Wednesday, April 5, 2017

Colossians 3:5 - Part 2

Paul begins the list with sexual immorality, the Greek word porneia, often translated as fornication. The word is used of illicit sexual intercourse, and can mean adultery, lewdness, or whoredom.[1] Paul starts this list here and in Gal. 5:19-21 (the works of the flesh), and as F. F. Bruce states that it has a primary meaning of to traffic in harlots, sexual relations in both prohibited and irregularity in general.[2] Since the Graeco-Roman culture accepted so much of this as common-place that many new believers (and churches) did not see this as a difficulty and tolerated it. Paul sought to remind them in warnings to abandon such practices.[3]

He next speaks of impurity, or akatharsia. Which Paul also includes second in his list of the works of the flesh (Gal. 5:19-21).[4] It carries a wider meaning than the previous word porneia. It includes sexual misconduct, but also is used to speak of various forms of immorality. “Demoshtenes, for example, uses it of one who, pretending to be a man’s friend, commits perjury to do him an injury.”[5] It could be considered to include the thoughts, words, looks, gestures, and jokes that we might tell.[6]

The word we have translated as passion (pathos) is used by the Greeks as both postive and negative. In the New Testament it is used always in a negative connotation.[7] It means here any dishonorable passion, as Paul used it in Romans 1:26, “For this cause God gave them up unto vile passions: for their women changed the natural use into that which is against nature.” Just as the word we have translated as desire (epithumia) means a craving or longing, lusting after something.[8] It is a wicked craving and sensualness beyond natural expression. Even if the adjective kakos (evil) was omitted, Paul’s usual use of the word would lead to this understanding.

Prayer: Holy Spirit, enlighten me to the sin that so easily causes me to lose the fullness of what I can have in You. Guide me, direct me, lead me in the right way at all times. And, more importantly, give me the desire and power to walk in it. Amen.

[1] Perschbacher (1990). Page 340. 
[2] Bruce (1984). Page 143. 
[3] 1 Cor. 6:18 – “Flee fornication.” And 1 Thess. 4:3 – “…abstain from fornication…” 
[4] See in addition, Rom. 1:24; 6:19; Eph. 4:19; 5:2; and 1 Thess. 4:17. 
[5] Ibid. 
[6] McGee (1983). Page 356. 
[7] Vine (1996). Page 16. 
[8] Wigram (1982). Page 315.

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