JOURNEYS THROUGH THE BIBLE

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1 JOURNEYS THROUGH THE BIBLE #13. THE LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS 1. Paul s letter t the Clssians was written frm Rme and is the Apstle s Respnse t heretical teaching that had begun t surface amng Believers in Clsse. At the heart f Paul s crrectin is a reminder that everything a Believer needs is already fund in Christ. It appears that a frm f syncretism was weakening the Clssian church. Syncretism is the blending f Christianity with ther religius frms. Fr instance, if a missinary tried t blend elements f Christianity with a ppular abriginal nature religin in rder t make the Gspel less ffensive t new cnverts, that wuld be defined as syncretism. Any such attempt t minimize the trauma f cnversin is unacceptable t the message f The Kingdm. In the case f Clsse, there seems t a blend f the Gspel with paganism and varius secular philsphies. Althugh we d nt have a systematic delineatin f the false dctrine plaguing this church, there were several clues suggesting the cre issues f the Clssian Heresy : Spirit is gd; Flesh is evil (1:15-20) - But Gd says everything He created was gd! There are tw ideas regarding flesh. The Greek wrd fr ur physical bdies is sma, and is thught f as being gd. The wrd sarx is als translated as flesh, but is used t signify ur fallen fleshly nature. In ther wrds, my bdy is nt evil, but my carnal nature is. Salvatin is achieved by carefully rchestrated gd wrks (2:11-23; 3:11) - Paul had already explained t the churches f this regin (see Ephesians) that it is by grace yu are saved, thrugh faith, and that nt f yurselves. Nt by wrks, lest anyne think they have reasn fr prideful basting. The flesh must be beaten dwn and punished (2:20-23) - Self-flagellatin is nt effective in dealing with inner evil. Whatever success is achieved usually becmes a surce f pride. Angels shuld be wrshipped because they are Divine Messengers (2:18) - Christ alne is wrthy f wrship. Christ cannt be bth human and divine (1:15-20; 2:2, 3) Jesus is fully Gd and fully man. He is the perfect and cmplete blending f tw distinct natures. He is as much Gd as if He were nt man at all; He is as much man as if He were nt Gd at all. Christ is the full and cmplete expressin f Gd. Dr. J. Stephen Chitty 1

2 Secret knwledge is available fr the spiritually elite (2:2-18) - This was at the center f Gnsticism, which taught the Spiritual Ones (pneumatiki) were privy t special truth; the Natural Ones r Sulish Ones were destined t live n a lwer level f revelatin. Human wisdm is necessary fr salvatin (2:4, 8-10; 3:15-17) - Paul tld the Crinthians (1 Crinthians 2) Eye has nt seen, neither has a human ear heard, neither has it entered int man s thughts - the wnderful life Gd has prepared fr thse wh lve Him. They are, hwever, revealed by the Spirit f Gd t His Children. Syncretism makes religin better (2:10) - Christ is sufficient and supreme. There is nthing that needs t be added t His Gspel. Immrality is nt necessarily evil (3:1-11) Thugh the flesh was cnsidered evil, Gnstics excused sensual indulgences because they were cmmitted by the flesh, nt the spirit. Gnstics reasned that there was n true guilt attached t carnal living. In Clssians, we see Jesus presented as fully sufficient and abslutely in cntrl f each Christian s life. There are similarities t the message f the Ephesians, but frm a crrective pint f view. 2. Authrship and date - Paul wrte the epistle (1:1, 23; 4:18) in 61-62AD during his imprisnment in Rme. Paul was cnnected t the Church in Clsse nly indirectly. Epaphras, a cnvert f Paul, appears t be the funder f the church. The mentin f Timthy, Aristarchus, Mark, Archippus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas and Onesimus appear in bth Clssians and Philemn indicating that bth letters had the same authr and were written at abut the same time. 3. Paul s emphasis) is clearly n the preeminence f Christ is all things. There is n rm fr ther gd, philsphy r surce in the lives f Christians. 4. Key Chapter There is n dminant chapter in Clssians. In its brief fur chapters, Paul makes the case that Jesus paid fr ur sin, recnciled us back t Gd, and has given us spiritual pwer t grw in grace and becme mre like Christ. Because Christ is the head f this Dr. J. Stephen Chitty 2

