The Reconciliation of All Things
1. In verses 19-22, Paul speaks about Christ as Reconciler.
2. This section is divided into two main sections:
a. Reconciliation of all things (restoration of creation)
b. Reconciliation of enemies (salvation for believers)
3. This morning we will look at the first section: restoration of the creation.
By him to reconcile all things unto himself…
A. By Him…
1. As Paul begins to discuss this grand theme of reconciliation, he begins with Christ! “By Him!”
2. The “Him” to which Paul refers is the Christ of vs.18-19.
a. Christ – the One who in all things is to have the preeminence.
b. Christ – the One in whom permanently dwells all the fullness… the totality of Divine power and attributes.
c. By HIM all things were reconciled. He is ABLE… He is Divine…
d. By Him… the One who created all things and for whom all things were created… By Him were all things reconciled.
3. Consider the flow of the sentence:
a. All the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to permanently reside in Christ…
b. And by Him to reconcile all things unto Himself…
c. The Trinity was pleased that all the fullness of the Godhead dwelt in Christ and the Trinity was pleased that Christ should be the one to bring about reconciliation of all things.
4. By Him – (through Him)
a. Agency – Christ was the agent through whom the Godhead provided reconciliation
b. The Godhead was pleased that all fullness reside in Christ…
c. The Godhead was pleased to bring about reconciliation through the agency of Christ – the Second Person in the Godhead.
d. God reconciled all things THROUGH Christ the Son.
e. It was by Him (Christ) that God was able to bring about reconciliation with a cursed creation and fallen creatures… because the Son of God became a Man… He entered into creation… and became part of creation as a human being.
f. God could not have brought about reconciliation in any other way… it required a special kind of agency: the God-Man, Jesus Christ.
g. I Tim. 2:5 – there is one mediator between God and men, the man, Christ Jesus.
• Christ was the Mediator between God and man because He was BOTH God and Man.
• Christ was the perfect agency for the Godhead to use to bring about reconciliation between God and cursed creation and God and fallen creatures… because Christ became a Man… (not a fallen man; but a man)
B. To Reconcile
a. Aorist active infinitive…
b. An infinitive needs another verb to complete the thought.
• The flow of thought: It pleased God that all fullness should dwell in Christ and through Him to reconcile all things unto Himself.
• Again, that unnamed subject (God, Father, Godhead) carries over into this verse too.
• The verb PLEASED also carries over. God was pleased that all fullness dwell in Christ… and God was pleased that through Him all things should be reconciled to Himself.
• That Christ was able to reconcile a cursed earth and fallen creatures was pleasing to God. God delights in reconciling. He does not delight in judgment. He will judge because divine justice demands it… but He is pleased to reconcile.
• God was pleased to bring about reconciliation through the Son—even though the cost to Him was infinite… the death of His Son.
• “It pleased the Lord to bruise Him” = in the sense that the bruising of the Son meant reconciliation for a cursed earth and believing sinners!
2. Reconcile – There are several different words for reconcile in the New Testament.
a. Diallasso = mutual concession after mutual hostility.
• Used of making up after a fight—when both parties share in the blame.
• This term is never used of being reconciled to God.
b. katallasso = to change or exchange from one state to another.
• Used of money – changing denomination
• Used of persons – being changed from enmity to friends
• Used of being adjusted to a standard – reconciling one’s watch to the proper time if the watch drifted off a bit.
c. apokatallasso = to reconcile completely.
• This is the term Paul used in Col. 1:20.
• It is an intensive form of katallasso… and speaks of a complete reconciliation.
• To reconcile completely; to reconcile back again, bring back a former state of harmony
C. All Things
1. The Godhead was pleased to reconcile all things unto Himself through the agency of His Son, Jesus Christ.
2. What is included in the all things that are to be reconciled? This is an important expression in Col.
a. Col. 1:16 – all things were created by Him… and for Him.
b. Col. 1:17 – He is before all things and by Him all things consist…
c. Col. 1:18 – He is to have preeminence in all things…
d. Col. 1:20 – God is pleased to reconcile all things unto Himself…
3. Christ created all things… and all things (the creation) were affected by the fall.
a. Gen. 1:31- when created by Christ, all things were very good. (all things (everything) includes man and angels in their unfallen state).
b. Shortly after this pronouncement, Satan fell… iniquity was found in him. Satan lured 1/3 of the angelic realm with him in his rebellion against God.
c. Suddenly, all things in the heavens were no longer “very good.” Iniquity was found in the very heavens… the realm of fallen angels.
d. Satan is the prince of the power of the “air” and his presence has been polluting the heavens for many centuries. In fact, he even has access to the heaven of heavens… where he comes day and night to accuse the brethren.
e. Then Satan lured Adam and Eve into his rebellion… and sin entered the world of mankind. Suddenly all things on earth were no longer “very good.”
f. Because of man’s sin, God cursed the earth… (Gen. 3:17-19)
g. Because of sin and rebellion in the angelic realm and in the human realm, ALL THINGS in heaven and earth have been affected by sin and the curse.
