Paul assures the Colossian church that if they have Christ, they have fullness in him: they no longer need to bow to spiritual pressure from Jews, ascetics, libertines or spiritists around them but rather to live holy lives in full assurance of what they have in Christ.
The apostle Paul writes a letter to the Colossian church. The city of Colossae is on a Roman road leading from the important harbor Ephesus towards the East. It is in the district of Asia, which is part of the province Asia Minor of the Roman Empire, in today’s Turkey.
Paul spends almost 3 years in Ephesus during his 3rd missionary journey, evangelizing, teaching, discipling and training workers. The author of Acts summarizes his ministry as “all Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord” (Acts 19:8-10). One such worker that Paul converted and trained was Epaphras, who then returned to his own city of Colossae and planted the church there, as well as in the nearby cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis (Col 4:12-13, Col 1:7). The church thus does not know Paul directly (Col 2:1), but their founding and the ongoing care happens under Paul’s leadership. Some of their members and elders have been co-workers of Paul, presumably in Ephesus (Philemon 1).
The church has come under pressure from the surrounding religious culture. Paul assures them that if they have Christ, they have everything in him. Paul thus starts his letter with a powerful description of who Jesus is:
“In Jesus we have redemption, the forgiveness of sin. He is the image of the invisible God, the first born of all creation; for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created, things visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers – all things have been created through him and for him. He himself is before all things, and in him all things hold together. He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first born from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” (Col 1:14-20).
Jesus is all. To have him means to have everything. The believers do not have to bow to the pressure of the Jews (are you keeping the law? Are you righteous enough?) nor to the pressure of the ascetics (Are you fasting? Do you have control over your body?), nor to the pressure of the libertines (why don’t you have fun? Immorality doesn’t affect the spirit!), nor to the pressure of those in mystery cults (are you initiate? Have you had special spiritual experiences?). In Jesus the believers have fullness. In Jesus they are declared righteous and have qualified. In Jesus they have received all spiritual blessings. Who worries about candles once the sun has risen?
Paul then challenges the believers to live a life worthy of this supreme Christ, putting their trust in Jesus only, having full assurance, being grateful to him, becoming imitators of him in thought and action. Paul challenges them to live in full understanding of who Christ is and to live holy and fruitful lives in the light of whose they have become.
The Founding of the Church
Colossae was an ancient city located on a major Roman trade route from the East to the West. It was a large city already in ancient times, hence it’s name: ‘Colossae’, which means ‘huge’. Later it became part of the Roman Empire, district of Asia in the Province Asia Minor. A Roman road led right through it.
The apostle Paul clearly identifies himself as the author of the letter (Col 1:1, 1:23, 4:18) but did not found the Colossian church himself (Col 2:1). Rather it is Epaphras who is the Colossian church’s founder (Col 1:7).
Epaphras probably became a believer when Paul made nearby district capital Ephesus his center. Paul spends almost 3 years in Ephesus during his 3rd missionary journey (Acts 19:8-10) evangelizing, teaching, discipling and training up workers in 53-56 AD. The author of Acts summarizes Paul’s ministry time in Ephesus in this way: ‘all Asia, both Jews and Greeks, heard the word of the Lord’ (Acts 19:10). One such worker that Paul converted and trained was Epaphras, who then returned to his own city of Colossae and planted the church there, as well as in the nearby cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis (Col 4:12-13, Col 1:7). So even though Paul didn’t plant the church, their founding and the ongoing care happens under Paul’s leadership. Some of their members and elders have been co-workers of Paul, presumably in Ephesus (Philemon 1).
Paul’s situation when he writes
Paul is in prison when he writes this letter (Col 4:3, 4:10, 4:18). Actually Paul was in prison quite a few times (In 50 AD in Philippi for one night, in 54-55 AD in Ephesus, in 57 AD in Jerusalem for a few days, in 57-59 AD in Caesarea for two years and in 60-62 AD in Rome for two years). When did he write this letter? The answer requires a bit more detail.
There are a minimum of four letters that Paul writes roughly at the same time, Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians and Philemon, the so-called ‘prison epistles’. The letters are linked by the following things: Paul mentions his imprisonment in each letter; there is a common letter deliverer Tychicus (Col 4:7, Eph 6:21); Paul expresses the hope of being released soon (Phil 22, Php 2:24), similar people around Paul send greetings (Phil 23-24, Col 4:9-17) and a similarity in topics (Ephesians, Colossians). In Philippians Paul mentions the imperial guard hearing the gospel through him (Php 1:13) as well as believers in the Emperor’s household (Php 4:22), both of which points to Paul’s imprisonment being in Rome in 60-62 AD.
The Colossian church is therefore around six to nine years old when it receives this letter from Paul. It seems that Epaphras travelled to Paul in Rome to meet him and tell him about the situation in the church (Col 4:12-13), though it is not clear how Epaphras ended up imprisoned himself. He probably left the church in the care of local elders, Archippus and Philemon are among them (Phil 1, Col 4:18).
It seems that the church finds itself under various cultural influences and in many spiritual challenges:
Jewish legalism pressured the church: Are you keeping the law? Do you follow the traditions? Don’t you know that the Jewish laws have stood for a millennium? Don’t you know Jesus is a Jew? Don’t you know Jesus was circumcised? How can you afford doing less than him? Are you committed enough?
Paul answers this in the following words: ‘See to it that no one take you captive through … human tradition’ (Col 2:8). He asserts that in Christ ‘also you were circumcised with a spiritual circumcision‘ (Col 2:11). He shows that the believers are no longer under the law: ‘when he forgave you all your trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands‘ (Col 2:13-14). ‘Do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths (Co 2:20-22). ‘All these regulations refer to things that perish with use, they are simply human commands and teachings‘ (Col 2:22).
Greek philosophy with its stress on reason, logic, argumentation and eloquence was another challenge to the believers: Is your faith really superior? Could you argue your faith before the Greeks? Can your religion withstand intellectual inquiry? Is it a philosophy that holds? How can you be so sure? Aren’t you just blindly believing? If you are so sure, then why can’t you explain it?
Paul addresses this om the following words: ‘I am saying this that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments’ (Col 2:3). ‘See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit‘ (Col 2:8). ‘Do not let anyone disqualify you … puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking‘ (Col 2:18). ‘These have indeed an appearance of wisdom … but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence’ (Col 2:23). Paul asserts that the mystery is not superior knowledge but: ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col 1:27). ‘In Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge‘ (Col 2:3), not in smartness, reason or logic.
