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The term for “alienated” means “estranged,” “cut off,” or “separated.”  Before they were reconciled, all people were completely estranged from God (Ephesians 2:12,13).  The term for “enemies” can also be translated “hateful.”  Unbelievers hate God and resent His holy standard because they love “wicked works” (John 3:19,20; 15:18,24,25).  Actually there is alienation from both sides, since God “hates all workers of iniquity” (Psalm 5:5).  Christ’s substitutionary death on the cross that paid the full penalty for the sin of all who believe made reconciliation possible and actual (Romans 3:25;5:9,10;8:3).

Commentary from the MacArthur study Bible, notes for Colossians 1:21.

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