Menu Keys

On-Going Mini-Series

Bible Studies

Codes & Descriptions

Class Codes
[A] = summary lessons
[B] = exegetical analysis
[C] = topical doctrinal studies
What is a Mini-Series?
A Mini-Series is a small subset of lessons from a major series which covers a particular subject or book. The class numbers will be in reference to the major series rather than the mini-series.

Transferred: New Authority. Colossians 1:13


We have been studying in this passage Paul's prayer for the Colossian believers, a prayer for their spiritual growth, a prayer that they would advance in the power that God had given them through the Holy Spirit, and that that pursuit would be based upon knowledge. Jesus said in John chapter eight that it is through the knowledge of truth that we have true freedom. But that truth is not a truth that is found in a philosophy textbook or in a college classroom; it is truth that is embedded in the revealed Word of God from Genesis through Revelation.

In verses 9-12 Paul focuses on what is needed to walk worthy, what is needed to have a full spiritual life: to be filled with the knowledge of His will, to walk worthy of the Lord, to be strengthened with all might, and giving thanks to the Father. There Paul uses a purpose participle to give thanks to the Lord who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. Note that the focal point of verse 12 is future, that we are giving thanks now to the Father who has qualified us for a future reality. That is, at some time in the future to partake of the inheritance that has been set aside for us. Further, those who have trusted in Christ as those who are identified as those in the light. This is going to be contrasted with the power of darkness in verse 13. 

Colossians 1:13 NASB "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." The NKJV sets this apart as an independent sentence. It is not independent in the Greek, it is a relative clause: that as the apostle Paul has focused out attention upon the Father he now identifies who this is. He is going to say something about the Father and then from there talk about the Son. He uses a relative participle here to express who God is. There are six key words or phrases in vv. 13 and 14. "[God] who has rescued/delivered us from the power of darkness." The word translated "rescued" is a word that is a synonym often used in relation to spiritual salvation. It is the Greek word rhuomai [r(uomai] and it is in the aorist tense which here simply summarizes a past event. So this is something that has already transpired. Paul uses the first person plural "us," so he is applying this both to himself as well as to his audience. This took place at the time that they trusted in Jesus Christ as savior. It is at that time that one of the many things that God does for us transpired. We shift our authority. We are born under the authority of the domain of darkness and we are shifted into a different authority, identified here as the kingdom of His love. So this first verb here, rhuomai, indicates being delivered from something, rescued from something, preserved or saved. We could translate this any number of ways to convey that.

The next phrase we want to examine of the phrase "power/domain of darkness." What exactly does that describe? We are delivered from this power. It is important to note the prepositions. "From" here in the Greek indicates being removed from being under a power. So we are moved, transferred, shifted from being under one authority system to being in another type of authority. The term "power of darkness" doesn't indicate that is a kingdom, it is not exactly a one-to-one contrast here. We are delivered from or out from under a certain dominion—exousia [e)cousia] is also translated dominion or power or authority here: the authority of darkness. And the concept of darkness is often used in Scripture to describe the world that is in rebellion against the light of God's Word. There are a couple of different ways in which this metaphor of light and darkness is used. One way in which light is used is in relation to God's holiness, that God is light and in Him there is no darkness at all, 1 John says. That relates to His perfect righteousness, that there is no sin, no evil in Him; He is absolute pure righteousness. Another way in which light and darkness are used is in relation to revelation, that when God's truth is revealed to us it is enlightening. We are in the light, and then in contrast there is darkness. So there is this metaphor which is used to refer to the domain of Satan, the authority of darkness, versus God's domain which is the domain of light. This is positional and it has to do with revelation in this usage, not in terms of righteousness or justice.

The passage that is most close to this is one that is articulated by Paul in Acts 26:18 NASB "to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me." Notice that in this shift the power of Satan relates to his domain, and then God has His domain or realm of authority, and that for a shift to take place—in this statement which is from the Lord Jesus Christ to the apostle Paul, "that they may receive forgiveness of sins"—note how closely this relates to what the apostle says in Colossians 1:14, "in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins," and that this, then provides an inheritance. That inheritance is yet future. So we see that there is a contrast between two domains; we see that one domain has a future orientation related to inheritance, and that being transferred from one to the other is related to faith in Christ.

