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Analysis of Colossians 3: 1-4

(A lesson on Scripture Interpretation)

Colossians 2:20-3:11

New International Version (NIV)

20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.

Living as Those Made Alive in Christ

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of GodSet your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.When Christ, who is your[a] life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. [b] You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived. But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11 Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.

 

Step 1: Historical Meaning:

 

To gain understanding of the passage or verse of study one must verse analyze the literary content of the text being studied. First, is it a figurative passage using idioms, comparative or contrast ideas, or is it a literal form of communication? Is it an active or inactive statement? Compare the verbs, conjunctions and other forms of grammar and determine what the passage or verse is trying to convey. An action statement will be a command or some sort of activity. Is it a dialog? Is it a Revelation from God (Theosophy) which is normally indicated by a statement as “The Lord said, Appeared Angel appeared…”? Keep in mind the wording and grammar style may be different than that of a contemporary writing and will reflect the author. All though all scripture is Inspired and inerrant the personality and culture of the writer will be reflected in the style of the  passage or verse as well as the composition will be written to convey a message to a certain audience in a manner of speech reflecting the culture and society of the intended reader of the time. Dictionaries, encyclopedias atlases, study guides and concordances as well can provide a wealth of information for research on geographical, historical or uncommon terminology to gain further understanding as you uncover the wonders of God’s Word.

In Regards to the relevance of (Colossians 3: 1-4) to the people of Colossae, Phrygia (The Philemon people also resided in the city, the city was also known as Kona) [i] it is speaks on the dangers of Sin and Christ alone is the means of Salvations and is a place of prominence next to God in Heaven. This is reinforced by the central theme for Colossians which is verse 1:18.

“He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.”[ii]

A secondary theme is that the message of Salivation and Grace extends to all people Jew and Gentile.

The paragraph preceding the text studied states that one who dies a Spiritual death or thus as a follower of Christ one will be led astray by the temptations and the workings of the world. Although, society, law and culture teach these ways are wise and profitable in actuality the lead to a form of sickness to one’s body and even can serve as a false God causing pride to kill of humility and stiffen spiritual growth. Thus, cutting one off from God and leaving one feeling unsatisfied and unfilled.

The paragraph preceding the Colossians 3:1-4 commands us to put to death our sinful nature and warns that Jesus is returning. On can conclude from this statement that the salvation is a gift and the reader must keep the commandments (Exodus 20) and obey the teachings of Christ and live free from sin if one wishes to enter Heaven.

Step 2 Measuring the Width:

 

To measure the width one must determine the similarities and difference of the society and people of writing (historical content) and that of today. At times the text itself may be relevant and the Holy Spirit may reveal through illumination a direct correlation but at other times one may need to consult reference materials. The above passage transcends the gap of time and ages but I chose to do a little research on the people and society and the Author (Paul) to gain further insight into the subject being presented.

Paul wrote the Epistle from Ephesus during his third missionary trip in around 53-58 A.D. [iii]However, the letter was circulated at around 62 A.D. (He was imprisoned in Rome at this time)[iv]

The people of Phrygia (Present day Turkey) are mentioned in various near eastern texts and the area was under the occupation of the Persians Greeks and Romans at various times throughout history. The Phrygian Mode of music is credit from originating from this region but at the time of Paul the people were noted as dull in some Roman texts. However, this seems to reflect the arid conditions of the land and not the people. It is obvious that the people were accustomed to the lavish lifestyle of the Hellenistic and Roman people and this is why Paul wrote the letter.  The Church of Colossae was looked upon favorably by Paul as reflected by Paul in (Colossians 1) as this is a prayer of Thanksgiving. However the city itself must have been in a sinful state and the Christian were suffering from persecution. The book of Philemon however illustrates some of the church members are being led astray by sin.

One can only turn on the news, read the paper or step outside into the world today and see the corruption of Sin and the promotion of the ways of the world over the ways of God. Even today some churches are falling away from Evangelism and the Gospel embracing feel good preaching and empowerment. This Spiritual prosaic only strengthens the ways of Satan and false teachings. Plus, misinterpreted readings of the scripture and piece meal sermons only further dilute God’s word.

