6. The Reasons for Thanksgiving (Col. 1:12b-14)
I. Doctrinal: The Person and Work of Christ (1:1-23)
A. Introduction (1:1-14)
1. Paul’s Greeting to the Colossians (1:1-2)
2. Paul’s Thanksgiving for the Colossians (1:3-8)
3. Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians (1:9-14)
a. The Cause of Paul’s Prayer (1:9a)
b. The Content of Paul’s Prayer (1:9b-14)
(1) The Root and the Trunk—”filled with the knowledge of His will” (vs. 9b)
(2) The Branches—a worthy walk (1:10a)
(3) The Fruit—four areas of fruitfulness (1:10b-14)
1:12 with joy giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 1:13 He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves, 1:14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
As seen in the previous lesson, “giving thanks to the Father” introduces us to the fourth participle and quality that pleases the Lord. While grammatically co-ordinate with the other three, giving thanks to the Father, or having a life characterized by a thankful heart, is the crowning virtue of these four qualities. But “giving thanks” is also the fourth product of a life that is growing by the knowledge of God in spiritual wisdom and understanding. A worthy walk that pleases God occurs in those who both recognize and stay occupied with God as their heavenly Father, their very source and benefactor of life (Rom. 11:36). Being thankful also requires a proper comprehension of the reasons why we should be thankful. Thankfulness cannot occur in a vacuum of ignorance. So Paul does not just tell his readers to be thankful, but points them to four awesome blessings that they possess through the mighty acts the Father has accomplished in the person and work of His Beloved Son.
It is also important to see that these blessings, the objects of thanksgiving (1:10-14), do not begin a new section as some have maintained. They are not only still a part of Paul’s prayer, but point us to the reasons why Christians can have a life that is pleasing unto the Lord in the four areas listed—bearing fruit, growing, being strengthened, and giving thanks. The reason for thanksgiving is found in the saving acts of God because it is these blessings that deliver believers out of Satan’s domain of darkness and into the realm of light and spiritual fruitfulness.
These four objects of thanksgiving are only a partial listing of the blessings God gives us in Christ,108 but these four do give us a wonderful illustration of what God has done in the person of His Son and of what all believers possess in Christ. Through Christ, the Father has:
qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light,
delivered us from the domain of darkness,
transferred us into the kingdom of His Son, and
redeemed us, providing the forgiveness of sins (as seen in “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins).
With the third blessing and the words “in whom,” the apostle not only points to another blessing for thanksgiving, but he also begins to focus on the person through whom the Father gives these blessings. While still pointing to our blessings, Paul begins a transition to the person through whom the Father has given these blessings. This Person, God’s Son, now becomes the focus of the next section in verses 15-20, The Supremacy of the Person and Work of Christ. In the section that follows, Paul will develop the theme of the total adequacy and supremacy of Christ, a concept that he later expands on in 2:8-17. Since thankfulness is the focus of verses 12-14, it might be helpful to spend a few paragraphs on the subject of thankfulness.
Some Thoughts on Being Thankful
The Meaning of Thankfulness
Thankfulness is an important subject to the apostle Paul and in the Word of God as a whole. Some combination of the word is found 169 times in 162 verses in the NASB and 195 times in 186 verses in the NET Bible. Paul uses the concept over 40 times in his epistles and seven times in Colossians alone (cf. 1:2, 3, 12; 2:7; 3:15, 17; 4:2). The concept of thankfulness in the New Testament comes from the use of two Greek words. The first is charizomai, which comes from charis, "grace." The second is homologeo, "to confess, acknowledge," (Heb. 13:15), (cf. also exomologeo, [Matt. 11:25]). Thankfulness is a mental and/or verbal expression of one's acknowledgement and appreciation of God's person, His grace, blessings, and sovereign work in one's life and the world. Some key ideas related to thankfulness are: biblical understanding, trust, humility and grace, the right focus and values, and joy. It is through the possession and function of these qualities that we become thankful. So, why should we be thankful?
