What does Colossians 1:13 mean?
ESV: He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,
NIV: For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
NASB: For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son,
CSB: He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.
NLT: For he has rescued us from the kingdom of darkness and transferred us into the Kingdom of his dear Son,
KJV: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
Verse Commentary:
God has rescued and redeemed believers. "Domain" is from the Greek word exousias, which can also be translated as "power, authority, or strength." In this case, Paul is referring to God's rescue of Christians from the power of sin and death. Darkness is contrasted with light, as mentioned in the previous verse. Just as light and darkness have nothing in common, and good and evil are opposed to each other, so heaven and hell are opposites.

In addition, Paul says that God has transformed us from sinners bound by sin, into new creations meant for heaven. The word metestēsen is often translated "delivered" in English translations, but can also mean "transpose," or even "translate." This once again highlights God's rescue of the believer from the power of sin and its consequences (Romans 6:23). Christian believers are not merely protected from the penalty sin, we are radically removed from it.

God's "beloved Son" is Jesus, is a phrase used at His baptism (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Luke 3:22) and in the Transfiguration (Matthew 17:5; Mark 9:7; 2 Peter 1:17), as spoken by God the Father. Jesus also used this phrase in one of His parables (Luke 20:13).
Verse Context:
Colossians 1:9–14 is a prayer on behalf of the Colossian Christians. Paul prays for their continued spiritual growth, including knowledge of God, knowledge of His will, and wisdom. Paul also prays for their strength and endurance. In so praying, Paul reminds the believers of Colossae that salvation is entirely the work of God, who drastically changed their fate by rescuing them from sin.
Chapter Summary:
In chapter 1, Paul introduces himself, along with his co-author Timothy. As he often does, Paul gives thanks for what he hears about the faith of the believers in Colossae. Paul includes a prayer for their growth and spiritual strength. The letter then transitions to praise of Jesus, describing Him as absolutely supreme. All created things were made through, by, and for Him. And, since it was His sacrifice which saved us from sin, we can have confidence in our eternal destiny.
Chapter Context:
Colossians chapter 1 is mostly focused on describing Christ as supreme. Jesus is not only the God of creation, He is the ultimate authority over all created things. The penalty for sin has been completely removed because of His perfect sacrifice. These are foundational ideas which Paul will use to set up his later points. In chapters 2, 3, and 4, Paul will explain why contrary claims are untrue, and show the right way for Christians to live out what we believe about Jesus.
Book Summary:
The book of Colossians describes Christ as superior to all other teachers, faiths, and philosophies. In this letter, written from prison, Paul once again tackles false teachings. Among these errors are claims that Christians need to give up all physical enjoyments, that they should worship angels, and that they need to rely on the wisdom of an elite few. These problems are consistent with an ancient heresy known as Gnosticism. In response, Paul explains that Christ is supreme, and sufficient for our salvation.
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