Jesus, Lord, help us to repent.
John 13:35 By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have love for one another.”
Luke 10:30 Jesus replied, “A man was going down from Jerusalem to Jericho, and he fell among robbers, who stripped him and beat him and departed, leaving him half dead.
31 Now by chance a priest was going down that road, and when he saw him he passed by on the other side.
32 So likewise a Levite, when he came to the place and saw him, passed by on the other side.
In general, broadly speaking, knowing there are exceptions, but as a basic principle, hasn’t white evangelical America played the role of the priest and Levite in the story of the Good Samaritan? Ever since the very beginning when we pushed the native Americans to the driest, most barren parts of our country with a sigh of “Good riddance,” haven’t good, Christian, church-going white people been ignoring the plight of people of color in our country?
The priest and the Levite did nothing to harm the Samaritan who had been attacked, beaten, robbed, and left for dead by the side of the road. They didn’t throw a stone at him or kick him out of the path. Their sin was that they saw, they witnessed, they understood, and they chose to ignore. They probably said their prayers that night.
Perhaps Trump’s Christian base made an honest error in electing him the first time. But in the wake of all the violent murders, beatings, and oppression by rogue policemen in our country, not just now with the slaying of George Floyd, but the year before that, and the year before that, and the year before that…all the way back to the 1600’s, how can we possibly elect a man for a second term whose mouth spouts hatred, insults, and lies against our fellow human beings with every other tweet? We need to repent on our knees before God, confess our sin of indifference, and elect people at the national, state, and local levels who not only promise to change the culture of policing in America, but people who will actually do it.
And on a personal level, what can white evangelical Christians do? Just for starters, speak out. Call a spade a spade. Don’t tolerate the kind of language we hear from our President on a daily basis. Don’t vote for him. Vote for someone else. Don’t remain silent when you hear your neighbors disparage people of other colors, races, religion, nationality, and cultural mores. Jesus did not appoint us to judge others–he appointed us to love. Write letters to elected officials, including the chief of police in your community when you hear of atrocities. Don’t vote for offenders a second time. Require accountability from policemen.
And what about the aborted unborn? Don’t use them as a scapegoat to excuse our blind eye toward the unjust violence against entire races of people around us. Attend rallies, join a pro-life group, such as 40 Days for Life, buy tickets to movies such as, “Unplanned,” for all your neighbors and your church’s youth group, support your local charities with diapers, baby blankets, clothes, and words of encouragement and love for women without supportive homes for their newborns. Donate. We don’t need a foul-mouthed president in our fight against abortion. Especially when the world he espouses is dangerous for all children and adults not exactly like himself.
Don’t fall for the other excuse that says, “But most policemen are good people who do their jobs well.” That’s a cop-out. If a medical doctor intentionally murdered a patient, would you say, “We can’t discipline him and change the rules because most doctors are good people who do their jobs well?” If you happened to go to a sadist dentist who tricked you into a tooth extraction without medication, would you protect him from all accountability by saying, “Most dentists are great people who do their jobs well?” No, that particular doctor needs to be punished, that particular dentist needs to have his license stripped, and that particular policeman needs to be fired and held accountable in a just court of civil law.
To “love our neighbor” means we need to leave our zones of comfort and actually DO something. We need to stoop, bend, lift, carry, and pay for. Only then will America begin to heal.
Father, forgive ME, for I have sinned. I helped kill George Floyd. Help ME to do better.
The Point: Colossians 1:13b is a unique phrase in all of Scripture. Wow! For this reason, however, translators aren’t quite sure what to do with it. As you read below, you will see my reasons for suggesting that all of the translations capture a portion of this segment, while only an exactly literal translation captures the totality. Jesus is the embodiment, the exact image, of everything anyone could ever say about the love of God. Christ is the object of God’s love, as well as the subject. He is the recipient as well as the giver. Everything we know about Christ reveals (expresses) the love of God his Father, both for Christ and from Christ and towards us, his people. (Disclaimer: It gets a bit technical, so that is why I’ve summed it all up here as, “The Point.”)
