An Introduction To Second ThessaloniansRelated Media
I. AUTHOR: The Apostle Paul (with Silvanus [Silas] and Timothy)
A. More than 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians has been disputed by some (starting with the Tübingen School) with respect to Pauline authorship
B. Nevertheless, many in modern scholarship hold to the authenticity of Pauline authorship for 2 Thessalonians1
C. The Account of Paul’s founding of the church at Thessalonica is reported in Acts 17:1-9 (see below)
D. Silas and Timothy may well have shared in the authorship of 2 Thessalonians (first person plural) or were Paul’s amanuensis2
E. External Evidence, though not as strong as for 1 Thessalonians, still supports Pauline authorship:3
1. Ignatius, Philadelphians 4:3 [2 Thess. 3:5] (c. 110)
2. Polycarp, Philippians, 4:3 [2 Thess. 1:4]; 11:14 [2 Thess. 3:15] (c. 110-150)
3. Irenaeus (c. 130-202)
4. Justin Martyr (c. 150-155)
5. Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215)
6. Tertullian (c. 150-220)
7. Origen (c. 185-254)
8. Cyril of Jerusalem (c. 315-386)
9. Eusebius (c. 325-340)
10. Jerome (c. 340-420)
11. Augustine (c. 400)
F. Internal Evidence
1. It is on the level of internal evidence that the authenticity of 2 Thessalonians is often questioned
a. Eschatology has been argued to not be Pauline because of its distinction with that in 1 Thessalonians, but 2 Thessalonians is discussing different aspects of end-time events than is 1 Thessalonians
b. The teaching of a two-fold judgment of the righteous and the unrighteous is affirmed to be post-Pauline, but it exists in Jesus’ words (24:15-22; 25:31-46), and agrees with later Pauline letters (Romans 2:5-10)
c. 2 Thessalonians is considered to have too harsh of a tone as compared with 1 Thessalonians, but the difficult situation which Paul is dealing with explains the change
d. Thessalonians is considered to have too great of an emphasis upon the Old Testament for its new Gentile converts, but the usages are all in areas which Gentiles would have been interested, and Luke includes an OT flavor among Paul’s messages to Gentiles (see also Mark’s use of apocalyptic material to his “Roman”/Gentile audience)
e. Some argue that 1 and 2 Thessalonians are too soon on the same subject to be Pauline, but there are also differences, and when they are combined with the similarities, Pauline authorship is the most reasonable
Coming for Saints
Coming with Saints
Coming of Christ
Coming of Antichrist
Day of Christ
Day of The Lord
Speaks of Comfort
Speaks of Correction
2. Pauline authorship is asserted in a customary manner at the opening of the epistle (2 Thessalonians 1:1)
3. While it is true that Silvanus and Timothy are included in the salutation, and that Paul does use the first person plural in the letter (1:3,4,11; 2:1; 3:1,2,4,6,7,8,9,10,11), he also uses the first person singular (2:5; 3:17). As Guthrie says, “Paul would not have signed anything that he did not assent to, ...”4
II. The Founding of the Church
A. The historical context is Acts 16--18, especially Acts 17:1-9 (cf. 1 Thessalonians 1:3--3:8)
1. Paul, Silas, and Timothy ministered on their second missionary journey in Philippi and left after their imprisonment and subsequent release (Acts 16:11-40)
2. When Paul and Silas arrived in Thessalonica they proclaimed Jesus as Messiah in the synagogue for three weeks causing some Jews, many devout Greeks, and leading woman to believe, but raising jealousy in the Jews to the point that the new disciples were severely persecuted before the authorities 17:1-9
a. Setting: When Paul and Silas had passed through Amphipolis and Apollonia they came to Thessalonica where there was a Jewish synagogue 17:1
Perhaps Luke and Timothy were left in Philippi to take care of the new church there
b. When Paul entered the synagogue and argued for Jesus as Messiah, some Jews, many devout Greeks, and leading woman believed and joined Paul and Silas, but the Jews were jealous 17:2-5a
1) Paul went in, as was his custom, and argued with them from the Scriptures for three weeks 17:2
2) Paul explained and proved from the Scriptures the death, resurrection and Messiahship of Jesus 17:3
3) Some Jews, many devout Greeks, and leading women believed and joined Paul and Silas 17:4
4) The Jews were jealous of Paul and Silas 17:5a
Paul may have stayed more than three weeks if he also turned to Gentiles for a ministry as he often did when the Jews rebelled
c. In an uproar the Jews sought Paul and Silas, but could not find them so they took Jason and some brethren before the authorities and accused them of disturbing the peace and of proclaiming another king against Rome, whereupon the leaders exacted a bond from them before releasing them 17:5b-9
1) Using some wicked men, the Jews gathered a crowd and set the city in an uproar 17:5b
2) The Jews attacked the house of Jason looking for Paul and Silas, but when they could not find them, they brought Jason and some of the brethren before the authorities 17:5c-6a
3) The Jews accused Jason and the brethren of harboring disrupters, and proclaiming Jesus as King against Rome (subversion as with Jesus) 17:6b-7
4) The people and city authorities were disturbed when they heard the accusations, so they took from the hostages a bond and released them 17:8-9
3. Paul and Silas went at night to Berea 17:10
B. Somehow Paul learned of the continuing struggle of the Thessalonians. Perhaps, he received a report from whoever delivered the first letter
C. The book is clearly written to a group of very new believers who were quickly brought into the faith and then immediately thrown into the “grasp of Satan” as persecutions broke out upon them (Acts 17; 1 Thess. 2:14-16; 2 Thess. 3:3); therefore, questions would immediately arise:
1. Were Paul’s words true?
2. If they were from God, why are they being hindered so by persecution?
3. Now what should they do?
a. Their faith was weak (1 Thess. 3:2)
b. They needed perspective on the disturbances which they were facing (1 Thess 3:3-4)
c. They needed to know how love worded its way out towards others--especially those who persecute them (1 Thess. 3:12)
d. They needed to know how “now” related to the future return of Jesus (1 Thess. 3:13)
e. They needed to know how far to take Paul’s exhortations toward godly living (1 Thess. 4:1-5)
f. They needed to know how to act within the church (1 Thess. 5)
While there is some question about the order of 1 and 2 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians 2:15 seems to presuppose the existence of 1 Thessalonians (“...hold to the traditions which you were taught, whether by word of mouth, or by letter from us....”)
IV. DATE AND ORIGIN: A.D. 51 from Corinth:
A. Paul was in Corinth a year and six months (Acts 18:11)
B. Paul’s visit to Corinth probably terminated shortly after Gallio became proconsul in Corinth (Acts 18:12-18) c. A.D. 51
1. The Delphi inscription (Sylloge Inscriptionum Graecarum or SIG II3, 801) makes reference to Gallio as proconsul of Achaia
2. This inscription can be dated to the first seven months of A.D. 52 (Claudius’ twenty-sixth acclamation as imperator)
3. Since proconsuls usually entered their office on July 1, Gallio probably arrived in Achaia as proconsul on July 1 A.D. 51
4. Paul’s eighteen months in Corinth (Acts 18:11-17) probably lasted from late summer of A.D. 50 to spring of A.D. 52
C. 1 Thessalonians may well have been written earlier in his time at Corinth when he received word from the return of Timothy and Silas about the church (Acts 18:5; 1 Thess 3:6).
D. Therefore, Paul probably wrote 1 Thessalonians in A.D. 50
E. After Paul learned of the news about the Thessalonians’ progress following the first letter, Paul probably wrote 2 Thessalonians
F. If Paul sent 1 Thessalonians at the beginning of his stay in Corinth, he may well have sent 2 Thessalonians within eighteen months of the first letter (or towards the end of his stay at Corinth) c. A.D. 51 (or 52)
G. Corinth is the last place where Acts places Paul, Timothy, and Silas together (though they may have been together afterward); Silas is not mentioned at Ephesus, and Timothy is associated with Erastus at Ephesus (Acts 19:22); therefore, Corinth is a natural candidate for the origin of the letter
V. PURPOSES OF 2 THESSALONIANS
1 Thessalonians was not as effective as Paul had hoped in dealing with the problem of idleness, and the παρουσία, therefore, 2 Thessalonians was written to continue the discussion
A. Paul wishes to correct false teaching that the Thessalonians are presently in the Day of the Lord (2:1-2) because they are already undergoing persecution (2:14-16)
B. Paul wishes to correct disorderliness in the church (e.g., not working because the Lord’s coming was so near) (3:6-16)
1 Bruce, Marshall, Thomas, Morris.
2 See Bruce, 1&2 Thess. Word., p. xxxii-xxxiii.
3 Geisler, A General Introduction to the Bible, pp. 188,193.
4 Guthrie, NTI, p. 574.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of First ThessaloniansRelated Media
The Missionary Team Of Paul, Silvanus, And Timothy Urge The Thessalonians On The Basis Of Their Former Walk Of Faith, And God’s Faithfulness To Them To Endure Persecution With A Vital Love For One Another And For God
I. Introduction: Paul, Silvanus, and Timothy open their letter to the Thessalonians affirming their position in God, and praying for God’s grace and peace in their lives 1:1
A. Paul, Silvanus (Silas), and Timothy are those who send the letter (“the team”, henceforth) 1:1a
B. The team has sent the letter to the Thessalonians who are in relationship with the Father and Son, praying for their experience of grace and peace 1:1b-d
1. The letter is sent to the Thessalonians 1:1b
2. The Thessalonians are in a relationship with God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ 1:1c
3. The team prays for the Thessalonians to experience grace and peace 1:1d
II. The Paste Work of Faith*Encouragement in their Faith: Paul reminds the Thessalonians of their walk of faith with God and his ministry with them in order to defend the Gospel he taught them and in order to encourage them to persevere despite persecution 1:2--3:13
A. Thanksgiving for the Effect of the Gospel: The missionary team constantly thank God for the Thessalonians through prayer as they remember the perseverance of the Thessalonians, and the evidences of their election 1:2-10
1. Thanks Through Prayer: The team constantly gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians by praying for them 1:2
2. Thanks Remembering Perseverance: The team gives thanksgiving to God as they remember the persevering nature of the believing Thessalonians 1:3
a. Work of Faith: In their thanksgiving the team constantly remembers the Thessalonians’ work of faith 1:3a
b. Labor of Love: In their thanksgiving the team constantly remembers the Thessalonians’ work of love 1:3b
c. Hope of Tomorrow: In their thanksgiving the team constantly remembers the Thessalonians’ steady hope in the Lord Jesus who is presently with the Father 1:3c
3. Thanks Because Of Evident Election: The team gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians because they know of God’s election of them through the divinely enabled presentation of the Gospel among them, and through their imitation of both the team and the Lord during persecution resulting in a witness to others throughout Macedonia, Achaia, and beyond 1:5-10
a. Election: The team gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians because they know of God’s election of them through the divinely enabled presentation of the Gospel among them 1:4-5
1) Chosen: The team gives thanks to God knowing that the Thessalonians are chosen of God 1:4
2) Power of Gospel: The reason the team knows of the election of the Thessalonians is because their Gospel came to the Thessalonians in more than empty words, but in power from God through them 1:5
b. Imitation: The team gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians because they know of God’s election of them through their imitation of both the team and the Lord during persecution resulting in a witness to others throughout Macedonia, Achaia, and beyond 1:6-10
1) Imitators of the Team: The Thessalonians became imitators of the team and of the Lord 1:6a
2) Imitators of the Lord: The Thessalonians imitated the team and the Lord by willfully, and under divine enablement experiencing persecution for receiving the word of the Gospel 1:6b
3) Examples: The result of being imitators of the suffering team and the Lord was that the Thessalonians became examples to other believers in Macedonia and Achaia 1:7
4) Thanks Because of the Spread of the Gospel: The team gives thanks to God for the Thessalonians because they know of God’s election of them through their spread of the gospel to other peoples 1:8-10
a) Missionary Church: The Thessalonians have been a missionary church not only to Macedonia and Achaia, but beyond so as to precede the team’s appearance 1:8
b) Reports from Others: The reason the team speaks of the missionary nature of the Thessalonians is because when they go to a new people, they hear back from this new people reports about God’s work in Thessalonica 1:9-10
(1) Team Hears of Ministry: The reason the team speaks of the missionary nature of the Thessalonians is because the team hears back about their ministry among the Thessalonians from those they go to 1:9a
(2) Repentance from Idolatry: The team specifically hears back about the Thessalonians' repentance from idolatry to serve the living and true God 1:9b
(3) Expectation of Christ's Return: The team specifically hears back about the Thessalonians' expectation of the return of the risen Christ to deliver them from the coming judgment of the wicked (the tribulation) 1:10
B. The Proclaimers of the Gospel: In view of what the Thessalonians are themselves proclaiming about the missionary team (1:9), they are reminded that the team spoke with a bold witness in spite of persecution, and that their motives in that presentation were good, as parents desiring the best for their children 2:1-12
1. Their Bold Witness: Picking up on what the Thessalonians proclaim about the team’s effect upon them (1:9, cf. 2:1 “γὰρ”), the missionary team reminds the Thessalonians of the effectiveness of their bold presentation of the gospel despite persecution 2:1-2
a. Not Without Result: The Thessalonians know that the coming of the missionary team was not without result 2:1
b. Bold Witness: The missionary team boldly witnessed to the Thessalonians in spite of past persecution in Philippi (Acts 16:19-40), and present resistance (by the Jews; cf. Acts 17:5) in Thessalonica 2:2
2. Their Pure Motives: The missionary team’s motives in appealing to the Thessalonians are not hurtful, but God pleasing just as their past conduct among the Thessalonians was to enable them, much like parents, toward a better walk with God 2:3-12
a. Not Covert Motives: The missionary team’s appeal to the Thessalonians does not come from covert motives of error, impurity, or trickery 2:3
b. Seeking to Please God: The missionary team appeals to the Thessalonians as those approved by God seeking to please God, rather than men 2:4
c. Support: Paul supports his affirmations about the missionary team’s good motives by their conduct among the Thessalonians as loving parents rather than self-serving tricksters 2:5-9
1) Negatively: As the Thessalonians and God both know, the missionary team did not come with speech which flattered men, or so that they might materially gain from them, or so that they might receive honor from anyone even though they had that right as sent ones of Christ 2:5-6
2) Positively: The Thessalonians know that the missionary team came to them as loving parents with the gospel and themselves so as to encourage them toward an appropriate walk with God 2:7-12
a) As a Gentile Mother: The missionary team was gentile among the Thessalonians as a mother who would care for her children 2:7
b) Giving of Lives: The missionary team’s affection for the Thessalonians was so great that they not only wished to give them the gospel, but they were willing to give of their innermost selves (ἐαυτῶν ψυζάς) for them 2:8-9
c) Integrity: The Thessalonians are witnesses that the missionary team acted in integrity before them only speaking to them so as to encourage them to walk in a more acceptable manner as of the God who called them 2:10-12
(1) Upright Behavior: The Thessalonians are witnesses of the missionary team's holy, upright, and unreproachable behavior towards them 2:10
(2) As a Father: The missionary team acted like a father toward children encouraging, comforting, and urging the Thessalonians 2:11
(3) Improve Their Walk: The purpose of the missionary team was to raise the Thessalonians' walk to a level which was worthy (ἀξίως) of God's high calling of the Thessalonians into the Kingdom and greatness 2:12
C. The Effect of the Gospel: The missionary team affirms the effect of the Gospel upon the Thessalonians in that they not only accepted it, but it has worked in them by enabling them to endure the persecution of the Jews 2:13-16
1. Thanks for Reception of Word: The missionary team thanks God for the way in which the Thessalonians received their gospel as God’s word which works within them 2:13
2. Endured Persecution: The reason Paul affirms that the Thessalonians received God’s word which works in them is because they, just like the Judean church, they have endured persecution from the Jews who are increasing their sin toward judgment 2:14-16
a. Endured Like Judean Church: The reason God’s word is seen to be working in the Thessalonians is because they have endured persecution like the churches of Judea 2:14a
b. Reason*Persecution from Jews: The reason Paul compares the Thessalonians with the churches of Judea is because they have endured persecution from the Jews just as they persecuted Jesus, the prophets, and the apostles being unpleasing to God as they heap sin upon sin for judgment 2:14b-16
1) Similar Persecution: The reason Paul compares the Thessalonians with the churches of Judea is because they have endured similar persecution from the Jews 2:14b
2) History of Persecution: The Jews not only persecuted the Judean churches but also killed Jesus and the prophets, and drove the apostles out of Jerusalem 2:15a
3) Sin towards Judgment: The persecuting Jews are not pleasing to God, but are increasing their sin toward judgment as they hinder the missionary team from speaking the gospel to the Gentiles 2:15b-16
D. The Concern and Confirmation of the Missionary Team: Being unable to come as a team to the Thessalonians because of Satan’s hindering of them, the missionary team sent Timothy to them to aid their thinking about the persecution, and were encouraged when he returned with good news about their spiritual state and about their love for them all 2:17--3:10
1. Their Concern: The missionary team wished to come to the Thessalonians more than once because they valued them so highly, but Satan held them, especially Paul, back 2:17-20
a. Eager to Come: The missionary team has missed the Thessalonians and was eager to come to them again 2:17
b. Held Back by Satan: The missionary team wanted to come, especially Paul more than once, but was held back by the working of Satan 2:18
c. Importance of Thessalonians: The reason the missionary team wanted to come to the Thessalonians was because they are the most important part of life to them for which God will one day honor them 2:19-20
2. Their Confirmation: Out of concern for the state of the Thessalonians after the persecution, Timothy was sent to them, and returned with a good report that greatly encouraged the missionary team about the continuance of their work in Thessalonica 3:1-10
a. The Sending of Timothy: Out of concern for the Thessalonians, Paul sent Timothy in order to encourage them about the persecution, and in order to learn about the state of their faith because of the persecution 3:1-5
1) Decision to Send Timothy: When the missionary team could endure their separation from the Thessalonians no longer, they decided to send Timothy from where they were in Athens in order to strengthen and encourage the Thessalonians in their faith 3:1-2
2) Purpose in Sending Timothy: The purpose behind the sending of Timothy was so that the Thessalonians would not loose their balance (go back and forth, τὸ σαίνεσθαι) due to the persecutions 3:3a
3) Design of Suffering: The reason the Thessalonians were not to loose their spiritual balance was because they understood that this was part of God’s design for the missionary team (Acts 9:15-16) just as they said it would come to pass 3:3-4
4) Risk of Satan: Because of the risk that Satan could have upset the faith of the Thessalonians through the persecutions, Paul sent Timothy to find out about their welfare 3:5
b. The Report from Timothy: When Timothy returned with a good report concerning the spiritual state of the Thessalonians, and about their love for the missionary team, the team was very encouraged, and could not thank God enough 3:6-10
1) Timothy’s Return with Good News: Timothy returned with good news about the spiritual state of the Thessalonians, and about their love for the missionary team 3:6
2) Comfort for Team: Because of the good report from Timothy about the Thessalonians, the missionary team was comforted in the midst of their continuing persecution because their work among the Thessalonians lives on 3:7-8
3) Thanks to God: The missionary team can hardly thank God enough for His good work among them when they were not able to return to complete their work 3:9-10
E. Prayer for the Thessalonians’ Endurance: The missionary team prays that God might grant them the ability to come to the Thessalonians, but also that God would increase their love for men so that they might not sin due to the persecution, but receive reward for holy living when Jesus returns 3:11-13
1. Enablement to Return: The missionary team prays that God the Father and Son may enable the missionary team to come to the Thessalonians 3:11
2. Increase in Love: The missionary team prays that the Thessalonians may increase to an overflowing state in their love for each other and all men just as the missionary team loves them 3:12
3. Reason for The Prayer*Reward: reason the missionary team prays that the Thessalonians would abound in love is so that they will be honored by the Lord at His coming for them (at the rapture with the dead saints to receive their bodies; cf. 4:14), rather than lose it (due to sinful responses to persecution) 3:13
III. The Present*Exhortations to Live Their Faith: The missionary team exhorts the Thessalonians to exceed in their sanctification, have a patient hope for the future, remain spiritually alert, honor their leaders, and to keep a vital walk with God knowing that God will enable them 4:1--5:24
A. With Respect to Love: Paul exhorts the Thessalonians to exceed in what he taught them in order that they might be sanctified in their relationship with God and love men 4:1-12
1. Concerning Their Love for God: Beginning the final section of the letter, the missionary team exhorts the Thessalonians to continue in their walk with God by abstaining from all sexual immorality by controlling their bodies because this is a sin against God 4:1-8
a. Introduction: Paul introduces the final, paraenetic division of this letter with the phrase, “Finally then” (Λοιπὸν οὖν); cf. Phil. 3:1) 4:1a
b. Excel Even More: The missionary team exhorts the Thessalonians to excel even more in their God-pleasing Christian life (walk) 4:1b
c. Reminder of Commandments: The missionary team reminds the Thessalonians of the commandments which they gave to them in accordance with God’s will for their sanctification (ἁγιασμὸς) unto God which include abstaining from all sexual immorality 4:2-6
1) Sanctification: The missionary team gave the Thessalonians commandments from the Lord for their sanctification 4:2-3a
2) Abstain from Sexual Immorality: The commandments which the missionary team gave to the Thessalonians were that they should abstain from sexual immorality with temple prostitutes, or through adultery by controlling their own bodies because God will avenge these things 4:3b-6
a) Generally: The Thessalonians are warned to abstain from sexual immorality (προνείας) 4:3b
b) Specifically (Love God): Each one of the Thessalonians should know how to gain control of (κτᾶσθαι) his own body (ἑαυτοῦ σκεῦος, cf. 2 Cor. 4:7; 1 Pet. 3:7) in a way which is holy (ἁγιασμῷ; cf. 4:3), and honorable (Τιμῇ; cf. 1 Cor. 6:20; Rom. 1:24), rather than in lustful passions as the Gentiles do (perhaps through temple prostitution) 4:4-5
c) Specifically (Love Your Neighbor): The Thessalonians were instructed to abstain from sexual immorality through adultery with one’s neighbor because the Lord will avenge these things 4:6
d. Reason for God’s Calling: The reason the Thessalonians should abstain from sexual immorality is because God has not called them to be impure, but to be set apart (ἁγιασμῷ) to Him 4:7
e. Rejection of Teaching: Therefore (τοιγαροῦν, emphatic), the missionary team affirms that to reject this teaching about immorality is not to reject man, but to reject God who gives the Holy Spirit to you (cf. 1 Cor. 6:9; it is a sin against God!) 4:8
2. Concerning (περὶ δὲ) their Love for the Brethren: Even though the Thessalonians already know the instruction from the Lord and are practicing brotherly love toward all in Macedonia, the missionary team exhorts them to excel even more in their brotherly love 4:9-10
a. Love for the Brethren: The missionary team now writes concerning (περὶ δὲ) love for the brethren (φιλαδελφίας) 4:9a
b. Already Taught: The missionary team does not consider this topic of brotherly love as necessary to write about since God has already taught them (through he commandments of Jesus, and the Holy Spirit) to love one another 4:9b
c. Increase in Love: The missionary team acknowledges that the Thessalonians are already loving those in Macedonia, but urges them to increase in their brotherly love 4:10
3. Concerning their Love for the Lost: The missionary team exhorts the Thessalonians to live in a moral and industrious way toward those outside of the community so that they might continue in their jobs 4:11-12
a. Live in a Peaceful Way: The missionary team exhorts the Thessalonians to be energetic about living in a morally, and ethically peaceful way1 4:11a
b. Continue at Work: The missionary team exhorts the Thessalonians to continue at their work as they were commanded to 4:11b
c. Reason for Testimony: The reason the moral and industrial charges are given to the Thessalonians is so that they may conduct themselves well with those outside of the church and not be in need (because they had lost their jobs) 4:12
B. With Respect to the Future: Paul instructs the Thessalonians about the Future so that they might presently have a patient hope 4:13-18
1. The Resurrection of Sleeping Saints2: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to not grieve over the dead as unbelievers do, but to be comforted by a revelation from the Lord that the dead in Christ will be raised first at the Lord’s return, and then the living church will be caught up together with them to meet and be with the Lord in the air 4:13-18
a. Resurrection of the Dead: The missionary team writes about the resurrection of sleeping (κοιμωμὲνων; cf. 1 Ki. 2:10) saints because they do not want the Thessalonians to be uninformed (ἀγνοωεῖν), and thus excessively grieving like unbelievers, about those believers who had died before the Lord returned 4:13
b. Assurance through Christ: The first reason Christians should not grieve as unbelievers is because Jesus’ death and resurrection is assurance that God will bring believing Christians who have died with Jesus when he returns 4:14
c. The second reason Christians should not grieve as unbelievers is because of a revelation which Paul (and the team?) received from the Lord about what will occur when the Lord returns 4:15-17
1) Word from the Lord: The missionary team has a word from the Lord about what will occur when the Lord returns 4:15a
2) Those Alive: Those who are alive and are on earth until the Lord comes (παρουσίαν) will not possibly (οὐ μὴ) precede those who have died 4:15b
3) First the Dead, Then the Living: The reason the living will not precede the dead in Christ is because (ὅτι) the Lord will descend with a significant life-quickening command, and the dead in Christ shall rise first (πρῶτον) and then (ἕπειτα) those who are alive and remain on earth will be caught up3 together with the dead in Christ in the Clouds to meet the Lord in the air and to remain forever with the Lord 4:16-17
Reason: The reason the living will not precede the dead in Christ is because the Lord himself will descend from heaven with a life-quickening command4 4:16
d. Exhortation To Comfort One Another: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to comfort one another about the dead with this immediately preceding revelation from the Lord Himself (cf. 4:15) 4:18
C. The Coming Day of the Lord: Knowing that the coming day of wrath is not designed for the Thessalonians, the missionary team urges them to be spiritually alert 5:1-11
1. There is a Coming Day of Wrath: Paul affirms that the Thessalonians already know that a future time of wrath will come in a hostile, unexpected way upon the sons of darkness, but the Thessalonians will not be included in that judgment because they are sons of light 5:1-5
a. New Topic: A new topic is addressed concerning (περὶ δὲ) the coming events (times and seasons) of which the Thessalonians have already been informed (cf. 4:9) 5:1
b. Wrath Like a Thief: The Thessalonians know well that the Day of the Lord (a time of judging wrath; cf. Acts 2:20; 2 Pet. 3:10; 2 Thess. 2:2) will come in a hostile, unexpected way (like a thief) 5:2
c. Support of Coming Wrath: Support that the coming wrath will be hostile and unexpected is given through the future image of people proclaiming a time of security (Dan. 9:27) when sudden, unavoidable destruction will inescapably come upon them (αὐτοῖς, not “you”) 5:3
d. Thessalonians Will Not Be Overtaken: In contrast to those who will be overtaken by the coming day of wrath, Paul affirms that the Thessalonians will not be overtaken by the day of wrath because they are sons of light rather than sons of night and darkness 5:4-5
1) Not in Darkness: In contrast (δέ) to “those” who will experience the coming Day of the Lord, Paul affirms that the Thessalonians are not in darkness to be overtaken by the Day 5:4
2) Sons of Day: The reason the Thessalonians will not be overtaken by the day is because they are sons of the day (God) rather than night and darkness 5:5
2. Application of the Day of the Lord to Readers: Paul now applies the doctrine of the Day of the Lord to the conduct his readers by urging them to encourage one another to be spiritually alert, unlike the children of darkness, because Jesus died to deliver them from wrath to salvation 5:6-11
a. Don’t Be Careless, Be Alert: In view of the above doctrine on the Day of the Lord Paul concludes (ἄρα οὗν) that the Thessalonians should not be careless about their lives (“sleep”) as those who are sons of the darkness do, but rather be alert and sober as those expecting the Lord’s coming 5:6
b. Reason for Being Alert*Christ’s Death: Paul urges the Thessalonians to be spiritually alert, unlike the unsuspecting sons of darkness, because Christ has died for them so that they might not be subject to wrath, but to salvation 5:7-10
1) Reason for Imagery of Sleep: The reason Paul used the imagery of sleeping is because those who are not of God (the sons of darkness) are not spiritually alert: they sleep, and are under the influence of alcohol at night 5:7
2) Be Sober: In contrast (δὲ) to those who are not spiritually alert, the Thessalonians are urged to be spiritually prepared (sober) by having their spiritual armor on: their faith in God who loves them, and their hope of future salvation from wrath 5:8
3) Not Destined for Wrath: The reason the Thessalonians should, and can be spiritually prepared is because of the fact that God has not destined Christians for wrath, but for Salvation through the death of Jesus Christ regardless of our spiritual preparedness 5:9-10
a) Reason: The reason (ὅτι) the Thessalonians should be spiritually prepared is because God has not destined Christians for wrath (εἰς ὀργὴν), but (ἀλλὰ) to obtain salvation 5:9a
b) Salvation through Christ: The salvation which God has destined Christians for it through (διὰ) the Lord Jesus Christ 5:9b
c) Death Is to Live: The death of the Lord Jesus Christ was in order that (ἵνα) all believers could live with Him whether they were spiritually alert or lethargic (“awake or asleep”, cf. 5:6-8) 5:10
c. Build Up One Another: As a consequence to the above discussion Paul urges the Thessalonians to build up (οἰκοδομεῖτε, encourage) one another 5:11
D. With Respect to the Church:5 The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to honor their leaders and keep their walk vital with God knowing that God will enable them in their sanctification 5:12-24
1. To the Congregation: The missionary team urges the congregation to not be a body in unrest, but to appreciate, highly esteem, and love their leaders because of their labor among them 5:12-13
a. Appreciate Church Leaders: The missionary team exhorts the Thessalonians to appreciate the church leaders who labor among them, have charge over them, and instruct them 5:12
b. Hold Leaders in High Regard: The missionary team exhorts the Thessalonians to hold the church leaders in the highest possible regard and to love them because of their work 5:13a-b
c. Be at Peace: The missionary team exhorts the congregation to be at peace among themselves (ἐν ἑαυτοῖς) [rather than anarchy] 5:13c
2. To the Congregation and It’s Leaders Concerning Personal Relationships: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians as brethren to relate to one another, and to all men in sensitive love 5:14-15
a. Correct: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians as brethren to correct (instruct) those who are loafing, and neglecting their daily duty (the disorderly) 5:14a
b. Encourage: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians as brethren to comfort (encourage) those who are easily discouraged (the fainthearted) 5:14b
c. Support: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians as brethren to help (support) the weak (in faith) 5:14c
d. Be Patient: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians as brethren to be patient with all men (implying that some are not as strong as others) 5:14d
e. Seek after What Is Good: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians as brethren to not seek retribution upon one another, but to seek after that which is good for one another and for all men 5:15
3. To the Congregation Concerning Personal Living: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to keep their walk with God vital 5:16-24
a. Rejoice: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to rejoice at all times 5:16
b. Pray Continually: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to pray continually (in perseverance) 5:17
c. Give Thanks: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to give thanksgiving to God in every situation because (γὰρ) this is God’s will 5:18
d. Do Not Quench the Spirit: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to not quench (σβέννυτε) the Spirit (who is working in you, or in others) 5:19
e. Do Not Despise Prophecies: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to not despise (depreciate) prophecies (this may be the area in which they were quenching the Spirit), but to examine everything (prophecy) carefully, and to hold fast to that which is good, while they abstain from that which is evil 5:20-22
4. To the Congregation Concerning God’s Enablement: The missionary team prays for God’s work of sanctification among the Thessalonians, and reminds them that He will be faithful to complete that work of sanctification 5:23-24
a. God May Sanctify the Thessalonians: The missionary team prays that the God who is characterized by peace may Himself set the Thessalonians entirely apart unto Himself in blamelessness until the Lord’s coming (cf. 3:11-13) 5:23
b. Trustworthiness of God: The missionary team reminds the Thessalonians that just as God’s calling of them was trustworthy, so will his completion of his call (their sanctification) be trustworthy 5:24
IV. Conclusion: The missionary team, and especially Paul, close their letter by requesting prayer, urging personal expressions of unity, exhorting the Thessalonians to read this letter to all the brethren, and praying that they would experience God’s grace 5:25-28
A. Pray for the Team: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to also pray for them, as they pray for the Thessalonians 5:25
B. Greet with Affection: The missionary team urges the Thessalonians to greet one another with personal affection demonstrating their unity (a holy kiss) 5:26
C. Have This Letter Read: Paul exhorts the Thessalonians in a responsible oath before the Lord to have this letter read to all of the brethren 5:27
D. Prayer for Grace: Paul closes the letter praying that they might have (enjoy, experience) the grace (1:1) of their Lord Jesus Christ with them 5:28
1 The term is ἡσυχάξειν; cf. Louw and Nida, II:742,754.
2 This unit may well be a response to concern among the Thessalonians that the dead would not be raised until the end of the Tribulation with Jewish saints and thus would not be present at the rapture of living saints (Dan. 12:1-2). Perhaps they thought the rapture would happen before anybody died. Now they wonder -- will the dead be left out? They knew about the rapture, but not how it related to the resurrection of dead Christians.
3 The term is ἁρπαγησόμεθα; “rapture” comes from the Latin, “rapere.”
4 This may not be three different commands but one with significance for different people because of the ascensive use of καὶ (even). A “shout” (ἐν κελεύσματι, command) may have reference to the church. The voice of an archangel (ἐν φωνῇ ἀρχαγγέλου) may have reference to Israel (cf. Jude 9; 1 Enoch 20:1-7). And the Trumpet of God may have reference to Old Testament Gentile saints (1 Cor. 15:52; Rev. 11:15).
