The Son (1:14-22)

(the Son)

--His redemption

Paul's thankful prayer unto the Father does not end with the Son in 1:13. In fact, his prayer continues with “in Christ” in 1:14 and then he puts the focus on the Son all the way through. In C 1:14, he says in whom (the Son) we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. In E 1:7, the wording is identical: in whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his (God’s) grace”. In Ephesians, Paul at the beginning of his thanksgiving prayer, he says that the Father “hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ. (E 1:3) All our spiritual blessings befall us only when we are “in Christ”. We, the sinners or the slaves of sin, are redeemed (purchased) with a high price, the precious blood of Christ. He exchanged his life for our lives to save us from the power of sin and death.

--His nature and status

Then Paul describes the nature of Christ. He is “the image of the invisible God, the first-born of every creature. For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers; all things were created by him and for him. And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” (1:15-17) Paul stresses in this statement that Christ is the first of everything. However, that doesn’t mean that He is the first creature created by God. In John 1:1-3, John also describes the Son’s relationship with the creation: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made.” The fact that “the Word was God” rejects the idea that he belongs to the creation. Since he was there before everything was created, therefore, “he is before all things”. (1:17) The reason why Paul mentions Christ’s nature of having the power of creation in Colossians is that he wants to point out the fact that Christ is superior over the angels who are among His creation (“by him were all things created, that are in heaven”, 1:16). There are those among the Colossians that may have believed in the cult religion which promotes the “worshipping of angels” (2:18). Some of the cults in early church times claim that Christ is somewhere between God and angels in terms of nature and status and came upon the human Jesus when Jesus was alive. Some might simply believe that Christ is one of the angels. Therefore, to clarify all these confused messages, the author of Hebrews also uses a large section right at the beginning to emphasize the Son’s superior status over the angels. He uses a similar message to describe the Son’s deity. In Heb 1:2-4, he says, “…His Son, whom He hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also He made the worlds, who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholding all things by the word of his power…being made so much better than the angels…” Then he quoted psalms to prove his point that the Son is superior over the angels. (Heb 1:5-14) We do not see Paul making this clarification in Ephesians.

Now, in Colossians, Paul also describes the superior status of the Son after his resurrection. “And he is the head of the body, the church, who is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell.” (1:18-19). In Ephesians, instead of emphasizing the Son’s power of creation, Paul also stresses the superior status of the Son after his resurrection: “…when He raised him from the dead, and set him at His own right hand in the heavenly places, far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion…and hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him that filleth all in all.” (E 1:20-23) It is God’s divine plan and ultimate purpose that “in the dispensation of the fullness of times He might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth, even in him.” (E 1:10) When everything is unified in Christ and subject to His dominion, that’s the moment when all fullness dwells in him. The author of Hebrews also quotes Psalm 8 to point out this eternal purpose of God: “Thou hast put all things in subjection under his feet.” (Heb 2:8)

--His sacrifice and its effect

Paul then speaks of the Son’s sacrifice and its meaning: “having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself. (1:20) The concept of Christ’s making peace of reconciliation is spoken in E 2:14-16 where Paul stresses the unification of Jews and Gentiles in Christ: “For he is our peace, who hath made both one…for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace. And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross.

The effect of reconciliation is a process of sanctification (cleaning away sin). Paul speaks of our past status as a sinner, our present status as a reconciled (sin-forgiven) child of God, and our future status as a holy saint without sin. “And you, that were sometime alienated (「與神隔絕」) and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight.” (1:21-22)

[our past status]

In Ephesians, Paul spends a great deal describing our past status as a sinner in Chapter 2. He said that we “were dead in trespasses and sins…we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind and were by nature the children of wrath”. (E 2:1,3) In C 2:13, Paul also describes our past status, which is very close to what is described here in E 2:5, “Even when we were dead in sins. C 2:13 says, “And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh.” In E 2:11, Paul describes our past status as “who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands”. He continued, “at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world.” (E 2:12) Hence, the Colossians in the past were uncircumcised Gentiles who were alienated from God and had no promise of inheritance, since they were not in Christ.

[our present status]

In Ephesians, Paul describes our present status as one who is resurrected like Christ and one who can access God: “even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, by grace ye are saved, and hath raised us up together…” “But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ…for through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.” (E 2:5-6,13,18) In C 2:12-13, Paul says, “buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins…, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.” In Ephesians, Paul describes our past status as “who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands”. (E 2:11) Of course, he is referring to the Jews who are circumcised on the body by human hands. In Colossians, he describes our present status as “ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ”. (2:11) In Rom 2:28-29, Paul explains the “true” circumcision as this: “For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither is that circumcision, which is outward in the flesh. But he is a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter (by law); whose praise is not of men, but of God.” Hence, we uncircumcised Gentiles have become truly circumcised and a genuine “Jew” (God’s elect), “by the circumcision of Christ” (2:11).The circumcision of Christ is made out “of the heart, in the spirit”, not by hand and in the flesh. So our present status is different in relation to the holy God. E 2:19 says, “Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God.” In E 3:6, Paul says, “the Gentiles should be fellowheirs…and partakers of his promise in Christ.”

[our future status]

As far as our future status, when Paul talks about the love of husband and wife in Ephesians, he inserts the love of Christ for the church and his ultimate desire for it:“Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it, that he might sanctify and cleanse it with the washing of water by the word, that he might present it to himself a glorious
church, not having spot, or wrinkle, or any such thing, but that it should be holy and without blemish.”
(E 5:25-27) In C 1:22, Paul says Christ is “to present you holy and unblamable and unreprovable in his sight”.