Tag Archive for 'Colossians'

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

Colossians Study Material

Embarking on my long term study of Colossians, I’ve been collecting some material in Evernote. These are some online resources that I’ve come across. Please let me know if you have any others to add.

  • https://archive.org/details/exponep00byfi – Exposition by N. Byfield
  • http://www.allthingsexpounded.com/2010/02/epistle-to-the-colossians-resources-online/
  • http://heritagebooktalk.org/2009/06/22/dr-beeke%E2%80%99s-top-commentaries-on-colossians/
  • Bruce’s Commentary online
  • http://www.samstorms.com/all-articles/keyword/colossians/
  • http://andynaselli.com/murray-harriss-expanded-paraphrase-of-colossians

I “Finished” Beginning Greek; Starting Colossians

Finished is in scare quotes because I don’t think I’ll ever really know the material well. But it only took me about four years. That’s how long it takes normal people, right? I did have a couple of breaks for surgeries, many weeks where I just wasn’t right, many restarts, and other bumps along the way. I started with Croy’s grammar, which is excellent, and got Mounce as a secondary source. Then I requested a review copy of David Black’s book, and they also gave me the workbook. I had to beg them for the document with the answers. I liked it and switched to it. I think I’ve gone through it about 2 1/2 times because I would go through several chapters and then feel like I wasn’t really learning it, and then start over.

At some point I wanted something really different, so I got Dobson’s book, which is what I needed. Then about 2/3rds of the way through I got kind of lost, as seems to happen with many grammars. I also took an online conversational Greek course where I wasn’t able to conversate much when I got done. Then I got really serious earlier this year and went back to Black and did everything in the workbook, which is a lot. I’m so glad they sent me that. I think it’s more expensive than the book, although it has so many mistakes, it’s hard to trust it. (It wasn’t put together by Prof. Black.)  So, I know just enough Greek to be dangerous. I don’t have to worry about being arrogant about my knowledge of Greek or delve into it on this blog, unless it’s quoting a scholar who knows it.

So now what? For now I’m going to spend less time on Greek than I have been. I miss memorizing Scripture, and I want more time to read. Not to harp on it, but with chronic fatigue, I only have so much mental in addition to physical energy. I’d love to study for hours a day. As far as Greek, I get to freelance. I’m going to keep up the vocabulary, but not work on it everyday. I’ll read some passages in the Greek NT that I have memorized in English. I may go back to the Dobson book and just casually go through it, and maybe Mounce later on. There is an online community where they communicate in Greek. I may lurk there.

I’m very eager to start studying Colossians. This is something I’ve been looking forward to for years. I don’t know when the idea first came up, but I did my Three Year Plan where I read a commentary on each book of the NT, which lasted four years. Then I did my Year of the Old Testament, which lasted two years. Then I did my Year of the Psalms, which lasted less than a year (as planned), along with reading most of the OT again and finally reading a great commentary on Job. It may have been before all of that when I got the idea, so it’s been a long time coming. (I don’t have any grand future plans at this time other than various books I want to read.)

It started when I listened to a sermon by John Piper on Colossians 1:9-20. He said, “Memorize this!” and I did. Since then I’ve had a special affection for the book. I’ve been reading it numerous times the last week, and have started reading it in different translations. Then I’ll read all of the introductions I can find, like the NLT and ESV Study Bibles, An Introduction to the New Testament, and other various sources. Then I’ll use various exegesis helps like Fee’s NT Exegesis, a new book I got called A Handbook of New Testament Exegesis by Craig L. Blomberg et. all, and Bibleworks. I have Moo’s commentary and Colossians and Philemon (Exegetical Guide to the Greek New Testament) which I can hopefully understand and use. Also some great stuff at Epistle to the Colossians Resources Online » All Things Expounded. I plan on this being a years-long thing. I’d like to write a Bible study on it eventually.

There is a professor out there who has concentrated on Colossians for many years. I read about him once a long time ago and can’t find him. Let me know if you know who that is or if you have any other resources.

I will also have a couple of book reviews coming up. One on Thinking Rightly About Christ and another on What the Old Testament Authors Really Cared About. Possibly at least one book giveaway and hopefully other things.

Colossians and the Gospel Based On Christ

Colossians 2:3-8 HCSB
In Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden.
4 I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with persuasive arguments. 5 For I may be absent in body, but I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the strength of your faith in Christ. 6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 Be careful that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deceit based on human tradition, based on the elemental forces of the world, and not based on Christ.

It was essential to listen to Paul’s warning in his own day: it is even more essential to heed it in our day when the arts of persuasion, and the means by which they can be exercised, are so highly developed. There is a fresh responsibility laid on Christians to examine all teaching for the truthfulness of its content rather than the attractiveness of its packaging. There is a new call to be sceptical of exaggerated rhetoric, the tendentious anecdote, or the theatrical appeal, for nothing is so dangerous as feeble reasoning allied to fast talking.

–R.C. Lucas, The Message of Colossians & Philemon, 1980

Paul’s answer for his friends was startlingly simple; the mystery of all mysteries was the (now public) good news of what Jesus did on the cross for his people (Colossians 1:28-2:5). Moreover, Paul made it plain that maturity came through understanding this gospel better and better, not through laws, experiences and revelations.

–Mark Strom, The Symphony of Scripture

I’m learning the basic gospel message as revealed through Christ is of central importance not just to salvation and then we move on to other things; it is always of central importance.

To preach the gospel to yourself, then, means that you continually face up to your own sinfulness and then flee to Jesus through faith in His shed blood and righteous life. It means that you appropriate, again by faith, the fact that Jesus fully satisfied the law of God, that He is your propitiation, and that God’s holy wrath is no longer directed toward you.”

“This is the gospel by which we were saved, and it is the gospel by which we must live every day of our Christian lives…If you are not firmly rooted in the gospel and have not learned to preach it to yourself every day, you will soon become discouraged and will slack off in your pursuit of holiness.

–Jerry Bridges

Colossians has become one of my favorites and I will revisit it in the future.

Here is a related post I came across:
A Sense of Christ’s Sufficiency

Colossians Translation Comparisons – 2

If you haven’t seen it, the first post is here.

I don’t really have any comments on this second comparison. I just like it. Except for one thing I notice about the Lattimore is that he’s not afraid to let Paul’s run-on sentences to be run-on sentences. He doesn’t seem to put as many periods in as other translations, although this isn’t the best example of that.

First the standard, which I like a lot also.

Colossians 1:9-12 NRSV
For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so 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. May you be made strong with all the strength that comes from his glorious power, and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.

Colossians 1:9-12 Lattimore
Therefore we also, since the day we heard about you, never cease from praying for you. We pray that you may be fulfilled in your understanding of his will, in full wisdom and spiritual comprehension; so as to act in a manner worthy of the Lord and always pleasing to him, productive in every good work and increasing in your understanding of God; empowered with every power, by the supremacy of his glory, to be always steadfast and joyfully enduring, thankful to the father who made you fit for your share in the fortune of the saints, in the light.

Attributes of Christ

Colossians 1:15-20 NASB
He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.

(I chose NASB for the capitalized pronouns and if you click on the Scripture reference link you’ll find a whole lot of cross references.)