Who are we?

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.

Sunday, 22 March 2015

Colossians 2:8-12 – Thinking about ideas

Paul was aware that the Colossians faced danger from the ideas advocated in the society in which they lived. There would have been a wide variety of ideas, just as there are today. How should they have responded to them, and how should we react to the ones that we face? Paul gives a simple test. If they disagree with or contradict the teachings of Jesus, they are wrong. Paul points out to the Colossians that it was their responsibility not to be take in by such ideas.

Paul reminds the Colossians about what Jesus should mean to them. He is fully God and therefore able to bless them out of his fullness. It is likely that the false teaching in Colosse did not acknowledge the full greatness of Jesus, but the Christians should. Moreover Jesus is the ruler of all existing visible and invisible powers (the Colossians were tempted to give important roles to angels, but they should remind themselves that even good spiritual beings are only servants of Jesus). His authority must always be acknowledged by his followers.

It is also likely that the Colossians were facing Jewish influences that focussed on the necessity of circumcision for an authentic relationship with God. Paul agreed that a kind of circumcision was necessary, but it was very different from Jewish ideas; instead it did not involve human agencies at all. Rather the circumcision that mattered was the removal of the sinful nature by God, and this could only be achieved through the circumcision of Christ, a reference to what happened on the cross when he was cut off by his death.

The Colossians should remember that they were united with Jesus in his death and resurrection, facts declared to each and by each at their baptisms. Instead of thinking about the wrong ideas floating about their society they should focus on the power of God revealed in and through Jesus. Because of the resurrection of Jesus they had been introduced into a world of spiritual power that was far beyond the pointless ideas of their neighbours in Colosse.

Paul’s words in these verses are very applicable in our day as well. Whether it is the notions of liberal Christianity, the ideas of numerous cults, the suggestions of alternative religions, the speculations of atheistic influencers, or the experiences of other-worldly probers, the answer to them all is the same. What place do they give to Jesus and his teachings, to his cross and to his exaltation? If they do not acknowledge him, why should their ideas interest us?

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