The church was also pressured by an ascetic spirituality that denied the physical world and the body, trying to reach spiritual enlightenment or special experiences by fasting, self-inflicted pain and the like: Are you spiritual enough? Do you really think spirituality can be reached by cheap grace? Do you think spiritual experiences are for free? How can you be spiritual if not by denying the body? Jesus chose the path of suffering, didn’t he?
Paul addresses this powerfully: ‘Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement‘ (Col 2:18). ‘Why do you submit to regulations, “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence‘ (Col 2:20-23). Paul asserts that Jesus is the Creator of both the spiritual and the physical world (Col 1:15), the human spirit and the human body. All things, visible and invisible are from and by and for Jesus (Col 1:16-17). Jesus is fullness, and all fullness is in him (Col 1:19, Col 2:9-10). Though believers must learn to use our bodies rightly, a self-appointed and self-achieved spirituality is simply self-focus and pride.
Another group of people had also – like the ascetics – declared all spiritual things to be good and everything physical to be unimportant, but had drawn a very different conclusion: The two worlds don’t touch. Spirit is so far above the physical that what one does with the body can have no polluting effect on the spirit. Therefore sexual immorality and debauchery is not a problem.
This libertinism also created pressure on the Colossian church: Don’t you know that God is greater than the body? Don’t you know that your spirit is more important than your body? True spirituality has nothing to do with the body. So what are you waiting for? Nothing is forbidden, nothing can pollute your spirit.
Paul addresses this with the following words: ‘You share in the inheritance of the saints in the light. He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son’ (Col 1:12-13). ‘So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above‘ (Col 3:1). ‘Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed‘ (Col 3:5).
The mystery religions were secret, exclusive fellowships, based on closeness of relationship and the brotherhood of all the initiate. They were centered around a god, re-enacted dramas and pursued experiential, mystical union with that god. There were elaborate secret rites and ceremonies of purification and initiation, including sacrifices.
These mystery cults also created pressure on the church: Do you really know your God? Have you experienced union with your God? Do you know the mystery of meeting your God? Have you been initiated? Do you know the secrets? Do you belong to those few chosen ones that know?
Paul addresses this in the following words: ‘Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking‘ (Col 2:18). ‘If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?‘ (Col 2:20). Paul insists that there in no secret knowledge of an initiate few, God has made ‘the word of God fully known, the mystery that had been hidden throughout the ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory‘ (Col 1:26-27). Paul strongly asserts that the secret is revealed to all, and it is not secret knowledge, but rather the wonder of God including both Jews and Gentiles in his church and of God actually living in our hearts! And again he stresses that in Jesus ‘the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority‘ (Col 2:9-10).
Application: Living a life worthy of Jesus
Paul now draws conclusions: If we have received everything in Christ, if we are so unconditionally accepted, if we are in such rich relationship with God, if such freedom has been achieved for us, then we need to live a life worthy of such a Christ.
Paul prays for them that they ‘may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work’ (Col 1:10). ‘As you have received Christ … continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him‘ (Col 2:6).
It is not by trying harder or by being more rigorous that our lives will be changed, but rather by understanding, accepting and holding on to the truth of who Christ is and what Christ did for us. Paul says: ‘I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge‘ (Col 2:1-3).
He challenges the believers to ‘set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth‘ (Col 3:5) and to ‘strip off the old self and clothe yourselves with the new self‘ (Col 3:9-10). The metaphor of wearing clothes is appropriate: wearing clothes is a daily, active putting on. It is not difficult but continually needed. Paul thus teaches the Colossians to take active care of their minds, to set their thoughts on a right path, to hold on to truth continually.
How can a believer hold on to this right mindset? One of the answers of Paul in this letter is thankfulness (Col 2:7, 3:16-17, 4:2). Thankfulness is a practical way to remind us of what God has done. It helps us to appreciate it and to be faithful in response. Thankfulness protects our mind from the nagging insecurity and discouraging disqualifiers: God has given, who is to prohibit? Thankfulness builds up relationships. It encourages those who have done good. Paul himself models this thankfulness at the beginning of the letter(Col 1:3) and in his warm words of appreciation about his co-workers in Co 4:7-17.
Paul also gives them many assurances of hope: ‘the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the world of the truth, the gospel‘ (Col 1:4-5) … ‘the hope promised by the gospel‘ (Col 1:23). ‘God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory’ (Col 1:27). The hope we have is a gift of God. It is a fruit of the Spirit but also sustained by us setting our minds on God and by faithfulness in daily things.
Paul also warns of greed, ‘put to death … greed, which is idolatry’ (Col 3:5). Paul calls greed idolatry, why? Greed is to put my needs and my well-being above God. Greed is in opposition to thankfulness: Thankfulness says: ‘Look at everything I received’. Greed says ‘God did not give me enough’. It is a form of unbelief. Consider the proverb: ‘Money is a good slave but a bad master.’
Paul wants people to understand the value of their life, of their testimony and of their work. He therefore encourages faithfulness and high work ethics, even for those who seem to have least choice over what they do: slaves: ‘Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but whole-heartedly, fearing the Lord‘ (Col 3:22). Paul wants them to understand the value of their time: ‘Conduct yourselves wisely… making the most of the time’ (Col 4:5).
The spiritual pressures the Colossians are facing (whether Jewish legalism, Greek philosophy, asceticism, libertinism or mystery religions) are basically all of them teachings that qualify some people and disqualify others. These teachings therefore feed self-righteousness, pride, comparison and disunity. Paul counteracts this by showing that the true foundation of unity is grace: We are all equally unworthy, we all need God’s grace, we all receive it in Jesus. The gospel therefore counteracts self-righteousness, pride and disunity. Paul describes it in this way: ‘In this renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free; but Christ is all and in all.’ (Col 3:11). No shame, no pride!
Through this letter Paul wants the believers to know, that they have received everything in Christ, they do not need to submit to anything else but rather he wants them to live lives of faithfulness in this assurance: ‘Christ in you, the hope of glory’! (Col 1:27)
What to Color Code for in Colossians
- Who? When? Where?
- Contrasts? Connectives? Commands?