5 The anticipation of the rapture seemd to lead people to live un-orderly lives.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Book Of ColossiansRelated Media
The Supremacy Of Christ Jesus Over The Old And New Creations Provides A Basis For Not Being Led Astray By False Teachers Who Propose Mysterious Ways Of Becoming Closer To God, And Provides A Basis For How One Enters Into Relationships With Other Believers As Well As Those Outside Of The Faith
I. Introduction: After introducing himself and Timothy to the Colossians, Paul gives thanks to the Lord for their faith in Him and love for the brethren in accordance with their certain hope of future glory, and intercedes in prayer on behalf of the Colossians that they might increase in their knowledge of the Lord so that they might live their lives in a way which pleases Him 1:1-14
A. Introductory Greeting: Paul introduces himself as an apostle and Timothy as their brother to the believers at Colossae who are faithful in Christ 1:1-2
1. Paul: Paul introduces himself as an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will2 1:1a
2. Timothy: Paul introduces Timothy as the Colossians’ brother 1:1b
3. Brethren at Colossae: Paul writes to the brethren at Colossae whom he identifies as being faithful and in Christ3 1:2a
4. Prayer: Paul prays that the Colossians might experience both grace and peace from God their Father 1:2b
B. Thanksgiving--Faith-Love-Hope and the Gospel: Paul gives thanksgiving for the Colossians’ faith in God and love for other believers in accordance with their certain hope of glory which they received through Epaphras’ proclamation of the true gospel message 1:3-8
1. Faith and Love: Paul gives thanksgiving to God for the Colossians’ faith in God and love for other believers 1:3-4
2. Hope: The Colossians’ acts of faith and love are based on their certain hope (of glory through Christ himself)4 that is kept safe for them in heaven 1:5a
3. Gospel: The hope which motivates the Colossians’ faith and love came through the true gospel message which Epaphras first taught them on behalf of the apostolic team 1:5-8
a. The hope (of glory) which motivates the Colossians’ faith and love came through the true gospel message which came to them and is likewise bearing fruit (of Christian life and testimony) wherever else it has gone5 (in all the world) 1:5b-6
b. The gospel message came to the Colossians through Epaphras, Paul’s fellow servant, who ministers Christ to the Colossians on the apostolic team’s behalf6 and has made known to Paul their love in the Spirit 1:7-8
C. Prayer--An Intercession for Knowledge and Godly Conduct: In view of Epaphras’ report, Paul continually prays that the Colossians may be filled with knowledge of God so that they might walk in a way which pleases Him 1:9-14
1. Content of Prayer--Knowledge of God’s Will: In view of Epaphras’ report, Paul continually prays that the Colossians may be filled7 with knowledge8 of God’s will so that they might possess true spiritual insight (in all spiritual wisdom and understanding)9 1:9
2. Purpose of Prayer--Walk Worthily:10 Paul prays that the Colossians may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in order that they might live in a way which is pleasing to Him by doing good works, increasing in their knowledge of Him, being strengthened in his might, and giving thanks to him for his redemptive work 1:10-12a
a. Statement: Paul prays that the Colossians may be filled with knowledge of God’s will in order that they might walk (or live their lives) in a manner which is worthy of the Lord in that it is pleasing to Him 1:10a
b. Specific Examples:11 Ways in which believers may live their lives in a way which is pleasing to the Lord are by doing good works, increasing in knowledge of him, being strengthened in the Lord’s might, and giving thinks for His redeeming work which has led to their future inheritance 1:9b-14
1) Bearing Fruit:12 One way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by doing good works 1:10b
2) Increasing in Knowledge: Another way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by increasing in one’s knowledge of Him 1:10c
3) Being Strengthened in Spiritual Power:13 Another way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by being strengthened in all (spiritual) power in accordance with His great strength resulting in endurance, patience and joy 1:11
4) Giving Thanks for God’s Work with Believers:14 Another way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by giving thanks to the Father who has qualified believers to share in the inheritance of the saints by the redemptive work of his Son through whom he has transferred believers from the rule of darkness to the rule of light in the Son 1:12-14
a) Statement: One way to lead a life which is pleasing to the Lord is by giving thanks to the father 1:12a
b) Reasons: One should give thanks to the Lord because of his work to bring about the believer’s inheritance in the spiritual realm of light by the Lord’s deliverance of them from darkness and transferal of them to the Son’s domain 1:12b-14
(1) Inheritance: One should give thanks to the Father because he has enabled believers to share in the inheritance of the saints in the spiritual realm of light 1:12b
(2) Deliverance from Darkness' Domain: One should give thanks to the Father because he has delivered believers from the realm of spiritual darkness 1:13a
(3) Transference to the Son's Domain: One should give thanks to the Father because he has transferred believers to the spiritual rule of his Son through whom believers have redemption and forgiveness of sins 1:13b-14
II. Doctrinal/Theological Instruction: In view of Christ as the preeminent One over the present and new creations who has reconciled the hostile Colossians to himself, Paul labors and suffers in order to encourage all men, and especially the Colossians to be mature in Christ rather than being derailed in their faith by the persuasive speech of the false teachers 1:15--2:5
A. The Person of Christ:15 Paul affirms the uniqueness of Christ as the preeminent One over the present creation as well as the new creation because he is the exact expression of God, the unique heir of creation, and the head of the Church 1:15-20
1. In Relation to God: Christ is the image16 of the invisible God 1:15a
2. In Relation to Creation: Christ is the unique heir of creation because he is separate from it: all things were created in His sphere, through Him, for Him; He existed before all things and; He sustains all things 1:15b-17
a. Heir: Christ is the first-born17 (heir) of all creation 1:15b
c. Before: The reason Christ has a unique position in creation (first-born) is because He is before22 all things 1:17a
d. Sustains: The reason Christ has a unique position in creation (first-born) is because all things hold together in Him23 1:17b
3. In Relation to the Church: Jesus is supreme in the church because he is the head of the metaphorical body by being the first-born of the dead in order that he might be premier in all things since God revealed Himself in Christ and reconciled all things through Christ 1:18-21
a. Head: Jesus is supreme in the church because he is the head of the metaphorical body (of Christ) 1:18a
b. Premier: Jesus is the beginning of the church by being the first-born of the dead in order that he might become premier in all things because God choose to have the fullness of who He is dwell in Christ, and because God choose to reconcile all things to Himself through Christ 1:18b-20
1) Founder: Jesus is the beginning (of the church) by being the first-born of those who have died24 1:18b
2) Purpose: Jesus is the first-born in creation and in resurrection in order that he might become preeminent in all things because God choose to have the fullness of who He is dwell in Christ and because God choose to reconcile all things to Himself through Christ 1:18c-20
b) Reason Stated: The reason Christ is preeminent is because (ο῞τι) God choose to have the fullness of who He is dwell in Christ, and because God reconciled all of the universe to Himself through the death of Christ on the Cross 1:19-20
(1) Fullness: All of the fullness27 of God was pleased to dwell in Christ 1:19
(2) Reconciliation: God reconciled all things28 to Himself through Christ by making peace through the blood of His cross 1:20
B. The Exhortations for Steadfastness: Jesus has reconciled the Colossians who were once His enemies in order to present them as mature in the faith, and Paul constantly proclaims God’s mysterious work of unification of Jews and Gentiles in order for all men and especially the Colossians to remain steadfast in their good Christian conduct and faith in Christ against the persuasive speech of the false teachers 1:21--2:5
1. The Work Applied:29 Jesus reconciled the Colossians who were once His enemies in order to present them as holy, blameless and irreproachable by remaining steadfast in their faith in Him 1:21-23
a. Reconciliation Applied: Jesus has reconciled through His bodily death on the cross the Colossians who once were estranged and hostile in mind towards God doing evil deeds 1:21-22a
b. Purpose of Reconciliation: God reconciled the hostile Colossians to Himself in order to present (παραστῆσαι) them holy, blameless, and irreproachable30 before Him 1:22b
c. Condition31--Orthodoxy to the Apostolic Gospel: The condition to being “holy, blameless, and irreproachable before Christ” is that the Colossians continue in a stable, steadfast way in the faith which has been preached to mankind and of which Paul is a minister 1:23
2. The Work Proclaimed--Paul’s Ministry to Present Believers Morally and Doctrinally Pure: Paul suffers in his body and labors intently on behalf of all men and particularly the Colossians in order to present them morally and doctrinally mature in Christ against the persuasive speech of the false teachers 1:24--2:5
a. Paul’s Sufferings: Paul rejoices during this present time in his sufferings for the Colossians as one who fulfills the messianic woes that usher in the end times for the sake of His Body--the Church 1:24
1) Rejoices: Paul rejoices during this present time when the gospel is being proclaimed (now) in his sufferings32 for the sake of the Colossians 1:24a
2) Fills Up: Paul fills up in his body what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions33 for the sake of His body which is the Church 1:24b
b. Paul’s Task: Paul is a minister of the church to proclaim God’s revealed mystery which united Jews and Gentiles into one body through Christ, not only earnestly proclaiming this to all men so that they might be mature in Christ, but particularly proclaiming this to the Colossians and the churches of the Lycus valley in order that they might continue in their orderly Christian life and stability of faith against the persuasive words of the false teachers 1:25--2:4
1) Minister of the Word: Paul became a minister of the church according to the divine commission given to him, namely, to make the word of God fully known34 1:25
2) Content of the Word--The Mystery: The content of the word of God which Paul is making completely known is the mystery35 which was hidden,36 but now is revealed to His saints,37 namely, God’s glorious work among the Gentiles38 1:26-27
3) The Goal in General--Maturity for All Men: Paul, and those with him/like him,39 proclaim Christ with all of his God-given energy in ways which wisely warn and instruct every man40 in order that (ι῞να) they may present every man mature (τέλειον) in Christ 1:28-29
4) The Goal in Particular--Maturity for the Colossians:41 In particular Paul affirms that he is striving for the Colossians and all of the churches of the Lycus valley in order that they might know through their unity that they do understand the riches of Christ, rather than being derailed from their orderly Christian life and stable faith by the persuasive speech of the false teachers 2:1-5
a) Paul’s Striving Stated: Paul affirms that he greatly strives for the Colossians, those at Laodicea, and for all the churches who have not personally seen him 2:1
b) Purpose of Paul’s Striving: Paul strives for the Colossians, Laodiceans, and all of the churches in order that (ι῞να) their hearts may be encouraged (as they find unity in love) to have all of the riches of assured understanding and knowledge of God’s uniting of the body (mystery of Christ) in Christ who has all wisdom and knowledge42 2:2-3
c) Paul’s Concern of the Colossians: Paul expresses his desire for all of the churches of the Lycus valley in order that (ι῞να) they might not be deluded by false teachers (those with beguiling speech) because in his physical absence Paul is still with them in spirit rejoicing over the news of their orderly Christian life and their stability of faith in Christ (cf. 1:7-8) 2:4-5
III. Polemical--Warnings Against Error: With an interchange between positive and negative exhortations Paul exhorts the Colossians to live their lives in relationship to Christ with a focus upon their lives with Him in heaven to be revealed when He returns rather than upon earthly matters which the false teachers propose to experience a closer relationship with Him through legalism, mysticism and aestheticism 2:6--3:4
A. Positive Exhortation:43 Paul concludes his above discussion by urging the Colossians to live in Christ just as they received Him by being rooted, built up in Him, established in the faith which they were taught, and abounding in thanksgiving 2:6-7
1. Exhortation: Paul concludes from the above discussion of Christ and Paul’s ministry on behalf of the churches that the Colossians live in Christ the Lord just as they received Him44 2:6
2. Explanation:45 Paul explains that living in Christ is a faith-walk (περιπατεῖτε ) characterized by being rooted and built up in Him,46 being established in the faith just as they were taught, and abounding in thanksgiving47 2:7
B. Negative Exhortations: Paul exhorts the Colossians to beware of the deceptive philosophy of the false teachers because the Colossians have already attained to fullness of life through Christ; therefore, they should not allow the false teachers to judge them for not keeping the code of the Mosaic Law, condemn them for not entering into mystic experiences, or urge them to submit to regulations which they are no longer under so that they might become closer to God 2:8-23
1. Negative Exhortation to Beware of Deceptive Philosophy: Paul exhorts the Colossians to beware of the deceptive philosophy of the false teachers because the Colossians have already attained to fullness of life through Christ by their death (true circumcision), burial (true identification), and resurrection (true life from the dead) with Christ 2:8-15
a. Beware of Philosophy: Paul exhorts the Colossians to beware of being taken captive by the deceptive philosophy of the false teachers which is dependent upon human tradition, derived from the elemental powers of the world and not from Christ 2:8
2) Philosophy described: Paul describes the philosophy of the false teachers as depending on mere human tradition,50 being derived from the elemental powers of the world,51 and not being from Christ 2:8b
b. The Work of Christ as a Contrast to the False Philosophy: The reason the Philosophy of the false teachers is not of Christ is because the Colossians have already fully attained of the benefits which the false teachers are proposing through their teaching: fullness of life, by means of their own death (true circumcision), burial (true identification),and (resurrection) true life 2:9-15
1) Fullness of Life: Paul argues that the philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because (ο῞τι) the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily in Christ52 and thus the Colossians have come to a fullness of life in Him who is the head of all rule and authority53 2:9-10
2) Incorporation with Christ: Paul argues that the philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because (ο῞τι) the Colossians have already attained oneness with God through their death (true circumcision), burial (true identification with God), and resurrection (true life through Christ)54 2:11-15
a) True Circumcision--Death: The Philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because the Colossians have been spiritually circumcised by the gruesome death of Christ55 2:11
b) True Identification-Burial: The philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because the Colossians have been fully identified with Christ through a spiritual baptism into his death and resurrection 2:12
c) True Life--Resurrection: The philosophy of the false teachers is not from Christ because the Colossians have been truly made alive (as dead Gentiles)56 by being forgiven of all of their trespasses through the death of Christ which canceled our legal debt and disarmed the angelic (demonic) realms which kept the Colossians in their grip through the possession of the legal document57 2:13-15
2. Negative Exhortation to Separate from Legalism: In view of the above affirmation that the Colossians experience the fullness of the Godhead in Christ, Paul urges them not to let anyone pass judgment upon them for not keeping the code of the Mosaic Law because the Law was transitory to the real relationship with God that was to come through Christ 2:16-17
a. Do Not Be Judged: As a conclusion from the above affirmation that the Colossians experience the fullness of the Godhead in Christ (ου῟ν) Paul exhorts them not to let anyone pass judgment upon them for not keeping the code of the Mosaic Law (a religious festival, a new moon celebration, or a sabbath day) 2:16
b. Reason--A Transitory Order Fulfilled in Christ: The reason Paul exhorts the Colossians not to allow anyone to pass judgment upon them for not keeping the code of the Mosaic Law is because those observances were shadows58 of things that were to come whose reality is found in Christ59 2:17
3. Negative Exhortation to Separate from Mysticism: As a conclusion from the above affirmation that the Colossians experience the fullness of the Godhead in Christ Paul exhorts them not to let anyone condemn them for not entering into mystic experiences in order to be close to God because those who do such things are arrogant and are not holding fast to Christ as the Head of the Body 2:18-19
a. Do Not Be Condemned: As a conclusion from the above affirmation that the Colossians experience the fullness of the Godhead in Christ (ου῟ν) Paul exhorts them not to let anyone condemn (καταβραβεύω) them for not entering into mystic experiences in order to be close to God60 2:18
b. Reasons--Arrogance and Abandonment of Christ: The reasons Paul exhorts the Colossians not to let any one condemn them for not entering into mystic experiences in order to be close to God is because those who do such are puffed up with idle notions from an unspiritual mind,61 and because they are not holding fast to Christ who is the Head who causes the body to grow in unity (from whom the whole body, nourished and held together by its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God)62 2:19
4. Negative Exhortation to Separate from Asceticism: In view of the death which the Colossians died with Christ to the control of the elemental things of the world, Paul questions their submission to regulations regarding things like food since these things will perish, are man made, and lead to self-gratification 2:20-23
a. A Question of Submission to Regulations: In view of the Colossians death with Christ to the control of the elemental things of the world,63 Paul inquires about how the Colossians can voluntarily place themselves under the regulations as if they still lived in a worldly way 2:20
b. Examples of Submission to Regulations: Paul describes the regulations to which the Colossians are submitting themselves: (1) Do not handle!, (2) Do not taste!, (3) Do not even touch!”64 2:21
c. Reasons One Should Not Submit to Regulations: Paul explains that one should not submit to regulations because they are transitory, human inventions, and lead to self-gratification 2:22-23
1) They Will Perish: One should not submit to regulations because physical things (food?) are destined to perish with use 2:22a
2) They are Human Inventions:65 One should not submit to regulations because they are based on human commands and teachings 2:22b
3) They Lead to Self-Gratification: One should not submit to regulations because they lead to the gratification of the flesh through one gaining a reputation for wisdom in the valueless spheres of voluntary worship,66 humility and severe treatment of the body 2:23
C. Positive Exhortation--Seek Heavenly Things:67 Paul concludes his polemic against the false teaching by urging the Colossians as those who have positionally died and been raised with Jesus to focus upon Christ and His heavenly rule rather than upon the earthly things of the false teachers because their lives are presently secure with Christ in heaven to be revealed in glory when He returns 3:1-4
1. Seek the Things Above: Paul concludes his polemic against the false teaching by urging the Colossians as those who have been positionally raised with Christ68 to seek the heavenly realm (things above)69 where Christ rules at its center (is seated a God’s right hand)70 3:1
2. Think on the Things Above: Paul urges the Colossians to have a mindset towards the things above rather than earthly things because their lives are presently hidden with Christ in God, but will be revealed with Christ in greatness at His coming 3:2-4
a. Statement: Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their minds on the things above rather than upon earthly things71 3:2
b. The Reasons: The reason Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their minds on the things above is because (γὰρ) their lives are presently hidden with Christ in God as those who have died with Him, and will be revealed with Christ in greatness at His return 3:3-4
1) First Reason: The reason Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their minds on the things above is because (γὰρ) they have positionally died with Christ (to the old order of the false teachers)72 and their life is now hidden with Christ73 in God 3:3
2) Second Reason: The reason Paul exhorts the Colossians to set their minds on the things above is because the Colossians’ life will be fully revealed with Christ in greatness when Christ, who is our life, is revealed at His coming (parousia) 3:4
IV. Lifestyle Exhortations--The Practice of the Life of Christ:74 Paul urges the Colossians as a new people in Christ to put off all sorts of evil and to put on the graces of Christ in relationships--especially within household life as they express reciprocal responsibilities toward one another and towards outsiders as they pray for the gospel ministry among them and act wisely towards them 3:5--4:6
A. Personal and Church Life--Put Off and Put On: Through the imagery of clothing Paul urges the Colossians as a new people in Christ to “put off” all sorts of evil in relationships and to put on the graces of Christ which lead to unity and harmony through love 3:5-17
1. Negative Paraenesis—“Put to Death” Sins of the Past: Paul exhorts the Colossians to cease doing all sorts of evil in relationships (sexual and verbal) because God will come to judge just such evil, because they have undergone a personal change in their lives from and old self (in Adam) to a new self (in Christ), and because Christ’s unifying work has broken down all barriers to relationships 3:5-11
a. Put to Death: Paul exhorts the Colossians to cease doing sexual evil in relationships as they used to do in their old life because God will come in judgment upon those who do such things 3:5-6
2) Examples of Earthy Nature: Examples of one’s earthly nature are as follows:78 3:5b
a) Sexual immorality (πορνείαν)79
b) Impurity (ἀκαθαρσίαν)80
c) Lust (πάθος)81
d) evil desire (ἐπιθυμίαν κακήν)82
e) Covetousness which is idolatry (καί τήν πλεονεξίαν, η῞τις ἐστὶν εἰδωλολατρία)83
3) A Reason--The Wrath of God: Because God’s wrath is coming upon people who do the sinful expressions noted above, believers should put them to death 3:6
b. Put Off: Paul exhorts the Colossians through the imagery of clothing to take off their former sinful conduct which includes attitudes and words which divide the body 3:7-8
1) Imperatival Statement: Although the Colossians used to conduct their lives (walk) in sinful ways which will receive wrath, they are now to put them all away (off)84 3:7-8a
2) Examples of Former Life: Examples of the sinful ways which the Colossians are to put off are as follows: 3:8b
a) Anger (ὀργή)85
b) Rage (θυμός)
c) Malice (κακία)86
d) Slander (βλασφημία)87
e) Filthy language from your Lips (αἰσχρολογίαν ἐκ τοῦ στόματος ὑμῶν)88
c. Stop Lying: Paul exhorts the Colossians to stop speaking falsely to one another because of the personal change which has occurred in their lives, and because the former barriers have been removed through the unifying work of Christ 3:9-11
1) Imperatival Statement: Paul exhorts the Colossians to stop lying to one another89 3:9a
2) Reasons: The reasons the Colossians ought to stop lying to one another is because each of them has undergone a personal change from who they were (in Adam) to who they are (in Christ) and because the former barriers of relationship have been removed through the unifying work of Christ 3:9b-11
(1) Having Put Off: The reason the Colossian ought to stop lying to one another is because they have put off the old man with his practices92 3:9b
(2) Having Put On: The reason the Colossians ought to stop lying to one another is because they have put on the new man which is being renewed in knowledge according to the creator's image 3:10
b) No More Barriers: The reason the Colossians ought to stop lying to one another is because the social barriers have been broken and they are now unified through Christ:93 3:11
(1) National Barriers: There is no longer Greek and Jew; there is no longer circumcised and uncircumcised
(2) Cultural Barriers: There is no longer barbarian and Scythian94
(3) Social Barriers: There is no longer slave and free
2. Positive Paraenesis--”Put On” Christ: As God’s very special people, Paul urges the Colossians to cloth themselves with the graces that are characteristic of Christ and thus to live their lives as Christ would by interacting with one another in a manner which promotes peace and unity through love 3:12-17
a. Clothe Yourselves: As God’s very special people, Paul urges the Colossians to clothe themselves in relationships with the graces that are characteristic of the Lord resulting in love and harmony in the body 3:12-14
1) Imperatival Statement: As God’s holy, chosen, and loved one’s97 who have already put on the new man (3:10), the Colossians are to clothe themselves in relationships with the graces which are characteristic of the Lord 3:12a
a) Heartfelt Compassion (σπλάγχνα οἰκτιρμοῦ)
b) Kindness (χρηστότητα)100
c) Lowliness (ταπεινοφροσύνην)101
d) Gentleness (πραῦτητα)102
e) Longsuffering (μακροθυμίαν)103
3) Means of Putting on The Godly Characteristics: The Colossians are to put on the graces of God by forbearing with one another, forgiving one another, and most of all loving one another 3:13-14
a) Forbearing: The Colossians are to put on the graces of God by forbearing104 with one another 3:13a
b) Forgiving: The Colossians are to put on the graces of God by forgiving105 each other when one has a complaint against another just as Christ forgave them 3:13b-c
(1) Statement: The Colossians are to put on the graces of God by forgiving each other when one has a complaint against another 3:13b
(2) The Model of Motivation is Christ: The Colossians must forgive one another just as the Lord has forgiven them 3:13c
b. Live as Christ: Paul urges the Colossians to live their lives as Christ would by letting the peace which Christ brought to the body rule in the body, by becoming a thankful people to God, by teaching and admonishing one another in accordance with Christ’s instruction, and by doing all things in their lives in accordance with the character (name) of Christ 3:15-17
1) Let Christ’s Peace Rule: Paul urges the Colossians to let the peace of Christ rule in their hearts because they were called to be one body in peace 3:15a-b
b) Reason: The reason the Colossians should let Christ’s peace rule in their hearts is because they were called to be one body in peace 3:15b
2) Become Thankful: Paul exhorts the Colossians to become110 a thankful people to God 3:15c
3) Let Christ’s Word Dwell: Paul urges the Colossians to let the word of Christ richly dwell in them as they teach and admonish one another in harmony 3:16
a) Statement: Paul urges the Colossians to let the word of Christ111 richly dwell in them as they teach and admonish one another 3:16a
b) Means: Paul urges the Colossians to let the word of Christ richly dwell in them as they wisely teach and admonish one another in harmony with one another (e.g., with Spirit-inspired psalms, hymns, and songs, and by singing thankfully to God with their whole being)112 3:16b
4) Do All Things in the Name of Jesus: Paul urges the Colossians to do all things in their lives (word and deed) in a way which is consistent with the character (the name) of the Lord Jesus Christ giving thanks to God the Father through Him 3:17
B. “Be Subject” in Household Life--Christ’s Rule Should be Evidenced within Households:113 Paul urges a reciprocal responsibility to one another in households in view of Christ as their Lord:114 wives & husbands, children & parents/fathers, and slaves & masters 3:18--4:1
1. Wives & Husbands:115 Paul exhorts wives to submit themselves to their husbands, and counters with the obligation for husbands to love their wives and not to become embittered against them 3:18-19
a. Wives: Wives are exhorted to submit themselves to their husbands within the new fellowship of those who own Christ as Lord (as is fitting in the Lord)116 3:18
b. Husbands: Paul exhorts husbands to love their wives and not to become embittered against them 3:19
1) Love: Husbands are exhorted to love117 their wives 3:19a
2) Do Not Be Harsh: Husbands are exhorted to not be harsh118 with their wives 3:19b
2. Children & Parents/Fathers: Paul exhorts children to obey their parents in all that they do as that which is acceptable to the Lord and counters with an exhortation to fathers to stop stirring up their children with the result that they may become discouraged 3:20-21
a. Children and Parents: Paul exhorts children to obey their parents in all that they do because this is acceptable to the Lord 3:20
2) Reason--Acceptable: The reason (γὰρ) Paul exhorts Children to obey their parents in all things is because this obedience is pleasing (acceptable)121 to the Lord 3:20a
b. Fathers and Children: Paul urges fathers to stop provoking their children with the result that they may become discouraged 3:21
2) Not Discouraged: Fathers are not to provoke their children with the result that they may become discouraged124 3:21b
3. Servants & Masters: Paul urges slaves to completely obey their earthly masters from the heart knowing that they will be judge by the Lord, and counters by urging masters to treat their slaves justly and fairly knowing that they too will be accountable to the Lord as their judged and Master 3:22--4:1
a. Servants:125 Paul urges servants to completely obey their earthly masters from their hearts doing their work as for the Lord with the knowledge that He will reward them for their service, and deal with their evil 3:22-25
1) Entire Obedience: Paul urges slaves to give entire obedience126 to their earthly masters 3:22a
2) From the Heart: Paul urges slaves not to give their obedience only from an external viewpoint, but from their heart as they reverence (fear) the Lord127 3:22b
3) Work for the Lord: Paul urges slaves to do their work from the heart (soul) as for the Lord Christ and not just for men knowing that the Lord will reward them for their service 3:23-24
4) Warning: Paul also warns slaves that the Lord will not overlook their evil, but will repay them for wrong that they do128 4:25
b. Masters: Paul urges masters to treat their slaves justly and fairly knowing that they too will be accountable to the Lord as their Master and judge 4:1
1) Exhortation--Treat Justly and Fairly: Paul exhorts masters (οἱ κύριοι) to treat their slaves justly and fairly129 4:1a
2) Motivation--Their Lord: The reason masters are to treat their slaves justly and fairly is because they know that they too have a master in heaven130 4:1b
C. “Watch and Pray” in Earthly Life--Persistence in Prayer and Right Behavior Toward Outsiders:131 Paul urges the Colossians to persist in prayer for the Lord’s return as well as for Paul’s gospel ministry and to be wise in their behavior toward unbelievers taking every opportunity with gracious, yet appealing words in response to their questions 4:2-6
1. Intercession--Watching in Prayer for Themselves and Paul: Paul urges the Colossians to persevere in prayer for the Lord’s return as well as intercede for the gospel ministry through Paul and those with him 4:2-4
b. Intercede: Paul urges the Colossians to intercede in prayer for him and those with him134, namely, that God might open up a door135 for the gospel message136 and that he might make it known as he should 4:3-4
2. Missionary Responsibility--Walking with Unbelievers: Paul urges the Colossians to be wise in their behavior with unbelievers by snapping up every opportunity that comes with a gracious, yet appealing word in response to their questions 4:5-6
a. Walking in Wisdom: Paul urges the Colossians to be wise in their behavior towards unbelievers (outsiders)137 by snapping up every opportunity that comes with them 4:5
V. Conclusion--Personal Greetings, Instructions, and Benediction:140 Paul concludes his letter to the Colossians by commending their own Tychicus and Onesimus, by sending greetings from his Jewish and Gentile co-workers as well as to the church of Laodicea and Nympha along with the church in her house, by giving various instructions, and by praying for God’s grace to be upon the Colossians 4:7-18
A. Commendations: Paul commends Tychicus as a significant partner in the ministry and Onesimus as a faithful and loved brother 4:7-9
1. Tychicus:141 Paul commends Tychicus as a significant partner in the ministry and reports that he will inform them of all of the news concerning Paul and the team so as to encourage them 4:7-8
a. Commendation: Paul commends Tychicus as his beloved brother, a faithful minister and a fellow-servant in the Lord 4:7a
2. Onesimus:144 Paul commends Onesimus as being one of the Colossians’ own whom he regards as faithful and loved, and who will report everything concerning Paul to them along with Tychicus 4:9
a. Commendation: Paul commends Onesimus who is coming with Tychicus as being faithful, a beloved brother, and one of the Colossians 4:9a
b. Report: Paul again reports that Onesimus and Tychicus will tell them all that is happening with them in Paul’s imprisonment (Rome) 4:9b
B. Greetings: Paul sends greetings from the Jewish and Gentile co-workers among him as well as to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house 4:10-15
1. Jewish Greetings: Paul sends greetings from the few Jewish-Christian co-workers among him who provide him comfort--Aristarchus, Mark, and Justus 4:10-11
a. Aristarchus:145 Aristarchus, Paul’s fellow-prisoner, sends the Colossians greetings 4:10a
b. Mark:146 Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, sends the Colossians greetings and the Colossians are to welcome him in accordance with the instructions which they have already received if he comes to them 4:10b-c
1) Greeting: Mark, the cousin of Barnabas sends the Colossians greetings 4:10b
2) Welcome Mark: The Colossians are to welcome Mark if he comes to them in accordance with the instructions which they have already received 4:10c
c. Jesus/Justus: Jesus who is called Justice sends the Colossians greetings 4:11a
d. Jewish Summary: Aristarchus, Mark, and Justice are the only Jewish Christians among his fellow-workers for God’s kingdom, and they have been a comfort to Paul 4:11b
2. Gentile Greetings: Paul sends greetings from his Gentile co-workers among him--Epaphras, Dr. Luke, and Demas 4:12-14b
a. Epaphras: Paul sends greetings from Epaphras who is one of the Colossians and commends him as a servant of Christ who ministers on behalf of those in Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis 4:12-13
1) Greeting: Paul sends Greetings from Epaphras who is one of the Colossians and a servant of Christ Jesus 4:12a
2) Commendation: Paul commends Epaphras as always being in prayer for the Colossians that they may stand perfect in God’s will and that he works tirelessly for them as well as for the Laodiceans and those at Hierapolis 4:12b-13
a) Prayer: Paul commends Epaphras as one who is always striving in prayer for the Colossians that they may stand perfect and be filled with all that is God’s will 4:12b
b) Work: Paul vouches for Epaphras that he works tirelessly for the Colossians and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis 4:13
b. Dr. Luke: Paul sends greetings from their mutual friend Luke, the doctor 4:14a
c. Demas: Paul sends greetings from Demas 4:14b
3. Paul’s Greetings: Paul sends his greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, as well as to Nympha and the church in her house 4:15
C. Instructions: Paul instructs the Colossians to switch letters with the church at Laodicea, to urge Archippus to complete the ministry which he received in the Lord and to remember Paul’s bonds 4:16-17
1. Exchange Letters: After the Colossians have read this letter among them that are to give it to the church in Laodicea to read and are to read the letter sent by Paul to Laodicea147 4:16
2. Tell Archippus: Paul urges the Colossians to tell Archippus to complete the ministry which he received in the Lord 4:17
3. Remember Bonds: As Paul writes the greeting in his own hand he urges the Colossians to remember his bonds148 4:18a
D. Benediction: Paul prays that God’s grace might be with the Colossians 4:18b
1 This outline is a composite adaptation of several outlines by Stanley D. Toussaint, “Colossians” (unpublished class notes in 308 Pauline Epistles and Revelation, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1983), pp. 5-6; Curtis Vaughan, “Colossians,” in Expositor’s Bible Commentary, pp. 170-171, Herb Bateman, “Introductory Matters for Colossians” an unpublished paper, Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, p. liv, and my own work in the book of Colossians.
2 Paul seems to be establishing his credentials with a congregation who did not know him personally.
3 This would be significant in light of the attacks by the false teachers who were bringing the Colossians’ relationship with God into question as the false teachers sought a closer one through their religious activities.
4 See Colossians 1:27. This hope was part of the gospel which was preached to them (1:23).
5 Paul is foreshadowing his arguments against the heresy. This gospel is “true” and has spread world wide as opposed to the limited circle of the Colossian heresy!
6 The gospel probably came from Ephesus through Epaphras (Acts 19:10). Epaphras then reported about the welfare of the church to Paul.
7 The term is πληρωθῆτε.
8 The term is ἐπίγνωσιν.
9 Again, the content of this prayer should be seen in view of what the false teachers are promoting through their religious exercises. Paul is praying for a more intense knowledge (ἐπιγνωσις) than the false teachers’ knowledge (γνωσις). Paul’s prayer is for a knowledge which leads to godly living in accordance with wisdom and the Spirit, rather than the theoretical knowledge of the false teachers.
10 An infinitival construction indicates the purpose for which the readers are to be filled with knowledge (to walk worthily), and four participles define more precisely what is involved with walking worthily.
11 Though not developed at this point in the letter, all of these are in contrast to the effects of the false teachers’ “wisdom”.
12 This is in contrast with the works (religious asceticism and false humility) of the false teachers
13 These descriptions (endurance, joy, patience) hint at the enabling of the Holy Spirit who indwells believes and enables them to be obedient (cf. Galatians 5).
14 Many understand verses 12-14 to be in the style of a confession with its first person plurals (“we” and “us”).
15 Most NT scholars consider Colossians 1:15-20 to be a pre-Pauline “hymn” (or creed) which he incorporated into his letter.
It is true that the verses are in hymnic style. This is especially seen when the exalted language of 1:15-20 (without personal references) is compared against the direct speech of 1:21-23 (with personal references).
But it is not necessarily true that the verses are pre-Pauline. It could be that Paul was using a hymn which he had earlier composed with interpretative additions or expansions in view of his audience, or that Paul is expressing his beliefs about Christ in a hymnic style making use of a method which his readers would appreciate (cf. O’Brien, Colossians, pp. 40-42).
16 The phrase is εἰκων τοῦ θεοῦ. In Jesus the very nature and character of God have been perfectly revealed (cf. John 1:18; 2 Cor. 4:4,6; cf. 3:18; Heb. 1:3)
O’Brien understands image to include the Hellenistic-Jewish background of “wisdom” as the expression of divine revelation (“The LORD possessed me at the beginning of His way before His works of old [Proverbs 8:22, NASB];”For she is a breath of the power of God, and a pure emanation of the glory of the Almighty [Wisdom 7:25, RSV; cf. John 1:4; Heb. 1:3]; Colossians, pp. 43-44).
The term describes a derived likeness like a photograph--not an accidental likeness. It is an image derived from God. It is an image like on the coins of Caesar (cf. John 1:18; 14:9; 2 Cor. 4:4,6). Jesus is (ἐστιν) the eternal image!
17 The term is πρωτότοκος. Contextually this term cannot include Christ among created things as the “eldest” of creation (cf. Rom. 8:29; Col. 1:18 where προτότοκος is used of a person in a class [“brethren”, “dead”] and the class is plural) since in the next verse He is the one through whom the whole creation came into being (Col. 1:16).
Here the term is used with creation (πρωτότοκος πάσης κτίσεως) making Jesus distinct. Also, if Jesus is the “first born of creation” as one of many, then how can he be unique (μονογονη). Therefore, it looks at temporal priority and sovereignty of rank as a title which emphasizes that Jesus is the heir of creation--like the first-born of a family (cf. Heb. 1:2; LXX Ps. 89:27 [“I also shall make him My first-born, the highest of the kings of the earth”]; cf. also Ex. 4:22; TDNT 6:873-876). As O’Brien writes, He is both prior to and supreme over that creation since he is its Lord” (Colossians, p. 45).
18 Paul expresses an exhaustive sense for “all things” when he writes in merisims which are in Hebrew parallelism:
“In heaven and on the earth,”
“visible and invisible,”
Now Paul emphasizes that even the cosmic-angelic powers (whether good or evil) were also created by Christ (cf. Rom. 8:38; 1 Cor. 15:24; Eph. 1:21): “thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities.” This would have specific allusion to the Colossian heresy.
This verse is a fatal blow to any theory of emunations.
19 The aorist passive tense communicates that God was the Creator and that this occurred as a historical fact (ἐκτίσθη τὰ πάντα). The perfect tense of this verb in its next occurrence (ε῞κτισται) focuses upon creation’s continuing existence.
The phrase “in Him” (ἐν αὐτῷ) could have an instrumental sense (through Him and thus = to δι᾿ αὐτοῦ, but this is employed below), or perhaps the sense of “sphere” (in his sphere or realm, cf. Eph. 1:4).
In the sense of “wisdom” Christ is the master workman of Creation (cf. Prov. 8:30).
20 The Greek is δι᾿ αὐτοῦ --Jesus is the instrumental cause of creation (cf. Jn. 1:3; 1 Cor. 8:6).
21 The Greek is εἰς αὐτὸν with the sense of unto him or for him.
22 The Greek is πρὸ πάντων communicating Jesus’ temporal priority to the universe. There was never a time when he was not!
23 The Greek is καὶ τὰ πάντα ἐν αὐτῷ συνέστηκεν affirming that Jesus is the sustainer of the universe and the unifying principle of life. The verb is in the perfect tense emphasizing that Jesus’ sustaining work has occurred and is on-going (cf. Heb. 1:2-3).
24 See 1 Corinthians 15:20, 23.
25 The clause is a purpose clause (ι῞να).
26 O’Brien writes, “The hymn had previously asserted Christ’s primacy in creation; it now mentions his primacy in resurrection. In both new creation and old the first place belongs to him alone” (Colossians, p. 51).
27 The fullness, πλήρωμα, most probably refers to God in all of his fullness and is the subject of the verb “to dwell.” God in all of His divine essence and power chose (was pleased) to take up residence in Christ.
28 The Greek term is ἀποκαταλλάξαι. Although God is the one who initiated the reconciliation, it is all things that need to be reconciled to Him (and not Him to all things).
That “all things” have been reconciled does not mean that nothing in creation will be lost. The “all things” refers to everything in its scope. The sense is that the universe has been brought back into its divinely created and determined order (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 56). Much has received that reconciliation voluntarily but some (evil angels, and unredeemed men) receive it in an imposed, compulsorily manner. They will submit to Christ as Ruler! They were defeated at the cross.
29 Through the resumption of the language of direct speech, the Apostle Paul interprets and applies statements of the hymn to the readers.
30 These three terms may be cultic in nature contributing to the image of the Colossians as unblemished sacrifices. However, it is also possible that the point is a judicial one--especially in view of the last term (irreproachable, ἀνέγκλητος). Paul’s point is that he desires to present the Colossians in a perfect state.
31 This is a conditional statement (ει῎ γε ...). While it is a “simple condition” assuming that reality of the premise--that they will continue (Dana and Mantey ¶ 275, p. 289), the use of the particle γέ emphasizes the conditional aspect of ει῎ (Ibid., ¶ 229, p. 260).
Therefore, Paul assumes that they will continue in the faith, but offers a true warning that they will not be blameless if they do not continue. While this may seem at first to fly in the face of reconciliation (see O’Brien, Colossians, p. 69), it does agree with the doctrine of the Judgment Seat of Christ (1 Corinthians 3; Luke 19). Here however, Paul is encouraging the Colossians to not be led astray in their faith, and is assuming that they will respond well to this exhortation. In the following verse Paul will emphasize that his ministry is to present believers morally and doctrinally pure.
32 The term is πάθημα meaning “suffering,” “affliction,” or misfortune” (cf. Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 1:5-7; Phil 3:10; 2 Tim. 3:11; Heb. 2:9; 10:32; 1 Pet. 1:11; 4:13; 5:1-9). Paul uses the term to describe the afflictions in which all Christians participate as part of the sufferings of Christ (Rom. 8:18; 2 Cor. 1:5-7; cf. Phil. 3:10).
