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By Steve Ray Pick your god. They are all worshiped here. Choose your favorite from the pantheon. Greek gods, Roman gods, ittite and !astern gods and even the "ewish God. Temples a#ound. !nter and worship the !phesian $rtemis, the !gyptian %sis or Serapis. Bow down to &eus, $thena, or a fertility goddesses. Purchase an idol to enshrine in your home. !ven enter a synagogue, after getting circumcised of course, and worship " ' with the "ews. There(s surely a god for your liking)isn(t it grand* +our ro#es are dusty and your sandals are worn. +ou have entered an ancient city in the land of the ittites, governed #y Rome and with a mi,ed population of Greeks, Romans, "ews, and a smattering of others-$sia .inor /known today as Turkey0. +ou have traveled a#out 122 miles inland from the great city of !phesus and the gates open as you walk into the 3222)year)old city of Colossae. %n the agora, or town s4uare, a man is shouting from the speaker(s platform /#ema0, and everyone is shouting #ack. e is preaching a#out a god you(ve never heard of #efore. %t appears the Colossians aren(t pleased to hear a#out this god. The speaker(s name is !paphras and he(s a native of Colossae /Col 56170. e is preaching a#out a man as though he were God and a God as though he were a man. %t is very confusing)especially with all the shouting. So you linger as the crowd wanders off. $ group gathers around !paphras and you are invited to his home to clean up and share a meal. +ou readily agree. +ou are hungry hungry from your travel, hungry also to learn. By the end of the evening you #elieve in this man(s God and "esus, this God(s son. +ou are #apti8ed in water, and welcomed into the group)a group they called an ekklesia /church0. !paphras has learned this good news from a "ewish scholar named Paul who is living in !phesus. Through Paul all of $sia is hearing a#out "esus /$cts 19612−110 and many are astounded #y his words and the miracles he performs in the name of this "esus. Paul had never visited Colossae and never would /7610, #ut his influence in $sia .inor, and in Colossae, was profound. :ver time you learn and mature in this new faith called Christianity, and you(re eventually ordained a pres#yter or priest in the church. But life is not easy and struggles ensue, especially with other religions and philosophies)foreign to Christianity)trying to infiltrate and pollute the true teaching. !paphras decides upon a ;ourney to consult with Paul, now a prisoner in Rome. $fter months away !paphras returns clutching a letter carefully rolled and already worn from repeated readings. $nd clutch it carefully he should, for the treasure in his hand is the <etter of St. Paul to the Colossians* Paul was wise= he had studied, seen, and e,perienced much. e understood the world(s religions, and no one understood "udaism #etter. The >Colossian eresy? raising its ugly head had two faces6 one a "ewish and the other a Gnostic. 'e have already investigated the "udai8ers and their legalistic approach to salvation, #ut Gnostic@ 'hat is Gnosticism@
physical stuff0 so o#viously. the full knowledge of God. the hope of glory? /Col 1673 7E0. $ true Christology is the final answer to every heresy that ever has #een. the pleroma. in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge /gnosis0? /767 G0. . the mystery hidden for ages and generations #ut now made manifest to his saints. resides in Christ >for in him all the fulness /pleroma0 of God was pleased to dwell? /Col 16190 and this >whole fulness of deity dwells #odily? in Christ. private revelation only for the initiated. an epignosis superior to the gnosis of the Gnostics.ect the Trinity and the Hivinity of Christ. >% #ecame a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you. But again. Paul speaks of our >#eing renewed in knowledge /epignosis0 after the image of its creator. $ good God /spirit0 could not create matter /earthly.? %n Christ we don(t have only a gnosis preached #y the pagans. to make the word of God fully known. that we have the full knowledge. the Christians >have come to Dfulness( of life in him. $nd. Gen 161−70. Rest assured in the fulness of the Catholic faith* Paul destroyed the "ewish and Gnostic heresies #efore they were even mentioned in the epistle)true Christology will do that* . #ut Paul writes. and in all. .any sects today re. meaning >knowledge?0 claimed that matter was evil and spirit was good-and. Rest assured. These Gnostics preached a special gnosis or knowledge. Fnowing Christ truly is the answer #ecause ours is the true religion. The mystery religions have nothing on the Christians. Paul undercuts the heresies #y proclaiming the true mysteries-mysteries that have #een revealed in Christ. Paul uses the word >mystery? four times in Colossians. or ever will #e. says Paul. The mystery religions and Gnosticism claimed to search the >mysteries? and possess the >fullness? /pleroma0. the >fulness?. gives us insight into Paul(s message and the words he uses. To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery. The Gnostics /from the Greek gnosis. . not far off in some Gnostic myth. one had to receive a special knowledge /gnosis0 to #e saved. Christ is all. the full knowledge of God. yet he created matter-the heavens and earth /161A= cp. the "ewish and Christian God could never fit the Gnostic philosophy. #ut Paul confirmed what the Colossians already knew-Christians had the epignosis. Paul gets right to the point. which is Christ in you. %t has >all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge /epignosis0 of God(s mystery. dear Colossians. of Christ.Put on your thinking caps. "ehovah(s 'itnesses have resurrected old heresies reducing "esus Christ to a creature. says Paul.clusive. Consense. Paul uses their own technical terms to confound the heretics and demonstrate to the Christians that what they have is vastly superior to the pagans. They show their #i#lical . To top that. #ut the epignosis. who is the head of all rule and authority? /Col 769 120. The "ewish and Christian God was a spirit. Pleroma referred to the totality of the various spiritual levels and the #eings or entities presumed to live there. 'hat a slap in the face* Bnderstanding the culture into which this epistle was written. this full knowledge resided in "esus. The Gnostics claimed an e.
