in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach – Colossians 1:22
Context is key. The Holy Spirit provides us with a beautiful contrast between us and the Son, where He reveals to us some wonderful details about the Son in verses 14-20, and then tells us where we sat in comparison in verse 21, while still continuing to reveal more of the Son in what He did for us. So, before we continue, let us read those verses:
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities– all things have been created by Him and for Him. And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the first-born from the dead; so that He Himself might come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven. And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, yet He has now reconciled you – Colossians 1:14-21
Now, placing verse 22 at the end really does place the truth before you. Christ is God, we are not, and by not being God, we were different and required a reconciliation, which was provided to us by the only means possibly according to God’s law, which was fulfilled and our regenerated spirits are the proof positive that is was, in fact, fulfilled. With that said, we can dive deeper into this.
“In the body of His flesh” is rather interesting. On the surface, it may sound a bit redundant. σῶμά (SOH-mah) is a living body. It is distinct from anything created that is inanimate or without a beating heart, like rocks, trees, your No. 2 pencil, etcetera. The flesh, or σὰρξ (SARX), is what makes this body a human body. It is the characteristics of humanity, not just the flesh and blood, but also personality. The word can be used in a more animal sense, but here, the context tells us that we are delving deeper into the reality of this body (σῶμά).
When we consider these two words in light of its preposition, we are presented here with the reality that Jesus Christ did come in the flesh. Literally, God became incarnate and dwelt on this earth, fellowship in corporeal form with fellow kin. No other man-made religion has this, that I can think of. Islam flat-out rejects the idea that God, Himself, would condescend to our level and be a lowly sacrifice. There is no love in that. And by that mere rejection, the religion boxes God into a limitation that He never speaks of. God has limitations that He reveals to us, like He cannot lie (Titus 1:2), but to become a part of His own creation is never something He says.
Therefore, when He comes into the world, He says, “Sacrifice and offering Thou hast not desired, But a body Thou hast prepared for Me; In whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin Thou hast taken no pleasure. Then I said, ‘Behold, I have come (In the roll of the book it is written of Me) To do Thy will, O God.'” – Hebrews 10:5-7
A body was prepared, and this body was literal. Christ is not some ethereal form who figuratively died. The introduction to verse 22 blasts that Gnostic idea out of the water. The Son had to become a kinsman in order to redeem. This is why the blood of bulls and goats never cleansed sin, it just covered Israel’s sins. That is what the word atonement means – a covering. Our sins have not been atoned for, they have been removed by the literal blood of the literal kinsman offering of an examine and sinless human being in Jesus Christ.
The kinsman is the Mosaic law had responsibilities to carry on the line of his brother. He had to make a sacrifice of his own inheritance in order to raise up a first-born of the widow into his fallen brother’s household. So, if Christ had not become man, a very man, then He did not fulfill all the law. If He did not fulfill all of the law, the He lied on the cross when He said, “It is finished”. If He lied, He sinned and was not a sufficient sacrifice for our own sins. And if that is the case, the we are STILL alienated and enemies with God. And this showcases how important it was for Jesus Christ, the Jehovah of the Old Testament, to become incarnate to redeem His people. The thought otherwise is dangerous and leaves us without a promised hope.
Furthermore, Christ was not only born a man, but He also had to be born into the family of the tribe of Judah. This is important because it subjugated Him to laws that were thundered by God to Moses on Mount Sinai. It would not have worked had He been born a Roman, or a Persian. Or if it was delayed and was an American. It could not have worked that way. He had to be subject to Mosaic law, because in Mosaic law, there is one seemingly innocuous verse:
And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance. – Deuteronomy 21:22-23
That little snippet of fulfilled law was written solely for Jesus Christ. That is the declaration of law that makes the sinless to be made sin. It is through this type of death that we are redeemed. For if Christ had died in battle, or if He was murdered on the side of the road, or a random lightning strike and ended His life, then He was not made sin. He would not have been accursed by God, but would have gone home without paying any penalty.
Let us look at Exodus, the curse of the first-born in particular. God gave Israel instruction on what to do to avoid this curse. Do you recall, Christian? The imagery is striking!
And you shall take a bunch of hyssop and dip it in the blood which is in the basin, and apply some of the blood that is in the basin to the lintel and the two doorposts; and none of you shall go outside the door of his house until morning. For the LORD will pass through to smite the Egyptians; and when He sees the blood on the lintel and on the two doorposts, the LORD will pass over the door and will not allow the destroyer to come in to your houses to smite you. – Exodus 12:22-23
The top lintel and the two posts – we see a symbol of the cross as the blood flows down from the lintel and we connect the two side posts. And when we see that image of the cross, we see our sacrifice, the Lord Jesus Christ, spilling His blood willfully upon it in order that judgement will pass over us. The Lamb slain is our kinsman-redeemer.
And now, this slain Lamb, is telling us that He did all of this in order to present you. The word παρίστημι (pah-REES-tay-me) has the prefix παρα, which means beside. So in the courts of glory, we have Christ standing next to us presenting us.
We have this imagery of the marriage of a man and woman. The man is commanded to love his wife. It is not the other way around. This is the same love that God has for us, where it is given freely with no expectation of its return. He must love his wife. Why?