Therefore, the gap is relatively small for the contemporary reader and the historical counterpart of Kona.

 

 

Step 3 Crossing the Bridge:

In order to cross the bridge of history and culture one must ask themselves a series of five questions to find the theological truth looking for contrast and similarities in the audience, society, geography and related historical properties of the period of the writing.

  1. Is the principal reflected in the Biblical text?

The principal of mankind to turn toward indulgence,  greed, immorality and the like to feel satisfied and for society to approve and promote such actions is universal and is throughout the Bible.( Romans 6:22-23 It reflected in the passage itself and the paragraph before and after the on being studied.  The other main theme of Christ ascending to sit at the right hand of God is also reflected elsewhere.  (Ephesians 1:20) Remember the Bible never contradicts itself.

  1. Is the Passage timeless?

As Stated above the two themes are timeless and universal and cross all historical gaps.

  1. Is the Passage culturally bound?

The Passage studied is relevant in a modern as well as a historical setting and thus is culturally bound.

  1. Is the Passage consistent with the rest of the teaching of Scripture?

After not only review the material surrounding (Colossians 3:1-4) but recollecting on my studies of previous readings of The Word , consulting reference materials, and consulting other related Books of the Bible on the Theological issue presented the teaching was found to be sound.

  1. Finally, is the Scripture still relevant today?

As Salvation, Grace, the second coming, temptation and entrapment of man and the dangers of man are a universal theme in the Bible  it has been proven to be proven to be sound theological interpretative argument for a post- modern reader In America as it was in time of Paul.

Step 4 Applications for Today:

In order to apply a passage or verse to one’s life the key elements that connect the writing and the situation need to be identified. One should then consider a scenario where all the factors can apply keeping in mind the meaning must be relevant to contemporary society as well as it was to the original audience.

Below I will outline two scenarios from the text in (Colossians 3:1-4).

  1. On Greed:

Suppose that you are offered a promotion that would increase your status and income but would require you to spend less time away from your family, would require you be accepted even though there are coworkers and friends have worked more diligently towards the promotion and are more qualified than you and God has more than provided for your needs and you are aware of one of those coworkers is facing financial hardship and would benefit greatly from the material gain of the position. Not to mention the boss is a close friend of yours and it may appear as though he is showing you favoritism if you accept the promotion.

Society will teach us to accept the position, you too earned it. People will understand.  He who has the most toys and most power is the most successful. Money, Power, Prestige this will make me happy. One’s family will understand the long hours and the time away from home. The man struggling will find another means to get by. Pride will kick in, humility will become lacking, more will not be enough and one will not be satisfied. For more clarification on this issue one only needs to read (Ecclesiastes).

  1. On sexual Immorality :

Suppose if you will you are presented with the opportunity to engage in sexual intercourse with the most attractive person you can imagine but that person or yourself is separated but not divorced.

Society and the law would not consider this to be adultery and many of this would act on this temptation.

However, under Gods Commandments this would be adultery. The laws governing adultery and impurity and sexuality are clearly divined in the Bible one such account is given by Christ himself In Matthew.

Lust

27 You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ 28 But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart. 29 If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. 30 And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.

Divorce

31 It was also said, ‘Whoever divorces his wife, let him give her a certificate of divorce.’ 32 But I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except on the ground of sexual immorality, makes her commit adultery, and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.( Matthew 5:27-32 E.S.V)[v]

Thankful for salvation and sanctification are sins are forgiven. (John 3: 14-25).

I hope this essay will enrich the reader as the discover God’s word and gain freedom through a better understanding of God, Christ and the Holy Spirit.

In Christ,

Trent Rindoks

Word count: # 2074

 

Bibliography:

  1.             i.            http://www.bibleplaces.com/colossae.htm
  2.           ii.            http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Colossi%20ans%201:18&version=NASB.New American Standard Bible (NASB)Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation
  3.         iii.            http://www.ccel.org/bible/phillips/CP05Acts18.htm
  4.         iv.            http://www.matthewmcgee.org/paultime.html
  5.           v.            http://www.biblegateway.com/passage/?search=Matthew%205&version=ESV. copyright © 2001 by Crossway,
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