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.

16 thoughts on “God has Reconciled Us – Colossians 1:22

  1. Reblogged this on James' Ramblings and commented:
    Good study on reconciliation, and how that concept in Christianity may have contrasted with Greek religion.

  2. 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.

  3. 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).

  4. 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.

  5. 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.

  6. 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!

  7. 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.

  8. This new state of being looks different in every single person, but there are a few things that remain constant. For example, God will fill up the new believer with the Holy Spirit so that they are always with God. Once you receive Christ, Paul calls his disciples to walk in Christ and to be rooted in Christ so that Christ can build them up. He asks them to remain strong in their faith as they had been taught by their elders (Colossians 2:6-7; Longenecker & Todd, 2014, 225). For us, there is always a list of unspoken rules as well as the lists of some written rules that the leaders of your church use to describe what God does in us. Some will say that we are a new creation from the moment we accept Christ and others will say that the process has started when we accept Christ. Some people will always doubt whether God really brought you out of your past, while others will simply wait for when you “go back” to the things from your past. Although we love to hear how God transformed someone’s life, we have a hard time being part of the process as God transforms someone gradually. Nevertheless, when we receive Christ, we are righteous due to what Jesus has already done. Since God has qualified us through his blood, Paul gives the reminder that no one can disqualify us (Colossians 2:16). Longenecker summarizes Colossians with this statement, “Christ is all, and is in all”, (Longenecker & Todd, 2014, 224). The philosophy is self-explanatory and fully encompasses the message that Paul is giving to the Colossians.
    Similar to the post, before we are reconciled to Christ, we are separate from God (Long 2019). We have also been taught that sin itself is an act of separation from God so when we are saved, we should experience an intimate relationship with God similar to the one Adam and Eve enjoyed in the garden of Eden. Colossians 3, Paul shows the reader how this can be done. He asks that our thoughts be transformed into things from above and not on earthly things (3:2). He mentions also to set aside sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness (3:4) as ways to grow your spiritual self. He also proceeds to mention things that we often consider smaller sins such as anger, pride, unforgiveness, and so many others that also affect growth. Finally, Paul asks that the believers be filled with the peace of God and that they let the Holy Spirit teach them (Colossians 3 ESVSB). Ultimately, Paul is after the inward transformation that later becomes manifested in outward services.

  9. Colossians is full of ways that we are to live out our lives, now that we have been reconciled through Christ. Colossians 2:6 tells us to “continue to live your lives in him” and continue to strengthen our faiths as we do so. This means that we must live our lives for God and continuously strive to do the things that he would want us to do – not the things that the world wants us to do. Colossians 2:20-23 goes more into detail about how we can do this, telling us that since we no longer belong to this world but belong to Christ, we should not conform to the “rules” of the world. This does not mean that we can go around doing whatever we want. However, it does tell us that we should not live our lives based on “human commands and teaching” (v. 21). Instead, we should live our lives based on God’s commands and teachings, which come from the Bible. We should live a life that follows God’s word and obeys His commands, and we shouldn’t focus on the things that the world tells us are right or wrong. This could be anything from what you can or can’t eat, to what you can and can’t do. Colossians 3:5 tell us to “Put to death… whatever belongs to your earthly nature”. In all situations, we should base our decisions on what God’s word says and set our “hearts on things above” (3:1), and not focus on what the world or our earthly bodies tell us to do.

  10. An important theme that occurs in the book of Colossians is the theme of reconciliation. Longenecker and Still assert, “God has enabled them to be holy in sight, without blemish, and free from accusation” (Longencecker & Still, 2014, p. 228). When it comes down to it, Paul’s hope is that the Colossae church would feel empowered by the Holy Spirt to spread such a message in their community. At the same time, this information clearly illustrates that reconciliation is meant to bring people closer to God, which occurred during the book of Colossians. However, the message being presented in Colossians 1:22 is a clear indication that reconciliation is meant to be part of the process of being a mature believer. Ultimately, such a message is consistent in Paul’s letters, as he expresses the need to forgive as Christ did in Ephesians 4:23 and Colossians 3:13 (NIV). In essence, Paul’s take on the importance of reconciliation demonstrates that Christians should follow the model of Christ. Moreover, reconciliation in a Christian context means that one should always stand humbly before the Lord, and maintain their integrity and commitment on a daily basis. At the end of the day, Paul stresses this concept in his letter because of the coming of Jesus Christ.

