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Colossians, Philemon

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1 NT Lit by Dave Mathewson, Lecture 23, 4/1/11 © 2011, Dave Mathewson and Ted Hildebrandt Colossians, PhilemonAlright, let’s go ahead and get started. Today we’ll attempt to finish up Colossians that we started on Wednesday. Then there's one other little book and this is the one time where we go out of order. Actually, there’s going to be one other time, I think, I can’t remember off the top of my head, but this is about the only time we go out of order and I will actually treat another book right after Colossians and that is the book of Philemon. Although Philemon actually comes at the very end of the collection of Paul's letters, because, as we said Paul’s letters are generally arranged according to the length of the letter not according to the order in which they're written. But, the reason will become apparent in and that is because Colossians and Philemon actually have a very close relationship to each other and most likely were written at the same and sent at the same time. So, as I said, we’ll break the order that we’re following and I’ll treat Philemon rightafter Colossians because they kind of belong together. Alright, so let's open with prayer and then we’ll finish up looking at Colossians and then if we have time, move on to Philemon which is the shortest book that we have that Paul wrote. Father, thank you again for so graciously communicating your Word to us and thank you for those who have preserved and provided a written record of that. Lord I pray that we will take seriously this collection of documents that we call your Word, and we confess that they are indeed your Word, that we can help, not help, but conform our lives to them and desire and strive to live in obedience to what is nothing less than your revealed will to your people. And help us just understand a little bit more of that and understand a little bit more of how to read and to appropriate your revelation to us. In Jesus’ name we pray, Amen.2Alright with the book of Colossians I suggested to you on Wednesday that Colossians was a book written by Paul to address a teaching that he was concerned was perhaps on the brink of or on the verge of leading some of the Christians in the city of Colossae astray. I suggested to you that despite the fact that most people read Colossians,when you read Colossians you get mixed signals as far as what was this teaching that hadPaul so concerned and upset. This is something scholars call “mirror reading.” By readinga letter you try to find reflected what the occasion or what the problem or the issue was. So in a sense we’re mirror reading Colossians or as I used before we’re listening to one end of a phone conversation. We only hear what Paul says and we’re trying to figure out what was going on on the other end of the line. What was going on with the Colossians that caused Paul to write this letter in the first place. I suggested to you that most likely Paul is addressing some kind of a deviant or false teaching that perhaps is not quite as severe or has not yet made its way into the church, unlike Galatians. We saw in Galatians Paul was so upset that he skipped the thanksgiving part of the letter and jumped right intothe problem at hand. In Colossians, as we saw on Wednesday, you really don't get any hint that anything’s wrong, until you get to chapter 2. So if Paul is addressing some kind of deviant or false teaching undermining the Gospel, as I think he is, it’s probably is not quite as serious a situation, or it has not yet perhaps infiltrated the church. I don't mean that the teaching isn’t as serious, I mean that, that the situation is not quite as dire, that is that perhaps there have not been a large number of or any who have yet given in to this, teaching. Maybe these teachers aren't even trying to convert or win the Christians. It's more that the Christians are attracted to this teaching that is present in their culture. I suggested to you as well that although mostthink that because there are mixed signals, in one sense there seems to be a strong Jewish element, but there also seems to be a strong asceticism: don’t touch, don't taste, don't handle. There also seems to be a mystical element. This emphasis on, on the worship of angels and going into things you have seen. There seems to be a visionary or mystical element and some have looked to a syncretism, that is kind of an amalgamation of Jewishand other pagan religious elements wrapping them all up into one false teaching. But I3suggested to you that better is that to suggest that this is simply Jewish, and there's no need to look outside of Judaism of the first century for this false teaching. Even more specifically, it resembles the kind of Judaism you see in apocalyptic type movements, that produce books like Daniel or the kind of books like we find in Revelation, the record of the vision, a vision as sent to heaven and the vision of the heavenly realm. Or either apocalyptic Judaism, or perhaps this was a group that resembled or were could be identified with the Essenes. We talked about the Essenes from which probably the Qumran community came and the Dead Sea Scrolls. We talked about them way back in the beginning of class. They also appear to have ascetic tendencies and strove for ritual purity. They also seem to be a number of mystical elements in the Essene teaching in the Qumran documents. So I don't think there's any reason to look outside of some kind of Judaism that had Paul concerned. So now he writes this letter to persuade his readers not to give in to or be deceived by this mystical Judaism that was an apocalyptic type or Essene or Qumran type. But instead to remind them that they had everything they need in Christ, and they did not need this experience that this false teaching had to offer with its asceticism and its mystical experience. They had everything they needed in Jesus Christ. Who as we saw Paul said is the image of the invisible God. He is the creator of all things. He’s the one that inaugurates a new creation.He is before all things. He’s the first born of all creation. And, so why in the world would they want to give in to, or be lead astray by this Judaism and its asceticism and its mystical practices. Now, to move on, in chapter 2, this is the section, is where Paul really starts to dealmore specifically with this teaching and the nature of it.


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