4. Rom. 8:19-23 – the entire created world has been corrupted by the fall.
a. Vs. 19 – the whole creation is awaiting the time when the sons of God will be redeemed bodily…
• Why? Because the creation was affected negatively by man’s sin, fall, and curse.
• Creation will also be affected positively by man’s reconciliation to God… the ultimate phase of it—at Christ’s Second Coming.
b. Man’s sin brought a curse upon creation. Man’s salvation will bring about redemption and reconciliation for the created world.
• The created world here does not include holy angels (they are not subject to bondage).
• This passage does not refer to Satan or fallen angels either—for the cross and the coming of Christ do not bring liberty to them… but their final judgment in the lake of fire.
• This passage is not speaking about unsaved men who die in their sin. There is no hope for them… no reconciliation…
• Creation here refers to the realm over which Adam and Eve were given responsibility… the earth… rivers, mountains, animals, plants, etc.
• All of this was affected by their sin and fall.
• The sons of God will be manifested at the Second Coming of Christ… they (we!) will be manifested for what we really ARE: sons of God!
c. Manifested = ἀποκαλυψις = an unveiling…
• Today, it is not manifest to the world that we are the sons of God.
• We look just like the lost… and sometimes act like them! It is hard to tell who is who today… with moral, upright religious unbelievers and carnal, worldly Christians…
• I John 3:1 – the world does not know us today.
• But there is coming a day when Christ returns… and we shall be LIKE HIM… we shall share in His glory. In that day it will be manifest to men and angels that we are in fact sons of God!
d. Vs. 20 – the creation was made subject to vanity…
• Vanity: what is devoid of truth and appropriateness; empty; fruitless; unable to fulfill its purpose.
• God had a glorious purpose for Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden as co-rulers to have dominion over the whole earth…
• But that purpose was foiled temporarily by sin. God’s purpose for the creation was unable to be fulfilled… vanity set in… frustration and futility (which Solomon describes in Ecclesiastes!)
• The world as we know it today is SUBJECTED to vanity.
• It is under the power and authority of vanity.
• God subjected the world in this condition—the curse.
• And all the efforts of the environmental groups will help a little… but over all their cause is vain. Man will NEVER reverse the curse.
• Man will never conquer disease and death… or war and hostility… bigotry and hatred… pollution and energy problems…
• We need to do our best… subdue the earth as best we can, but we should not have some liberal dreamy ideas of creating a utopia on earth… eradicating sickness and death… or bringing in the kingdom by human efforts!
• God Himself has subjected the world to vanity… God has cursed the earth—and while we must struggle in this world… and do our best to eke out an existence… plant our crops among the weeds… keep as healthy as we can… but we should realize that our best efforts will NEVER reverse the curse… the world is SUBJECT to vanity.
• Yet this subjection to vanity under the curse was not done willingly. Creation had no choice in the matter. Man sinned and God decreed that the whole world would be cursed.
• Yet, the creation has been subjected in hope = hope of reconciliation and restoration one day…
e. Vs. 21 – Because the creation shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption.
• One day, creation has the hope of deliverance from the bondage of corruption.
• Of course, these are not conscious thoughts of trees and birds and mountains… figurative language.
• Some day black flies and mosquitoes won’t bite you.
• Some day vultures will no longer eat carcasses of dead buffaloes.
• Some day the lion and the lamb will lie down together…
• Disease, suffering, and death entered the world because of man’s sin—and the animal world has been affected by that disease and death… they are all under the bondage of corruption… just like us.
• And also like us—one day this bondage of corruption the world is experiencing will come to an end!
• For man, sin and the curse were his choice. Adam chose to sin. But the creation did not chose to sin.
• Because God had placed Adam and Eve as co-regents over the creation, their fall affected their realm!
f. Vs. 22 – But that day of deliverance is in the future. For now, the creation continues to groan and travail in pain.
g. Vs. 23 – And so do we as believers! We also live in a cursed earth… and suffer under the bondage of corruption.
• We all have the seed of death in us…
• Our bodies are experiencing corruption as I speak…
• Even believers groan in the body…
• But we are consciously awaiting REDEMPTION of our bodies.
