Regarding His divinity, the Son of God was sovereign over the universe before He came in the flesh (John 1:1–18). It is interesting, then, that Scripture also says Christ became Lord in His resurrection. Jesus was declared the Son of God in power, elevated to the Father’s right hand, and secured preeminence in His exaltation, which began when He rose from the dead (Rom. 1:1–4; Phil. 2:5–11; Col. 1:18). Apparently, we are to understand that though He was always the great King in His deity, Jesus as the God-man achieved a lordship that could also fully include His humanity through His perfect life and His victory over sin and Satan through His death on the cross.
Such was possible only because His deity guaranteed the success of His mission, making it right for us to view the whole Christ, not just His divine nature, as worthy of honor as Lord of all. Today’s passage gives us one of the clearest revelations of Christ’s deity in the entire New Testament — God in His fullness was pleased to dwell in Jesus (Col. 1:19). Aside from indicating that humanity in its unfallen state is good (how could it be otherwise if our holy Creator became incarnate?), this passage tells us clearly that nothing of God’s essence is absent from Jesus in the incarnation. He is completely and absolutely the Almighty, and anyone who rejects this truth has no share in salvation (John 8:24). Ambrose of Milan, the ancient bishop who discipled Augustine, writes, “The Son of God so possesses his own glory that the glory of the Father and Son is one: he is not, therefore, inferior in splendor, for the glory is one, nor lower in Godhead, for the fullness of the Godhead is in Christ” (ACCNT 9, p. 20).
Because He is Lord of all, no part of the created order will escape the benefits of His work. In Christ, God will “reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven” (Col. 1:20). Paul is not advocating a universalism whereby all people will be saved. Instead, he is teaching that cosmic reconciliation is the final end of our Savior’s work. Adam’s fall ruined humanity’s fellowship with our Creator, but it also “broke” the cosmos: people began hating each other, animals were set against us and other animals, pests and disease entered the picture, and even nature was thrown into upheaval — weather, earthquakes, and more now cause death and destruction. Christ’s work fixes all this as well, and creation will one day no longer groan for its rescue (Rom. 8:18–23).
Perhaps an easier way to understand what the Bible says about cosmic reconciliation is to refer to it as cosmic restoration. Though our Lord’s work redeems His people from sin and death, His accomplishment was so great that no aspect of creation can go untouched by what happened on Calvary. At His return, what is now broken in nature will be fixed, the redeemed will be free of evil and pain, and we will have true dominion, all to God’s glory.