Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Review: Syntax Guide by Irons

A SYNTAX GUIDE FOR READERS OF THE GREEK NEW TESTAMENT by Charles Lee Irons [Grand Rapids MI, Kregel Academic, 2016] 629 pages.

This is a syntax guide, not one consisting of a manuscript variants. It does not deal with variants, although a few significant ones are pointed out. He generally accepts the critical text—the Nestle-Aland Novum Testamentum Graece—as written.  Facts about this guide:

1.       Its purpose is to providing brief explanations and syntactical and translation features of the text.

2.       The notes are brief and concise and in some cases limited.

3.       It is not written to compete with or replace larger works on the subject.

4.       It is designed to encourage the reading of the Greek text.

5.       The translation is from taken from the modern translations, not the King James Version. A weakness I believe.

6.       It endeavors to show various ways the Greek text, especially particles and preposition can be taken.

7.       He admits that he uses at times his own terms for the usual ones (p. 10).

8.       A helpful index is included at the end, to show where certain parts of speech are used in the text (i.e. accusative, etc).

9.       He refers to additional resources in some text.

In using it with the Greek text, first I must acknowledge that the critical text is not my first choice of the Greek texts (although I used it at times). In going though John here are some personal observations:

·         It generally was helpful as a guide. But is more of a quick reference.

·         It was too concise at times with no resources given for those who want more explanation of the options (cf. Jn 1:3). Although He does give options without comment. Which is normally the case.

·         Those verses in which additional information is pointed to are older works, omitting the newer ones [i.e. Mounce].

·         However, it does touch on the key issue of syntax with various degrees of help.  

Much of what I found is already available in other works and/or a good lexicon. While this work may be helpful to the beginning Greek student, it fails to be ready helpful or meet the needs of the more advance student or Pastor. At times, it is difficult to understand. If you have Wallace, Mounce, or even good exegetical commentaries, I would past on this volume. In my opinion it is not needed, nor does it fully meet it purpose.

I was given a review copy by the publisher Kregel Academic in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Studies in Colossians #32

Practicing Christian Living at Home 3:18-4:1

During the time of Paul, a typical household consisted of relationships between husband and wife; parents and children; and family and slaves (servants). The section explodes suddenly into the context of the epistle without the marks of a transition from what went before in the text. It marks a switch from that spiritual family to the physical one.[1] It has been inferred that this has been borrowed from outside sources and Christianized.[2] It seems that most hold that the background is the Roman household code.[3] This may be, but so what? There are common areas of ethics in the world. However, there seems to be no clear consensus as to the background of the injunctions. They are not Christianization of worldly ethics, if anything they are an overlapping of ethics.

This section of responsibility. Gromacki points this out clearly:
Corporate oneness (ein) position does not abrogate individual responsibility and function. Racial, social, and sexual distinctions remain, even though there is equality in Christ.[4]
Responsibility begins at home. The home is the oldest institution on earth. It was established in the garden before the fall with Adam and Eve.

This section consists of three subsections centered around members of the household: (1) Wives and husbands, (2) children and fathers, and (3) slaves and masters. A number of things can be observed:
  • Each section deals with a member of a household.
  • In each case Paul deals with the secondary member first and then the one in authority.
  • This Colossians 3:18-4:1 is one self-contained unit with three pairs of reciprocal exhortations.[5]
  • It is a series of admonitions addressed to six members of the household.
  • They deal with mutual or reciprocal obligations,[6] and are not one- sided.
  • Ephesians 5:22-6:9 is an parallel to these admonitions.

Wives and husbands 3:18-19

This subsection is made of two commands—one to wives, the other to the husbands.
  • To the wives: “be subject to your husbands as is fitting the Lord” (3:18). The word subject is a compound word mean to arrange under. It carries the idea of submission or subordinate, but not subjection. This has nothing to do with women being inferior to man. It is in the middle voice, indicating a voluntary act by the wives. As an imperative it could be translation “freely submit yourselves.” It is a military word where the soldiers are under order or directions of an officer.[7] To Paul, submission between husband and wife is a two-way street. The great example is in sexual relations where one is not to forbid the other, rather is to grow out of mutual consent (1 Cor. 7:3-6). Dunn makes an important observation “that wives and not women generally who are in view” in contrast to 1 Cor. 14:34.[8] However, Scripture does not warrant that women are to be subject to all men. This passage qualifies the submission in two ways:
First, it is restrictive in that it is dealing exclusively with the husband-wife relationship.
Second, although authority is the underlining principle, it is not an overbearing authority over the wife. It is a voluntary acceptance of authority on the part of the wife, not an enforced one by the husband. There is no evidence that submission to Christ is a forced submission.
The means or basis of the exercise of submission by the wife is not controlled by the husband, but the Lord. It is governed by “as is fitting in the Lord” (3:18). We should note the following observations:
First, it notes the object of appropriate submission is the Lord. The word fit or fitting is a compound word in the Greek (aneko) made up of the words up and come, therefore to come up to, that which is becoming, or what is proper. It speaks of a standard, in this case the standard behavior of the wife.
Second, it marks the manner of submission to the husband and the will of God.  Campbell clearly notes:

