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Friday, June 08, 2007

Colossians 1:1-8

Unfortunately, I have been a little slow to update our class notes, even though it has been a while since we have finished the book of Colossians. Summer is here so I don't have any more excuses. This post is a brief intro to Colossians and the notes on the first 8 verses. Along with the notes, I will be posting an article on Mary that I am writing. It is partly a response to an article I read in Southeastern Seminary's most recent magazine and a summary of some of the discussion we had in class on the contrast between the Roman Catholic and Orthodox understanding of Mary.

Let's begin Colossians:

The theme of Ephesians was the Body of Christ. It held for the truth that from the beginning of time God predestined to create a people who would bring salvation to mankind. By joining oneself to this Body one becomes part of the predestined group. The book of Colossians upholds the Mystery of Christ Himself. Both books should be taken in concert, Christ restores mankind to become once again like God, but in order to do so one must grafted into His body—the Church.

Colossians 1

I. Introduction PAUL, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timoyour our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.*

-Colossae is 100 miles east of Ephesus in the heart of Asia Minor. Originally it was a trade city between Ephesus and deeper into Asia Minor. However, by the time of Paul Colossae had begun to decline and shrink in size and prominence.

-One of the major reasons for writing the book was to help them recognize and defend themselves against heresy. This will become apparent when we get into chapter 2

-The type of heresy that was begining to attack this church was Gnosticism. Gnosticism is a broad category of heresy that the church fought through the second century; various forms would pop up in different places throughout the empire. If you want a thorough understanding of all the various forms of Gnosticism, take a trip through St. Ireaneus’ Against Heresies.

-Two basic ideas were common to all forms of Gnosticism. First, salvation consisted by being initiated into a secret truth or knowledge. Second, there was a belief that God was so transcendent that He related to man through various emanations; each emanation was further and further from God; the secret knowledge allowed man to recognize each emanation and eventually reach back to God Himself. Also there was usually a low view of the body and all matter, because it was the body that prevented man from having direct relationship with God and the need to travel through the emanations.

-The Gnosticism of Colossae was a combination of Greek speculation; Jewish legalism (primarily dietary laws, holy days, and circumcision); and eastern mysticism

II. Thanksgiving for the Colossians

A. Their Faith, Hope and Love. 3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,

Paul once again begins his book like so many others thanking God for these believers and their faith in Christ. He ties together three major Christian virtues by mentioning faith, hope, and love.

B. Their Fruit. 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit,* as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth;

The fruit of the faith of the Colossians is their life. Truth must be translated into loving acts to be real. Christianity is not an idle philosophy but is a life that is lived in the real world. If Christianity is a entry in to the agape life of the Trinity, then it should be manifested in an agape life to those created in the image of the Holy Trinity.

-”all the world” This was a test of heresy; heresy was local; yet the Christian truth was universal. This has been a test of Christian truth through the centuries. St. Vincent of Lerins in the 5th century articulated this as "what has been believed everywhere, always, and by all".

-”heard and knew” Know in this passage is similar to many of the other times we have come upon this word; it is not intellectual knowledge but experience of the truth; this will be important later in the book.

C. Their Minister 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.

-The last time we ran into Epaphras was in Philippians; he had been ministering there as well. Epaphras had probably founded the Church in Colossae. Paul it appears never actually visited Colossae, but he had sent Epaphras when he was working in Ephesus.

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