- all, every, whole, full, fully, filled, fullness
- Prepositions: in him … for him … by him … through him
- power, ruler, authority, energy
- gospel, word, truth, knowledge, wisdom
- reveal, understand, make known <=> hidden, mystery
- thinking, mind, attitude
- laws, rules, rituals, traditions
- thankfulness, gratitude, praise, songs
Who wrote the book?
- Paul, an apostle (Col 1:1) … I, Paul, became a servant of this gospel (Col 1:23) … Paul, write this greeting with my own hand (Col 4:18) … he continues with “I” in the letter (Col 1:24) … yet also the inclusive “we” (Col 1:3)
- Timothy, our brother (Col 1:1) … as in many letters he is the co-author, possibly the scribe
To whom was the book written?
- To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ in Colossae (Col 1:2) and the Laodicean church indirectly also (Col 4:16)
When was the book written?
- Paul is imprisoned (Col 4:3) for Christ, for which I am in prison (Col 4:3) … Aristarchus, my fellow prisoner (Col 4:10) … remember my chains (Col 4:18).
TABLE ‘PAUL’s IMPRISONMENTS
- 50 AD, 2nd missionary journey, Philippi: one night only (Acts 16:23-39)
- 54-55 AD, 3rd missionary journey, Ephesus: length unknown (2 Cor 11:23-24, by implication of the plural Paul uses ‘imprisonments’)
- 57 AD, end of 3rd missionary journey, Jerusalem
shortly (Acts 21 – 23)
- 57-59 AD, Caesarea, 2 years (Acts 23:3-27:1)
- 60-62 AD, Rome, 2 years (Acts 28:30-31)
- How do we know from which imprisonment Paul is writing?
- Notice Tychicus is the letter deliverer and bringer of news (Col 4:7). Onesimus is coming with Tychicus (Col 4:9), linking Colossians very clearly with Philemon
- But there are more letters where Paul states to be in prison:
TABLE OF LINKS BETWEEN PRISON EPISTLES
There are many links between the four so-called prison epistles of Paul (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon):
- Paul is in prison: Eph 3:10, Col 4:18, Phil 1, Php 1:1, Php 1:7
- Timothy is with Paul: Col 1:1, Phil 1, Php 1:1
- Letter deliverer Tychicus: Eph 6:21, Col 4:7
- Hope for release soon: Phil 22, Php 2:24
- Imprisonment in Rome: Php 1:13 Imperial Guard, Php 4:22 Emperor’s household
- Themes: Colossians and Ephesians have very similar themes
- People mentioned to be with Paul: in Colossians Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus-Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, in Philemon Aristarchus, Mark, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, which is a very high overlap
- People mentioned in the letter: in Colossians Onesimus, Archippus, in Philemon Onesimus, Apphia, Archippus, again a high overlap
- It can be concluded that all four letters are linked and therefore written at roughly the same time. Paul is hoping for a soon release (Php 2:24), either that his case is finally heard, or that he is released under the ‘not more than 2 years of prison for unconvicted persons’. He is towards the end of his two year light imprisonment in Rome (Acts 28:30-31), 62 AD.
Written from where?
- Also Php 1:13 and 4:22 mentioning the Praetorian guard and Caesar’s household speaks for the letter being written from Rome.
Political / Economical
- Colossae is in the Roman Empire, Asia Minor Province, Asia District, Phrygia region. Asia Minor has been a willing ally of Rome for many years and roughly since 130 BC part of the Roman Empire … and happy to be so.
- Fertile, hilly area, good for flocks > famous purple wool produced.
- First historical mention of Colossae is by the Persian king Xerxes around 500 BC as ‘large city’, and by Cyrus as ‘large, wealthy city’
- Colossae is located strategically on the most important Roman road of Ephesus <=> Euphrates , a center of trade
- Later the Romans re-directed the roads and Colossae ‘fell to the side’ and consequently lost in importance, making Laodicea the new boom town (by NT times).
- Laodicea and Hierapolis are neighboring cities, about 16 km away, in the same valley. They were military stronghold, had banking, wool, hot springs, eye cures, trade guilds … and a large Jewish community, numbering 11’000 at one time
- Cosmopolitan mix of Phrygians, Syrians, Greeks and Jews and their respective religions. Jews started moving to the area around 200 BC
- Spiritually a mixture of Greek philosophy (West) and mysticism (East). Colossae had many temples, magic arts, mystery religions. Later more on this.
Founding of the church?
- Most likely not by Paul himself, in Col 2:1 he says he is “struggling for you, Laodicea, those who have not seen me face to face”. In Col 1:4 he has “heard of your faith”
- The Colossae church was rather founded by Epaphras (Col 1:5-7).
- Epaphras has also been reporting to Paul about the church recently (Col 1:4, 1:8, 1:9) and is praying and wrestling on their behalf (Col 4:12-13). Colossians is most likely Paul’s response to Epaphras’ reporting.
- Epaphras the Colossae church probably during Paul’s 2 ½ years in Ephesus, during the third missionary journey, around 53-56 AD.
- Acts 19:8-10 mentions Paul preaching, teaching, training … till “all of Asia” (most likely an overstatement!!) has heard the word, both Jews and Greeks
- Epaphras, comes from Colossae or the surrounding area and may have been an early convert of Paul at Ephesus, who later became a trainee of Paul, being sent out to his own city again for church planting (Col 1:7, 4:12)
- So likely the Colossian church was founded most likely 53-56 AD, by Epaphras, under supervision by Paul during the 2 ½ years Ephesus.
How makes up the church?
- Specifically mentioned are husbands and wives (Col 3:18), children and parents (Col 3:20), masters and slaves (Col 3:22)
- Are there Jews in the church? Col 3:11 mentions Greek and Jewish believers and in Col 2:13 Paul encourages unity.
- By link to Philemon is can be added that in this church are Philemon, a slave owner (Phil 1), Onesimus, his slave, again (Phil 12), Apphia (Phil 2), Archippus (Phil 2, Col 4:17), who has a ministry, who was possibly left in charge by Epaphras on his departure. Epaphras, probably their founder, pastor or trainer, is now away at Rome with Paul.
- The church is mixed on all accounts, as typical for a cosmopolitan city, and old center. It has believers of many backgrounds > the influence of these backgrounds can be felt.