Most translations of Colossians 1:13b read, “kingdom of his beloved Son,” as in the ESV, or, “kingdom of the Son he loves,” as in the NIV and NET. Alternatively, both the NKJ and and the much older ASV (1901) read, “kingdom of the Son of his love.” The interlinear, literal translation portion of Marshall’s Greek-English New Testament reads, “kingdom of the Son of the love of him,” an exact correspondence with the Greek. My thesis is that the translation, “Son of his love,” though older, still recommends itself as a strong possibility based on evidence from context and comparison with the Greek structure of other biblical verses concerning God’s love and his Son.
The phrase in Colossians 1:13b reads in Greek, “τὴν βασιλείαν τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ.” This phrase is unique to the entire Bible, as well as the portions that read, “τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης,” and “τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ.” The phrase “his beloved Son” in English translations, including the ESV, NAU, and “dear Son” in the KJV, occurs only in Colossians 1:13. The English phrase Son he loves occurs only in Colossians 1:13. That this Greek construction is so unique accounts for the imprecision in its translation.
The English phrase “my beloved Son” occurs nine times in the KJV and seven times in the ESV. The corresponding “my Son, whom I love” (NIV) occurs eight times, all in the New Testament, and only in the NIV. The Greek construction corresponding to “my beloved Son” differs entirely from the Greek construction of “the Son of his love.” “My beloved Son” with a capital “S” is “ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός” in six of the seven instances of its occurrence in the Bible, all of which occur in the New Testament (1). There is also one occurrence of the same construction in the accusative (Luke 20:13). “The Son of his love” in Greek, as noted above, is “τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ,” and also as noted above, is unique to all of Scripture.
In the genitive, the Greek word for love, “ἀγάπης,” occurs twenty-one times in the Bible, three of these in the Septuagint and the remaining eighteen in the New Testament. Two of the Septuagint references occur in Song of Solomon and the third in Jeremiah. All of the New Testament occurrences are in the epistles. Of all the occurrences of “ἀγάπης,” the one in Colossians 1:13 is the only one that occurs in close proximity to mention of Christ as God’s Son. Of the eighteen New Testament occurrences of the phrase “ἀγάπης,” only that in 2 Corinthians 13:11, “ὁ θεὸς τῆς ἀγάπης καὶ εἰρήνης,” displays a structure similar to the phrase in Colossians 1:13, “τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ.”
Wallace in Greek Beyond the Basics (107) identifies 2 Corinthians 13:11 as a possible example of a genitive of product, that is, a product which is produced by the head noun. If this is so, then the phrase could be translated as, “the God who produces love and peace,” which suits the context nicely. Since the Greek phrase in 2 Corinthians is the only phrase in all of Scripture that uses ἀγάπης in a structure similar to that found in Colossians 1:13–and both verses are Pauline–it appears reasonable to consider that the genitive in Colossians might carry a meaning similar to the one found in 2 Corinthians. If this were the case, the translation might read, “the Son who produces his [the Father’s] love.”
There is another quite different sense for the phrase, “of the Son of his love,” a sense which is also rare in Scripture. The phrase “the son who is characterized by such-and-such a quality,” captures the essence of this further meaning. Illustrations are found in John 17:12 and 2 Thessalonians 2:3, where the phrase in question is, “the son of destruction,” or, “ὁ υἱὸς τῆς ἀπωλείας.” Acts 4:36 provides another example in the phrase “son of encouragement,” or “υἱὸς παρακλήσεως.” Such a meaning for “τοῦ υἱοῦ τῆς ἀγάπης αὐτοῦ,” or paraphrased, “of the Son who is characterized by and embodies the love of the Father,” fits well with the meaning of the entire verse in which the domain of darkness is contrasted with the kingdom of the Son of God, who is characterized by and embodies the Father’s love.