It is of course understood that believing wives are to arrange themselves under their husbands not to do that which is contrary to the will of God (cf. Acts 4:9).[9]

The submission to the standard of Christ outweighs the wrongful authority or commands of the husband.
Third, it speaks of the idea of duty.
 Fourth, it disarms the idea to behave in accordance with the common social order, but goes beyond that to the higher order of the Lord.

  • To the husband: “love your wives and do not be embittered against them” (3:19). This injunction is not in contrast to the above injunction, but given a counterpart with it. The implication is that submission is gained by love. There is a natural connection between the two. This injunction to the husband is twofold—positive and negative.
First, the positive: “love your wives.” The word for love is the Greek word agapao, the highest form for love. Campbell gives us five ways in which the word is used in the New Testament:[10]
1.       There is a direct correlation between love and the willingness to forgive (cf. Luke 7:47).
2.       Love causes one to give of himself for the others, even to the point of death. It is a sacrificing love (cf. John 3:16), We could call it a Calvary love.
3.       Love is not transient but permanent (cf. John 131).
4.       Love shows itself in grace and mercy (Eph. 2:4).
5.       Love disciplines and trains a person to be more like the Lord (Heb. 2:6).
He goes on to note:
As we apply these meanings to the husband’s relation to his wife we have something that is very tangible.  Husbands who love their wives will always be ready to forgive them, to give themselves for them, to be steady and unchangeable in their love, to show mercy toward them, and to help train them to be more like the Lord.[11]
Love is to be continuous and enduring in all circumstances. It is to be eternal in quality. It forgives, cleanses, and sanctifies. It is the love of Christ for His Church (Eph. 5:26-27).
Second, “do not be embittered against them (3:19). The word embittered means sour, bitter, or harsh. It is a word which reflects a sinful inclination (cf. Acts 8:23). The conjunction “and” which connects the two injunctions, is an exegetical conjunction, giving a meaningful example of what love entails. Paul instructs us “to put away” all bitterness (Eph. 4:31). Notice in the context this is put away by forgiveness (Eph. 4:32). Paul is arguing that bitterness is overcome by love and the power of the Holy Spirit, which is displayed by forgiveness. The practice of which is to begin with our relationship with our wives. There is no room for harshness in our relationship with our wife, others, and the church.

To be continued…

[2] E. Glenn Hinson, “The Christian Household in Colossians 3:18-4:1,” REVIEW AND EXPOSITORY, Electronic media, date unknown.  
[3] Dunn, NIGTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 244; THEOLOGY OF PAUL, [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1998], 666-667; Moo, PNTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 294-296; Harold W. Hoehner, EPHESIANS: AN EXEGETICAL COMMENTART, [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2002], 720-729,
[4] Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 146.
[6] Barclay, DSB: COLOSSIANS, 192.
[7]  Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 147.
[9] Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 159.
[10]  Ibid, 160.
[11]  Ibid, 160,

Thursday, November 10, 2016



The providence of God is active (cf. Prov. 21:1). God is continually active in His creation and the affairs of men. This is to keep creation in existence and to rule and overrule within the outworking of His will in creation (Eph. 1:11). The act of fulfilling His will in the world involves preservation, concurrence, government and intervention. Now God enters the world directly in the person of His Son, the Son of Man. Geldenhuys observes: “Throughout the centuries God had so led the course of history that everything was now prepared for the coming of His Son.”[1] Paul calls this the fullness of time (Gal. 4:4). It refers to the right time. It has commonly been indicated that God used the Roman Empire to bring about the right conditions. Rome provided universal peace; a highway system that provided access to all parts of the empire; a universal language (Greek); and a widespread monotheistic message by a worldwide system of Jewish synagogues. Judaism was a protected religion. All of this prepared the way for the Son of Man to come and spread His message worldwide. Luke 2:1-20 breaks down into three subsections (1) the birth, 2:1-7; (2) the angelic visit to the Shepherds; and (3) the shepherds visit and testimony. 

There are three parts to this paragraph: the setting in history (2:1-2); the journal to Bethlehem (2:3-5) and the birth of Jesus (2:6-7). The climax of the paragraph is fulfillment of the birth of Jesus, the Son of Man. The phrase “in those days” ties chapter 2 with chapter 1 of Luke.

