Pastor David B. Curtis

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The Responsibilities of the Reconciled

Colossians 1:21-23

01/18/2004

British Airways 2069 left Heathrow's London Airport. Everything seemed to be going quite well at first. Six hours into the flight some of the passengers were asleep, some of the reading lights were on, everyone was comfortably settled in when suddenly everyone was jarred awake by a violent dip of the airplane. They heard a scuffle up near the front, and in the cockpit there was a lot of chaos. Then, about as suddenly as the plan dipped, it had leveled out and seemed to have recovered. The problem was that a 27 year old deranged and suicidal man had rushed into the cockpit and momentarily gained control of the plane. When the pilots jumped on him, they were able to pull him away from the controls for just a moment, and then he began to punch them and pull them and even began to bite them. He regained control of the airplane, locked himself onto the controls, leaned forward and pushed the 747 into a deep and violent plunge. At this point everyone in the cabin was absolutely chaotic; people were yelling and screaming, people were praying out loud, people were writing notes to their loved ones. They were certain they were doomed as this 747 plunged toward the ground. Earlier that day a man by the name of Clark Bineham had gone to London's Heathrow and tried to get on his flight from London to Uganda but was bumped due to bad weather and got on flight 2069 going from London to Kenya. They were going to fly him from Uganda to Kenya with apologies, and to make up for it, they put him in first class. Clark said it was the first time he had ever flown in first class, and they put him two sets from the cockpit. Clark was on his way to a short-term missions trip, he was a preacher from South Carolina, and he was going to preach to a couple thousand teenagers who were assembled for a rally in Uganda. The preacher that God had redirected to this flight happened to also be six foot seven and a former athlete from Clemson. He was huge and in the prime of his life. He says in the report that he saw a very short flight attendant going to assist in the cockpit, and about that time he says he realized it was his calling to get involved. He unleashed himself from his seat belt and dove into the fray in the cockpit where everyone was fighting, and this madman was clenched to the controls of the plane. And this six foot seven preacher popped that guy out of the cockpit like a bad tooth. He literally threw him on the floor between the first couple of rows and jumped on him and with the help of his preaching partner subdued this man and had him quickly tied up by his hands. The plane in this deep descent was then regained by the pilot, who later said that if the plane would've continued at that descent for 2 or 3 more seconds he would not have been able to recover it.

What do you think the passengers thought of Clark Bineham? They thought they were doomed, but because of the intervention of a preacher from North Carolina, they had a whole new lease on life. He was their hero, they all had a sense of relief, some said they didn't sleep for days, and all they could think of was Clark Bineham.

Paul is trying to paint that kind of picture for us in Colossians chapter one, when he says the life and destiny of every single person on earth was doomed for the wrath of God had it not been for the intervention of a preacher from Nazareth. The destiny of everyone who has put his or her faith in Christ has now been radically changed.

Look how the paragraph is organized: The scope of verses 15-17 is all creation. The whole universe is in view. And the point is that Christ is preeminent over all creation, because he made it, and he holds it all together.

But then in verses 18-21 the focus shifts, and the scope is no longer the whole universe but the new creation, namely the church. Notice how verse 18 turns from creation to the church: "He is the head of the body, the church." in this context of the church, we read:

Colossians 1:20 (NKJV) and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him, whether things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace through the blood of His cross.

In these verses in Colossians, Paul is talking about the subject of God's work of reconciliation. As soon as you talk about reconciliation, you are talking about something being wrong. Suppose someone walks up to you and says, "Did you hear that so and so and so and so have reconciled?" You might say, "I didn't know there had been a problem." Why? Because reconciliation presupposes conflict, hostility, difficulty. "Made peace" means to establish harmony. Jesus put an end to the disturbed relations between God and man. He restored due relations between man and God. Before we came to trust Christ we were God's enemies because of sin. Jesus destroyed the enmity between God and man by His work on the cross.

The cross eliminates human merit, personal worth, morality, character, and religion as the hope of salvation. If we depend on our merit, works, or religion, we will be bitterly disappointed when we face God one day. Peace is made through the blood of Christ. The state of hostility between man and God cannot break down by the relative righteousness of man. Man is naturally estranged from God:

Psalms 58:3 (NKJV) The wicked are estranged from the womb; They go astray as soon as they are born, speaking lies.

