Chapter 24 – Colossians Atonement Passages

Author: Kevin George

This book is a work in progress. Posts on this blog are to enable readers to examine the manuscript and make commentary. These blog posts are NOT the final version!

Colossians 1:14 “In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”

The key words are, “redemption” (apolytrōsin, Gr. 629) and “forgiveness”  (aphesin, Gr. 859).

The word “apolytrōsin” means “to release”, or to “free from”. (See Chapter 10 of this book for additional research about the word “redeem”.) This is how that word is used in Hebrews 11:35, “Some were tortured, refusing to accept release…”.Yes, it can be used in a commercial sense where a buyer frees the purchase from its prior owner, but the action of the word points to being released, and not the transaction itself. 

The word “aphesin” means “sent away, released”. It can mean forgiveness in the sense of being released from an obligation, but the act of being released comes first, and the forgiveness would be a byproduct of that release. Furthermore, a careful reading of the passage shows that it is “we” who have “redemption, the release of sins”, not God. Jesus enabled us to released, not God who is released from some inability to forgive our sins.  

Based on the above, an alternate translation of Colossians 1:14 would be, “In whom we have freedom through his blood, the release/letting go of sins.”

Colossians 2:13-16 “When you were dead in your transgressions and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our transgressions, having canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross. When He had disarmed the rulers and authorities, He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him. Therefore no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day”

The word “forgiven” in verse 13 is the Greek word “charisamenos”, which is “to show favor”. The favor is in releasing us from “paraptōmata”, the errors or failings of the decrees. The point is not a payment to get God to forgive us, but rather that Jesus showed that the decrees are inferior to loyalty to God, as he showed by overcoming them.