Sunday, November 8, 2009

Commentary on Scripture: Colossians

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother. To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

1:4-5 ~~ faith in Christ and love for the Christian community are the products of "the hope laid up for you in heaven"

1:8 ~~ the phrase "your love in the Spirit" indicates that obedience to the will of God is itself a gift from God, for we are empowered to follow God through the workings of the Holy Spirit. This doesn't negate the concept of free will, but hints at a reconciliation between our will in following Christ, and Christ's sovereignty in redeeming us.

1:9 ~~ Paul prays that "you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" so that "you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord" etc.

1:9-12 ~~ Paul lists the products of Godly wisdom, which correspond to the medieval Intelligence. "Knowledge of His will" (Mercury)... "bearing fruit in every good work" (Venus)... "strengthened with all power" (Mars) "according to His glorious might" (Jupiter) "for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience" (Saturn). This list hints at the relationship between these Intelligences. Mercury is the foundation ("wisdom and understand so that...") of the other virtues, especially Venus (beauty and charitable love). Mars (strength and courage) is the first and greatest servant and imitator of Jupiter (majesty and glory), but both exist and lead to Saturn (patience and humility).

1:11-12 ~~ the final item of the list "joyously giving thanks to the Father" corresponds to the symbol of the Sun, symbolizing Joy (the Presence of God) and its effect of us (a spirit of thanksgiving, redemption from sin, and shared inheritance "of saints in Light").

1:15 ~~ "He is the image of the invisible God" (cf. Genesis 1:27) "the firstborn of all Creation" (cf. 1 Corinthians 15:22)

1:16-22 ~~ fairly comprehensive statement of Christology as it relates to the creation, humanity, the church, the nature of the resurrection, the anointing and mutual interpenetration of Father-Spirit-Son, the nature of the passion, the nature of personal conversion, the nature of salvation, and the Final Judgement.

1:23 ~~ reaffirmation of free will especially in light of Christ's soveriegnty.

1:25-26 ~~ word of God = a mystery previously hidden but manifested in the saints.

1:26-27 ~~ "riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory." (cf. Colossians 1:15; Christ is the firstborn of all Creation, heralding the redemption and exaltation of humanity).

2:2-4 ~~ a poetic, rhetorical appeal for truth, to inoculate against error (following Plato's conception of a noble use of rhetoric, developed in the Gorgias and the Phaedrus).

2:8 ~~ "See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the traditions of men, according to the elementary [first; or, secret] principles of the world." Traditions and wisdom, without God, is hollow and hollowing (cf. Heb. 5:12, "first principles" are systematized, and sin and theology are correlated).

2:17 ~~ "shadow" v. "substances" (OT laws are a shadow of the 'body of Christ').

2:23 ~~ "appearance of wisdom" in self-made religion, especially those that tend towards self-abasement and severe treatment of the body.

3:1-2 ~~ "keep seeking the things above, where Christ is... set your mind on the things above." Instead of denigrating the body and training our souls through our own will, our focus should be on Christ (the 'firstborn of Creation') who is the redemption of the flesh and restoration of the soul.

3:5 ~~ "immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which is idolatry."

3:8 ~~ "put them all aside: anger wrath malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth." The command to change one's attitude is treated in the same list as the command to change one's words and actions.

3:9-10 ~~ "you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, and have put on the new self, who is bing renewed to the true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him."

3:12 ~~ "chosen by God, holy and blameless" (signs of the elect); "heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience."

3:14 ~~ "love, which is the perfect bond of unity."

3:15 ~~ "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which you were indeed called in one body; and be thankful."

3:16 ~~ "Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you" -- in wisdom, instruct and admonish; "with thankfulness in your hearts to God" sing with psalms and hymns.

3:17 ~~ "Whatever you do in word and deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."

3:18-22 ~~ list of virtues involved in family life (for wives, husbands, children, fathers, slaves, and masters) including submission, love, obedience, patience, sincerity, fear of the LORD, and love of justice and fairness.

3:24 ~~ "from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance."

4:1 ~~ reaffirmation of the meaning of hierarchy (masters act justly to slaves, thereby justified to their Master in heaven).

4:6 ~~ "speech always be with grace, [as though] seasoned with salt." See also Ephesians 4:29 ("no unwholesome word," edifying speech, "give grace to those who hear") and Isaiah 6:5-7 (grace to words, and "purification" of the lips -- salt was used as an antiseptic).

4:9 ~~ Paul sends Onesimus to Colossae (the letter of Philemon was sent privately alongside the letter to the Colossian church).

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