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Does Paul Spiritualize the Concrete?: The Great Shift Exemplified in Colossians 2:8-3:4

 

Click for Text Here: Colossians 2:8-3:4

Gospel Precedents and Biblical Background of Spiritual Elements in Colossians 2

 

I. One of the great markers of the New Testament Gospels is the translation of concrete and historical Old Testament realities into spiritual and historical realities:

A. Jesus becomes the sacrificial lamb.

1. OT: Abraham begins to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:1-14)

NT: John the Baptist of Jesus–“Behold, the Lamb of God.” (John 1:29, 36)

2. OT: Passover blood of the sacrificial lamb on the lintel (Exodus 12:7)

NT: Jesus sacrificed during Passover (Luke 22:7-8)

B. Jesus becomes the temple.

1. OT: (2 Chronicles 7:11-12)

NT: (John 2:19-22)

C. Concrete worship becomes spiritual.

1. OT: God commanded a certain location where he was to be worshiped (Deuteronomy 12:2-7)

NT: Jesus changed a specific, physical (concrete) location of worship into a spiritual locus of worship with no physical correspondence (John 4: 20-24)

2. OT: God gave the Israelites manna to keep them alive in the wilderness (Exodus 16)

NT: Jesus gives his followers spiritual blood and spiritual bread (spiritual representations of his own physical–i.e., concrete–body) to keep them spiritually alive (John 6:30-35, 49-58)

D. God called Israel his son Text Arrow God calls Jesus his Son

OT: (Hosea 11:1)

NT: (Matthew 3:17; Luke 3:22)

E. The Old Covenant becomes the New Covenant

1. OT: The many OT covenants had physical (concrete) markers

a. the Noahic Covenant, marked by a rainbow, in which God promised not to physically destroy all living flesh by water (Genesis 9:12-17)

b. covenant with Abraham marked by the sacrifice of a physical ram (Genesis 22:9-18)

c. covenant with Israel through Moses (Exodus 24:3-8) marked by sacrificial blood (“This is the blood of the covenant which the LORD has made with you according to all these words.” Exodus 24:8) and the Ten Commandments (Exodus 24:8, 12; 25:16; 34:28)

d. covenant with David and his house (Psalm 89:3-4; 2 Samuel 7:13) marked by the establishment of his kingdom

2. NT: Jesus gives a New Covenant marked by the concrete (physical) sacrifice of his own body on a cross and the symbolic remembrance of that sacrificed blood in communion (“This cup that is poured out for you is the new covenant in my blood.” Luke 22:20

II. The New Testament epistles continue to replace concrete (physical) realities with spiritual realities sometimes marked by concrete symbols:

A. Continuation of Jesus’ blood as a symbolic marker of the New Covenant (1 Corinthians 11:25)

B. Continuation of the spiritual temple motif (Hebrews 10:19-20)

C. Continuation of spiritual worship (John 4:23-24; Philippians 3:3; Revelation 21:22)

D. Scripture continues to refer to Jesus as God’s son (Acts 8:37; Romans 1:1-4; 2Peter 1:17) and to his followers as sons (includes daughters) of God (Romans 8:14; Galatians 3:26; Hebrews 12:7)

E. The epistles continue to refer to the New Covenant as having replaced the Old (in prophecy Jeremiah 31:31-34; 2 Corinthians 3:6; Hebrews 8:8-13; Hebrews 9:15; Hebrews 12:24)

Paul’s Movement from Concrete (Physical) to Spiritual in Colossians

 

I. In matters of food, drink, festivals, new moon, a sabbath

Colossians 2:16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.

A. Paul’s list includes all concrete substances (food and drink) or practices (celebrating a festival, a new moon, or a Sabbath).

B. He calls these a “shadow,” but Christ is the “substance,” or the reality that casts the shadow. Not being physically present on Earth at this time, Christ is Spirit, present by means of the Holy Spirit, who lives in believers and among them.

C. Paul calls these concrete religious practices “elemental spirits” or “elementary principles” as in the NAU. (Gr: στοιχεῖον) (Colossians 2:20)

D. They fall within the category of what Paul labels “flesh” or “fleshly,” (Colossians 2:18; 3:22) what this post refers to as “concrete” or “physical.”

E. These practices concern concrete (physical) items, such as food and drink, which perish as they are used–i.e., they have no eternal value–and they are not useful in helping one to achieve the spiritual practices God desires (Colossians 3:23). The spiritual practices which God desires Paul begins to present in 3:5.

II. Paul moves circumcision from concrete to spiritual

Colossians 2:11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ,

III. Baptism, itself a concrete action, signifies a spiritual correspondence to and spiritual identification with Christ’s death and resurrection

Colossians 2:12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead.

IV. In a spiritual way, the record of debts owed under the Old (First) Covenant was nailed to the cross with Christ and thereby cancelled, forgiven (2:13)

Colossians 2:14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

V. Paul’s point is that the Colossians, as believers in Christ, have moved from the old, concrete form of worshipping God to the new, spiritual form of worship.

Colossians 2:20a If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world,

They are therefore free of the old ways, having died with Christ to them, and having been raised with him into newness of life under the New Covenant of Spirit

and no longer need to follow these old, concrete (physical, fleshly) ways of worship and thinking and living

Colossians 2:20b why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations–

VI. Paul’s Alternative to the Old Ways Concrete_Spiritual

A. His rationale

Colossians 3:1a Since, then, you have been raised with Christ

Colossians 3:3 For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God.

B. His conclusion

Colossians 3:1b set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.

C. How should the Colossians’ thinking change?

Colossians 3:2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.