• At the cross Chris provided for redemption.
• Through faith, our souls and spirits are completely redeemed… once and for all and forever! Our new man is part of the new creation.
• But our bodies are not redeemed yet. They are still part of the old creation and under the bondage of corruption.
• When Christ returns, our bodies will be redeemed—we will be MANIFESTED as the sons of God…
• Soon after, Christ establishes His earthly, millennial kingdom… and the curse of the earth is gradually lifted…
h. II Pet. 3:10-13 – After the millennial kingdom, Christ will create a new heaven and a new earth.
• The very elements of the old earth and heavens will be melted with a fervent heat.
• This will remove every last trace of sin… think of the books, videos, cave etchings, sunken ships, idols buried in king’s tombs… weapons of mass destruction buried in the sand… bones of bodies of men brutally murdered… all of which testify to a fallen race… a cursed earth.
• The entire earth is a graveyard of creatures which have been dying for centuries… because sin entered the world.
• God will melt this down to the very elements to remove the last trace of sin from creation.
• God cleansed the earth with water in the days of Noah. He will cleanse it with fire in the future.
• In the new heaven and earth will dwell RIGHTEOUSNESS! That cannot be said today.
D. Unto Himself
1. Reconciliation is defined by Strong’s as: To reconcile completely; to reconcile back again, bring back a former state of harmony.
2. When God created the world, all things were very good. All things were in perfect harmony with their Creator.
a. But then sin entered the world… and the heavens and the earth were affected by it. God cursed the earth because of man’s sin… and the earth has been groaning and travailing in pain ever since.
b. The world which was created in harmony with God fell into disharmony. Everything is out of sync.
c. Reconciliation is God’s work of making it possible to RESTORE the created world to its original harmonious relationship to the Creator.
3. UNTO Himself = God is not reconciled to the world. Rather, the world is reconciled to Him.
a. Yet regardless of how far away the world has drifted away from its original foundations, God has a plan to RECONCILE all things.
b. Paul begins dealing with this subject by talking about the created world and the heavens… the physical world… the earth, sun, moon, and stars…
c. All these things have been affected by sin… and God would be perfectly JUST in letting the world continue to groan and travail in pain forever… but God is a God of grace and mercy… and He has a plan to bring about reconciliation between the fallen, cursed creation and the Creator.
d. God does not lower His standard. He is not reconciled to the world. But He has a plan to provide for the world to be reconciled unto Him… unto His perfect original blueprint.
e. Isa. 35:1-2, 5-6 – One day… when Christ returns, the desert shall blossom and be fruitful; sickness and deformity will be eradicated.
f. Isa. 6:6-9 – One day the animal kingdom will be reconciled back to God’s original design…
g. Isa. 2:4 – One day all the effort and expense that had formerly been spend on war and defense will be spent on crops… and providing for the good of mankind.
h. One day the world WILL be reconciled back into harmony with its Creator… but that day is not today. And it will NEVER be brought about by man’s puny efforts (UN; Peace Corps; green peace.)
i. Acts 3:19-21 – Peter reminded the Jews of the times of refreshing that will come to the world at Christ’s coming… and the times of restitution of all things.
• But this is not brought about by green peace or the UN, or even the US military.
• It is brought about only by the presence of the Lord.
j. Paul tells us that GOD will reconcile all things UNTO HIMSELF and He will do so “by Him”… through Jesus Christ—at His Second Coming in power and great glory… and not before.
And, having made peace through the blood of His cross
1. We are going to pass over this expression rather quickly today—not because it is not important (it is perhaps the most important phrase in the sentence!)…
a. We will look at it in much more detail next week when we look at the reconciliation provided to mankind (vs. 21-22)
2. The context indicates that God provided reconciliation THROUGH Jesus Christ… Christ was the Divine agent used in making reconciliation for men and for the material world.
a. Here Paul states HOW Christ provided for this reconciliation: through the blood of His cross!
3. This does not mean that animals sinned and needed forgiveness… or that the material world (sun, moon, stars, rocks, rivers, trees, etc.) needed to be saved from their sin.
a. Rather, it means this: the earth and its universe are LINKED to mankind.
b. When Adam sinned, the earth was cursed… and it has been groaning and travailing in pain ever since.
c. In a sense, when man fell… his world fell along with him.
d. But when man is raised up and restored to his former glory… the world will also be raised up to its original purpose…
e. Thus, it is the CROSS that lifts man up… provides redemption for his soul and spirit… and provides reconciliation to God.
f. So… the same cross that lifts up believing mankind will also lift up the earth and the heavens.
g. Jesus referred to the millennial kingdom as the regeneration of the earth. A glorious restoration awaits this world… and it is linked to restoration of man… and thus linked to the cross.
h. The cross is the CENTER of it all… the center of God’s program and purpose for mankind and his world… the focal point of all of history.
i. Rev. 5:1-5 – John wept because no one was able to open the book (title deed of the universe)…
• then his attention was directed to Christ… the Lamb slain… the God-Man… who was able to open the book
• and take back the right to rule over the earth… which had been usurped by the devil since Adam lost dominion over the earth in the Garden.
