paul enjoins the assembly to “put to death” that which is earthly or unholy” (TTP 230). Paul wanting the Colossians to live differently also included the “household table or code.” There are instructions for how husbands should love their wives and children, etc. The terms “submission” or “obey” also some up in this passage. Many people view submission negatively or with a sense of guilt.
    For example, if a woman is unable to submit to God in her singleness, then she won’t be able to submit to her husband in marriage. So many women are afraid to let go and submit, when it is God’s protection over our hearts.
    “Christ’s holy and loving lordship was to be operative in every nook and cranny of the Colossians’ lives, including home life” (TTP 231).

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  14. Very interesting that the term reconcile is not used in any other way in Roman culture, especially in a religious sense or political sense! That emphasizes the personhood of our God, that He is personal and personable to us and cares about us individually as well as collectively. I think there is direct relation from forgiveness to reconciliation because in order to make peace and harmony between two people, forgiveness in both parties has to happen. Of course, this is humanly speaking, most of the time, both parties have to forgive. In God’s case, He did nothing in which he needs to ask forgiveness. Instead, he forgives us when we ask for forgiveness and repent. This brings reconciliation and harmony between us and God. It is a horrible feeling when there is brokenness between two people, especially when you know what you did was wrong. Brokenness causes separation and disunity. The only way to mend it is to confront it. Often we don’t want to confront our own sin, which puts off our reconciliation with God because we are afraid to admit our brokenness. Fortunately, we have a God of empathy and forgiveness, a God of unconditional love for his children. Praise Him that we don’t have to live a life of bondage to disunity and brokenness, but we can be united and at peace with God!

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  15. I found it interesting that the word reconciliation is never found in Greco-Roman culture. You point out that this meant they were not personal gods or at least they weren’t personal with them. This would further support that these gods were their idols because they could do no wrong in their own sight. These gods, for the most part, were made from their own desires and turned (desensitized?) them from the one true God (Rom. 1:18-32). They could not trespass against the gods. But they did sin against the Lord. Romans 1 says they were without excuse in acknowledging God as God and not an image they made. The insight of Colossians brings truth in what Christ has done and that is He has “reconciled you to himself through the death of Christ in his physical body” (Col. 1:22).

    Later in the letter, Paul says to “Make allowance for each other’s faults, and forgive anyone who offends you. Remember the Lord forgave you, so you must forgive others” (3:13). I think this is a good example of the attitude of reconciliation amongst your peers looks like. Carrying a willing attitude to forgive and be reconciled with them. unwillingness to do any of these will keep the person broken and stagnant.

    Thinking Through Paul mentions that “The Lord Christ turns foes into friends by means of his reconciling and life-giving death” (Longenecker 228). I think that summarizes this topic well. We were enemies of God and Christ came to reconcile us and allow us to be friends with God once again.

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  16. When reading the initial blog post, my mind continued to dwell on the participation of fallen human beings. To get the story straight, it occasionally helps to be told in simple terms. First, we told God we wanted nothing to do with him–almost as a moody teenage girl raises her hand while singing “talk to the hand cause the face ain’t home…” After completely turning our backs on God, God still wanted us to not be far from him–living in utter desperation. Sadly, since we caused the separation and as Plong stated “could not pay for it ourselves,” God had to bring us back to him. Talk about us being selfish–simply sitting there while God did all the work.

    I highly enjoy how Longenecker points out “The recipients are responsible, however, for continuing in the faith and for holding to the hope of the gospel” (TTP 228). Even as a senior in college, I find the balance between understanding that God offers grace while still understanding that it is typically my fault that I do not feel close to God, incredibly challenging. God has done all the work we could ever ask for. Now, it is our responsibility to “live as those made alive in Christ by setting our hearts on things above” (Col 3). This simple instruction is a wonderful reminder of how easy it is for humans to complicate the love of Christ.

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