  11. After examining the book of Colossians there are many prominent aspects and elements that are at the forefront of this book. However, one of the most important things that Paul really exemplifies within this letter to the individuals in Colossae is that of reconciliation. Reconciliation is a pivotal part of spiritual growth because it is that sense of forgiveness and restoration of a relationship. Therefore, reconciliation within the Bible is just that restoring of a relationship between you and God through the element of His forgiveness (Colossians 3:13). By God being able to forgive individuals who might have strayed away or have broken ties with Him in terms of a relationship it gives us that sense of relief when we know we are being restored. Ultimately God frees us from any accusations or occurances in which we have been driven away from Him (Longenecker, pg. 228). However, a big facet that we must realize as followers of Christ is the fact that that sense of forgiveness is generated because of God sending Jesus Christ to die for our sins. Because as we were once all enemies of God, that identity was washed away due to God sending Jesus to die on the cross for us. That facet of our journey within Christ describes not only the role of reconciliation within our lives that God provides, but that essense of peace within our spiritual lives. Being able to know that we are saved by God’s grace through that of reconciliation is what brings us closer to God ultimately. Thus, through reconciliation we get to see the love that God has for us first hand.

  12. Colossians emphasizes greatly that we are to put to death our sinful, earthly nature and put on the mind of Christ (Colossians 3:5). For those who once were enemies and now have been saved by Jesus Christ, it is important for them to understand the reconciliation process of their salvation. Longenecker explains that the Colossians have been “brought to fullness in life” because of Christ (228). Once one understand their acts of nature that is not of God, they are able to strip themselves of the old pathways, the old lifestyles, the old actions, and begin to build up a relationship with Christ. Paul shows the effects of what it is like when you are living a renewed lifestyle. Yet, of course, it is not you who has the strength to transform yourself, but that is the job of the Holy Spirit to convict and show the believer the correct path to righteousness and holiness. We are continually being renewed by the Spirit, to become more like the image of God (Colossians 3:10).
    Paul also discusses what it’s like to live in a Christian household and how we are to submit to one another as it pleases the Lord (Longenecker 231). It is important to use Colossians as a way to live out our Christian faith, and truly grasp what it looks like to be reconciled back with God, living a life that is “worthy of and pleasing to God” (Longenecker 227).

  13. This concept of reconciliation with God is so vital to our faith, so wonderous, yet so alien to the Greco-Roman religious mindset. Furthermore, it is not just that we are capable of being reconciled with God, but that God, because of His love for us, did all of the heavy lifting for us. And the timing is key. Verse 21 gives a good description of how humanity was when Christ died, before being reconciled. Not only were we alien and committing evil deeds, but we were “hostile in mind” toward God. I also like how Romans 5:6-8 puts it. We, the ungodly, were helpless (v. 6), hesitant to lay our own lives down even for those who would seem to deserve it (v. 7). So, God sent Christ to die for us when we most definitely did not deserve it (v. 8). God is not interested in following our logic of only being willing to sacrifice ourselves for those who are worthy. Instead, Christ died for sinners who were directly opposed and hostile towards Him. And all this so that we could be made blameless (Col. 1:22) and could be reconciled to Him. How great is His love for us!

  14. Colossians 1:22 gives us an illustration of how Christ fulfills every aspect of atonement found in Leviticus 16 and how He has reconciled us, presenting us blameless and above reproach. P. Long provides cultural background along with a deeper understanding of the Greek language. P. Long clearly demonstrates the analogy of estrangement which than he helps us understand by giving an example of a marriage in which instead of divorce the couple reconciles. Colossians 1:22 is a passage that clearly lays out the love God has for us which is beyond imagination. God Himself provides the avenue by which we are saved. In reference to how we now live out this new state of reconciliation with Christ can be found especially in Colossians 3:5 which states that we ought to put to death sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness. All these things Paul tells us to live out as we are reconciled in Christ. To put this as application in the life of individuals has endless possibilities. But certainly, living out our reconciliation with Christ and applying Colossians 3:5 may include application such as being sexually pure in all aspects, waiting till marriage. Being pure in our minds, language, and living, putting all selfish passions aside, and seeking not to do evil but instead to do good.

  15. Reconciliation is received through Jesus Christ to God. Before we come to God, we are alienated from him. When we come together we get that reconciliation with not only God but other people as well. When there is no reconciliation, especially in the church, it takes away from the power of unity. Professor Long wrote “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.” (Long, 2019) Reconciliation is something that we get to experience when we accept Christ. God reconciles us. We are born sinners and we need this from God because this causes people to put up those walls to even know God. How did we get reconciled though? God sent his only son Christ to die on the cross for all of us and our sins. 1 Corinthians 12:13 goes to show that Paul is explaining that all people will become brothers and sisters of Christ once we accept Him. It doesn’t matter who we are. Longenecker states “Positively, Paul instructs the recipients to live out their new life as “God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved” (3:12).” (Longenecker, 231) This is what life is like after we agree to know God as our savior. Since God brings peace, reconciliation with other people will become more evident and easier. Paul goes to show the new life we are brought once we commit to God. Colossians 3:10 explains that as Christians we are always becoming renewed through the Spirit so that we can live more in an image of God. I feel like the book of Colossians is a great example of how to live out your life to be more pleasing to God.

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