Paul’s Message: Notes on Colossians part 8
From Col 1.25-27:
Paul’s commission was ‘to preach without reserve the whole Gospel of God’ (Lightfoot). The mystery (singular), long hidden, has now, by deliberate divine choice, been made known in its completeness to all nations. No further mysteries remain into which one can be initiated! ‘Glorious riches’ refers to present Christian experience, since ‘the reign of Christ has already begun so it must be capable of realisation now as well as in the future’ (Lightfoot). See Philippians 1:21
Paul’s Ministry: Notes on Colossians part 7
What strikes home here is the implicit rebuttal of ‘triumphalism’. Paul presents a pattern of ministry very different to that of the Elitist.
- For the church’s sake Paul endures suffering (joyfully!) exemplified by his prison chains (4:3-18). Consider Philemon 1:9, 10, 13, 23. The pain of being treated ‘like a criminal’ (2 Tim 2:9) is shared by many leaders of the worldwide church today.
- For the believer’s sake Paul endures a struggle, the result of bringing spiritual babes to maturity. 1:29 remains a significant N.T. definition of ‘power for service’. Here the energy of the Risen Christ is powerfully at work in Paul’s apostolic labours, the proof of which wonderful endowment is… exhausting toil willingly endured! The Christian Pastor is a ‘working man’, a labourer. See O’Brien pp. 90, 91.
- For Elitism, the power of Christ’s resurrection raises one above struggle and frustrating suffering into the realm of ‘magical’ ministry. Reflect on 1 Cor 4; 2 Cor 4; 2 Cor 11.
Notes on Colossians part 6
The Word of Exposition (Colossians 1.15-23) = "This is the Gospel"
Never ending speculation as the provenance of this section can divert us to the recognition that,
- This exposition tells us what Paul means by preaching Christ
- This exposition, in all its parts, has special reference to the Elitists.
Thus, a complete understanding of Christ (2:2,3) leaves Elitism with nothing of spiritual reality to offer (2:4-17).
1. Church and Cosmos (15-18)
The identity of the God of Israel with the Creator of the Universe was axiomatic in O.T. So in N.T, concerning the Lord Jesus.
2. Supremacy and Sufficiency (19-22)
Sufficiency (completed achievement) is attainable only because of Supremacy (crowning authority). Paul speaks of the final reconciliation of cosmos (All Things) and his elect people. Additional mediators are unthinkable.
3. Christ and Him Crucified (15-22)
The flow of the ‘argument’ that leads from Christ’s universal Lordship to the brutal physicality of his death, in blood and nails, is definitive of the gospel, and challenges the churches as to their Message and Ministry.
4. Steadfastness or Submission (23)
The call to stand by the apostolic and catholic Gospel, thus rejecting the fraudulent daydreams of the Elitist is the ‘Heart of the Matter’ (O’Brien).
PRAYER: Notes on Colossians part 5
In Prayer, Colossians are further reassured.
1. Their spiritual Privileges (12-14)
Future secured (12)
Present secured (13-14)
2. Their spiritual Progress (9-10)
‘Knowledge' leads to ‘worthy living’ which leads to 'growing knowledge'
3. Their spiritual Power (11)
All Power is necessary for endurance, the continuance in the Faith that is the central exhortation of the letter (2:6,7).
A question to think about: Why is there a strong emphasis in this letter on Thankfulness?
HOPE: Notes on Colossians part 4
A key word in Colossians is HOPE:
- Hope in Colossians refers to that which is stored up for the believer in heaven (Col 1:5), as well as at Christ’s future appearing (Col 3:4).
- Hope in Colossians refers to a confident assurance of a future, given by God (Col 1:12). It is normal Christian experience.
- Hope in Colossians arises from an experience of the indwelling Christ, so it cannot disappoint us (Romans 5:5). Col 1:27 is quintessential ‘Colossians’!
- Hope in Colossians guards against all attempts – doomed to disappointment – to claim possession is this life of that which belongs to the age to come.
- Hope in Colossians, as in 1 John 3:3, never suggests spiritual passivity (Quietism). In every strand of the letter Paul calls for growth to maturity – it is what his ministry in the Church was all about (Col 1:28-29).