Man does not have the inclination or bent to find God. God is very narrow-minded about the way to Himself. It is only through salvation in Christ (Acts 4:12). He will not accept us if we try another way. The armistice was signed in blood by the cross. No longer is there a barrier between a person who wants a relationship with God. All we need to do is trust Christ's death on the cross as sufficient payment for our sin.

Colossians 1:21 (NKJV) And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled

In our pre-salvation condition in which we were born in sin as the children of Adam, we were without hope and totally helpless to deal with our sinful condition and totally unable to establish a relationship with God.

Ephesians 2:12 (NKJV) that at that time you 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.

The focus here is on the pre-salvation condition of being gentiles who, because they were without Christ, were also strangers from the citizenship of Israel, and thus alienated from fellowship and service to God.

Ephesians 4:18 (NKJV) having their understanding darkened, being alienated from the life of God, because of the ignorance that is in them, because of the blindness of their heart;

Here Paul speaks of unbelieving gentiles as alienated from the life of God because of their ignorance; undoubtedly their ignorance of the gospel message of God's grace and salvation in Christ.

Here in Colossians 1:21, Paul links alienation with being "enemies in your mind " Of course, the alienation and enmity has to do with their relationship to God, but the connecting "and" can be understood to mean: "even enemies" In other words, "enemies" explains how the alienation expressed itself in their pre-salvation condition. "Enemies" is a plural form of the noun echthros, which speaks of a state of enmity or active hostility and opposition. This opposition is in realm of the mind. In this unsaved condition, the mind, with its unregenerate attitudes, expresses itself through "wicked works." Before salvation all men stand in opposition to God in one way or another. This is true even of religious and moral persons, no matter how godly or moral they may appear in the eyes of others, or how many good works they boast of or engage in. In reality, however, and from God's standpoint, their works are evil, because these works oppose the plan of God's grace. These works, no matter how good they appear to people, are "wicked" if those who do them stand opposed to or ignore the person and work of Christ as the source of their life and the only means of reconciliation. In that case, they stand opposed to God's grace in Christ and are His enemies, because they seek to either bypass the savoir as the means and motivation for their works, or they seek to add something to His person and work as a means of acceptance with God.

The false teachers at Colossae were advocating reconciliation between God and man through the intervention of angelic mediators and religious/human works (2:16-19) rather than by the biblical reconciliation of man to God through the person and work of Christ alone.

We see a display of this alienation from God in our society today. It is offensive for anyone to bring up God in a conversation. And if you would bring it up in the schools, you're really in trouble. You can give out condoms. You can give sexual instructions to immature, young people, but you better not mention God. Why? Because we don't take Him into account. He is not included in our thinking. Besides, we are hostile to Him. So we will tell you how to engage in evil deeds, which God says He will judge. But do not bring up God or His truth in this place. As we can see, the hostility is there.

Paul goes on in verse 21 to say, "...yet now He has reconciled" There is something in the Greek that we don't see in the English - there is an intensifier on the word "now". You once where far away from God, but now it's different ­ but now, through God's amazing grace, you've been given a new position ­ now you're not far away from God but you're in Christ. Paul wants us to catch the gravity of our plight; that we once were headed for doom, but through Christ we are headed for eternal bliss. If Christians could catch the vision of where they were headed and where they are now, it would change their whole perspective of life. It would totally transform your attitude about much of your plight if understood that you once were doomed, but you've been saved.

Colossians 1:22 (NKJV) in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight;

This verse gives us the how and why of reconciliation. How were we reconciled? By His physical body through death. This stresses a vital truth of the New Testament, namely that our salvation was accomplished through One who was nothing less than true humanity and undiminished deity united together in the person of Jesus Christ. He is the Theanthropic person, the God-man who came to restore to mankind that which Adam lost in the fall and to provide salvation to everyone who will believe in Christ as his or her savoir.

Paul emphasized the physical body of Jesus Christ that was nailed to the cross, because the false teachers denied the incarnation and taught that Jesus Christ did not have a real human body. Their philosophy that all matter was evil made it necessary for them to draw this false conclusion. But the New Testament makes it clear that Jesus did have a fully human body, and that He bore our sins on that body on the cross:

1 Peter 2:24 (NKJV) who Himself bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness; by whose stripes you were healed.

