Vol. 1 - No. 2
Grounded And Settled
by H. L. Bruce
Paul admonished Christians in Colossians 1:23 to continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which they had heard and which had been preached to every creature which was under heaven whereof he, Paul, was made a minister. This was a thought of comfort for the trying times. The Colossians were in the kingdom, (Colossians 1:13) under the rule of Christ, the Prince of Peace, who was made to be the head of the church, after God had raised him from the dead. (Ephesians 1:22-23; Col. 1:18) The kingdom is peace. (Rom. 14:17) Christ had made peace through his blood. (Col. 1:20) The Colossian Christians, formerly alienated from God, had been reconciled to be presented holy, unblamable and unreprovable before him. (1:20-22)
This anticipation carries with it certain conditions and qualifications. They had a God given responsibility to discharge, if they were to be presented holy, unblamable and unreprovable in his sight; to continue in the faith, grounded and settled, and not be moved away from the hope.
The people addressed in this text were Christians. They were in the faith. (v. 23) They had entered Christ. (v. 14) God had delivered them from the power of darkness and translated them into the kingdom. (v. 13) This was accomplished through their having been born again, by water and the Spirit. (John 3:3-5) They had been buried with him in baptism and raised through the faith of the operation of God.
(Col. 2:14) Having been raised with Christ, they were to seek those things above and mortify, or put to death, all ungodliness. (Col. 3:1-7) In doing this the peace of God would rule in their hearts unto which they had become a part of the called out (eklethe) of the world the power of darkness into the one body, (Col. 3:15 the church, (1:18) and were in the kingdom. (1:13)
They had formerly walked as children of disobedience, (Col. 3:6-7) but had now been reconciled.
Even though all of this and more, could be said for them, Paul emphasized that for their anticipation to be realized, they must continue. (Col. 1:23) The Bible teaches the free moral agency of man. He must decide in becoming a child of God, and continue to yield thereafter. (cf. Romans 6:16) The Bible teaches the complete sovereignty of God, (Daniel 4:17) predicated upon man's disposition to submit. (Matthew 7:13-14)
Man must exercise his free moral agency in the obtaining of faith, in his decision to hear. Man must select what to do. He can hear, or not hear! The decision is his. If he were to so choose he could reject and be lost. (John 12:48) If he would obtain faith he must hear, for faith comes through hearing. (Romans 10:17) In like manner, he is instrumental in his decision to repent, (Acts 17:30) confess (Romans 10:9-10) and be baptized. (Acts 2:38)
The whole spectrum of man's initial obedience is to be from the heart. (Romans 6:17-18) In like manner, as a child of God he continues to exercise his free moral agency. That is what this part of the Colossian letter is all about: he is to continue in the faith, grounded and settled, to be presented holy, unblamable and unreprovable in his sight.
"If ye continue (ei ge epimenete) projects a condition! Conditions, when met give hope. When the conditions are not met, the promise is withdrawn. Such is the case with the Colossians. They are not only admonished, they are warned! There was the possibility they would fail, not continue in the faith, would not be grounded and settled, and would be moved away from the hope of the gospel. They could be beguiled of their reward. (Col. 2:18) They could be spoiled through philosophy. (2:8) They could lie to one another. (3:8) Consequently, there was the possibility that after their having become associated with God and Christ through their submission to them, they could change their course and have their part in the eternal lake of fire. (Revelation 21:8; Matthew 25:41)
"The hope of the gospel" gives comfort. It is by hope that we are saved. (Romans 8:24) By hope, faith has purpose. (Hebrews 11:1) We are anchored by hope. (Heb. 6:19) It is by hope that we are stabilized: grounded and settled. (Colossians 1:23) Having hope causes us to participate in self purification. (1 John 3:3)
The Apostles and Us
When Christ was raised from the dead, the apostles were begotten again unto a lively hope, unto an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled and that fadeth not away. (cf. 1 Peter 1:3-5) This same hope, of which Peter speaks, is what would settle and give anticipation to the Colossians. It will also anchor and strengthen us if we will but meet the conditions. (Revelation 22:14)