Introductions to Colossians

Embarking on my long term study of Colossians, I’ve been reading through introductions in study Bibles, deSilva’s An Introduction to the New Testament and Moo’s The letters to the Colossians and to Philemon. I’m posting some quick notes I took in Evernote.

Regarding the mystery of who the troublemakers were and their theology, it was interesting how the study Bibles complemented each other. The NLTSB was brief and general; the ESVSB (not mentioned below) was very specific, giving four possibilities and their own postulation–which seemed to assume too much; and the Reformation Study Bible, which I kind of overlooked until now (and it’s really good), seemed the most reasonable in describing the difficulty, along with what’s important and what’s not. However, deSilva’s intro was so much more complete, postulating that there are as many as 40 distinct theories put forth by scholars as to who the false teachers were and what they were teaching. The ESV must have distilled them into four general categories. I’ve found that the NLT and ESV often have differing amounts of information and content when looking up various things, and they often balance each other out very well. The addition of the Reformation is even better. They’re good as poor man’s commentaries.

For those who are looking to use these, I would buy at least two, and only use them for study, not general reading. I think the NLT is a good one to be paired with the ESV or Reformation.

(I don’t have the main HCSB or any NIV study Bibles. I’m now satisfied with what I have in that area.)

I could never really explain exactly why I like Colossians so much. Looking at the notes below, I can see some of the reasons why.

HCSB Illustrated – Key Text: 1:18
“No book more explicitly teaches that Jesus Christ is God.”

“It [Colossians] combines some of the deepest and most sublime teaching about Christ with very basic instruction. As strongly as any other book in the NT, Colossians reminds us that Christ must always be preeminent in a Christian’s affections and worship.”

Reformation SB:
Information on Colossae and how it was “easily the least city to which any of Paul’s surviving letters were addressed.”

deSilva NT Introduction:
‘The leitmotif of the whole letter is that “Christ is Lord over everything–over powers and principalities, but also over the Christian’s daily life.” Believers only need to be concerned about their connection with this Christ and walking in the new life Christ has opened up.’

Moo’s Commentary:

  • Most likely written to Gentiles, possibly partly because of lack of OT quotations and lack of explicit reference to the law.
  • Raymond Brown estimates that 60 percent of scholars think that Colossians wasn’t written by Paul. This shift is relatively recent. Disputation didn’t come in until the 19th century. No early Christians doubted this.
  • ‘”reconciling all things” to God (1:20) — and for believers — we are “full” in Christ (2:10). These connections reveal as clearly as any text in the New Testament the intimate relationship between theology and practice, between ontology and ethics.’ pg 61
  • “Christology is the theological heart of Colossians, and, like the spokes of a wheel, all the other themes of the letter radiate from it.” pg 63

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