(Vs. 18.) "Christ is the head of the body, the church." By the church is meant the whole election of grace, every believer of all generations (Eph. 5:23-27). He is the representative Head from all eternity and in all time. He is the political Head, in that he reigns. He is the economical Head, in that he provides every need (1 Cor. 1:30). Without a vital union with Christ we would be as dead as a body without a head!
"Christ is the beginning." He is the root, or foundation cause, of the church. We were chosen in him; from him all spiritual life flows. As Eve was from Adam, so the church is from Christ. It is a body of his preparing.
"Christ is the first-born from the dead." He was the first who rose from the dead by his own power to immortality and life. He is the pledge of resurrection for us. "Because I live, ye shall live also" (John 14:19). Death has no more power or claim on him.
"That in all things he might have the pre-eminence." That he might have first place in our affection, in our thoughts, in our desires to be like him and in the highest praise of our lips. He is the first:
1. In sonship; no one is a son in the sense he is.
2. In election; he is the first chosen and we are chosen in him.
3. In covenant; he is the Surety, Mediator and Messenger.
4. In redemption; he wrought it and bought it.
5. In life; he quickeneth whom he will.
6. In death and resurrection; he conquered death, hell and the grave. He ought to have preeminence.
(Vs. 19, 20.) It is true that all the fulness of the Godhead dwells in Christ (Col. 2:9). He is God (2 Cor. 5:19). God dwells in the body of Christ as he dwelt in the tabernacle. This fulness, however, is the fulness of complete redemption which he is able to give to believers:
1. The fulness of wisdom, holiness and righteousness.
2. The fulness of grace, peace and joy.
3. The fulness of eternal life and glory. "We are complete in him" (Col. 2.10).
All of the elect, whether already in heaven or on the earth, are by his blood reconciled and brought to peace with God (Rom. 5:1-10).
(Vs. 21,22.) What Paul had said about reconciliation in general in the preceding verse, he applies to the Colossians in particular. We need to embrace these verses personally. We were strangers, enemies in our minds (Rom. 8:7), workers of iniquity. However, in the body of his flesh, by his perfect obedience and the merits of his blood, he has so reconciled us to God that we are and will be presented before God in that day free from all sin, perfect in holiness and without one charge against us (Rom. 8:33,34; Jude 24). He has reconciled! It is finished! The work is done!
(Vs. 23.) "If you continue in the faith and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel." All of the preceding provisions and promises are ours only if we persevere or continue in faith. Nothing but judgement awaits those who depart from Christ (Heb. 10:38,39; 3: 6,14; 2 Tim. 4: 6-8). God keeps us through, and not apart from, faith (1 Peter 1:5; Jer. 32:40).
(Vs. 24,25.) Twice in verses 23-25 Paul says, "I am made a minister." All believers are witnesses and preachers of the gospel, but there are certain offices and responsibilities in the body of Christ to which men are specifically called and equipped. Paul was an apostle, sent to preach the gospel, suffer certain afflictions and endure certain trials for the sake of the church. He rejoiced that he was entrusted with the gospel, counted worthy to suffer for Christ's sake and to preach fully the gospel of Christ.
(Vs. 26.) This gospel of Christ (his incarnation, his nature and his person, office, death, resurrection and salvation) given to lost sinners is an ancient gospel, and it is not understood by the natural mind. It is called a mystery! (1 Cor. 2:7-14.) The gospel was before veiled in promises, sacrifices, ceremonies and prophecies; but is now made manifest (or revealed to believers) by the Holy Spirit. Without his revelation, it remains profound and mysterious. Those who have the clearest knowledge know only in part (1 Cor. 13:9; 8:1,2).
(Vs. 27.) God, by his Spirit and his ministers, would make known to you the riches of the glory of this gospel. He has laid out the great and unsearchable treasures of his mercy, his grace, his goodness, his righteousness. He has revealed all of the glory of his wisdom, mercy, justice and truth. All of this dwells in Christ! It is ours in Christ. We possess the riches of his grace and we hope for eternal glory as Christ dwells in us by faith (Col. 2:3).
(Vs. 28.) Paul had a twofold message: "warning every man" and "instructing every man". Someone said, "The blessings of God are hedged about on one side by the warnings of God, lest any presume, and on the other side by the promises of God, lest any despair." It is the duty of the minister to warn the careless of God's wrath to come and to invite men to flee to Christ.
(Vs. 29.) "Therefore I labour," according to the grace and strength he gives!