. . . provided that JifK you continue in the faith. this is referring to the "ewish practice of a son inheriting supremacy and authority over the estate. and thus memori8ed important doctrine* +ou can uncover such a hymn #y reading Colosians 1613−72. e was the first to #ring the gospel to this region of $sia .. 150. and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God? /Col G61A0. %saac. e was struggling on #ehalf of the church to keep it pure and fully assured. are confirmed and sta#ili8ed in . This son was often not the first in order of #irth /e.ignorance #y using Paul(s reference to "esus as >the first)#orn of all creation? /Col 16130 to claim he was the first creature to #e created. Colossians emphasi8es Christ the head)Christ in all= !phesians emphasi8es Christ the #ody-all in Christ. $gain. !phesians and Colossians are like twin sisters6 they look very much alike #ut are also uni4uely different. and the surrounding cities. Paul uses different words to reveal the same mystery as "ohn does in his gospel6 >the 'ord was God. They #oth show Paul at his most #rilliant. he holds the office. . we can detect an ancient hymn Paul inserted into the letter to the Colossians. hymns were #ulging with rich theology and were used to teach the faithful.g. and the 'ord #ecame flesh and dwelt among us? /"n 161. along with Philippians. !paphras saw the face of Paul on #ehalf of his #eloved Colossians.oiced in prison . Iirst#orn referred not to #irth. and Colossians was written from prison. "esus is divine. Philemon. !paphras now #rings confirmation of gospel #ack from Rome /Col 5617−1G0 and you. sta#le and steadfast. not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard? /Col 1677−7G0. e knew suffering and as Paul had written. . and in Christ >the whole fulness of deity dwells #odily? /Col 7690. "aco#0. Seventy)eight verses out of a com#ined 133 verses contain the same phrases. .inor /Col 16E0 and he remained the faithful stalwart of the church. :n the ship and over land. $s he had #rought the good news to Colossae many years earlier. #ut to an office. "esus is not created. . he was suffering on their #ehalf >complete what is lacking in Christ(s afflictions? /Col 16750. the position of supremacy over all creation. 'ould you like to discover and sing an ancient Christian hymn-one sung #y the Christians in the first century@ +ou can* Paul e. . Both start with theology and end with practical advice. $s in Philippians. The kids sang . .horts the Colossian #elievers to >teach and admonish one another in all wisdom. #ut having himself created everything. understanding Christ correctly is the remedy for the evils of heresy. in order to present you holy and #lameless and irreproacha#le #efore him. > e is the image of the invisi#le God. %n the time of Paul. now a long)time Colossian #eliever. Hid Paul write this ancient hymn or did he insert an e. . uncreated-God in the flesh. 'hile incarcerated Paul wrote Colossians #etween $H A1−AG in Rome. The little word >if? is a very #ig word. !paphras clutched the letter which contained a promise and a warning for the Colossians assaulted with encroaching heresy6 > e has now reconciled JyouK in his #ody of flesh #y his death. and !phesians. 190. But we know that he re. owever. in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell? /Col 1613. .isting hymn@ 'e don(t know. Colossians contains some of Scriptures strongest claims for the divinity of Christ.
the faith. .
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