D. What will the end result be?

Colossians 3:4 When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

VII. Paul begins to answer the question, How then shall we live?

NIV  Colossians 3:5a Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature (your concrete, fleshly body)

[not in text: and begin to live to the spiritual in the following ways, which he begins to state in 3:5b]

 

Link: Concrete to Spiritual: How Jesus Changes the Old Testament to the New

Colossians Reference List

 

  • A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature, 2nd Edition, edited by William F. Arndt and F. Wilbur Gingrich. Chicago: The University of Chicago, 1979.
  • BibleWorks 9 Software for Biblical Exegesis & Research. Norfolk, VA: BibleWorks, 2011.
  • Community Bible Study. Engaging God’s Word: Colossians. Colorado Springs: Community Bible Study, 2013.
  • Duffield, Guy P. and Nathaniel M. Van Cleave. Foundations of Pentecostal Theology. 4th ed. Los Angeles: Foursquare Media, 2008.
  • Fee, Gordon D. and Douglas Stuart. How to Read the Bible for All Its Worth. 3rd ed. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.
  • Friberg, Timothy, Barbara Friberg, and Neva F. Miller. Analytical Lexicon to the Greek New Testament. Baker’s Greek New Testament Library. Grand Rapids: Baker, 2000. BibleWorks, v.9.
  • Hendriksen, William. New Testament Commentary: Exposition of Colossians and Philemon. Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964.
  • The Holy Bible: New International Version®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide. (New International Version Bible Online). http://www.biblestudytools.com/colossians/.
  • The Navigators. LifeChange Series: A life-changing encounter with God’s Word from the books of Colossians & Philemon. 2nd ed. Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2013.
  • O’Brien, Peter T. Understanding the Basic Themes of Colossians, Philemon: Quick Reference Bible Topics. Edited by David A. Hubbard. Dallas: Word Publishing, 1991.
  • Pink, Arthur W. Gleanings from Paul. Edited by Rev. Terry Kulakowski. Zeeland, MI: Reformed Church Publications, 2009. Accessed February 26, 2016. http://www.davidcox.com.mx/m/files/Pink-Gleanings_From_Paul(PPC).pdf.
  • Shorter Lexicon of the Greek New Testament, 2nd Edition, edited by F. Wilbur Gingrich and Frederick William Danker.  Copyright © 1965 by The University of Chicago Press.
  • Thayer, Joseph. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament (Abridged and Revised Thayer Lexicon). Ontario, Canada: Online Bible Foundation, 1997. BibleWorks, v.9.
  • Wright, N. T. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries Vol. 12: Colossians and Philemon. Downer’s Grove: Intervarsity Press, 1986.

Paul: You Colossians Already Have It All

Tracing Out a Single Strand in Paul’s Letter

 

Corbis Getty Image Hair

His Argument

 

I. The Colossians’ Position in Christ

Paul's Syllogism

  1. The Colossians have faith and love (1:4).
  2. They heard the gospel and fully understood and recognized (ἐπιγινώσκω) the grace of God in truth (1:6).
  3. They learned this true gospel from Epaphras, a faithful minister of Christ (1:7).
  4. They are no longer estranged (1:21) but are now reconciled and will be presented by God holy, blameless, and irreproachable before him (1:22),
  5. IF they continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel they heard (1:23) (and again in 2:6).
  6. They currently have good order and firmness of faith in Christ (2:5).

 

THEREFORE: (2:6)

 

II. Exhortations

 

A. As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live (walk) in him (2:6) (Having come full circle–inclusio–this verse repeats 1:23).

  • How? (2:7)
    • rooted in Christ
    • built up in Christ
    • established in the faith (as you were taught in the gospel by Epaphras)
    • overflowing with thanksgiving

 

B. Don’t do this:

  • Don’t let others deceive and draw you astray into their cul-de-sac of false belief (2:8),
  • Because you don’t need them:
    • Christ is everything (2:9)
    • and you have been:
      • filled in Christ (he is the presence with which you have been filled)  (he is the agent) (you are located in him) (2:10)
      • spiritually circumcised in Christ(2:11)
      • buried and raised with Christ (2:12)
      • made alive with Christ (2:13)
      • forgiven (2:13)
    • You are debt free (2:14)
    • Your creditors have been defeated and publicly shamed by God through Christ (2:15)

 

C. Don’t let this happen:

  • That anyone should pass judgment on you in regard to food, drink, festivals, new moons, or Sabbaths (2:16).
  • Because
    • You died with Christ (cf. 2:12) to all these worldly things (2:20)
    • and have been raised with Christ (cf. 2:12) (3:1).

 

D. But do this:

  • Seek the things that are above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God (3:1).
  • Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth (3:2).
  • Because
    • you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God (3:3) [!!!!!]
    • when Christ our life appears, you will appear with him in glory (3:4).

 

III. Paul Continues Explaining in Detail How the Colossians Should Live (3:5-4:6)

The New Reality = Change: Old and New Contrasted in Colossians

Colossians 2:6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him

Colossians Contrasts the Old and New in Christ

Easy Scripture Lookup at https://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search

Old (Before Christ)

New (Since Christ)

1:13  authority of darkness

1:13  kingdom of the Son–Love

1:21  estranged, hostile in mind,

doing evil deeds

1:22  reconciled, holy, blameless, irreproachable

1:23  living by faith

1:26  mystery hidden for ages and generations

1:26  the mystery now made open, manifest

 1:27 the mystery is Christ in you, the hope of glory

2:8  philosophy, empty deceit, human tradition, elemental spirits of the world

2:8  Christ

2:9 fulness of deity in a human body

2:10  fulness [of life (RSV)], completion (nothing missing)

2:11  [not circumcised] [living in the body of the flesh]

2:11  circumcised [in heart]; body of flesh put off

2:12  [dead] buried in baptism

2:12  raised from the dead

2:13 dead in trespasses and uncircumcision

2:13  alive with Christ, forgiven

2:14  a bond existed against us with legal demands

2:14  released from debt

2:15  [we lived defeated by] principalities and powers

2:15  principalities now disarmed; believers triumph over them

2:16-17 living in the shadows, where food, drink, festivals, new moon, and Sabbath observances judged essential

2:17 living in substance, which belongs to Christ

2:20 alive to the elemental spirits of the world and submission to regulations based on human commands and teachings

