The Hope of the Gospel Is Someone, Not Something

The Hope of the Gospel Is Someone, Not Something

Written by Kevin W. McFadden |
Monday, November 20, 2023

The Father is indeed our source of peace (Col.1:2). And his work of reconciliation through the death of his Son is the foundation of our future and final hope. Thus the hope of the gospel is Christ. The Father has accomplished our redemption and reconciliation through his Son in order to present us blameless at the final judgment. When he appears, we will appear with him in the glory of his resurrection (Col. 3:4). But until that day he remains hidden in heaven at the right hand of God (Col. 3:1), and our lives are hidden with him as well (Col. 3:3).

Christ, Our Hope

What is the hope of the gospel according to Colossians? In a word, it is Christ. Paul tells the Colossians that “the hope of glory” is “Christ in you” (Col. 1:27). Those who have Christ dwelling in them (by his Spirit) have the hope that they will one day share in the glory of his resurrection (cf. Rom. 5–8). Hope is by definition oriented toward this unseen future reality, “for who hopes for what he sees?” (Rom. 8:24). But the hope of the resurrection is also rooted in the past reality of the cross of Christ through which the Father has accomplished our redemption and reconciliation.

Redemption in Christ

In his opening prayer, Paul reminds the Colossians that the Father has accomplished redemption in his beloved Son (Col. 1:14). While redemption can be used to describe salvation generally, here it specifically refers to a payment for our release from captivity.1Paul’s reasoning is fleshed out in Ephesians, a letter probably written at the same time, in which he says that this payment is the cross: “In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace” (Eph. 1:7).

What was the captivity from which Christ’s blood redeemed us? Paul defines this redemption as “the forgiveness of sins” (Col. 1:14). So the cross has redeemed us from the captivity of the debt of our sins against God. And as a result we are also freed from captivity to “the domain of darkness” (Col. 1:13) or the evil kingdom of Satan. Satan has authority over fallen humanity because of his role in our sins: he tempts us to sin as he did with Eve (Gen. 3:1–5), and he accuses us of sin as he did with Job (Job 1:6–12). People today tend to reject or forget about Satan and demonic powers, but the Colossians were acutely aware of the presence of angels and demons. Perhaps the philosophy promised them deliverance from the threat of demonic powers. But Paul reminds them that the Father had already delivered them “from the domain of darkness” (Col. 1:13), because he had forgiven their sins in Christ (Col. 1:14).

He has also “transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son” (Col. 1:13). In Christ, believers are bona fide citizens and heirs of the kingdom of God, for the Father has qualified us “to share in the inheritance of the saints in light” (Col. 1:12).2 The redeemed, then, are rightly called “saints” or God’s “holy people” now, in the present (Col. 1:2, 4, 12, 26). And we also have hope for the future that at the final judgment he will “present [us] holy and blameless and above reproach before him” (Col. 1:22), provided of course that we continue in the faith (Col. 1:23).3

Reconciliation through Christ

In the famous poem about Christ in Colossians 1:15–20, Paul teaches that the Father has also accomplished reconciliation through the cross of Christ. The word “reconcile” implies the problem of rebellion.

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