Luke, the historian, marks accurately the time of this event. The historical setting is revealed by three things:

  • Augustus was the Roman ruler (29 BC to 14 AD).[2] History tells us that his original name was Octavian. He was adopted by Julius Caesar, and eventually became Caesar. He began the line of Julio-Claudian line of emperors, which ended with Nero. He was a very effective ruler, uniting it and his rule brought efficiency, prosperity, great era of construction across the empire, and a strong standing army. He is credited in saving the empire by his defeat of Mark Anthony and Cleopatra thereby becoming the founder and expander of the empire in 27 BC. He was a man of power and absolute authority of a monarch, but maintained the appearance of a republican form of government.  The name Augustus means exalted one.
  • The Roman census (2:1). There is debate about when such census took place. Bock calls it “the most significant historical problem in the entire Gospel.”[3] We know that Rome declared such records started in 6 AD and be retaken every 14 years. 6 AD would be too late for these events recorded by Luke.  Some feel Luke was wrong and mixed it up with the one in 6 AD. This is highly questionable for two reasons: (1) Luke was a first century man and would know that the census in 6 AD, would not be the one taken around the birth of Jesus. (2) It is likely he would have known of an earlier one living so close historically to the event. In fact, we do know a of census in other parts of the empire during this time including the neighboring county of Egypt [see in ancient history of Tacitus]. “There are distinct traces that such a census took place,” observes Farrar.[4] Augustus is known to have instituted a census during this period. It is not unreasonable think that this decree concerning the whole world would include Palestine although the historical documentation is lost in the halls of history. Such decrees were made for taxation, oaths of allegiance, citizenship, or military conscription.
  • A more difficult part of the problem is the governship of Quirinius over Syria (2:2). We know for sure that Quirinius was governor in 6-7 AD, but that is about 10 years after the birth of Jesus. This begs the question, was Luke wrong about the timing of the census and the governship? We do know he had a long distinctive career in the service of Rome that dates back to at least 12 BC.[5] Thus, Quirinius had an active administrative role from before Jesus was born. The answer to the dilemma is not clear.  There are basically two perspective answers to this problem:[6]
    • First it is exegetical in nature. The phrase “the first census taken” has the Greek word protos primarily means first in time, chief, but can mean prior. Thus, it is possible to translate it before the census. It refers to a census earlier than the one of Quirinius, and not even related to him; although that is unlikely due to the context.
    • Second, Quirinius was either governor or acting governor during the last days of Herod. Some claim that the inscription Lalpis Tiburtinus refers to Quirinius. Although that is debated. Between 4-1 BC, he was believed to a legate and suggested that part of his responsibility was to administer the census. There is a gap in governorships during that time. However, some see him as the chosen administrator of the Census that dates back to 6 BC. This makes it possible for an earlier census conducted by Quirinius.
The census was the motivating factor for Mary and Joseph’s going to Bethlehem (2:3-5). There are three elements to the paragraph: requirement (v3), residence (v4), and registration (v5).

  • Everyone was on his way to register for the census, each to his own city” (2:3). This statement reflects the requirement for taking the census. People were to report to their ancestral home. Rome rarely required this, but there were occasions where this happened. However, this was more custom among the Jews and was practiced since earliest time (cf. 2 Sam. 24). It was a necessity to do so, especially if one still owned land there. Geldenhuys says it may have been necessary because it was “possible that Joseph and Mary knew that according to Micah 5:1 the Messiah would be born in Bethlehem and that both accordingly decided to go there.”[7] The census paved the way both by its requirement and timing for the fulfillment of God’s Word.
  • Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house of David” (2:4). This declares the following: (1) Joseph and Mary were up to this time living in Nazareth. (2) Joseph’s ancestral home was Bethlehem, the city of David. This was 90 miles from Nazareth. (3) Joseph was a member of the royal household of David. Joseph going to Bethlehem denotes that he was obedient both to the government and to the Word of God (cf. Rom. 13:1). Bethlehem means house of bread. It was in the house of bread that the bread of life was born (cf. John 6:28-29).
  • “In order to register along with Mary, who was engaged to him, and was with child” (2:5). It is clear that the trip was one made by Joseph and Mary. Mary came with Joseph, not because she had to register with Joseph for women were not required to register. Mary came probably came along because (1) They had been apart for some time when she went to be with Elizabeth. (2) They were married. The text has them still engaged, but most feel that it was used because Mary was still with child and the marriage had not been consummated (cf. Matthew 1;24-25). The element of her virginity is continued in this statement. (3) The event indicates that Mary was in advanced state of her pregnancy.
During this time, “While they were there, the days were completed for her to give birth. And she gave birth to her firstborn son; and she wrapped Him in cloths, and laid Him in a manger, because there was not room in the inn” (2:6-7). How long after their arrival is not clear but it was early since they were still staying in the stable. The birth is simple stated: “she gave birth.” Jesus’ birth was a mystery— eternal, yet born (cf.  John 8:58); a miracle—He was God/man (Phil. 2:7); and it was a marvel—He was rich but became poor (2 Cor. 8:9). Yet, Luke understates the greatness of the coming of Christ with the simple statement of fact. He is writing from the perspective of a historian, not a theologian. He gives us the historical fact. In the Greek, it is aorist infinitive communicating a single act.[8] Jesus birth was:

