Reflection: What is ‘the gospel’? Paul now picks up where he left off in verse 14, before he inserted his hymn to Christ the ‘image of the invisible God’. He had been addressing the Colossians and reminding them of the significance of their salvation.
This is what he now restates. In meeting Christ, the Colossians have moved from one state to another. They were once deeply at odds with God – alienated from him and ignorant of him – because of their evil behaviour. Paul does not pull any punches here. They were outsiders to the people of God in every way.
What had changed? God has reconciled them to himself by means of the death of Jesus. Paul underlines that it is God who does the reconciling in the cross of Christ – God makes peace with those who were his enemies. And in order to so, he deals with sin, making us holy and blemish-free. He then seems to put a bit of caveat on it – because the salvation that the Colossians received, they need to take hold of by faith. They need to cling to God’s offer of reconciliation by faith, and to immerse themselves in the hope declared to them in the message of good news.
This is Paul’s summary of the gospel. The gospel begins with bad news – we are in need of salvation because of sin. But it is a declaration that God has reconciled with us by the death of Jesus, a reconciliation that brings us forgiveness, holiness, and hope. Paul has dedicated himself as a servant to that gospel – and it is a gospel that is at the centre of the universe itself.
Prayer: Heavenly Father, God of all grace and mercy, may I continue in faith and hope in the gospel of your Son, reconciled to you and enemies no longer. Amen