- Love, faith (Col 1:4)
- understanding grace (Col 1:6)
- acceptance of the word, truly comprehended grace (Col 1:6)
- bearing fruit in every good work (Col 1:10)
- generally there is a warm, affirming, assuring tone in the letter
- Relationship problems and compromises spiritually
- Col 3:5 before: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, greed
- Col 3:8 now: anger, wrath, malice, slander, abusive language … this are things Paul finds it necessary to warn against
- Col 3:9 lying, unforgiveness, lack of thankfulness
- Col 2:2, 3:11 disunity / superiority / prejudice, possibly because of the striving / achieving / exclusiveness stuff
- Col 3:8-9 control tongue
- But most importantly Col 2:8-9 unstable mind, too easily impressed. Col 3:16-19 easily swayed, too impressed, allowing themselves to be disqualified
- Type of literature? Prose > literal interpretation
- Structure? Letter, following Greek letter writing style
- Composition? Radiation (Col 1:15-20), Problem to solution, Doctrine to Application. Long sentences: Col 1:11c – 20 is one sentence … Col 3:16-4:1 is one sentence.
- Christ’s supremacy, more-than-efficiency, absolute authority … God’s fullness in him
- Teaching about true spirituality, from inside out, not rituals in. Obedience only, no self-imposed hardship on the body (mortification). Christ-likeness, not spiritual experiences that puff up and divide
- Hold on to truth in thankfulness, attitude, speech, practical service
- Encouragement, affirmation, building up relationship, support (also prayer)
- heresies floating around and danger of compromise with other religions or beliefs
- straighten out the main misconception: “Christ isn’t enough”, assuring them “In Christ you are spiritual enough”
- give practical guidelines how true spirituality will look like
- information about what’s happening to Paul, recommendation of Epaphras
THE SETTING OF COLOSSIANS
- Paul, the author, not church planter
- Timothy co-author, not church planter either, with Paul during Ephesus, with him now
- Epaphras (Col 1:7-8, 4:12, Ph 23) church planter, one of them, their representative to Paul, commended by him,
currently with Paul
- Tychicus (Col 4:7, Ac 20:4, Tit 3:12) letter deliverer
- Onesimus (Col 4:9, Ph 10) run-away slave, owner: Philemon, converted, Paul’s disciple, comes back with Tychicus to his hometown
- Archippus (Col 4:17, Ph 2) left in charge of the church while Epaphras gone?
- Mark (Col 4:10, Ph 24) currently with Paul, possibly soon trip to Colossae, Paul vouching for him, Jew
- Aristarchus (Col 4:10, Ph 24, Ac 19:29, 20:4, 27,2), a Jew, with Paul, co-worker, a Macedonian
- Jesus Justus (Col 4:10) nowhere else mentioned, Jew
- Demas (Col 4:14, Ph 24, 2 Ti 4:10) with Paul, later deserts
- Lukas (Col 4:14, Ph 24, 2 Ti 4,11) with Paul, beloved doctor
- Nympha (Col 4:15) home church leader, possibly outside Colossae
- Laodicea church (Col 2:1, 4:13, 15, 16, Rev 1:11, 3:14)
- Hierapolis church (Col 4:13), nowhere else mentioned, though in church history
The structure seems to be easy enough, 2 chapters with corrective godly teaching and doctrine, then 2 chapters with application of how that should look in normal life and church life.
- What exactly are the Colossians struggling with?
- What causes Paul to write a letter to them? Probably Ephaphras’ report (Col 1:8), but what did he report?
- How do we find out? By seeing what Paul is affirming, praising, by what he is teaching, by what he is correcting, what he is instructing them to therefore do.
THE PROBLEM: A CHURCH IN A SPIRITUAL ZOO
1 Jewish Legalism
Influence mentioned in the text
- Col 2:8 “that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition …”
- Col 2:11 “in him also you were circumcised with spiritual circumcision, by putting off the body of the flesh in the
circumcision of Christ”
- Col 2:13-14 “when he forgave you all your trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands”
- Col 2:16 “do not let anyone condemn you in matters of food and drink or of observing festivals, new moons, or
- Col 2:20-22 “Why do you submit to regulations, ‘Do not handle’, ‘Do not taste’, ‘Do not touch’? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use, they are simply human commands and teachings”
Major thoughts of Jewish Legalism
- How did Jewish believers, and outside Jew-Jews take influence? > Persecution, pressure … remember the stories that happened in nearby Antioch, Iconium, Lystra, Derbe (Acts 13 – 14)
- False teachers slipping in, counter-teaching, following Paul around, circumcision party, fake letters (2 Thess 2:1-2)
- Pressure to circumcise, to keep the law of Moses, to become Jewish in culture, to keep sabbaths, Jewish festivals, to keep the Jewish food laws … (Galatians)
- These are the Pharisee-style influences, the circumcision party, those who made Peter and even Barnabas slip back under the law, these are the ones Paul stands against in Galatians, and in Acts, in Philippians, and everywhere else
- Modern equivalent: legalistic churches or legalistic theologies
Pressure created on the believers and doubts cast in their minds (paraphrase)
- Are you keeping the law? Do you follow the traditions? Don’t you know that the Jewish laws have stood for a millenium?
- Don’t you know Jesus is a Jew? Don’t you know Jesus was circumcised? Don’t you know he followed the Jewish law? How can you afford doing less than him?
- Are you right with God? Are you serious enough? Committed enough? Have you done everything right? If you only did this, then God would be happy with you.
How answered in Colossians and especially in the radiation passage (paraphrase)
- Col 1:1-14 … He is the father, your father, not a harsh custodian, he has enabled us to share in the inheritance …
- he has enabled you, you couldn’t do it, he has given you the inheritance you couldn’t deserve, he gave freely what no man can earn.
- He is justice, he is the law, he accomplished redemption by the death of his son, he satisfied the just demand of the law in Jesus on the cross, he is the Just Judge, he is the merciful Savior, who saves through the sacrifice of the Messiah, Jesus, the only one name by which anybody ever was saved.
- Col 2:11 … in him also you were are circumcised with a spiritual circumcision … circumcision? you are the circumcision!
- Col 2:13 … when he forgave us all our trespasses, erasing the record that stood against us with its legal demands …
- Col 2:23 … human commands … promoting self-imposed piety, humility, and severed treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self indulgence … your efforts will not actually check the flesh!
- Col 1:20 … “and through him God was pleased to reconcile to hiself all things” … rather you are redeemed!
2 Greek Philosopy
Influence mentioned in the text
- Col 2:4 … “I am saying this that no one may deceive you with plausible arguments.”