Some General Reasons Why We Should Be Thankful
1. Because it honors God. When we are thankful, we recognize that God exists, and we are acting on the reality of His life as the very source and means of ours. True thankfulness recognizes our total dependence on God and stems from realizing that everything going on in our lives and all we have is the product of God's sovereign control, infinite wisdom, purposes, grace, and activity (2 Cor. 4:15).
2. Because it is commanded in Scripture. First, the Psalms are filled with the call to give thanks. An example is Ps. 100:4 which says, "Enter his gates with thanksgiving and his courts with praise; give thanks to him and praise his name." Then Paul tells us in 1 Thessalonians 5:18, "In everything keep on giving thanks, for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you" (my translation). In Colossians, he twice gives the command to be thankful (3:15, 17).
3. Because of the dangerous consequences of thanklessness: Thanklessness is dangerous to self and others. It dishonors God and leads to proud humanism or dependence on man rather than God (cf. Rom. 1:21). In addition, it leads to bitterness, complaining, and a joyless life (Heb. 12:15). Since thankfulness is a response to the grace of God, its opposite, bitterness with its companions, complaining and grumbling, are the product of an unthankful heart that fails to properly respond to God in faith to His person, infinite wisdom, grace and purposes. Thanklessness promotes pettiness and occupation with self, people, and problems. That in turn creates depression and feelings of hopelessness because we become focused on our problems rather than on the Lord.
But thanks be to God who always leads us in triumphal procession in Christ and who makes known through us the fragrance that consists of the knowledge of him in every place (2 Cor. 2:14).
This verse in 2 Corinthians demonstrates that a thankful and God-focused person counts on God and His triumph and will manifests the sweet fragrance of a life filled with the knowledge of Christ rather than the spirit of bitterness and complaining. Thankfulness, then, becomes a spiritual barometer; it is an evidence of the condition of our spiritual life and value system, which should give us a warning if we have ears to hear (cf. Eph. 5:4 & 20 and note the context of each verse. For verse 4, the context or focus is living as children of God rather than as children of the world [cf. vs.1]; for verse 20, the context or focus is the fruit of the Spirit [cf. vs. 18]).
The Time for Thanksgiving (the When and Where)
First, we should give thanks whenever we pray. Scripture teaches us, both by illustration (cf. Eph. 1:16; Phil. 1:3-4; Col. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1:2) and by direct admonition (Phil. 4:6f; Col. 4:2), that prayer should generally be accompanied by or offered in a context of thanksgiving. The reason is perhaps found in the very nature of thanksgiving! Thanksgiving turns our eyes from our problems and ourselves to the Lord that we might focus on Him and His sovereign grace. It helps us to see life through the perspective of God's person, principles, promises, plan, provisions, and purposes. Then, as this happens, this upward focus promotes faith and courage in the face of the trying and painful situations that we all eventually face to one degree or another.
Second, we should always give thanks in everything and for everything (Eph. 5:20; 1 Thess. 5:18). Now why? In addition to the reasons already given, it helps us to focus on the sovereignty of God and the fact that He is in control and working all things together for good regardless of how they may seem to us in our limited perspective (cf. Rom. 8:28, 29; Jam. 1:2-4; Gen. 50:19-20). While all things may not be good, God uses them for good, the good of making us like His Son. Also, since a spirit of thanksgiving keeps our eyes on the Lord, it also keeps us alert and promotes an eagerness to go to God in prayer to lay our burdens and those of others at His feet (Ps. 68:19-20; Col. 4:2). Finally, we should always give thanks because it protects us against the dangers and consequences of thanklessness mentioned above.
Some Objects of Thanksgiving (the What)
We should give thanks for God Himself and for His sovereign activity and control over the universe. What a hopeless world this world would be if all things had no purpose and were merely the product of time plus chance. As we see here in Colossians 1:12-14, we should give thanks for our salvation through Christ and for the unfathomable riches that are ours in Him (Eph. 3:8). After all, we are blessed with every spiritual blessing, and we are complete in Him (Eph. 1:3; Col. 2:10). As illustrated so often by Paul in the salutation of his epistles, we should give thanks for others who know the Savior and are growing and serving the Lord.