- Hope in Colossians is an indispensible constituent of a full gospel proclamation (Col 1:23). Our great Salvation lies in the future at Christ’s coming (Col 3:4), although wonderfully anticipated by ‘Christ in you’ (note 3). Read Col 1:12-13 again.
- Hope in Colossians has to do with future rewards, of which Paul is unashamed to speak (Col 3:24).
Notes on Colossians part 3
A word of Truth
A word of grace
A word of Life
The catholicity of the gospel (6:23) is a token of its divine origins and power (Bruce)
This stands in stark contrast to the heretical teaching with its appeal to a select group of initiates.(O’Brien)
Their Faith in Christ (4)
Their Love for all the brotherhood (4)
Their Hope of glory (5)
3. That in Epaphras, a native of Colosse, they have been given a wholly trustworthy evangelist and teacher (7)
Reliable in his report to them of Paul’s gospel.
Reliable in his report to Paul of the Spirit’s work among them.
Note on Colossians part 2
Here's one way of dividing the text that I shall follow:
Initial greeting (1:1,2)
- Word of Endorsement (1:3-14)
- Word of Exposition (1:15-23)
- Word of Explanation (1:24-2:5)
- Word of Exhortation (2:6-23)
- Word of Expectation (3:1-4:6)
Final greetings (4:7-18)
Notes on Colossians part 1
[Editor's note: starting today we have a two week set of posts from the pen of Dick Lucas based on work he prepared for a conference in Scotland. Enjoy this rare treat!]
My overall title is The Colossian Error: Confronting Elitism in Today's Church
- Researching the ‘Colossian Heresy’ has occupied scholars for over a century, with little, if any result. Most likely it was a futile exercise.
- In a famous essay (1973) Dr Morna Hooker ‘demolished’ the notion of false teachers in the Colossian Christian community. But her view does not really account for the language of 2:8-23 (Oxford Bible Commentary).
- Heresy, that is teaching contrary to Christian orthodoxy, probably opened up a false trail. In this study, the trouble makers will be presumed orthodox in the fundamentals, but influenced strongly by the currents of thought around them (of course). Such would include Jewish and pagan pressures, as well as that incipient gnosticism that remains with us to this day. Comparable pressures today can be hedonistic, therapeutic, utopian, conformist etc.
- Moule writes of a Colossian ‘Error’, sufficiently serious for Paul ‘to describe adherents as detached from Christ’ (2:19). Similarly, he speaks of the Colossian ‘Mistake’, that ‘completeness’ was not to be found in Christ alone ‘but must be sought by additional religious rights and beliefs’. Paul’s medicine for both ‘Error’ and ‘Mistake’ was not denunciation, but solid instruction of the great Christology (1:15-23). In Colossians, positive teaching comes first.
- The position taken here is that all we can know of what was going on in Colosse is to be found in the text of the letter itself; and this not by the ‘warning passage’ alone (2:8-23), but by the part each and every section plays in what is a coherent, integrated and carefully structured presentation.
John RW Stott (1921-2011)
We at the Proclamation Trust gladly pay our tribute today to John Stott as both friend and example. Soon after WWII it was he, as the new Rector of All Souls, who set an unsurpassed standard of expository preaching that has had a profound effect on successive generations of pastor-teachers worldwide. This – so we who were privileged to hear him in early days were persuaded – was how it should be done! Unashamed submission to the authority of Scripture, manifest integrity in handling the text, brilliant clarity, irresistable logic – all this combined with the attraction of a man of God evidently concerned for you and your welfare – in this world and the next; no wonder this ministry drew such crowds of enrapt and willing listeners.
It seems that we live in a day when famous names are all too easily forgotten, even of those gifted people to whom is owed much of what we now enjoy. At the Proclamation Trust, it is our desire to acknowledge our debt to this man and his ministry. Of course, John Stott was a leader responsible for a host of outstanding initiatives. But, at this moment, we recall a preacher and teacher to whom words were given in rich abundance to point the way to an understanding of the love of Christ that surpasses knowledge. It's a great legacy. Let's preserve it and share it.