2:20 dead to those with Christ

3:1 not raised, subject to death

3:1 raised with Christ and seated at the right hand of God

3:2 minds set on things on earth

3:2 ability to set mind on things above

3:3 alive to self alone

3:3 dead to self and one’s life hidden with Christ in God

3:4 “with Christ” includes his future glory

3:5-9 walking and living in behaviors that require God’s wrath: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, slander, obscene talk, lying

3:9, 12-23 have put off the old nature and put on the new; being renewed in knowledge after the image of God, practicing: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forgiveness, love, peace, thanksgiving, and many more

3:11 divisions among classes of people

3:11 Christ all and in all—therefore, no classes and distinctions among people

3:25 living under the threat of punishment

3:24 living with knowledge of the future reward of inheritance

4:1-6 more new behaviors

Old vs New Scriptures

1. Given by Christ

shrunken cloth vs unshrunk: Mark 2:21

old wine/new wine: Mark 2:22

old wine/new wine: Matthew 9:17

taste of old wine/new wine: Luke 5:39

2. Given by Paul

law vs Spirit: Romans 7:6

leaven vs unleavened: 1 Corinthians 5:7

old vs new creation: 2 Corinthians 5:17

3. Given by the Writer to the Hebrews

old vs new covenants: Hebrews 8:6

 

 

For Further Reflection: Think of the many Gospel stories you know. Can you find elements of changed lives in each one?

Colossians: Short Review Before Moving On

Why read and carefully study this letter?

Staying Focused on the Word of God Gives Us a Right Heart

  • the Bible tells us why we have trials
  • the Bible commands and encourages not to give upWord_Whole
  • the Bible animates us to not lose hope and confidence
  • the Bible aligns us to something greater than ourselves and our life situations–namely, God
  • God’s Word gives us strength to stand
  • God’s Word gives us freedom to walk
  • will trials rule me? Or, as I cling to his Word and draw near to him, will his Spirit of life direct my steps?
  • God’s truth makes me whole

This is a letter approved and sent by Christ through his servant Paul to be interpreted in a church setting by the Holy Spirit. Conditions for attentively reading this letter still exist today.

Recap

Although Paul at some point may have traveled through Colosse as the route of a journey further west (Hendriksen, 8-9), it is all but certain that he did not “meet and greet” many of the soon-to-become Christians there (Colossians 2:1). Epaphras did the evangelizing of the folk in his hometown (Colossians 1:7; 4:12), having apparently been discipled by Paul.

In view of the fact that Paul had not founded the church at Colosse, nor even met its people, but had heard about them, most likely from Epaphras, he lays a carefully diplomatic and lengthy foundational introduction before he launches into the meat of his practical exhortation to them. Both the foundation and exhortation center upon consideration of Christ’s centrality and all-sufficiency for each and every Christian and for the church as a body.

Outline

I. As a Letter

  • From (1:1)
  • To (1:2a)
  • Greeting (1:2b)
  • Prayer (1:3-12a)
  • Body (1:3-4:6)
  • Closing and Farewell (4:7-18)

II. As a Carefully Aimed Arrow

A. Introductory Remarks: Laying a Good Foundation to Support the Exhortation (1:3-2:5)

  • Prayer for the Colossians (1:3-12a)
  • The Father’s Role in the Colossians’ Salvation (1:12b-13)
  • The Son’s Role in the Universe and in Salvation (1:14-23a)
  • Paul’s Role (1:23b-2:5)
    • for the gospel (1:23b)
    • for the church (1:24-29)
    • for the growth of the Colossians and Laodiceans (2:1-5)

All of the above includes only positive statements in the sense that Paul gives no hint of any lack among the Colossians nor of exhortation of any kind, except for mentioning in 1:23 the general requirement that Christians must continue in the faith in order to receive the blessings of being in Christ.

Application: Do I use Paul’s techniques in my own correspondence, including email and text messages?

B. Paul’s Exhortation (2:6-4:6)

  • Paul threads his theology of Christ into his exhortation
  • Paul’s theology of Christ is the foundation for his exhortation

C. Closing and Farewell (4:7-18)

Scriptural Highlight: Christ Is All in All

NIV  Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through 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. 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.

Conclusion of Paul’s Introductory Foundation: Colossians 2:1-5

NIV  Colossians 2:1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

NET  Colossians 2:2 My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,

How can Paul be agonizing and contending, fighting, for those in Colosse and Laodicea, if he is in prison and has never met many of them in person? (for the following list, please see Hendriksen, 94)
  • striving in prayer (Colossians 4:12, 13; Romans 15:30)
  • listening to God
  • careful planning
  • letter writing
  • give direction to those in the mission field
  • exhorting the resistance to Satan
  • gospel proclamation wherever and however possible
  • giving his personal witness and testimony
  • living a model Christian life while undergoing pressure and affliction
Verse 2a Paraphrased (Wright, 98):

In other words, while the process of knitting together the church into a united body clearly includes the growth of love, it also includes the growth, on the part of the whole community, of that proper understanding of the gospel which leads to the rich blessings of a settled conviction and assurance. Living in a loving and forgiving community will assist growth in understanding, and vice versa, as truth is confirmed in practice and practice enables truth to be seen in action and so to be fully grasped (cf. 1:9-11). All of this promotes the encouragement, comfort and strengthening of the heart, regarded metaphorically then as now as the seat of affections and the mainspring of actions.

Verse 2–“in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,” is central to the entire letter, is central to the entire New Testament, to the entire Bible. Everything is wrapped up in Christ, “namely, Christ.” To know Christ is the goal of Paul and God’s ministry here on earth. Christ is the answer to everything we might want to know about God and his purposes.

NIV  2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.

NIV  1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.

NIV  1 John 5:20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.

3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

Verse 3 expands and reiterates verse 2. Christ is the “mystery of God” (v. 2) revealed. All that which was hidden and secret about God is fully made known by him to man in Jesus Christ.

NIV  Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,

Wisdom and knowledge are treasures, and those who are in Christ may begin to eternally plumb those treasures.

NIV  John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

NIV  John 17:23 I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.

How is God’s wisdom different than human wisdom? How are wisdom and knowledge related?