33 This verse has been interpreted in several ways: (1) there is still some lacking in the vicarious sufferings of Christ which must be supplied by the apostle; but see 2:13,14; cf. 1:12-14, 19-22; Heb. 9:27-28; 1 Pet. 3:19, (2) the genitive is objective meaning suffering for the sake of Christ; but this does not explain the phrase “what is lacking”, (3) the genitive is a genitive of quality referring to sufferings which resemble those of Christ; but this again does not explain “what is lacking, (4) Paul’s suffering is a mystical union with Christ, but how does this leave some lacking, (5) the sense is apocalyptic identifying the sufferings with the “woes of the Messiah” which were inaugurated with the death of Christ but will continue until messiah returns (cf. Acts 14:22; 1 Thess. 3:3,7; Rom. 8:17,38-39). As O’Brien writes, “Though presently exalted in heaven Christ continues to suffer in his members, and not least in Paul himself” (Colossians, p. 80; cf. Acts 9:16; 13:47; Isa. 49:6).
Christ has left the church to suffer, but this is not atoning, redemptive: (1) Sufferings--afflictions (θλιψεων) is never used of Christ’s sufferings on the cross, (2) Christ’s vicarious sufferings were completed (Heb. 9:27-28; 1 Pet. 3:18), (3) This concept is elsewhere in the NT (2 Cor. 1:5-7; 4:10; Phil. 3:10; Acts 9). We are those who continually experience the push of evil against us as Christ’s representatives (the body), just as He (the Head) felt it. This will occur until the return of Christ in the outworking of victory over evil.
34 Acts 9; cf. Romans 15:19. As O’Brien writes, “Paul’s comission [sic] to make the Word of God fully known has led to the ministry of that Word, through his associate Epaphras, at Colossae and thus make the Colossians beneficiaries of his apostolic commission, even though he had not visited them in person” (Colossians, p. 83)
35 The term is μυστήριον describing a secret, or something which was previously hidden, but now is made known. It is not the existence of the church so much as the nature of the church (e.g., one body comprised of Jews and Gentiles). Here it is expressed as God indwelling both Jews and Gentiles indiscriminately which is an assurance of our future hope.
36 Paul is not arguing that the mystery was only partially revealed in the OT, but that it was not revealed at all in the OT (cf. Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:5). Its foundation is with the NT prophets and apostles, not the OT. See Hoehner, “Ephesians” in BKC for a further discussion (p. 629).
37 See also Romans 16:25-27; 1 Corinthians 2:6-10; Ephesians 3:4-11.
38 The mystery was not that Gentiles would be saved since the OT spoke of that, but that believing Jews and Gentiles would be joined together (cf. Ephesians 3:6).
Christ in them is the center of the mystery. It is Christ’s indwelling which makes the disparate bodies into one!
39 Paul uses the pronoun “we” to describe the work of himself and his colleagues--especially those coworkers like Epaphras who brought the gospel to Colossae (1:7-8).
40 Paul’s ministry was evangelistic and discipleship oriented.
41 These following verses express the goal of this letter, and thus explain the applicational section which Paul picks up in chapters 3--4. The false teachers are threatening unified living under the work of Christ (in the home and toward outsiders). Paul is correcting the erroneous instruction which could lead the church astray, and then reaffirming their orderly Christian life and stable faith under the proper view of Christ.
42 No doubt the false teachers are producing a disunity as they seek this deeper knowledge of Jesus. Paul is affirming that the knowledge of Jesus comes through the experience of his work of unification through love.
43 Verses 6-7 are pivotal summarizing much of what has preceded and setting forth the positive instruction which serves as the basis for the attack on the heresy. In these verses the apostle instructs the readers about true Christian behavior before dealing with the false teaching. It seems that one must first know the truth before one can deal with error.
44 One’s method of justification determines one’s method of sanctification. As the Colossians began the Christian life by submitting to Christ as Lord they were now to go on living under that lordship as those incorporated into him (in Him [Christ]).
45 Paul uses the image of a tree and thanksgiving as in 1:10. The first three verbs are all passive emphasizing that God is the one who is at work in them.
46 The first two verbs come from a comparison with a tree. One is to conduct one’s life according to their foundational beginning in Christ which can be built upon.
47 See Paul’s prayer in 1:10-12. This thanksgiving probably relates to all of the things that God has done in their past. If there is not a clear understanding of God’s great deliverance, then it is unlikely that there will be joy and thanksgiving by a believer.
48 The term is συλαγωγέω (only here in the NT) meaning “to carry off as booty,” or “as a captive”
49 The term is φιλοσοφίαι. Perhaps Paul uses this term because it was used by the false teachers themselves in a positive way. Paul clarifies their philosophy as being full of “empty deceit” (καί κενῆς ἀπάτης). He is not against all philosophy, but a certain kind of philosophy which is empty as opposed to the “riches” and “treasures” of wisdom and knowledge in Christ (1:27; 2:3).
50 This was a teaching which was passed onward from teacher to teacher and may have included “sacred initiation rites”. This may have specific reference to the Jewish traditions (Mishnah/Talmud) which were to be a “fence around the Law”.
51 The Greek is στοιχεῖα τοῦ κόσμου which may have reference to the “ABCs” fundamentals of the world including spirits of the universe, all basic teachings, or the Law (cf. Gal. 4:3,9).
52 See 1:19.
53 “It is in union with Christ alone that they posses this fullness already” (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 113). Therefore, they need not pay respect to the angelic beings since Christ is their head.
54 See the Pauline parallel in 1 Corinthians 15:3-5.
55 The phrase “by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ” may have two possible meanings: (1) it refers to the Pauline teaching of “putting off the old nature (cf. Col. 3:9; Rom. 6:6; 7:24) affirming that baptism has replaced circumcision, or (2) it refers to the death of Christ affirming that the circumcision is metaphorical of Christ’s death which then divested the principalities and powers. As O’Brien writes, “Assuming the two phrases, ‘in the stripping away of the body of flesh’ and ‘in the circumcision of Christ,’ are constructed alike (by regarding the two genitives as objective), then the meaning is that the body of flesh was stripped off when Christ was circumcised, that is, when he died; the whole statement is ‘a gruesome figure for death’ (Beasley-Murray, Baptism, 152). Here is a circumcision which entailed not the stripping off of a small portion of flesh but the violent removal of the whole body in death” (Colossians, p. 117).
56 “In the uncircumcision of your flesh.”
57 O’Brien writes, “But these spiritual powers had not been annihilated. In that triumphal procession they were visible. They continue to exist, inimical to man and his interests (Rom 8:38, 39). Nevertheless they are powerless figures unable to harm the Christian who lives under the lordship of Christ. How foolish is it then for the Colossians to think, as the false teachers want them to, that they needed to grovel before these weak and beggarly elements as though they controlled the lines of communication between God and man” (Colossians, p. 133).
58 An outline or a sketch in contrast to reality (cf. Heb. 4:9) where the sabbath is a picture of God’s Millennial rest (cf. also John 5).
59 Paul is affirming that the adherence to the code of the Mosaic Law was transitory until the coming of Christ and His new order. It is through a relationship with Christ that one finds full closeness with God now, not through cultic observances.
60 It seems that through the practice of “self-abasement” (as a prelude to receiving heavenly visions) and the “worship of angels” (which may not be an objective genitive, but a subjective one, e.g., worship which angels perform) was to have visions (“entering”) which gave one a close experience with God (cf. F. F. Bruce, “Colossian Problems Part 3: The Colossian Heresy”: Bibliotheca Sacra 141 (1984): 194-208). The above terms were probably “catch-words” of the deceptive philosophy of the false teachers.
61 See 2 Corinthians 12:4.
62 O’Brien writes, “The application to the Colossian situation is clear: The false teacher who does not depend on the head has no contact with the source of life and nourishment, and does not belong to the body. The community must realize that they must remain in living union with Christ as the head. Let them not be drawn off or enticed away by the appeal of the false teachers to their heavenly experiences” (Colossians, p. 148).
63 The believer’s death was already discussed above (2:11). Now Paul develops the false-teachers approach to this doctrine.
The phrase is στοιχείων τοῦ κόσμου again. It is difficult to be sure what Paul has in view. Perhaps the code of the Law above, or the provision of spiritual beings to bring one close to God, or more broadly, any foundational system to bring one closer to God--”regulations” here (ABCs, cf. Gal. 4:9; Heb. 5:12; Col. 2:8)..
64 These seem to have reference to food regulations. Could this not be the Jewish code of the Law again which is used in an ascetic manner?
65 See Isaiah 29:13 (LXX).
66 The false teachers affirm that they have freely chosen this form of worship, but they are wrong is Paul’s point.
67 This is a pivotal paragraph which rounds off what has been said concluding Paul’s polemic and presents the correct way for believers to walk.
68 See Colossians 2:12.
69 They are to participate in their resurrection life through Christ. Also there is an eschatological sense involved. They are to seek their future position with Him in the age to come which has been inaugurated.
70 See Psalm 110:1. It seems that the rule of Messiah has been inaugurated. Since Jesus is in a place of supreme authority, no principality or power can prevent a believer’s access to Him. Therefore, Paul urges the Colossians to continue to aim at their resurrection life with Christ.
71 Paul desires for the Colossians to be focused in their will upon Christ and His instruction (sober consideration and firm purpose) rather than upon visionary experiences of heavenly mysteries through the false teachers.
72 See Colossians 2:11,12,20; Romans 6.
73 The phrase is κέκυπται σὺν Χριστῷ. While this may mean that the new life of Christians is a secret to be uncovered, another more probable sense is that the new life of Christians is already in heaven stored up with Christ (2:3; cf. Eph. 2:6 ). As O’Brien writes, “our life is hidden with Christ because we died with him and have been raised with him to new life; ‘in God’ because Christ himself has his being in God and those who belong to Christ have their being there too .... Centered in God means that the hidden life is secure, unable to be touched by anyone” (Colossians, p. 166).
74 This begins a lengthy paraenetic section of the epistle. With insight O’Brien writes, “Four distinctive catchwords of early Christian catechesis are found at the head of their respective paragraphs: ‘put to death’ (3:5-11; cf. also ‘put off,’ v 8); ‘put on’ (3:12-17); ‘be subject’ (3:18-4:1) and ‘watch and pray’ (4:2-6).” (Colossians, p. 174).
The exhortations of 3:1-4 (“Seek the things above” and Set the mind on the things above”) have their specific expression in the imperatives which follow. To seek the things above, one must be involved in spiritual warfare below; one must put to death sinful propensities and pursuits, and allow the new nature to find outward expression in a godly life (Ibid., pp. 175-176).
75 “Therefore,” refers back to the context of 2:20--3:4 and 3:3-4 in particular.
76 This recalls the union with Christ in his death above (2:20; 3:3; cf. 2:11-12).
77 More literally “the things on earth” picks up the language of 3:2. Also “members” (τὰ μέλη) is best understood against the background of “the body of sin” in 2:11 which has been stripped off in the circumcision of Christ (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 176).
By talking about the “things on the earth” Paul is referring to a believer’s old life. His “members” refer to refer to the sins which his members committed (e.g., a metonomy of the cause for the effect).
Therefore, to put to death the members which are upon the earth is to cease doing evil in relationships by a changing of the will, or attitude of mind (cf. Rom. 6:11). It is a dying to self when self stands to do evil to others (see the list which follows). It is not a mortification of the flesh” in a traditional ascetic manner (e.g., not enjoying oneself so as to gain control over the body or to acquire merit).
78 There is a progression in this vice-list from outward manifestations of sin to inward cravings of the heart (the inner springs of evil).
79 This term can describe a broad range of sexual misbehavior including fornication, incest, temple prostitution, etc. (cf. Lev. 17--18).
80 Although the term generally means moral uncleanness, it denotes moral sexual conduct when used with πορνεία. The meaning of πορνεία is developed through this term and the next two.
81 This is descriptive of shameful passion which leads to sexual excess (cf. 1 Thess. 4:5; Rom. 1:26).
82 When desire is modified by “evil” one has evil desire which may than be extended toward its object (cf. Matt. 5:28; Mk. 4:19). This is an expression of sin which dwells within.
83 While it is very possible that the coveting here has its reference to a desire to lay one’s hands on material things, it is also possible in view of the context that the focus is upon sexual overtones (cf. the cognate in 1 Thess. 4:6). If it is descriptive of the sexual, than this is a strong statement that God considers such activity to be idolatry--an honor of that which leads one away from God. Could this be related to people being in the image of God?
84 The term is ἀποτίθημι meaning to “put off” or “put away” as in clothing (Acts 7:58) Paul is urging the Colossians to discard their old repulsive habits like a set of worn-out clothes.
85 Anger and rage go together. Perhaps the former is a more settled feeling of hatred and the latter is more of an outburst of passion, but they are in essence the same thing, and are destructive of harmony in the body (Eph. 4:31).
86 This term is also descriptive of an evil force which destroys fellowship. It seems to include evil speech (cf., Rom. 1:29; Eph. 4:31). It may be an intention to harm through slander and abusive language.
87 This term means “slander,” “defamation,” “blasphemy,” (BAG, 143). This is an attempt to vilify either man or God by lies or gossip (cf. Titus 3:2).
88 This may well be obscene speech or abusive language. Such language ought to be stopped before it comes out.
89 This may well come out of the above discussion on slander and filthy language.
90 Here Paul is addressing their position (cf. Col. 2:6-7, 16--3:4). These participles are expressed as infinitival imperatives in Ephesians 4:22-24.
91 This is not only an individual reference discussing the Christian’s nature, but is also a corporate reference discussing his placement in humanity (e.g., in Adam” or “in Christ).
92 The Old man is the whole personality of a man ruled by sin (see Romans 6:6; Ephesians 4:22).
93 See 1 Corinthians 12:13; cf. Galatians 3:28
94 For the Greeks those who could not speak Greek were considered barbarian (cf. Rom. 1:14). The “Scythian” seems to represent the lowest kind of barbarian who was probably a slave from a wretched class of people possibly from the Black Sea area.
95 Or more paraphrastically “absolutely everything” or “all that matters.”
96 Christ indwells all members of the new man regardless of race, class, or background (cf. Col. 1:27; Gal. 2:20; 4:19).
97 These descriptions are used of Israel and of Christ emphasizing the Colossians’ identification with God.
98 This five-fold list of grace characteristics is in balance with the vice-lists above (3:5,8).
99 These are in fact characteristics or graces and actions used of God Himself. This may explain Paul’s exhortation to “put on the Lord Jesus Christ” in Romans 13:14.
100 Goodness, kindness, generosity.
101 This term was used earlier in the letter to describe “self-denial” in accordance with the false teaching. Here it has the sense of lowliness or humility (cf. Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:3; 1 Pet. 5:5; Matt. 11:29).
102 The term means “gentleness,” “humility,” or “meekness”--not out of weakness, but out of a consideration for others and a willingness to waive one’s rights.
103 As O’Brien writes, “It denotes that ‘long suffering’ which endures wrong and puts up with the exasperating conduct of others rather than flying into a rage or desiring vengeance” (Colossians, p. 201).
104 The term means “to endure,” “put up with,” “bear with.”
105 The term expresses a show of grace, χαριζόμενοι, and the participle is in the present tense with the sense of unceasing, unwearying forgiveness (Matt. 18; Luke 17).
106 The term is ἀγάπην and it is another object of the imperative “to put on” in 3:12.
107 The term is one for perfections (τελειότητος). Paul is not interested so much in a personal perfection as in the maturity of a body who shows love to one another.
108 The term is βραβεύω having in its field of meaning the sense of a judge, or umpire, who presides over and presents prizes at games. Paul is urging the Colossians to allow the peace which Christ has brought upon the body to be the judging factor in their hearts as they deal with disputes in the body.
109 This is not an exhortation toward an existential relationship with Christ (e.g., a peaceful disposition, or an inward peace of the soul). Rather it is an exhortation for one to allow Christ to be present and to rule in one’s heart (the center of one’s will, thoughts, and/or emotions) during disputes.
110 The exhortation reads, εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε, rather than εὐχάριστοι ἐστε. The imperative draws attention to the constant striving after this exalted goal as something not yet attained. Although the content of thanksgiving is not provided explicitly, it is quite possible contextually that the context is the peace which Christ has brought about in such a diverse body. Paul is exhorting the Colossians to not fight in such a way which destroys the body, but to become thankful for the unity of such a diverse body.
111 This is probably an objective genitive with the sense of the message that centers on Christ--e.g., the gospel. It is the sacrificial work of Christ in the Gospel that is to live within them as they teach and admonish one another. They are to remember that all find their measure of worth at the foot of the cross.
112 See also Ephesians 5:19.
113 This unit includes three pairs of exhortations. The issue at hand is attitudes of one person in the body to another. This type of unit is called a “house-table” in the literature (haustafel in German, meaning a list of rules for the household). The movement is from the closest relationships to the more distant ones (i.e., couples to slaves & masters).
Each unit states the party, has a reciprocal exhortation in the imperative, and the reason or motivation for the behavior (except for those to husbands and fathers). The exhortation to slaves (22-25) is expanded breaking the sequence somewhat (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 219-220). For parallels see 1 Timothy 2:8-15; 6:1-2; Titus 2:1-10; 1 Peter 2:18--3:7; Ephesians 5:22--6:9.
As O’Brien writes, “Perhaps the devotees of the false teaching at Colossae were indifferent to mundane and domestic affairs. If so, then Paul has to indicate to the congregation that this teaching is pernicious, and that the Colossians are to be recalled to the simple duties of family life. The apostle has already summoned his readers to ‘set their minds on things that are above’ (3:2), for a life ruled from above where Christ is reigning is precisely a life in marriage, parenthood and everyday work. Right behavior in these areas is the proper outworking of seeking the things above (Ibid., p. 233).
114 See 3:18,20,24,25; 4:1.
115 O’Brien writes, “In each case the subordinate member is mentioned first and is exhorted to be subject (ὑποτάσσομαι) or to obey (ὑπακούω). Wives, children and slaves are addressed equally with their husbands, fathers and masters. They too are ethically responsible partners who are expected to do ‘what is fitting in the Lord’ just as the male, the father and the free man. But the exhortations to subordination do not stand alone; immediately the second member of each pair is addressed and reminded of his responsibilities. The twin admonitions stand together and the first ought not to be interpreted apart from the second ...” (Colossians, p. 220).
116 The verb is in the middle voice: ὑποτάσσεσθε. Wives are being exhorted to continue to place themselves under the influence of their husbands in accordance with Christ’s design.
117 The obligation of the wife finds its counterpart in this charge to her husband. The verb for love is ἀγαπᾶτε. This term speaks of more than affection ( φιλὲω) or even sexual attraction (ἐράω) but of unceasing care and loving service for her entire well being. This love is exemplified in Ephesians 5:25-33.
118 The Greek καὶ μὴ πικράινεσθε πρὸς αὐτάς. This is the negative form of the positive injunction (antithetical parallelism?). The sense is to become embittered, incensed, or angry.
119 These are children (Τὰ τέκνα) who are probably still growing up and under the care of their parents (cf. Eph. 6:4)
120 This injunction is not in the middle voice as above with wives, but in the active imperative (ὑπακούετε) meaning absolute obedience. This is strengthened by the phrase “in all things.”
121 See Titus 2:9; Romans 12:1,2; 14:18; 2 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 5:10; Philippians 4:18; cf. Col. 1:10.
122 While the term is one for fathers (οἰ πατέρες) is could also have the sense of parents (cf. Heb. 11:23). There is, however, probably an emphasis upon fathers.
123 The the verb is a present imperative prohibition demanding that the action then in progress be stopped (μὴ ἐρεθίζετε). The verb is employed positively in 2 Corinthians 9:2 “your zeal has stirred up most of them.” Here is a “stirring up” so as to irritate perhaps by nagging, deriding, or even ignoring them.
124 The term is ἀθυμῶσιν denoting the loss of heart, or a becoming timid. Paul does not wish for the children to become discouraged as they try to please their parents--especially fathers. The positive counterpart is in Ephesians 6:4.
125 “Paul is addressing the tension between the freedom given in Christ (cf. 3:11) and the ‘slavery’ in which Christian slaves are to continue to serve their earthly masters (cf. 1 Cor. 7:21-24)” (O’Brien, Colossians, p. 226).
126 The Greek is like that with children (ὑπακούετε κατὰ πάντα).
127 Again, the fear of the Lord is the beginning of knowledge and wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 23:17).
128 This will be at the judgment seat of Christ when evil works will result in a loss of reward (cf. Luke 19:11-27; 2 Cor. 5:10; Rom. 14:10-12; 1 Cor. 3:12-15; 4:4,5).
129 Although Paul does not command the masters to free their slaves he does exhorts them to do that which is just and fair (τὸ κίκαιον καὶ τὴν ἰσότητα). They were to treat them in accordance with what was right, and to treat in an even-handed, impartial, fair way--perhaps even as equals.
130 The motivation for slaves and masters is really the same at this point. Both will be judged by The Judge--Christ Jesus. Therefore, both have the same standard of conduct toward one another.
131 This unit in Colossians is parallel to the close of paraenetic sections in other Pauline letters (cf. 1 Thess. 5:12-22; Gal. 5:25--6:6; Phil. 4:8-9). Unlike the above household exhortations, these are for the entire congregation.
132 Perhaps the prayer itself was to be for the coming of the Lord’s kingdom (Matt. 5:9-10; 1 Cor. 16:22; cf. Rev. 22:20).
133 Perhaps this is again a thankfulness for the deliverance which the Lord has already brought to pass in their lives through redemption (cf. 3:15,16).
134 Probably Timothy (1:1), Epaphras (4:12,13) are included in this.
135 This is a pray that God would make a provision of opportunity by giving him a field in which to work (cf. 1 Cor. 16:9; 2 Cor. 2:12; Acts 14:27).
136 The mystery of Jews and Gentiles in one body (cf. 1:26; 2:2) for which he is imprisoned by the hostility of the Jews (Acts 22--28).
137 The term is ε῎ξω. Perhaps these “outsiders” are actually the false teachers.
138 Seasoned with salt could well have the Jewish sense of wisdom involved (e.g., the Torah was like salt). In this case Paul would be saying that one should speak in wisdom. One is to speak the right word when one asks a question.
139 It seems that this is how Paul desires for them to address the false teachers.
140 Notice this same form in 1 Corinthians 16:19-24; Romans 16:1-23; Philemon 23-25; Philippians 4:21-23; and Ephesians 6:21-24).
141 See also Acts 20:4; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12.
142 Much communication was done by word of mouth in the ancient world. While this letter contained more of the urgent and doctrinal matters, personal remarks would be passed on orally.
143 This strengthening would have probably been through admonishing the congregation with Paul’s teaching.
144 This is probably the same Onesimus as in Philemon 10.
145 He was a Macedonian of Thessalonica (see Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2).
146 This is John Mark of Acts 12:12,25; 13:13; 15:36-41; Philemon 24; 2 Tim. 4:11; 1 Pet. 5:13.
147 There are several views about this letter: (1) it was a letter written from Laodicea to Paul but this is improbable, (2) it was the epistle to the Ephesians (this is very possible even through O’Brien discounts it since he understands Ephesians to have been written after Colossians, but there is not agreement on this, and it is difficult to tell), (3) it was Philemon, but Philemon lived at Colossae, (4) it was a letter which did not survive (see O’Brien, Colossians, pp. 257-259).
148 This may well mean to make mention of him in prayer, to call him to God’s remembrance (LXX 2 Sam. 14:11; Ps. 62:6; cf. 6:5).
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Introduction To The Book Of ColossiansRelated Media
I. AUTHOR: THE APOSTLE PAUL2
A. External Evidence: Paul is strongly affirmed to be the author of Colossians
1. Colossians was undisputedly Pauline until the nineteenth century
a. The Later Church Fathers accepted it3
b. It was not disputed in the later decades:
1) It was probably used as early Justin4
2) It was included in Marcion’s canonical list (c. 140) and in the Muratorian canon (c. 170)
2. This letter is included in the Chester Beatty papyri (P46)5
B. Internal Evidence:6 Even though there are concerns by modern, critical scholars about Pauline authorship, the evidence for Pauline authorship is not overturned:
1. The primary objections to Pauline authorship are the divergence in literary style, vocabulary, and syntax from Paul’s other writings.7 Also it was believed that Paul was combating the heresy of second-century Gnosticism
But literary differences can be explained by appealing to the new content of the letter, the heresy which he is addressing, and Paul’s adaptation of traditional material. Also, there is no need to understand the heresy as a second-century Gnosticism (see below)
2. There are close links between Colossians and Philemon (the latter of which is generally unquestioned as a genuine work of Paul):
a. Both include Paul and Timothy’s name in the opening greeting (Col. 1:1; Phm. 1)
b. Both include greetings from those with Paul at this time, namely, Aristarchus, Mark, Epaphras, Luke, and Demas (Col. 4:10-14; Phm. 23,24)
c. Archippus is called a “fellow-soldier” in Philemon 2 and directed to fulfill his ministry in Colossians 4:17
d. Onesimus, concerning whom Philemon is written, is mentioned in Colossians 4:9 as being sent with Tychicus and as bring “one of you”
3. Paul is specifically identified in the letter to the Colossians:
a. The mention of Timothy along with Paul in the prescript is customary in the undisputed letters of Paul8
b. The author follows the Pauline practice of conveying his personal greetings from his fellow workers to the congregation by means of a dispatched message (4:8)
c. The author follows the Pauline practice of closing the letter with his personal signature, as well as, making mention of his own situation as prisoner9
d. Paul is identified in the body of the letter (1:23ff)
e. Paul ties his apostleship to the same tradition of Jesus Christ (1:23ff; 2:6)
f. The expression, “I, Paul” is typical in the Pauline corpus to render his persona10
II. LOCATION AND DATE: FROM ROME IN AD 60-61.
A. Location:11 Paul’s (first) Roman Imprisonment:
1. Until recently, Rome was considered by most to be the location from which Paul wrote12
2. Caesarea: Some13 understand Caesarea to be the location of writing, but this is unlikely for the following reasons:
a. It is unlikely that a runaway slave (Philemon) would have fled to Caesarea to escape detection and would have found access to Paul like he would have in Rome (where Paul was under house-arrest)
b. Paul expects to be released in the near future since he requests Philemon to prepare him lodging (Phm. 22) and this probably would not have been the case at Caesarea where Paul knew that his only hope was to appeal to Caesar
c. It is unlikely that Caesarea was the home of active missionary work requiring such a large staff of Paul’s co-workers of Gentile origin for Philemon to seek refuge, and it does not seem that this small harbor city was the center of vigorous propaganda suggested in Colossians 4:3,414
a. No evidence exists to affirm that Paul was imprisoned in Ephesus (Acts 19)17
b. It is unlikely that a runaway slave (Philemon) would have fled to Ephesus and remained there long enough to know Paul since it was no more than 100 miles away from Colossae
c. The “we” sections of Acts do not allow for Luke to have been with Paul while he was in Ephesus (Acts 16:10ff; 20:6,13ff; cf. Col. 4:14)
4. Rome:18 The most probably location of writing was probably Rome for the following reasons
a. This is a known imprisonment of Paul’s which allows for the events reflected in Colossians and Philemon
b. Acts supports Luke’s presence in Rome with Paul (the “we” sections; Acts 27:2ff)
c. Paul was under house-arrest in Rome which would have allowed him visitors such as co-workers and Onesimus
d. The imperial capital would have allowed the run-away slave Onesimus to seek anonymity and then asylum in Paul’s presence there
e. No other imprisonment in Acts seems to be a real alternative (Philippi in Acts 16:23-40; Caesarea in Acts 24:27)
f. Travel between Rome and the east was frequent and not too formidable a task to make the communications between the prison epistles possible
g. Although not determinative, the doctrinal outlook of Colossians seems to belong to a later rather than to an earlier period supporting a Roman origin over one in Ephesus19
h. It is very probable that Aristarchus accompanied Paul to Rome (Acts 27:2; cf. Col. 4:10) and thus shared in his imprisonment
i. Even though Paul intended to go on to Spain from Rome (Rom. 1:10ff; 15:19ff) it is not possible to know with certainty what he did upon his release. He could have changed his mind, or at least changed his immediate plans and thus gone to Colossae
B. Date: If the Roman hypothesis is accepted, then it is likely that Paul wrote Colossians early20 in his (first) Roman imprisonment (i.e., AD 60-61)
III. THE COLOSSIAN HERESY21
A. The Nature of the Heresy--Explicit and Implicit Indications about the Colossian Problem:22
1. Explicit Teaching of the Opponents:
a. It emphasized abstinence from certain foods and some types of drink 2:16,22
b. It required the observance of Jewish feasts and sabbaths at different intervals 2:16
c. It stressed “self-abasement” and visions 2:18,23
d. It involved angelic worship--either as the object of worship or as the subject of worship (i.e., doing worship) 2:18
e. It taught the need for some kind of worship which was human in origin, a “self-made religion-worship 2:23
f. It praised the value of treating the body severely 2:2323
g. It was depicted by Paul as “Philosophy and empty deceit” espousing the “elementary principles of the world” (2:8)
2. Implicit References in the Book:
a. It demoted Christ from his supreme place 1:13-20; 2:9ff
b. It seems to have as a catchword the term/phrase “fullness” [of deity] 1:19; 2:9
c. It claimed to promote higher spirituality. Paul counters with the argument that they are spiritually complete in Christ (2:10) and warns that the rules and regulations of this religious system only promote the indulgence of the flesh 2:23
d. It probably required circumcision of adherents 2:11; cf. 3:11
e. It may have misconstrued the death-burial-resurrection motif 2:12,13,20; 3:1-5
f. It cast doubt on the completeness of forgiveness in Christ 1:14; 2:13-14; 3:13
B. Possible Sources of the Heresy:24
a. B. Lightfoot was the major proponent of this position affirming many parallels between the Heresy and the asceticism of this Jewish group25
b. Even though there are some parallels, there is no evidence that they lived in the western portions of Asia Minor
c. While this explains the emphasis on higher knowledge and special revelation, it fails to explain the mystical experiences which are apparent in the epistle
2. Greek Pagan Cults:
a. There are many theories along this line of thinking: Neopythagoreanism, mystery religions, pre-Christian Gnosticism, the Iranian Redemption myth, the initiation into the Isis mysteries
b. This is an attempt to emphasize the Hellenism on the church at the time
c. While some of these “cults” actually fight against one another, there is no doubt that the Heresy in Colossae was influenced by the Hellenism of their day; it is difficult to be even more specific
a. Gnosticism was a “religious movement that proclaimed a mystical esotericism for the elect based on illumination and the acquisition of a higher knowledge of things heavenly and divine”26
b. However, there was not a pre-Christian Gnosticism and it is doubtful that the biblical writers were fighting a known foe called Gnosticism
c. There may well have be roots of a Christian Gnosticism (incipient Gnosticism) which later became the Gnosticism of the second and third centuries AD
4. Syncretistic Religion:
a. The heresy contains a combination of parts of many of the above views wherein Jews and Gentiles are attempting to advance beyond apostolic Christianity
b. This view is very possible and perhaps even diplomatic
5. Jewish Mysticism--the Merkabah Mysticism27
a. The merkabah mysticism consisted of “religious exercises designed to facilitate entry into the vision of the heavenly chariot (hb*K*r+m#) with God visibly enthroned above it--the vision granted to Ezekiel when he was called to his prophetic ministry (Ezek. 1:15-28)”28
b. In order to obtain such a vision it was necessary to observe:
1) The Mosaic Law concerning purification
2) A period of asceticism of 12 to 40 days
3) The mediatorial role of angels when the heavenly ascent was attempted
c. There are possible parallels to this concept in rabbinic experience, Paul’s experience (2 Cor. 12), other Jewish writings like 1 Enoch 14:8-23, Daniel 7:9-10, and later Gnostocism29
a. A definitive conclusion about the source of the heresy is not possible since so many possibilities exist
b. It is very possible, however, that the view of Jewish mysticism is more closely tied to the heresy in view of the Jewish elements which are certainly involved
c. Perhaps this Jewish mysticism became a later expression of Gnosticism
IV. ORIGIN OF THE CHURCH:
A. The City of Colossae:
1. Was in the Lycus valley
2. Was about 100 miles east (inland) of Ephesus
3. Had the important cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis as its neighbors where Christian churches had been established (Col. 4:13)
B. The Founding of the Church:
1. It seems that Paul had never visited the church (Col. 1:4; 2:1)
2. It seems that Epaphras acquainted Paul with the Colossians’ ‘love in the Spirit’ (Col. 1:8; 4:12-13)
3. It seems reasonable to assume that the church originated as a result of Paul’s ministry among those at Ephesus (Acts 19:10)
a. Perhaps this was actually accomplished through Ephahras who instructed those in Colossae (Col. 1:12-13)
b. Therefore, perhaps Ephahras was converted through Paul’s ministry in Ephesus
V. PURPOSES FOR COLOSSIANS:
A. To provide advice about the dangerous heresy which had arisen in Colossae and was threatening the security of the church in all of the Lycus valley (cf. 4:16)
B. To answer the heretical issues by asserting the absolute, direct, and continuing supremacy of Christ over all of creation (1:15--3:4)
C. To encourage his readers to live life (personally, within the church, in the home, and in their relationships) in view of Christ as supreme over all of creation (3:5--4:6)
D. To encourage the churches in the Lycus valley to maintain their orderly Christian lives as well as their stability in the faith in the face of the threat of the false teachers 2:2-530
VI. A COMPARISON OF EPHESIANS AND COLOSSIANS:31
Emphasizes the Body (Church)
Emphasizes the Head (Christ)
The spirit is pastoral
The spirit is polemical
The emphasis is on oneness in Christ
The emphesis is on completeness in Christ
1 Much of what follows is adapted from: T. K. Abbott, A Critical and Exegetical Commentary on the Epistles to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, ICC, pp. xivii-lx1v; F. F. Bruce, “Colossian Problems Part 3: The Colossian Heresy”: Bibliotheca Sacra 141 (1984): 194-208; Carson, Herbert M. The Epistles of Paul to the Colossians and Philemon. Tyndale New Testament Commentaries, 11-25; Brevard S. Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, pp. 346-350; Donald Guthrie, New Testament Introduction, pp. 454-563; Geisler, Norman L. “Colossians,” in Bible Knowledge Commentary, pp. 667-669; Everett F. Harrison, Colossians: Christ All-Sufficient, Everyman’s Bible Commentary, 7-16; H. Wayne House, “Doctrinal Issues in Colossians: Heresies in the Colossian Church.” Bibliotheca Sacra, 149 (1992): 45-59; Ralph P. Martin, Colossians and Philemon, The New Century Bible Commentary, pp. 1-41; Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Word Biblical Commentary, pp. xxvi-liv; Curtis Vaughan, “Colossians,” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 11, pp. 163-171.
2 This is not to deny that Paul may have used other materials (e.g., 1:15-20).
3 Polycarp (c. 110-150) Philippians 10:1 [cf. Col. 1:23]; 11:2 [Col. 3:5]; Ignatius (c. 110), Ephesians 10:2 [Col. 1:23]; Iranaeus (c. 130-202), Adv. Haer. 3.14.1; Turtullian (c. 150-220), De Praescr Haer 7; Clement of Alexandria (c. 150-215), Storm 1.1; ; Trallians 5:2 [Col. 1:16]; Epistle to Diognetus 10:7 [Col. 4:1]. See Geisler, A General Introduction to the Bible, pp. 188, 193.
4 C. 150-155, Dialogue, 85.2; 138.2.
5 The second Chester Beatty Biblical papyrus contains ten Epistles which are considered to be of Paul in the following order: Romans, Hebrews, 1 and 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, 1 and 2 Thessalonians and dates from about the year AD 200 (Bruce M. Metzger, The Text of the New Testament: Its Transmission, Corruption, and Restoration, p. 37).
6 Even though Childs does not hold to Paul himself as the author due to “stylistic and philological evidence,” he must link it with Paul canonically and affirms with Schweizer that it “is not post-Pauline” (The NT as Canon , pp. 345-349).
7 The first one to seriously question the authorship of Colossians was E. T. Mayerhoff in 1838, and his theory was developed by F. S. Baur and the Tübingen school.
8 See 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, and Philemon.
9 See 1 Corinthians 16:21; Philemon 19; 2 Thessalonians 3:17.
10 See Philemon 19; 2 Corinthians 10:1; Galatians 5:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:18; 2 Thessalonians 3:17; Ephesians 3:1.
11 The only textual clues in Colossians that Paul is in prison are: 4:3,10,18. But none of these cite the location of the imprisonment.
12 Although the Marcionite Prologue had the opinion that the Epistle was written from Ephesus [“The apostle already in fetters writes to them from Ephesus”] even though the Prologue to Philemon claimed that that letter was written from Rome (Guthrie, NTI, p. 555).
The “subscript” which was added at a later date asserts: “written from Rome by Tychicus and Onesimus.” Also Eusebius reports that Paul was brought to Rome and that Aristarchus was with him (History, 2.22.1; see O’Brien, Colossians. p. l.).
13 Lohmeyer, Dibelius-Greeven, Reicke, J. J. Gunther, Goguel, deZwaan.
14 O’Brien, Colossians, p. lii.
15 For a more thorough discussion see Guthrie, NTI, pp. 472-478.
16 Deissmann, Michaelis, Duncan.
17 Even though Aristarchus was seized by mob-violence in Ephesus (Acts 19:29), there is no specific mention of arrest for him or for Paul.