• Christ was qualified to bring about restoration to God’s original order (Man having dominion over the earth) because He is the Redeemer…
• The CROSS provided redemption and reconciliation for believing mankind… and it provided for man (Jesus Christ) to once again defeat the enemy and gain dominion over the earth for mankind… and it also provided for the restoration of the world to God’s original purpose… and release the world from the bondage of corruption… from being subject to vanity for so many centuries.
4. In a sense, Christ brought about PEACE between the creation and the Creator… the cross made it possible to reverse the curse placed upon the earth…
By him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven
1. Here Paul states that God reconciles all things through the agency of Christ… and he amplifies what he means by “all things.”
2. He wants to make sure that we understand that the reconciliation of the world also includes a reconciliation of the heavens themselves!
3. God cursed the earth because of man’s sin… but remember that sin BEGAN in the heavens when iniquity was found in Lucifer.
4. We are familiar with the pollution on earth (air; water; land; etc.).
5. But there has also been pollution in the heavens for many millennia because of the presence of Satan and his host of demons.
a. That is his realm. He is the Prince of the power of the air. The angels are associated with the stars of heaven.
b. Satan and his demons have had full access to the heavens… and even the heaven of heavens… trampling under foot the heavenly tabernacle.
c. Job 1:6 – Satan and other angels came before the Lord’s presence.
d. Rev. 12:7 – There have been angelic wars in heaven… and there are yet more wars in heaven to come.
e. Rev. 12:10 – Satan accuses believers before God—in heaven—day and night.
f. In some sense, the presence of evil and evil angels in heaven has polluted the heavens… spiritual wickedness in high places.
6. Through the blood of His cross, Christ provided for the reconciliation of the very heavens!
a. On the cross, Christ defeated Satan and his evil hosts.
b. They are presently defeated foes.
c. They still roam about seeking to devour, but they are defeated and that because of the cross.
d. Gen. 3:15 – Christ – the seed of the woman shall bruise thy head and thou shalt bruise his heel.
e. Satan has already been defeated and one day will be cast of the heavens for good and ultimately cast into the Lake of Fire.
f. Heb. 9:21-23 – In the Old Testament the tabernacle pictured God’s dwelling place and man’s approach to a holy God.
• Everything in the tabernacle had to be sprinkled with the blood of bulls and goats.
• This was NOT because the tabernacle sinned… but rather because it was polluted because sinful men walked through it.
• The purifying of the tabernacle was symbolic… symbolic cleansing in a symbolic tabernacle.
• The heavenly tabernacle (which was illustrated by the earthly) ALSO needs to PURIFIED… and cleansed with blood… better blood…
• The heavenlies had to be purged… purified… cleansed… by nothing less than the precious blood of Christ…
• In some way, the blood of Christ not only dealt with the guilt and condemnation of sin, but also with its defiling effects.
• Hebrews 1:10-11 – the heaven and earth are perishing and are waxing old as a garment. (process of deterioration).
• II Pet.3:7 – the heavens and the earth are reserved unto fire!
g. Paul says in Col. 1:20: “Through the blood of His cross” God brought about reconciliation for all things… on earth and in the heavens!
h. Rev. 21:1-5 – John sees a new heaven and a new earth… for the first were passed away…
• Vs. 5 – Behold, I make ALL THINGS new.
• One day God will restore all things… He will make all things new… no longer subject to vanity… but fulfilling their God given purpose.
• Those who know Christ as their personal Savior will enter into that New Jerusalem… that heavenly city… and will experience eternal life the way God intended!
• Vs. 8 – Those who reject Christ… but choose instead to continue in their sin and rebellion against Him will NOT be permitted to enter… but will be cast into the Lake of Fire… forever.
• Rev. 22:17 – the final invitation God makes: COME!
• This is the same invitation Jesus made: Come unto Me all ye that labor and are heavy laden and I will give you rest for your soul!
• Will YOU come to God in simple, childlike faith? Your eternal destiny will be determined by your response to God’s simple and gracious invitation: COME!