In Christ knowledge is never separated from wisdom, as it often is among men. Now wisdom is the ability, in concrete situations, to apply knowledge to the best advantage. It uses the most effective means to achieve the highest goal. (Hendriksen, 105)

God’s wisdom is creative; it is the source of all that we as humans can only reflectively know and understand. We who are created in God’s image, create by using what he alone created from nothing, himself excepted.

4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.

Paul is almost but not quite telling them that they may be deceived or about to be deceived. This is a warning spoken from love and concern, because the true knowledge of Christ is far better than every deception. Paul will describe some of the deceptions as Chapter 2 continues to unfold.

5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit…

Verse 5a speaks to the spiritual unity all believers share with one another in Christ (see John 17 quoted above). This unity is emphasized and made more real (conscious) as we pray for one another. Paul’s presence with the Colossians, though physically absent from them, was a reality to him, because he constantly agonized for them in prayer.

Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.

Colossians 1:29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

Colossians 2:1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.

and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.

After warning the Colossians in the prior verse that they may be deceived or about to be deceived by false teachers, Paul builds them up and encourages them by naming strengths he knows they already have.

  • This reassures them in their faith that they are doing well and are on the right path.
  • Such reassurance is an encouragement to them to continue as they are doing, even though the path may be difficult.
  • Paul’s words also reassure them of the high regard he has for them. (How does this help prepare them for the more difficult words he is to tell them further on in the letter?)
  • Paul’s compliments to them speak into the characteristics he wants them to continue to practice and grow, that is their orderliness–discipline–and firmness–stability–in the faith and in their meeting together.

This conclusion to Paul’s lengthy introductory remarks ends on a happy and positive note. The next verse begins Paul’s exhortations.

Recap of the letter so far:

Introductory Remarks: Laying a Good Foundation for What Follows (1:3-2:5)

A.   Prayer for the Colossians (1:3-12a)

B.   The Father’s Role in the Colossians’ Salvation (1:12b-13)

C.   The Son’s Role in the Universe and in Salvation (1:14-23a)

D.   Paul’s Role (1:23b-2:5)

1. for the gospel (1:23b)

2. for the church (1:24-29)

3.  for the growth of the Colossians and Laodiceans (2:1-5)

Application:

  • In Paul’s entire introductory foundation, Colossians 1:1-2:5, what evidence do you find of his diplomacy? Do we apply Paul’s kind of diplomacy in our interactions with non-Christians and Christians alike?
  • Does learning about the full “mystery of God, namely, Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” cause me to want to say with Paul:

Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,…

Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

  • What am I doing to achieve this goal? What “corners” am I cutting? Where am I being lazy? Where am I commendable?

…………………………………..

Our group will be taking a break at this point. I hope that these studies have in some way been helpful to someone. Blessings in Christ!

Paul’s Role and His Message: Colossians 1:24-1:29

ESV  Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.

God Commissioned Paul to Be a Servant to the Church: Verse 25

NIV  Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness–

Being a Servant Means Suffering According to the Pattern Christ Established in His Earthly Body

NIV  Colossians 1:24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.

A. The church is the body of Christ–it is corporal (corporeal).

B. Paul suffers for the sake of Christ’s body, the church. That is, he suffers in a corporal way.

C. Christ also suffered for the church and would continue to do so if he were still on earth.

D. The attacks of the enemy against Christ have spilled over to attacks against Christ’s body, the church, of which Paul is a chief servant. Paul willingly takes on these attacks for the sake of the church of which the Colossian believers are a part.

ESV  Romans 8:17 and if children, then heirs–heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.

2 Corinthians 1:5 For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too.

Galatians 6:17 From now on let no one cause me trouble, for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

Philippians 1:29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake,

1 Thessalonians 2:14 For you, brothers, became imitators of the churches of God in Christ Jesus that are in Judea. For you suffered the same things from your own countrymen as they did from the Jews,

2 Timothy 2:3 Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.

1 Peter 2:20 For what credit is it if, when you sin and are beaten for it, you endure? But if when you do good and suffer for it you endure, this is a gracious thing in the sight of God. 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, so that you might follow in his steps.

1 Peter 4:1 Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin,

1 Peter 4:13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.

1 Peter 5:10 And after you have suffered a little while, the God of all grace, who has called you to his eternal glory in Christ, will himself restore, confirm, strengthen, and establish you.

Revelation 12:13 And when the dragon saw that he had been thrown down to the earth, he pursued (or, persecuted) the woman who had given birth to the male child.

The Mystery = Christ

ESV  Colossians 1:26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

The Message Bible 26-27 This mystery has been kept in the dark for a long time, but now it’s out in the open. God wanted everyone, not just Jews, to know this rich and glorious secret inside and out, regardless of their background, regardless of their religious standing. The mystery in a nutshell is just this: Christ is in you, so therefore you can look forward to sharing in God’s glory. It’s that simple.

NLT  Colossians 1:26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to God’s people. 27 For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. And this is the secret: Christ lives in you. This gives you assurance of sharing his glory.

[GING] μυστήριον μυστήριον, ου, τό secret, secret teaching, mystery with reference to something previously unknown but now revealed Mk 4:11; Ro 11:25; 1 Cor 2:7; 13:2; 15:51; Eph 3:3f, 9; Col 1:26f; 4:3; Rv 10:7. Secret truths 1 Cor 14:2. Allegorical significance Rv 1:20; 17:7. τὸ τ. εὐσεβείας μ. the Christian religion 1 Ti 3:16. [mystery] [pg 130] (Shorter Lexicon, 130, Accessed in BibleWorks)

Other Verses with “mystery” in the first sense.

ESV  Mark 4:11 And he said to them, “To you has been given the secret of the kingdom of God, but for those outside everything is in parables,

[This is a sense of “mystery” (insiders, outsiders) that the gnostic false teachers might use. Paul’s intent is different: Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.]

Romans 11:25 Lest you be wise in your own sight, I want you to understand this mystery, brothers: a partial hardening has come upon Israel, until the fullness of the Gentiles has come in.