  • A natural and normal birth. It was the conception that was the miracle.
  • Jesus was her firstborn son. This indicate the first among others. It implies that Mary and Joseph had other children, as we are informed in other scriptures [Luke 8:19-20; Matt. 12:46-47]. Jesus was the firstborn denoting He had the rights of the firstborn, including the legal and regal rights. Jesus had to be the firstborn to inherit the Messianic rights.
  • The newborn was wrapped in swaddling clothes, which was custom in those days. These were strips of cloth used to wrap babies, especially their limbs to keep them straight so they would grow correctly.
  • It is early in the arrival to Bethlehem that the event occurred. They had no time to fin another accommodation, rather than that of the stable. For there was no room in the inn. Tradition says this was a cave (goes back to Justin Martyr, 100-160 AD; and Origen, 184-253 AD). An "inn" (Gr. katalyma) could have been a guest room in a house (cf. 22:11-12), or any place of lodging. Private residences were divided into two parts: a family residence and another section for the animals, which would have a feeding manger.[9] It is possible that it was a family inn or residence where this took place. If so, the house was overcrowded and they had to stay in the animal section or stable.
  • The innkeeper is presented in tradition as being a mean and heartless person. However, scripture does not match that portrayal.
  • Time of the year is not clear in the text. Tradition gives the date as December 25th, but that is debatable. The fact is that it is not given in Scripture.

[1]  Novel Geldenhuys, NICNT: LUKE, 99.
[2]  See S. Angus, A.M. Renwich, “Roman Empire and Christianity,” THE INTERNATIONAL STANDARD BIBLE ENCYPLOPEDIA (known as ISBE), [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1988], 4:207-221. R.B. Edwards, “Rome,” DICTIONARY OF JESUS AND THE GOSPELS, [Downers Grove IL, InterVarsity Press, 1992], 710-715.
[3]  Darrell L Bock, BECNT: LUKE 1:1-9:50, Excursus 2, 903.
[4]  F. W. Farrar, THE GOSPEL ACCORDING TO ST. LUKE, [Cambridge, University Press, 1905], 62.
[5]  Darrell L Bock, BECNT: LUKE 1:203.
[6]  Ibid, 907-909,
[7]  Norval Geldenhuys, NICNT: LUKE, 101.
[8]  R.C.H. Lenski, THE INTERPRETATION OF ST. LUKE’S GOSPEL, [Minneapolis MN, Augsburg, 1946]. 123.
[9]   Thomas L Constable, NOTES ON LUKE, [electronic media,, 2015 edition], 42.

Monday, October 24, 2016

Studies in Colossians #31

Put on Positive Characteristics (3:12-17).

Safeguard of Christian Living (3:l5-17)

After stating the characteristics, we are to have as the elect of God, and the means to practice to them, Paul now gives the things that safeguard us and our relationship with Christ. Putting on the new man involves four exhortations designed to safeguard us in our walk or conformity to Christ:

  • The Peace of Christ. “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called into one body” (1:15). In the Greek the verse begins with a connector—kai (and) which is translated in the KJV, but not in many modern translations. It does denote a continuation of the theme, or as a parallel to the theme. Peace is an important truth in scripture. It is what the human heart desires. Its source is God. All three of the Godhead provide it for us. The source is God the Father (Phil 4:7), the Son (John 14:27), and the Holy Spirit (Gal. 5:22). Many times peace is used in the objective sense which speaks in terms of reconciliation (cf. Rom. 5:1). This peace has the following features in the Biblical world:
    • The fulfillment of the eschatological hope found in Israel’s Messiah.
    • The fulfillment of the gentile peace that comes through Christ, not imperial military pacification.
    • The means of hope is found in the work of the cross (1:20).

Thus true peace has a cause (the cross) and effect—peace to those who believe.

Contra O’Brien, this is not the equiant to salvation.[1] Paul is not talking about objective peace with God, but a subjective peace of Christ, that is to rule within us. This security and assurance of peace comes by submission… “let [it] rule in your hearts” (3:15).  This is a subjunctive aspect of peace. It calls for believers to let peace rule. It is a call to the Colossian believers for peace to be the decisive factor over conflicts within the church.  The word rule is to be the dominant factor over such conflict. The word rule means to act as an umpire, and has the connotation of control. It is in the present active voice, which speaks of the constant activity of the peace of Christ in our life. It is the ruling peace that is to govern us. We are to be submissive to its control. The phrase “in your hearts” indicates that is an inner peace, especially the location of the peace is to be within us. Moo notes that “Paul is not saying that the peace is in our hearts; but is saying that the peace should rule in the heart.”[2] Surrender to internal peace is the characteristic of the new man.