The end of verse 22 gives us the why of reconciliation: "...to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight." The purpose of God's work of reconciliation in Christ through the cross is holiness. Holiness refers to the state or quality of being holy. The fundamental idea of the Greek term for holy (hagios) is: "set apartness". The holy person, in the biblical sense, is one who is set apart to God from the world.

There is a very important interpretive question that we must answer here if we are going to understand this text: By the terms "holy, blameless, and above reproach" is Paul referring to their position or their practice? Is he talking about their standing before God or is he referring to how they live? To answer this wrongly is to cause great confusion. Notice the next verse:

Colossians 1:23 (NKJV) if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

This verse introduces a condition. In Greek, there are several ways to give conditions. You can have a first-class condition, a second-class condition, a third-class condition, a fourth-class condition. It depends on the grammatical structure. This is a first-class condition. All the conditions have an element of doubt or they wouldn't be conditions. But this condition assumes the positive, so many who comment on this would translate it for expanded understanding - "If indeed you continue in the faith, and I am confident you will."

Would it be fair to say that if you don't continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, then you won't be holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight? Absolutely! So, if we take these terms: "holy, blameless, and above reproach" as referring to our position, then our position is conditional. Does that bother any of you? It terrifies me! That would mean that Paul was saying, "You'll be saved if you keep doing certain things" That would be salvation by works. That should terrify us all!

What does "If you continue" mean? Does it mean we could lose our salvation, or does a lack of continuation mean that we were never really saved? Let's look for a moment at the doctrine of the "Perseverance of the saints." This is one of the five points of Calvinism. The acronym - Tulip- is used for the five points of Calvinism. It stands for: Total depravity, Unconditional election, Limited atonement, Irresistible grace, Perseverance of the saints.

When someone says that they believe in the perseverance of the saints, you have to find out what they mean by that, because this doctrine is interpreted in two different ways:

View 1. A true Christian will never fall away, but will live a life of holiness and obedience. They will always persevere in holiness, they will always live a holy life.

View 2. The other interpretation, which I hold to, is basically that no one whom God has brought to a saving knowledge of Jesus Christ will ever be lost. When I use the term "Perseverance of the saints," I'm speaking about what most would call "eternal security".

Many people view "if you continue in the faith" as referring to the doctrine of the "Perseverance of the saints." They view it as saying that a "true" believer will always continue on in holiness, never falling into sin.

A representative of this view is John Piper. Piper says, "Many Christians think that saving faith is only a single act (asking Jesus into your heart)." The Bible says nothing about "asking Jesus into your heart". It says, "Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ". It is believing in Christ that saves us. Piper goes on to say, "Saving faith is not a mere single act of receiving Jesus." Really? The Bible says:

John 1:12 (NKJV) But as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name:

Piper goes on to say, "Saving faith is a life of faith...The evidence of authentic saving faith is its pressing on." If this is true, what is your assurance based on your faith or your perseverance? According to him, it is based on your perseverance. How do you know you'll continue? If you stop pressing on does that mean that you were never saved? If so, at what point do you receive eternal life? According to Piper, saving faith is a process, a life long process. If this was true, the reception of eternal life would have to logically be postponed until death, because anything short of dying in faith could end with your turning away and perishing.

Listen carefully, believer, we are saved by the act of faith, not the continuity of our faith. If you're saved by the continuity of faith, then you don't really have everlasting life until you die in faith, and certainly you have no assurance. Listen carefully to what John Piper wrote:

I'll be very personal, to give it it's sharpest point. If in the coming years I commit apostasy and fall away from Christ, it will not be because I have not tasted of the word of God and the Spirit of God and the miracles of God. I have drunk of his word. The Spirit has touched me. I have seen his miracles and I have been his instrument for a few.
But if, over the next ten or twenty years, John Piper begins to cool off spiritually and lose interest in spiritual things and become more fascinated with making money and writing Christless books; and I buy the lie that a new wife would be exhilarating and that the children can fend for themselves and that the church of Christ is a drag and that the incarnation is a myth and that there is one life to live so let us eat drink and be merry - if that happens, then know that the truth is this: John Piper was mightily deceived in the first fifty years of his life. His faith was an alien vestige of his father's joy. His fidelity to his wife was a temporary passion and compliance with social pressure; his fatherhood the outworking of natural instincts. His preaching was driven by the love of words and crowds. His writing was a love affair with fame. And his praying was the deepest delusion of all - an attempt to get God to supply the resources of his vanity.

