Tuesday

14 August 2018

Colossians 1:15-20

“and through him God was pleased to reconcile himself to all things” (v. 20)

Psalm: Psalm 119:65-80


Background

In this letter, Paul writes on behalf of himself and Timothy. He is writing to the church at Colossae. He has received reports from the minister who first introduced the gospel, and wants to correct some practices in the church. Epaphras, the minister, reported that the church has thrived and grown. However, he also revealed that the church had adopted what Paul would consider unnecessarily stringent food restrictions and ritual, and other practices of ascetic living.

In today’s passage, Paul set out a synopsis of Jesus’ relation to God the creator, to all creation and history, and to the Church. He reinforces that it is Jesus who is the head of the Church. No human teacher or leader can claim to be head of a church. Further, Paul makes clear that all things are involved in God’s creation. Nothing, in heaven or earth, is not created by God and thus Jesus. Crucially this means that the reconciling effect of Jesus’ death and resurrection has made all of creation holy.

By this underlying argument, Paul will prove that all things are included in God’s redemption. Because nothing is unclean, there is no salvation in keeping stringent rules or dietary laws. Nothing is separated or outside of God’s power. There is no need for secret knowledge, Jesus is present in all creation and all of earth and heaven.

These statements may seem very lofty and abstract. However, they are about the common ordinary stuff of life! Because of what Jesus has done, Paul argues, all things are at peace with or reconciled to God. This will mean Christians live in the midst of ordinary life, not withdrawn from it in a special world of their own.


To Ponder

  • What does it mean to you that all things are reconciled to God?
  • Why do you think some communities find it beneficial to set themselves apart by special practices?
  • How do you think the Colossian church might have received this letter?

Bible notes author

The Revd Dr Jennifer Smith

Revd Dr Jennifer Smith is a Methodist minister and superintendent of Wesley's Chapel in London. Though resident in the UK since 1993, she is a US citizen and continues to observe US political and religious culture with interest.