Peace keeps and protects the unifying principle within the body of Christ, “to which you were called in one body” (3:14).  Here Paul reminds us that peace is a prime element of our calling as believers. We are called to have peace with God and with one another. Peace is the purpose of our call. We are to be “diligent to preserved the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace” (Eph. 4:3).  We are called to be participants of reconciliation within the church, the body of Christ. Reconciliation results in peace. The place of peace is to be active within the body of Christ (cf. Eph. 2:15).

  • Thanksgiving (3:15). The second exhortation is to thankfulness: “be thankful.” This is a common motif of the epistle (1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:17; 4:2) However, there is an element in the Greek text that is commonly overlooked or missed in most translations. The verb is in the present tense and middle voice. It indicates the idea of continuality. The it could be translated “You continually be thankful.” Thanksgiving marks certain elements in the life of a believer:
    • Humility of heart.
    • An expression of worship.
    • Acknowledgment of the sovereignty of God.
    • Gratitude for our salvation.
    • Celebrates the sufficiency of Christ’s work in our daily life.
    •  Praise unto God for His gracious character and bestowal of grace in our life.
    • Gratitude for the provision and blessings of God.

Thanksgiving to God is acceptable to Him (1 Thess. 5:18), Neglect of it opens us up to sin (Rom 1:21); whereas in contrast it acts as an antidote to sin (Eph. 5:4). No wonder Paul exhorts us to be continually thankful.

  • Word of Christ. The next exhortation is to “Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you” (3:16). The word of Christ is used only here in the New Testament. It speaks of the assimilation of the Word of Christ into our lives. There are those who hold that this refers to the earthly teaching of Christ.[3] While there may be parallels between the earthly teaching concerning the kingdom of heaven and the truth for the church, the body of Christ. The two are not the same. The earlier teaching centered upon the nation Israel and limited to the lost sheep of Israel (Matt. 10:5-6). Paul’s scope centers upon the Gentiles and the oneness of the two. It is universal in focus. This is part of a later revelation given to Paul (Eph. 3:1-10). Paul was given a new revelation, and not a repeat of the earthly teaching of Christ. It is the word of Christ to the church, the body of Christ. The conv/remergence of the Jew and Gentile did not take place until the ministry of Paul (cf. 1 Corinthians 12:13; Gal. 1:15-16; Eph. 3:6, Col. 1:25-29). Paul makes clear it was a mystery, not revealed until his ministry, and which was after the early life of Christ that he preaches.
    It is argued that the phrase is to be taken as an objective genitive. It is built on the word that comes from Christ. The word is seen as the gospel, seemingly supported by Col. 1:5, where the gospel is identified as the word of truth.[4] To Paul the word of Christ and the word of God is equitant. It is called the gospel of Christ in 2 Cor. 2:12; 10:14.

This word is to dwell in believers richly (1:16). The imperative dwell (enoiketo) means to be a home at, or to live in. It denotes abundance. The phrase within you, could be taken to mean “in your hearts.” The Word dwells within us by means of the Holy Spirit (Rom. 8:11; 2 Tim. 1:14; cf. 1 Cor. 3:16 Titus 3:5-6). This do not mean that the Word is not necessary; the Holy Spirit works in conjunction with and through the Word. The two work hand in hand. Paul had received the Word by special revelation from Jesus Christ (Gal. 1:20; Col. 1:25-26). Paul wanted the gospel of grace to dwell in the believers.

This exhortation is followed by three Greek participles.[5] The Greek text[6] reads— “with all equitant wisdom, teaching and admonishing yourselves in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” The particles are teaching and admonishing (clearly coronating participles) and singing. It is not clear how to handle these participles in regard to the text.[7] It seems to me that they stand as the means or method of letting the word dwell in us richly.

First it has to do with the mind. Teaching is more than communication; it has the idea of instruction. Admonishing means to put in the mind. It is used in the present tense indicating continuously teaching and admonishing in all wisdom.

Second, the third participle has to do with the exercise of thanksgiving in appreciation of the teaching and admonishing. This speaks of worship of the mind by singing and praising God in or with gratitude.

Three participles describe three things that are to be present in the worship service of the church: teaching, admonish, and sing praise to our God. These are expressions of letting the Word of Christ dwelling with us and the congregation.

  • The Glory of God: “Whatever you do in word or deed do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” (3:17). Paul concludes the exhortation by a summary statement exhortation. Three elements are involved here:[8]

First, all-inclusive actions are in focus here. Word and deed is a common reference to one’s entire interaction with the world (2 Thess. 2:117; cf. 1 Cor. 10:31). They cover every aspect of life.