Some Contrasts to Consider
While many things might be mentioned, here are a few contrasts to consider. (a) Thankfulness is the opposite of selfishness. The selfish person says, "I deserve what comes to me. God and others ought to make me happy and fulfill my expectations." (b) Thankfulness is the opposite of murmuring and pettiness. The thankless person is one who is focused on his problems and thinks he deserves better. (c) Thankfulness is the opposite of pride. The thankless person thinks he deserves what he has or better than what he has. (d) Thankfulness is the opposite of self-trust. The thankless person tends to depend on His own merit and abilities. The thankful person, on the other hand, seeks to triumph and live by the grace of God rather than by his own ingenuity or self-sufficiency (1 Cor. 15:57; 2 Cor. 2:14).
The Source of a Thankful Heart:
Before getting back to the exposition of the passage, a few of the sources that promote thankfulness might be mentioned: (a) Since spiritual understanding is so vital to a thankful heart, a Word-filled life is a necessity (cf. Col. 1:9 with 12; 2:7; 3:16). Living in the Word keeps our focus where it belongs. (b) God has designed the Christian life to be lived under the control and influence of the Holy Spirit. Thus, the Spirit-filled life is a vital source of thankfulness (cf. Eph. 5:18 with 20). (c) Remembering who we are as God's children is another source of being thankful (cf. Eph. 5:1 with 4b). (d) Remembering to what we have been called, to one body in which there should be peace, and recognizing the consequences of a thankless heart (cf. Col. 3:15 with Heb. 12:15b) is another source.
The Exposition of Colossians 1:12b-14
As previously mentioned, Paul now focuses his readers on four things for which all believers are to be thankful. These are blessings that direct our attention to our deliverance and capacity for a new life in the midst of a fallen and Satanically controlled world or cosmos. These are four areas of God’s grace that should give us strength to press on through the various trials and temptations that we all face in this life. In passing, note how this entire passage is reminiscent of Paul’s words to Agrippa where he quotes the commission that Paul received from the Savior Himself. Some of the points of comparison are seen in the bold italicized words in the quote below.
17 I will rescue you from your own people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you 18 to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me (Acts 26:17-18) (emphasis mine).
In the Colossians passage we see that:
1. God has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints (vs. 12b),
2. He has delivered us from (or “out of”) the power (or “domain”) of darkness (vs. 13a),
3. And He has transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves (vs. 13b).
In the Greek text, these first three verbs are in the aorist tense, and may well look at the finished work of Christ. As aorist tenses, these three acts may be applied collectively to all believers when they trust in Him, or these saving acts may look at the event of each individual’s conversion down through the pages of history. Either way, it looks at that which is an accomplished fact. This is in contrast the statement that follows.
4. In Christ, God has also given us redemption, the forgiveness of sins (vs. 14). Significantly, Paul switches to the present tense of the verb echo, “to have, possess.” Now he says, “in whom we have.” This change in tense with the verb echo stresses the continuous possession and results of the saving acts of God in Christ. Let’s now evaluate each of these statements.
Qualified for a Share of the Inheritance of the Saints in Light (1:12b)
who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light.
"Qualified" is the Greek hikanoo, which means, “to make sufficient, qualify, enable, make fit,” but it does not mean, “to make deserving.” In fact, this term may even shade into the idea of “empower,”109 a concept that makes good sense in this context where the apostle is dealing with pleasing the Lord, a capacity that flows out of a Christian’s understanding and faith in who he or she is in Christ (cf. vss. 9-10).
The blessings believers have in Christ are totally by the amazing grace and power of God. Only God, the Almighty Himself, is the Sufficient One who has the resources needed to not only qualify sinful man for an eternal relationship with Himself, but to also empower man for a fruitful life in a fallen world. In the Old Testament where God is often called the Almighty, the Septuagint (the Greek translation of the Old Testament) sometimes renders the Hebrew with ho hikanos, (literally, “the sufficient one”) (cf. Job. 21:15; 31:2; 40:2; Ezek. 1:24). In ourselves, we are totally inadequate (cf. 2 Cor. 2:16), but through Christ and what the Father has given us in Him, we are given the resources needed to become faithful servants of God (cf. 2 Cor. 3:5-6). As mentioned above, this verb is in the aorist tense, which may point to the truth that becoming qualified with the needed resources is not a process, but a fact that occurs in a believer’s life when he or she trusts in Christ; the basis of qualification is the finished work and merit of the Savior and the believer’s abundant blessings in Him. While this involves us in a process of spiritual growth and fruitful living, the basis for the process is always what Christ accomplished by His death and resurrection.