What he is in effect saying is that he has no assurance of eternal life. After 50 years of trusting in Christ, he could quit trusting and end up in Hell. Is he saved by his works or by Christ? The gift of eternal life is indefectable, not the faith that laid hold of it. It is widely held in modern Christendom that the faith of a genuine Christian cannot fail. But is this view biblical?

Let's examine view 1 of the perseverance of the saints. Does the Bible teach that a true believer will always walk in obedience? Not hardly. If so, why all the exhortations to believers to STOP sinning? Is Colossians 1:23 saying that if you don't continue in the faith you're going to Hell? No! The Bible teaches that a Christian can walk in sin and even turn from the faith. The Bible shows us that believers can live in a sinful state:

1 Corinthians 3:1-3 (NKJV) And I, brethren, could not speak to you as to spiritual people but as to carnal, as to babes in Christ. 2 I fed you with milk and not with solid food; for until now you were not able to receive it, and even now you are still not able; 3 for you are still carnal. For where there are envy, strife, and divisions among you, are you not carnal and behaving like mere men?

They were acting like unsaved men. Were the Corinthians saved? The Scriptures make it clear that they were:

1 Corinthians 1:2 (NKJV) To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those who are sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints, with all who in every place call on the name of Jesus Christ our Lord, both theirs and ours:
1 Corinthians 1:4 (NKJV) I thank my God always concerning you for the grace of God which was given to you by Christ Jesus,
1 Corinthians 1:7 (NKJV) so that you come short in no gift, eagerly waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ,

It should be clear that they were believers, but were they living in obedience? No!

1 Corinthians 5:1 (NKJV) It is actually reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and such sexual immorality as is not even named among the Gentiles; that a man has his father's wife!
1 Corinthians 5:11 (NKJV) But now I have written to you not to keep company with anyone named a brother, who is sexually immoral, or covetous, or an idolater, or a reviler, or a drunkard, or an extortioner; not even to eat with such a person.

So it is possible for someone who is a Christian to live a sinful life? I think that it is even possible for someone who is a Christian to turn away from the Christian faith. This is what we call "the doctrine of Apostasy" -- a believer can turn away from the faith:

1 Timothy 4:1 (NKJV) Now the Spirit expressly says that in latter times some will depart from the faith, giving heed to deceiving spirits and doctrines of demons,

Paul is telling the Colossians to "continue in the faith", because he knows that it is possible for a believer to depart from the faith. The word for "depart" here is aphistemi. It means: "to depart from, to remove yourself, to fall away." It is a form of the Greek word translated "apostasy." It is a purposeful, deliberate, departure from "the faith." The definite article before the word faith marks it out as speaking, not of faith as an act, but of "the" faith-- the body of Christian doctrine. They are departing from the teaching of Scripture. This is apostasy.

How many of you know someone who became a Christian, got all excited about the Christian life, began to live for God, and then they quit and went back to their old lifestyle? Many today would say they were never really saved. They define an apostate as someone who just "thought" they were saved and then fell away. They say, "If you're truly saved, you'll live right, and if you quit living right, it's because you never really believed." If this is true, than our assurance is based on works, and so is our salvation. And if that's the case, than we can never really have assurance, because we don't know if we'll keep living right, keep working.

One year when I was speaking at youth camp, during a question and answer time, I asked the teens, "How is a person saved?" I got all kinds of crazy answers. We finally nailed it down to faith. I asked them, "So is it just faith?" One teen said, "NO, you have to read your Bible." I said, "So, we are saved by faith plus reading our Bibles." They said, "That's right." So I asked them, "How much do I have to read my Bible?" They said, "You just need to read it." I said, "If we are talking about being saved, and to do so I have to read my Bible, I better know how much I need to read it." They got my point and decided that it was faith alone that brings salvation.