Second, our lives and its activities are under the authority of Jesus Christ. The genitive case of His name indicates ownership, or possession Everything we do ought to come under His authority and our submission to His will.  Our conduct is to be consistent with His character. Our actions should be to His credit and in the sphere of our Lord (cf. Eph. 5:20; Phil. 2:10).

Third, it is to be done in thanksgiving to God for what He has done for us. The word thanksgiving expresses giving good grace. It is to be an action of grace, for we have no merit of our own. God works in and through us and we are to exercise it in thanksgiving. It denotes humility of the mind in praise and thankfulness.

[1]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 204-205.
[3]  David Wenham, PAUL FOLLOWER OF JESUS OR FOUNDER OF CHRISTIANITY? [Grand Rapids MI, Eerdmans, 1995], 287-288.
[4]  Pao, ZECNT: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 246. Also see Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 250.
[6]  Translated from THE MAJORITY TEXT.
[7]  See the discussion of Moo, PNTC: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 286-289
[8]  Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 144

Wednesday, October 12, 2016

Genesis 001


Genesis opens by going back to “the beginning” (Genesis 1:1). The first eleven chapters deal with the history before the time of Abraham. Revelation never is given in a vacuum. Scriptures treat this account as history (Exodus 20:9-11; 31:17; Psalm 8; 104; Matthew 19:4-6; 2 Peter 3:5; Hebrews 4:4). It provides a background and history to Genesis and the whole Bible. Like any history it is built on the principle of selectivity.

No historical narrative is a complete account of all that occurred in a given event or series of events. The author must select those events that most effectively relate not only what happened but also the meaning and significance of what happened.[1]

There is a common world view in Genesis and the ancient Near East. We have other writings and records from the ancient Near East to better help us understand the period and the worldviews that existed. The ancient ideas were at odds with the Biblical account, but there are also areas of agreement. Wenham writes:

...Genesis share a common outline of primeval history with its neighbors.... Both agreed that an invisible supernatural world existed; that a God or gods existed; were personal; could think, speak, and communicate with men; indeed, control human affairs.[2]

However, these are overshadowed by the great differences. The Genesis account is distinct and unique among the ancient Near East. It is an inspired account (2 Timothy 3:16)

Moses made his careful selection on the basis of ancestry leading to the nation Israel, tracing it back to the God of creation and Adam. This is clearly indicated in his arrangement of the whole book around the genealogies.

[1] Sailhamer, John H., (Frank E. Gaebelein, Editor) “Genesis,” THE EXPOSITOR’S BIBLE COMMENTARY, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1990], 2:13.
[2]  Wenham,  Gordon J, WBC: GENESIS 1-15, (Dallas TX, Word, 1991), xlvii

Sunday, October 9, 2016

Studies in Colossians #30


Put on Positive Characteristics (3:12-17).

These 12 verses are connected to what precedes, but go beyond what had been given. This section can be divided into two subdivisions: the new characteristics (3:12-14), and the exhortations based on putting them on (3:15-17). “A new character demands new characteristics!”[1] The characteristics are in line with Colossians 3:1, seeking “the things above.” It must be noted that there is a correspondence between putting off the old and putting on the new. Harris points out that the two are “issuing specific ethical directives…in being positive exhortation after negative injunctions.”[2] It is not enough to put off the old, it must be replaced with the new. Each of these injunctions begin with the conjunction “therefore” (3:5, 12); calling for action on the part of the believers. This is clear in verse 12 for the Greek text reads: “Put on therefore,” which the KJV translates more literally.

The new characteristics (3:12-14).

The section has a clear structure:

12a         The imperative: Put on therefore

12b         The basis: as elect of God, holy and beloved

12c         The list: compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience.

13-14      The means: bearing with…forgiving…loving.

The imperative is to “put on” the new characteristics that produce harmony in the church, the body of Christ. While therefore calls for action based on what went before and alludes to Colossians 3:10; the word as points forward to the basis of doing so. They coordinate the past arguments with the new argument of the apostle. We are to “put on” new characters that are in harmony with our new position in Christ.

The basis of the new argument is based upon our identification: “as the elect of God, holy and beloved” (3:12). Our identification is that of “the elect of God,” and “holy” and “beloved” stand in apposition[3] to being elect of God. This can be diagrammed:

Elect of God



The elect of God is holy and beloved. These further define the status of the elect. The word elect is a compound word in the Greek (eklektos), meaning to pick out, to choose, or select. The object is the persons who have been chosen. Paul tells us as members of the church, the body of Christ, we were convicted by the Holy Spirit and drawn to the Son by God (John 6:44; 16:7-11; Titus 1:1). It speaks of God’s gracious initiative in drawing men to Himself.[4] It speaks of our status or position in Christ.

