Thursday, January 31, 2013

The Purpose of the Colossians

Paul wrote Colossians for the following reasons:

·         First, to instruct and warn them of the danger imposed by the false teachers. “Paul believed strongly that prevention is better than cure,” observes Barclay.[1] Moo comments that Paul’s purpose is “to provide the resources that the Colossian Christians need to fend off some kind of false teaching to which they are exposed.[2] They are not to be taken captive by their philosophy (2:8). It was an alluring seduction (2:4).
·         Second, He is concerned for their spiritual development.  He wants to express his personal interest in the believers (1:3, 4; 2:3).
·         Third, it centered upon legalistic rules and regulations being mere shadows (2:16, 20-21). We are to leave elementary principles. Substance is found in Christ.
·         Fourth, He wanted to warn them against vices of the flesh (3:5ff).  He emphasizes that it is through Christ alone we have victory over these vices (2:11-13; 3:1-4:6).
·         Fifth, He wants to counteract the deceit and arrogance than threaten the person and work of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Paul emphasizes the centrality of Jesus Christ: His deity, supremacy and sufficiency (chapters. 1-2). He stresses his aim in Col. 1:28: “…we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.” From there he goes on to accentuate the practice of the Christian life in light of the centrality of Christ (chapters 3-4). Wrong doctrine leads to wrong living and correct doctrine to correct living.

[1]  William Barclay, THE ALL-SUFFICIENT CHRIST, 31.

Saturday, January 26, 2013

Thoughts on John 1:1

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” John 1:1.

This is one of the greatest openings in all of the New Testament. It opens one of the best known gospels in the New Testament—the Gospel of John. John begins with the relationship of the Word [Jesus] to God. It declares three truths about God and Jesus.

  1. John begins with a striking allusion to Genesis 1:1. This allusion is the first step of connecting Jesus with creation. It notes the Word’s existence at the time of creation. “In the beginning.” This would be a well-known phrase; almost every Jew would know it. The Gospel opens with a Jewish tone and with the purpose of explaining Jesus.[1] The word beginning has the essence of origin. The word “was” has the idea of existence before the beginning, and indicates that the Word was present at the beginning. Godet notes that the word “was” is imperfect, and must designate simultaneousness, thus the existence of the Word was at the same time as the beginning.[2] It points beyond the beginning. Therefore it speaks of His pre-existence as the Word before and at creation. “There never was a time when the Word was not.”[3]
  2. The Word was present with God. The preposition “with” denotes accompaniment and relationship. The Word in eternity past was in the presence of God, and had a relationship with God. The Word is seen to be a separate personality from God the Father, not a mere extension of the Father. It emphasizes Jesus’ intimacy with the Father; a repeating theme in John 3:2, 8:29; cf. 8:38; 16:32.
  3.  “He was God.” It speaks of His full deity. The Jehovah Witnesses hold that it should be translated “He was a God,” denying the full deity of Jesus Christ. They argue that the absence of the Greek definite article (the) means that Jesus is a semi-deity, a god. They deny the deity of Christ.  However, the Greek has the word God first, and literally reads “God was the Word.”[4] The word God is in the emphatic position, making it needless for the definite article before the word God. McLeod notes that to put the article before the word God would mean that “The Son was the Father,” which would contradict the second clause of the verse.[5] This is not what John is doing. Rather, he is making the character and essence of Jesus and God the Father one. The two have the same nature. He is saying that the Word is deity.

John’s intent with this opening is to make clear the deity of Jesus Christ. He is God. He wants us to understand He alone is God who became flesh and dwelt among us (John 1:14). It is a proclamation of the finality, centrality, and supremacy of Jesus Christ. This has practicality to the believer because it makes God knowable. God is like Jesus; Jesus is like God. Thus, knowing Jesus is the same as knowing God.

[1] Graig S. Keener, THE GOSPEL OF JOHN: A COMMENTARY, 1:365.
[2]  Frederic Louis Godet, COMMENTARY ON JOHN, 244.
[5]  David J. McLeod, “The Eternality and Deity of the Word: John 1-2” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, January 2003, 60.

Saturday, January 19, 2013


John 2:1-11:53 has sometimes been called the book of signs. Seven miracles are recorded by John which he calls signs.  Semeion is the Greek word used by John. It means a distinguishing mark or sign by which something is known; used for miracles of significance or used to indicate an impending catastrophe. It is clear that John is using them in the meaning of miracles of specific significance or purpose. These signs carry two ideas: (1) divine communication; (2) and/or divine intervention—these miracles recorded by John do both. They are designed to communicate to man as signs. A miracle is an intervention to bring about a special occurrence into the natural world. The word sign “looks at a miracle as proof of a point or as a means of teaching something. The crucial thing is not the miracle, as genuine and important as it is, but the lesson to be learned from the miracle.”[1]

In looking at John and these signs we need to note three important elements:
  • First, John is selective in the use of signs (miracles). He admits that when he acknowledges “many other signs…which are not written in this book” (John 20:30). There were other signs performed, which were witnessed by the disciples, but he chose not to record them in his gospel. He admits these other miracles were significant but not chosen for one reason or another. He was selective in what signs he used in his gospel.
  • Second, John’s purpose of the selection of these signs was soteriological. Their purpose was to produce belief and to produce life. “These were written so that you might believe…and that believing you may have life in His name” (John 20:31).
  • Third, John’s purpose in the selection of these signs was to show Jesus’ deity and Messiahship—“that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God” (John 20:31). Guthrie notes, “It is not without considerable importance that the Messianic identify of Jesus is stated first.”[2] It is the Jews who required signs (1 Cor. 1:22). “He came to His own, and those who were His own did not receive Him” (John 1:11). John is writing to give the signs that He was who He said He was. He can still be “received” by His own, if they “believe in His name” (John 1:12).

Signs are an integral part of John’s Gospel. They are revelatory in character, each revealing an interest in the person and power of Jesus, upholding His deity and Messiahship. They show who He is and what He can do; aiming at producing faith (belief) in Him and reflecting His glory (cf. John 1:14; 2:11; 11:40).

[1]  Stanley Toussaint, “The Significance of the First Sign in John’s Gospel,” BIBLIOTHECA SACRA, January 1977, 45-46.
[2]  Guthrie, Donald, “The Importance of Signs in the Fourth Gospel,” VOX EVANGELICAL 5, 1967, 72.

Saturday, January 5, 2013


I have started to reread the work of D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones on Romans this year. In the first chapter he speaks about our natural gifts. Natural gifts have been a point of contention at times among believers. Some have believed that in Christian Service natural gifts are not as important as spiritual gifts; even to the point that they are not the same. I have often questioned that idea. It seems to me that natural gifts are transformed into spiritual gifts in the life of a believer; however that is not to say the believer cannot be given new spiritual gifts in addition to natural gifts. But on natural gifts here are some points that Lloyd-Jones makes:
  • There is nothing wrong with natural gifts in and of themselves.
  • It is unscriptural and unchristian to decry natural gifts.
  • Natural gifts are not done away with or set aside by the Holy Spirit.
  • In a Christian, natural gifts are not to be relied upon; they are not to be gloried in. They are for the use of the Master—for His glory.
  • The Holy Spirit wants to control them and to use them.
  • It is God who gave us the gifts in the first place. The Holy Spirit uses the man who surrenders himself and his gifts to be used by God for His glory.
He concludes: “We all have our gifts, let us therefore hand them back to Him that He may use them…Let God use the gifts He has given us.” To which I say, Amen. Let us do so in this New Year.

Source: D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, ROMANS: The Gospel of God, Exposition of Chapter 1, Zondervan, Grand Rapids MI, 1985.