But for what exactly are we qualified? We are qualified “to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.” The term “share” is the noun meris, “a part, share, or portion of that which has been divided or apportioned.” Then, the words “in the inheritance” point us to what has been divided out to the saints. “Inheritance” is the Greek kleros, which literally meant “a lot, that which is cast or drawn, or obtained by casting lots” (cf. Mark 15:24). From this it came to refer to an allotment or a portion allotted to someone with the context determining the exact meaning of what the portion consisted and when it was received. It does not strictly mean inheritance, which is kleronomia, “inheritance, possession, property.”110 With our English term, we often think of an inheritance as something one obtains on the death of the testator, but even kleronomia, the more precise term for inheritance, is not in the least limited to this idea. Rather, in this context the apostle is speaking of the lot or portion that belongs to the saints in this life and in the future.
In John 19:24, kleros was used of the seamless garment of Christ. In Acts 1:17, it was a share in the ministry of the disciples vacated by the death of Judas, the betrayer. In Acts 8:21, it refers to the miraculous powers Simon thought he could acquire with money. In 1 Peter 5:3, kleros is used of the flock of believers that God allots or apportions to a group of elders to shepherd under the guidance of the Great Shepherd, the Lord Jesus. Then, in Acts 26:18, as here in Colossians, it looks at all that believers inherit or receive as their portion in Christ—past (justification, the forgiveness of sin), present heavenly position and present spiritual possessions (sanctification, power for a life that is pleasing to the Lord), and future (glorification, the eternal estate and eternal rewards). Later in Colossians, the apostle speaks about “the reward of the inheritance,” or “your inheritance as a reward,” which, as will be discussed, may refer to rewards given for faithful service and not simply getting to heaven. Here in 1:12, the emphasis is clearly on one’s present inheritance or possessions in Christ that comes to those who have been translated out of the domain or power of Satan’s kingdom and into the kingdom of light. In essence, “inheritance” refers to “the kingdom treasures that belong to believers (cf. Eph. 1:7)”111 past, present, and future. In the context, the primary focus of “the inheritance of the saints’ in light” is God’s provision for us in this life that enables us to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord so we can please Him in all respects.
Next, we note that this inheritance is described as existing "in the light." This is to be contrasted to the next clause that points to our past life under the rule and authority of Satan’s kingdom of darkness (cf. Eph. 2:1-3). It marks out the sphere of our inheritance and portrays such concepts as truth, illumination, and moral purity in contrast to error, blindness, and moral impurity. This is in keeping with the three prominent spiritual uses of light in Scripture. These are:
1. The operational, active use: One of the properties of light is its ability to illuminate, expose, guide, and direct. Also, without light, most forms of life cannot live. Light is essential for the sustenance of life. God created no vegetable or animal life until after he created light. To stress God’s perfect holiness, 1 John 1:5 states that “God is light, and in Him is no darkness at all.” So light stands for the concepts of illumination, explanation, exposure, holiness or purity, and life support or sustenance (cf. Eph. 5:13; Ps. 119:105; John 3:19-21; 8:12).
2. The intellectual use: Light is also used in Scripture for that which corresponds to reality and truth as opposed to error, distortion, perversion, and falsehood. A person who has the light is one who has the truth; he is one who has the facts according to reality because they are no longer hidden or unknown, but have been revealed, exposed and seen by the light of God’s truth through the Bible (Eph. 5:9-17; Mat. 4:15-16).
3. The moral use: Finally, light is also used of that which is morally right, good, and orderly (Eph. 5:3-10 with John 3:19-20 and Gen. 1:2-3). Without light there can only be chaos, confusion, disorder, and evil. Everything good is lost and distorted (cf. Gen. 1:1f; 1 Tim. 6:16).