- Col 2:8 … “See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe”
- Col 2:18 … “Do not let anyone disqualify you, … dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of
- Col 2:20 … “if with Christ you died to the elemental principles of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?”
- Col 2:23 … “these have indeed an appearance of wisdom”
Major thoughts of Greek philosophy
- superiority of logic, of argument, or reason … rationalism, if it doesn’t make sense, it is not true … if it does make sense, it must be true
- my reasoning is above God’s word … I decide what I take
- If I by my logic think I can rightly conclude God is unjust, then he is unjust
- Important writers are Socrates, Aristotle, Plato … their writings are still read today. Today also Rationalism challenges the believers.
Pressure created on the believers and doubts cast (Paraphrase)
- Is your faith really superior? Could you argue your faith before the Greeks? Does your faith make sense? Can your religion withstand the intellectual inquiry? Is it a philosophy that holds? How can you hold it above doubt? How can you be so sure? Aren’t you just blindly believing? If you are so sure, then why can’t you explain it?
How answered in Colossians and especially in the radiation passage
- God is not a concept or thought of the mind, he is a real God, a real person, and a father, what’s more.
- He has not philosophized about good and evil, he has lived an entirely good life, selflessly and sacrificially for others, he is the reality what you guys philosophy about
- How has your philosophy enabled you to really be good? To do what is right? How much pride is there in your lofty arguments? Where is the reality of your lives?
- Jesus has taken care of the problem of evil, he died to do so.
- Col 1:15 … “He is the image of the invisible God”, he is a picture of reality, not speculation, he is the reality behind all things, the fact from which all other facts derive their existence.
- If you can reason, it is because God gave you intellect and the power to do so, it is because he thinks, that you think,
- It is because he is faithful, that you understand anything about the runnings of the world, it is because he is reasonable, that you can even understand reason.
- Your very breath is his, your very sanity of mind is his, so glorify him in your thoughts!
- He is the fullness, all things are made by him, held together by him, exist by him, … there is nothing beyond him, nothing outside him, he is the first cause, he is the goal, he is everything in between
- Humble your proud thoughts before a reason so much greater than yours. Humble yourself before the one who not only says but does.
- Col 1:27 … “the mystery” is not some hidden higher knowledge but rather: “Christ in you”
- Col 2:3 … “in Christ are hidden all the treasures of wisdom & knowledge” … not in your smart mind, in your ability to
reason, not in your logic
- Col 2:10 … and you (all!) “have come to fullness in him” … not exclusive, all have fullness, all can gain the knowledge
they need, this is not the smart elect few
Influences mentioned in the text
- Col 2:18 … “Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement”
- Col 2:20-23 … “why do you submit to regulations, “do not handle, do not taste, do not touch”? All these regulations refer to things that perish with use; they are simply human commands and teachings. These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-imposed piety, humility and severe treatment of the body, but they are of no value in checking self-indulgence.”
Major thoughts of asceticism
- Belief, that the way to God is by denying oneself
- Separation of the world into a spiritual (good, pure, desirable) and physical world (physical, bad, polluted, unholy, common, un-spiritual)
- The way to reach spirituality is by denying physical realities
- Also: I seek for overcoming of evil powers by asceticism, I seek for spiritual enlightenment, for angelic visitations, visions, spiritual experiences
- Hinduism’s Sadus, and monks of Christianity, self-crucifixions, Buddhism are examples. But also modern charismatic teachings of ‘spiritual power by fasting’.
Pressure created on believers and doubts cast (paraphrase)
- Do you really think spirituality can be reached in this way? Are you spiritual? Are you not worldly, really?
- Are you really serious? Are you proving to God how serious you are?
- Do you think real experiences are for free? Do you think that true insight can be found so easily?
- If all is just free for grace, how come you don’t have more insight or experience? John fasted in the wilderness. The prophets of old were ascetics. How does the holy come from the common?
- Jesus said to deny oneself and to smite the body. He chose the path of suffering, of torutre, of death.
- Don’t you know that this body will always hold you to this world? Unless you get rid of the passions of this body, how can you become spiritual? Don’t you see that the flesh is your enemy? Unless you mortify the flesh, how will you ever reach God?
How answered in Colossians and especially the radiation passage
- Col 1:15 … He is the creator of both the spiritual and the physical world. He made both, he created not only the human spirit, but the human body also. Nothing he made is bad, nothing he made is inferior. He is the God of all, the God of fullness, who will reconcile all things to himself, body and spirit, physical and spiritual world.
- He is fullness, and fullness is in him. He is all joy, all light, all pleasure. He is the glad creator of grain, oil and wine, he is the Creator of bodies that allow for pleasure. The material world is not bad, though I can use my body wrongly, the spiritual world is not necessarily good, there is evil spirits and spiritual pride.
- How could you ever please God through being harsh on the body? How could you ever reach holiness on your own,
- Don’t you realize that even is you manage to live ascetically, that it only feeds your pride? That your asceticism has made you self-concerned? Self-focussed? Everybody having to attend to you? Everybody admiring you? When have you last selflessly served when nobody saw it?
- Don’t you realize that this path has made you proud, harsh and judgemental? Don’t you realize that goodness is not to be reached by human effort?
- Col 1:20, 2:15, 2:20 … Total deliverance from evil / evil spirits, and powers that may control the universe is by Christ
- Col 2:20 … you died to the elemental spirits of the universe … they have no longer power over you / no need to worry about them
- Col 1:12-14 … father, sonship, irreversible relationship
4 Libertinism, New age, Hollywood
Influences mentioned in the text
- Col 3:5 … “put to death therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed (which is idolatry)”
- Col 3:8 … “but now you must get rid of all such things – anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive language from your mouth. Do not lie to one another”
Major thoughts of libertinism
- Everything spiritual is good, everything physical is unimportant, or even evil. The two worlds don’t touch.
- Spirituality or pleasing God is independent of the body and what one does with the body. Reality is spiritual, not body-bound, so the body is not important, one can do with it what one wants.
- All is spiritual. Spiritual is all. Nothing is forbidden. Every experience leads a person closer to God. Every experience increases one’s understanding. Do as you want.
- Sexual subcomponent: women are the carriers of wisdom, of enlightenment. Eve was the one with the apple of knowledge …
- the way to get enlightened is by mystical union through physical union with a temple priestess / prostitute, enlightenment through sex with spiritual mediums. See influential but deceived woman in 1 Tim 2:11-15, Jezebel in Thyatira in Rev 2:20-23).