The words holy and beloved of God describes those who are elect. They, like the word elect, has its roots in the Old Testament. The Jews used them of the nation and of its leaders (i.e. Moses and Solomon). These words come from the self-identification of Israel. Lightfoot observes, “All the three terms…are transferred from the Old Covenant to the New, from Israel after the flesh to the Israel of the Spirit.[5] Paul uses it in reference to the elect of God in the church as well, and applies it to all believers. Thus, these descriptions are inter-dispensation in nature. There is common ground between Israel and the church. Both members of the kingdom of heaven and the church, the body of Christ, have these characteristics. The terms are redemptive, not dispensational. Being elect specifies the believers position, while holy and beloved specifies the character or elements of being elect (Eph. 1:4-5). “These words are nouns used as names that describe what they were in God’s sight.[6] They are so, not because of what they had done or by their merit, by God’s redemptive grace and sovereignty. They are positive in nature.

Because as believers we are elect, holy, and beloved we are to “put on” certain qualities. In contrast to being elect, holy, and beloved, these qualities are our responsibilities to display. The injunction to “put on” enforces this as being conform in practice what has be done to us in Christ. This list focuses on the features that are consistent with our redemption. Paul lists five qualities we are responsible for:

·         “A heart of compassion” (3:12). The Greek text reads the “bowels of compassion,” which the KJV translates more literally. The Greek word means chief intestines, entrails, bowels, and also translated tender mercies (Lk. 1:78) of the heart, affections (2 Cor. 6:12), inward affections (2 Cor. 7:15), even mercy (Phil 2:1). Most of the commentaries point the translation based on the Greek idea that bowels were the set of emotions. It expresses a yearning compassion that is exercised by us toward others based on our position as the elect of God. As such we are beloved, and we are to express it by our compassion.

·          “Kindness” (3:12). The Greek word chrestotes is akin to the word grace, and means kindness, goodness shown, or beneficence. It is the virtue of grace in action. It is a temper of mind.[7] It is translated as “gentleness” in Galatians 5:22, which is part of the fruit of the Spirit. It is often used of God (cf. Psa. 106:1; 107:1; 136:1; Jer. 40:11). The goodness of God is seen in nature (Psa. 64:22); in the events of history (Psa. 145:7); judgment (Psa. 119:39); and in the teaching of God (Psa. 119:65-68). It speaks of His forbearance (Rom. 2:4), and His kindness in salvation (Titus 3:4) to those who are not kind (Rom. 3:12). It indicates that we as believers (the elect) are to treat others as God has treated us.

·         “Humility” (3:12). This is a Greek compound word (tapeinphrosyne) meaning the lowest of mind, and indicates the process of humble thinking (cf. Phil. 2:3). It already has been used in 2:18, 23. It is in contrast to pride and superior thinking. We are to display the mind of Christ (Phil, 2:5).

·         “Gentleness” (3:2). The KJV has it translated “meekness.” The word is used 11 times and has various translations including meekness, gentleness, and kindness. It is not the same word for kindness (chrestotes), rather it is prautes. It is also one of the fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5:23). Meekness is not weakness, as the modern day useage implies. That was not so in the Greek world. Among the Greek world it indicated power claim or to soothe. It expresses having the correct attitude. Scripture speaks of it as a quality of a good wife; of a businessman who answers in a friendly manner; and one who has the blessings of God (Psa. 25:9). It is connected with lowliness and humility (cf. Eph. 4:2). It is displayed in the person of Jesus (Matt. 11:29).[8] It denotes being nonaggressive.[9] It is not being overly impressed with self. Paul implores the Corinthians with gentleness (2 Cor. 10:1). It speaks of acting with consideration and understanding, not in anger, for others and their situation. It is not to be rude or rash. It is a common call by Paul for believers (Eph. 4:2; 2 Tim. 2:25; Titus 3:2).

·         “Patience” (3:12). The KJV translates it “long-suffering” which is a compound Greek word literally meaning long and passion or anger. It is makrothumia, meaning wrath that is far away.[10] Campbell observes:

Believers are to be a long time in coming to passion and anger; hence they are to be slow in getting passionate or angry. They are to put up with much for a long time –not to lose their cool.[11] 

It is linked with kindness/goodness in Romans 2:4; 2 Cor. 6:6; and Gal. 5:22). Paul thinks of them a companions. It is an expression of patience by the means of self-restraint. Barclays says “It expresses the attitude to people which never loses patience…[or] hope for them.”[12] It carries the idea of endurance (1 Peter 3:15). Its action takes place in the atmosphere of love (Eph. 4:2). This is in contrast to the false teachers (2 Tim. 3:10). We believers are to have unfailing patience (2 Tim. 4:2). It entails patience waiting on the action of God (cf. Heb. 6:12-15).

