Monday, April 3, 2017

Where the Rubber Meets the Road in Colossians

The teaching that has been given in the preceding sections will now be put into practical use. As usual for Paul, he will start with the theological doctrinal information and then give us a practical application of what he has discussed. He generally marks this change with the word “therefore.” As one of my Seminary Professors would say, “Always ask what the therefore is there for.”

The ethical instruction of Paul was in a form that was widely used in his day among Christians. They model the ethical teaching of Jesus Himself. Paul always continues to display the connection between the theology he is instructing and the practical application, or practice, that should come from this information. He believed that it was not enough to have a firm intellectual grasp, but one must live out what he has learned.[1] In another way of seeing this, we are aware that the ethical/practical instruction of Paul is not left hanging in mid-air. He always grounds it in the revelation of God through Jesus Christ. 

So, at this point, Paul will deliver two general Christian principles:

        1) There are old practices (man) to be abandoned;

        2) There are new ways of life (man) to be implemented.

The idea of taking off and putting on – a figure of speech that we would associate with the concept of changing clothes, he attaches this to the view of what took place at baptism.

The early Christian church appears to have developed some catechetical elements to aid in the learning and retention of Christian truth. This became even more necessary with the addition of Gentile believers who were not versed in the Old Testament truths. According to F. F. Bruce, these distinctive catchwords were in paragraphs which expanded the sanctions to “’put off’ (Col.3:5-11); ‘put on’ (Col. 3:12-17); ‘be subject’ (Col.3:18-4:1); and ‘watch and pray’ (Col.4:2-6).[2] We will now begin a study of the practical aspects of these teachings of Paul to the Colossian church.

Prayer: Jesus, help me to see that all the head knowledge that I cather is not as important as the application of what You have taught. I may know more than others, but if I am not living it out before others, it is a fruitless and useless acquisition. Amen.

[1] Consider Jesus’ teaching in John 13:17 – “If ye know these things, blessed are ye if ye do them.” 
[2] Bruce (1984) Page 139.

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