Delivered from the Power of Darkness (1:13a)
He delivered us from the power of darkness
"Delivered," rhuomai, is also aorist and again suggest that which is an accomplished event. The Greek word carries the idea of rescue (cf. Col. 2:14; Heb. 2:14f). As just stressed, "darkness" in Scripture is symbolic of ignorance, falsehood, delusion, sin, and Satan. "Power" is the Greek exousia, and means "authority, power, or ruling power." Here it refers to the dominion of Satan, which exercises control and tyranny over men and the world, a world blinded and controlled by Satan and sin (cf. Luke 22:53; John 3:19-20; Eph. 2:1-3; 6:12 with 2 Cor. 4:6; 1 Pet. 2:9; Eph. 1:18; 2:4-10). Believers in Christ are delivered from this evil and dark kingdom. “From” is the Greek preposition ek, which is often used of situations, circumstances, and persons from which a connection is severed. This is a deliverance that, as explained in the next blessing, severs us from the necessity of being under Satan’s domain and control by our transference into the Kingdom of God’s Son.
Transferred into the Kingdom of the Son He Loves (1:13b)
and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves
"Transferred" renders a Greek word (methistemi) that carries with it a very special significance.
…In the ancient world, when one empire won a victory over another, it was the custom to take the population of the defeated country and transfer it lock, stock and barrel to the conqueror’s land. Thus the people of the northern kingdom were taken away to Assyria, and the people of the southern kingdom were taken away to Babylon. So Paul says that God has transferred the Christian to his own kingdom. That was not only a transference but a rescue…112
As believers in Christ, we have been rescued from the tyranny of Satan's darkness and rule into the kingdom of light, which is the kingdom of God's beloved Son, the place where God’s love abides. From this place of love, nothing can sever us (Rom. 8:37-39). Such transference means God's rule and personal care or provision for our lives. This provision means many things because we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3) and are complete in Him (Col. 2:10), but in this context, as Barclay points out, the apostle stresses four blessings.
(a) It meant a transference from darkness to light. Without God men grope and stumble as if walking in the dark. They know not what to do; they know not where they are going. Life is lived in the shadows of doubt and in the darkness of ignorance. When Bilney the martyr read that Jesus Christ came into the world to save sinners, he said that it was like the dawn breaking on a dark night. In Jesus Christ, God has given us a light by which to live and by which to die.
(b) It meant a transference from slavery to freedom. It was redemption, and that was the word used for the emancipation of a slave and for the buying back of something which was in the power of someone else. Without God men are slaves to their fears, to their sins and slaves to their own helplessness. In Jesus Christ there is liberation.
(c) It meant a transference from condemnation to forgiveness. Man in his sin deserves nothing but the condemnation of God; but through the work of Jesus Christ he discovers God’s love and forgiveness. He knows now that he is no longer a condemned criminal at God’s judgment seat, but a lost son for whom the way home is always open.
