The theme of hope holds a prominent place in the New Testament. Unlike how many use the word today, Biblical hope is never doubtful. The Greek term describes confident and joyful anticipation of blessing or reward. This concept is linked numerous times with the identity and role of the Savior. The Lord Jesus Christ is our hope and the anchor of the soul (1 Tim. 1:1; Heb. 6:19-20). As bondservants of Christ let us remember the joy and peace which is found only in Him (John. 13:16-17; Rom. 15:13). Based on the promises of His word, it is appropriate to expect blessing through submitting to His gospel and living for Him in faithful obedience (Gal. 2:20; 3:7-9). Rather than becoming distracted in earthly pursuits, our focus must remain on the hope of the gospel. This is what Paul addressed in Colossians 1:21-23.
Hope is lost by our sin (Col. 1:21a). Paul expressed how the spiritual condition of the saints and faithful brethren in Colossae was once very different. Before obeying the word of the truth of the gospel, they were without hope. Their previous lives, devotions, and activities were under the power of darkness. He described them in this state as being alienated, that is, estranged and excluded from fellowship. We should highlight in this section the concept of personal responsibility. Their sad former condition was not God’s fault (Jas. 1:13-14). It wasn’t the result of sin committed by Adam or their other ancestors (Eze. 18:20). Notice how Paul by inspiration specifically mentions the Colossians’ mindset and their works. Their hopeless condition was a direct result of their own wrong thinking and wrong actions! The same is true for those in sin today. Our deeds grow from where we allow our mind to focus (Pro. 23:7; Matt. 12:35). As with others, they had conducted themselves according to worldliness to become enemies (in opposition, adversaries) of Christ (Eph. 2:2, 12; Jas. 4:4). Wickedness separates from our Holy God and the hope He provides (Isa. 59:2; Hab. 1:13).
Hope is gained by Christ’s sacrifice (Col. 1:21b-22). This shameful state is transformed into a joyous one through the work of Christ the Reconciler. He is the only way to come to the Father (John 14:6). Due to Jesus “having made peace through the blood of His cross” (Col. 1:20), all are granted the opportunity for cleansing and to turn from enemy to ally. Confident expectation of blessing is for those who stand with God, not opposed to Him (Nah. 1:6-7; Rom. 8:31). Our text provides the purpose for this reconciliation—to make us holy and blameless in God’s sight. Those who receive the inheritance are those found in Him and abiding in His doctrine (Eph 1:7-12; Phil. 3:8-9; 2 John 9). What’s more, Paul added power to this teaching by giving a location. Where were the Colossian brethren reconciled? They were reconciled “in the body of His flesh through death.” This shows the importance, not just of the sacrifice given at the cross, but of the security of placement within His body. The Lord adds the saved into His one body, the church (Acts 2:47; 1 Cor. 12:13; Col. 1:18). The church was purchased with His blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Pet. 1:18-19), and all those outside that body need reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:18-21). Uniting with His death is essential to having salvation, hope, and every spiritual blessing (Rom. 6:3-5; 8:24; Eph. 1:3).
Hope remains by our loyalty (Col. 1:23). We must see that this joyous state of right fellowship with God is conditional. Paul told the Colossians how maintaining their devotion and commitment would be required. Elsewhere in the New Testament we read, “If you abide in My word, you are My disciples indeed” (John 8:31) and “in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart” (Gal. 6:9). Conditional statements such as these speak to the truth that a Christian can lose their salvation. It is possible to fall from grace (Gal. 5:4). Just as a relationship with sin separates from God, a relationship with God requires separation from sin (1 Pet. 1:13-16; 1 John 3:3). We must live out our loyalty to the message of truth which was once for all delivered (Jude 3). We should grow our faith, remember Christ’s cleansing, and be diligent to be found by Him in peace (2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:14). To remain in alignment with Christ’s will, we must always prioritize conduct worthy of the gospel (Eph. 4:1-2; Phil. 1:27). If we desire to never be moved away from the hope of the gospel, then we must set our focus firmly upon the Lord and His teaching (1 Cor. 15:58; Col. 3:1-4).