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In this blog, there will be a variety of material: thoughts on Bible books, book reviews, historical characters, aspects of Scottish church history and other things.

Thursday, 19 March 2015

Colossians 2 - Receiving Jesus

Paul is concerned that the Colossians will continue to make spiritual progress. In previous passages he has prayed about their progress and explained the significance of Jesus Christ. He was not giving them new information about Jesus, but reminding them of what they already accepted concerning him. That he was reminding them is seen in his comment that they had received Christ Jesus as Lord.

We are familiar with the idea of receiving Christ at evangelistic meetings and may assume that Paul is saying something similar. Yet the term he uses is usually connected to receiving the apostolic teaching (tradition) about a matter. So while Paul is stressing that the Colossians received Jesus in a personal way, he is also saying that they received a particular teaching about Jesus as well. So for the Colossians, coming into a relationship with Jesus involved their minds as well as their hearts.

The teaching that they had received reflected what Paul had said about Jesus in the previous verses, that he is both God and man, that he is the Creator and the crucified. I suppose the way Paul describes Jesus in verse 6 can be read as highlighting crucial details about him. The word ‘Christ’ means that Jesus is the predicted Old Testament Messiah, and the word ‘Lord’ indicates that (1) his rule is not merely over an earthly race but includes the whole universe and (2) he occupies divine status.

This original reception of Jesus as Lord was very significant because something happened then that equipped the Colossians for walking in Christ. At that occasion, they were rooted in Christ (perfect participle), so that now they are being built up (present participle), with the combined rooting and up building providing the evidence that they are established (present participle) in him. So Paul uses three pictures to illustrate what the Christian life is like. We will consider them tomorrow. In the meantime we can think about what we have received concerning Jesus.

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