18 See O’Brien for counter view (Colossians, p. li).
19 See O’Brien, Colossians, p. liii; Guthrie, NTI, p. 557; Childs, The NT as Canon, 346-349; Bruce, Paul, The Apostle of the Heart Set Free, pp. 411-412.
20 Philemon 9 suggests that Colossians-Philemon may have been written early in the imprisonment, “yet for love’s sake I prefer to appeal to you--I, Paul, an ambassador and now a prisoner also for Christ Jesus--.” The term for “now” (nuniv) is more emphatic than nu'n and suggests that Paul’s imprisonment had only just begun at the time he wrote (O’Brien, Philemon, p. 290).
21 Some good reading on this subject may be found in the survey article by H. Wayne House, “Heresies in the Colossian Church,” Bib. Sac. 149 (January-March, 1992): 45-59. Although Bruce once held to an “early and simple form of gnosticism” (Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 413), he later changed to a defense of a form of Jewish Mysticism which he identifies as “Merkabah Mysticism” in “Colossian Problems Part 3: The Colossian Heresy,” Bib. Sac 141 (July-September 1984): 195-208.
22 Adapted from a paper by Herb Bateman, “Introductory Matters for Colossians”.
23 This may only be a development of points a and b above.
24 There is no way in which one can be certain about the historical origin of this heresy. Morna Hooker even disputed the existence of a heresy in the Colossian church in her paper, “Were There False Teachers in Colossae?” in Christ and Spirit in the New Testament, edited by B. Lindars and S. S. Smalley (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1973), pp. 315-331. However, Bruce seems to be correct when he affirms that “Yes, there were false teachers in Colossae” (“The Colossian Heresy,” Bib Sac 141 : 195; see also Paul: Apostle of the Heart Set Free, p. 413).
25 J. B. Lightfoot, Saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon (1879; reprinted, Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1959), 73-113.
26 Gershom G. Scholem, Jewish Gnosticism, Merkabah Mysticism, and Talmudic Tradition (New York: Jewish Theological Seminary of America, 1960), p. 1.
27 F. F. Bruce, “The Colossian Heresy,” Bib.Sac. 141 (1984): 201-204.
28 Ibid., pp. 201-202.
29 Ibid., pp. 202-203.
30 These verses express the goal of this letter, and thus explain the applicational section which Paul picks up in chapters 3--4. The false teachers were threatening unified living under the work of Christ (in the home and toward outsiders). Paul is correcting the erroneous instruction which could lead the church astray, and then reaffirming their orderly Christian life and stable faith under the proper view of Christ.
31 Adapted from Stanley D. Toussaint, “Colossians” (unpublished class notes in 308 Pauline Epistles and Revelation, Dallas Theological Seminary, Fall 1983), p. 2.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Book Of PhilippiansRelated Media
As One Who Is Himself Suffering For The Gospel Paul Honors The Philippians For Their Participation With Him In His Sufferings, And Urges Them To Humble Themselves For The Sake Of One Another Against The Divisive Threats Of Inner Disputes And External False Teachers So That They Might Continue In Their Gospel Ministry And One Day Be Exalted By The Lord
I. INTRODUCTION: As Paul, along with Timothy, writes to the church at Philippi, he prays that they would experience God’s grace and peace, thanks God for their financial participation in his ministry of the Gospel, expresses his God-like love for them, and prays that they would increase in their character of love until Christ returns (1:1-11)
A. Salutation: Paul writes with Timothy as servants of Jesus Christ to all of the saints in relationship with Christ Jesus along with their leaders who dwell in Philippi praying that they would experience grace and peace from God their Father and their Lord Jesus Christ (1:1-2)
1. Senders Name: Paul and Timothy write this letter as servants (δοῦλοι)1 of Jesus Christ (1:1a)
2. Recipients Name: Paul and Timothy are writing to all of the saints in relationship with Christ Jesus, who dwell in Philippi and are with the overseers and deacons (1:1b)
a. Paul and Timothy are writing to all the saints (holy ones)2 who are in relationship with Christ Jesus
b. Paul and Timothy are writing to all of the saints who dwell in Philippi
c. Paul and Timothy are writing to the overseers (bishops, ἐπισκόποις) and deacons (διάκονος) with the saints in Philippi3
3. Greeting: Paul prays for the Philippians to experience grace and peace from God their Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (1:2)
a. Paul prays for the Philippians to experience grace and peace4 1:2a
b. Paul prays for this grace and peace to come from God their Father and the Lord Jesus Christ 1:2b
B. Prologue--Thanks, Love, and Prayer: Paul thanks the Lord for the (financial) participation of the Philippians in his ministry of the Gospel, and thus loves them with the same affection that Christ has for them, and prays that they might steadily increase in their character of love until Christ returns (1:3-11)
1. Paul Is Thankful For Them: Every time Paul prays for all of the Philippians he is full of delight because of their continual (financial) fellowship with him in the gospel concerning which he is confident that God will continue until the return of Christ (1:3-6)
a. Paul regularly thanks the Lord for the Philippians every time he prays for them 1:3
b. Paul always delights in offering prayer for all of the Philippians 1:4
2. Paul Loves Them: Paul affirms that he has such confidence in the Philippians because of their great affection for him and their participation with him in the gospel ministry whereupon he affirms that he feels the same heartfelt love for them that Christ has for them (1:7-8)
a. The reason Paul has such confidence toward the Philippians is because they hold him in their heart (affection)9 and are partakers in the Gospel ministry (grace)10 with him (financially) in his imprisonment and in his defense and confirmation11 1:7
3. Paul Prays for Them: Paul prays that the Philippians may steadily increase in their character of love through real knowledge of the Lord and discernment in relationships in order that they may know how to make the best choices and be the best possible people in relationships until the Lord returns (1:9-11)
b. Paul prays for the Philippians’ increase in love in order that they may know how to make the best choices possible 1:10a
c. Paul prays for the Philippians’ increase in love in order that they themselves might be the best people possible (sincere and blameless, and righteous)17 until the Lord returns18 unto the glory of God 1:10b-11
II. PAUL’S PRESENT STATE AND FUTURE EXPECTATION19--PRISON & GOSPEL, FUTURE MINISTRY: Although Paul is presently in prison, these circumstances have not hindered the gospel, but have advanced it, and his expectations are not to die, but to come to the Philippians and to aid them in the progress of their faith and their ability to boast in Christ Jesus (1:12-26)
A. Present in Prison: Although Paul is in prison, these circumstances have not hindered the gospel from being proclaimed, but have advanced it by expanding its message to the Roman guards and other leaders, by inspiring believers to speak daringly and fearlessly, and by stirring people to proclaim Christ from different attitudes towards Paul (1:12-18a)
1. Statement: Paul desires for the Philippians, as his brethren, to know that what has happened to him (his circumstances) has not hindered the progress of the gospel, but advanced it 1:12
2. Proof: Paul’s imprisonment has not hindered the gospel, but has made the cause of Christ will known by expanding it to the Roman soldiers and leaders, by inspiring believers to speak daringly and fearlessly, and by stirring people to proclaim Christ from different attitudes towards Paul 1:13-14
a. Paul’s imprisonment has not hindered the gospel, but has made the cause of Christ well known throughout the whole praetorian guard and beyond20 1:13
b. Paul’s imprisonment has not hindered the gospel, but has inspired his fellow believers to speak the word daringly and fearlessly 1:14
c. Paul’s imprisonment has not hindered the gospel, but has caused Christ to be proclaimed out of mixed motives by those who love Paul and by those who desire to cause Paul distress, and Paul rejoices 1:15-18a
1) Statement: Some are preaching Christ from envy and strife (with Paul), but some are preaching Christ from good will (toward Paul) 1:15
2) Good Will: Those who preach the gospel from good will do it out of love for Paul knowing that (in spite of his circumstances) he is destined by God to defend the gospel, so this is what he would desire for them to do 1:16
3) Envy and Strife: Those who preach the gospel out of envy and strife do it out of a desire to exalt themselves by causing him distress in his imprisonment21 1:17
4) Statement: Paul rejoices that Christ is being proclaimed for whatever motives (whether in pretense or in truth) 1:18a
B. Future With The Philippians: Paul rejoices over his future in that he expects to be delivered at his trial, and to remain among the Philippians to help them to progress in their faith, and to give glory to Christ Jesus (1:18b-26)
1. Rejoices at Future: Paul not only rejoices that Christ is being proclaimed, but also rejoices22 in his expected fate as a prisoner 1:18b
2. Future Trial: Paul’s future joy is that he knows that at his future trial he will be delivered by means of their prayers and the Spirit’s enabling, that he will be vindicated and that Christ will be exalted 1:19-20
b. Vindicated and Christ Exalted: Paul’s future joy is that he knows in accordance with his expectation and hope that he will be vindicated as a messenger of the Gospel (he will not be ashamed at his future trial) and that Christ will be exalted (by making Him known to more at his future trial) by him in a total way (whether by life or by death) 1:20
3. Future Ministry: Although Paul wrestles between the benefits of dying and being with Christ, or living and being with the Philippians, he is convinced that he will live and help them to progress in their faith, and to give honor to Christ 1:21-26
a. Future State: Paul wrestles between desiring life or death himself because life offers opportunities for future ministry, whereas death offers the reality of being in the presence of Christ, but he sees how life would be more profitable for the Philippians at this time:27 1:21-24
1) Life is Christ: Paul sees living as being to serve Christ 21a
2) Death is Gain: Paul sees dying as being personal gain 21b
3) Life is Worthwhile Work: Paul understands continued life in his body (flesh) as being an opportunity for fruitful work for him which is difficult to chose against 22
4) Death is to Be with Christ: Paul understands death to be when he will depart from this life and be present with Christ which he sees as being better personally 23
5) Life is For Others: Paul understands that life in his body is more necessary for the sake of the Philippians than is his going to be with Christ at this time28 24
b. The Philippians Need: Being convinced that the Philippians need him, Paul understands that he will remain in order that the Philippians might make progress in their faith, and might have cause through his efforts to give glory to Christ Jesus 1:25-26
1) Paul is convinced that the Philippians need him29 1:25a
2) One purpose for Paul’s staying on is in order that they Philippians might make progress with joy in their faith30 1:25b
3) Another purpose Paul has for his staying is so that they might have ample cause through his efforts (“in me”) when he comes to glory (be proud) in Christ Jesus31 1:26
III. EXHORTATIONS FROM PAUL TO THE COMMUNITY:32 Paul exhorts the Philippians to humble themselves (as those with confidence in God) for the sake of unity by being self-sacrificing for the sake of one another just as Jesus, he, and Epaphroditus have been--especially in the face of the divisive threats of Jewish false teachers and inner disputes--so that they may continue to be effective with the gospel (1:27--4:9)
A. Be Humble for Unity: Paul exhorts the Philippians to humble themselves for the sake of one another as Christ and he have done for them so that they might continue to be effective with the gospel (1:27--2:18)
1. Exhortation to Maintain Unity in the Faith: Paul exhorts the Philippians to maintain a unified front for the truth of the Gospel and not to be frightened by their opponents even though they see the Philippians’ stand as leading to destruction because it is actually leading to their salvation as they share in the sufferings of Christ, like Paul, on behalf of the truth (1:27-30)
a. Stand Unified: Paul exhorts the Philippians to live their lives at all times in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ by maintaining a unified front for the preservation of the faith 1:27
1) The Statement: The Philippians are to live their lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ 1:27a
2) The Time: The Philippians are to live in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ whether Paul comes to them or remains absent (at all times) 1:27b
3) The Explanation: When Paul exhorts the Philippians to live their lives in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ he means that they should maintain a unified front--standing firm in one spirit, with one mind, striving together for the faith of the gospel33 1:27c
b. Against Opponents: Paul exhorts the Philippians in their unified stand for the truth of the Gospel to not be alarmed by their opponents because their stand is perceived by their opponents as leading to their destruction when it is in fact leading to the salvation of their lives as they share in the sufferings of Christ, like Paul, on behalf of the truth 1:28-30
1) Exhortation: Paul exhorts the Philippians to not be alarmed by their opponents34 1:28a
3) Reason 2: Paul reminds the Philippians that in their standing for their faith in Christ they can expect to suffer just as they saw and see Paul suffering37 1:29-30
2. Exhortation to Harmony and Humility For Unity:38 As partakers in the benefits of their faith through their relationship with Paul and God, Paul exhorts the Philippians to pursue unity through a humility which regards the value of one another just as Christ humbled Himself for the sake of men, and Paul was offering himself with joy for them in order that they may continue his life-giving gospel ministry (2:1-18)
a. Exhortation To Unity through Humility:39 As partakers of their benefits of their faith through their relationship with Paul and God, Paul exhorts the Philippians to pursue unity through a humility which regards the value of one another (2:1-4)
1) Benefits of Faith: Through multifold first class conditions (“if it is true, and indeed it is”) Paul asks the Philippians to consider ways that he and God have given them encouragement, consolation, fellowship, and tender compassion so that they might respond well to his request 2:1
a) From Paul: If the Philippians know of Paul’s encouragement of and love for them, then they should respond well to his request 2:1a-b
(1) Encouragement: If Paul's words of encouragement have in any way helped the Philippians to stay true to the faith in the past, then they should respond accordingly in the present 2:1a
(2) Love: If Paul's love has provided the Philippians with any consolation in their suffering, as indeed it has, then Paul asks that they respond properly to his request 2:1b
b) From God: If the Philippians know of the unity created by the Holy Spirit, and the warmth of God’s affection for them, then they should respond properly to his request 2:c-d
(1) Fellowship: If the Philippians belong to that community brought into existence by the Holy Spirit and enjoy any fellowship with one another as a result, then they should respond properly to his request 2:1c
(2) Affection and Compassion: If the Philippians know anything of the mercy and compassion shown them by God in Christ, as they most certainly do, then they should respond properly to Paul's request
2) Pursue Unity Through Humility: Paul’s goal in having the Philippians consider the experiential benefits of their faith is so that they might make Paul’s joy complete pursuing unity with one another 2:2
a) Joy Complete: Paul’s goal in having the Philippians consider the experiential benefits of their faith is so that they might make his joy complete 2:2a
b) Pursue Unity: The way in which the Philippians might make his joy complete is by striving for unity 2:2b
(1) Same Mind: Paul urges the Philippians to make his joy complete by being of the same mind40 2:2b
(2) Same Love: Paul urges the Philippians to make his joy complete by having the same (or mutuality of) love (for one another) 2:2c
(3) Shared Soul: Paul urges the Philippians to make his joy complete by having a shared soul41 2:2d
(4) Same Mind: Paul urges the Philippians to make his joy complete by having one mind42 2:2e
c) Through Humility: The way in which the Philippians might make his joy complete is by striving for unity in humility by caring for others 2:3-4
(1) Selfishness vs. Regard for Others: Paul urges the Philippians to make his joy complete by not acting out of selfishness or empty conceit, but by regarding one another as more important than himself 2:3
(2) Own Needs vs. Needs of Others: Paul urges the Philippians to make his joy complete by not only looking out for their own personal needs, but by looking out for the interests of others as well 2:4
b. The Example of Christ:43 Paul exhorts the Philippians to adopt Christ’s way of thinking who humbled Himself for the sake of men to be exalted by the Father 2:5-11
1) Exhortation to Philippians: Paul exhorts the Philippians to adopt the way of thinking in their relationships (2:1-4)44 which was also adopted by Christ Jesus (2:6-11) 2:5
2) Example of Jesus:45 Because Jesus who was equal with God humbled himself for the sake of men, God exalted him and gave him the name of Lord in order that all beings might obey and honor Him 2:6-11
a) Humiliation by Self: Jesus, who was in the form of God and equal with God did not grasp His rights, but poured himself out by becoming a man and humbled himself for the sake of men by dying on a cross 2:6-8
(2) Jesus Poured Out Himself: Instead of seeing his identity with God as a grounds for grasping (ἀλλὰ), Jesus poured out (emptied) himself (ἐαυτὸν ἐκενωσεν)48 by means of receiving a servant's form (μορφὴν)49 becoming (γενόμενος) in the likeness of men,50 and being found (εὐρεθεὶς)51 in human form52 2:7 [2:7-8a in English]
b) Exaltation by God:55 As a consequence of Christ’s voluntary humiliation God exalted him and gave Him the name of Lord in order that all beings might obey and honor Him 2:9-11
(2) As a consequence therefore God gave Jesus a name (character/status) of Lord59 which is above every name in order that (ι῞να)60 all everywhere61 will bow62 and confess that Jesus Christ is Lord63 to the glory of God the Father64 2:9b-11
c. Application to the Philippians:65 Paul exhorts the Philippians to follow the self-sacrificing examples of Christ and even himself by obeying his exhortations through the empowerment of God to restore their fellowship so that they might shine upon their dark world and continue to bear the gospel message of life which he gave to them leading to his honor at the Judgment Seat of Christ (2:12-18)
1) Resumption of Exhortation:66 Just as Christ obeyed, Paul exhorts the Philippians to obey his exhortations toward the restoration of their fellowship knowing that God will energize them to change so that they might become blameless children of God who shine to a dark world 2:12-16
a) General Exhortation: As a conclusion from the example of Christ ( ῞Ωστε), Paul urges the Philippians, whom he loves (ἀγαπητοί μου), to obey (as Christ did)67 his exhortations (1:27--2:5) 2:12a
b) Exhortation to the Church: Paul exhorts the Philippian church to obediently (with fear and trembling) work out their own salvation (take whatever steps which are necessary to restore themselves as a body to health and wholeness) not only in light of his anticipated coming to them (τῇ παρουσίᾳ), but in his present absence from them 2:12b
c) Power to Achieve the Exhortation: The reason (γάρ) Paul exhorts the church to do whatever is necessary to restore themselves is because the Energizing God (θεὸς γάρ ἐστιν ὁ ἐνεργῶν) is effectively at work among them (ἐν ὑμῖν) to effect change in their will (to will), and to achieve (ἐνεργεῖν) their community (“good will”) 2:13
d) Specifics of the Exhortation: Paul exhorts the Philippians to do all things without grumbling or arguing so that they might be blameless children of God who shine as lights to a dark world 2:15-16
(1) Paul urges the Philippians to do all things without grumbling (γογγυσμῶν)68 or arguing (διαλογισμῶν) 2:15
(2) The purpose for which Paul exhorts the Philippians is so that they might be blameless, innocent children of God who are thus able to shine as lights to a dark world (dispelling evil and ignorance) 2:15-16
2) The Example of Paul:69 Paul exhorts the Philippians to carry on his life-giving gospel ministry among them, and he rejoices with them even though he may be poured out as a libation upon their sacrifice urging them to adopt the same attitude in their service of one another 2:16
a) Hold Fast the Life Giving Gospel: Paul urges the Philippians to hold fast to the life-giving gospel (the word of life) so that he might glory (boast, exult) at the future judgment seat (day) of Christ70 over his work among them 2:16
b) Rejoicing in Sacrifice: Paul rejoices in the Philippians’ sacrificial ministry (what they have already done) even if he is about to have his life poured out as a libation over their sacrifice to make it complete71 2:17
c) Adopt Paul’s Attitude in Service: Paul urges the Philippians in their sacrificial service for one another to also adopt his attitude of rejoicing and joy 2:18
B. Timothy, Paul, and Epaphroditus:72 Although Paul intends to come soon after Timothy whom he regards so highly, he is sending Epaphroditus to them first in order to encourage them and for them to honor as one who nearly sacrificed his life in service 2:19-30
1. Timothy: Paul is sending Timothy to care for them and to learn of their condition as soon as some matters are cared for where he is (2:19-23)
a. Paul hopes, under the Lordship of Jesus, to send Timothy to the Philippians shortly 2:19a
b. Paul’s purpose in sending Timothy to the Philippians is so that (ι῞να) he too might be encouraged when he learns of the welfare of the Philippians just as they were when they learned of his welfare 2:19b
c. The reason Paul is sending Timothy is because he has no one else who equally shares his feelings and genuinely cares about the affairs of the Philippians 2:20-22
1) No One Else: The reason Paul says that he has no one else like Timothy is because all of the others among him are concerned about their own interests and not those of Jesus Christ73 2:21
2) Shares His Feelings and Genuinely Cares: The Reason Paul says that Timothy shares his feelings and genuinely cares is because the Philippians know of his proven worth, namely, how he worked hard with Paul as a child with his father to advance the cause of the gospel 2:22
d. In view of the above discussion (ου῏ν) Paul intends to send Timothy to the Philippians as soon as he handles some important affairs which he needs to first attend to 2:23
2. Paul: Paul is trusting in the Lord that he himself will follow Timothy soon after his arrival (2:24)
3. Epaphroditus:74 In view of the inability of Paul and Timothy to come immediately Paul announces that he is sending Epaphroditus back to the Philippians as a worthy, exemplary servant so that they might be glad at their reunion with him, honor him and others like him who serve sacrificially, and be aided in their difficulties [thereby resolving Paul’s anxiety] (2:25-30)
a. Paul is Sending Him: In view of Paul and Timothy not being able to come immediately, Paul considers it necessary to send Epaphroditus to the Philippians 2:25a
b. He is a Worthy Man: Paul emphasizes that he is sending Epaphroditus as one who was a worthy fellow worker with him and servant of the Philippians 2:25b
c. The Reason: Paul is sending Epaphroditus because he longs for and is concerned for the Philippians who were concerned about his sickness which was severe, but which God mercifully brought about deliverance for both Epaphroditus’ and Paul’s sakes 2:26-27
1) Paul is sending Epaphroditus because he longs for the Philippians and is concerned for them since they heard that he was sick 2:26
2) Paul affirms that Epaphroditus was sick and nearly died, but God was merciful with him and with Paul so that he would not have to suffer wave upon wave of grief 2:27
d. The Purpose: Paul is sending Epaphroditus sooner than expected75 so that the Philippians might be glad in their reunion that he is alive and well and so that Paul might be relieved of anxiety76 2:28
e. The Exhortation: Paul urges the Philippians to welcome77 Epaphroditus as a brother in the Lord and to hold up others among them in honor who are like him in that he nearly sacrificed himself in order to help Paul on behalf of the Philippians 2:29-30
C. Be Careful of Judaizers--Warning Against False Teachings with Paul’s Experience and Life as a Model to Follow:78 While on one hand Paul urges the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord as a safe-guard to themselves, on the other hand he warns them to watch out for (Jewish) false-teachers who desire to corrupt their true faith (with earthly, external rituals which lead to the delusion of perfection in their faith) by following his example and the example of those who follow his pattern of life which is one that continually strives toward moral perfection in the knowledge of Jesus with a hope of realization only at their final redemption with the return of Christ (3:1-21)
1. Warning--Against Corrupting, Jewish False Teachers: Paul urges the Philippians to rejoice in the Lord as a safe-guard to themselves, and to watch out for Jewish false-teachers who desire to corrupt them in their true faith 3:1-3
a. Rejoice: And now79 Paul urges the Philippians, as he has in the past, to rejoice80 in the sphere of the Lord as a safeguard for themselves (e.g., in order to be saved from the ills that plague their church) 3:1
b. Beware of Jewish False-Teachers:81 Paul urges the Philippians to be cautious of the Jewish false-teachers because they are attempting to corrupt true believers 3:2-3
2) The reason (γαρ) Paul calls the false teachers corrupting (“mutilators”) is because those who worship God by His Spirit85 and boast in Christ Jesus rather than themselves are the true people of God (circumcision) whom the false teachers are corrupting 3:3
2. Paul’s Life--An Answer to Judaism:86 Although Paul could have confidence in himself more than the false teachers he counts all of his personal and attained assets as unspeakable filth compared to an experiential knowledge of Christ in terms of His righteousness and resurrection 3:4-11
a. The Fleshly-Confidence Which Paul Could Have: Paul could have confidence in himself more than the false teachers because of his Jewish heritage and his zealous adherence to the Law 3:4-6
1) Statement: Paul could have confidence in his birth, religion, position in society et cetera more than others (the Jewish false teachers) 3:4
2) The reasons Paul could have confidence in himself are because of his natural Jewish heritage and his good Jewish works 3:5-6
a) Paul describes himself as a true Jew by virtue of his natural heritage--circumcision and birth 3:5a-d
(1) Circumcised: Paul was circumcised on the eighth day of his life 3:5a
(2) Birth: Paul is a an Israelite by birth 3:5b
(3) Tribe: Paul belongs to the tribe of Benjamin 3:5c
(4) Parents: Paul is a Hebrew born of Hebrew parents (rather than a Hellenist) 3:5d
b) Paul describes himself as a true Jew by virtue of his good works--a teacher of the Law, a zealous persecutor of the church, legally blameless 3:53-6
(1) Pharisee: Paul was a Pharisee with regard to the Jewish Law 3:5e
(2) Persecutor: Paul was a zealous persecutor of the church 3:6a
(3) Blameless: Paul was blameless with regard to legal righteousness 3:6b
b. The Spiritual Re-evaluation Which Paul Has: Paul counts all of his natural and achieved accomplishments as liabilities and filth compared to the goals of attaining righteousness through faith and attaining the present and future aspects of the resurrection through his relationship with Christ 3:7-11
1) The Re-Evaluation Stated: Because of who Christ is Paul counts all of his natural and achieved accomplishments as personal liabilities rather than as assets87 3:7
2) The Re-Evaluation Developed: Paul counts all of his personal assets as liabilities because of the supreme value of a personal knowledge of Christ in terms of attaining His righteousness through faith and attaining the present and future aspects of the resurrection 3:8-11
a) Re-Statement: Paul continues to count everything as a liability (loss) because of the one supreme value of a personal knowledge of Christ Jesus his Lord 3:8a
b) Filth Compared to Christ’s Righteousness: In Paul’s relationship with Christ he lost everything of “personal assets”, but he considers all of those “assets” to be like unspeakable filth for the goal of gaining Christ and being found in relationship with Him with His righteousness through faith rather than Paul’s own personal righteousness through keeping the Law 3:8b-9
c) Filth Compared to The Resurrection: Paul considers his former “personal assets” as unspeakable filth for the goal of experientially knowing Christ in the (inward) power of his resurrection and in the sharing in (fellowship of) his death (to sin)88 as he continually conforms89 himself to Christ’s death in the hope of attaining the resurrection from the dead90 3:10-11
3. Warning--Against Perfection Now:91 Even though there are those among the Philippians who consider themselves to be “perfect” in their experiential knowledge of Christ, Paul informs them that he is not perfect, but strives for perfection and urges them to adopt the same attitude in the state where they presently are 3:12-16
a. Lack of Perfection Stated: Paul affirms that he is not claiming (in his above focus upon Christ) that he has presently grasped perfection in his experiential understanding of Christ, but that he presses on (like a runner) that he might comprehend (apprehend) Christ fully just as he was grasped (apprehended) by Christ92 3:12
b. Lack of Perfection Developed: Paul affirms that he does not think that he has yet fully comprehended Christ and that he runs with a focus ahead towards the goal of the prize of fully knowing Christ 3:13-14
1) Christ Is Not Fully Comprehended: Paul again affirms to his brothers (some of whom believe that they have reached perfection) that he does not think (in a weighed calculation) that he has yet fully comprehended Christ93 3:13a
2) Pressing On Toward Perfect Knowledge of Christ: Paul affirms that as a runner he continually runs with a focus ahead towards the goal of the prize of fully knowing Jesus Christ 3:13b-14
a) The Runner: Paul runs as a focused runner on the one hand forgetting what lies behind him94 and on the other hand stretching out toward what lies ahead of him 3:13b
3) Exhortation: Paul exhorts the Philippians to adopt his attitude about perfection even though some disagree with him knowing that God will reveal his view to them and encouraging them to fall in line at the level of knowledge that they already have 3:15-16
a) Have the Same Attitude: Therefore (ου῏ν), Paul exhorts all who are “perfect”97 to have the same attitude (namely, that Christian perfection is in reality a constant striving for perfection) 3:15a
b) God Will Reveal This Truth: Paul assures those of the Philippians who have a different attitude (toward perfection than his) that God will reveal to them the truth about this98 3:15b
4. Paul’s Life--A Model to Imitate:101 Paul urges the Philippians to unify as imitators of him and those who live according to the pattern he gave them as they run toward perfection 3:17
a. Imitate Paul: Paul urges the Philippians, as his brothers, to continue to join with one another in imitating him (as he runs toward “perfection”) 3:17a
b. Imitate Others Following Paul: Paul urges the Philippians to run with their eyes on those102 who live according to the pattern that he gave them 3:17b
5. Warning--Against Imitating Other Teachers: The reason Paul urges the Philippians to follow him or those living according to his pattern is because he grievously knows that there are many false teachers who are enemies of the cross of Christ being destined for destruction as those who worship the code of the Law and focus upon earthly things 3:18-19
a. Many False Teachers/Leaders: The reason (γὰρ) Paul urges the Philippians to follow him or those living according to his pattern is because there are many who are living as enemies of the cross of Christ103 whom Paul has discussed before and mentions again now with tears of frustration104 3:18
b. A Description of False Teachers:105 Paul describes the false teachers as those who are destined for destruction, who worship the code of the Law and focus upon earthly things 3:19
1) Destruction: The end of false teachers is destruction106 3:19a
2) Code of Law: The god107 of false teachers is obedience to the code of the law (their observance of food laws [“their god is their belly”]108 and their glorying in circumcision [“whose glory is in their shame”)109 3:19b
3) Earthly Things: The focus of false teachers (their mind-set) is upon earthly things110 3:19c
6. Paul’s Life--Hope in the Future and Unseen:111 Paul now concludes his discussion of false teachers by expressing his, and all believers’ contrasting hope as citizens of heaven in Christ’s return and cosmic redemption which will specifically include their resurrection bodies 3:20-21
a. A Heavenly Colony: Unlike the Jewish false teachers who are colonies of Rome, Paul affirms that he and the Philippians have their citizenship in heaven and thus they eagerly await their Savior from heaven--the Lord Jesus Christ 3:20
b. Personal and Cosmic Redemption: Paul affirms that when Jesus comes from heaven he will transform their lowly bodies into bodies like his glorious one as part of his energizing ability to subdue and subject the universe to His authority 3:21
D. Stand Firm in the Lord For The Sake of Harmony and Unity:112 Paul urges the Philippians, whom he dearly loves, to stand firm in the Lord by seeking harmony and unity through helping those in disagreement, having confidence in the good and able work of the Lord during difficulties, being reasonable with all people, praying to God for help, and focusing their thoughts on the good in the body in the way in which Paul has taught them through word and example (4:1-9)
1. Exhortation to Stand Firm: Paul urges the Philippians, whom he loves and longs for as those who presently bring him joy and will be the source of his future reward, to stand firm in the Lord by seeking harmony and unity113 (4:1)
2. Specific Ways to Stand Firm: When Paul urges the Philippians to “stand firm” he is exhorting them to seek harmony and unity in the church by helping those in disagreement, by having confidence in the good and able work of the Lord during difficulties, by being reasonable with all people, by praying to God for help, and by focusing their thoughts on the good in the body in the way in which Paul has taught them through word and example (4:2-9)
a. Helping Those in Disagreement: Paul urges a true yoke-fellow (perhaps the entire Philippian church) to help Eudia and Syntyche, who were co-laborers with Paul in the spread of the gospel along with Clement and others and who are in the book of life, to live in harmony with each other114 (4:2-3)
b. Rejoicing: Paul emphatically urges the Philippians to constantly rejoice in the Lord115 4:4
d. Praying: Paul urges the Philippians not to worry, but to pray to God for help with thanksgiving and the Lord will miraculously resolve tensions (the peace of God) in their hearts and their thinking 4:6-7
e. Focusing on the Good: Paul urges the Philippians to focus their thoughts on the good in the body for peace from God as Paul has demonstrated to them (4:8-9)
IV. Gratitude Expressed for the Philippians’ Generosity:118 Although Paul is clear to express that he was not in dire need as one who learned to be self-sufficient of the world because of his dependence upon God, he does affirm the beautiful partnership that they have had in his afflictions through their gifts and emphasize that they were pleasing to God whereupon he prays that the Lord might in return supply for their physical needs in accordance with His great riches to the glory of their Father (4:10-20)
A. Praise: Paul, knowing that the Philippians have always cared for him but were not always able to show it, expresses great joy in the Lord that the Philippians’ concern for him has once again blossomed119 4:10
B. Disclaimer with Thanks: Paul does not give thanks as one who was in dire need because he was not since he had learned to be self-sufficient from the world’s ups and downs through the One who continually infuses him with strength, nevertheless, Paul does recognize the beauty in the Philippians becoming partners in his afflictions 4:11-13
1. Statement of No Need: Paul does not give thanks as one who was in dire need (in his poverty and thus needed their help)120 4:11a
2. The Reason is Enabled-Contentment: The reason Paul did not have dire “need” for help was because he has learned to be self-sufficient (free from inner worry, how to cope, αὐτάρκης) in every situation which he might find himself through the One who continuously infuses him121 with strength--whether the situation is one of being humbled122 or abounding, being well-fed or hungry, having enough or too little123 4:11b-13
3. Thanks for Partnership: Nevertheless, Paul does recognize the beauty (καλῶς) in the Philippians becoming partners with him in his troubles124 4:14
C. Paul Affirms Partnership: Paul affirms the partnership that the Philippians have had with him in the ministry of the gospel since its earliest days in Macedonia, not to receive more, but out of a desire for them to receive credit for it from the Lord affirming that their last gift not only abundantly supplied for Paul, but was received as a pleasing sacrifice by the Lord 4:15-18
1. Early Partnership: Paul affirms that the Philippians know as well as he125 that it was they alone who entered into a partnership with him when the gospel was in its beginning in Macedonia and when he was in Thessalonica 4:15-16
2. Paul does not acknowledge the past generosity of the Philippians in order to receive more, but because he desires for them to receive credit for this from the Lord126 4:17
3. Paul officially proclaims that he has received all that the Philippians have given in full127 being fully supplied with the gifts through Epaphroditus, and identifies them as a pleasing sacrifice to Christ128 4:18
D. Paul Prays for the Philippians: In return for the Philippians’ partnership in Paul’s hardships he prays that God would meet129 their every physical need in accordance with the marvelous wealth (in glory) in Christ Jesus giving glory to God their Father for all of this forever and ever 4:19-20
V. CONCLUSION: Paul concludes his letter to the Philippians by giving greetings to each saint, sending greetings from the brothers with him, all of the saints and the imperial household, and praying that they might experience Christ’s unifying grace (4:21-23)
A. Paul urges the Philippians to give his greetings to the saints and sends greetings from the brothers with him, all of the saints, and especially those of the imperial household 4:21-22
1. Paul urges the Philippians to give his greetings to every one of the saints130 in Christ Jesus 4:21a
2. Paul sends greetings from the brothers who are with him, all of the saints and especially those of the imperial household 4:21b-22
B. Paul prays for grace from the Lord Jesus Christ’s to be with their spirit131 (4:23)
1 In a unique fashion Paul includes Timothy with the descriptions of servant (or more literally slave) by making the term plural. Perhaps already Paul is emphasizing the theme of unity in this letter as he affirms that relationships in the church are those of humble equality (see Hawthorne, Philippians, pp. 3-4).
2 Paul is not emphasizing their ethical character so much as their special relationship which is because of their relationship with Christ Jesus.
3 Note that (1) these could be two groups “bishops and deacons” or one group “bishops even deacons”, (2) Paul does distinguish them from the congregation, (3) Paul addresses them second and along with the congregation, and (4) at this time there is a plurality of both.
The bishops were originally appointed by the apostle and his companions (cf. Acts 14:23) to in some sense govern, administer, and oversee the affairs, both material and spiritual, of the community (cf. Acts 20:28)
The deacons were involved with service and ministering to others as the heart of their activity caring for the needs of the poor and sick in the community (Acts 6; Rom. 12:7; 16:1-2; 1 Cor. 12:28). However, these were also significant spiritual leaders as Philip and Stephen demonstrate in Acts 6--8!
Perhaps Paul includes them in his greeting along with the saints not so much to honor them as leaders in the church (note they are mentioned second), but to suggest that they, like he and Timothy, need to realize that authority also means responsibility and unity in service. As Hawthorne writes, “How is one to begin to attack selfishness and disunity? By subtly showing from the very beginning that in the church seniority and high calling do not put one Christian leader above another (Paul and Timothy together are one--they are slaves of Christ Jesus) and that ‘church supervisors’ are not above serving, but are by virtue of their office, called to serve (to be diakonoi) ministering to the needs of their fellows” (Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 13).
4 Although this is a standard greeting by Paul in his letters, it is particularly applicable here since the Philippians need to be gracious to one another in order to experience peace in their congregation.
5 While this certainly refers to their faith and own efforts of evangelism, it also includes their financial support, and thus κοινωνία, as partners so that he could spread the good news (cf. Rom. 15:26; 2 Cor. 8:4; 9:13).
6 Note their financial support of Paul (Phil. 4:16; 2 Cor. 11:9; Phil. 4:10,18).
7 This verse is often understood to refer to “God’s redeeming and renewing work” in their lives. However, when tied to its context of verse 5, the good work is their partnership with Paul in the Gospel wherein they shared their resources with him to make its proclamation possible (cf. 2 Cor. 8:6).
8 Paul is certain that the Philippians would never cease sharing their good gifts to help spread the gospel until the return of Christ took place.
