What Does If Mean?

Q. Once again I am so thankful for your site, everyday I learn and get a deeper understanding of the Word. My question is on Colossians 1: 21-23. I believe in OSAS but Paul’s use of “if” in verse 23 has me confused as it seems like a salvation issue. Can you help?

A. first let’s remember that Paul didn’t use the word “if” in Colossians 1:23. He used a Greek word that has been translated “if” in that verse. It literally means “inasmuch as”, or “since”. It’s another one of those “manner of speaking” issues. The “if/then” clauses we use today provide a good example for us.

When we say, “If North is this direction, then South has to be the opposite way” we’re not expressing any doubt about which direction North is. We’re affirming the relationship between North and South. We really should say “Since North is this direction …”.

We know it’s theologically proper to replace “if” with “since” because it makes the intent of Colossians 1:23 consistent with Paul’s other statements on salvation. In Colossians 1:21-22 Paul was speaking about how God used Christ’s death to reconcile us to Him, allowing Him to see us as if we never sinned. Also, he said Jesus forgave all our sins at the cross (Colossians 2:13-14), that our inheritance was guaranteed when we heard and believed the Gospel of our salvation (Ephesians 1:13-14), and that after we’re saved it’s God who makes us stand firm in Christ (2 Cor. 1:21-22). The writer of Hebrews confirmed this, saying that by His once-for-all-time sacrifice for sin the Lord has made us perfect forever (Hebr. 10:12-14). There’s no conditionality in any of these statements.

“Very truly I tell you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned, but has crossed over from death to life” (John 5:24).

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