Q. I love the OSAS view but it would seem that Paul’s statement in Colossians 1:21-23 is a proof-text against the notion that it is impossible to forfeit your own salvation through disbelief. It seems that there is no way to tie this statement of Paul’s to rewards rather than to salvation. Can you help here?
A. Here’s Colossians 1:21-23. “Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.”
Taken by itself you could read this as a conditional statement. But for that to be correct, Paul would have to be contradicting clear statements he made confirming OSAS in other places. Some of these are Romans 8:38-39, Ephesians 1:13-14, and 2 Cor 1:21-22. Since his writings were inspired by the Holy Spirit (2 Tim. 3:16), this would not be possible. So what is Colossians 1:21-23 really saying?
The Greek word translated “if” in Col 1:23 is eige. It doesn’t have a direct equivalent in English. According to my concordance the word “since” and the phrase “inasmuch as” come close. We give the word “if” that kind of certainty when we make an if/then statement.
For example, suppose I say, “If gravity exists, then by jumping off a building you will fall to the ground.” Does my use of the word “if” imply that gravity is conditional? Or, am I really saying, “Since gravity exists, then by jumping off a building you will fall to the ground.” See what I mean? Substituting “since” for “if” removes any possibility of Colossians 1:21-23 contradicting Paul’s other statements.