Lecture 10 – Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon

Galatians
How is it that a letter that is dominated by the question of circumcision be relevant to our present? Are foreskins that important? What is it about circumcision that tells us about something important in terms of the Christian life?

Who was it written to?
Gentile Christians

Under pressure to adopt Jewish practices.

How do you think this appeal would have happened?
1. Where they agreed.....

2. Adding to your faith and completing your salvation Therefore, Galatians is not about salvation by faith in Christ alone versus salvation by works alone. The opponents believed in Christ. But they believed in Christ plus their obedience to the Jewish law. Think it can't happen today.

Therefore, Galatians is asking these questions:

Lecture 10 – Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon

On what basis are we saved?

The response
This is perhaps Paul's angriest letter.

9

As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! (1:9) You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? (3:1)
12

As for those agitators, I wish they would go the whole way and emasculate themselves! (5:12)

When the gospel is at stake, Paul goes berserk.

The Argument of Galatians
1:1-9 Begins with a curse:
6

I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting the one who called you by the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— 7 which is really no gospel at all. Evidently some people are throwing you into confusion and are trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. 8 But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned! 9 As we have already said, so now I say again: If anybody is preaching to you a gospel other than what you accepted, let him be eternally condemned! This is thoroughly unlike Paul. He normally opens with a thanksgiving and prayer.

Lecture 10 – Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon

1:10 – 2:14 – Defense of Paul's gospel (given by God, approved by Jewish leaders like Peter). 2:15-21 – Right-standing before God is by faith in Jesus. The key verses come in 3:26-29:
26

You are all sons of God through faith in Christ Jesus, 27 for all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. 28 There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. 29 If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s seed, and heirs according to the promise.

The dangers of reversing God's history of salvation

Colossians

Colossae was a city in the Lycus Valley, an inland part of Asia Minor.

Evangelised by Epaphras (see Acts 19).

Lecture 10 – Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon

The Colossians going off the rails.

8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ (Col 2:8)

What were the Colossians getting into that was leading them astray?

1. The Deeper Christian Life - fine sounding arguments; spiritual secrets, mystical experiences; the idea of advanced Christianity.

2. Harsh Rules - having to do with eating food and the enjoyment of creation.

The continuing problem of this kind of thinking in the church. 

The Deeper life so often becomes the legalistic life.

The real problem with the Colossians – the demotion of Jesus to a bit-part player.

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Paul’s response – The supremacy and sufficiency of Christ

Lecture 10 – Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon Colossians 1:16

16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.

It is always all about Jesus.

Colossians 1:19-20

19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.

Colossians 1:22 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation--

Colossians 1:26

26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

God has fully disclosed all the secrets we need to know in Christ.

Colossians 2:9-10

9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10 and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.

Lecture 10 – Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon Growing Big by Holding on to the Foundation

Colossians 1:22-23 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation-23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Colossians 2:6-7 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.

We never “get beyond the gospel”.

When you stay firmly grounded in Christ, you no longer become about living by meaningless rules, but you embrace the task of imitating him.

Ephesians
Focusses particularly on the one new people of God that has been created through the cross. The reason to insert Ephesians here is because at the centre of Ephesians is that God’s purpose in salvation is to save a people for his glory. Remember, Jesus said the two greatest commands in life are to love God and to love one another:

14 For he himself is our peace, who has made the two one and has destroyed the barrier, the dividing wall of hostility, 15 by abolishing in his flesh the law with its commandments and regulations. His purpose was to create in himself one new man out of the two, thus making peace, 16 and in this one body to reconcile both of them to

Lecture 10 – Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon God through the cross, by which he put to death their hostility. 17 He came and preached peace to you who were far away and peace to those who were near. 18 For through him we both have access to the Father by one Spirit. 19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and aliens, but fellow citizens with God’s people and members of God’s household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by his Spirit. (Eph 2:14-22) Community is an essential fruit of the Gospel.

Going to church doesn’t earn you brownie points with God – it is the point.

It is one of the most remarkable visible signs of the power of the gospel that it brings people together who in any other circumstance would never get along. A vast amount of commands in Paul’s letters are 2nd person plural

He constantly says “one another” in his letters:

You can’t fulfil most of the commands of the New Testament unless you are in a community.

Lecture 10 – Galatians, Colossians, Ephesians, Philemon

You can’t fulfil most of the commands of the New Testament unless you are in a community where there are people who you struggle to get along with.

An example from the New Testament book called Philemon   Onesimus – a slave who has run away from his master Philemon – the Christian master who has been wronged

Does this endorse slavery? – it is more complicated than that…

But the real thing is that Philemon has every right to be Onesimus’ enemy and to treat him as lower. But Paul says – it has all change in Christ:

[receive him back] no longer as a slave, but better than a slave, as a dear brother. He is very dear to me but even dearer to you, both as a man and as a brother in the Lord. (Phm 16)

Christians don’t treat one another according to what we deserve, because that’s not how we have been treated.

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