Tuesday, April 18, 2017

Colossians 3:8 part 1

The Greek word nuni carries the image of “at this very moment.”[1] Paul is emphatically stressing to the Colossian believers the importance of what he is about to say. The word apotithemi[2] or as translated put them all away, is the way that Paul is creating the image of removing all the old sin nature and habits being cast aside as one would do with clothes that no longer fit or were beyond the ability of being clean. He says they are to put off all of the evil deeds and habits (Greek ta panta). The word for all could also be translated as each, every, any, all, the whole, everyone, all things, everything – in other words it includes every possible item that can be included. If one is left out, then it is not all.

In the Scriptures, we find behavior or character being represented as clothing or garment in passages like Job 29:14, “I put on righteousness, and it clothed me: My justice was as a robe and a diadem.” The Psalmist stated in Psalm 35:26, “Let them be clothed with shame and dishonor that magnify themselves against me.” And Paul uses it in 1 Thess. 5:8, where he says “But let us, since we are of the day, be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love; and for a helmet, the hope of salvation.”[3] Paul extended the idea in 1 Cor. 15 and 2 Cor. 5 to include the concept of our putting off the old terrestrial body and putting on a new celestial body.[4]

Paul then goes on to make a list of repulsive habits and the language which would accompany them that they apparently were guilty of. He starts the list with the word that previously was translated as wrath in verse 6, orge. In this case, it carries the image of an uncontrolled temper, a deep seated emotion of ill-will, a habitual feeling of hate and seeking revenge. While there is such a thing as “righteous anger” over the things that are against God, there is more readily seen the wrong type of anger. Anger that is generally experience is about things that affect us personally and is not developed and displayed in a correct form. Anger that is left to fester can turn into the following term – wrath.

Wrath (Greek thumos) has been explained as being a boiling agitation, a fiery outburst of temper, a violent fit of rage, or a passionate outburst.[5] Vine calls it a “hot anger.”[6] Anger becomes wrath when we develop an unforgiving spirit.[7] Malice (Greek kakia) is wicked depravity. As it has been said, it is badness in quality.[8] A person with malice has a vicious disposition with a willful desire to injure. They are cruel and rejoices in evil that comes to others. Someone had once said that malice was congealed anger. The bearer had nursed their anger along to the point of seeking revenge and getting even.

We can see a progression in this line of Paul’s writing. He moves from anger to malice. From the least to the most vicious. It is reminiscent of Jesus’ teaching in the Sermon on the Mount where he equates murder and anger. In Matt. 5: 21-22 (ASV), Jesus states “Ye have heard that it was said to them of old time, Thou shalt not kill; and whosoever shall kill shall be in danger of the judgment: but I say unto you, that every one who is angry with his brother shall be in danger of the judgment; and whosoever shall say to his brother, Raca, shall be in danger of the council; and whosoever shall say, Thou fool, shall be in danger of the hell of fire.” Someone may say that their anger is very bad, a short blast and it is over, but consider a shotgun – a short blast and it is over – but what waste it leaves in its wake. As followers of Christ, we are not to have any of this type of lifestyle. Paul says “put them all away.”

Prayer, Your Word has shown me over and over the tie between the outward and inward. What I harbor in my heart will eventually come out. You are more concerned about my inward thoughts and feelings than in the outward show I make. Cleanse me. Heal me. Use me. Amen.
[1] Perschbacher (1990) Page 286 
[2] The ethical use of this term in the New Testament can be found in Rom. 13:12; Eph. 4:22, 25: Heb. 12:1; James 1:21; 1 Pet. 2:1; as well as in this context. The literal meaning of changing clothes can be found in Acts 7:58. 
[3] Some other places that we see this in the Scriptures are: Psa. 109:29; 132:9; Isa. 11:5; 59:17; and Rom. 13:12, 14. 
[4] 1 Cor. 15:53-54 and 2 Cor. 5:2-4 
[5] Falwell (1988) Page 2463. 
[6] Vine. (1996). Page 688 
[7] McGee (1983) Page 357. 
[8] Vine. (1996) Page 388

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