3 spiritual bdy, we shuld be diligent t develp ur spiritual cnnectin t Him. 5. Key Verse Clssians 2:9, 10 NIV - Fr in Christ, all the fulness f the Deity lives in bdily frm, and yu have been given fullness in Christ, wh is the head ver every pwer and authrity. 6. Key Peple Paul - The funding pastr in Ephesus. Epaphras was cnverted by Paul while in Ephesus, and returned hme t Clsse t establish a sister church in that city. Luke - Paul s persnal physician and fellw missinary. The authr f Luke and Acts. Timthy - Paul s sn in the faith, wh was instrumental in the establishing and strengthening f churches in the area. Mark - Jhn Mark, a cmpanin f Paul n his First Missinary Jurney, as well as ther ministry pprtunities near the end f Paul s life. Tychichus, Onesimus, Archippus, and Aristarchus - men whse interactin with Paul in this regin greatly assisted the apstle in establishing churches. Onesimus was the runaway slave wh was the bject f Paul s letter t Philemn. Aristarchus f Thessalnica was seized by a ritus mb in Ephesus. Archippus was mst likely the sn f Philemn (Philemn 2). Tychichus was ne f the Gentile Believers Paul tk t Jerusalem as a representative f Gd s wrk amng nn-jewish peple (Acts 20:4). He was a very capable man wh was ften used in the place f timthy and Titus (2 Timthy 4:12 and Titus 3:12). 7. Key Places - Clsse - A city in Phrygia (Asia Minr; mdern Turkey), abut 100 miles east f Ephesus. In Esther s day, Clsse was a thriving twn, but by Paul s day the majr trade rute had been re-ruted, making Ladicea and Hieraplis the mre imprtant and prsperus cmmunities. Clsse was primarily Gentile, but had a significant number f Jews as well. Hieraplis - a Phrygian city abut 20 miles west f Clsse and 6 miles nrth f Dr. J. Stephen Chitty 3

4 Ladicea. Ladicea - This was the site f a neighbring church intended t receive the same epistle as the Clssians. Ladicea is als mentined as ne f the seven special church f Revelatin (Revelatin 3). 8. Key Themes - Jesus is Gd - Paul wanted the Clssians t understand clearly that Jesus is mre than a gd man. He is mre than the best man. He is the Gd-Man. He is nt half and half, but is the cmplete expressin f Gd. Jesus is fully Gd and fully man. He is the blending f tw distinct natures. He is as much Gd as if He were nt man at all; He is as much man as if He were nt Gd at all. Christ is the full and cmplete expressin f Gd. Jesus is the Head f the Church - Christ is the Funder, and Leader f His Church. The Bk f Revelatin prtrays Him as the Alpha and Omega, the Beginning and the End. Jesus is ur Life-Surce - In Him we live, and mve, and have ur very existence. Jhn 15 pints ut that He is the Vine, and we are branches cnnected t Him, drawing life frm Him. Jesus is ur Abslute Authrity - Because f these previus facts, n religin r philsphy rises abve the teachings f Jesus. He is Lrd ver all! 9. The Cntents f Philippians - Greetings t the Church (1:1-14) Greetings frm Paul (1:1,2) Paul s thankfulness (1:3-8) Paul s prayer fr the Clssians (1:9-14) The Wrk f Christ - Dctrinal Instructin (1:15-2:23) The Deity f Christ (1:15-23) Dr. J. Stephen Chitty 4

5 Paul s Apstlic Ministry (1:24-2:7) Paul s warnings abut false dctrine (2:8-23) The Walk f Christians - A Call t Hly Living (3:1-4:18) A wrd abut hly living (3:1-17) A wrd abut Christian hmes (3:18-4:1) A wrd abut Christian speech (4:2-6) Paul s Circle f Friends (4:7-18) Wrth nting abut Clssians: Paul fcuses n the Preeminence f Christ - In all creatin - He is Gd (1:15); He is Creatr (1:16); He Sustains all life (1:17); He is the Head f the Church (1:18). In Salvatin - he is the agent f The Father (1:19, 20); His death is the surce f redemptin (1:21, 22); His life in us is ur guarantee f immrtality (1:27). In wisdm - He is the surce f all spiritual wisdm (2:2, 3); He is greater than wrldly knwledge, wisdm and philsphy (2:8). In Quality Living - We have ur life in Him (3:3); We live hly lives by His pwer (3:5-14). Clssians makes a clear, bld declaratin that Jesus Christ is Lrd f Creatin, the Church, and in eternity. When reading Clssians: Remember that the Clssian cngregatin is mst Gentile. Dr. J. Stephen Chitty 5

6 Thugh He has never been t Clsse, Paul cnsiders the church ne f his wn since it was established by Epaphras, a cnvert f his while at Ephesus. The prblems in Clsse seem t have a distinctly Jewish flavr n ne hand, but reflect pagan philsphic thught n the ther. As with mst cults, the tw pints f cntrversy revlved arund (1) the identity f Christ, and (2) hw t live a life that pleases Gd. During a train ride frm Chicag t the west cast, D.L. Mdy listened fr hurs as a member f anther religin explained hw t live a hly life. Mdy s cnclusin was as fllws: My friend, all yu have said can be summarized thusly: Yur religin is spelled D-O. My religin is spelled D-O-N-E. Yur life will be spent trying t d gd deeds, while my life rejices in the wrk Christ has already finished. Dr. J. Stephen Chitty 6

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