1 Corinthians 2:7 But we impart a secret and hidden wisdom of God, which God decreed before the ages for our glory.

Colossians 4:3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison—[to make freely known what had been unknown—Christ]

Revelation 10:7 but that in the days of the trumpet call to be sounded by the seventh angel, the mystery of God would be fulfilled, just as he announced to his servants the prophets.

The Mystery = Christ for Everyone

ESV  Colossians 1:27a To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, For God wanted them to know that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too…

Colossians 1:28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

Ephesians 1:18 having the eyes of your hearts enlightened, that you may know what is the hope to which he has called you, what are the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints,

The Glorious Mystery = Christ in You

Colossians 1:27bthe riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

Romans 8:11 If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you.

Paul Joins God in Working for God’s Goal of Bringing Everyone to Maturity in Christ

NET  Colossians 1:29 Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.

A. Paul, as the church’s servant (vs. 25)

B. commissioned by God (vs. 25),

C. suffers (vs. 24) for the church,

D. which is Christ’s body (vs. 24),

E. and labors in a great struggle, as though he were an athlete fighting for the prize  (vs. 29),

F. yet not alone, but with God’s energy that effectively energizes him (vs. 29)

G. in the power (δύναμις, dunamis) that God provides (vs. 29).

 

 

 

 

Reconciled AND Responsible–Colossians 1:21-23

ESV  Colossians 1:21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Paul’s attention shifts once more to the Colossians and their role as Christians in God’s grand plan of redemption and reconciliation.

I. “And you…alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds,”

A. Humankind’s disposition on account of the Fall is that we are all by nature alienated from God…

Ephesians 2:12 remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.

Ephesians 4:18 They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart.

…and therefore children who hate God…

Romans 5:10 For if while we were enemies we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, now that we are reconciled, shall we be saved by his life.

…doing evil deeds.

B. Thoughts and actions form an interactive, self-reinforcing circle. “Wrong thinking leads to vice, vice to further mental corruption, so that the mind, still not totally ignorant of God’s standards, finds itself applauding evil.” (Wright, 85)thoughts_actions

II. “he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death,”

A. Grammatically, it is not clear whether God does the reconciling to himself through Christ, or whether it is Christ who does the reconciling to himself.

1. The NIV chooses the former, and the NET and ESV allow for the latter.

2. Biblically, both are true.

a. God reconciles: (2 Corinthians 5:18)

b. Christ reconciles: (Ephesians 2:14-16)

c. Christ and the Father are One (John 14:10)

B. The Joyful News is that the formerly estranged Colossians and all believers have been brought back into a right (a good) relationship with God through the blood of Christ on the cross.

C. The “body of his flesh”: In the prior section, verses 15-20, we saw the divinity of Christ; here we see his humanity.

D. Narrative:

A father and daughter had a quarrel. The daughter, doubting her father’s wisdom and love, renounced her father first,  turning her back on him in disbelief of his wise instruction. He then turned his back on her. The daughter, having been kidnapped by a lying and treacherous false lover, could no longer find her father. And even if she could, she didn’t want to return to his house, because as time went on, her mind tricked her into thinking of him more and more as a brutal dictator.

It remained for the father to locate his daughter and bring her home. But how could he, after she had abandoned him for his arch enemy?

There was a son, whom the father loved above all else. Between them, they devised a plan to bring the daughter home. The son volunteered to go to the foreign land in the enemy’s territory to locate the daughter and woo her back. In the process, he died, thus paying the ransom for the daughter’s life. The father, now satisfied that his holy justice and honor had been vindicated, called his daughter by the winds of his own spirit. She heard and responded, turning to see her father’s face shining on her in love. She ran to him. Thus they were reconciled. She and the son, who by a miracle of her father’s power had been resurrected from death, went out together to locate her own sons and daughters to tell them that Papa was welcoming them back home.

E. God is the prime mover from beginning to end: Reconciled

 

 

 

 

III. “in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach

  • holy — cleansed from all sin and separated entirely to God and his service
  • blameless — without any blemish whatever, like a perfect sacrifice (Philippians 2:15)
  • above reproach — completely above merited accusation (1 Timothy 3:10; Titus 1:6-7)

A. This is every believer’s accomplished legal standing before God in principle at the moment of salvation, and in daily living these words describe a progressive and ongoing practise.

B. If such were not the case, Paul would not have written (Colossians 3:5-9).

C. The Presentation: Here Comes the Bride!

This glorious presentation is here referred to as the purpose of the reconciliation. (Wright, 84)

Revelation 19:7 Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;

Revelation 21:2 And I saw the holy city, new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride adorned for her husband.

 Revelation 21:9 Then came one of the seven angels who had the seven bowls full of the seven last plagues and spoke to me, saying, “Come, I will show you the Bride, the wife of the Lamb.”

Ephesians 5:31 “Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.” 32 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church.

IV. If… Unconditional love has a condition

if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven,

A. Salvation is unconditional…”whosoever believeth in him”…(John 3:16)

B. Perseverance (assurance of salvation) has conditions… “if indeed you continue in the faith,…

1. No human can tell the genuineness of another’s salvation, not even the Apostle Paul, or John, or Peter. Appearances deceive–consider the Pharisees. And often, it is difficult to judge the state of our own hearts–“Jeremiah 17:9 The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?”

2. It is better to discover sooner, rather than later, the true state of one’s soul, in case there may be need of repentance–

Hebrews 3:15 As it is said, “Today, if you hear his voice, do not harden your hearts as in the rebellion.”

Hebrews 4:1 Therefore, while the promise of entering his rest still stands, let us fear lest any of you should seem to have failed to reach it.

3. Because God has created us in his image, especially in the new birth, and because Christ is our forerunner, our model, our guide, our paradigm, we believe that we have free will, that God does not carry his children kicking and screaming into heaven. Therefore, as Colossians 1:23 indicates, continued and willful disobedience to the standards of a “stable and steadfast” faith and moving away from “the hope of the gospel that you heard” are both strong warning signs that all may not be right.

4. Notice that this verse does not say that living a sin free life, or a nearly sin free life, after salvation is the condition for our being presented to Christ at the End Time. Remaining in the faith is what Paul says God requires.