(d) It meant a transference from the power of Satan to the power of God. Through Jesus Christ man is liberated from the grip of Satan and is able to become a citizen of the Kingdom of God. Just as an earthly conqueror transferred the citizens of the land he had conquered to a new land, so God in his triumphant love transfers men from the realm of sin and darkness into the realm of holiness and light.113
Possessing Redemption, the Forgiveness of Sins (1:14)
in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
“In whom” points the readers to the sphere in which this redemption occurs. We might render it “in union with whom” or “by whom we have redemption.” Either way, the text stresses that it is through the Lord Jesus and the believer’s relationship to Him that this deliverance occurs. But what is meant by the term “redemption?” The term used here is apolutrosis, “a release affected by payment of ransom, redemption, deliverance.”114 This is just one term of a word group used in the New Testament for our redemption through the death of Christ. Due to the importance of this term and the somewhat loose way theologians and expositors sometimes use this term, more will be said below on the concept and truth of redemption. Here and in Ephesians 1:7, after the word “redemption,” Paul adds, “the forgiveness of sins.” This is appositional (an explanatory equivalent) to the term “redemption.” It tells us what redemption means in terms of its results for the believer, the one who has trusted in the person and work of Christ. It means their “forgiveness.” “Forgiveness” is aphesis, which means, “release” as from captivity, or “pardon, cancellation of an obligation, a punishment, guilt.”115 Johnson writes:
The redemption is defined as ten aphesin ton hamartion (AV, “the forgiveness of sins”), the latter expression being in apposition with apolutrosin. The real redemption needed by men is not a redemption from fate by gnostic aeons; it is a redemption from sin by a divine-human Mediator. One great unavoidable fact faces mankind: its universal and inescapable sense of guilt. It will not do to attempt to wash our hands of it (as a Pilate might advise), or to make an effort to transcend such feeling (as a Freud might prescribe). The latter leads ultimately to an egocentric maniac like Hitler (is there any significance in the fact that Freudianism and Hitlerism have roots in Vienna?). The only relief is the cross and its ransom in red agony. Was it not Samuel Rutherford who said once: “There are some who would have Christ cheap. They would have Him without the cross. But the price will not come down”? Taking upon one’s lips words similar to those of the General Confession’s, “Almighty and Most Merciful Father…we have offended against Thy Holy Laws,” and gazing off in faith to the cross where every last bit of the whole crushing weight of man’s sin was borne by God’s own Lamb—then, and then alone, comes peace to man’s guilt-racked soul. This is why Paul gloried in the cross.116
The Meaning of Redemption
Sometimes theologians and Christians use the term redemption rather loosely and mean little more than simply deliverance. It does mean deliverance, but it means a particular kind of deliverance, a deliverance that results from the payment of a great price. This concept is always in view even when the word redemption is used in passages such as Exodus 6:6; 15:13; Psalm 74:2; and 78:35. Even in these Old Testament passages, it is clear that redemption is based on some great expenditure of God. The price God paid is always in view. The New Testament terms for redemption always have in mind a price paid, but as just stressed, many expositors and theologians use the terms redeemer and redemption very loosely. Concerning this, Morris writes,
…As we shall see, it does not mean deliverance in general, but a particular kind of deliverance… Whenever we hear them our thoughts turn to religion. But when the man of the first century heard them he immediately thought in non-religious terms. Indeed, that was the reason words came to be used by the early Christians. Men in general knew quite well what redemption was. Therefore Christians found it a convenient term to use…117
Thus, redemption means liberation because of a payment made. In the New Testament, that payment is the death of the Son of God, the Lord Jesus Christ. But to whom is the price paid? There are many theories on this, but the fact is, the Bible says nothing about to whom a ransom was paid. All that can be said it this—our salvation from sin and its penalty, death, is by the death of Christ who died as the payment for sin. Only this could and did satisfy the demands of God’s holy justice.
Redemption is another part of the overall work of God by which God has brought about our reconciliation and the removal of the barrier that separates man from God—the barrier of God’s perfect holiness, man’s sin, his spiritual death, and his unrighteousness, all of which separate man from a holy God. Redemption deals specifically with the problem of man's sin and with the fact that man is viewed in Scripture as imprisoned or enslaved because of his sin (Gal. 4:3-8; 3:22).
Key Greek Words used for the Concept of Redemption and Their Significance
The basic term used in the redemption word group is lutron, which means, “ransom.” It is derived from the verb luo, which basically means, “to loose.” “It was used of all kinds of loosing, for example, for the loosening of one’s clothing, the loosening of armour, of tied animals, and so on. And sometimes it was used of men to indicate that they had been loosed from captivity or the like. Particularly did this apply to the loosening of prisoners of war when a ransom price had been paid…”118
Basic Meaning: Lutroo comes from lutron, “ransom,” the term just discussed. So lutrao carries the meaning of "to release on receipt of a ransom price" (cf. 1 Pet. 1:18-19; Heb. 9:14).
Key Ideas of Lutroo: This word emphasizes the price paid and the resultant freedom. The price paid was the death and shed blood of Jesus Christ on the cross.