9 The Greek is ambiguous, “διὰ τὸ ε῎χειν με ἐν τῇ καρδίᾳ ὑμᾶς.” It is more probable that they are holding Paul in affection than that he is holding them in affection since justification for the way Paul feels about the Philippians has its basis in their affection for him (cf. Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 22-23).
10 Grace probably does not refer to general favor (salvation-grace), but to Paul’s apostolic commission to preach the gospel (cf. Rom. 1:5; 12:3,6; 1 Cor. 3:10; Gal. 2:9; Eph. 3:2).
11 This may well be describing his actual defense before Caesar rather than a general defense of the Gospel. Paul often combined the two (cf. Acts 22ff).
12 Perhaps Paul takes this oath as a defense against those in the church who were not convinced that he had the right to lead them, or that he loved them.
13 These are the feelings of gratitude, joy and confidence which he as articulated in verse 3-6.
14 The Greek is, “ἐν σπλάγχνοις Χριστοῦ ᾿Ιησοῦ.” Paul loves the Philippians with the very emotions of Christ.
15 This of course means that they have not yet reached absolute maturity.
16 This is to be a discriminating love accompanied by knowledge and understanding--intellectual and moral insight concerning the nature of God and wise decisions.
17 All of these terms describe the Philippians in relationship with others: pure, harmless, and good through the work of Jesus Christ in their lives which shows the greatness of God.
18 The “day of Christ” probably refers to the coming judgment seat of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:10-15).
19 Paul begins this section with the statement, “I want you to know.” This formula seems to direct attention to and gives important information about the safety, the activities, the feelings, and so on of the sender (Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 33).
Although this passage is personal, it does not focus attention upon Paul; rather, it draws attention to his mission and the progress of the gospel (Ibid.).
20 Not only have Roman soldiers heard the gospel, but he has brought it before rulers (Felix, Festus, King Herod Agrippa, and soon Caesar).
21 It does not seem that these were Judaizers since Paul did not consider their message to be a true expression of the Gospel (cf. Gal. 1:6-9). They are preaching Christ, but their motives are wrong. Nevertheless, it is possible that they were working hard to provide a mediating role between Christianity and Judaism, so they objected to Paul’s stance of “liberty from the Law.” Therefore, they preached their version of Christ and spoke against Paul.
Other suggestions are that these preachers desired for Paul to be martyred as a true vocation for an apostle (like Jesus and Stephen) and were angry that he was appealing to Rome. Or Perhaps they saw Paul’s weakness as a sign of weakness for an apostle who was to know the triumphant power of Christ (Hawthorne, Philippians, pp. 37-38).
22 The Greek reads, “ἀλλὰ καὶ χαρήσομαι.” This use of “but” (ἀλλὰ) moves the letter on to a new topic--”I am glad Christ is being preached. and in addition I will be glad for still another reason.” (Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 39).
23 One does not know how Paul knows this. Perhaps he is expressing a confidence based upon God and Scripture in that he will be saved from his plight and vindicated (cf. the LXX of Job 13:16).
Although the deliverance may have a hint of ultimate salvation, it seems more probably that Paul has his imprisonment in mind (cf. 1:24-26).
24 Paul often asked for prayer in his difficulties (cf. Rom. 15:30-31; 1 Thess. 5:25; 2 Thess. 3:1-2; 2 Cor. 1:9-11; Col. 4:3; Philem. 22).
25 The Spirit will give Paul assistance as he bears witness to his faith (cf. Mk. 13:11; Matt. 10:20; Lk. 12:12; Acts 5).
26 This title may be just another name for the Spirit. As Hawthorne writes, “the Spirit who animated Jesus in his human life and who, in the risen Christ, is the life principle of believers” (Philippians, p. 41).
27 This unit plays off of the words in 1:20, “whether by life or death” meaning in all of Paul’s life. Paul will now explain what he meant by this image in an excursus as he thinks about what would be profitable for himself.
28 Paul is probably making this choice because God has made it for him in that he expects to be delivered from prison. Paul is not choosing heaven over earth himself. It is not for him to choose.
29 Perhaps this conviction grew out of the things he had learned about problems at Philippi (cf. 2:1-4,14; 4:2-3).
30 This has the sense of doctrine--understanding and practicing the truth of God (cf. 1:27; 1 Tim. 3:9; 4:1,6; 5:8; 6:10,21; Jude 3).
31 See Philippians 3:3, “Our pride is in Christ Jesus”.
32 The transition from discussions about himself to exhortations to the community is subtle with the use of the term “only” (Μόνον). Immediately one is in a parenetic section.
33 Again, this probably refers to “creed” (e.g., what they believe; cf. 1 Tim. 3:9; 4:1,6; 5:8; 6:10,21; Jude 3).
34 It is difficult at this stage to identify the opponents Paul has in view: (1) they could be the Gentiles who persecuted Paul in Philippi (Acts), but this may not be an adequate explanation, (2) they could be Judaizers who either resided in Philippi or came from Thessalonica who were proclaiming a “false gospel” (cf. Acts 17:1-5, 10-13). If so this would be the same group against whom Paul speaks in chapter three.
35 Hawthorne seems to be correct when he identifies η῞τις in verse 28 with τῇ Πίστει in verse 27 (feminine singular; Philippians, pp. 58-59).
36 Through persecution and ultimately death.
37 Hawthorne is correct when he writes, “Redemptive history teaches that those who believe the Word of God, who uncompromisingly speak this Word and unyieldingly live in accordance with it often pay for their courage and resolution with their lives--from the ancient prophets to Jesus (Matt. 5:12; 23:29-37; cf. 21:33-46)” (Philippians, p. 60).
For Paul’s suffering see Acts 16:16-24; 1 Thessalonians 2:2.
38 This unit is closely tied to the previous one with the conjunction “therefore” (ου῏ν) by Paul’s repetition of the idea of harmony as an essential element for Christian community and their defense of the gospel (cf. 1:27; 2:2).
39 Hawthorne seems to be correct when he writes, “Other concepts such as humility and self-sacrifice (2:3-4) are added, not to divert attention away from the fundamental concept of unity, but to show that unity of spirit flows from humility of spirit, and self-sacrifice flows from a willingness to restrain one’s own desires in order to satisfy the desires of others” (Philippians, p. 64).
40 This is emotions, attitudes, and will focused toward unity (τὸ αὐτὸ φρονῆτε; cf. Rom. 12:16; 15:5; 2 Cor. 13:11; Phil. 4:2).
41 The term is σύμψωχοι perhaps emphasizing the sense of “with one soul (μιᾷ ψυχη) as in 1:27. As Hawthorne writes, “the Philippians are to share one soul, possess a common affection, desire, passion, sentiment for living in harmony...” (Philippians, p. 68).
42 This is a repetition of Paul from above (ε῞ν φρονοῦντες). As Hawthorne writes, “Paul repeats the same idea over and over again, hoping that the Philippians will get the point. Unity is essential for the spiritual growth of the church, the progress of the gospel and the victory of believers over their adversaries” (Philippians, p. 68).
43 The preponderance of material on this passage generally agrees that this was a hymn of the early church. That, however, is about as far as their congruence extends. Who wrote the hymn, and how its strophes are to be divided is greatly debated.
Nevertheless, there is a twofold division which can be found in the passage: (1) that which describes Jesus’ humiliation by his own act [with the first two verbs], and (2) that which describes God’s exaltation of Jesus [with the last two verbs].
There may also be parallels with this hymn and John 13:3-17 (see Hawthorne, Philippians, pp. 78-79).
44 The term for “this” (τοῦτο) probably looks backwards rather than forward to the thinking which he has just exhorted them to have twice in 2:2 (φρονεῖτε).
45 While this hymn has enormous Christological truth, Paul uses it in this passage as an ethical example for the Philippians to follow! He is not giving instruction in doctrine so much as instruction in Christian living by appealing to the conduct of Christ (cf. also Rom. 15:1-7; 1 Cor. 10:31--11:1; 2 Cor. 8:6-9; 1 Thess. 1:6; 1 Pet. 2:20-21; 3:17-18).
Concerning the point of this hymn Hawthorne writes, “Paul found it compatible with his own ideas about Christ and precisely fit to illustrate what he wished to teach the Philippians, namely that the surest way up is by stepping down, the surest way to gain for oneself is by giving up oneself, the surest way to life is by death, the surest way to win the praise of God is by steadfastly serving others. The Philippians had been acting in a spirit of ambition, thinking themselves better than others, believing that they were above serving their fellows, studying how they might promote themselves and get ahead without giving adequate attention to the welfare of their neighbor. Christ of the Christ-hymn, however, challengers every one of these false values of the Philippians. He becomes, therefore, for Paul the ultimate model for moral action” (Philippians, p. 95).
46 The preposition ἐν emphasizes a sphere in which Christ existed, or a garment in which Christ was wrapped or clothed (cf. Luke 7:25). While “form” is elusive of a precise definition (glory, image, Mode of being, condition or status), it does express the way in which a thing, being what it is in itself, appears to our senses (Hawthorne, Philippians, pp. 82-83). It describes the essential nature or character of God in verse 6 and of man in verse 7. In verse 6 this may bring us back to “glory” as a possible explanation (cf. John 17:5).
47 Hawthorne writes, “But contrary to what one might expect, the true nature of God is not to grasp or get or selfishly to hold on to things for personal advantage, but to give them up for the enrichment of all” (Philippians, p. 95).
48 “Himself” is in the emphatic position perhaps emphasizing that this was voluntary on the part of Jesus.
The views of what He emptied himself of are numerous: (1) of his glory, (2) of his independent exercise of authority, (3) of the prerogatives of deity, (4) of the insignia of majesty, (5) of the “relative” attributes of deity--omniscience, omnipresence, and omnipotence, et cetera.
Hawthorne suggests that the term can also mean “to pour out” and that “himself” can be its direct object--Christ poured out himself, putting himself totally at the disposal of people, becoming poor that we might become rich (2 Cor. 8:9; Eph. 1:23; 4:10; Philippians, p. 84).
49 He did not “look” like a slave but became a slave as He took on the nature and characteristic attributes of a slave--He become a slave.
Jesus entered human life as a slave--a person without advantage, with no rights of privileges, at the service of all mankind (Mark 10:45; Luke 22:27) in his mission for God.
50 The term, ὁμοιώματι, has the sense of “likeness,” “similarity,” even “identity;” Christ was in all respects like other human beings (Heb. 4:15).
51 This is how Jesus was discovered or recognized to be -- a man!
52 Christ’s self-emptying was achieved by becoming what He was not before; his “emptying” was not by “subtracting from”, but by “adding to”.
53 Hawthorne ties this to the argument well when he writes, “This means that as a man Christ did not strive for some pinnacle of human achievement. He did not stand where the people of Philippi apparently stood (cf. v 3)--’not where the battle was fought for honour, right and credit’ (Barth). Instead, his whole life was characterized by self-surrender, self-renunciation and self-sacrifice--’he humbled himself becoming obedient unto death’” (Philippians, p. 89).
54 Jesus set himself to obey God by serving humankind (cf. Heb. 10:7 with Luke 19:10; Mark 10:45).
The cross was not a natural death, but a degrading criminal’s death.
55 Whereas in the first part Christ was the acting subject of all the verbs, now in the last half it is God who acts and Christ is the object.
56 This conjunction means that God’s activity was a logical outcome of Christ’s humility. Self humbling leads inevitably to exaltation (cf. John 13:3-17; Matt. 16:25-26; Phil. 3:7-8).
57 Jesus is not made higher than he was, but is above all things in a superlative sense even though he was very lowly.
58 This was not in stages as the humiliation was; God in one dramatic act lifted Christ from the depths to the heights.” This no doubt occurred at the resurrection-ascension (cf. Acts 2:32,33; 5:30,31; Eph. 1:20,21).
59 He not only posses the title of Lord, but he is Lord (Matt. 28:18; cf. Eph. 1:20-21; Acts 2:36)!
60 While this is a purpose, it is not a guarantee to occur. Christ has worked that all may choose to submit to Him, but they will not be forced to do so against their will (cf. Rev. 9:20,21; 16:9,11).
61 This probably includes all beings--angels, men and demons. Perhaps the phraseology is an expression of universality through the contemporary perception of a three-storied universe.
62 The One who was completely obedient must now be completely obeyed.
63 This has the OT sense of God (YHWH; cf. Isa. 45:22-23).
64 Whenever anyone does confess Jesus as Lord, God himself is pleased, the Father is glorified, his purposes are fulfilled, his hopes for the world are realized (Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 96).
65 As the imperatives imply, this is still part of the larger parenetic section of 1:27--2:18.
66 Although verses 12-13 may have a reference to the Christ-hymn, these imperatives reach back to 1:27--2:5 as Paul addresses the church’s party spirit, selfishness, conceit, pride, and arrogance.
67 The term is the same in 2:8 and 2:12 (ὑπακούειν).
68 See Exodus 15--17; Numbers 14--17; 1 Corinthians 10:10.
69 In addition to the example of Christ in 2:5-11, Paul now offers himself as an model of one willing to sacrifice his life in service for the Philippians to emulate.
70 See 1 Corinthians 3; 2 Corinthians 5:10; Philippians 1:10.
71 Hawthorne writes, “In the ancient world sacrifices both pagan and Jewish were usually accompanied and completed by a libation of wine poured out either on top of the sacrifice or at the foot of the altar to honor the deity (2 Kings 16:13; Jer 7:18; Hos 9:4)” (Philippians, p. 105).
72 These are those who will help the Philippians (Timothy and Paul), and who illustrate self-sacrificing service.
73 It seems that those who are among Paul are unwilling to interrupt their own present ministries in order to help the church in Philippi. Paul interprets this as a selfish pursuit of their own interests rather than the cause of Christ.
74 This information about Epaphroditus is not only given to inform the Philippians, but to give another illustration of the self-sacrificing service that is demanded of all Christians which he has been talking about above (1:28--2:30).
75 Perhaps the Philippians sent Ephahroditus not only with their gift, but to be a more permanent member of his staff of co-workers.
76 This might be either for being responsible for Ephahroditus’ well being, or for the state of the Philippians church since Ephahroditus would be there to help them resolve their differences.
77 Perhaps Paul is anticipating a negative response to Ephahroditus’ early return. He affirms that there were no problems, but that Ephahroditus should be honored.
78 The structure of this unit is built around an interchange between warnings and Paul’s life as a model (See Hawthorne, Philippians, pp. xlix):
(1) Warning against circumcision and pride 3:1-3
(2) Paul’s life 3:4-11
(3) Warning against perfection now 3:12-16
(4) Paul’s life 3:17
(5) Warning against imitating other teachers 3:18-19
(6) Paul’s life 3:20-21
79 The term Τὸ λοιπόν could well be used to describe the end of a letter (“finally,” or “in conclusion”), but it may also mark a transition to a new topic as it seems to here (“and now,” “furthermore,” “well then” cf. 1 Thess. 4:1; 2 Thess. 3:1).
80 This is a major theme of this epistle (χαίρετε, cf. 1:18; 2:17-18,28; 3:1; 4:4,10).
81 Although one cannot be completely certain, the following descriptions seem to match a Jewish setting.
82 This was a term which Jews used of Gentiles whom they thought defiled them. Paul now turns it around upon the Jews who are defiling with their teaching the pure church.
83 Again this is a play on terms since the Jews considered themselves to be workers of good by obeying the Law. But their reliance upon works now is evil against the work of Christ as they interfere with the role of faith for the Christian.
84 This is another play on words; the covenant through Abraham which circumcision is spiritually realized through Christ (cf. Rom. 2:28-29; Col. 3:11). Now their insistence upon circumcision becomes that which mutilates the body (κατατομή; περιτομή).
85 See John 4:23-24; Romans 12:1; 1 Peter 2:5.
86 This unit is linked to the previous one through the word “confidence” (πεποιθότες, vv. 3,4). Paul uses himself as “an authentic Jew” to be an example of what it means not to have “confidence” in the flesh. As Hawthorne writes Paul permits, “the Philippians to understand, not abstractly but concretely, what it means to consider oneself no longer religious except through the Spirit, no longer able to boast except in Christ Jesus, and no longer able to rely on human privilege or achievement to gain favor with God ...” (Philippians, p. 130).
Paul “boasts” to diminish the status of his opponents by implicitly faulting them for not being his equal. When he disparages personal assets he does so as one who has resources and achievements, but knows that he has nothing without Christ.
87 Paul has abandoned his past “advantages” because they were the very things which kept him from coming to God (cf. Acts 9).
88 See Romans 6; Galatians 2:19-20. Paul is not saying that he wishes to suffer martyrdom with Christ, but that he wishes to know Christ who suffered and died for Him, and therefore, to know that he has suffered and died in Christ, only to be resurrected in him to a new and superlative kind of life (cf. Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 123-144).
89 This term, συμμορφίζεσθαι, is similar to the vocabulary in Romans 6:5,8; cf. also 6:10-11; Eph. 2:5
90 Paul does not doubt that he will be resurrection, but he is expressing a humility which is dependent upon the Lord’s grace and mercy. As Hawthorne writes, “Thus it is, in a deep sense of humility and trust, of expectation and hope, that Paul looks forward to the future and to his own bodily resurrection from among the dead” (Philippians, p. 148).
91 Paul is continuing his emphasis upon knowing Christ from the above verses as he describes the reality that no one (not even he) can know Christ fully in this lifetime. Nevertheless, he will continue to pursue Him as a runner toward a prize. However, the passage may also be a warning against the Jewish false-teachers who affirmed that a person who has been circumcised and is true to the Law can reach perfection (cf. Rigaux, NTS 4[1957-58]: 237-262]). Hence, Paul is reminding the Philippians that such perfection cannot be attained apart from knowing Christ and apart from the resurrection at the last day (cf. 3:21).
92 While this may have the sense of being chosen by Christ for a specific task (Gal. 1:15-16; 4:9; cf. Amos 3:2), it probably refers to his Christ-encounter on the Damascus road when Christ laid his hand upon him setting him in a new direction (cf. 1 Cor. 15:8-10).
93 If this is not true for the apostle Paul, then it is probably not true for others.
94 These are probably the very things he has previously discussed--his former assets which became his liabilities (e.g., his zeal for Judaism at the expense of Christ’s church).
95 This is the post at the end of the race upon which the runner fixes his attention . Hawthorne suggest that, “since it originally was intended to give direction to the runner and incentive to his flagging energies, one might guess, then, that Paul meant by σκοπός anything or anyone that kept the believer from straying from the course of the Christian life, or from slackening in his moral strivings” (Philippians, p. 154).
96 “The prize of the upward call” need not be appositional, meaning that the “prize” is identical with God’s “call.” It could be an allusion to the call in the Olympian games where the victor’s name, his father’s name, and his country were announced or called out whereupon he received a palm branch (cf. G. Glotz, “Hellenodikai,” in C. Daremberg and E. Saglio [eds.], Dictionaire des antiqués et romaines [Paris: Hachette, 1900-1963] 3,2,60-64; cited in Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 154).
Paul is awaiting God’s calling of his name, and to receive the praise which is contained in Christ Jesus.
97 In a touch of irony, since Paul has already clearly stated that he was not prefect in his comprehension of Christ (cf. 3:12), Paul exhorts those who suppose they have reached perfection to nevertheless take the following view of things (e.g., forgetting the past and pressing on toward the goal). Christian perfection only consists of a constant striving for perfection). What is important is not what I have become, but what I am becoming (Luther).
98 This is a good verse for the doctrine of illumination (cf. also Eph. 1:18-19: “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of his power toward us who believe”).
99 The Greek is πλὴν --a term meant to break off the discussion meaning “in any case”.
100 This term is again emphasizing harmony and mutual cooperation in spite of the differences which exist.
101 This verse may be transitional between warnings against the belief that one can be perfect now (3:12-16) and against the belief that external rituals can be a means of grace (3:18-19). Paul is presenting his life as an example of striving toward greater moral endeavors.
102 This would be people like Epaphroditus (2:25-30).
103 This is the strongest hint that these are unbelievers. They are opposed to the belief in salvation through the crucified and resurrected Christ.
104 Paul is probably weeping because he now knows that these Judaizers will probably never change nor abate their hostility toward him and his gospel message.
105 See 3:2 for a similar description of these enemies of the cross.
There are many suggestions for the identity of these false teachers whom Paul does not name: (1) Jewish Christians, (2) heathen who opposed the Christian gospel, (3) antinomian Christians, (4) Christians with gnostic tendencies, (5) Christians who were willing to deny Christ in the time of persecution and the threat of martyrdom, (6) Christians who refused to recognize the decisive eschatological nature of the Cross and Resurrection of Christ, (6) the same group addressed in 3:12-16--Jews who were ardent propagandists seeking to win converts to their religion in every part of the world. This last group may be the best choice, and I would identify them as unbelieving Judaizers.
106 Because they are enemies of the cross of Christ there is no other way for them than destruction.
107 These false teachers worked so hard at performing their religious practices that they made them their god.
108 See Colossians 2:16,20-21,23; cf. Heb. 9:10; Mark 7:1-16.
109 Hawthorne notes well the significance of Paul’s descriptions in this verse: “What makes this section so poignant is that Paul takes the most exalted religious and ethical austerity of those he would warn against and describes it in terms which, if found in any other context, would have to be understood as a description of the basest of bodily sins. But this is intentional. That is precisely how Jewish piety ‘really does look, seen from the standpoint of the preaching of the cross.... Of course Paul is speaking of depravity, but the fact that he brands as depraved those who, bypassing the cross of Christ and bypassing faith and its righteousness, call for holiness and cleanness--that he drags their glory in the mire (he may well and truly do it, after having done exactly the same with his won glory in vv 7-9)--that is the bitter point of vv [18-19]’ (Barth)” (Philippians, pp. 167-168).
110 Since the false teachers became so engrossed with their religious ritual (earthly things), they lost any ability to look up to God who was the essence behind the symbols (cf. Col. 3:2).
111 This may also have been an early hymn in the church as with 2:6-11. It is given in contrast to the description of the false teachers. Unlike the false teachers who were a Jewish colony of the Roman empire on earth, Christians are a colony of heaven on earth. Christians are not earthly-minded, but look toward their future redemption through Christ (see especially Hawthorne, Philippians, pp. 169-170).
112 Paul is now making a transition from the polemical portion of this unit to the close of this unit with exhortations, expressions of gratitude, words of farewell, and so on.
113 “Harmony” and “unity” are the content of what follows in his commands which are themselves the content of the term “thus” or “this” (ου῞τως).
114 Perhaps their division threatened the unity of the church as people were taking sides.
115 Paul is not urging them to always “put on a happy face” even in times of mourning, but to have confidence in God’s good and able working even during difficult times.
116 The term is ἐπιεικὲς describing a “sweet reasonableness” as opposed to a “strict justice” which overlooks people for the “letter of the law”. It is descriptive of one who does not demand his “full rights” (cf. 1 Tim. 3:3; Titus 3:2; 1 Pet. 2:18; James 3:17). Perhaps Paul has in mind enduring harassment of the false teachers whom he has just described.
117 The sense could be that one should be reasonable because the Lord is close by, present to aid and give assistance, but the sense is to probably to endure because the Lord is about to return resulting in deliverance, future reward and the judgment of evil (cf. 1 Cor. 16:22; Heb. 10:24-25; James 5:8; Rev. 1:7; 3:11; 22:20; cf. 2 Thess. 1:7-8).
118 Paul may have saved this discussion of the Philippian gift until the end of the letter because of its delicate nature. Although Paul affirmed his right as an apostle to receive support from the churches, he often emphasizes his policy of not receiving support from the churches so that he might provide the gospel without charge (cf. 1 Thess. 2:9; 2 Thess. 3:8-9). Therefore, Paul now writes a, “careful reply that combined cautious gratitude with a gentile but firm demand that they not henceforth infringe on his own self-reliance.
The very structure of this section makes clear what has just been said. It exhibits a nervous alternation back and forth between Paul’s appreciation on the one hand (vv 10, 14-16, 18-20), and his insistence on his own independence and self-sufficiency on the other (vv 11-13, 17)” (Hawthorne, Philippians, p. 195; cf. also Buchanan, EvQ 36 : 161-163; Glombitza, NovT [1964-65]: 135-141).
119 For some reason there was a lack of communication by the Philippians to Paul for a period. But now they have expressed their concern for him again--probably through the gift which Epaphroditus brought (4:18).
120 Paul is thankful for their truly Christian deed of sacrificial self-giving love (cf. 2 Cor. 8:5), and not because of his need.
121 The “all things” of “I can do all things” does not speak of “everything” so much as both the good and bad situations which he has just described above.
The paradox is that the secret of Paul’s independence was his dependence upon Another--Christ!
122 See Paul’s model, Christ (2:8).
123 Paul is expressing an independence of the world through his dependence upon God!
124 This is very close to a “thank you” (cf. Acts 10:32; 2 Pet. 1:19; 3 John 6).
125 That Paul even needs to say this is a hint that the Philippians sensed a faint rebuke in their giving. But Paul did not wish to offend them. Therefore, he does emphasize their partnership with him.
126 See 2 Corinthians 9:8-11; Luke 19:11-27.
127 This is technical accounting language. Hawthorne translates this, “Here, then, is my receipt for everything you have given me” (Philippians, p. 193).
128 Although they were given to Paul, Christ is ultimately the one who receives them (cf. Matt. 10:40-42; 25:31-40; Acts 9:3-5).
129 This is probably an aorist optative (πληρώσται); see Hawthorne for support (Philippians, p. 208).
130 Perhaps Paul does not mention anyone in particular in order to emphasize their equality--they were each equally dear to him.
131 Paul writes, “your spirit” (πνεύματος ὑμῶν) in order to emphasize the unified spirit which he desire for the church to have.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Introduction To The Book Of PhilippiansRelated Media
I. AUTHOR: The Apostle Paul
A. External Evidence: There never seems to have been a question about Pauline authorship by the church fathers
1. The Church Fathers: Echoes of Philippians are found in the writings of:
a. Clement (c. AD 95)
b. Ignatius (c. AD 107)
c. Hermas2 (c. AD 140)
d. Justin Martyr (d. c. AD 165)
e. Melito of Sardis (d. c. AD 190)
f. Theophilus of Antioch (late second century)
g. Polycarp of Smyrna3 (d. c. AD 155)
h. Irenaeus (d. c. AD 200)
i. Clement of Alexandria (d. c. AD 215)
j. Tertullian (d. c. AD 225)
k. Later fathers quote from Philippians and assign Paul to it as well
2. The Early Canons
a. The Muratorian Canon (late second century)
b. The Canon of Marcion (d. AD 160)
B. Internal Evidence: Internally, the evidence is strong for Pauline authorship of Philippians
1. The author claims to be Paul along with Timothy (1:1)
2. The picture of Paul in Philippians coincides with other sources like Acts and Galatians:
a. His innermost feelings (1:18-24)
b. Autobiographical information (3:5,6)
c. Naming of friends and coworkers (2:19-24)
d. Referring to gifts sent to him from Philippi to Thessalonica and elsewhere (4:15,16; cf. Acts 17:1-9; 2 Cor. 8:1-5
3. The style and language show themselves to be Pauline:
a. Special Pauline vocabulary appears throughout Philippians
b. Phrases, ideas, and allusions to opposition of false teachers which show up in Philippians also show up in Romans, 1 and 2 Corinthians, and Galatians
1. A few modern scholars4 have questioned Pauline authorship of Philippians, but these radical views are not convincing
2. While most hold to the authenticity of Philippians, there are portions of the letter that some consider to be non-Pauline:5
a. Philippians 1:1b with its mention of bishops and deacons
b. as a Marcionite interpolation
c. as a song to Christ not originally written by Paul, but modified and used by him as the supreme example for humility and service
d. as a brief Pauline note written to correspondents whose identity can no longer be determined
II. THE INTEGRITY OF PHILIPPIANS: A Single Letter
A. A Composite Work of Two or More Letters:6
1. First suggested in the seventeenth century (Collange)
a. If Romans 16 was originally a note addressed to Ephesus and 2 Corinthians was composed of at least two letters, then it is not an incredible thing to think of Philippians as a composite of previously existing letters
But Romans and 2 Corinthians are not composite letters; even if they were, it would prove nothing about Philippians
b. Paul may have written more than one letter to this community whom he loved; if he did, where they all lost but one?
Paul may have written more than one letter (3:1), but attempts to recover these letters is conjecture
c. An Ancient Syriac stichometry mentions two letters to the Philippians
This may be due to an accidental repetition and thus be no corroborating proof of plurality of Pauline letters to Philippi
d. Polycarp, in his letter to the Philippians also states that Paul had written them letters (3.2)
But the plural may simply mean “a letter of importance” or may refer to a collection of Paul’s letters which were sent to all churches, or may be a guess on Polycarp’s part inferred from Philippians 3:1
e. Polycarp’s own letter may itself be the end-product of a compilation confirming the practice
This thesis concerning Polycarp’s letter has not gone unchallenged
f. The disjointedness of Philippians raises questions of original unity (3:1-2 versus 3:1 and 4:4 which seem to go together)
This disjointedness is not surprising in a personal, conversational, letter written by a man accustomed to abrupt shifts in style8
The change in tone from warmth and friendliness to harshness is startling only if one assumes that the opponents Paul denounces were fellow Christians, identical with those mentioned in 1:15-17; but 3:1b-21 identifies them as Jews hostile to the gospel who were attempting to turn the Philippians away from faith in Jesus Christ
The harsh tone of 3:2-6 leads up to and gives way before the personal confession of faith and hope which is consistent with Paul’s other intimate expressions found in Philippians
The same terms, word-roots and motifs pervade all of the so-called separate letter of chapter three
If 3:1 and 4:4 fit together so perfectly one must ask why any intelligent scribe, bent on unifying the fragments would have placed 3:2ff between them
g. The question of unity is further raised by the fact that Paul did not turn to thanking the Philippians for their gift until the end of the letter (4:10-20) which seems unlikely9
But why would a scribe wishing to put the Philippian “letters” together into an ordered whole place the “letter” at the end?
It is possible that Paul, in the custom of his day, dictated the early part of the letter, but picked up the pen to sign it in his own hand, and in doing so wrote his own personal “thank your” for their gift10
B. A Single Letter:
1. Theories of compilation solve nothing, but shift the order and organization from Paul to an unknown editor
2. Theories of compilation do not deal with the questions of whether there were salutations and signatures to the “fragments” and why these portions of the letters were not allowed to stand without modification since length was not a criterion for preservation (e.g., Philemon)
3. From the beginning of its manuscript history there has been only one canonical letter to the Philippians11
4. All of the peculiarities of sequence of thought are comprehensible without assuming editorial work or interpolations
III. THE RECIPIENTS AND THEIR CITY:
A. In view of the prominence of Phillipi, Paul probably bypassed Neoapolis (Acts 16:11) to begin his preaching of the gospel in Macedonia in the Roman colony of Philippi
1. Philippi was built and fortified in 358-357 BC by Philip II of Marcedon (the father of Alexander the Great); it was named after him
2. It was a section along the Via Egnatia (the main overland route connecting Rome with the East)
3. It was the place where Brutus and Cassius (the assassins of Julius Caesar) were defeated by Antony and Octavian in 42 BC
4. When Octavian defeated Antony (31 BC) he rebuilt Philippi and established a military outpost there and gave it the legal quality of being a Roman territory in Italy (ius italicum) enabling colonists to purchase, own, and transfer property, to enter into civil lawsuits, and to be exempt from poll and land taxes
B. The People of Philippi:
1. The city was inhabited predominantly by Romans with many Macedonian Greeks and some Jews
2. The people were proud of their city, ties with Rome, Roman customs, Roman laws and to be Roman citizens (cf. Acts 16:21)
C. Paul’s Founding of the Church at Philippi (Acts 16:1-40):
1. The mission at Philippi: The mission through Paul and Silas is sovereignly directed by the Holy Spirit to Philippi where God sovereignly arranges for the conversion of several including Lydia (an Asian woman of commerce), and a Philippian jailer (a Greek/Roman man) before sending Paul and Silas out of the city 16:1-40
a. Prologue: the call to Macedonia: As the party, including at least Paul, Silas, Timothy, and Luke traveled, the Holy Spirit sovereignly directed their movement away from Asia to Macedonia 16:6-10
1) Paul, Silas, and Timothy were forbidden by the Holy Spirit to speak the word of God in Asia, so they went through the regions of Phrygia and Galatia 16:6
2) At Mysia the Spirit of Jesus did not allow them to go north to Bithynia, so they went down south to Troas 16:7-8
3) In a vision to Paul a Macedonian man beckoned him to come west and help them 16:9
a) A vision appeared to Paul in the night 16:9a
b) A Macedonian man beckoned Paul to come west and help them 16:9b
4) Those in the party (including Luke--”we”) immediately interpreted this dream as God’s sovereign direction to go to Macedonia to preach the gospel to the people there 16:10
b. The conversion of Lydia When the party arrived in Philippi, they sought the place of prayer by the river on the Sabbath, and the Lord caused a God-worshipping woman named Lydia to hear Paul’s message, whereupon she believed, and showed hospitality to the party 16:11-15
1) Setting: The party set sail from Troas to Macedonia through Samothrace and Neapolis to Philippi, the leading city of Macedonia, where they remained for some time 16:11-12
2) As the party went to a place of prayer by the river on the Sabbath, God caused an Asian woman named Lydia to hear Paul’s message, whereupon she believed, was baptized with her family, and showed hospitality to the party 16:13-15
a) There not being a synagogue12, on the Sabbath the party went to a riverside outside of the city where they supposed there to be a place of prayer, and they spoke to women who had come together 16:13
b) One woman heard them named Lydia, an Asian from Thyatira who was a merchant, and a worshiper of God 16:14a
c) The Lord caused her to hear what Paul was saying, she believed, was baptized, with her household, and showed hospitality to the party 16:14b-15
c. The conversion of the Jailer: God sovereignly works to save a jailer and his family through Paul delivering a demonized girl from an evil spirit, which led to his being arrested and placed under a jailer’s care, where the Lord caused an earthquake that provided the opportunity for the jailer and his family to hear and believe in the word of God 16:16-34
1) A demonized girl: When a demonized girl began to follow the party around and announce their mission from God, Paul in the name of Christ cast the evil spirit out of her 16:16-18
a) The party was met by a slave girl who was demonized and used for profit by her master as a soothsayer when they were on their way to the place of prayer 16:16
b) For many days she followed the party around announcing that they were servants of God who are proclaiming the way of salvation 16:17-18a
c) Paul was annoyed by her actions, so he cast the evil spirit out of her 16:18b
2) Imprisonment of Paul and Silas: When the Spirit was cast out of the girl, her owners drug Paul and Silas to the magistrates, and charged them with disrupting the city against Roman law, whereupon, the rulers had them beaten and thrown under custody of a jailer into prison 16:19-24
a) When the spirit was cast out of the girl, her owners saw that they had lost their hope of profit through her 16:19a
b) The girl’s owners brought Paul and Silas before the judges and charged them with being Jews (racial) who were disturbing the city, and whose customs are not Roman 16:19b-21
c) The town joined in with the attack, and the rulers had them severely beaten,13 thrown into prison, and put under the guardianship of a jailer who fastened there feet in stocks 16:22-24
3) The Deliverance: God sovereignly works through an earthquake to cause a jailer to hear the gospel message from Paul and Silas, whereupon he and his family believe and enter into fellowship with them 16:25-34
a) At midnight, Paul and Silas were being listened to by the prisoners as they were praying and singing hymns 16:25
b) Suddenly there was a great earthquake which shook the foundations of the prison, opened the doors and unfastened everyone’s fetters 16:26
c) When the jailer awoke and saw what had occurred, he was about to kill himself thinking that all of the prisoners had escaped, when Paul told him to not hurt himself since everyone was still present 16:27
d) The jailer ran into the jail, got Paul and Silas and asked them what he must do to be saved 16:29-30
e) Paul and Silas explained the word of the Lord to Him and his household, and urged him to believe in the Lord Jesus to be saved 16:31-32
f) A Picture of Reconciliation: That very night the jailer washed Paul and Silas’ physical wounds and they washed him and his family (through baptism) of their spiritual wounds, whereupon they fellowshipped in his house 16:33-34
d. Epilogue: God’s servants are vindicated: Paul and Silas were vindicated by the rulers of Philippi when they learned that the team were Roman citizens by being escorted out of prison, whereupon, they returned to Lydia’s house, encouraged the brethren, and left Philippi 16:35-40
1) When it was morning, the rulers ordered the jailers to release Paul and Silas 16:35
2) The jailer announced their release to Paul urging them to come out to peace 16:36
3) Paul refused to come out privately, but insisted that the leaders come themselves and lead them out because they were unjustly beaten in a public manner as Roman citizens14 16:37
4) When the leaders heard Paul’s words about being Roman citizens, they were afraid, came to them, apologized, took them out and asked them to leave the city 16:38-39
5) Paul and Silas left prison, went to Lydia’s, exhorted the brethren, and departed from Philippi 16:40
D. Other names of members of this Philippian community are Epaphroditus, Euodia, Syntyche, and Clement (2:25; 4:2,3) which indicate that the church was largely made up of Gentiles
E. Paul stayed in touch with the Macedonian churches through Timothy (Acts 19:21-23; Phil. 2:19,20), visited them on at least two other occasions (Acts 16; 20:1-6), and received gifts from them on several occasions (Phil. 4:15,16)
IV. PLACE AND DATE OF WRITING: Rome AD 61
A. Several Fundamental Factors Must Be Considered in the Choice of a Place of Writing:15
1. The fact that Paul was in prison when he wrote (Phil. 1:7,13,17)
2. The fact that Paul faced a trial that could end in his death (Phil. 1:19-20; 2:17)
3. The fact that from wherever it was that Paul wrote there was the Praetorium (toV praitwvrion, 1:13), and there were those who belonged to Caesar’s household (4:22)
4. The fact that Timothy was with Paul (1:1; 2:19-23)
5. The fact that extensive evangelistic efforts were going on around Paul at the time he wrote to the Philippians (1:14-17
6. The fact that several trips were made back and forth between Philippi and the place from which Paul wrote Philippians--all within the time-span of his imprisonment (Phil. 2:19-30)
B. Several Locations Are Suggested As the Place of Writing:16
a. Many aspects of Paul’s imprisonment here could match the necessary events in the Philippian letter17
b. However, Caesarea is even further away from Ephesus than Rome
c. However, Paul’s imprisonment in Caesarea did not hold the possibility of death (Phil. 1:20; 2:17) since he could and did appeal to Rome
It is true that the death that Paul could be concerned about is from the Jews (Acts 21:31,36; 22:22; 23:30; 25:3,24; 26:21)
a. While many elements could fit an Ephesian location, the hypothesis is mostly built on conjecture as one reconstructs what could have happened in Ephesus
b. Other objections:
1) No mention of the “collection” as in other letters known to have been written from this time (third missionary journey, e.g., 2 Corinthians and Romans)
2) Paul speaks harshly about the Christians around him--unlikely of Aquila and Priscilla (Acts 18:2,18,24-26; 1 Cor. 16:19)
3) The church in the city where he is writing from is divided which may not answer the setting of the Ephesian church
4) How could Paul be facing the possibility of immediate death in Ephesus since he could appeal to Rome (Phil. 1:19-20)
5) Acts does not speak of an Ephesian imprisonment
a. Although this could meet some of the necessary requirements, it is mostly built on speculation with no facts of support
b. There is no mention of an imprisonment for Paul in Corinth
C. Rome May Be The Best Suggestion as the Place of Writing:18
1. From the second century Marcionite prologues attached to Paul’s epistles until the eighteenth century, everyone accepted Rome as the place of writing without question
2. Paul was a prisoner under house arrest for at least two years (Acts 28:30)
3. While in prison Paul was free to send letters and receive those who would come to him or bring gifts (Acts 28:17,30)
4. From Rome Paul had no higher court of appeal: he would stand before Caesar and would either die or be acquitted
5. The expressions, “the praetorium” (Phil. 1:13), and “Caesar’s household” (Phil. 4:22) are most easily and naturally understood in view of Rome
6. In Rome there was a church sufficiently large and diverse to divide into factions over Paul and his teachings (Phil. 1:14-17)
7. The distance from Rome to Philippi is considered to be a problem for there to have been so many trips, but this is not insurmountable19
V. PURPOSES OF PHILIPPIANS
A. To write this church whom he loved with the opportunity of Epaphroditus returning to Philippi
B. To bring the church up to date on the news about himself--his present situation and future prospects (1:12-26; 2:24)
C. To address problems of infighting in the church over personal differences (1:27; 2:2-4,16; 4:1-2)
D. To honor Epaphroditus who had brought a gift from the Philippians to Paul (4:18), served Paul (2:25) was ill (2:27), but now was returning with the letter to the Philippians as one honored by Paul (2:25-30)
E. To warn of the threat to their faith through false teachers who:
1. Establish their own righteousness through the Law
2. Boast in the strictness of their religious observance
3. Consider themselves to have already arrived and to have attained a form of perfection in the eyes of God
F. To encourage the church to rejoice irrespective of circumstances (2:18; 3:1; 4:4)--to view imprisonment and suffering in light of a Christological framework:20
1. Jesus humbled himself in his incarnation and death
2. God exalted Jesus through the resurrection and established his ultimate victory over all of creation (2:6ff)
3. Therefore one can rejoice because:
a. In suffering the gospel is advanced
b. There will be a vindication on the day of Christ (2:16; 3:20)
G. To thank the Philippians again for their financial support (4:10-20)
H. To mention Timothy’s approaching visit (2:19), and Paul’s hope of visiting the church (2:24)
I. To provide cautionary and preventative warnings to the church--stand firm in the faith, complete dedication to the will of Christ (1:27-30)
J. To provide something like a last will and testament offering “a confident witness to a beloved church on how to respond faithfully and with joy to life with Christ even when the apostle is no longer present”21
K. To encourage the Philippians to continue in their unity for the sake of continuing their part in the proclamation of the message -- especially against false teachers22
1 Much of what follows is developed from Gerald F. Hawthorne, Philippians, Word Biblical Commentary, pp. xxvi-lii; R. P. Martin, The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, Tyndale New Testament Commentaries; Homer A. Kent, Jr. “Philippians” in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, vol. 11.