C. What does it mean for believers to “continue in the faith“? How can we know if this is true of both others and ourselves? Is it about certain doctrines or signing or not signing certain petitions? The Bible gives us Sure Signposts of a Steady and Steadfast Faith:

1. Obedience to God’s Word. They are not to move away from “the hope of the gospel that you heard.” (Galatians 1:8; 1 John 2:3-6)

2. Love for our brothers and sisters. (1 John 3:10-11John 15:12)

3. Regularly meeting with a body of believers for worship, prayer, and edification (Bible study). (Hebrews 10:25)

4. Repentance for ongoing sins. (1 John 1:5-10)

5. We are not doing this alone!

a. God has given us his Holy Spirit (our Guide by our side) to help us every step of the way. (Philippians 4:13; John 14:16-18)

b. God is FOR us, and he wants us to succeed. (Romans 8:31-39)

c. God uses us to fight the battles for a stable and steadfast faith in order to bring about the end that he underwrites–the salvation of our souls.

We are in partnership with the Son, the Holy Spirit, and God. We are required to cooperate–to fight beside God–for our own perseverance to the End. Responsible

V. and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

Having spoken about the roles of God the Father (Vss 12-13), God the Son (Vss 14-20), and the Colossians themselves (Vss 21-23a), Paul now shifts to his own role in the salvation and sanctification (ongoing walk of faith) of the Colossian believers (Vss 23b-2:5).

Christ Qualifies to Lead: Colossians 1:15-20

NIV  Colossians 1:15-20

15 The Son is the image of the invisible God,

the firstborn over all creation.

16 For in him all things were created:

things in heaven

and on earth,

visible

and invisible,

whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities;

all things have been created through 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.

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.

Recap

  • Paul in verse 12 began talking specifically about the Colossians’ salvation: “…the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.”
  • In verse 13 he tells what the Father has done: “…He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son,”
  • Paul in verse 14 answers the question, “Why the Son?” by stating: “… in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.”
  • Now in verses 15-20, Paul expounds in great detail how the Son is especially qualified to be the ruler and Lord of the kingdom in which God has placed the Colossian believers. There is no one higher than Christ–it would be impossible for anyone to be higher than he except God himself. (1 Corinthians 15:27) This lays the foundation for the admonition to them, which Paul speaks later in Colossians 2:4,8-10, 16-23.

I. Christ as Mediator

A. Through Creation of All Things and of the First Humanity–Christ the Creator: verses 15-17

B. Through the New Creation of a Second Humanity and Provider of Salvation–Christ the New Creator, the Lord in Reconciliation: verses 18-20

II. Christ Mediates Between Pure Spirit (God the Father) and Matter Before the Fall. He is the Creator: verses 15-17

A. Verse 15

1. Verse 15a, Christ reveals the Father: “The Son is the image of the invisible God,…”

a. “image” = likeness, form, appearance (John 1:18; 2 Corinthians 4:4, 6; Hebrews 1:3)

b. Can we draw pictures of qualities such as beauty, happiness, might, love, or holiness? Of course not! Although we have concepts of these things, they are themselves invisible. In order to make an “image” of them, most likely we would draw pictures of concrete scenes that evoke or simulate those kinds of qualities. But Christ is very amazing–he is the likeness of all that his Father is. Christ bears the image of his Father, and he has capacity to make himself visible to us, first in his incarnation and secondly, in his resurrected body. Yet even before the incarnation, Christ was still the exact representation, the outward expression, of all that God is.

2. Verse 15b, Christ is the Creator: “…the firstborn over all creation.”

a. “Firstborn” can mean “born first” in chronological order.

b. “Firstborn” can also mean sovereignty of rank, as the translation “over all creation” indicates.

c. “Firstborn” can also refer to the one who has a special place in the Father’s love. See Exodus 4:22 as regards Israel, and the New Testament examples in Romans 8:29; Colossians 1:13b; Hebrews 1:6; and Revelation 1:5.

d. Meanings b and c seem to be what Paul intended. Meaning a is excluded, because the verse states that Christ created everything. If this were so, it would be impossible for him to be part of the creation that he himself created (O’Brien, 40-41; Wright, 74).

B. Verse 16, Christ the Creator: NIV  Colossians 1:16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 

1. What is included in this list?

2. What is excluded from the list?

3. The phrases, “in him…through him…for him”

♦ signify that creation lies within the realm of Christ’s power and is dependent on him

♦ that he is the agent through creation was created

♦ that he is the goal, the ultimate purpose of the whole creation and of history.

♦ Therefore, everything in the universe is subject to the authority and lordship of Jesus Christ, the carpenter of Nazareth, the crucified, risen, ascended, soon-to-be-revealed-in-glory Lord.

♦ Do we think the Colossians might respond, “What? Me worry?”

♦ How should we respond?

Where should we go FIRST with a problem of any sort?

C. Verse 17, Christ the Sustainer: He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

1. Once again, Christ as Creator: He is before all things,… before” once again meaning both in time and in precedence

2. …and in him all things hold together. Christ sustains all things. This is a great anti-evolutionary statement. The universe did not create itself nor pop of its own accord out of nothing (vs 16), nor does it maintain itself through natural processes and its own properties. Life is not evolving according to naturalistic principles. Christ who created in himself, through himself, and for himself also maintains everything. (See also Hebrews 1:2-3)

III. Christ Mediates Between God and All of Creation in the Reconciliation–the New Creation After the Fall: verses 18-20

A. Verse 18

1. And he is the head of the body, the church; Headship over the body refers to Christ’s preeminence over his people, as well as the dependence of the members on him.