- Modern day: liberal, existential, experiential theologies
Pressure created on believers and doubts cast (paraphrase)
- Don’t you know that God is greater than the body? Don’t you know that your spirit is more important than your body?
- True spirituality has nothing to do with the body. So what are you waiting for? Nothing is forbidden. Every experience leads to more understanding. Everything is God’s and everything leads you to God. Some things can only be won by experience, deep experience …
How answered in Colossians and especially in the radiation passage
- He is the God of body and spirit, the Lord of visible and invisible, the Ruler of the physical and the spiritual world. Why do you think they are unrelated? Don’t influence one another? Your very being as a human shows you that body and spirit are intertwined.
- There really is a God, and he really created you, has the rights to you, but you live as if you belonged to yourself. He is not only powerful, he is holy. He is not a cosmic force, he is a father watching over his children, a creator taking accounts of his creatures.
- He can rescue from darkness, but you don’t even know your darkness yet. He has achieved redemption and forgiveness, but you haven’t yet understood your need of that.
- Fear God, he is above all powers and authorities, in him all things hold together, he is the Ultimate owner.
- Desire God, he alone is fullness and satisfies, he alone brings light into darkness, forgiveness into sin, peace into your unstable mind. Escape the darkness, come to the true light!
- Col 3:1 … “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above”
- Col 3:5 … “Put to death, therefore, whatever in you is earthly: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed”
5 Mystery Religions
Influences mentioned in the text
- Col 1:25-26 … “to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that had been hidden throughout the ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”
- Col 2:8 … “according to the elemental spirits of the universe”
- Col 2:9 … “for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have come to fullness in him, who is the head of every ruler and authority.”
- Col 2:15 … “he disarmed the rulers and authorities and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in it.”
- Col 2:18 … “Do not let anyone disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, dwelling on visions, puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking … If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world?”
Major thoughts of the Mystery cults
- secret, exclusive fellowships, closeness of relationship, equality of men, brotherhood
- probably survivals of earlier religions, maintaining themselves as secret societies
- centered around a god, with its own mythology (dramas), origin Egypt, Asia, Persia, Greece
- not so appealing to the intellect, rather to the emotions, put importance on relationship with that god, on experiential, mystical union with that god.
- But the steps to get closeness, fullness are purely man’s initiative, strive, a way of salvation, a purification, leading to holiness. Purification or acceptance into the secret society through a private initiation with ceremonies, rituals, sacrifices (with usually a purification and blood and a death and resurrection theme)
- Vows of secrecy kept > little known about the actual rituals
- Attraction was the special, exclusive knowledge, wisdom, experiences. Closeness of relationship with the god and the fellow-brothers
- Examples: Demeter, organized in the ceremonials of Eleusis and a predominantly female Dionysus cult. In origin a nature worship, with a ritual symbolizing death and resurrection in a seasonal sequence. Mithras cult, powerful in the first 2 centuries AD, Mithras was a Persian sun-god, appealed especially to soldiers and was spread by them. The Mithras cult based on trials, sufferings and exploits of Mithras, place of ordeal under the altar, person advances through grades by way of physical suffering and endurance.
Pressure created on believers and doubts cast (paraphrase)
- Do you really know your God? Have you experienced union with your god? Do you know the mystery of meeting your God? Have you been initiated? Do you know the secrets? Do you belong to those few chosen ones that know?
- How can a revealed God be the true God? Isn’t he above our understanding? Isn’t he beyond our thinking? Is your salvation really the ultimate experience?
How answered in Colossians and especially the radiation passage
- Col 1:12-14 … God the Father has given you everything in Jesus. He has given you salvation, he has rescued you from darkness, he has transferred you into his kingdom of light. He has given you an inheritance, he has made you his child.
- Col 2:18 … Why do you worry about spiritual experiences? Angel appearances? Mystical rites? Demonology and initiations? He is God, the invisible, the one enthroned above everything.
- Col 2:15 … Why do you worry about spiritual powers? There is nothing that he didn’t create, there is nothing he does not have power over. God is for you, in him you are given everything, why are you impressed with lower powers?
- Why are you so swayed by people claiming who knows what? If you know the king, who bothers about making puny little officers happy? Don’t be so impressed!
- Don’t be desiring what evil spirits can give! If you need anything, ask God, he, with a father’s heart, will give you what is good.
- Col 2:9-10 … He is the fullness, in him all fullness is given to you, don’t go looking elsewhere, all is found in him.
- In him also is cleansing and forgiveness, for prior wrong involvement. In him is the power to cut off all past bondages. He is creation’s desire, find your peace in him! He is the kingdom of light, find wisdom in him!
- Why do you worry about spiritual experiences? Angel appearances? Mystical rites? Demonology and initiations? He
How does Paul answer these influences?
- Paul’s answer is the radiation passage Col 1:11c-20
- Col 2:16 … “Do not let anyone condemn you”
- Col 2:18 … “Do not anyone disqualify you, insisting on who knows what”
- We all have been disqualified by others, we all feel disqualified, we all disqualify ourselves … and others.
- Do not say “no’ where God has said ‘yes’! Again this is the fight for our minds is in agreeing with God… throwing out lies, rejecting men’s view (self, parents, …), embracing truth, standing on God’s word… this is our daily job, this is mind hygiene, this is spiritual warfare
- Col 1:11c-20 is one sentence in Greek!
- Col 1:11c-12 … “Joyfully giving thanks to the Father , who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light” … He is your father, the one you came from, the one who created you, the one who wanted you, the one who loved you, save you, sustained you, is taking care of you.
- He is the father who raises you, who raises up sons for himself, fully like him, fully his representative, fully like him in character, fully heir, fully carrying out the father’s will, fully worthy, fully enabled
- Col 1:13-14 … “He has rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” … He has rescued us, snatched us our of Satan’s hands, out of darkness, out of our pride, out of our self-made prisons
- He has transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved son, we have been fully taken, cleansed, accepted, fully adopted, rightfully and lawfully won and bought and brought in
- We have redemption, the forgiveness of sin, he has wiped away our sin, our guilt, our shame and has freed us from the legal demands of the law
- In Jesus, we have redemption, in Jesus we are transferred, in Jesus we are forgiven, in Jesus we are adopted … Who is this Jesus?