2 Shepherd, Similitude 5.3.8 (Phil. 4:18); 9:13, 7-8 (Phil. 2:2; 3:16; 4:2).
3 He addresses himself to the Philippians and directly mentions Paul as having written to them (3.2). See also Philippians 9.2 (Phil. 2:16), 11.3 (Phil. 4:15), 12:3 (Phil. 3:18)
4 Edward Evanson (1731-1805), F. C. Baur (1792-1805), A. Q. Morton and J. McLeman (See Hawthorne, Philippians, p. xxviii).
5 Hawthorne, Philippians, pp. xxviii-xxix.
6 Some see Philippians as made up of two letters: (a) 1:1--3:1a; 4:2-7, 10-23, and (b) 3:1b--4:1, 8-9.
Some see Philippians as made up of three letters: (a) 4:10-20 [or 4:10-23], (b) 1:1--3:1a; 4:2-7, 21-23, and (c) 3:1b--4:1, 8-9).
Few scholars agree on the number of “letters” or on what sections go to make up these “letters”.
7 Hawthorne, Philippians, p. xxx.
8 See Romans 16:16-19; 1 Thessalonians 2:13-16.
9 The theory is that 4:10-20 must be a separate earlier letter sent soon after Epaphroditus brought the gift, but carried back to Philippi by someone else since Epaphroditus fell ill.
10 See Bahr, JBL 87 (1968).
11 Admittedly, the earliest manuscript that includes Philippians is the Chester Beatty Papyrus (P46) dated AD 200.
12 There may have been too few Jews in Philippi to have a synagogue, and others think that this may be descriptive of a synagogue since they were often placed by water for the convenience of religious ablutions. It seems that Luke is clear, however, when they do go to a synagogue in Acts.
13 Paul could have appealed to his Roman citizenship in order to avoid a flogging, but did not.
14 Although Paul would not claim Roman citizenship to spare himself physical suffering, he would and did claim it to clear Christianity from any possible reproach by the Roman government.
15 Hawthorne, Philippians, p. xxxvii.
16 Ibid., pp. xxxviii-xliv.
17 Ibid., pp. xli-xliv.
18 It is not possible to speak with certainty about this matter.
19 See Hawthorne, Philippians, p. xlii. Here he is arguing for a Caesarean location, but the arguments still apply to Rome.
20 See Brevard S. Childs, The New Testament as Canon: An Introduction, p. 337.
22 “To encourage partnership in the Gospel by reflecting upon the highest and most perfect expression of Christian life.” (E.E. Johnson)
Therefore, the theme of the book is: Unity in the body is necessary for effective witness to the world. As Johnson writes, “For the Gospel to increase through you it must continue to advance in you.” Herb Bateman writes, “Be unified and fight the enemy, not yourselves.”
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
An Argument Of The Book Of EphesiansRelated Media
In View Of The Spiritual Blessings With Which God Has Enriched Believers, And The Deliverance Which He Has Provided For Individuals And The Gentiles From Their Godless Position To One Of Unity With Him And One Another, Paul Exhorts The Ephesians To Maintain Their Unified Position By Loving One Another, And By Resisting Demonic Attacks In Accordance With God’s Provisions For Them
I. Prologue--Greeting: Paul authoritatively opens his letter as an apostle of Jesus Christ to the believing Ephesians with a prayer that they may receive grace and peace from God the Father and Jesus Christ 1:1-2
A. The Writer: Paul introduces himself with authority as an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God 1:1a
C. The Salutation: Paul prays that the Ephesians may receive grace and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ 1:2
II. Doctrine--God’s Loving Call of the Church: Because God has enriched believers with spiritual blessings and delivered individuals and the Gentiles from their godless position, Paul prays that the Ephesians might increase in their awareness of God’s love for them and thus demonstrate it to one another unto the glory of God 1:3--3:21
A. Praise for God’s Planned Spiritual Blessings:3 God should be praised because He has enriched believers with spiritual blessings needed for spiritual life through the election of the Father, the provision of Christ, and the sealing of the Holy Spirit 1:3-14
1. The Provision of Spiritual Blessings: God the Father is to be blessed (enriched)4 because He has enriched (in eternity past) believers with spiritual blessings (which are in the heavenly realms) needed for their spiritual life by virtue of their relationship with Christ 1:3
2. The Basis of Spiritual Blessings: Believers should praise the Trinity because their spiritual blessings are due to the Father’s election of them, the Son’s provisions for them, and the Spirit’s sealing of them 1:4-14
a. The Selection of the Father: Believers should praise God the Father because their spiritual blessing began through His selection of them into His family so that they might be holy in love 1:4-6
1) Believers have been spiritually blessed because the Father began it by electing them in order that they might be holy and blameless before Him 1:4
a) Believers are spiritually blessed because God the Father chose5 them before the foundation of the world 1:4a
b) The purpose of the Father’s election is so that believers might be holy and blameless before Him in love6 1:4b
2) Believers are spiritually blessed because God the Father elected them by delighting to predestine them through Jesus Christ into His family through adoption 1:5
a) Believers are spiritually blessed because God the Father elected them by predestining7 them through Jesus Christ to become part of His family through adoption 1:5a
b) God’s predestination of believers was in accordance with the kind intention of His will8 1:5b
3) God the Father spiritually blessed believers in the Son whom He loves so that they would praise Him for it 1:6
b. The Provisions of the Son: The Father’s plan is made effective through Christ who has set believers free from their sin and has revealed His will that all things will be headed up in Him in the future kingdom, including a heritage for Jewish believers who were the first to trust in Him 1:7-12
1) Redemption, Forgiveness, Revelation: Jesus has brought about redemption through his death and the forgiveness of sins for believers through his grace with a view to the consummation of all things in Him 1:7-10
a) Redemption: In relationship with Jesus Christ believers have redemption (deliverance from slavery to sin) through Christ’s death (blood) 1:7
b) Forgiveness: Believers have the forgiveness of sins according to the wealth of God’s grace 1:7c
c) Revelation of God’s Mystery: God’s grace is lavished upon believers in order to enable them to understand His previously veiled will through objective (wisdom) and subjective (insight) understanding about how all things will be consummated (in the kingdom) under Christ’s rule through his redemption 1:8-10
2) Jewish Heritage: Jewish believers have an inheritance as those who have been predestined, resulting in praise to how great Christ is 1:11-12
a) Inheritance: Jewish believers9 have also obtained an inheritance through God’s sovereign purpose 1:11
b) Praise to God: The goal of God’s will toward Jewish believers is that they, who first believed in Jesus, would bring praise to God’s greatness (glory)10 1:12
c. The Seal of the Holy Spirit: The Father’s plan is made effective through the Holy Spirit who has sealed Gentile believers and all believers in the sphere of Christ guaranteeing their future inheritance when they are delivered from the presence of sin 1:13-14
1) Preparation: Gentile believers11 listened to the Gospel which brought about their salvation 1:13a
2) Effect: When the Gentiles believed they were also sealed12 in Christ with13 the promised Holy Spirit14 who is a down payment15 guaranteeing all believers’ inheritance when God ultimately delivers them as his possession from the presence of sin 1:13b-14a
3) Goal: All of man’s redemption is to bring praise to God’s glory 1:14b
B. Paul’s First Prayer--for Wisdom and Revelation:16 Because the Ephesians have all spiritual blessings (1:3-14) and have a good relationship with God and Man, Paul continually thanks God for them and prays that they might have a personal knowledge of Him through the enlightenment of their hearts so that they might know of the certainty of His work in them 1:15-23
1. Occasion--Commendation: Because God has spiritually blessed the Ephesians, and they have a good relationship with God and men, Paul continually gives thanks for them as he makes requests for them in his prayers to God 1:15-16
a. From God: Paul prays for the Ephesians because of the spiritual blessings17 which they have received 1:15a
b. From Man: Paul prays for the Ephesians because he has heard of their good relationship with God (faith-vertical) and men (love-horizontal) 1:15a
c. Paul continually gives thanks for the Ephesians as he makes requests for them in his prayers 1:16
2. Request: Paul prays that God would give the Ephesians a personal knowledge of Him through an enlightened heart so that they might know of the certainty of His work in them 1:17-23
a. Supplication--Personal Knowledge of God: Paul prays that the Father, to whom all glory belongs, would give the Ephesians a spirit (disposition/attitude)18 of wisdom19 and revelation20 so that they may have an intimate knowledge21 of God’s character and will through an enlightened heart 1:17-18a
b. The Reason for the Supplication: The reasons that Paul prays that the Ephesians might have a personal knowledge of God are that they might (1) have a certainty of their victory through God’s past calling, (2) know that they are God’s future inheritance, and (3) be aware of God’s present power towards them for the spiritual life 1:18b-23
1) Past Calling: The reason Paul prays that the Ephesians might have a personal knowledge of God is because he wants them to have a certainty of their victory (hope)22 through God’s past calling of them 1:18b
2) Future Inheritance: The reason Paul prays that the Ephesians might have a personal knowledge of God is because they will become God’s inheritance at the resurrection according to the riches of His grace 1:18c
3) Present Power: The reason Paul prays that the Ephesians might have a personal knowledge of God is because of His great power toward them which was seen in his exaltation of Jesus who “heads” the body--the Church 1:19-23
a) Statement: Paul desires for the Ephesians to have a personal knowledge of God because His great power23 (for spiritual life) toward all believers 1:19a
b) Past/Future: God’s great power is in accordance with (manifested by) the power by which he exalted Jesus 1:19b-22a
(1) God's power raised Jesus from the dead 1:19b-20a
(2) God's power seated the risen Jesus at his right hand over all powers24 both present and yet to come 1:20b-21
(3) God's power put all things in subjection to Jesus and made Him head over all of creation25 1:22a
c) Present: God in his power gave the exalted Jesus to the Church as its director (head) to fill it with blessing 1:22b-23
C. A New Position Examined: Christ’s death has resolved the positional needs of individuals as well as Gentiles, as a whole, by graciously saving individuals and by uniting the disparate groups of Jews and Gentiles into one people among whom God dwells in accordance with His eternal mystery 2:1--3:13
1. New Position Individually:26 Even though believers in their sin were separated from God and deserving of His wrath, God acted out of his rich grace to make them alive by saving them, raising them to new life, and positionally placing them with Him over all angelic realms in the heavenlies through Jesus 2:1-10
a. The Old Condition--Dead to God: Paul affirms that all people (Jews and Gentiles) were in a hopeless position in that they were separated from God because of their involvement in sins 2:1-3
1) Believers were separated from God (dead) in their repetitious involvement in sin (trespasses and sins) 2:1-2
a) General Statement: Believers were separated from God as they were in their sins 2:1
b) Specific Examples: Believers were separated from God because they walked in the way of the rebellious world, because they followed the direction of Satan and because they had the spirit of present rebellious unbelievers 2:2
(1) Believers were separated from God because they formerly walked in the path of this rebellious world27 2:2a
(2) Believers were separated from God because they formerly walked according to Satan's designs (the prince of the power of the air)28 2:2b
(3) Believers were separated from God because they formerly had the spirit of rebellion present in unbelievers 2:2c
2) Paul reminds his Gentile readers that the Jews (“all of us”) were by nature related to God’s wrath more than to God because they joined in with the cravings of the sinful nature like the rest of mankind (the Gentiles) 2:3
b. The New Position: Alive to God: Even though believers were separated from God, He acted out of His rich grace to make them alive by saving them, raising them to new life, and positionally placing them with Him over all angelic realms in the heavenlies through Jesus 2:4-10
1) God Made Them Alive: Even through believers were separated from God in their sins, God acted through His rich mercy and out of His great love to make believers alive as he did with Christ by graciously saving them 2:4-5
a) God made believers alive (into relationship with Him) as he raised Christ from the dead 2:4a,5b
b) God made believers alive with Christ through His rich mercy, because of his great love, even though they were separated from Him in their sins 2:4b-5a
c) God saved believers by grace 2:5c
2) God Raised Them: Even though believers were separated from God, He raised them up into a new position of power and life as He did Christ29 2:6a
3) God Seated Them: Even through believers were separated from God, He seated us with Him through our relationship with Christ in the heavenlies in order to demonstrate in the ages to come His rich grace toward men 2:6b-10
a) Seated: God (positionally/spiritually) seated believers with Him in their relationship with Christ in the heavenlies30 2:6b
b) Purpose: God will seat believers with Him in the heavenlies in order to demonstrate for ages to come His rich grace in saving them through Jesus 2:7
c) Rich Grace Explained: God’s rich grace is seen through the salvation of men in that the basis of salvation is grace, the means of salvation is faith, the source of salvation is God’s gift, the result of salvation is that no one may boast, and the design of salvation is that believers walk in good works prepared by God 2:8-10
(1) The basis of salvation is grace and its means was through faith 2:8a
(2) The salvation which believers have received by grace through faith31 has its source as a gift of God and not from their own good works 2:8b-9a
(3) The result of God's gift is that no one may boast over their salvation 2:9b
(4) The reason salvation is not of men is because it is God's workmanship in Christ Jesus resulting in good works which God has prepared for believers to walk in 2:10
2. New Position Corporately: Although Gentiles were not part of God’s people they have been united with the Jews and with God through the peacemaking death of Christ and are thus like a temple where God dwells 2:11-22
a. Statement of Union: Although Gentiles were not part of God’s people and in a desperate position, now they have been united with the Jews and with God through the death of Jesus 2:11-13
1) Past Disunion: Before their conversions Gentiles, due to their physical differences, were not considered to be part of God’s people and were thus in a desperate situation without meaning, hope, purpose or direction in life 2:11-12
a) Before their conversions Gentiles were not considered to be part of God’s people (called uncircumcised) by the Jews (the “Circumcision”) due to their physical differences 2:11
b) Before their conversion Gentiles were separated from Christ (the national hope of Messiah), estranged to the theocratic state of Israel, foreigners to the covenants of promise (for a future hope)32, not having hope and without God 2:12
2) Present Union: But now (as opposed to before conversion) Gentiles, who were once far away from God and the Jews, have been brought near to God and the Jew in a relationship with Christ (“in Christ”) through the sacrificial death (blood) of Christ 2:13
b. Explanation of the Union: Both Jews and Gentiles have been brought into peace with one another and with God through the death of Jesus 2:14-18
1) Assertion of Peace: Through Jesus death He become the believers’ peace with one another (Jews and Gentiles) and with God by satisfying the demands of the Law 2:14-16
a) Statement: Jesus is the believers’ peace between Jews and Gentiles 2:14a
b) Explanation: Jesus is the believers’ peace in that He broke down the dividing wall (spiritual enmity) between Jews and Gentiles through His death by making the Law inoperative in order to reconcile men to one another, and to God 2:14b-16
(1) Statement: Jesus broke down the dividing wall33 between Jews and Gentiles 2:14b
(3) Purpose I--Toward One Another: Jesus ended the hostility between Jews and Gentiles in order to make one new man out of the two, and thus, peace 2:15b
(4) Purpose II--Toward God: Jesus ended the hostility between people and God through killing it on the cross in order to reconcile the two groups to Himself in one body 2:16
2) Announcement of Peace: In accordance with the OT Jesus preached peace (by the Holy Spirit through His messengers) to Gentiles and Jews proclaiming that they have access to the Father through the Holy Spirit because of Christ’s death 2:17-18
a) Citing Isaiah 57:19 Paul affirms that Jesus was not only the believers’ peace, but He also preached peace (through the Spirit at Pentecost)36 to the Gentiles (who were far away) and to the Jews (who were near) 2:17
b) Believers have access to the Father through the Holy Spirit because of Christ’s death on the cross (“through Him”) 2:18
c. Consequence of the Union: The union brought about by Christ has incorporated believing Gentiles into the redeemed of all ages whereby they are like a temple that is structured on the apostles and prophets with Christ as cornerstone, and indwelt by God through the agency of the Holy Spirit 2:19-20
1) The Fact--A New Relationship: Gentiles are no longer strangers and aliens, but are fellow citizens with the (Jewish) saints, and are part of God’s household37 2:19
2) The Cause--A New Establishment: Through the image of a building Paul affirms that the new relationship of Gentile believers as “fellow citizens” is structured upon the NT apostles and prophets with Christ being the corner stone, and is thus indwelt by God through the agency of the Holy Spirit 2:20-22
a) Foundation: Through the image of a building Paul affirms that the new relationship of Gentile believers as “fellow citizens” is built upon the foundation of the (NT) apostles and prophets38 with Christ as the corner stone39 of the building 2:20
b) Formation: Through the image of a building Paul affirms that the new relationship of Gentile believers as “fellow citizens” is skillfully formed (or joined together) in their relationship with Christ into a living organism that is a holy temple40 2:21
c) Function: The goal of this building project is that the Church might become by the Spirit the dwelling place of God41 2:22
3. Parenthetical Expansion of the Mystery: As Paul begins to pray, he emphasizes his ministry to the Gentiles as a mystery made known to him in order that he should disseminate the rich grace of God to Gentiles so that angels might understand the wisdom of God as He united Jews and Gentiles into one body through Christ; therefore, the Ephesians should not be discouraged because of Paul’s sufferings 3:1-13
b. The Mystery: Something unknown before (a mystery) was made known to Paul, and other NT apostles and prophets, through a revelation by the Holy Spirit, namely, the equality of Jews and Gentiles through the Gospel 3:2-6
2) The Revelation of the Mystery: As Paul mentioned earlier in the letter, which would aid the Ephesians in understanding, a mystery was made known to him through revelation which had not been known until the Holy Spirit revealed to NT apostles and prophets 3:3-5
a) As Paul had written before in the letter (1:9), a mystery49 was made known to him through revelation 3:3
b) By reading what Paul had already written, the Ephesians would be able to understand his insight into the mystery of Christ 3:4
3) The Constitution of the Mystery: They mystery consists of the equality of Jews and Gentiles through the gospel (e.g., Gentiles are fellow heirs, fellow members of the body, fellow partakers of the promise in Christ)52 3:6
c. The Ministry:53 Paul was graciously made to be a minister of the good news of the God’s grace to the Gentiles so that angelic beings might understand the variegated wisdom of God of uniting Jews and Gentiles into one body 3:7-12
1) The Placement into the Ministry: In a spirit of deep humility Paul affirms that in accordance with God’s grace he was made a minister of the good news of the mystery 3:7-8a
2) The Performance of the Ministry: Paul was to proclaim to the Gentiles the riches (grace and mercy) of Christ, and to make plain the dispensing of this mystery which God always had as a part of His eternal plans 3:8:b-9
3) The Purpose of the Ministry: Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles was in order that angelic beings might understand, through the church, God’s variegated wisdom of uniting Jews and Gentiles into one body 3:10-12
b) The knowledge to the angelic beings was in accordance with the eternal design of God which was realized in Christ Jesus through whom believers in faith have confident access to the Father 3:11-12
d. The Injunction: In view of the ministry which God has given to Paul through the mystery, he asks the Ephesians not to become discouraged because of his sufferings because they are for the glory (gain) of the Ephesians (Gentiles)56 3:13
D. Paul’s Second Prayer--for Strengthened Love: In view of God’s unifying work among Jews and Gentiles Paul prays to the Father that Christ might be the center of the Ephesians lives so that they might understand God’s love for them and be strengthened in their love for one another to the glory of God 3:14-21
1. The Approach to Prayer: Paul bows in prayer before The Father from whom every family exists with a father57 in view of the unified relationship He has brought between Jews and Gentiles 3:14-15
2. The Appeal in Prayer: Paul prays that Christ might be the center of their lives so that they might know the immense love of Christ for them and experientially realize the fullness of God in Christ (thus loving one another just as God has loved them) 3:16-19
a. Petition Stated--To Be Strengthened Within: Paul prays that the Ephesians might be strengthened with power through the Spirit in their innermost beings so that Christ may be at home (dwell) in their whole personalities (heart) through faith58 3:16-17a
b. Purpose Stated--To Comprehend Christ’s Love and to Realize God’s Fullness in Christ: Paul prays that the Ephesians, and all of the saints, might have Christ as the center of their lives so that they might know the immense love of Christ for them and experientially realize the fullness of God in Christ (thus loving one another just as God has loved them) 3:17b-19
1) Paul prays that the Ephesians and all saints, might have Christ as the center of their lives (being rooted and established in God’s love), so that they might know the immense love of Christ 3:17b-19a
2) Paul prays that the Ephesians might have Christ as the center of their lives so that they might experientially realize the fullness of God in Christ (and thus love one another) 3:19b
3. The Ascription of Praise: In view of God’s work of uniting Jews and Gentiles Paul praises God by proclaiming His greatness to do more than anyone could ask or think through His power within believers to be manifested in the church (where the union occurred) and in Christ Jesus (Who made the union possible) 3:20-21
III. Duty--The Preserving Conduct of the Church in Unity:59 Paul exhorts the Ephesians to maintain the unity which God has loving provided for the church by walking in ways of God’s provision for unity, holiness, love, light, and wisdom with one another, and by standing against the spiritual attacks from Satan in the certainty of God’s provision for them 4:1--6:20
A. Walking in Unity: Paul, as a prisoner of the Lord, exhorts believers to promote unity which the Triune God has brought about in the church, and affirms that God has made a provision for the preservation of unity through gifted people which Christ has given to the church in order to bring about their growth into a unified, mature Christ-likeness 4:1-16
1. The Basis of Unity: Paul, as a prisoner of the Lord, exhorts believers to live their lives in balance with their calling by loving one another so as to promote the unity which the Triune God has brought about in the church 4:1-6
a. Exhortation to Unity: Paul, as a prisoner of the Lord, exhorts the Ephesians to live their lives in balance with their calling by expressing attitudes and actions of love which promote unity 4:1-3
2) Paul exhorts the Ephesians to live their lives toward one another in attitudes and actions of love which promote unity: 4:2-3
a) Paul exhorts believers to have an attitude of complete humility62 4:2a
b) Paul exhorts believers to have an attitude of gentleness63 4:2b
c) Paul exhorts believers to have an attitude of patience64 4:2c
d) Paul exhorts the believers to showing forbearance to one another in love 4:2d
e) Paul exhorts the believers to make every effort to preserve the unity65 brought about by the Holy Spirit in the bond of peace 4:3
b. Elements of Unity: Paul lists seven elements of unity centered on the three Persons of the Trinity66 as the basis for the spirit of unity which he is exhorting them to preserve 4:4-6
1) The Holy Spirit has brought about unity in the church by forming one body, indwelling the universal church, and being the hope of future redemption 4:4
a) The Holy Spirit has formed one body (the universal church) 4:4a
b) The Holy Spirit is the One Spirit Who indwells the church67 4:4b
c) The Holy Spirit is the one who confirms the hope regarding the future for all believers68 4:4c
2) The Son has brought about unity in the church by being lord (or head) of the church, the object of faith for all believers, and the One in whom all believers are identified 4:5
a) Christ is the believer’s only Lord as the head of the church69 4:5a
b) Christ is the object of faith for all believers70 4:5b
c) Christ is the one in Whom all believers are identified with in baptism71 4:5c
3) The Father has brought about unity in the church by being the Father of all, the sovereign over all, living through all, and dwelling in all believers 4:6
a) God the Father is the Father of all who believe72 4:6a
b) God the Father is “over” all believers as their Sovereign 4:6b
c) God the Father lives “through” all who believe 4:6c
d) God the Father dwells “in” all who believe 4:6d
2. The Preservation of Unity: As the divine Victor, Christ gives gifted people to the church in order to bring about its growth into unified, mature Christ-likeness 4:7-16
a. The Distribution of the Gifts: As the divine Victor giving gifts to the people, Christ was victorious through His death and ascended to heaven where He gives people with spiritual ability to the church 4:7-11
1) Just as the OT describes God as the one who is a Victor and gives gifts to men, so is it that Christ gives each believer enablement according to the measure He gifts them 4:7-8
a) Each believer is given enablement (grace) according to the measure of the spiritual ability (gift) which Christ gives 4:7
b) The OT confirms God’s giving gifts when it says in Psalm 68 that in the victory He led a host captive and gave gifts to men73 4:8
3) The gifts which Jesus gave where some believers are apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelists, and some as pastor-teachers 4:11
b. The Intention of the Gifts: Gifted people are given to the church in order to bring about its growth into mature, unified Christ-likeness 4:12-16
1) To Equip for Serving the Body: The design of the gifted people given to the church is to equip the saints for the work of service which is building up (or edifying) the body of Christ 4:12
2) To Minister toward Unity: Gifted people are to minister until all of the church reaches unity in faith and knowledge of the Son of God, spiritual maturity, and a likeness to Jesus Christ in His fullness 4:13
3) To Bring about Maturity: The result of the ministry of gifted people is to be a movement in the body from being immature children who are easily swayed by false teachers toward maturity in Christ who has designed the body to be able to grow in love76 4:14-16
B. Walking in Holiness: Paul warns believers against living as they formerly walked with aimless, godless thinking leading to hardened hearts and works of sensuality, but to live as those who are enlightened concerning their new selves in Christ, and thus to show love for one another in conflict 4:17-32
1. Warning Against Former Walk: Paul exhorts believers not to walk in the way which they used to walk when they did not know God in aimless thinking because of hard hearts leading to works of sensuality out of their own greed 4:17-19
a. Thinking: Paul exhorts believers not to walk as those who do not know God (the Gentiles of whom they were once a part), namely, with aimless thinking, darkened understanding (of God) being alienated from the life which comes from God because of their ignorance of God due to the hardness of their heart 4:17-18
b. Practice: Paul exhorts believers not to walk like those who do not know God who, because of their lack of sensitivity toward God, abandon themselves to sensuality77 in order to greedily practice every kind of uncleanliness 4:19
2. Exhortation to Present Walk: Paul urges believers who have been enlightened to think appropriately about themselves by identifying with their new selves in Christ, and thus to act in accordance with their new position by showing love for one another in conflict as God has loved them by forgiving them through Christ 4:20-32
a. Thinking (Old Selves): Paul urges believers who have been enlightened and instructed to think appropriately about themselves by putting off their old selves and, through the renewing of their minds, putting on their new self which is designed to be like God 4:20-24
1) Not in Darkness: In contrast with the darkened thinking of those who do not know God (δὲ), Paul affirms that believers did not learn Christ in an unenlightened manner 4:20
2) Have Been Taught: Believers have heard78 of Christ and been taught in the sphere of Christ in accordance with the truth which He is 4:21
3) Put On New Self: Paul exhorts believers in accordance with what they have been taught to put off the old self, which is corrupted by deceptive lies, to be renewed in their minds, and to put on the new self which is created to be like God 3:22-24
b) The content of what believers have been taught is that they are to be renewed in the spirit of their mind 4:23
c) The content of what believers have been taught is that they are to put on their new self which is created to be like God in true righteousness and holiness 4:24
b. Practice: Paul exhorts believers in conflict to act in accordance with their new selves by speaking the truth to one another, keeping short accounts with their anger, working so that they may give to the needy, speaking words of edification, and forgiving one another as God has forgiven them through Christ 4:25-32
1) Speak Truth: Believers are not to speak falsely to one another, but are to speak truthfully to one another because they are all intimately connected to one another as one body 4:25
a) Negative Command: Believers are to lay aside all false speech 4:25a
b) Positive Command: Believers are each to speak the truth with one another (his neighbor) 4:25b
c) Reason for the Positive Command: The reason believers are not to speak falsely, but are to speak the truth with one another is because they are intimately related to one another as part of one body81 4:25c
2) Short Accounts in Anger: Believers are not to sin in their anger, but to keep short accounts so that the devil might not gain an opportunity to work in their lives 4:26-27
a) Negative Command: Paul exhorts believers to not sin in their anger 4:26a
b) Positive Command: Paul exhorts believers to keep short accounts over their anger 4:26b
c) Reason for the Positive Command: The reason Paul exhorts believers not to sin in their anger and to keep short accounts is because otherwise they will give the devil an opportunity to work in their lives 4:27
3) Share: Believers are not to be those who steal, but are to work at upright jobs so that they may share their possessions with those who are needy 4:28
a) Negative Command: Believers who are stealing are to no longer steal 4:28a
b) Positive Command: Believers who have been stealing are to go to work at a good job 4:28b
c) Reason for the Positive Command: The reason believers are not to steal, but are to go to work at an upright job is so that they may have things to share with those who are in need (give to the needy) 4:28c
4) Edify: Believers are not to speak destructively to one another, but are to build one another up through their speech in order to give grace to one another 4:29
a) Negative Command: Believers are not to speak unwholesome82 words 4:29a
b) Positive Command: Believers are only to speak words which will build up a person in view of the present need 4:29b
c) Reason for the Positive Command: The reason believers are not to speak destructive words, but edifying words is because the good words give grace to those whom they are speaking with 4:29c
5) Forgiving: Believers are not to grieve the Holy Spirit through abusive treatment of one another, but are to be loving toward one another just as God was so towards them in Christ Jesus 4:30-32
a) Negative Command: Believers are not to grieve83 the Holy Spirit who has sealed them for their coming redemption84 with unloving acts toward one another (bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, slander, malice) 4:30-31
b) Positive Command: Believers are to be kind to one another, tender-hearted, and forgiving of one another 4:32a
c) Reason for the Positive Command: The reason believers are not to grieve the Holy Spirit through unforgiving behavior toward one another, but are to forgive one another because God in Christ has forgiven them 4:32b
C. Walking in Love: Paul exhorts believers, as loved children of God, to imitate Him by walking in a self-sacrificing love for one another after Christ’s pleasing example, and warns them to abstain from evil because it will affect their inheritance in the kingdom of God 5:1-6
1. The Positive--Love Others: Paul exhorts believers as children whom God loves to imitate God by living a life of self-sacrificing love for one another after the pleasing example of Christ 5:1-2
a. Exhortation: In view of God’s forgiveness of believers (ªyñ) Paul exhorts them as children whom He loves to be imitators of God by walking85 in love 5:1-2a
b. Example: The example of love which Paul desires for believers to imitate is Christ’s self-sacrifice which was for the sake of believers86 and which was pleasing to God 5:2b
2. The Negative--Abstain from Evil: Paul warns believers to abstain from evil vices of conduct and speech because it will affect their inheritance in the kingdom of God 5:3-6
a. Vices of Conduct: Paul urges believers to so separate themselves from immorality (πορνεία), uncleanliness (ἀκαθαρσία), or greed (πλεονεξία) that these deeds would not even be named among them as is fitting of holy people (saints) 5:3
b. Vices of Speech: Paul urges believers to not engage in speech which is empty and destructive, but to express thanksgiving 5:4
2) Positive: Believers are to be those who express thanksgiving (εὐχαριστία) 5:4b
c. Reason for Warning: Paul sternly warns believers to abstain from evil because it will affect their inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God who always deals with such sin (as with his wrath on unbelievers) 5:5-6
1) The reason Paul warns the Ephesians to abstain from evil is because those who do such things (immorality, uncleanliness, or coveting which is idolatry90) do not have an inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God91 5:5
2) Paul warns believers to not be deceived that this warning is only empty words since God’s wrath is upon unbelievers (sons of disobedience) for doing such sinful things 5:6
D. Walking in Light: In view of God’s wrath upon rebellious unbelievers Paul urges believers to walk in their position of spiritual light as children of light who expose the works of darkness as shameful and bring about repentance in those who do evil so that they too will walk in the light of Christ 5:7-14
1. Not Becoming Involved with Evildoers: In view of God’s wrath upon unbelievers Paul urges believers not to be partakers with them in evil, but, as those who have moved from the realm of spiritual darkness to light, to walk as children of light (expressing goodness, righteousness and truth) as they learn what is pleasing to the Lord 5:7-10
a. Negative Exhortation: In view of God’s wrath upon unbelievers (ου῏ν), Paul urges believers not to be partakers with them in their evil 5:7
b. Positive Exhortation: The reason Paul urges believers not to be partakers with rebellious unbelievers is because they have moved from the realm of spiritual darkness to light, and should thus now walk (περιπατεῖτε) as children of light 5:8
c. Explanation of Light: The reason Paul urges believers to walk as children of light is because the fruit (or outworking of “light”) is all goodness, righteousness and truth (the character of God) as one learns what is pleasing to the Lord 5:9-10
2. Not Becoming Involved with Evildoers’ Works: Paul exhorts believers not to join in with the unbeneficial works of darkness, but to expose them as shameful (as children of light) because this may lead to repentance 5:11-13
a. Negative Exhortation: Believers are not to join in with (συγκοινωνεῖτε) the unfruitful (unbeneficial) works of spiritual darkness 5:11a
b. Positive Exhortation: Rather than becoming involved in the works of darkness, believers (as children of light) are to expose them92 5:11b
c. Reason: The reason believers are not to become involved in the works of darkness is because they are too shameful to even talk about (let alone do) 5:12
d. Explanation: Paul explains that he exhorts believers (as children of light) to expose the works of darkness because light shows the true character of works leading to repentance (everything that becomes visible is light)93 5:13
3. Conclusion--Enlightenment of Christ: Paul concludes94 that those walking in darkness are to awaken, rise from their spiritual death, and be pleasing to Christ as He gives direction (“Christ will shine on you”) 5:14
E. Walking in Wisdom: In view of the need for believers, who are in spiritual darkness, to awaken Paul urges believers to walk wisely by being enabled by the Holy Spirit so that there will be harmony with one another and God in their relationships with one another as husbands & wives, parents & children, and slaves & masters 5:15--6:9
1. Admonition: In view of the need for believers in spiritual darkness to awaken Paul urges believers to walk wisely by being enabled by the Holy Spirit so that there will be harmony with one another and God, and submission to one another in the fear of Christ 5:15-21
a. Proper Action--Walk Wisely: In view of the need for believers in spiritual darkness to awaken Paul urges believers to walk (περιπατεῖτε) carefully, not as unwise people, but as wise people95 who make the most of their time because many are walking in sin (“the days are evil”) 5:15-16
b. Proper State--Become Wise: Paul urges believers not to be foolish in their walk, but to walk in the enabling power of the Spirit so that there will be harmony with one another and God, and submission to one another in the fear of Christ 5:17-21
1) General Statement: Believers are not to be foolish (in their walk), but are to understand (comprehend) what the will of the Lord is 5:17
2) Specific Example: Paul demonstrates his exhortation against foolishness and to understanding by urging believers to stop losing self-control through getting drunk, but to gain self-control through the enabling of the Holy Spirit which results in harmony with one another and God, and submission to one another in the fear of Christ 5:18-21
a) Specific Exhortation to Spirit Filling: Paul urges believers to stop loosing self-control through getting drunk, but to gain self-control through the enabling of the Holy Spirit96 5:18
b) Results of Spirit Filling: The results of being filled with the Spirit are that there will be harmony with one another, with God and submission to one another in the fear of the Lord 5:19-21
(1) Being filled with the Spirit will result in harmony with one another through spiritual singing (psalms, hymns and spiritual songs) rather than bar-room singing 5:19a
(2) Being filled with the Spirit will result in harmony with God as one sings with one's heart and gives thanks for all things in the name of Christ to the Father 5:19b-20
(3) Being filled with the Spirit will result in being subject to one another in the fear of Christ97 5:21
2. Application:98 Paul applies the wisdom of being filled by the Holy Spirit to the functional relationships of believers in the family (wives & husbands; parents & children) and the workplace (servants and masters) exhorting the first of each group to submit/obey as a service unto the Lord, and the second of each group to lovingly care for the other 5:22--6:9
a. Wives and Husbands: Paul exhorts wives to submit to their own husbands as their authority in their service to the Lord, and for husbands to sacrificially love their wives as an extension of themselves just as Christ has loved the church for her good 5:22-33
2) Reason for Exhortation: The reason that wives are to submit themselves to their husbands is because the husband is the leading authority [head] of his wife just as Christ, who saved the church, is the leading authority of the church 5:23-24
a) Reason Stated: The reason wives are to submit themselves to their husbands is because the husband is the head101 of his wife 5:23a
b) Analogy Provided: The husband is the head of his wife just as Christ is the head of the church (His bride) which He saved102 5:23b
c) Reason Restated: Just as the church is subject to Christ, so are wives to be subject to their husbands 5:24
3) Exhortation to Husbands: Paul commands husbands to sacrificially love their wives as extensions of themselves just as Christ sacrificially loved the church as an extension of Himself for her good 5:25-32
a) Exhortation Stated: Paul commands Husbands to sacrificially love their wives just as Christ loved the church by giving His life for her 5:25
b) Purposes of Christ’s Sacrificial Love: Christ gave Himself for the church in order to make her holy, and to present her to Himself in her glory as holy and blameless 5:26-27
(1) Christ sacrificially gave himself for the church in order that he might make her holy (ἀγιάσῃ) through the [spiritual] washing of [rebirth (Titus 3:5)], with the preached word (ῥήματι)103 5:26
(2) Christ sacrificially gave himself for the church in order that he might present the church in radiant splendor as holy and blameless 5:27
c) Analogy Applied: Just as Christ loved the church as an extension of Himself for her good, so should husbands love their wives as an extension of themselves for their good 5:28-32
(1) Direct Application: Husbands are to love their wives as an extension of their own bodies just as Christ loved the church as an extension of his body 5:28-30
(2) Proof From Scripture: Paul affirms the union of a husband and wife into one body through the affirmation in Genesis 2:24 where the two become one flesh 5:33
(3) Analogy with Christ: Paul affirms that the uniting of believers into the body of Christ is a great mystery 5:32
4) Exhortation Restated: Husband are to love their wives as Christ themselves, and wives are to respect (φοβῆται) their husbands 5:33
b. Children and Parents: Paul exhorts children to obey their parents in their service to the Lord, and for fathers to stop provoking their children to anger, and to lovingly bring them up in the way of the Lord 6:1-4
1) Exhortation Children: Children are exhorted to obey104 their parents in their service to the Lord because it is the proper course to follow 6:1
2) Substantiation to Children: Paul then substantiates the “rightness” of obedience to parents through the citation of the fifth commandment105, (“Honor your father and mother”) which is of primary importance because it holds the promise of a long and prosperous life106 6:2-3
3) Exhortation to Fathers: Paul exhorts fathers (as the head of the home) to stop provoking their children to anger, but to lovingly bring them up in the discipline and instruction of the Lord 6:4
b) Fathers are to lovingly bring up their children in the discipline and instruction of the Lord 6:4b
c. Slaves and Masters: Paul exhorts servants to obey their earthly masters with a good attitude as though serving the Lord Who will reward them, and masters to also please the Lord by the way they treat their servants warning them that they should not threaten them since the Master of all (Jesus) will judge them 6:5-9
1) Exhortation to Slaves:109 Paul exhorts slaves to obey (ὑπακούτε) their earthly masters with an attitude of respect, fear, sincerity of heart, and as service to Christ with goodwill knowing that they will be rewarded by the Lord 6:5-8
2) Exhortation to Masters: Paul exhorts masters to also please the Lord by the way that they treat their servants (“in the same way”), and warns them to cease their threatenings since the Master of all of them (Christ) is in heaven and will not show partiality toward those of earthly rank (cf. 6:8) 6:9
F. Standing in Warfare:110 Paul urges believers in spiritual warfare to be strong in the enabling strength of the Lord so that they may stand against the enemy by having prepared themselves with the trusting awareness of their position before God, and by grasping the truth of their future salvation and using the offensive weapon of God’s word against the enemy as they intensively pray for one another in the Spirit, and pray for Paul’s defense of the gospel in Rome 6:10-20
1. Putting on the Armor: Paul urges believers to be strong in the enabling strength of the Lord by dressing themselves with the full armor of God in order that they may be able to stand in resistance against their true enemy, the devil who schemes against them 6:10-13
a. What to Do--Be Strong in the Lord: Paul concludes this unit of exhortation by exhorting believers to be strong in the enabling strength of the Lord and in the might of His strength (cf. 1:19) 6:10
c. Why to Do It--To Stand Against the Devil’s Strategy: Paul urges believers to put on the armor of God in order that they may be able to stand in resistance against their true enemy, the devil who schemes against them 6:11b-13
2) Reason Stated: The reason that one should put on the armor against the devil is because believers do not wrestle against men (flesh and blood), but against demons (rulers, powers, world forces of this darkness, spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly places)117
3) Summary: In view of the above Paul concludes (διὰ τοῦτο) that one is to take118 up the armor of God in order that one may be able to resist119 in the evil day and thus, be able to stand against him 6:13
2. Standing with the Armor: Paul urges believers in spiritual warfare to stand firm in the battle by having prepared themselves with a trusting awareness of their position before God 6:14-16
a. The Mandate--Stand: In view of the battle which rages Paul urges believers to stand fast 6:14a
b. The Method--to Arm120: A believer is to stand firm in spiritual warfare by having prepared himself with the a trusting awareness of his position before God with respect to the truth about the certainty of his righteousness and his peace with God 6:14-16
1) A believer is to stand firm in spiritual warfare by having prepared himself to enter the battle121 with the truth 6:14a
2) A believer is to stand firm in spiritual warfare by having prepared himself against exposure in the battle with the certainty of his righteousness122 6:14b
3) A believer is to stand firm in spiritual warfare by having prepared himself to step into the battle by knowing that he has peace with God 6:15
4) A believer is to stand firm in spiritual warfare in all of his positional truth above by believing what God has said (above) so that he will be able to extinguish the attacks of the evil one 6:16
3. Receiving the Final Pieces of Armor: Paul exhorts believers in spiritual warfare to grasp the truth of their future salvation and to use the offensive weapon of God’s word against the enemy as they intensively pray for one another in the Spirit, and pray for Paul’s defense of the gospel in Rome 6:17-20
a. The Mandate--Grasp:123 Paul exhorts believers in spiritual warfare to grasp the truth of their future salvation and to use the offensive weapon of God’s word against the enemy 6:17
1) Paul exhorts believers in spiritual warfare to grasp the truth of their future salvation from evil124 6:17a
2) Paul exhorts believers in spiritual warfare to grasp the offensive weapon given by the Spirit--God’s spoken word (ῤῆμα) as a sword against the enemy125 6:17b
b. Method--Prayer: Paul urges believers in spiritual warfare to grasp their weapons with intensive prayer in the Spirit with a persevering alertness for all of the saints and for Paul as he defends the mystery of the gospel in Rome 6:18-20
IV. Conclusion: After informing the Ephesians that he has sent Tychicus in order to update them on his circumstances in Rome and to encourage their hearts, Paul prays that they may experience God’s peace, may faithfully maintain God’s peace with love for one another, and may graciously not be corrupted in their love for the Lord Jesus Christ 6:21--24
A. Information: Paul informs the Ephesians that he has sent Tychicus in order to bring them up-to-date about Paul’s circumstances in Rome, and to encourage their hearts in the matter 6:21-22
1. Paul informs the Ephesians that Tychicus, who is a loved brother and a faithful servant in the Lord, will make Paul’s circumstances in Rome known to them 6:21
2. Paul has sent Tychicus in order that the Ephesians may know about how the team is doing, and to encourage their hearts about the affair 6:22
B. Salutation: Paul prays that the Ephesians may experience peace and love with faith126 from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ 6:23
C. Benediction: Paul prays that God’s grace would keep all from corruption in their love for their Lord Jesus Christ 6:24