2. …he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead,

a. “beginning”

temporal (John 15:27)

first in authority and sovereignty (Romans 8:38-39; Ephesians 1:21; 6:12)

3. …and the firstborn from among the dead,

a. This phrase may be a synonym for “beginning,” or an explanation of it.

b. Christ is the founder of a new humanity, the first to be resurrected. (Genesis 49:3) (1 Corinthians 15:20, 23)

c. As the Church is the body and Christ the Head (see above, number 1), the Church is organically related to Christ in a spiritual way.

totally dependent on him (John 15:5)

  as united with Christ, the Church also is united with God (John 17:21-24)

  Christ is the Mediator between God (pure Spirit) and humanity (material and spirit)

4. …so that in everything he might have the supremacy. Supreme in Creation and supreme in Resurrection–the New Creation

B. Verse 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, (his Son, his Beloved, the Son of his love)

1. ALL that God is–Spirit, Word, Wisdom, Glory, and everything else–is perfectly displayed eternally in Christ.

2. Christ is the ONE Mediator.

3. God was pleased to express himself this way. Christ is not a usurper, as Satan is.

C. Verse 20, Christ the Reconciler of everything

1. and through him to reconcile to himself all things, (2 Corinthians 5:18-20; Romans 5:10-11; Ephesians 2:16)

2. whether things on earth or things in heaven,

a. Every hostile spiritual power and earthly power has been subjugated.

b. Some will bow the knee in awe and reverence and others because they have no choice. (Philippians 2:10-11)

3. by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. All of the above is the “glory” of the cross. Because all three Beings of the Trinity gave themselves this way, and Christ as the actual one who died–for this reason he has earned the name which is above all other names (Philippians 2:5-11).

IV. Application

Does knowing all this about Christ change how we think about what it means to be “created in his own image“? (Genesis 1:27)

At what level are you in even beginning to comprehend the nature and stature of Christ? How do you apply this knowledge to your day by day life? To each and every problem that you face?

If the Colossians grasped what Paul was saying, would they still find it necessary, as some have said, to listen to and obey (submit to) false teachers who were telling them that in order to live a full Christian life they needed to obey such and such a teaching or to go to such and such an expert to find a further, fuller deliverance than what Paul had shown them was already theirs in Christ?

If Christ is everything Paul says he is, do we think that Christ might find a way to communicate with even the most thick-headed (etc., etc.) of his children? Are we able to rest in Christ and to surrender our spiritual growth and education to him, or do we feel we need to go here and there anxiously seeking out an “expert” for a bit of knowledge or some bit of “power” we feel we lack?

Do these verses help us to understand why reading the Bible for ourselves is important?

 

 

 

Christ Our Victory Over Demons: Colossians 1:13a

Colossians 1:13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love;

James 4:7 Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.

“To the child of God who is walking in the light of God’s Word and firmly rejoicing in our Lord’s victory over them, believing God’s promises of triumph, there need to be no fear of demons. They are spirits of darkness and we are children of light. There is not enough darkness in the whole world to put out one little light. Let us ‘walk in the light, as he is in the light’ (1 Jn 1:7)!” (Foundations of Pentecostal Theology, 505.)

Colossians Life Group Week 9: Colossians 1:13a

ASV Colossians 1:13 who delivered us out of the power of darkness, and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of his love;

I. What is the “power of darkness?”

______________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________________

“3. authority, absolute power Mt 21:23, 24, 27; 28:18; Mk 2:10; Ac 26:12.—4. power or authority exercised by rulers, etc., by virtue of their office—a. ruling power, official power Lk 7:8; 20:20; 17:12f.—b. domain, jurisdiction Lk 4:6; 23:7; Eph 2:2; Col 1:13.—c. bearers of authority in the state, authorities, officials, government Lk 12:11; Ro 13:1, 2, 3; cosmic powers above and beyond the human sphere but not unrelated to it 1 Cor 15:24; Eph 1:21; 3:10; Col 2:15.” (Gingrich and Danker, 177)

Illustrations:

1. Minor children who live at home are under the “power” of their parents. The parents’ household is their domain, their jurisdiction. Parents have parental power to enforce their will upon the children.

2. Each state in the US licenses its own drivers and has its own vehicle code that governs the road. Let’s pretend I am driving in California with a driver’s license from the state of Maine, which is okay to do for a short while in California. Let’s also pretend that in Maine it is illegal to turn right on a red light after a complete stop. So, here I am in California and I turn right on a red light. Assuming the police in Maine somehow were able to see me doing this, would I be liable for a ticket when I return to Maine?

3. Let’s say I broke a Chinese law while I was visiting there, and when I got back to California, some Chinese people chased me and wanted to prosecute me while I was still in California. Would they be able to do so? Under what conditional procedures might they be able to prosecute me? [legal extradition]

II. In verse 13, what does “delivered us out of” mean?  ___God saved us, rescued us, delivered us, so that we are no longer in the jurisdiction, the realm, the domain of authority, of darkness. In the sense of this definition, the rulers, authorities, spiritual powers of darkness have no hold or legal claim on us. PLUS, we are now in the domain, realm, kingdom, of Christ, who is our Protector in every sense of that word.

save, rescue, deliver Mt 6:13; 27:43; Lk 1:74; 11:4 v.l.; Ac 5:15 v.l.; Ro 7:24; 11:26; 15:31; 2 Cor 1:10; Col 1:13; 1 Th 1:10; 2 Th 3:2; 2 Ti 3:11; 4:17f; 2 Pt 2:7, 9.*” (Gingrich and Danker, 70)

III. From Duffield and Van Cleave (Foundations, 491-505)

A. Demons—what are they?

Answer: Demons appear to be fallen angels stronger than men but much, much weaker than Christ.

B. What do demons do?

1. They oppose the saints: Ephesians 6:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:18. “Our fight is against” them; and “Satan hindered us.”

2. They seek to cause us to leave our faith in Christ.

a. “some shall depart” 1 Timothy 4:1

b. the antidote: “abide in me” John 15:5

3. They encourage “formalism and asceticism” as a result of false teaching; therefore, they seek to inject false teachers into the pure teaching of the word.

“there will be false teachers among you.” 2 Peter 2:1

4. They lurk behind idols and idol worship in its many forms, tempting saints to worship.

“for forty days he [Jesus] was tempted by the devil.” Luke 4:1-13

5. They cause physical afflictions.

6. Demons sometimes accomplish God’s purpose when they function as instruments in God’s plan to punish the ungodly, and even to chasten the godly.