- Col 1:15 … He is “the image of the invisible God” … He is fully God, he is the full representation of the Father, he is the eternal and invisible God made visible and touchable.
- He is the true image of a spiritual reality,he is the trustworthy witness of the spiritual worlds
- Col 1:15 … “the first born of all creation for in him all things in heaven and on earth were created” … He is the Creator, he is eternal reality, he is the first cause, the reason for all things. He is above creation yet entered creation, he humbled himself to take on creatureliness. He who was above all things chose to enter things and become part of things. He is Lord of heaven, he is the ultimate reality in the spiritual world. He is Lord of earth, he wanted earth, he created earth, he loved earth.
- Earth is not a second thought, a lower sphere than the spiritual one. The two worlds are not really separated, nor were they meant to be hostile, he is Lord of them both, it’s not that one is evil and one is good, both are fallen.
- There is nothing that he did not create, there is nothing that is outside of him, there is nothing that could exist without his permission, there is nothing that matches him, and nothing that could challenge him.
- You don’t need to fear anything but him. No thing, no apparition, no spiritual being is outside of him, if you are okay with him, you don’t have to worry about the rest.
- Col 1:16 … “things visible and invisible, whether thrones, or dominions or rulers or powers, all things have been created through him and for him” … visible or invisible, spiritual or physical, temporal or eternal, it’s all his, all of him, all by him, all for him …
- All is through him, through the living word, the “let there be…”, all things were created, he is the word, the power, the reality, the executive.
- All is for him, nothing can have fulfillment unless it lives for him, reveals him, wants him, glorifies him.
- Any power or any kind is never above or beyond God, there very breath is granted by God, their rebellion is only a rebellion of the branches against the tree. What are you so impressed with? What are you so afraid of? What do you let yourself be pushed around by?
- Col 1:17 … “He himself is before all things, in him all things hold together” … He is from eternity past to eternity future, there never has been a time when he is no, there never will be.
- He is the God of time, the Lord of history, the Ruler of the now, he is the forgiver of the past, the helper in the now, the guarantee for hope in the future.
- Nothing was before him, nothing will be after him, there is no time when he wasn’t what he is now.
- He is the sustainer, the maintainer, the breath in everything alive now, the guarantee for all laws, the keeper of reality, the confirmer of truth
- Col 1:18 … “He is the head of the body, the church”
- He is the rightful head, the one in whom all holds together.
- The Savior, who saved all that are in him, the Seeker of the sheep, the Redeemer of the Lost, the Pursuer of humankind.
- He is the sacrifice, he is the high priest, he is God with us and God for us for evermore.
- He is the rock on which the church is founded, the winner of unity, the humbler of human pride, the lifter of our heads, the brother making us into brothers.
- He is the baptism into the fellowship of believers, he is the adoption into the family, he is the citizenship of the new country, he is the rightful husband of the bride
- Col 1:18 … “He is the beginning, the first born from the dead, so that he might come to have first place in everything” … He is the one that went before us, the model who showed what life is, the human that won over Satan, the first to taste death, the first to taste resurrection.
- There is no other name given under heaven by which we are saved.
- All knees will bow and all tongues confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.
- Col 1:19-20 … “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, by making peace through the blood of his cross” … God fully endorses Jesus, fully trusts, fully is represented by, fully is pleased with Jesus.
- God was pleased, God so desired from eternity past, this is his great one heart’s desire: to see humankind reconciled, to see not only human reconciled, but the universe reconciled, all things, visible and invisible.
- He will reconcile to himself through Jesus heaven and earth, creation, both spiritual and physical, he will reconcile all men, all nations, all desires, all relationships, all works, all art, all human institutions.
- This is a vision so great we are not used to think like this: Everything will be reconciled to him! Government, economy, science, art, family, …
- Is 11:9 … “and the knowledge of God will fill the earth as the waters cover the sea”. Huge theme of assurance you already got Christ and therewith everything you’ll ever need! Huge theme of encouragement you are doing well! of protection for those who are in Christ!
- Out of this: challenge to hold on to these truths … to live them out.
Repeated theme: a life worthy of Christ, a life of holiness
- Col 1:4 … “we have heard of your faith … and of the love that you have for all the saints”
- Col 1:6 … “word of truth … has been bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so … among yourselves
- Col 1:8 … “your love in the Spirit”
- Col 1:10-11 prayer … “that you may be willed with knowledge … so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work”
- Col 1:11 … “may you be prepared to endure everything with patience”
- Col 1:22 … “reconciled … so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him”
- Col 2:6 … “as you have received Christ … continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him”
- Col 3:1-4:6 practical commands
- Being secured in Christ, having received everything in him, being fully qualified > lead lives worthy of this God!
How do we do this? How does Paul encourage them in this?
- Remember: not by ‘trying harder’ and being more rigorous’ (Col 2:23) but rather by understanding, accepting, letting God’s truth sink down into our being, the truth about our salvation … throw out lies, stand on the truth!
- By experiencing God’s love even more, by being healed further, by opening myself every moment to this God, by allowing this Jesus in me to ‘run my life’, to be the hope of glory
- Col 1:27 … “the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in us, the hope of glory” … Do not believe in the law, pressure, outside institutions or effort to bring about change!
- It’s by experiencing God’s love / by understanding what he accomplished for us and who he is
Repeated theme: knowledge, mind, thinking, attitude … how to stand on truth
- Col 1:6 … “word of truth … fruit … from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God”
- Col 1:9 … “praying … that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord”
- Col 1:21 … “and you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled”
- Col 1:25 … “God’s commission that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, the mystery that has been hidden … but now has been revealed to his saints.”
- Col 2:1-3 … “I want their hearts to be encouraged and united in love, so that they may have all the riches of assured understanding and have the knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”
- Col 2:16 … “Do not let anyone condemn you”
- Col 2:18 … “Do not anyone disqualify you, insisting on … puffed up without cause by a human way of thinking”
- Col 3:2 … “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on the earth”
- Col 3:5 … “Put to death therefore whatever is in you earthly”
- Col 3:9-10 … “Strip off the old self and clothe yourselves with the new self”
- Col 3:14 … “Above all, clothe yourselves with love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony”
- Col 3:15 … “and let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were called in the one body.”
- Col 3:16 … “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly; teach and admonish one another in all wisdom”
- Col 4:5 … “Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders”
- Col 4:12 … Epaphras’ prayer … “so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills.”