Summary: For all of the above reasons, I prefer to translate Colossians 1:13b as, “He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son of his love. (Colossians 1:13 NET, except for the underlined portion)
1 The seventh KJV occurrence of “my beloved Son” occurs in Luke 9:35. It is ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἐκλελεγμένος, or my Son, the chosen One.
Start with your white rice, reheated okay. Sauté with a small portion of cashews. Add sweet peppers you just steamed, and lastly, a generous amount of canned peaches with their juice. The peaches should be about 1/5 the total bulk. Serve on a plate with a tablespoon of spicy chili on top for a modest, low calorie, pick-me-up hot lunch.
This recipe reminds us that Christians should find that perfect balance of sweetness and spice.
Matthew 5:13 (ESV) “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet.”
John 6:35 Jesus said to them, “I am the bread of life; whoever comes to me shall not hunger, and whoever believes in me shall never thirst.
Paul always opened his letters with a mention of God the Father or even “God our Father,” as in Colossians 1:3. Christians nowadays are so used to hearing about God as Father that we tend to just gloss over these references at the beginning of Paul’s letters as mere formalities. Paul, however, never wrote, “God our Father,” without great joy.
The Bible of Paul and all the early Christians was the Old Testament, since the New Testament was still in process of being written. In the Old Testament, God was rarely referred to as “Father.” Scholars have counted only fourteen such occurrences (1). Some of these were specifically about Christ the Messiah to come.
2 Samuel 7:12 When your days are fulfilled and you lie down with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, who shall come from your body, and I will establish his kingdom. 13 He shall build a house for my name, and I will establish the throne of his kingdom forever. 14 I will be to him a father, and he shall be to me a son… (ESV)
Others were about Israel as a whole, but often showed God’s displeasure with his chosen people.
Jeremiah 3:2 Lift up your eyes to the bare heights, and see! Where have you not been ravished? By the waysides you have sat awaiting lovers like an Arab in the wilderness. You have polluted the land with your vile whoredom. 3 Therefore the showers have been withheld, and the spring rain has not come; yet you have the forehead of a whore; you refuse to be ashamed. 4 Have you not just now called to me, ‘My father, you are the friend of my youth–5 will he be angry forever, will he be indignant to the end?’ Behold, you have spoken, but you have done all the evil that you could.”
Gregory Brown writes,
When God delivered Israel out of Egypt, he adopted them as his “firstborn son” (Ex 4:22). Therefore, occasionally, Jewish prayers would reference this. But no Israelites personally called God, “Father”–ever. In fact, out of respect for God, they even stopped using his covenant name, Yahweh, and instead, would simply say Adonai or some other name of God. For a Jew to call God, “Father,” would have been considered irreverent and even blasphemous (2).
One of the most beautiful passages in all of Scripture is when Jesus spoke to Mary after his resurrection:
John 20:17 Jesus said to her, “Do not cling to me, for I have not yet ascended to the Father; but go to my brothers and say to them, ‘I am ascending to my Father and your Father, to my God and your God.'” (ESV)
Far too infrequently do churchgoers hear their pastors teach about the great differences between the two testaments of Scripture, the big changes that occurred after the death, resurrection, and ascension of Christ. One of these changes is what Christ spoke in the quotation just above. Because Jesus Christ was God’s very own offspring, his Son, and because post-cross believers are joined to Christ–only for that reason can followers of Christ now call God their Father. This is huge. Paul never forgot this glorious outcome of Christ’s sacrifice. This is why he never tired of repeating, “God our Father,” in the greetings of his letters.
In church and in Christian music we often hear about, “The glory of the cross.” This is one reason why the cross is so glorious: Believers in Christ can now call God, “Father.” I pray that Christians everywhere will know how special they are to the heart of God, their own Father, and that they will never quit praising him, thanking him, and rejoicing in this marvelous outcome of what began as shameful tragedy–the cross of Christ.
1 Brown, Gregory, “The Sermon on the Mount: Experiencing God’s Kingdom on Earth. 20. Our Father (Matthew 6:9a),” available at https://bible.org/seriespage/20-our-father-matthew-69a#_ftnref3, accessed May 20, 2020.