We see a similar idea in Ephesians 6:12 NASB "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the powers [exousia], against the world forces of this darkness, against the spiritual {forces} of wickedness in the heavenly {places.}" The context is where the apostle Paul is talking about the invisible warfare that Christians are in in terms of the greater battle that has occurred between Satan and God the Father. In eternity past this rebellion occurred when Lucifer desired to be like God, to have the power of God, and to receive all of the praise and adulation and worship that was going to God. His fall began this cosmic conflict. Satan enticed one third of the angels to follow him and then eventually God in a demonstration of His grace and love created the present earth and the human race within it in order to demonstrate His grace and love through human history. Paul recognizes that we are engaged in this warfare against these forces of evil who have various ranks and various positions. They belong to the realm of the fallen angels, those who have rebelled against God.

In Ephesians 2:2 Paul also references this in terms of the Ephesians' former life before they were saved. He refers to this as a life that was empowered and influenced by Satan through the mentality or the thinking of the world. NASB "in which you formerly walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, of the spirit that is now working in the sons of disobedience." 2 Corinthians 4:4 also refers to him in terms of his power: that he is the god of this age, and as such he blinds the minds of those who do not believe lest the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine on them.

John 12:31 NASB "Now judgment is upon this world; now the ruler of this world will be cast out." Although he has not been removed from a position of influence his authority has been legally fractured and ended by the cross.

Colossians 1:13 NASB "For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son." The word translated "transferred" is methistemi [meqisthmi] and it indicates removing somebody from one place to another, to some sort of change or turning aside, or causing a shift or change of position. This is a positional reality as opposed to an experiential reality. By that is meant that when we understand Satan's kingdom we realize that even though we are transferred under the authority of God we still sin. There is a transfer of authority position from the dominion of darkness, the authority of darkness, to the kingdom of light.

When we think about Satan's kingdom there are some characteristics to be reminded of.

1.  It is a kingdom that is characterized by darkness rather than light. Darkness and light have an absolute reference point and that is the revelation of God, absolute truth.

2.  Deception. Revelation 13:14 says that Satan is a liar. John 8 says that Satan is a liar and the father of lies.

3.  In Ephesians 2:2 Satan's kingdom is characterized by disobedience to God.

4.  Therefore we have to understand that because Christians still sin what these passages say about being transferred from the dominion of darkness to the kingdom of light refers to a positional reality, not an experiential reality. We haven't experienced that yet in terms of being completely removed from the influence of the dominion of darkness, it is just that Satan no longer has authority over us.

The next word that we need to understand in this verse is the word "kingdom"—"the kingdom of His beloved Son." When we look at this phrase we need to ask the question, what is this kingdom? Is this a reference to the universal authority of God or is this a reference to the literal, physical messianic kingdom that God promised in the Old Testament to Israel? Or is it something else? Is it some form of spiritual kingdom today where Jesus is living in the hearts of those who have believed in Him? That last is one that we will often hear from someone who does not have a sound view of Scripture, and unfortunately that idea of a spiritual kingdom is one that has influenced a number of different people. This idea of a spiritual kingdom, that somehow we are in one form of the kingdom and its full expression is some time in the future has picked up a technical theological phrase called "already and not yet."

We must understand that there are two ways in which this word "kingdom" or God's authority to rule over history is mentioned in Scripture. One is the idea of a universal sovereign kingdom. The psalmist talks about the fact that God rules forever and ever, there never was a time when He did not rule. This applies to His sovereign creator position and authority: that He is the one who rules over everything He has created and He always has. But that is not the way that we are talking about "kingdom" in this particular verse. There is another way in which kingdom has been used and writers refer to this as the theocratic kingdom which has to do with God's rule on the earth. Some have used the term "mediatorial kingdom," there is not a set terminology for this. The first form of theocratic kingdom that we saw in history was when God was ruling through Adam and Eve. When they were in the garden before the fall God ruled through them as His vice gerent to rule over creation. When God's presence left the earth then that theocratic kingdom was put on hold. It comes back in another form at Mount Sinai when God has called out a special people for Himself, the nation of Israel, the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He had freed them from slavery in Egypt and at Mount Sinai He gave them a law. In order to have a kingdom there has to be a king, a domain over which to rule, and the exercise of that dominion. That exercise for Israel was to come through the theocracy of Israel at the beginning of their freedom from Egypt when they would be ruled by God through the priests and through His Word, through the Mosaic Law.

