Drawing on a third prophetic typology of salvation from the Old Testament, Paul concludes the confession of faith that provides the theological foundation for his letter. The opening pronoun you gives this passage a pointed tone, made personal by Paul's concluding exhortation (v. 23). The language of conversion recalls 1:13-14, thereby bracketing off and providing the focus for the christological confession of 1:15-20: the lordship of Christ gives believers even more confidence that God's rescue operation of lost humanity will be effective.
Such confidence is not always easy. We are often seduced into conformity with the norms and values of our world, which is secular and humanistic, materialistic and cynical. Society's elites seem to control our daily lives and become substitutes for God; our immediate survival at home or in the workplace becomes more important to us than our witness to God's reign. Because of the difficulty of being Christian in a non-Christian world, our incarnation of Christ's victory requires a costly devotion. Yet this devotion is both required and made reasonable by the certainty of our eventual triumph with him.
The images Paul employs in this passage push us beyond conversion toward the future, when we will be vindicated with Christ. In light of this prospect, Paul shifts the reader's focus from Christology to eschatology, from the Lord Christ's reconciling death to the church's entrance into God's kingdom at the end of time. In doing so, Paul rounds out the essential content of his gospel to the Gentiles and readies his readers for the polemic against his opponents at Colosse.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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