1 Those set apart for God’s use (τοῖς ἁγίοις ).
2 The textual difficulties with ἐν ᾿Εφέσῳ are discussed in the introduction to the book under “destination.” It is probably original, but may have only been one of several churches who received this letter. As the strategic city in Asia Minor, it was ascribed to her.
3 In the Greek text 1:3-14 is one sentence.
4 The word in Greek is Εὐλογητὸς meaning “to speak well of”. The sense is to enrich God’s character through good words or testimony.
5 This is election (ἐλέζατο) or God’s sovereign work of picking some to believe. This is effecatious.
6 “In love” could go with holy and blameless or with the next verse. See Abbott for the other view (Ephesians, p. 8).
7 The term προορίσας means to be marked out beforehand. The emphasis is upon the “what” rather than the “who” in that “what we were marked out beforehand for” was to be adopted sons. This was the manner in which our election was accomplished; it occurred before we were chosen.
8 God delighted to impart His spiritual benefits to His children.
9 The “we” is probably not the anonymous “we/us”, but refers to Jewish believers because (1) of the word “also” in verse 11, and (2) verse 13 changes to “you also” referring to Gentiles.
10 This is a refrain used after each person of the Trinity (cf. 1:6:14).
11 This is explain the “you also” in contrast with verse 11.
12 The term is onomonopoetic (ἐσφραγίσθητε).
13 Christ is the sphere of the sealing, and the Holy Spirit is the instrument of the seal.
14 See Luke 24:49; John 14:16; 15:26; 16:13; Acts 1:5.
15 The term is ἀρραβὼν (cf. 2 Cor. 1:22; 5:5).
16 Verse 15-23 are one sentence in Greek as are verses 3-14.
17 They include all that was mentioned in 1:3-14, namely, election, predestination, adoption, grace, redemption, forgiveness, wisdom, understanding, knowledge of the mystery of His will, the sealing of the Holy Spirit, and inheritance.
18 While this “spirit” is probably a reference to an attitude or disposition, such an attitude only comes from the Holy Spirit (cf. Isa. 11:2).
19 Here wisdom is insight into the true nature of things (1:8; 3:10)
20 Revelation is the unveiling of God Himself in this context. For a discussion of illumination today see Clark Pinnock, “The Role of the Spirit in Interpretation” JETS, 36/4 (1993): 492-93. See also 1 John 2:20-27.
21 The term is intensive--ἐπιγνώσει.
22 See Romans 8:23-24; Ephesians 4:4; Colossians 1:5; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 1 Peter 3:15.
23 Paul piles up words in order to emphasize God’s great power: “power” (δυνάμεως), “energy” (ἐνεργειαν), and “might of his strength” (κράτους τῆς ἰσχύος αὐτοῦ).
24 These descriptions “rule, authority, power, dominion” most probably refer to orders of angelic beings (cf. Rom. 8:38; Eph. 3:10; 6:12; Col. 1:6; 1 Pet. 3:22).
25 Whereas Adam lost his headship over Creation when he sinned, Christ was made Head over all creation (cf. Eph. 1:10), and this will be fully realized in the future (Ps. 8:6; 1 Cor. 15:27; Heb. 2:6-8).
26 In this unit, the “plan” which was talked about in chapter one is demonstrated in terms of its execution with respect to believers in their need--sinners.
27 This world (κοσμος) is the satanically organized system that finds life outside of God’s design (John 15:18,23).
28 See 1 John 5:19; 2 Cor. 4:4.
29 See also Romans 6; Col. 3:1-2.
30 While this does affirm a heavenly citizenship (cf. Col. 3:1-2), it also becomes the reason believers have spiritual authority over the demonic realms (cf. 1:20-21).
31 The word “that” (τοῦτο) has been understood to refer back to “grace” and “faith” but these are not the best choices since the pronoun is neuter and both of those terms are feminine. Rather, it should be understood to refer back to the preceding phrase (cf. Eph. 1:15; 3:1) which would be the concept of “salvation by grace through faith”.
32 The Abrahamic (Gen. 12:1-3; 15:18-21; 17:1-8), Davidic (2 Sam. 7:16; Ps. 89:1-4), and New (Jer. 31:31-34; Ezek. 36:24-30) covenants.
33 This is probably not a reference to the wall in the temple which separated Gentiles from the Jews since the temple was still standing. It is also not a reference to the curtain which separated the holy place from the holy of holies since that was a curtain.
It seems that the “wall” which divided was the Law whose prescriptions alienated Jews from Gentiles who did not follow them (cf. Mark 7; Acts 10).
34 Christ’s death satisfied the Laws demands upon men.
35 Because of Christ’s satisfaction of the Law’s demands, it no longer is binding upon men in terms of its requirement of death for disobedience (Rom. 7:4-6).
36 The views are (1) by the Apostles, (2) by Christ on earth, and (3) by Christ through the Spirit at Pentecost. See W. Hall Harris III, “The Ascent and Descent of Christ in Ephesians 4:9-10” 151 (April-June 1994): 213.
37 This does not mean that the church is Israel. Rather, Gentile believers are a part of God’s new “body”, new “man”. Believing Gentiles are incorporated with God’s people from Adam on, but they have not become Israel.
38 The prophets are not OT prophets, but are NT prophets (cf. 3:5; 4:11).
39 The corner stone was the stone by which all other stones in the building were aligned. As part of the foundation, the apostles and prophets were aligned to Christ.
40 The term that is used is ñÿª* emphasizing the inner sanctuary (e.g., the dwelling place of God where they Holy of Holies exists) rather than the entire temple area (ἱερον).
41 This is not an emphasis upon the Holy Spirit’s dwelling within individual believers (cf. Jn. 14:17; Rom. 5:5; 8:9, 11; 1 Cor. 2:12; 6:19; Gal. 3:2; 4:6; 1 Jn. 3:24; 4:13), but upon the Holy Spirit’s dwelling within the corporate church (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16; 2 Cor. 6:16).
42 This looks back to 2:11-22. There may also be a broader reference to the grace of God to the Gentiles in the first part of the letter.
43 See 4:1; 2 Timothy 1:8; Philemon 1,9.
44 The Jews opposed Paul because of his ministry to the Gentiles and the threat which they perceived upon Judaism (cf. Acts 21--28).
45 Paul’s thoughts break off in the middle of this sentence in order to discuss the mystery. He will pick this up again in verse 14, “for this reason, I bow my knees before the Father.”
46 This begins a long sentence which runs through verse 13. It begins with a condition (“if indeed”) and arrives at its conclusion in verse 13 (διὸ).
47 The term is τὴν οἰκονομίαν emphasizing a trust to be dispensed (cf. 1 Cor. 9:7).
48 Paul was the apostle to the Gentiles (Gal. 2:7; Eph. 3:8).
49 A mystery is something previously unknown. The mystery is not defined until verse six, namely, the inclusion of Gentiles as fellow heirs with the Jews. It is not the existence of the church so much as the nature of the church (e.g., equality of Jews and Gentiles).
50 Paul is not arguing that the mystery was only partially revealed in the OT, but that it was not revealed at all in the OT (cf. Col. 1:26; Eph. 3:5). Its foundation is with the NT prophets and apostles, not the OT. See Hoehner, “Ephesians” in BKC for a further discussion (p. 629).
51 This verse affirms that the revelation was not only given to Paul, but was given to the Apostles and prophets, and Paul was one to disseminate it (cf. Acts 11:17).
52 The mystery was not that Gentiles would be saved since the OT spoke of that, but that believing Jews and Gentiles would be joined together.
53 Since Paul has just described the mystery, he now discusses his dispensing of this mystery to the Gentiles.
54 The new relationship between believing Jews and Gentiles in one body.
55 These are good and evil angels (cf. 6:12).
56 Even though Paul’s ministry to the Gentiles brought upon him the attacks of the Jews, this ministry brought many Gentiles into the church, and this was their glory.
57 Paul is not affirming that God is the Father of all, but that He is the Prototype of all fatherhood.
58 Paul is praying that Christ might become the dominating factor in their attitudes and conduct.
59 Paul is now going to provide some practical application of the doctrine which he has just unfolded. Since in love God has brought about a unity of man and God, and Jews and Gentiles, Paul now shows the Ephesians how to walk in the unity of God’s provision
The key term which marks the unfolding of each section is “to walk” (περιπατέω, cf. 4:1,17; 5:2,8,15). The NIV translates this as “live.”
60 The term is περιπατέω.
61 In view of 1--3 a believer’s calling is not only his personal salvation, but is union in one body. Therefore, he is responsible for his personal life and his relationship to other believers in the church. This becomes Paul’s emphasis in the next two verses!
62 The terms (πάσης ταπεινοφροσύνης) describe the opposite of pride.
63 The term (πραῦτητος) is the opposite of self-assertion, rudeness, and harshness. It is having one’s strength under control.
64 The term (μακροθυμίας) describing an enduring self-restraint which does not hastily retaliate wrong.
65 Believers are not to make the unity, but to keep it or guard what God has made (2:15-16).
66 Paul begins with the Spirit because he has just been speaking of Him in 4:3.
67 See 2:22.
68 See 1:13-14.
69 See 1:22-23; Colossians 1:18.
70 See Colossians 2:7.
71 In view of the emphasis on the trinity in this unit, it is unlikely that Spirit baptism is the emphasis here. Baptism has as its central idea “identification” (1 Cor. 10:2). Either Paul has in view the positional identification which occurred when one believed in Jesus (Rom. 6:1-11; Gal. 3:27), or the outward sign of that positional identification through water baptism.
72 See John 1:12; Galatians 3:26.
73 Many tie this OT allusion to Psalm 68:18, but there are several differences between the two verses. In Psalm 68:18 it is men who are giving gifts to God, whereas in Ephesians 4:8 it is God who is giving gifts to men.
Hoehner may well be correct in identifying this OT allusion to all of Psalm 68 rather than to the one verse in particular. The Psalm is one of God as Victor. He does lead enemies captive (68:18), but he also gives gifts to men (68:35). See also Hall W. Harris III, “The Ascent and Descent of Christ in Ephesians 4:9-10” Bibliotheca Sacra 151 (April-June 1994): 208-212 where he ties Paul’s use of Psalm 68:18 to the Targum and Moses.
74 The phrase “into the lower parts of the earth” could be a reference to “the parts lower than the earth” (comparative genitive), “the lower parts, namely the earth” (genitive of apposition) or “the lower parts which belong to the earth” (genitive of possession) emphasizing Christ’s death and His burial in the grave. This seems to be a choice because in His death Christ had victory and would give those who would be gifts to the church (Hoehner, “Ephesians”, BKC, p. 634).
Nevertheless, the order may be that affirmed by Harris: (1) ascension and (2) descent through the Spirit to give gifts (Hall W. Harris III, “The Ascent and Descent of Christ in Ephesians 4:9-10” Bibliotheca Sacra 151 [April-June 1994]: 298-214).
75 These gifts are not emphasized as being to believers as in Romans 12 and 1 Corinthians 12, but are more “gifted believers” which are given to the church. See what follows.
76 Christ is not only the goal of growth (v. 14), but He is the source of growth (16).
77 This is a life without concern for personal standards or social sanctions--licentiousness (ἀσελγείᾳ; Mk. 7:22; Rom. 13:13; 2 Cor. 12:21; Gal. 5:19; 1 Pet. 4:3; 2 Pet. 2:2,7,18; Jude 4).
78 The Greek construction is a first class condition which assumes the condition to be true. Paul is not doubting that the Ephesians have heard, but is expecting them to answer affirmatively to his question, and then apply the implications to their lives.
79 Like with clothing (put off).
This and the next two infinitives are probably exhortations which they have been taught (contra Hoehner, “Ephesians,” BKC, pp. 636-637; Abbot, Ephesians, p. 136).
It is possible to use the infinitive in an imperatival sense (cf. Rom. 12:1; Phil. 3:16), and the “you” (ὐμᾶς) could be emphatic (Foulkes, pp. 129-132; Wood, p. 62-63; Kent, 79-81).
Whereas Colossians 3:9-10 describes believers as having already “put off” the old man and “put on” the new man in terms of their position (cf. Romans 6:4,6), here Paul emphasizes the necessity of considering these positional statements to be true as the content which the Ephesians have been taught (cf. Rom. 6:11-13; Col. 3:5). See Homer Kent, Jr. “Ephesians: the Glory of the Church, EBC, p. 80; Darrell L. Bock, “‘The New Man’ as Community in Colossians and Ephesians,” in Integrity of Heart, Skillfulness of Hands: Biblical and Leadership Studies in Honor of Donald K. Campbell, edited by Charles H. Dyer and Roy B. Zuck, 161-63.
80 They are deceitful because they fail to provide the life that they promise.
81 See 4:4,16.
82 The term is σπαρὸς meaning “rotten.”
83 The term λυπεῖτε has the sense of irritating, offending, insulting, or making sorrowful. In the context it seems that the Holy Spirit is not only grieved by our own sinning, but especially by our sinning with our tongue against the body (e.g., other believers as in 4:29, 31-32).
There are several theological reason for this understanding: (1) He is holy, therefore He is always grieved by unholiness, (2) He is the One who brings about the unity of the body (cf. 4:4), therefore, any disunity in the body grieves Him, and (3) He is the Spirit of Truth through whom God has spoken, thus He is grieved by any misuse of speech.
84 This is the time when a believer will receive his new body (1:14; Phil. 3:20).
85 Again the term is περιπατεῖτε as in 4:1,17. God’s children are to walk (live) in unity, holiness, and love.
The conjunction “and” (καὶ) is explanatory and should be translated as “that is”.
86 See 1 John 3:16.
87 The term αἰσχρότης describes that which is filthy, obscene, shameful.
88 The term μορολογία describes “stupid words” literally.
89 The term for coarse jesting, εὐτραπελία, describes vulgar, frivolous wit. All of these terms are descriptive of empty, but hurtful, uses of speech at the expense of others.
90 The reason that one who covets is called an idolater is because when one desires what one does not have, one is desirous of placing one’s self in the place of God who has designed one’s life (cf. Col. 3:5).
91 There are two disparate ways of understanding Paul’s reasoning here:
(1) In this vice-list Paul is affirming that anyone who acts in a characteristic manor with such sin is truly not a believer and will thus not go to live with (inherit) the Lord in the kingdom. (Stott pp. 197-198; Foulkes, p. 144-145; Hoehner goes to 1 Cor. 6:9-11 to define “inheritance” since there such ones who do not have it have not been “washed, sanctified, and justified.” But does that mean that no believers struggle and do these sins? The whole tone of the warning is that they do do these things. The point is not that they can not do these things but that it does not make sense in view of their new position).
Problems with this view are: The audience is described as (1) “beloved children” in 5:1, (2) those whom Christ loved and gave Himself up for as an offering and sacrifice to God which was pleasing to Him [5:2], (3) these warnings are given to “saints” (5:3-4), (4) inheritance is not necessarily a descriptive of “salvation,” (5) there is a distinction between the believers who are addressed this warning and the “sons of disobedience” whom we are warned to not be partakers with (6-7)
(2) This is a warning that believers who enter into sinfulness will lose reward (an inheritance) at the judgment seat of Christ (5).
Support: (1) All of the above; (2) οὺκ ε῎χει κληρονομίαν describes that which is only available to children and which a child could lose (Luke 20:14 “this is the heir: let us kill him, then the inheritance will be ours”; Luke 12:13 “tell my brother to divide the family inheritance with me; Heb. 11:8 the land was to be received by Abraham for an inheritance (cf. Heb. 9:15); It may seem to have the goodness of heaven in view (1 Pet. 1:4; Eph. 1:14); Gal. 3:18 describes the inheritance of a promise [Abrahamic] by Jesus the seed of Abraham. Likewise, inheritance is likened to a reward for a believer for faithful work in Col. 3:24 “do your work hardily as for the Lord ... knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance” where as “he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality). See Luke 19:11-27.
“Sons of disobedience” seems to be describing unbelievers and perhaps even those who know better but choose in a high handed way to continue in disobedience (Eph. 2:2; 5:6)
92 Hoehner argues that these may well be referring to deeds of darkness which are done by believers rather than by unbelievers since only God can expose and convict unbelievers (1 Cor. 5:12-15); see “Ephesians” in BKC, P. 639.
93 Homer Kent writes, “Certainly Paul does not mean that shameful deeds will be made respectable. Nor does changing the sense of “Light” into the general sense of disclosure provide any aid, because the statement would be redundant.... It is best to understand that when Paul speaks of evil deed being reproved by the light, he means not merely that such are revealed in their wickedness but that the light also serves to correct the problem. In this context (5:8) it has already been mentioned that the readers had experienced this very thing. They had once been darkness, but had been made light by application of the gospel of Christ to them. Thus in Paul’s mind is the subjective response to the reproof of sin from God’s Word” (Ephesians, EBC, P. 93). See John 3:20-21; 1 John 1:5-7.
94 This may be an allusion to several OT passages (Isa. 26:19; 51:17; 52:1; 60:1), or perhaps a quotation from a early Christian hymn.
95 The terms are contrasting: α῎σοφοι ἀλλ᾿ ὡς σοφοί. The sense is to be skillful with their living so as to please the Lord.
96 There are two views which explain the filling of the Spirit: (1) It is yielding to the Lord so that one is under the Spirit’s control, and (2) it is a yielding to the Lord through prayer (or asking for His help) so that one is enabled (filled) to be in self-control for the sake of obedience (rather than out of control leading to disobedience)
This writer holds to the second for the following reasons: (1) ἀσωτία (or dissipation) describes lacking self-restraint (1:Pet. 4:4, “And in all this, they are surprised that you do not run with them into the same ‘dissipation’ (or lack of restraint cf. v. 3), and they malign you”, (2) πληροῦσθε is not always spatial. It can describe “meeting a lack” or “completing” (Phil. 4:19, “And my god shall supply all your needs ...”). Therefore to be filled by the Spirit is not being under the control of two different entities but being under the influence of two different entities: one leading to a lack of self-control, and one leading to self-control.
Supporting passages are: Gal. 5:17 “so that you may not do the things that you please”; Acts 4:31 “when they had prayed, they were filled with the Holy Spirit and began to speak the word of God with Boldness (cf. 4:13; 29).
When one is enabled by the Spirit one does not allow anything in one’s life to be contrary to the Scripture (cf. the effects of having “the word of Christ dwell richly in believers” in Colossians 3:16).
97 The fear of Christ is an expression of wisdom as in Proverbs 1:7.
The submission to one another does not overrule economies of relationship. Kent appropriately writes, “This submission in verse 21 must not be explained as being in contradiction to the passage which follows. When Paul says that Christians should submit to one another, he does not mean, for example, that husbands and wives are to submit to each other, for that would render verse 22 meaningless and destroy the very pattern of authority which he is about to teach. Rather, he is exhorting against a spirit of self-exaltation by anyone in the church.
98 Having described the harmony which comes through believers wisely being filled by the Holy Spirit (5:18-21), Paul now specifically applies this to relationships. These relationships are beyond the gathered church to those realms in life where believers live daily: marriages, families, the work place. Paul specifically emphasizes the place of submission (ὑποτασσόμενοι, 5:21) in these relationships.
In each of the three relationships which follow the subordinate one is exhorted first. Then the second partner is exhorted to show care and concern for the first partner.
99 The verb for submit is not in the Greek. It is borrowed from the verse before (Αἱ γυναῖκες τοῖς ιδίους ἀνδράσιν).
100 As Abbot writes, “‘as’ not meaning in the same manner as, but expressing the view that they are to take of their submission” (Ephesians, p. 165; cf. 6:6-7; Col. 3:8).
101 Paul uses this same term in 1 Corinthians 11:3. These are later developed to be due to the order of creation in Genesis 2 (cf. 1 Cor. 11:8-9). Adam was created first as the vice-regent of God in the garden and was to protect Eve from the rebellion of evil.
102 As Kent writes, “It may be that Paul has added this assertion to indicate one great respect in which Christ is not analogous to husbands. However, it is possible that he may be drawing at least a slight comparison. Just as Christ is the Saviour of His church, so the husband is to be the protector and physical preserver of his wife. Headship and authority carry responsibility with them. Recognition of this on the part of wives makes compliance more palatable” (Ephesians, p. 100; see also Hoehner, “Ephesians” in BKC, p. 640).
103 See John 15:3.
104 The term that is used here is not “to submit” (ὑποτασσω), but “to obey” (ὑπακούω) meaning “to listen to” or “to hearken to”.
105 See Exodus 20:12; Deuteronomy 5:16.
106 This promise does not guarantee that obedient children will not ever be struck by tragedy. The wisdom of the promise is that a child who disciplines himself to obey his parents will usually prosper and prolong his life.
107 Hoehner notes that “Fathers are addressed because they represent the governmental head of the family on whom rests the responsibility of child discipline” (“Galatians” BKC, p. 642).
108 See Romans 10:19; Colossians 3:21.
109 Paul does not seem to overthrow slavery, but emphasizes that one should live righteously in whatever circumstances one may be (cf. 1 Cor. 7:17-24). This is another case where ontological equality before God (Gal. 3:28; Col. 3:11) does not overrule functional differences. See John Stott, God’s New Society, 250-52; Clark H. Pinnock, “The Role of the Spirit in Interpretation,” JETS 36/4 (1993): 495-96; Everett Ferguson, Backgrounds of Early Christianity (second edition, Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1993), 56-59.
110 Paul has thus far introduced each section in the second half of this book with the phrase, “therefore...walk” (ου῏ν…περιπατεῖτε) as he exhorts believers to live their lives on the basis of God’s provisions for them (Ephesians 1--3). Now he concludes this section (τοῦ λοιποῦ; “finally”, or “the rest”) by addressing the external fight which also threatens their unity--the devil. Here they are not to “walk” but to “stand” in battle against demonic attacks (cf. James 4:7).
111 The term is ἐνδύσασθε as in 4:24 with the imagery of putting on clothes. It is in the middle voice emphasizing that one is to do this himself.
112 The term is πανοπλίαν describing the full armor of a heavily-armed soldier.
113 The term which is used is not an offensive one so much as a defensive one. Believers are to hold to the unity which Christ has given to the body by standing (στῆναι) against the demonic attacks. This is a combat which the rulers in the gates of hell will not prevail against (Matt. 16:18). Jesus has already defeated Satan at the cross. Now we are to hold the ground against this continually rebellious foe.
114 Although this term is often translated as “against” the sense is to stand before (πρὸς).
115 The term is μεθοδείας from which we acquire our term “methods”. The devil has a strategy which is planned out against believers.
116 The term is διαβόλος; he is the one who lies and tempts through lies (cf. John 13:2). Therefore, the armor when developed below will relate to knowing what is true. All of the protection surrounds truth which the enemy will attack.
117 There are hints of demonism in Paul’s ministry among the Ephesians in the book of Acts (Acts 19:13-19). It is no wonder that he fully address the realm of spiritual warfare.
It is also significant that the struggles which the Ephesians face are described as not being sourced in what they might naturally considered them to be (other people), but in the demonic realm.
Paul has already described the exalted place of Jesus over these demonic realms (Eph. 1:21-23) as well as the exalted place which believers share with Jesus over these demons (Eph. 2:4-6).
118 A term used to describe the taking up of weapons (ἀναλάβετε).
119 See James 4:7; 1 Peter 5:9. This term for resist describes standing against someone (ἀντιστῆνναι) and is used by Paul to describe his face-to-face resistance of Peter’s inappropriate actions in Galatians 2:11 (κατά πρόσωπον αὐτῷ ἀντέστην).
120 The present imperative “to stand” is followed by four participles which give the means of standing. The first three are aorist participles which describe action before the imperative (e.g., “having”), and the last participle is present describing action which is simultaneous with the imperative.
The first three participles describe the correct thinking which a believer must have concerning his position with God before entering into combat with the enemy who lies. Then when one thinks correctly about who he is in Christ he can act in faith.
121 The image of “girding one’s loins” is descriptive of what one would do before he entered into combat; he would tuck his long robe into his belt so that he would not trip over his clothes.
122 This same imagery is used in 1 Thessalonians 5:8 but with the sense of “faith and love.” Therefore, the righteousness which is being described may describe that which came from a believer’s initial faith. This is justification through which believers experience God’s love.
123 The outline is divided at this point because another imperative is used at this point, δέξασθε, “to take hold of” “to grasp”.
124 This helmet which surrounds the head (thinking) of the believer is called the “hope of salvation” in 1 Thessalonians 5:8-10 and describes the certain, ultimate deliverance from evil which awaits believers. God is not going to leave us for dead!!!
125 See Matthew 4:1-11.
126 These two words sum up the message of Ephesians--God has provided believers peace with Him and one another, and they are to maintain that peace through loving exercised with faith in what God has and will yet do.
Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines
6. Amy Carmichael—A Portrait of SacrificeRelated Media
This article is an edited transcript of Susie Hawkins’ audio message on Passionate Faith. Appreciation for the transcription work goes to Marilyn Fine.
We are in our sixth lesson in our series on Women in Church History, portraits of significant women in church history.
We have used the metaphor of an art gallery in this tour. Today, we are walking past the portrait of a woman of whom I hope many of you have heard. Perhaps you have read one of her many devotionals. Her name is Amy Carmichael, a well known devotional writer. A woman whose main work was rescuing children in India where she spent 56 years of her life. She is probably one of the most influential women that has ever lived in church history.
If you have been watching any of the news, we are having some political things going on in our country. I vacillate between being interested and disgusted. I am little bit of a political junkie but then I get so disgusted with all of it that I just say, “Jesus is my savior and that’s all I know and I don’t care about anything else.” Then I am drawn back into it. It is really interesting right now. As you well know, we have this presidential drama shaping up. We have what looks like Obama as the Democratic nominee. Obama who does not look a day over 17. Then, we have John McCain, Republican, who does not look a day over 100. Then, we have the Hillary factor, and do not ever rule her out, people. It is just getting more and more interesting.
As I was watching this the other night I was sitting in bed and I was surrounded by several of these devotional books of Amy Carmichael’s. I could not help but think of the contrast between her and what we hear and see every day about “ the important people that are going to change history.” These are the people who will determine the direction of a nation and be the leaders of the free world. I am not disparaging any of that. It is absolutely true and it is a huge, huge decision that our nation will make. But, you know what? As I sat there I thought, “these people get all the national and world attention and a woman like Amy Carmichael can come on the scene of the world and live a portrait of sacrifice.” What a contrast. So this is our portrait today: Amy Carmichael, a Portrait of Sacrifice.
