Colossians – Part 2

Through the Winter months (here in New Zealand) – I am again teaching through a single book of Scripture.

This year, I am teaching on Colossians

You may well ask, ‘where is Part 1??’ :). Well I hope to have a recording of it to upload before too long, but a brief precis is included in these notes for this week’s ‘lecture’

Hopefully again I will have a recording to add, but for now here are the notes.

Colossians Session 2


•Location of Colossae – in the ‘birthplace of ‘Christian theology’’ – Asia Minor

•Authorship – Paul or ‘Deutero-Paul’ – As we shall see, there a re very significant elements of the letter that are clearly Pauline theology

•Paul – Apostle

•Ministry of Word and Prayer

•Teacher of faith

•Dominant concerns

•Christology – Ecclesiology – Ethics – The significance of their relationship

•‘Pray-er’ – ‘A theologian is one who prays, and one who prays is a theologian’ Evagrius Ponticus

•‘Paul’ has not been to Colossae – although he knows some of the believers there

•He ‘Always give thanks’ –

•He speaks in terms of fruitfulness – a theme common with John (of Ephesus) cf Also exalted Christology

Chapter 1 vs 9-12 – Paul’s prayer

•Ceaseless – 1Th 5:17 – Prayer as a state of being cf vs 3 ‘Gratitude’ – this is not hyperbole but we need to understand how this is so

•Paul’s Soteriology as Ontological, not Forensic – thus ‘Always’

•Salvation is about a changed existence – New Creation – New Being (as opposed to doing differently) – This becomes clearer once we get to Paul’s Christology

•‘Filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding’

•The will of God – We will see this in a few verses time, but we need at this point to understand

•a) that it is Cosmic. Not about which socks we should put on 🙂

•Your Kingdom Come, Your will be done one Earth as in heaven

•b) That it cannot be known outside of Christ

•‘that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God’

•ethics arising from knowing what God’s will is (in Christ)

•Lives aligned with God’s purposes

•Knowledge OF God – not knowledge about, nor Pragmatic knowledge e.g. How to live a good life Cf Philippians 3:7-11

•Participation in the divine life – Theosis


•Giving thanks to the Father who has enabled you ‘to share in the inheritance of the saints in light’

•Language of the Father in the Prodigal – ‘All I have is yours’

Chapter 1 vs 13-19 – The Christological hymn (?)

•Intro :- Inheritance is to be transferred into the Kingdom of his beloved son

•Difficulty with Kingdom/Heaven language – ‘Another time, another place’?

•Where and when is ‘Kingdom/Heaven’? Cf John’s use of ‘eternal life’

•This misunderstanding has seriously hindered the life of the church. What is the Present significance of the Resurrection??

•[The Father] has rescued us . . . and transferred us. Something is already effected

•. . . in whom [the Son] we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. The Significance of the preposition – we will come back to this

Forgiveness of sins is THE point but not, I suggest, in the way we have been taught in The West

[For a fascinating Eastern perspective on this – Fr Stephen Freeman has written once more a fine blog. I also recommend much of the ensuing discussion]

•The Hymn

He [Christ] is the image [ikon] of the invisible God

The firstborn of all Creation

For in him all things in heaven and earth were created

(things visible and invisible,

whether thrones or dominions or rulers or powers)

All things have been created through him and for him

He himself is before all things,

And in him all things hold together.

He is the head [kephale] of the body, the church

He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead

so that he might come to have the first place in everything

For in him, all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, (Cf v.9)

And through him God was pleased to reconcile to himself all things, (2 Cor 5:19)

(whether on earth or in heaven)

by making peace through the blood of his cross

•Scope of Salvation – total – All things – First place in Everything

•Place of Creation and Salvation – In Him [Romans 3:24-5][1]

•Ontological, NOT Forensic

•Thus Christ is Far far more than a means of Life – in the forensic sense – He is Life – the LIfe of all things especially the church

[1] Strong indicative that this Is Paul – his theology of atonement exactly matched that set out in Romans 3 – although masked by cultural / language issues

Through the Bible in a Year – March 2

The Scheme for March and April can be found here

Lev 1-3; Romans 10; Psalm 78 vs 1-31

‘Of the best that thou hast given, Earth and Heaven render thee’

First today, we note the Psalm. The neglect of the Psalms in the life of the church is a grievous omission. Nothing perhaps better exemplifies the narcissistic temperament of so much of contemporary Christianity than the neglect of the Psalms – for where else in all sacred scriptures are a people so unremittingly self critical. Where else are we so honest with God, most especially about our own faults than in the Psalms. Their place in the liturgy of God’s people down through the ages, the prayer book by which Christ so thoroughly identified himself with us, must be restored if we are to move more fully into the life that God wishes to offer us – a life free of dissimulation and conceits, a life of Honesty and Truthfulness. The Psalms, in rehearsing our sorry history, do not leave us with the hubristic satisfaction of saying, ‘look how far we have come’!

Viewed in such a light, thus our Salvation is very Great – as the writer to the Hebrews puts it ‘How shall we escape if we ignore so great a salvation?’ A New and Living way opened for us. And at its heart is sacrifice. The Sacrificial system is marked out by the words, the best, the choice, the unblemished. As the various offerings are outlined in the opening chapters of Leviticus, this is a recurrent theme, and indeed later its failure to be heeded is the source of the sharpest denunciation of the prophets. These sacrifices are not propitiatory, they are Sacrifices of Praise – they are not to elicit Salvation, they are in response to it. Those who know they have been forgiven much, love much.

The Psalms keep us reminded of the scope of God’s salvation – all we can do is our reasonable act of worship – to offer our souls and bodies, as living sacrifices, in the pattern of the One who offered up himself.

Reading through the Bible in a year

I’m encouraging my church to join in reading through the Scriptures together in 2013 – here is part of what I have suggested as an aide.

“Just a couple of tips – if you miss a day, do not worry, or try to catch up, this will just turn it into a chore! Start again with the reading set for the day. And if something grabs your attention, then stop, turn to God in prayer or praise or lament or in whatever way seems appropriate.

This scheme will take you through the whole Bible in a year and twice through some parts. It is adapted from a scheme supplied by the Christian Medical Fellowship and includes a reading from the Old and New Testament everyday as well as a reading from the Psalms, the prayer book of God’s people down through the ages.

Yes there are parts of the Scriptures which may seem arid (having OT and NT readings will help in this regard), but not all of life is through well watered places 🙂 )
Perhaps you might like to keep a small journal of those things that seem Significant to you as a memorial of the way you have made your was as a Pilgrim through the Scriptures this year?”

As someone said to me recently – it is surely better to memorize one chapter of scripture than to read it all through and never take any in. “What profiteth it a man . . .”

Hope that helps!