I focused last week on Paul’s prayer in Colossians 1:9-14. Paul begins his letter by praying that the Colossian church may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual understanding. Certainly, something that I desire for myself, and something that I am sure many of us seek after—to know the will of God.
But Paul goes on to pray this with a purpose in mind: he wants believers to know the will of God so that we can walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him. That’s where we pick up today.
Paul has given us a few things that help us to determine if we are living in God’s will, but now he’s going to turn his attention to showing us exactly what God’s ultimate will is. And he does this in a pretty unique way—with a hymn, a song about Jesus.
15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.” (Colossians 1:15-20)
Did you notice the logical halfway point in the passage? There are two key themes addressed, and they’re designed to be patterned after each other—if we can figure out what this pattern is, then we’re going to see a lot more in this passage than if we just read through it.
The words and the language help us to figure out where the first theme and the second theme begin—check out the phrasing of verses 15 & 18. You get the same set up—“he is the…”—and then you see a key word repeated and used in a new way—“firstborn.” These two sentences are the set ups for the themes that Paul wants to address; and because they’re so intentionally similar, you should know that Paul wants us to compare them.
Consider the themes of each half and you might notice: the first section has a lot to do with creation. The second has a lot to do with reconciliation. Reconciliation is a word that comes from the Greek katallasso—and it carries with it two important aspects that will help us to understand what’s being talked about here:
- Katallasso means to be restored to favorable or friendly relations with another after something went wrong.
- Katallasso emphasizes the restoration of a previously harmonious relationship—a partnership that was broken but is now being restored.
And here’s where you get a sense of what Paul is trying to show us: in creation, humanity was in a harmonious relationship with God, and it was in Jesus that our relationship was created and held together—but there was a break; something went wrong. And so again, in Jesus, reconciliation is taking place—restoration of that harmonious relationship with God is made possible through Christ, by the blood of his cross.
So then, what is the will of God?
That all things in creation trust in Jesus and are reunited with him. This is a glimpse into what Paul calls in Ephesians 1 the plan God set forth in Christ for the fullness of time, to unite all things in heaven and on earth in him.
Recall the question I posed last week: am I living in God’s will? At the end of the day, the answer to such an important question falls on two things.
Have you put your trust in Jesus to reconcile you with our Creator? And is your life leading others to do the same?
Interim Student Ministries Pastor