Basic Meaning: Apolutrosis comes from the preposition apo, which carries the basic meaning of "separation from someone or something,"119 plus lutrosis, the noun form of lutroo mentioned earlier. This word with the preposition is somewhat intensive and may mean, "to permanently set free" (cf. Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14).
Basic Meaning: This word occurs only once in the New Testament (1 Tim. 2:6) and not at all in the Old Testament Septuagint. It is a combination of the preposition anti, “instead of, in place of, for,” and lutron, “ransom.”
Key Ideas of Antilutron: It signifies a substitute ransom price, a ransom in place of another or others. “…Such a term well suits the Timothy passage which says of Christ, ‘who gave himself a ransom for all.’ The thought clearly resembles that of Mark 10:45, i.e. that Jesus has died in the stead of those who deserved death…”120
Basic Meaning: “This word originally meant ‘to frequent the forum’ from which eventually the meaning ‘to acquire, to buy in the forum’ evolved, and this remains the standard meaning…”121 It is derived from agora, meaning "market place" or “forum, public square of an ancient Roman city.” As Morris points out above, it literally means, "to purchase, buy in or from the market place," though in time the idea of the place disappeared. It then simply meant, “to purchase,” and is used in this general sense in the New Testament twenty-four times. In six places, however, Christians are said, “to have been bought,” and these passages refer to the concept of redemption. In ancient times slaves were brought to the market place, put on the block in the market place, and then traded or sold to the highest bidder. Passages that use this word in the sense of redemption by the price of Christ’s death are 1 Corinthians 6:20; 7:23; 2 Peter 2:1; Revelation 5:9; 14:3, 4.
Key Ideas of Agorazo: stresses Christ's sovereign worth, value, and thus His ability to redeem us from the slave block of sin by paying the price of our redemption.
Basic Meaning: This is a compound verb derived from the preposition ek, which means "out of" plus agorazo. It means to "purchase out, buy out" or "ransom out". The word is intensive and adds the idea of "deliverance and freedom through the price paid" (Gal. 3:13; 4:5).
Key Ideas of Exogarazo: Because of the preposition, this word may place more emphasis on the deliverance and freedom element. Believers have been set free from the slave master, which is the law and its indictment and condemnation of man as a sinner (cf. Col. 2:14).
An Overview of the Doctrine of Redemption:
1. The Agent of Redemption: The agent is, of course, the Lord Jesus Christ who, in His sinless person and by His death on the cross, purchased our redemption (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Rom. 3:24). As part of the work of reconciliation, God the Father removed the sin problem through the person and work of His Son.
2. The Instrument and Point of Redemption: This is the blood and the cross of Jesus Christ (Eph. 1:7; 1 Pet. 1:18-19). The blood stands for the fact Christ died as the sacrificial Lamb of God and as the substitute for sinners.
3. The Object of Redemption: This is man's sin and slavery to sin. The object of redemption is not simply man, but man's sin problem and his bondage to sin (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14; Gal. 3:13).
4. The Results of Redemption: (a) forgiveness of sin (Eph. 1:7; Col. 1:14), (b) deliverance from bondage to sin and the Law (Gal. 3:13), (c) provides the basis for imputation and justification (Rom. 3:24; 2 Cor. 5:9), (d) provides the basis for our adoption as adult sons of God (Gal. 4:5-6), (e) provides the basis for an eternal inheritance (Heb. 9:15), and (f) provides the basis for capacity to glorify God (1 Cor. 6:20).