John 3:16 (NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.

So, assurance comes from believing. So, believing equals never perishing or eternal life. So, if I believe, I can rest assure that I have eternal life and will never perish. Now someone will interject, "If you 'really' believe." What does it mean to believe? Do you believe that 2+2=4? Do you believe that with your head or your heart? There is only one way to believe-- we believe with our minds. Christ died for your sins. Do you believe that? What is the difference between believing that 2+2=4 and believing the gospel? The difference is in WHAT you BELIEVE, not HOW you believe. It is not HOW you believe, but WHAT you believe that saves you. We are saved by believing, not by working. Can someone who has believed leave the faith? Yes! Paul tells Timothy that some shall depart from the faith. Look at:

1 Timothy 1:18-20 (NKJV) This charge I commit to you, son Timothy, according to the prophecies previously made concerning you, that by them you may wage the good warfare, 19 having faith and a good conscience, which some having rejected, concerning the faith have suffered shipwreck, 20 of whom are Hymenaeus and Alexander, whom I delivered to Satan that they may learn not to blaspheme.

The word "learn" is the Greek word piadeuo. It means: "to be trained, educated, corrected". Every use of this in the New Testament refers to Christians.

Hebrews 6:4-9 (NKJV) For it is impossible for those who were once enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have become partakers of the Holy Spirit, 5 and have tasted the good word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6 if they fall away, to renew them again to repentance, since they crucify again for themselves the Son of God, and put Him to an open shame.

Here we see those who were partakers of the Holy Spirit falling away. These are Christians who were leaving Christianity and going back to Judaism. They had "tasted" the heavenly gift. This same word "tasted" is used in chapter 2 of Christ when it says that He tasted death for every man. Christ totally partook of death, and these believers had totally partaken of salvation. These are believers who had departed the faith.

What about James? When you try to teach that salvation is by grace alone, someone is going to say that according to James, you must have works in order to be saved:

James 2:14 (NKJV) What does it profit, my brethren, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can faith save him?

Can faith save you? Yes! Only faith can save you. "Save" here is used in the sense of physical deliverance from temporal judgement. James is not dealing with the issue of eternal life. The danger of apostasy is real, we must all guard against it.

How do you guard against apostasy?

1 Timothy 4:16 (NKJV) Take heed to yourself and to the doctrine. Continue in them, for in doing this you will save both yourself and those who hear you.

The context of this chapter is the subject of apostasy, and Paul tells Timothy that he will save himself by guarding his life and continuing in doctrine.

What about the second view of perseverance of the saints; what I would call "eternal Security"? How can we have security if our position in Christ is conditional? We can't if our position is conditional, but our position is not conditional, it is eternally secure. God began your salvation, and God will finish it. Does the Bible teach this? Yes! Let's look briefly at the doctrine of eternal security:

Romans 8:29-30 (NKJV) For whom He foreknew, He also predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, that He might be the firstborn among many brethren. 30 Moreover whom He predestined, these He also called; whom He called, these He also justified; and whom He justified, these He also glorified.

The word "foreknew" means to love before, or for-loved. In Amos 3 :2, God says to Israel, "You only have I known of all the families of the earth." Does that mean that God didn't know the other nations? NO! It meant that He had a special love relationship with Israel. Israel was His chosen nation. The term "foreknew" must have a limited meaning, for if it simply means: "to know ahead of time", then in the context of Romans 8, everyone will be glorified, because all whom God foreknew he glorified; the chain is unbroken. The term "foreknew" has the idea of loved, to love before hand.

The term "predestined" means: "destined or determined before hand by divine decree." What predestined means in its most elementary form is that our final destination, heaven or hell, is decided by God, not only before we get there, but before we are born. This teaches us that all who are called are justified. To be justified is to be saved, and all who are saved will be glorified. So everyone must not be called. This is the golden chain of salvation. All of the elect will end up in heaven, there is no way of them losing eternal life.

So, because of the condition, I believe that, "..to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight" is not talking about our position but our practice - how we live. The word "holy" simply means: "set apart". "Holy" is the Greek adjective hagios from the verb hagiazo; "to dedicate, separate, set apart for God alone." Thus, hagios means: "devout, godly, dedicated." In secular Greek, hagios meant "devoted to the gods," It can, and is used of our position and our practice.

