Thursday, March 30, 2017

Colossians Chapter 3 - Introduction


In each of Paul’s letters, we find that generally the first half is the doctrinal section where he instructs and sets the underlying explanation of the points that are being made. In the second half, he develops the practical side or how to apply that which he has explained. In our letter to the Colossians, chapters 3 and 4 make up the practical application of his teaching.

In chapters 1 and 2, Paul established the preeminence of Christ. He established this in his instruction on the person and work of Christ – His preeminence in creation, redemption, and the church. Paul instructed about the person of Christ, His objective and subjective work that built this preeminence. He then turned to the fact that Christ is the True Freedom that a believer has. Christ is the answer to false philosophy and to rituals.

In chapter 3, Paul will turn his attention to the position and practices of a believer. He will develop more on the fullness of Christ in God by what He does through us. He will develop our position in Christ, and then elaborate on the practice that all believers should be involved in. He will cover the areas of putting off the old man and putting on the new man. He will speak to the factor of holiness in our family, work, and public lives.

We will now see Christ, the fullness of God, poured out in life through believers. Paul will help us to understand that that is the only way He can be poured out. We will start in verses 1 – 4 ascertaining our position in Christ.

Prayer: Father, open my eyes that I might see the wonder and majesty of what Christ can do in today's world by my letting Him work through me. May I be an open vessel, a conduit through which He can reach my world. I am open to Your leadership and guidance. I am willing to be your hands, feet, heart, and mouth as You desire. Teach me and use me. Amen.


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Are Christians under obligation to observe the Old Testament Sabbath?


Problem: 

Why do Christians worship on Sunday, while the Old Testament law (as given in the 10 Commandments) set aside Saturday as the day of worship?

Solution: 

It was the custom of the Jews to come together on the Sabbath, which is Saturday, cease work, and worship God. As we study the New Testament, we observe that of the 10 Commandments listed in Exodus 20:1-17, only nine of them were reinstituted in the New Testament. (Six in Matthew 19:18, murder, adultery, stealing, false witness, honor parents, and worshiping God; Romans 13:9, coveting. Worshiping God properly covers the first three commandments). The one that was not reaffirmed was the one about the Sabbath. Instead, Jesus told us that He is the Lord of the Sabbath (Matt. 12:8).

The basis of the origin of the Old Testament command comes from creation when God rested on the seventh day. But, since God is omnipotent, He doesn’t get tired. He doesn’t need to take a break and rest. So, that causes us to stop and ask, why does it say that He rested? The reason is simple: Mark 2:27 says, "The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath." In other words, God established the Sabbath as a rest for His people, not because He needed a break but because we are mortal and need a time of rest to put our focus on Him. By taking this period of rest, our spirits and bodies are both renewed.

The Old Testament system of Law required keeping the Sabbath as part of the overall moral, legal, and sacrificial system by which the Jewish people satisfied God’s requirements for behavior, government, and forgiveness of sins. The Sabbath was part of the Law in that particular sense. In order to "remain" in favor with God, you had to also keep the Sabbath. If it was not kept, then the person was in sin and would often be punished (Ezekiel 18:4; Rom. 6:23; Deut. 13:1-9; Num. 35:31; Lev. 20:2, etc.).

But with the fulfillment of Jesus’ atonement, and our justification by faith (Rom. 5:1), we no longer are required to keep the Law and hence the Sabbath which was only a shadow of things to come (Col. 2:16-17) for our salvation. We are not under Law but grace (Rom. 6:14-15). The Sabbath is fulfilled in Jesus because in Him we have rest (Matt. 11:28).[1]

While the moral principles still are binding, we are not under the command to rest and worship on Saturday by many observations for the New Testament Church. Jesus resurrection was on the first day of the week (Matt. 28:1). He continued to appear on succeeding Sundays (John 20:6), and the descent of the Holy Spirit was on Sunday (Acts 2:1). The pattern of the early church was to gather to worship on Sunday (Acts 20:7; 1 Cor. 16:2).[2]

Prayer: Father, I not become entangled in confusion over days and restrictions that are not binding upon me. You want my love, and I will seek to love You with my whole being. Amen.
 
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[1] Slick, M. (n.d.). Should we keep the Sabbath or not? Retrieved February 28, 2017, from CARM: https://carm.org/should-we-keep-sabbath-or-not 
[2] See more at Geisler, N. L., & Howe, T. (1992). The Big Book of Bible Difficulties. Grand Rapids, MI, USA: Baker Books. Pages 77-78, 329-330. 




Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Does Colossians 2:8 teach that a Christian should not study Philosophy?


Problem: 

The Apostle states here, “See to it that no one takes you captive by means of the philosophy and empty deception….” Are we being instructed that as Christians we should not study philosophy? If this is true, why would God give us a mind and command us to think (Matt. 22:37) and reason (1 Peter 3:15)? Is this a contradiction in the Word?

Solution: 

If we look at the Word of God, we will find that it is not against religion, although there are many warnings dealing with vain religion. In the same way, the Bible is not against the study of philosophy, it warns believers against “empty deceitful” philosophy.

Paul is not writing to the Colossians and warning against philosophy in general, but the early form of Gnostic philosophy infiltrating the region. In the passage here, the Greek definite article ho which can be translated as “the” or “this” shows that it is not a generality that Paul is addressing but a definite, particular part of philosophy.