Now she has faded off the scene and millions of people have never heard her name. However, what she did for the kingdom of God and the cause of Christ is so far reaching that a presidential candidate, a president, a world leader, cannot even begin to touch that kind of influence. Leaders come and go. Do they not? They are seen as the salvation, as the change agents that are all fixing. No, they will not fix everything. Nobody here can fix everything in this world. It is really true that many of those whose influence lasted throughout history are those who have lived quiet, sacrificial lives for the cause of Christ. Amy is one of those.
Amy Carmichael personifies the spirit of missions and of rescuing helpless people. She was a woman missionary with a social conscience. Amy was born in 1867. She died in 1951. Interestingly, she was the spiritual mentor of Elisabeth Elliot. Now, they did not know each other, but she is the woman whom Elisabeth Elliot looked to as her spiritual director. That is why she wrote a very, very thick biography on Amy Carmichael called, “A Chance to Die.” This is a very, very detailed story of Amy’s life. Amy had a call to ministry, but it was all encompassing in a way that few other women in the time she lived had experienced. She was part of a modern mission spirit which swept the world in the late 19th and 20th century.
Now, let’s get a context for a minute of Christian history at this particular time. Remember we had the Reformation with Katie Luther and all of that. We had Susanna Wesley in the 1700s. She was an eighteenth century England woman with a hard life. I am sure you remember her. Then, we have Amy who comes along around the middle of the 19th century, born in 1867. Amy was part of the second wave of the modern mission movement that really began in late 1700 with William Carey. He was a very famous missionary to India. There is a very famous incident where he was at a church meeting in England and they were talking about the need for missionaries to go take the gospel to the east, in particular to India and China. William Carey said that we need to do this. A man stood up and challenged him and said that if God wants to save the heathen He can do it without us. In a way, that statement produced such a backlash that many Christians began to say that is just not what the Great Commission says. It was kind of the statement of the philosophy of the day. “If God wants to save the heathen, well He will do it His own way.” But, there were many other people who did not really agree with that philosophy. So this was the beginning of the modern mission movement.
These early missionaries went to these foreign lands really believing that once they went they would never return. Once they left the shores of their home, England for example, they knew they would never again return. Amy was one of those. Once she left, she never returned.
Now, there are many other. It is hard to pick just one woman out of this group because there are so many. Adoniram and Ann Judson were the first American missionaries to a foreign country. They went to Burma. It took them four months to get there. I just could not even begin to tell you all the things they went through. Physical hardship was just the first thing, because, of course, this is before penicillin. This is before modern medicine. These women who were married had to endure childbirth, losing children, tropical fevers, just everything you can imagine. Yet the Judson’s took the gospel to Burma.
Hudson Taylor, I am sure you have heard of him, a missionary who took the gospel to China. Lottie Moon, our own little Lottie Moon, our little patron saint in the Baptist world, went to China. David Livingston went to Africa. There is a whole line of pioneer missionaries who literally gave their lives to take the gospel into these nations and to establish a presence. Now, it is interesting. Not all of them expected mass conversations when they got there. They were taking the gospel to a certain place and they would begin to pray and bring the work of God into that particular geographical area. Many of them went years and years. The Judson’s went something like nine years before they even saw one convert. At the end of his life, he had buried two wives and three children. I could read you these stories of what he says sitting under the tree where he buried his wife and children. I am telling you, you would all be sobbing. It is just heartbreaking these things, but they stood by their call. They endured unbelievable hardship.
Now, what is interesting is that the cause of missions captured the imaginations of single women. Outside of the Catholic church, where you could go into the convent and find service and education and all of that there, there were not a lot of opportunities for single women. If you were Protestant there really was not an official place where you could serve outside of wife and motherhood. There was really no role for you. Here is where a call to single women began to gather momentum.
Many of these married women missionaries needed help on the mission field. They had domestic duties. They were having babies every ten months. They were having sick children and they were trying to translate the word. Can you imagine having babies, trying to take care of children with tropical fevers, and trying to translate the gospel into a language that did not have the words for heaven, hell, spirit, angels, etc.? So, not only in these languages do you have to learn the language, define an alphabet, put it all together, you also have to come up with a whole new vocabulary. Now, these are just some of the challenges that they had. So, single women began to become interested in this call to missions. Lottie Moon was one of those. Her sister was also. At the same time as all this, an idea gained prevalence that if one could win women to Christ those women were the ones who would Christianize that culture. It is the idea that the hand that rocks the cradle […rules the world]. So they were the ones who could Christianize the culture. Thus their thrust was for women to be reached in missions.
So, that was when mission support groups began. Almost every denomination had some kind of circle, mission group, or missionary union where people would pray for these missionaries. They would support them, take up offerings, and get them money. Mission support was born.
Now, Amy Carmichael came out of this kind of tradition. Amy was born in a seaport town, Millisle, in northern Ireland to a very strong Christian family. They were Presbyterian, and she was raised in a large family. By all accounts she had a very happy childhood. She had a father who was very active in her life. He taught her to ride horses. He gave her education in the classics, in literature, and in language. In reminiscing about her childhood she talked about her father taking all of the children swimming. People, it is so cold up there I can hardly imagine going swimming! Yet he taught them how to swim in the freezing waters of the ocean just in case they ever needed to know how to swim. I picture her as typically British with a stiff upper lip—though she was a blend of Irish and English. If you read her story, yes, she could take it! She could take the hardship. She was not a sissy by any stretch of the imagination. She endured abuse on the mission field, sickness, all kinds of administrative problems, and harassment from local authorities. I am telling you she somehow was able to keep her perspective about all of the hassles and tribulations she had to deal with in order to fulfill her call.
She had spiritual interests from an early age. There is a famous story that at age three her mother had taught her a Bible story that anything you ask God to do, just take it in prayer in believing that it will be done. So, she decided in looking in the mirror that she had brown eyes and she did not want brown eyes. I never wanted brown eyes either. You like what you do not have, right? She wanted blue eyes so she prayed diligently one night and she was so sure the next morning when she woke up that when she went to the mirror she would have great big blue eyes. It did not happen. She was quite disappointed, but somehow she continued on. Later on, she would recount that story with some degree of amusement. Years later, when she was in India rescuing young girls from temple prostitution, she would disguise herself. She would put dirt on her skin to make her skin darker. She would wrap herself in a sari and go into these areas where these young children were brought into prostitution for the temple gods. She and her little team of rescuers would literally pull them out of these temples. She often said were it not for those brown eyes she would have immediately been given away as a foreigner. The brown eyes enabled her to pass through the crowds and to become at one in the Indian’s mind with them. This was another way she knew that God was directing her life from the very beginning.
She went to boarding school as a young person, as many English did, to a Wesleyan school. Remember we talked about the Wesley brothers, with the spirit of revival and holiness. That was their whole emphasis. So, she was taught about a spiritual call on her life in following Christ. One morning, coming home from church with her brothers and sisters, there was a little old woman who was struggling carrying her bags. She fell down on the street and Amy noticed the church people all walked around her. Nobody would stop and help her. So, Amy elicited the help of her brothers and sisters and they stopped and they helped this woman up and carried her bags home for her. She always recounts that story as the beginning of the time when God would put in her mind that her call, her ministry, was to reach out to the needy. She said that “from this pool flowed the stream that is my story.” She had very poetic words and she loved Victorian English. Some of her writings are little bit harder to read. You have to work a little bit to understand them, but she was so poetic.
She began a ministry in Ireland where she would go into these streets, into the ghetto areas, into the poor parts of town, and gather children to come to another area for Bible stories. After Bible stories, they would have tea. You know, you have to give it to the British, don’t you? They are so civilized. They may be in the ghetto, but they are having tea. She would serve them tea. Monday nights or a certain time she would just teach girls. Other times she would teach boys. She began to notice that the lowest of the low class in her town in northern Ireland was a group of women who worked in the factories. They were called the “shawlies.” The reason they were called shawlies is that they were so poor they could not afford hats, which were the fashion of the day. They would just wear shawls over their heads. This is where she found her most meaningful work. She began to meet with them, work with them, pray with them, teach them the Bible, teach them how to read, and how to write. Everyone kind of turned up their nose at her working with these people. She met two women through a “chance” meeting. They had some resources. She told them about her work. Then she challenged them to donate a hall for her Bible studies to meet in for her shawlies and other groups. Lo and behold they did, much to everyone’s amazement. She organized all this by herself. She did not have anybody helping her. She just went to these women and they got it done. She had an amazing ability to persuade people to do things for the gospel.
When I was reading this about her, knowing what I know about her in her later life, it was such an example that as you are faithful in small things, God will give you bigger opportunities. She pursued with all her heart her calling to the shawlies and to the poor children in northern Ireland. Then, God began to give her greater opportunities as He called her in the ministry. She met a man that she worked with for a while who was active in the Keswick movement. He was a big influence to her. She worked for him like a personal secretary for a while and learned a lot about administration.
She was struggling with her call to missions because she knew how difficult it was to go alone. That is what one would often hear from missionaries writing letters back on how difficult and how lonely it was— even for married couples. How lonely it is to be so isolated from family, friends, and from your culture. This is what she said, “One day, many years ago, I went alone to a cave in the mountains, called Arima.” (This is when she was for a short time in Japan.) “I have feelings of fear about the future. That is why I went there to be alone with God. The devil kept whispering ‘it’s was all right now, but what about afterward? You are going to be so very, very lonely.’ He painted pictures of loneliness. I can see them still. And, I turned to my God in a kind of desperation and said, Lord, what can I do? How can I go on to the end? And, the Lord said, Amy, none of them that trust in Me shall be desolate. That word has been with me ever since.” This is the word that she carried with her: I will see that none that trust in me will ever be desolate or alone.
She had a few false starts. First she went to Ceylon (Sri Lanka today). Then she went to Japan. Japan was a disappointment to her. She learned that there was a lot of discontent among missionaries. There was a lot of tension on the mission field. She resolved then and there that if God gave her a place of ministry that she would do everything within her power to promote good will and harmony among the missionaries at her mission station. She found that to be a difficult time in her life.
She was such a writer. She wrote something like 35 books. I could not even begin to share with you all the things that she would write. But, she would write her prayers. Here is one of the prayers she wrote while she was in Japan as she was praying for God to use her and to give her a passion for these people. She write, “Oh, for a passionate passion for souls. Oh, for a pity that yearns. Oh, for the love that loves them to death. Oh, for the fire that burns.” She was constantly seeking that passionate faith.
She became ill with neuralgia. I am not sure exactly what that is, but she had a lot of muscle pain. She had to return home for convalescence and it was during that time that she decided that her call was to India. So, she went to southern India, south of Bangalore, and joined up with a missionary couple there. They begin to tutor her in the language. She began to learn and serve as an itinerant missionary. She would go out into the country, into the villages, and bring the gospel. She would teach and share. This is where she saw first-hand everything that was happening in the Indian culture. She would write letters back home to these mission support societies and tell them what was happening. She was their eyes to see what was going on in the mission field. She began to disciple a group of young girls who were converts. She called them the Starry Cluster. They felt as they prayed that God wanted them to move to another area where there was a greater need and establish a community. They did this and they called it the Dohnavur Fellowship. This is what she is known for now, the Dohnavur Fellowship. This was the name of her ministry.
Interesting enough, all these missionaries that I have mentioned had some kind of social cause that they worked at within the country they were ministering. Do you remember what Lottie Moon worked on? She worked to banish foot binding. This ancient Chinese practice of binding women’s feet until they were literally crushed. It was the most painful thing. If you ever read about it, you know what I am talking about. The Chinese had in their mind that tiny feet were a sign of beauty. It was the upper class women who would bind their feet and it was so painful they could not even walk at the end of their lives. It would cripple them. The Judson’s worked to banish widow burning, which was the practice that if a man died his widow would be burned with him. They did this because when he went on to the after-life, who would be there serve him if she was not there?! We cannot have men serving themselves in the after-life! So the widow would be burned in order to go be with her husband in the after-life. They were diligently working to abolish the practice of widow burning. These are the kinds of social issues that these missionaries worked against.
Amy really found her true calling in this particular area. She had heard about these young girls who were sold by poor families. They were sold to the temples in order to get money for the temple priests through prostitution in Hindu worship. Sometimes they were kidnapped and indeed they were kept there for the rest of their lives. They could never leave. Some young boys were also dealt with this way.
So, they began to pray and ask God, “How can we help these girls?” One day, a woman literally came to her doorstep with a young seven-year-old-girl named Preena. It is a famous story of Amy Carmichael’s. This woman said, “This is Preena. This is her second attempt to escape from the temple. Her mother sold her into prostitution. She escaped from the temple and I found her on the streets. I took her home and her mother returned her again to the temple. As punishment, they branded and burned her palms to where they were just black. They punished her for leaving, for running away.” This little girl must have been a spunky little thing. She ran away again the second time and this woman said, “I found her again and I did not know what to do with her. I know that you want to help us. Maybe you could help this little girl?”
Amy was sitting down when this woman was talking to her, and this little girl walked right over to Amy. She climbed up on her lap, and called her “alma,” which was the word in that language for “mommy.” Well, you can imagine that dramatic event. What is interesting is that Amy instantly fell in love with this little girl and said “I will take her. We will care for her no matter what.” She began to think, “Is there something here? In that language, there is a little proverb that says “children tie the mother’s feet.” This means, as you probably well know, that children limit a woman’s opportunity as far as traveling and being involved in different activities. Amy had been this itinerant ministry person. So, she felt because of this that she had to limit herself to staying home in her area. She began to take in other young girls. Dozens of young girls were rescued from temple prostitution and hundreds of others from poverty and neglect.
She established an orphanage. She eventually established a medical clinic for them. She established a school for the girls, and she also ended up establishing a school for young boys. Her ministry call, was to rescue these girls, to redeem them, to win them to Christ, to give them a Christian upbringing, and to help them to fulfill their calling in the world.
Now, what she endured. It is just unbelievable the difficulties she endured. When she was doing this activities, do you think the temple priests just sat around and said, “darn we lost another one”? No, they harassed her. They burned down buildings. They called her demon woman. They started all kinds of rumors about her. They abused her. She constantly had the harassment of temple officials around her. They were always reporting her to the government or to authorities. She was having to explain herself to the government. Really, I do not know of any other person I have read about that had to endure so much mean treatment all of the time in her life! I think about that little girl learning to swim in the ocean. I think there was something so steely in her, so strong. Her backbone was so strong. Somehow she could deal with the infinite issues that were there every day and stay focused on her call to rescue these young girls. She stayed focused to take the light of the gospel to this foreign land. She was really gifted in that way.
She also learned first hand the results of the devastating caste system. She learned that a mother, even if her child was at the point of death, would not take the child to a doctor if that doctor was of a lower caste. She worked diligently to dispel this kind of viewpoint.
When she was 64, she experienced a fall and it was the downfall of her health. For 20 years, she was a semi-invalid there in India. She wrote 35 books, poems, songs. She was a prolific writer. Anybody hear the little devotional book, “If”? It is a very small little book. She wrote the book after feeling like she was dealt with by the Holy Spirit about Calvary’s sacrificial love. She is a portrait in sacrifice: sacrificial love. She wrote this little book called, “If,” and it is a lot of little sayings. Here are two of them:
“If I cannot in honest happiness take the second place or the twentieth, if I cannot take the first place without making a fuss about my own worthiness, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
“If I can speak casually of the misdoings of a child, then I know nothing of Calvary love. If in dealing with one who does not respond, I weary of the strain and sweat from the burden, then I know nothing of Calvary love.”
It is the most convicting thing you will ever read. It is so convicting. With her challenges, and her clear sight, what she held on to was Calvary love. She focused on the sacrificial agape love of Christ and then living that out in her life.
She spent 56 years in India. She is buried there today. She never went home. She never returned to her family. At the end of her life, she had a lot of sorrows. A lot of her close workers had died, some had left the fellowship. Yet she died in her sleep in her beloved Dohnavur, surrounded by the girls and her workers.
There are so many analogies here in Amy’s life. Remember how Paul was in prison at the end of his life? I have often thought how the early church must have said to God, “What are you doing letting him be in prison? We need him. He is the one taking the gospel to the Gentiles. He is our spokesman. He is our main man.” We know now in retrospect if Paul had not been sitting in prison, we would not have all those epistles. There was a purpose in that. Likewise, we have Amy’s writings today. It reminds me of Paul in that way. Because of her invalid state, she could still write up until the last month of her life. We have her writings, her devotionals, her thoughts. I encourage you just go online. Google “Amy Carmichael” and you will see a million things that she wrote. But, I think I would best describe her life in the scripture of John 12:24 where Jesus essentially said, “I must fall and die like a kernel of wheat that falls into the furrows of the earth. Unless I die, I will be alone, a single seed, but my death will produce many new wheat kernels, a plentiful harvest of new lives. If you love your life here, you will lose it. If you despise your life here, you will exchange it for eternal glory.” Surely, she was one of those seeds that was planted in the ground and then it began to take root.
Now, here is the thing. You know, when you look back at ministries, churches, and missionaries, they come and go as far as earthly view. The churches of the Revelation for example, were all in modern day Turkey. They are just ruins now. It is not the place. It is not even the actual church. It is the lives that are touched that go on for the influence of Christ. Dohnavur Fellowship was that time for her. It has gone down. It is going to come back. It struggles. Now, all of these ministries do. My husband always says that churches and ministries are a snapshot in time. For that moment, God uses them, but He does his own thing, as we might say. We are not always sure why He does what He does, but He uses people, their words, their influence. I think it is interesting Amy is really the epitome of Jim Elliot’s (Elisabeth’s martyred first husband) saying, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain that which he cannot lose.” That is Amy Carmichael.
There is a scripture in Revelation 14:13 that I love. You know of wonderful Christian people who have given their lives to Christ and have gone on through death. We have a great saint at First Baptist Church, Esther Beth Rogers. She was a true saint if there ever was one. I thought about her when I read this verse the other day. In Revelation 14:13 I love this,
“And I heard a voice from heaven saying Write. Blessed are the dead who die in the Lord from now on.” “Yes,” says his spirit, “That they may rest from their labors, for their deeds follow them.”
Amy Carmichael died in 1951, the year I was born. We have been talking about her life, her deeds, her work, her words, her portrait of sacrifice. I pray that it would encourage you as much as it has encouraged me. Go online. Read some of her words. Read some of her poems. It may be a little hard to understand her words at times. It will not hurt you to figure it out. It did not hurt me. It will not hurt you to read something a little out of the ordinary and to understand what some people have done.
When I was in China several years ago, I was visiting with a group of women in the area where Lottie Moon (who I mentioned before) had gone taking the gospel for the first time. One of the women there was sharing that she worked at the university. She said to Gene, “I have students in my apartment every night wanting to know about the Bible. Every night they are wanting to know about Christianity.” She said, “I believe the sinner’s prayer. I have to just lock my door some nights because I have to get some sleep. I then have to turn them over to Christ. I cannot direct them to churches because there is no freedom of religions, supposedly.” She said that the interesting thing is she read a scripture out of John 4:38 where essentially Jesus says, “You have not done the hardest work. You are simply here to reap that which was already worked on by others.” I think of that with Amy. There is a thriving Christian community in India. Granted, it is not all truly Christian, but there is a thriving Christian community. Everywhere these missionaries went, today the ministries do not look the same and they may have different names, but is it not interesting how they have thrived? I am talking about China and Africa and India. Any historian will tell you Christianity has shifted from Western Europe and Northern America east towards China and Korea. Why? You just have to wonder. Is it not because these people, these women, these men buried their lives for the sake of the gospel? One little seed sacrificed now sprouts up a huge crop. Now, they are the ones leading the way in Christian commitment and missions.
Not too long ago, we were in a closed Muslim country, and we were talking with some of our people who were there. They said it is interesting that the people who have the strongest calling to the Muslim world are the Asians. That is because they know nobody is going to listen to the Americans or Europeans. You know, we are the evil empire to many of them. Many there are anti west, but they know that Asians do not have that stigma. They do not have that particular connotation and so they feel like they are the ones God has called to minister to the Muslims. Is that not interesting? You know, God just does what He wants. He uses people who are willing to say like Amy, “Lord, this is my story. I will follow you. I will give my life in this way.”
Let me read you this and then we will be finished. On her deathbed, she wrote this,
One thing have I desired, my God of thee,
that will I seek Thine house be home to me.
I would not breathe in alien air.
I want to be with Thee,
oh Thou fairest of fair.
For I would see the beauty of my Lord
And hear Him speak who is my hearts adored.
A love of love can such wonder dwell in Thy great name of names, Emmanuel,
For Thou with Thy child, Thy child at home with thee.
Oh, Lord, my God, I love. I worship Thee.
Amy Carmichael, a true portrait of sacrifice.
5. God Conquers Fear (Judges 6:1-32, Gideon)Related Media
Judges: A Drifting People, A Delivering God (part five)
We each have rational and irrational fears. We may not be aware of them, but they're there. The biblical story of Gideon is one of God empowering a man who was paralyzed by fear. Gideon was afraid to act and reluctant to say what needed said. He had to be reminded that God was with him. His story encourages those of us with fears that keep us up at night. We're afraid of failure, or that the image we've worked so hard to create might get distorted. We're afraid of losing what we love. We fear the unknown. Can God's presence unleash us from the prison of our fear-driven paralysis?
Lesson 40: God’s Time or Man’s Time? (John 7:1-13)Related Media
December 29, 2013
A young man came to W. E. Gladstone when he was Prime Minister of England and said, “Mr. Gladstone, I would appreciate your giving me a few minutes in which I might lay before you my plans for the future. I would like to study law.” “Yes,” said the great statesman, “and what then?”
“Then, sir, I would like to gain entrance to the Bar of England.” “Yes, young man, and what then?”
“Then, sir, I hope to have a place in Parliament, in the House of Lords.” “Yes, young man, what then?” pressed Gladstone.
“Then I hope to do great things for Britain.” “Yes, young man, and what then?”
“Then, sir, I hope to retire and take life easy.” “Yes, young man, and what then?” he tenaciously asked.
“Well, then, Mr. Gladstone, I suppose I will die.” “Yes, young man, and what then?” The young man hesitated and then said, “I never thought any further than that, sir.”
Looking at the young man sternly and steadily, Gladstone said, “Young man, you are a fool. Go home and think life through!” (Told by Leonard Griffith, This is Living [Abingdon Press], pp. 48, 49.)
Since the old year is almost gone and the New Year is upon us, I thought it may be profitable to revisit the same text that we studied last time from a slightly different perspective, considering the topic of God’s time versus man’s time. In John 7:6, Jesus says to his half-brothers who advised Him to go up to the Feast of Booths and do some miracles to make Himself known, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune.” Jesus was drawing a contrast between how He lived in view of God’s time versus how His brothers lived their lives. I want to develop the thought:
Since life is short and eternity is forever, live by God’s time, not by man’s time.
The first point is obvious, and yet worth thinking about often:
1. Life is short and eternity is forever.
Billy Graham was once asked what he was most surprised by in life. He answered, “Its brevity.” (Christianity Today, 10/06, p. 90) An older man gave this perspective on how he viewed time differently as he aged (Dewey Gill, Reader’s Digest [5/83]):
Days were plentiful and cheap when I was young. Like penny candy. I always had a pocketful—and spent them casually. Now my supply is diminished, and their value has soared. Each one becomes worth its weight in the gold of dawn. Suddenly I live in unaccustomed thrift, cherishing hours the way lovers prize moments. Even at that, when the week is ended, it seems I’ve gone through another fortune. A day doesn’t go as far as it used to.
I can relate to those thoughts! We just came from being with my Dad on his 90th birthday. It was sad to see his declining physical and mental condition. But it was also sobering to think that in just over 23 years, if I’m still alive, I will be that old! Life is short and then eternity is forever!
If Jesus had been born in our times, His parents would have recognized that He was an unusually gifted child. They would have begun His education early, put Him on the gifted child track, and had Him preaching by age 12 when He made an impression on the scholars in the temple. By the time He was 20, He would have a huge international following. With a good public relations man, He could have learned to tone down some of His more offensive comments so that the religious leaders would not have plotted to kill Him. Think how much more He could have accomplished if He had lived to 70 or 80!
But Jesus, living by God’s time, didn’t begin His ministry until He was about 30 and after three short years He could pray (John 17:4), “I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do.” Amazing!
If we want to think like Jesus, we need to live with the awareness of how short life is and that one day we will give an account to God for how we spent our lives. In Psalm 90, as Moses thought on these things, he concluded with the prayer (90:17), “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and confirm for us the work of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands.” If none other than Moses had to ask God to confirm the work of his hands, how much more do we need to pray that prayer repeatedly!
2. Jesus’ brothers were living by man’s time: Their time was always opportune.
Jesus told His brothers that they could go up to the feast whenever they wanted to go, because their time was “always opportune” (7:6). The implication is that they were not living under God’s time, as Jesus was. D. A. Carson (The Gospel According to John [Eerdmans/Apollos], p. 308) says that Jesus meant “that what they did was utterly without significance as far as God was concerned.” We can draw three implications about what it means to live by man’s time:
A. Those living by man’s time are not living under the lordship of Christ.
As John 7:5 adds, “For not even His brothers were believing in Him.” As we saw in our last study, Jesus’ brothers had grown up with Him, so they knew Him better than most people would have. They had heard His teaching and seen some of His miracles. They were good, religious Jews, who observed the various feasts in Israel, such as this Feast of Booths. But they didn’t believe in Jesus as Savior and Lord. They probably did not see their need for a Savior from sin, because they thought of themselves as good, religious Jews in comparison with the pagan Gentiles.
So if you want to live by God’s time and not waste your life living by man’s time, the first order of business is to trust in Christ as Savior and Lord. When you are born again, you repent of the sin of living for yourself and you begin to live for the glory of your wonderful Savior and Lord. You realize that if He is Lord of all, then He is Lord of your time. So you begin to seek Him earnestly to figure out how He wants you to spend your life. If you determine your goals and priorities apart from submission to God and His Word, then you’re living by man’s time, not by God’s time. Such living is ultimately futile.
B. Those living by man’s time go along with their culture apart from Christ.
Jesus draws a sharp contrast here between His brothers’ time and His time. If you’re using your time as our culture does, you aren’t living by God’s time. The brothers went up to this religious feast but they went without Jesus. They went because it was the thing that all Jewish men did at that time of the year. It was a God-ordained ritual, but they did it without reality because they did it without Jesus and without faith in Him. They were living by man’s time, not by God’s time.
We, of course, live in a godless, corrupt culture that exalts selfish pleasure and materialism as the ultimate aims in life. To go along with our culture and live for those fleeting pleasures is obviously to waste your life. But it’s possible to be a part of the Christian wing of our culture, to go to church and go through Christian rituals (such as communion) and yet leave Jesus out. You’re just doing it because it’s the thing that other Christians do. But that is to live by man’s time, not by God’s time.
C. Those living by man’s time operate by worldly wisdom, not by God’s wisdom.
As we saw last time, Jesus’ brothers offered some worldly-wise advice on how He could advance His “career.” They may have meant well, but as I pointed out, their advice was in line with Satan’s temptation for Jesus to jump off the pinnacle of the temple, have the angels float Him gently to the ground, and impress everyone with His miraculous powers. The brothers’ advice was, “For no one does anything in secret when he himself seeks to be known publicly. If You do these things, show Yourself to the world.” (7:4).
As Carson points out (ibid., pp. 306-307), by the world, Jesus’ brothers meant, “to everyone,” but John no doubt saw irony in their comment. We already know that such a display of Jesus’ miraculous powers would have the multitude clamoring to make Him a political Messiah (6:14-15), but it would not have resulted in genuine faith (2:23-25). In one sense Jesus had no intention of showing Himself to the world (14:22). And yet in another sense (Carson, p. 307), “it is in Jerusalem where Jesus reveals himself most dramatically—not in the spectacular miracles the brothers want but in the ignominy of the cross, the very cross by which Jesus draws all men to Himself (12:32) and becomes the Savior of the world (4:42).” The cross is foolishness to the wise of this world, but to us who are called, it is God’s power and wisdom (1 Cor. 1:23-24).
One of the books that has most impacted my life is Shadow of the Almighty [Zondervan], by Elisabeth Elliot. It’s the story of her first husband, Jim Elliot, who was martyred at age 28 in Ecuador (along with four other young men) by the fierce Auca tribe that they were seeking to reach with the gospel. When he was a college student, Jim had written (p. 15), “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he cannot lose.”
Recently the news featured the story of chemistry teacher Ronnie Smith, a young husband and father who was shot to death by Muslim radicals while he jogged in Benghazi, Libya. He was there to show Christ’s love to those lost and hopeless people. I saw an interview with his wife, who said that she loves and forgives those who murdered her husband. The world would say that to go to a fierce, primitive tribe or to a dangerous place like Benghazi to share the gospel, is not wise. But God’s ways are not our ways and His thoughts are not our thoughts. In the epilogue to Shadow of the Almighty (p. 246), Elisabeth Elliot wrote,
W. Somerset Maugham, in Of Human Bondage, wrote, “These old folk had done nothing, and when they died it would be just as if they had never been.” Jim’s comment on this was, “God deliver me!”
May He deliver us all from living by man’s time, in worldly wisdom, rather than by God’s time, in His wisdom. To understand how to live by God’s time, we must look at how Jesus lived:
3. Jesus lived by God’s time: He submitted fully to God’s plan for His life.
Throughout John’s Gospel, there is the repeated theme of Jesus’ “hour,” which refers to the cross (2:4; 7:30; 8:20; 12:23, 27; 13:1; 16:32; 17:1; see Luke 22:53). But here (7:6, 8) John uses the Greek word that refers to an opportune time. Jesus means that the God-appointed time for Him to go up to Jerusalem and reveal Himself was not yet at hand. In other words, in contrast to His brothers, who lived by the world’s agenda, Jesus lived by God’s agenda. This meant five things:
A. To live by God’s time, be directly accountable to Him for how you spend your time.
Jesus always had a sense of obeying the Father with regard to His use of time. He did not allow His own mother to determine when He should turn the water into wine, but He did it as the Father directed Him (2:4). Here, He does not allow His brothers’ advice to govern when He went up to the feast, but went in response to the Father’s timetable. He was accountable to the Father to do everything in His life and ministry as the Father directed.
I’ll grant that it’s not easy to determine God’s will for the specifics of our schedules, whether it concerns the major decisions in life or the daily and weekly schedules that we all must make. But we can determine our overall priorities and goals from the wisdom of God’s Word and prayerfully seek to use our time with the awareness that we will give an account to God for how we spent the time that He gave us. If I may be gently blunt, to spend countless hours watching TV or playing computer games is not a godly way to spend your life.
One New Year’s Day when I was in college, I spent the entire day watching all the college bowl games. By the end of the day, I felt rotten, as if I had stuffed myself on junk food all day. I realized that I had just wasted a precious day of my life. I swore off my TV addiction and have never gone back.
B. To live by God’s time, live with the purpose of glorifying God and accomplishing what He has given you to do.
Jesus came to do the Father’s will and to accomplish the Father’s work (4:34). He finished it in three years, as we have seen (17:4). Jesus’ purpose should be our purpose, namely, to glorify God on this earth and to accomplish whatever it is that He has given each of us to do.
Obviously, God does not call everyone to be a foreign missionary or to serve full time in ministry here at home. But He does call us all to live in such a way that we glorify Him in everything we do (1 Cor. 10:31). All behavior begins in our hearts or thoughts (Mark 7:21), so begin there, by ordering your thoughts in line with God’s Word (Phil. 4:8). All our behavior is to be governed by God’s love, which seeks the highest good for others (Rom. 12:9-10; 1 Cor. 13; 16:14). Also, God has uniquely gifted each one for service so that we might glorify Him (1 Cor. 12; 1 Pet. 4:10-11). So figure out what He has gifted you to do and structure your schedule so that you can do it.
C. To live by God’s time, develop a harvest mindset that views every situation in light of eternity.
As we saw in the story of Jesus with the woman at the well, the disciples had a temporal mindset. They were focused on getting Jesus to eat His lunch so that they could get on with their journey. But Jesus had a harvest mindset. He turned their focus toward what God was doing with His encounter with the woman and the Samaritans in that village (4:31-38). Jesus was aware of God’s perspective in every situation. He never acted out of selfish motives, but only for the purpose of furthering God’s kingdom. He told us that in contrast to seeking all the things that the world so eagerly seeks, (Matt. 6:33), “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.”
You’ve got to figure out how that verse applies to your sphere of influence. It may apply to rearing your children to know and follow Christ. It may apply to helping a family member, friend, co-worker, or stranger whom you meet come to know the Savior or to grow in Him. Ask the Lord to give you a harvest mindset.
D. To live by God’s time, use reasonable prudence, but do not put personal safety above doing the will of God.
Jesus stayed in Galilee because the Jews were trying to kill Him (7:1), but when it was God’s will for Him to go to the feast, He went. We see the same thing in John 10:39-11:15: Jesus was ministering out of the reach of the Pharisees who were seeking to kill Him, but when it was God’s time, He went to Bethany, just outside of Jerusalem, to raise Lazarus from the dead.
Jeremy Lundgren, our former youth pastor, is writing his master’s thesis on the theology of risk and safety: when is it right to protect yourself from possible harm versus expend yourself for the sake of the gospel? On some occasions, the apostle Paul escaped impending threats to his life (2 Cor. 11:32-33; Acts 17:10, 14; 22:18), but at other times, he was willing to walk into what almost certainly would result in either persecution or death (Acts 19:30-31; 21:11-13). I can’t give you a hard and fast rule for determining when to risk your life for the sake of the gospel and when to use caution and escape. But we all should have the mindset that our highest aim is to glorify God through the gospel. Sometimes that may entail exposing ourselves to substantial risks.
E. To live by God’s time, be willing to confront our godless culture.
Here, Jesus confronted His brothers’ worldly perspective. He never backed away from confronting the worldly or godless views of those He came into contact with, even though it inevitably led to His death. When He went to have lunch with a Pharisee, Jesus deliberately did not follow their custom for ceremonial washing before the meal and then He laid into the Pharisee for his hypocrisy in cleaning the outside of the cup, while inside he was full of wickedness. When one of the lawyers present heard Jesus’ condemnation of the Pharisees, he said (Luke 11:45), “Teacher, when You say this, You insult us too.” Did Jesus reply, “I’m sorry, I didn’t mean any offense”? No, rather He said (11:46), “Woe to you lawyers as well!” And He proceeded to expose their many sins. Jesus always confronted the godlessness around Him.
This doesn’t mean that we should be rude or insensitive. Paul tells us that our speech should be both gracious and seasoned with salt (Col. 4:6). He tells us not to be quarrelsome, but to be kind to all and to correct with gentleness (2 Tim. 2:24-25). But probably most of us need to be a bit bolder than we are to speak out against godlessness when we encounter it. I appreciated reading that Rick Warren recently told Piers Morgan on CNN with regard to Warren’s opposition to homosexual marriage, “I fear the disapproval of God more than I fear your disapproval or the disapproval of society.” (http://piersmorgan.blogs.cnn.com/2013/12/06)
To review and offer some specific action points, here are some steps to help you live by God’s time so that your life counts for eternity and isn’t wasted because you lived for man’s time:
(1) Make sure that you have trusted in Jesus Christ as Savior and that you are fully submitted to His lordship. Apart from that, anything that you do will be empty and vain at the judgment.
(2) Write out a one-sentence purpose statement for your life and two or three short-term goals that will help move you in that direction in the coming year. Granted, Jesus probably didn’t write out His life purpose in a single sentence, but He was clear enough about it that He knew when He had accomplished the Father’s work (John 17:4). The same could be said of the apostle Paul. He said (1 Cor. 9:23), “I do all things for the sake of the gospel.” He said that his aim was (Phil. 3:10), “That I may know Him.” He told Timothy (1 Tim. 4:7), “Discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness.” Those aims are all in line and show that Paul lived with God’s purpose in mind.
(3) Clear your life of clutter and busyness that do not relate to your overall purpose. Kevin DeYoung’s recent short book, Crazy Busy [Crossway] is helpful in this regard.
(4) Figure out what God has gifted you to do and begin serving Him now. Don’t wait until some “better time” in the future. You may never get to such a time. Start now. What is your “mission field”? Who are the 8-15 people with whom you have regular contact that you can influence for Christ? God wants all disciples of Jesus to help make disciples who make disciples.
(5) Don’t despise the mundane as the place where God wants you to serve. You don’t have to go to the mission field or go into full time ministry to serve the Lord. You can serve and glorify God daily in your present circumstances. As Peter puts it (1 Pet. 4:11), “Whoever speaks, is to do so as one who is speaking the utterances of God; whoever serves is to do so as one who is serving by the strength which God supplies; so that in all things God may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom belongs the glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.”
- When we live under God’s time, how do we determine how much time to spend in leisure or recreation?
- How can a Christian discover his/her spiritual gifts? (See my message on Romans 12:4-6.)
- How does Matthew 6:33 apply to a believer who works in a “secular” job? How can he “seek first God’s kingdom”?
- Prayerfully write a brief life purpose statement and 2-3 goals for the New Year.
Copyright, Steven J. Cole, 2013, All Rights Reserved.
Unless otherwise noted, all Scripture Quotations are from the New American Standard Bible, Updated Edition © The Lockman Foundation