The word "blameless" is from the Greek word amomos, which means: "unblemished, without blemish in the moral or religious sense". It was used of sacrificial animals (Num. 6:14; 19:2). Were the animals "blameless" in a positional sense or a physical sense? Physical of course. This word is used of Christ as the sacrificial Lamb of God who offered Himself without blemish to God for our sin (Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19). Though used in some places of the believer's standing before God (cf. Eph. 1:4), it is also used of the believer's experience or their practice. This word is used in Philippians 2:15 of the believers practice.

2 Peter 3:14 (NKJV) Therefore, beloved, looking forward to these things, be diligent to be found by Him in peace, without spot and blameless;

This verse is talking about their practice - their position was settled and secure . So, this word also can be used of our position or our practice.

The last word is "above reproach", which is the Greek word anegkletos, which means: "not to be called to account, unreprovable, blameless." It is used of the qualifications of elders and deacons, which certainly does not mean faultless or sinless (1 Tim. 3:10 & Tit. 1:6, 7). In these verses, this term is used in a relative sense as one of the qualities of godly maturity, not the absolute sense of one's standing before God in justification.

Thus, we have seen that none of these three terms call for a meaning that demands that this text refers to either one's eternal position or one's final standing before God, but may refer to the believer's practice.

We see this same idea of reconciliation and godly living in:

Hebrews 13:20-21 (NKJV) Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, 21 make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen.

"Now may the God of peace...." This title contemplates God in relation to His people and not mankind in general. God is only a God of peace to those who have been justified by faith. The author of Hebrews goes on to say, "...through the blood of the everlasting covenant...." The adjective "everlasting" brings out the point that the New Covenant will never be replaced by another as it replaced the Old Covenant. It is perpetual in its validity, and it was established by blood. The author never forgets that; for him the death of Jesus Christ is central.

"...make you complete...." - This has been the purpose of the epistle. He wants the readers to go on to maturity, to being full grown children of God. The word "complete" is from the Greek word katartizo, which has the idea that an article is accurately and completely adapted to its intended use. It is used of fishermen "mending their nets" in Matthew 4:12; they mended them so that they might catch and hold fish. The writer is praying that his readers will be completely adapted to their intended use, which in Hebrews has the idea of being partners with Jesus Christ - living in fellowship with Christ. He goes on to say, "...in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ" - our maturity, our sanctification is pleasing in God's sight.

Colossians 1:23 (NKJV) if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.

I believe that what Paul is saying is that believers will live a holy, blameless, above reproach life "if" they continue in the faith.

The word "grounded" suggests a secure foundation as a building that sits upon a rock. The foundation is Jesus Christ (I Cor. 3:11). The Greek indicates that they were placed on that foundation at one point with permanent results.
The word "steadfast" is literally: "settled." It depicts a steady and firm resolve. This is a metaphor for spiritual stability. While "grounded" suggests a solid foundation, this term suggests the strength of the building.

"...and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel" - not moved is the metakineo, which means: 'to cause to cease, to be shaken from." "The hope of the gospel" is simply the "hope the gospel gives," revealed by no other means or source. But hope is not a wishy-washy, maybe, or I hope so, kind of thing; it is a confident expectation.

When Paul says, "And I Paul have become its servant", he connects the Colossians with himself and this gospel. Epaphras was a servant trained by Paul to carry this universal and immense message to others, but its source was the apostolic preaching of Paul, one commissioned directly by the Lord Jesus.

The person and work of Christ are complete and perfect, and if anyone or any teaching seeks to add to or take away something from Christ's person or His work, then it is a counterfeit, pure and simple. Thus, Paul assures the Colossians of the purity of the message they had believed and encourages them to remain steadfast to that message, for in this way, and this way only, they could attain spiritual maturity for faithful service and bring glory and praise to God.

An interesting observation here in verse 23 is that "in the faith" immediately follows the verb "continue" and actually precedes the terms "grounded and steadfast." By this word order remaining in the faith, the truth of the gospel as Epaphras had presented it to them, is the only way these Colossian believers, or any believer, can become grounded and steadfast and thus protected from the shifting sands of the false teachings found in the world.

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