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Colossians

Colossians

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Published by cpmacau
Christian Community Bible (NT) - 48th Ed (2009)
Christian Community Bible (NT) - 48th Ed (2009)

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Published by: cpmacau on Nov 27, 2009
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07/09/2010

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Towards the year 62, Paul, a prisoner in Rome, writes to the Christians of Colossae,who, without being aware of it, belittle Christ. They do not feel assured with only faith inChrist and they want to add some practices from the Old Testament. Or they try to includeChrist in a board of celestial persons, or “angels” who are supposed to have the key to ourdestiny in hand.Something was lacking in them and in the majority of their contemporaries. They werecaught in the Roman Empire which had imposed its peace on the known world at that time,but also prevented them from living a life of their own. They fell back on the “spiritual.” Se-cret doctrines offered to lead their “perfect ones” to a higher state and theories called “gno-sis” (that is, knowledge) were drawn up on the origin of the human and the world. Accord-ing to them, all comes from a cosmic soup that had been boiling for ages, with impressivecelestial families of angels or “eons”, male and female, who devour each other, couple andfinally imprison sparks of spirit in material bodies. So people are manufactured who, after“putting on” a series of successive existences, may return to the kingdom of light.Caught in the wind of these fine discourses, the Colossians went the way of certainChristians today who trust in their devotion to souls or who allow their life to be led by spir-itualism, astrology and horoscopes. They no longer consider Christ as the only savior sincethey give the priority to others or to practices that are not of the Church.This crisis in the Church of the first century gave us this letter of Paul where he estab-lishes the absolute supremacy of Christ. As in other letters of Paul, the letter to the Colos-sians mentions that Timothy is with him (1:1). Paul chose him as assistant and looked on himas “his true Son in Christ.” Perhaps it was Timothy who wrote a fair part of this letter; itwould explain the difference in style from the more authentic of Paul’s letters while its con-tent—exceptionally rich—is constantly faithful to the inspiration of the apostle. On this sub- ject see the Letter to the Ephesians which has the same themes as the one to the Colossians,but in a more developed way. In several passages of Colossians, relevant commentaries inEphesians will be indicated.
 
1
Paul, apostle of Christ Jesusby the will of God and Timothyour brother,
2
to the saints in Colossae, ourfaithful brothers and sisters in Christ:Receive grace and peace fromGod our Father, and Christ Jesus ourLord.
3
Thanks be to God, the Father of Christ Jesus, our Lord!We constantly pray for you,
4
forwe have known of your faith in ChristJesus and of your love for all thesaints. Indeed you await in hope theinheritance reserved for you inheaven,
5
of which you have heardthrough the word of truth. This Gos-pel,
6
already present among you, isbearing fruit and growing through outthe world, as it did among you fromthe day you ac cepted it and under-stood the gift of God in all its truth.
7
He who taught you, Epaphras,our dear com panion in the service of Christ, faithful minister of Christ onour behalf,
8
has reminded me of thelove you have for me in the spirit.
1
9
Because of this, from the day we re-ceived news of you, we have notceased praying to God for you, thatyou may attain the full knowledge of his will through all the gifts of wis-dom and spiritual understanding.
10
May your lifestyle be worthy of the Lord and completely pleasing tohim. May you bear fruit in everygood work and grow in the knowl-edge of God.
11
May you become strong ineverything by a sharing of the Gloryof God, so that you may have greatendurance and persevere in joy.
12
Constantly give thanks to theFather who has empowered us to re-ceive our share in the inheritance of the saints in his kingdom of light.
13
He rescued us from the power of darkness and transferred us to thekingdom of his beloved Son.
14
In himwe are redeemed and forgiven.
Christ is the beginning of everything
15
He is the image of the unseenGod,
1.
1 Paul, as usual, praises his readers. Ac-tually, he is writing because of the informationEpaphras gave him about the Colossians’ con-cerns.Epaphras, about whom Paul speaks (v. 7),is a man from Colossae. When Paul was or-ganizing the evangelization of the province ofEphesus (see Acts 19:26 and 20:4), he did notgo to every city, but would send his assistants.Epaphras of Colossae announced the GoodNews and had started to form communities inColossae and then in the neighboring cities ofLaodicea and Hierapolis (see Col 4:13). Hewas the man who came to Rome to informPaul of the difficulties.
Your faith… your love
in hope
… (vv. 4-5). Paul constantly regroups these three Chris-tian powers: believe, love and hope. In theChristian world, they are called theologicalvirtues (i.e., powers that go straight to God).The three go together, otherwise they do notexist. In a sense hope is the first: if it is nolonger alive, faith and love remain powerless.Straight away, Paul presents faith as beingmatchless: the Gospel has already beenpreached and believed throughout the world(v. 6) (which is rather too quickly said); faithopens for us the way to true knowledge: pre-cisely what the Colossians are looking for (seeIntroduction); through this faith God has al-ready placed us in the kingdom of Light (v. 12).
He has transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son.
While the Colossians are in-terested in an invisible world of supernaturalforces, where luminous powers battle withthose of darkness (see the Introduction, andalso Eph 1:21), Paul immediately clarified thesituation: there is nothing other than the pow-er of Darkness and the kingdom of the Son.15. Paul shows that the angels or
invisi-ble powers
(v. 16) whether from the Bible orthe story tellers of “gnosis” with their Thrones,Authorities, Principles… are nothing com-pared with Christ. He is neither agent nor in-termediary of a creative adventure without atrue creator. He is not one of the saviors of ahistory rather impersonal: there is only God-Creator and in him is Christ. See the sameidea in Hebrews 1.
1Cor 1:1Eph 1:151P 1:34:12;Phlm1:231Thes2:121P 2:9;Acts26:18;Dt 33:3;Wis 5:5Eph 1:7;Rom3:24Jn 1:1;Wis 7:26;Gen 1:26;Pro 8:22;2Cor 4:4;Phil 2:6;Heb 1:3;1:6;
1773COLOSSIANS 1
 
