I’ve been reading Colossians lately, which is a great letter to help us understand what Paul calls “….the glorious news I preach all over the world.” (Col.1:23c TPT). But what struck me about this is that, while there are some similarities, his gospel message was radically different than what we traditionally think of as the gospel. I will take a closer look at this glorious news here.
I’ve been using The Passion Translation (TPT) this time through the New Testament, so I will use this version here. If you’re not sure about this translation, I’ve checked the following passage out with the sixteen other English translations I have available, including the original Greek, but I will spare you those details. 🙂
Paul starts this section of his letter (Col.1:15-23) by quoting a Christian hymn, which is believed to be part of the Christian oral tradition before the letters and gospels were written (cir. 50 AD). For further discussion on that, go to my post: “New Testament hymns and creeds.”
This hymn reads as follows:
15 He is the divine portrait, the true likeness of the invisible God, and the first-born heir of all creation. 16 For through the Son everything was created, both in the heavenly realm and on the earth, all that is seen and all that is unseen. Every seat of power, realm of government, principality, and authority—it was all created through him and for his purpose! 17 He existed before anything was made, and now everything finds completion in him.
18He is the Head of his body, which is the church. And since he is the beginning and the firstborn heir in resurrection, he is the most exalted One, holding first place in everything. 19 For God is satisfied to have all his fullness dwelling in Christ. 20 And by the blood of his cross, everything in heaven and earth is brought back to himself—back to its original intent, restored to innocence again! (Col.1:15-20 TPT*)
This is what the first-century church was taught from this Christian hymn:
- Jesus Christ is God made visible to us.
- As a Man, Jesus is the prototype of a new species (first-born from the dead).
- Everything in heaven and earth (material and spiritual) was created through Him.
- All rule and authority in heaven and earth was created by Him for His purpose.
- Everything finds completion and continues to exist because of Him. (Note, this has nothing to do with how or when things got here, but why they continue to exist.)
- He is the Head of the Church, which is His body on the earth.
- He is preeminent and exalted above all things in both heaven and earth.
- The fullness of God the Father dwells in Him.
- Through Christ, all things are restored to their original intent and are no longer defiled.
In other words, the good news is not about sin and the fall. It’s about Jesus Christ, Lord of all!
After reciting the hymn, Paul continues by explaining the implications for us:
21–22 Even though you were once distant from him, living in the shadows of your evil thoughts and actions, he reconnected you back to himself. He released his supernatural peace to you through the sacrifice of his own body as the sin-payment on your behalf so that you would dwell in his presence. And now there is nothing between you and Father God, for he sees you as holy, flawless, and restored,23 if indeed you continue to advance in faith, assured of a firm foundation to grow upon. Never be shaken from the hope of the gospel you have believed in. And this is the glorious news I preach all over the world. (Col.1:21-23 TPT*)
Here’s what we can learn about us:
- We were once distant from God because of our evil thoughts (literally means, “hostile in mind” in the Greek).
- God has now reconnected (reconciled) us back to Himself.
- God has given us His supernatural peace.
- Christ’s sacrifice on the cross took away our sin (“tragic flaw”).
- We now continually live in God’s presence.
- There’s NO distance or separation between us and God.
- We are now holy, blameless, and flawless because of Christ.
- We are to continue to advance in faith (the only qualifier on our part).
What this means, for instance, is that if I refer to myself as a “dirty sinner,” or in any other way than “holy, blameless, and flawless,” I’m directly contradicting God and calling Him a liar.
I would rather say that God is true, and anyone who says contrary to what He says is the liar, wouldn’t you?
Of course, we still do sin, but this is only due to lingering ignorance about who we already are in Christ, which is why we need to “continue to advance in faith.”
To summarize, We now know that God is exactly like Jesus Christ, creator and sustainer of all things and the reason everything continues to exist. Jesus Christ is Lord over all things, and all government, rule, and authority exist for His purpose.
Furthermore, there’s no separation between us and God because He has placed us in Himself, so that we now continually live in His presence, holy and blameless in His sight. Our part is to continue to walk in this reality by faith.
This is the good news that Paul preached everywhere he went.
Beloved, this is our worldview, our paradigm, our hope, our life. This is how we are to see Christ and ourselves in Him. This is the glorious news that Paul preached everywhere he went. This should be our message, too.