So husbands ought also to love their own wives as their own bodies. He who loves his own wife loves himself – Ephesians 5:28
Because he is presenting his bride. He is showcasing his gift from God to him as a wife. Presenting this perfect person made fit for him, and presenting her with joy! And this is done, because what we are seeing here in verse 22 is that this is what Christ has done with us! Through Christ, we are made fit to be presented, not of ourselves, but of Christ’s work in us. He has cleansed what was unclean and made perfect to be fit for glory.
All of this is to His own praise. Look where we were, Christian! We were alienated and enemies in mind. We were in our evil works and wholly undeserving of God and His love. We were not loving God, but HATING HIM! Yet now, He has reconciled us, and has washed us with His own blood to make us holy, unblameable and irreproachable in His sight! Raise your hand if you feel like you are any of those three. Well, Christian, shout for joy. Because your feelings do not matter. Your feelings to not negate the truth of what Christ did for you on the cross and Calvary. Though you do not feel like it – Lord knows I am in that boat too – He HAS MADE YOU holy, unblameable and irreproveable in His sight!
Let us look at these wonderful words.
Holy is the adjectival form of the noun translated as “saint”. We do not have to go far back to see the last use of this adjective in Scripture, because we see the Holy Spirit addressing the believers in Colossae through Paul as saints.
to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. – Colossians 1:2
I, personally, hold the belief that, because God’s Word is timeless and means exactly what it says today as it did when this particular epistle was delivered, you and I are part of the original audience of this letter. This is why we can look at this letter and recognize that the Holy Spirit is calling us saints! So while cultural changes occur and may help us reach an understanding of certain things in Scripture, those things do not change what Scripture means and you, with the Bible, can understand by means of the teaching of the Holy Spirit the same things that the believers at Colossae understood. Why? Because the Holy Spirit is the same teacher.
So we are presented as saints. We are not unholy like we see in the passages of 1 Timothy 1:8 or 2 Timothy 3:2. We are not the wicked men of sin spoken of in Ezekiel 22:9 or Psalm 26:9. We are ἅγιος (HA-gee-os), holy, and to be holy is to be set apart or sanctified to God. If you go back to the Old Testament, when God sanctified the priests and the altar and the basins, what did He instruct? …that they be sprinkled with blood. Well, Christian, you have be cleansed by the righteous blood of the Lord Jesus Christ. Not just sprinkled, but washed. THAT makes you set apart unto God.
W.E. Vine, in his dictionary, states that “sainthood is not an attainment, it is a state into which God in grace calls men”. Amen to that. Your effort does not get you there. Nothing you did even helped you get there. It is God’s sacrifice of His Son that places you there even when you were enemies.
Because you are holy, this puts a view by God on you that you are blameless and irreproachable. He sees His Son in you. So you cannot be blamed.
2 Peter 2:13 discusses those who can blamed and says they are “stains and blemishes”. There is nothing good – inside or outside. But this is not you. There is no defect. No fault can be brought or found in you.
This word for blame is the same word here except that this on has an alpha (α) prefix that negates the meaning of the word, so you get “no-blame”. This is the first step in a legal proceeding as I see it. To be tried in court, first somebody needs to point a finger at you. God is saying there is nothing to be pointed at you to get you into His court to stand trial. This is where Christ has established you.
so that He may establish your hearts unblamable in holiness before our God and Father at the coming of our Lord Jesus with all His saints. – 1 Thessalonians 3:13
This is beautifully tied in with:
that He might present to Himself the church in all her glory, having no spot or wrinkle or any such thing; but that she should be holy and blameless. – Ephesians 5:27
Now, because Christ has so established you, that you cannot be blamed, then you are irreproachable. You are not on record as a disgrace before God.
Back in the Biblical times, to be a woman without child was seen as a reproach. Socially they were seen as ones being divinely punished for some secret sin. This is simply awful. Rachel was not being punished and nor was Hannah. This was just proof that a sovereign, almighty God was at work and for a time had closed their wombs.
Society had the same view for anyone who was born certain ways, as we read:
And His disciples asked Him, saying, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he should be born blind?” – John 9:2
There is a sinful presumption by the accuser that denies that God is working in people to do of His own good pleasure. God is working the clay as He wills.
But this is what it is like to be a reproach. You have been adjudicated to be unworthy. However, once again, the Holy Spirit places an alpha (α) prefix on the word so that we are NOT reproachable! We are not to be called in to stand before the Judge with an anticipation of damnation. There is no question where we stand with God, despite what we my feel. He has told you here, Christian, in His Word, that you will not be damned. You are set apart as something valuable to Him.
In His eyes, when we are brought before Him, we shall be seen as:
- holy, separated unto Himself…no longer alienated and enemies
- faultless sons of God, upon whom no finger can be pointed
- not able to be accused, or pronounced guilty in any fashion
Rejoice, Christian. This passage moves into verse 23, which begins with a 1st class condition in the Greek. This is an “if” statement that says if the preceding part is true (so verse 22), then the following statement (verse 23) must also be true. There is not a question of your own ability here. It is God who accomplished it all on your behalf!
Praise ye the LORD!