Peter, Job, the incestuous Corinthian believer (1 Corinthians 5:5) and Hymenaeus and Alexander  (1Timothy 1:20) are examples of God’s use of demons for his own ends.

C. What does the Bible say about casting out demons? (Foundations, 495-96)

1. Jesus cast out many demons Mark 1:34

2. Demons were cast out in the early church: Mark 16:15, 17 “go ye into all the world…cast out devils”

3. The apostles cast out demons Acts 5:16

4. Paul cast out demons Acts 16:16-18

5. Others cast out demons Acts 16:13-16

6. Toward the end of the age demons will be cast out 1 Timothy 4:1

IV. More Questions Concerning Demons

A. Does demon possession differ from demon influence?

1. Answer: “All demon activity does not result in demon possession. There is a vast difference between demon possession and demon influence.” (Foundations, 496)

2. In demon possession the demon enters a body and exerts dominating control.

3. Demon influence is warfare from without (suggestion, temptation, and influence). Example: the fiery darts of the evil one in Ephesians 6:16

B. What is the relation between demon possession and sickness?

Answer: “All sickness…is not caused by demon possession…Thus the practice of some, who in ministering to the sick always try to cast out a demon, is not biblical procedure.” (Foundations, 496)

C. Is there demon possession today?

Answer: There is demon possession today, although a Christian cannot be possessed, or indwelt by a demon. A demon may only harass a Christian from the outside.

D. What about casting out of demons today?

Answer:

“While it may be possible to cast out a demon, very often a person needs more than this…It is the will of a man which makes a way in for the devil, and therefore repentance is required as well as exorcism…demon possession is not the cause but the result or symptom. It is wrong to assume that a particular evil in a [wo]man’s life is the result of demon control. It is more likely that the evil was there first, permitting the entry of Satanic power.” (Foundations, quoting George Canty, 500)

“…the power of the Word of God. The preaching of the gospel is deliverance—it is the power of God in itself ‘unto salvation’ (deliverance) [salvation = deliverance]…It would be absurd to think of a great conversion of a man leaving him with demons still in his heart. Can a man be saved through faith in the gospel and then need a second experience to save him from Satan? [expects a “no” as answer] From what was he saved in the first instance? ‘The anointing breaks the yoke.’” (Ibid.)

[In other words, there is no second experience necessary to save someone from Satan. There are NO demons in a person’s heart after salvation. A brand new baby Christian, and older Christians, may be harassed from outside by a demon, but never from within. Christians already have all the spiritual equipment necessary to fight successfully against such harassment, and where they appear too weak or uninformed to do so, other Christians within the Church may pray and help them in this. It is not necessary and would contradict Scripture to try to exorcise a demon from a new Christian, or from an older Christian. The best way to fight in this situation is by a firm grounding and faith in the written Word of God. Ephesians 6:14–the belt of truth]

“[in Scripture]…nobody was ever given a special gift for ‘exorcism,’ only for discernment, as part of the protection of the church, chiefly against false teachers with lying and deceitful doctrines of demons. Nobody manifested a ministry exclusively for dealing with demons. This would draw attention more to Satan than to Christ. Preoccupation with this sphere of things is a kind of tribute to the power of Satan. ‘The end of our conversation’ says Hebrews 13:7-8, is ‘Jesus Christ the same yesterday, today and for ever,’ which hardly can be said of some whose continual thought is about ‘the power of darkness.’” (Foundations, quoting George Canty, 500)

“That the Church will be called upon more and more to cleanse people from foul spiritis may be likely, but the preaching of the gospel is the main means, and this should be the prior activity of all God’s servants.” (Ibid., 501)

E. Can a Christian be demon possessed?

1. Answer: No. (Foundations, 503)

“While one should not blind himself to the presence and power of demonic forces in the world and be ignorant of Satan’s devices (2 Corinthians 2:11), he must not underestimate the great salvation and deliverance which God has wrought for him in Christ Jesus. Colossians 2:15; Acts 26:13; Colossians 1:13.” (Ibid.)

“To become Christian is to turn from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God.” (Ibid.)

2. The Holy Spirit is the One who accomplishes this turning in us during the process of our being called to God in Christ.

3. Scripture teaches that the Christian has power over the devil: 1 John 5:18; Luke 10:19; 2 Timothy 2:25-26.

4. Scripture teaches that Christians are God’s temple. God would not tolerate a demon to dwell in his temple. 2 Corinthians 6:15-16; 1 Corinthians 6:19.

5. Once again, the best defense against outside attacks of demonic harassment and temptation is to have a thorough grounding in the Word of God. Cinch yourselves up tightly with the Word of truth. (Ephesians 6:14)

F. More on spiritual warfare: Faith + Obedience = Abiding in Christ

“Disobedience and persistent waywardness provide the enemy grounds from which He can attack and influence the Christian.” (Foundations, 504) (Ephesians 4:27; Acts 5:3)

“The great conflict within us is not between the Holy Spirit and demons, but between the indwelling Holy Spirit and the flesh (that is, all the sensory apparatus that tends toward sin).” (Foundations, quoting an Assemblies of God publication, “Can Born-Again Believers Be Demon Possessed?” 505)

V. CONCLUSION: “Demons Thrive on Publicity.” (Foundations, 505)

“To the child of God who is walking in the light of God’s Word and firmly rejoicing in our Lord’s victory over them, believing God’s promises of triumph, there need to be no fear of demons. They are spirits of darkness and we are children of light. There is not enough darkness in the whole world to put out one little light. Let us ‘walk in the light, as he is in the light’ (1 Jn 1:7)!” (Foundations, 505)

Within the context of this letter, the main point Paul is saying to the Colossians is that Christ is sufficient for all their needs, every single one, both large and small. They have no need to go anywhere else or to anyone else for anything—just turn to Christ and abide in him. God has already given us everything we need in Christ. God gave us a Community of Believers to help us do just this. We are not alone. Christ’s credentials to be the Church’s sole leader are spelled out in Colossians 1:15-20.

Bibliography

 

 

 

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