“And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled”
Colossians 1:21 NKJV
And you: he tells specifically the audience he is addressing by describing them.
Who were once alienated: they were once separated, but no longer are. Once… past tense.
Enemies in your mind by wicked works: they were once… enemies in their minds. This indicates that there has been a fundamental shift in the way they think. Their minds once held ideas that were antithetical to God and now, no longer do.
He has now reconciled: They are now in fellowship with Him. Reconciled… past tense… speaks of something transformative that has occurred in the past that brought them into fellowship and restored their relationship with God.
“in the body of His flesh through death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight—”
Colossians 1:22 NKJV
In the body of His flesh through death: not by our works but by His (Jesus), who was faithful unto death.
To present you Holy, and blameless, and above reproach in His sight: Jesus did this to present those to whom he is addressing in v21 Holy (separated from uncleanness), and blameless (without blame), and above reproach (above correction) in His (God the Father) sight.
“if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven, of which I, Paul, became a minister.”
Colossians 1:23 NKJV
If: two letters with such immense weight. It means that the previous two verses are contingent on the fulfillment of the next verse
if indeed you continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast: the contingency is based on the fulfillment of continuing in the faith, remaining grounded and steadfast (perseverance through trials and tests)
not moved away from the hope of the gospel: as trials and tests come along, the tendency is to modify our beliefs to suit our circumstances. To massage God’s word to give ourselves permission to pursue our fleshly desires. To fall into self righteousness as we become our own saviors trying to earn his favor through works instead of surrendering our lives and walking in faith.
Which you heard, which was preached to every creature under heaven: he calls their attention back to the gospel which has been recorded in scripture. The same gospel Paul himself defines in 1 Cor 15:1-8.
The summary of this passage is the audience to whom he is speaking is changed from what they once were to something new. They were once enemies of God, now they are in relationship with Him. This relationship was made possible through the shed blood of Christ. Through His obedience unto death. They are now beyond condemnation or reproach by His merits.
The if statement is not directed at these changed individuals but rather is there to distinguish the audience. He is saying that the audience to which the promise applies are those who meet the following criteria: perseverance in a grounded biblical faith and unmoved from the hope of the gospel as recorded in scripture. These are evidences of those who have been truly changed.
The paradox of this passage is that he says they have been reconciled (past tense) but it’s contingent on future evidence.