The means by which we are to “put on” of new clothes is now expressed by Paul. It is clear in verses 13-14. These verses do two things:[13] (1) They modify the main clause of putting on. (2) They form a “then clause,” indicating action or results. They are exercises compelled by the five virtues listed.  Thereby, Paul is now demonstrating how these virtues are to be exercised by the believer in the congregation. There are three distinct and progressive ways:

  • Bearing with one another” (3:13). The Greek word is anechomai meaning to bear; to endure patiently, to tolerate or to suffer with. Campbell says that the translation of bearing is a negative word which is uncharacteristic in a positive list and favors the translation “support.”[14] I disagree. I find no support for that translation. I do not see the word bearing as negative. It is an imperative verb denoting a command. There is a parallel by Paul in Ephesians 4:2. It has the idea, to put up or bear with people or persecution (2 Cor. 4:12; 2 Thess. 1:4). In the face of persecution, we are to bless; endure; and/or encourage. Ephesians 4:2 it modifies the word patience, and it may be the case here, since that is the last virtue mentioned.[15] This is the first step of the assembly toward one another. The present tense indicates that forbearance is a continual action.[16]     

  • Forgiving each other” (3:13). We are to exercise forgiveness of others in the church, the body of Christ. The word forgiveness is an aspect of grace (charizomai).[17] Forgiveness is given to others in spite of their non-merit. They may not deserve it, but part of grace is to forgive. It speaks of the gracious nature of forgiveness. It confirms that there will be times forgiveness is needed, both concerning us and others. Forgiveness is to be extended to “whoever has a complaint against another.” This is to be practiced in the face of a personal assault. At times we will be offered by another in the community of fellowship. In such cases we are to follow the example of Christ— “just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you.” We find a parallel in Ephesians 4:32. O’Brien calls this “conformity” teaching[18] He has a point. The Christian life is that of being conformed to the image of Christ. This is where the impact of the redeeming work of Christ by which the believer conforms to the same actions of Christ. This takes place by complete surrender to the transforming power of Christ in our life (cf. Rom. 12:1-2). His last admonition of gracious forgiving is “so also should you” (3:13). The Greek text does not have the word should; rather reads “so also you do.”

  • Beyond all these things [put on] love, which is the perfect bond of unity” (3:14). Every translation, including the KJV, bracket the words “put on” indicating that the words are not in the Greek text, and have been added by the translators to give the logical context and meaning. All translators agree that the words “put on” is the implied verb and therefore added. The reading is literally; “beyond or above all these love.” The Greek word epi (above) “means ‘in addition to’ with the idea implied, that what follows is the chief or best.”[19] The center of attention is love. Love is the most important element of grace for Paul (cf. Rom. 13:8-10; 1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:6, 14,22). It is the garment that is to be added over the other items of dress. Lightfoot says “love is the outer garment which holds the others in their places.[20] Paul commonly points to love as the motivating factor of the Christian life and service (cf. 2 Cor. 6:6; 8:7; Gal. 5:22; Eph. 4:2; Phil. 2:1; 1 Tim. 6:11; Titus 2:2), without which there is no profit (cf. 1 Cor. 13:1-3; 2 Cor. 5:14). The reason of love’s importance is found in the phrase: “which is the perfect bond of unity.” The word bond is a compound Greek word meaning to bind together. It is the coherent element of all the virtues. Love is the glue that bonds us together as believers. The bond of perfection can be translated as an attributing genitive modifying the word bond; or it can be an objective genitive.[21] Either way is permissible. If an attributing genitive it is translated “bond of perfection,” as an objective genitive it is the “bond that produces perfection.” It seems to me that the first way is the best, thus love is the perfect bond. It seems to fit the context better. Love is the perfect bond that brings unity or harmony in the congregation of believers. Thus, perfect should be taken as a description of the bond. This perfect bond produces unity in the church, the body of Christ.
    It should be noted that all these virtues and their exercise are centered upon interpersonal relationships within the local body. We are the elect, holy, and the beloved of God by our position in Christ. These virtues and their exercise are for our practice, in order to give evidence of our being conformed to the image of Christ.


[1]  S. Lewis Johnson Jr, “Christian Apparel,” BIBLIOTHECA SACA, January 1964, 29.
[3]  Apposition: where two nouns have the same referent stand in relation to the rest of a sentence or phrase [see Merriam-Webster’s Collegiate Dictionary].
[5]  Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS, 219
[6]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 240.
[7]   Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 218.
[8]  Barclay, FLESH AND SPIRIT, 107-121.
[9]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 145.
[10]  Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 141
[11]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 145.
[12]  Barclay, FLESH AND SPIRIT, 91
[14]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON 145.
[16]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 202.
[17] Charizomai means to bestow kindness, grant free favor, to remit, or to forgive.
[18]  O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, 202.
[19]  Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 244.
[20]  Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 222.