Ryrie summarizes the doctrine of redemption as follows:
Redemption may be summarized around three basic ideas. (1) People are redeemed from something; namely, from the marketplace or slavery of sin. (2) People are redeemed by something; namely, by the payment of a price, the blood of Christ. (3) People are redeemed to something; namely, to a state of freedom; and then they are called to renounce that freedom for slavery to the Lord who redeemed them.122
Here in Colossians 1:12-14, the apostle has given us a brief glimpse of some of the wonderful accomplishments of what the Father has done for us in Christ, the Son of His love. In Romans 8:31-39, the apostle asks a series of rhetorical questions that are designed to cause us to think on some of the awesome consequences of this, and then to respond to the grace of God and these awesome things the Father has accomplished for us in His Son as also expressed here in Colossians 1:13. He writes:
8:31 What then shall we say about these things? If God is for us, who can be against us? 8:32 Indeed, he who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, freely give us all things? 8:33 Who will bring any charge against God’s elect? It is God who justifies. 8:34 Who is the one who will condemn? Christ is the one who died (and more than that, he was raised), who is at the right hand of God, and who also is interceding for us. 8:35 Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will trouble, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 8:36 As it is written, “For your sake we encounter death all day long; we were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 8:37 No, in all these things we have complete victory through him who loved us! 8:38 For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor rulers, nor things that are present, nor things to come, nor powers, 8:39 nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in creation will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord (Rom. 8:31-39).
Writing on this text, S. Lewis Johnson writes:
It is sometimes said that Paul’s terminology in this section (vv. 12–14) was derived primarily from that of his gnostic opponents. A look at the Greek text (or even the AV text) of Acts 26:18 demonstrates the error of this. Paul’s terminology goes back to the great event of his life, his meeting with Messiah and his commission as an apostle. There Saul learned the surpassing excellence of Jesus of Nazareth, and there the seeds of Pauline theology, the missionary theology of conversion, were sown. There the burden rolled away, and there the lusty intrepid Pharisee became a free man in Christ. There Saul was saved, and from this encounter there sprang up that unique and piercing insight into the grace of God, which kindled and fed, as it must always do, the flames of ceaseless and unfading gratitude—the most vital and potent force in Christianity and in the Christian. Keble caught something of this when he wrote:
“As to Thy last Apostle’s heart
Thy lightning glance did then impart
Zeal’s never-dying fire.”123
Are we also responding with a heart of gratitude that is focused on the Lord? Are we actively giving thanks for what God has done, is doing, and will, and are we is seeking to serve the Savior in the enablement that He gives. Such a response can only come as we begin to truly comprehend the grace of God in Christ, are seeking to know Him intimately in all the situations of life as we face them, and are resting in His sovereign grace?
3:14 For this reason I bow my knees before the Father, 3:15 from whom every family in heaven and on the earth is named. 3:16 I pray that according to the wealth of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in the inner man, 3:17 that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith, so that, by being rooted and grounded in love, 3:18 you may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, 3:19 and thus to know the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge, so that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God.
3:20 Now to him who by the power that is working within us is able to do far beyond all that we ask or think, 3:21 to him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. (Eph. 3:14-21).
108 For a more detailed discussion and list of what Christians have in Christ, see “The Wealth of the Believer’s Position in Jesus Christ” as described in The ABCs For Christian Growth, Laying the Foundation, Part Two, The Transformed Life, Lesson 3, The Christ-Centered Life.”
109 Walter Bauer, Wilbur F. Gingrich, and Frederick W. Danker, A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature (University of Chicago Press, Chicago, 1979), electronic media. Here after referenced as BAGD.
110 BAGD, electronic media.
111 Norman L. Geisler, The Bible Knowledge Commentary, New Testament edition, ed. John F. Walvoord, Roy B. Zuck (Victor Books, Wheaton, 1983), electronic media.
112 William Barclay, New Testament Words, Combining A New Testament Wordbook and More New Testament Words (SCM Press LTD, Bloomsbury Street, London, 1964), 133-134.
113 Barclay, 134
114 G. Abbott-Smith, A Manual Greek Lexicon of the New Testament (T. & T. Clark, Edinburgh, 1973), 53.
115 BAGD, electronic media.
116 S. Lewis Johnson, "Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians, Part I," Bibliotheca Sacra (Dallas Theological Seminary, vol. 118, #471, 345.
117 Leon Morris, The Apostolic Preaching of the Cross (Wm. B. Eerdman Publishing Co, Grand Rapids, Michigan, 3d ed., 1965), 11.
118 Morris, 11-12.
119 BAGD, electronic media.
120 Morris, 51.
121 Morris, 53.
122 Charles C. Ryrie, Basic Theology (Victory Books, Wheaton, 1987), electronic media.
123 Johnson, 345-346.