- Paul affirms their understanding, knowledge, wisdom … challenges them to hold on, to grow and to mature
- How do I keep this a reality in my thinking? > thankfulness
Repeated theme: Thanksgiving
- Col 1:3 … “in our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father … for we have heard of your faith … and love”
- Col 1:12 … “may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.”
- Col 2:7… ” continue to live your lives in him … abounding in thanksgiving”
- Col 3:16 … “with gratitude in your hearts sing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs to God”
- Col 3:17 … “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”
- Col 4:2 … “devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with thanksgiving”
- Why is thankfulness important for the Colossians? Why more stressed in Colossians than elsewhere?
- What does thankfulness achieve? what of the problems they are facing does it counteract?
- Thankfulness makes me aware / focuses my mind on what I have received, what God has done, what is, what has become possible, my riches
- Thankfulness > a way of holding on to truth known yet that easily slips from the mind.
- Thankfulness > helps to focus on Christ & everything received from him
- Thankfulness > protects them against nagging false claims and disqualifiers … God has given, who is to prohibit?
- Thankfulness makes me aware of how much I have to give, encourages faithful use of things, focuses on others
- Thankfulness is a relationship builder / it’s a form of love and building up
- Paul models this thankfulness towards the Colossians in Col 1:3, in his many affirming and praising verses, in his warm words about his co-workers in Col 4:7-17
- Establish a habit of thankfulness, every morning in quiet time, towards co-workers, every time you get annoyed, …
Repeated theme: speaking
Another theme linked to thankfulness, to mind hygiene is the way we speak:
- Col 3:8 … “but now you must get rid of all such things – … slander, and abusive language from your mouth”
- Col 3:9 … “do not lie to one another”
- Col 3:16 … “teach and admonish one another in all wisdom”
- Col 3:17 … “whatever you do, in word of deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus”
- Col 4:3 … “pray for us that we may declare the mystery of Christ … so that I may reveal it clearly, as I should”
- Col 4:6 … “Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how … answer everyone”
- The way we believe = the way we think = the way we speak = the way we act.
- So to watch your own language is a way to find out how you are doing. Are you superior? Enjoy putting down? Always have the last word?Lying
Repeated theme: assurance / hope
- Col 1:4-5 … “for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the world of the truth, the gospel”
- Col 1:23 … “provided that you continue … steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel”
- Col 1:27 … “God chose to make known the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”
- Col 3:3 … “For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God”
- Col 3:4 … “When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory.”
- Hope is a gift of God, a fruit of the Spirit (though not in Gal 5:22) … but hope cannot be sustained if I myself am unfaithful. If I am unfaithful, I can’t trust myself, and I can definitely not trust another. If there is no change in me, how should I have hope for you to change? Or this country to change?
- I believe that hope is an absolutely essential ingredient of Christian life …and change. If I have no hope that things can be different, I will never attempt them. We need visionaries, we need people who say: “this does not have to be so”, “this shouldn’t be so”
- Col 3:1 … “So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above … set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
- Paul in not other worldly, un-practical, unconcerned about my living now … but he tells us to order our lives by the eternal perspective, helping us to choose the godly, lasting over the selfish, immediate
- We need to learn to forego a pleasure and to do something un-pleasurable now … for it’s long term importance (exercise, brushing teeth, eating less, … to resisting temptation, do the needed …
- being in love is not the same as marrying. Often one needs to let go of frills to find a deeper satisfaction.
- discipline is the least energy consuming way of doing many useful and needed things. Don’t ask yourself in the morning: should I get up? don’t ask yourself: do I feel like praying now? or like cleaning?
- This in other words is simply: maturity or leadership over yourself … which will lead to leadership over others
- There are some things, if you pursue them, you will never have them. Example: happiness. There are some things, even if you pursue and get them, you will never get what you thought it would be: Example: money
Greed which is idolatry
- Cor 3:5 … “put to death … greed, which is idolatry.”
- Why? How? Or starting earlier: dissatisfaction says: God is not giving me what I need! It’s disagreeing with God, a form of unbelief
- Greed is the decision to get myself what I want, not letting God set the pace, prioritizing (that’s why it’s an idolatry) on getting what I want
- Greed is selfishness being given the reigns, selfishness of the throne
- Greed may start accumulating money by good ways, but as it progresses if will without fails come to points of decision, and will have no power to resist bad ways (corruption).
- Corruption is putting more priority on money than on God, law, conscience, others. Idolatry again.
- Check greed in your heart. Do not let it grow.
- Those in ministry: Do I treat people who give me money differently than others? Do I give thank yous only to foreigners? Did you notice: the people I think might donate don’t, and those I never expected do? Keep giving. Keep accountable. Keep thankful.
- Remember the proverb: “Money is a good servant but a poor master.”
- But having said that: God is not pro-poverty. I predict that as we obey God and seek his kingdom first, many, most of you will end up having more riches, in relationships, opportunities, wisdom, friendship … and money, than you ever thought.
- Be careful in judging the rich: I know many rich who are excellent managers, personally very modest, and unbelievably giving. They do not worship money, they have learnt not to be tempted by it, and sure use it well.
- Cor 3:22-24 … “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but whole-heartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ.”
- Col 4:5 … “Making the most of the time”
- We work mostly for the salary, the life the money buys us, the favor, the benefit, the recommendation, the reputation, maybe the skill practice of skill increase (that’s already better). We study for the degree, not for love of the subject.
- If there is neither profit nor reputation to be had, we refuse work
- Godly work ethics: work wholeheartedly, work whatever tasks (no hierarchy of labor with God), clean the bathroom as if Jesus came visiting …
- Put yourselves into it (interesting metaphor: my work reveals me!): Work is your major way of expressing yourself
- Work is the pathway by which you can achieve something good and lasting in this world
- Work gives you importance and significance … you will find that if you are faithful, your self-confidence will grow (healthily)
- Work was part of the perfect world before sin ever entered … work will be part of the perfect world of heaven!
- act according to truth > godly life love, service, right speech
- attitude of holding on to truth > put off, put on right thinking
- knowing truth, holding it firm, not being moved
- thanksgiving, praise
- The foundation for all this is Christ, Christ is the fullness of God, you’ll never need anything else
- Col 1:24 … “I am now rejoicing in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”
- If you got Jesus, you got everything in him … you will never need anything else!
- Or said metaphorically: Who worries about burning candles once the sun has risen?