and for all creation he is the firstborn,
16
for in him all things were created,in heaven and on earth,visible and invisible:thrones, rulers, authorities, powers…All was made through him and forhim.
17
He is before alland all things hold together in him.
18
And he is the head of the body,that is the Church,for he is the first, the first raisedfrom the deadthat he may be the first in everything,
19
for God was pleased to let fullnessdwell in him.
20
Through him God willed toreconcile all things to himself,and through him, through his bloodshed on the cross,God establishes peace,on earth as in heaven.
21
You yourselves were once es-tranged and opposed to God be-cause of your evil deeds,
22
but nowGod has reconciled you in the hu-man body of his Son through hisdeath, so that you may be withoutfault, holy and blameless beforehim.
23
Only stand firm, upon thefoundation of your faith, and besteadfast in hope. Keep in mind theGospel you have heard, which hasbeen preached to every creatureunder heaven, and of which I, Paul,became a minister.
24
At present I rejoice when I sufferfor you; I complete in my own fleshwhat is lacking in the sufferings of Christ for the sake of his body, whichis the Church.
25
For I am serving theChurch since God entrusted to methe ministry to make the word of God fully known.
26
I mean that mys-
In Galatians 4:1-5 Paul recognizes that thehistory of humanity has been deeply markedby natural and social forces that he does notname. He also affirms that since the resurrec-tion of Jesus, it is he who has in hand all themovement of history (Rev 5:3-5). Somethingthat may astonish those among us who thinkall history is the responsibility of humankind.In one sense, they are right but on conditionthat they do not forget the
Firstborn
, the onewho has already come to the end of historyand of whom we say he is Lord (Phil 2:11) ofhistory.
He is the image of the unseen God
. Weshould not imagine that God has a humanform beyond the clouds, and that Jesus is hisimage; human creature is the image of God,but God is not in the image of human crea-ture.In all that he is and in all that he does, Christamong us is the perfect image of the Fatherand of his mercy: his actions reveal God’s wayof thinking and acting. Already before he be-came man, the Son of God existed in God, asthe eternal and invisible image of God eternaland invisible, the radiance of the glory of theFather (Heb 1:3), the Expression or Word ofGod (Jn 1:1).
For all creation, he is the firstborn
. Wetake this word in its biblical sense. He is notthe first of many creatures, but the one whohas a place apart. In his human nature, Christis a Galilean Jew, a descendant of David. Hisperson, however, is rooted in God and is pre-sented to us as the model and the
 firstborn
notof people but of all creation.
God was pleased to let fullness dwell inhim
who is the only bridge between God andthe universe. The fullness of God is in him tobe communicated to the universe, and the full-ness of the universe will be found in him whenall human beings are reconciled and reunited inhim.
 All was made through him
: John 1:1 andHebrews 1:2.
 And was the first raised…
Paul says moreprecisely “and as the first fruits offered to God,was raised” (as in 1 Cor 15:23). He has notcome only for the forgiveness of sins, but for a“passover,” a passage from death to life, andhis resurrection after his total abandonment tohis Father was a first necessary step so that wetoo would have a resurrection.
God willed to reconcile
. Once again thework of Christ is presented as reconciliation:reconciliation between people (2 Cor 5:17-21)and reconciliation of the whole of creation.• 21. Paul now requires the Colossians tokeep their feet on the ground. Do not wasteyour time imagining struggles between celes-tial beings and evil ones. The struggle is here
Jn 1:3;Heb 1:2;1Cor 8:6Rom8:29Jn 8:58Eph 1:22;4:15;5:232:9;Eph 1:23;Jn 1:16;Eph 1:10;Rom5:10;2Cor5:18;Eph 2:14Eph 4:18;2:1Eph 5:211Cor15:58;Mk16:15;1Tim3:16Acts9:16;2Cor4:102Cor 3:6Mk13:10;
COLOSSIANS 11774

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