That kingdom ended in AD 70 and Jesus predicted in Matthew 13 that there would be an interim period. He called it the mysteries of the kingdom, previously unrevealed truth about the kingdom, and that that kingdom would eventually come as He had promised to David, to Isaiah and Jeremiah. It would come to Israel and this would be the future messianic kingdom which we refer to as the Millennial kingdom, meaning 1000 years. Jeremiah 23:3-6 speaks about a future literal kingdom. After that kingdom ends, then we have the eternal theocratic kingdom in the new heavens and the new earth.

A view that is very popular in many Christian circles is called amillennialism, which means not a literal millennium. The church age is viewed as the messianic kingdom; it is a spiritual kingdom where Jesus rules in the hearts of His followers. So that a thousand is not taken literally but just as a whole number. In their view Jesus will come at the end of the church age, the judgments will occur, and then there will be eternity. That is the amillennial view of the kingdom.

Colossians 1:13 is one of two verses people will go to and say, see we are in the present form of the kingdom; this verse proves it and so does Romans 14:17 which states NASB "for the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit." The verb that is used there is a present tense verb: "the kingdom of God is not…" There are those who go to this verse and say this shows a present form of the kingdom. However, the context of Romans 14 is better understood as a future than a present. In the present life no one can deny the importance of food and drink, but in the future kingdom this will not be significant because we will be in our immortal bodies. Food is not going to be an issue for us in the Millennial kingdom. So Paul writes here that the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking but that is not something that applies to this age right now. He is talking about the future. He uses a present tense verb, but just like the aorist or past tense form that is used in Colossians 1:13 these two verb forms are frequently used in language with a future sense. It is called a futuristic use of the present. The reason is that the writer is so confident of the future reality that he speaks of it as already in existence. Examples of this: Hebrews 12:22, 23 NASB "But you have come [perfect tense, completed] to Mount Zion…" Have we? No, that is future. But it is spoken of because we are saved and it is a completed transaction; it will necessarily take place in the future. "… and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to myriads of angels, to the general assembly and church of the firstborn who are enrolled in heaven, and to God, the Judge of all, and to the spirits of {the} righteous made perfect." What the writer describes there is future to us, but he speaks of it as if having already taken place because its future reality is so certain. Another verse is Romans 8:30 NASB "and these whom He predestined, He also called; and these whom He called, He also justified; and these whom He justified, He also glorified." Glorification is future, but the reality that occurs at salvation is such that the future is so certain it can be spoken of in the past tense.

When we look at the context, verse 12, we see the emphasis of giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be (future tense) partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light. That inheritance is related to our position where we will rule and reign with the Lord Jesus Christ. So the context of Colossians 1:13 is a future context. The kingdom here is not a reference to the present kingdom but to our preparation now for that future destiny in the kingdom. Colossians 1:13 and Romans 14:17 are the only two places where Paul speaks of the kingdom in a present sense. In other passages it is always future, so when we compare Scripture with Scripture we understand that the kingdom is a future event. 2 Timothy 4:1 NASB "I solemnly charge {you} in the presence of God and of Christ Jesus, who is to judge the living and the dead, and by His appearing and His kingdom." It is future. 2 Timothy 4:18 NASB "The Lord will rescue me from every evil deed, and will bring me safely to His heavenly kingdom; to Him {be} the glory forever and ever. Amen." 2 Peter 1:11 NASB "for in this way the entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ will be abundantly supplied to you."

What is interesting about those last two verses is that there is the same preposition, eis [e)ij], with reference to the kingdom. That preposition indicates the direction or goal or ultimate fulfillment of something, so that when we look at this statement, that God has transferred us into the kingdom of His Son it has the sense of a goal or direction. It is not something that is now, it is something that is our destiny, that which is in the future.

We see three things that tell us that this passage must refer to a future kingdom: a) the context is speaking of a future event, the reception of our inheritance and rewards; b) the complete and final deliverance from darkness and the domain of darkness, which is Satan's domain, does not occur until Satan is finally and ultimately destroyed; c) we must also understand that the word eis here is a word that indicates a future direction or a future goal or destiny. God the Father has delivered us in the past when we trusted in Christ as savior. At that point we are transferred from the authority or domain of the kingdom of this earth, Satan's rule over the earth, and into a new kingdom. That kingdom will come but we are in the stage where we are being prepared for that kingdom and that is our future destiny. When we are transferred from the authority of Satan, when we are removed from the tyranny of the sin nature, into a place where we have true freedom, we have freedom because Christ died for our sins. The only way that we can experience real freedom is when we make the Word of God the authority in our thinking and the framework for all our thought, because as Jesus said, it is only when we know the truth that the truth will set us free.