2

Exegetically, without bringing theology to the text, is Paul stating that all their sins, including future sins were forgiven in Colossians 2:13-14? Would the recipients of this letter understand "having forgiven us all our trespasses" to include future, uncommitted sins? Here is the passage:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14 (ESV)

4

Grammar

καὶ ὑμᾶς νεκροὺς ὄντας [ἐν] τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν, συνεζωοποίησεν ὑμᾶς σὺν αὐτῷ, χαρισάμενος ἡμῖν πάντα τὰ παραπτώματα. ἐξαλείψας τὸ καθ᾿ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον τοῖς δόγμασιν ὃ ἦν ὑπεναντίον ἡμῖν, καὶ αὐτὸ ἦρκεν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου προσηλώσας αὐτὸ τῷ σταυρῷ· (Colossians 2:13-14)

And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has canceled what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.

συνεζωοποίησεν ("made alive together"), χαρισάμενος ("having forgiven"), ἐξαλείψας ("canceling/blotting out"), and προσηλώσας ("having nailed") are all in the aorist tense and thus say the least about the verbal action possible (it just happened).

ἦρκεν (he has taken up/set aside) is a perfect active indicative verb, and thus the Colossian Christians' record of debt ("certificate of indebtedness") had indeed come to be set aside (or taken away).

Does 'all' include future transgressions?

The grammar really doesn't say. You would have to look at the context of the entire passage and epistle, but even then there would be speculation. You could easily argue that all transgressions includes future ones, but you could also argue that it only includes all transgressions up to that point in time (the latter of which is fully supported by the grammar, but without precluding nor fully justifying the former argument). The English translation is actually very good here in both the ESV and above.

To answer the specific question, "exegetically, without bringing theology to the text," it is clear that Paul is saying to the Colossian Christians that

... even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has canceled what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.

Anything beyond this would have to come from something other than the grammar, although the grammar would not conflict with either position in this case.

1
  • I admittedly hurried through this response and thus did not break down a lot of the syntax in this text. However, my answer does not change as a result of this - I just did not explain the text as well as I could have. My apologies, but time constraints meant this response or nothing at all. – Dan Sep 4 '13 at 4:07
1

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses,

Colossians 2:13 (ESV)

The participial phrase "having forgiven" in the text shows that we are already forgiven by God the time he quickened us. This coheres with Romans 5:8:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)

In the context of the Scriptures as a whole, it is shown that all sins -- past, present and future -- are in Paul's mind when he talked about the forgiveness of sins. God forgave us our sins by means of cancelling the record of debt (singular) that stood against us with its legal demands (plural). Romans 6:23 spoke of the wages (plural) for sin ( the transgression of the law ~ 1 John 3:4).

by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13 (ESV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (ESV)

Going back to the quickening done by God in Colossians 1:13, it becomes clear that the forgiveness of sins is highly related to the regenerative work of God in the believer.What this shows is that there are no sins to be forgiven after the new birth or else, there would be a need for Christ to be crucified again so as to nail again the debt of sin to the cross.

4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14 (ESV)

This should not be confused with 1 John 1:9 wherein restoring fellowship (not relationship) with God is the issue.

Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.