18 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. 19 For it was the Father's good pleasure for all the fulness to dwell in Him, 20 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.

21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach -- 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body (which is the church) in filling up that which is lacking in Christ's afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations; but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. [2:1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.]  Version: NAS



  • In Colossians 1, an intensely Christocentric chapter, Paul meditates on the greatness of Jesus Christ.
    • Continuing his thought in verse 18, he states the Christ is head of the church, which is his body. There is one universal church, even as there is only head.
    • Jesus is also the beginning -- or ruler -- of all things. Note: Arche in Greek has both meanings.
    • Not only is he the "firstborn" over all creation (v.15), but also the firstborn from the dead (v.18). This refers to his being the first to be truly resurrected from the dead.
      • There are other "resurrections" in both testaments (e.g. 2 Kings 13:21; John 11:44).
      • Yet technically these are resuscitations, even where there was revitalization of the corpse. Our ultimate resurrection, like Jesus' on Easter morning, gives us a qualitatively new body, with characteristics the earthly body did not have.
    • Among all beings in the universe, Jesus has preeminence, first place, supremacy.
      • This is because all the Father's fullness is present in Christ (v.19). Jesus is God in the flesh, here as in 2:9. (See also John 1:1-2,14.)
      • Further, all things are reconciled to the Father through the blood of the Son (v.20). This includes:
        • Things in heaven -- the invisible, spiritual beings.
        • Things on earth -- principally human beings.
        • Peace comes through the cross: peace with God.
  • Paul reminds his primarily Gentile readers that once they were enemies of God (v.21).
    • This is not quite the same as in Ephesians 2:19, where the emphasis is on the bridging of the chasm between Jew and Gentile. This passage applies directly to all humans; all of us were estranged from our creator because of our rebellious hearts and lives.
    • Reconciliation came through Christ's physical body. Had God not become incarnate, we would not be saved.
    • The point is that we be presented blameless before God (v.22).
      • For this to happen, we must keep our faith/faithfulness to the message.
      • Paul describes himself as a minister (diakonos, or servant) of this gospel message.
  • In light of these grand realities, Paul is able to rejoice despite his sufferings (v.24).
    • He views the sufferings of his ministry as a participation in the sufferings of Christ. (See Philippians 3:10.)
    • By "lacking" he does not mean that Christ's death was defective, but that the mission is by no means accomplished. Christ's redemptive work continues on this earth as the gospel is spread.
    • Paul thrills in being able to make known the mystery ("Christ in you, the hope of glory"), even among the Gentiles (vv.25-27).
  • The proclamation of Christ involves admonition and teaching -- direct personal involvement in others' lives (vv.28-29)!
    • The proclamation is simple, but the still message must be delivered with wisdom. See 4:3-6.
    • The goal is maturity (completeness) in Christ. Until Christians have become mature -- learning to discipline themselves to follow the Master -- there is still work to do.
    • This work requires intensive labor (v.29).
    • 2:1 finishes Paul's thought: He is devoted to the Christians:
      • In Colosse
      • In the sister church of Laodicea
      • Even for people who do not know him personally.


  • The message was preached in all creation (v.23). (NIV: "to every creature.") Yet surely Paul was not claiming that the entire world had been reached with the gospel in his lifetime. For more on this, the notion that the apostles reached the whole world in one generation -- and that we must do the same -- click here.
  • "Every man" (v.28) is not aner (man [male], but anthropos (human).
  • "Mature, complete, perfect" (v.28) define the Greek adjective teleios.

Thought questions:

  • If my life were a movie, who would the star be? Would Jesus be preeminent, or would I upstage him?
  • When I suffer for the gospel -- whether meeting opposition, exclusion, inconvenience, or physical pain or fatigue -- do I have the attitude of Paul?
  • Do I devote myself to make Christ known only to "friends and family" (as in Acts 10:24), or am I, like Paul, striving to make an impact on those I may never have met?