A true philosopher is a seeker of truth. The Greek word philosophia literally means a “lover of wisdom.” Paul here in this verse delineates that the philosophy that he is warning them against was men’s ideas, it was “not according to Christ.”

If one studies the life of the Apostle Paul, it becomes evident from his writings that he was well-trained in the philosophies of his day, he would even quote from them at times.(Consider Acts 17:28; Titus 1:1 - 2) He “reasoned” or debated with the philosophers on Mars Hill, even bringing some to Christ. In Philippians 1:7 he said that he was appointed for the defense of the Gospel (1:17). Peter told us to “always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you for a reason for the hope that is in you” (1 Pet. 3:15). Jesus commanded us to love the Lord with “all your mind.”

God does not advocate ignorance at any point in His Word, however, He does warn us frequently against the false wisdom of the world. Because many have taught young believers not to study the field of Philosophy, there has arisen a paucity of committed Christian Apologists. If we wonder why the field of philosophy seems so infused by paganism, it might be because of the lack of those who can give a defense of the truth. So, should a Christian study philosophy? Yes, but carefully comparing it to the truth that comes only from God and His Word.

Prayer: May I walk in wisdom. Father, there are many false teachers out there. Give me the wisdom to see the truth and to live by the truth. Help me to study what is right and to understand correctly the philosophy, so-called, of man versus the true philosophy that comes from You and Your Word. Amen.





Monday, March 27, 2017

Colossians 2:23


The taboos and prohibitions have a wordy show[1] (Greek logon) of being of superior knowledge and enlightenment[2] (Greek sophiaz). This leads to a self-made worship (Greek ethelothreskeia) or, as the KJV translates it, a will-worship. This is worship that is an arbitrarily created form of worship, not worship as God designed[3]. This included a trapeinophrosune, or humble opinion of oneself. Used in conjunction with the phrase of self-made worship leads to the conclusion of a false humility.

While much of the ascetic philosophy did include severe treatment of the physical body, they were thinking of the antithesis on Greek thought between the body and the soul. Paul wants the believers to see that these concepts had no value (Greek time) or honor against the indulgence (Greek plesmone) or fulfillment of the flesh. It was impotent to provide a remedy for the flesh (Greek sarx), The word can denote mere human nature, the earthly nature of man apart from divine influence, and therefore prone to sin and opposed to God.[4] A major ingredient in man’s rebellion against God is pride. And, this form of asceticism does not starve the flesh nature, but actually feeds it. The point is that will of man stands against God, and the pride that creates this stand is strengthened and fortified by our own forms of worship and disciplines.

Prayer: Lord Jesus, do I want to live in the showy world of taboos and prohibitions, or do I want to live in the light of Your great Word? May I chose what is best and leave the good behind. I seek to walk in You Word. I love You, Lord. Amen.

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[1] Perschbacher, W. J. (Ed.). (1990). The New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Peabody, Massachusetts, USA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Pages 63 and 259. 
[2] Perschbacher, W. J. (Ed.). (1990). The New Analytical Greek Lexicon. Peabody, Massachusetts, USA: Hendrickson Publishers, Inc. Pages 63 and 374. 
[3] Consider that God struck Nadab and Abihu dead for burning strange incense (Lev. 10:1 – 3), Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for usurping the priest’s office (2 Chron. 26:16 – 21) and Saul lost his throne over his “will-worship” in 1 Sam. 13:8 – 14. God is a jealous God and will not accept any would be worship created by self-will. 
[4] Thayer, J. (n.d.). Thayer's Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament. Retrieved March 4, 2017, from StudyLight.Org: http://www.studylight.org/



Sunday, March 26, 2017

Colossians 2:22


Paul wants them to remember that these regulations and decrees all pertain to those things which are perishing. The Greek phrase eis pithoran literally means unto corruption.[1] It is speaking of that which short-lived or transient. An example of this kind of teaching Paul uses in his first letter to the Corinthian believers, where he speaks in concern to food (1 Cor. 6:12ff.) As we use (or used up – Greek apochresis) they are used until they are unfit for further use, we might say misused. They will disappear. These are all according to, or passed down (Greek kata) by the precepts or commands and the didaskalia (teaching or doctrine) of anthropos, or a human being. In other words, they are strictly the philosophy that was empty and deceitful that Paul had spoken about.[2] The false teachers were striving to put the Colossian believers under rituals and false teaching that they had put together.

Behind this phrase was what the prophet Isaiah had spoken in 29:13 (ASV) – “And the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw nigh unto me, and with their mouth and with their lips do honor me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear of me is a commandment of men which hath been taught them.” Jesus quoted this in Mark 7:6 – 7 where He asserted that the scribes of his day had made the word of God of no value. These teachings of taboos were frustrating the pure teaching of God with its emancipating emphasis.[3]

Prayer: As I meditate on this verse today, how much do I pay attention to the perishing things of life, and not the eternal parts? Am I concentrating on that things that pass away? Do I think continually on the temporary? May I focus on the eternal, on the things that really matter in the light of eternity. I seek You and You alone. Amen.

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[1] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Page 468. 
[2] See further Col. 2:8, and the Bible Difficulty explanation on this verse. 
[3] Consider Paul’s teaching in Gal. 3:23 – 4:7.



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