Wednesday, February 24, 2016

Studies in Colossians #16

Summary of Paul’s Ministry—1:28-29

Paul sums up this section by establishing that his ministry was threefold:

·         His message was to proclaim Christ (“We proclaim Him”). The word hon (whom: KJV; him NASB), “stresses the personal character of the mystery, Paul’s message does not proclaim a system of theology ...a theory of knowledge; He proclaims a person” observes Johnson.[1] The verb, proclaim (katangello), has the basic meaning of to announce, to tell forth, or to proclaim a new revelation that is a completed fact. It has the idea of continually distributing a completed message. Paul proclaims or preaches Christ “according to the revelation of the mystery” (Rom. 16:25), which now has been made known. However, Campbell is correct when he points out that “The key thing to see here is that Paul’s message centered in the person of Jesus Christ.[2]

There are two areas to Paul’s proclamation of Christ. First, it involved a negative: “admonishing every man” (1:28). The word admonishing (noutheteo) has the meaning of warning, admonish, or putting in mind. It denotes correction, setting the mind of someone in proper order.[3] The second is positive: “teaching every man” (1:28). Both speak of the manner of proclamation. Harris notes that both “are two natural and necessary concomitants of the proclamation of the mystery of Christ.”[4] Eadie sees these words as general and more specific, saying, “one as describing the means employed to arouse the soul and stimulate it to reflection, and the other as the definite form of instruction....”[5] Some seem to hold that admonish applies to unbelievers, while teaching to believers.[6] However, that does not seem to be the case. The word admonish is used of believers as well (Col. 3:16—the Greek word is the same in both passages; cf. Acts 20:30-31; 1 Thess. 5:14). Admonishing is the warning against sin and not obeying the truth of the gospel, and is directed toward whomever needs the warning—believer or unbeliever. Its purpose is correction.

How this is done is “with all wisdom” (1:28), however, the KJV seems to be better: “in all wisdom.” This difference of translation is seen in the translators taking the Greek preposition en, as instrumental or locative. It could be either. I believe it is talking about the content of the teaching which is in the sphere of all wisdom. Campbell has noted the word wisdom in Paul can be tantamount with the mystery.[7] Note the following passages:
1 Corinthians 2:6-7. “We do speak wisdom...a wisdom, however, not of this age nor of the rulers of this age, who are passing away; but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden [wisdom] which God predestined before the ages to our glory.” This passage harmonizes well with Colossians 1:25-29. The wisdom is the divine truth once unknown in past ages, but now revealed, proclaimed, and understood by believers. The mystery is the very nature of the wisdom of God.[8]

Ephesians 1:8-9. “In all wisdom and insight He made known to us the mystery of His will, according to His kind intention which He purposed in Him.” Again we see wisdom is connected directly with the mystery. Some connect wisdom with grace in this passage, however it is an unnatural fit. As Eadie notes, “Wisdom and prudence have no natural connection with the abounding of grace. Grace in its wealth or profusion does not suggest the notions of wisdom and prudence.”[9] There is no need to place it with grace, for the participle is intimately connected with making known the mystery.

Ephesians 3:9-10. “To bring to light what is the administration [dispensation—KJV] of the mystery which for ages has been hidden in God who created all things; so that the manifold wisdom of God might be made known through the church to the rulers and the authorities in the heavenly [places].” Again Paul equates mystery and wisdom.

It seems natural to equate the two in the Colossians passage as well. Campbell observes: “The word wisdom here is in the singular and it refers to a given body of truth the mystery, which is the subject of this context[10] This is reinforced by the fact that Ephesians and Colossians are sister epistles which parallel one another contextually. They cover the same truth from different directions. 

·         His purpose was to “present every man complete in Christ” (1:28). Paul refers to every man three times in these verses. This was a thrust against the intellectuals (Gnostic Judaizers), who advocate this wisdom was limited to just a few special intellectuals who have the ability to comprehend this special wisdom. Christianity knows no limits, it is for every man, and every man has access to the wisdom of God through the word of God. Paul’s aim is seen from the Greek word hina (that), which expresses purpose.

His aim is not simple salvation of every man, but to present them “complete in Christ.” We need to be careful here. It is not talking about our position in Christ in this text, the subject is our sanctification. This is seen by the following:

First, this is speaking of the goal of the apostolic ministry of Paul through the process of admonition and teaching. It is speaking of an eschatological event.

Second, the word rendered complete in our text is not the best translation. It is better translated mature or perfect. His goal was to lead them to maturity in Christ.

Third, the word complete in 1:28 is not the same word rendered so in Col. 2:10. There it speaks of positional completeness and is the Greek word pleroo meaning our fullness in Christ. Here the word is teleios (complete, mature), meaning to bring to completion, fully develop, or fully realize. It speaks here of a process. It speaks of the moving toward a goal that will be actualized when we stand before our Lord. He is seeking to produce a growing spiritual maturity in the believer.

·         He labors by the enablement of Christ: “For this purpose also I labor, striving according to his power, which mightily works within me” (1:29). Paul summarizes his service in two ways:

First, it is work. Notice the words labor and striving. These two words are metaphors from the athletic world. Labor is the Greek word kopio, meant original a beating, or weariness as though one had been beaten.[11] However, in the NT is speak of being exhausted, weary, or spent from physical effort. It is the image of an athlete who is spent after giving his whole-hearted effort in an athletic contest. The word striving is the Greek word agonizomenos, meaning to be combative in a game, to contend, or strive earnestly (cf. 1 Cor. 9:25). It has the implication of giving oneself in maximum effort. It, thereby, speaks of the intensely of the effort. Both words are used of Paul’s effort for the proclamation of the mystery, the truth for today. It clearly speaks of the effort required to perform the duties of his office. It declares Paul’s personal involvement.

Second, he declares how he is able to perform such effort: “according to His power” (1:29). Paul did not labor in his own efforts. “Ministry is a divine-human effort.[12] The word according is the Greek proposition kata, found with the accusative case, which denotes horizontal motion, indicating a connection with Paul’s striving and the active energy of God. Paul’s effort and God’s working are connected. The word translated power is the Greek word energeia, were we get the English word energy. It means efficacy, working, active energy, or operation. He energizes us in our efforts to serve Him. God is the might of ministry. It “mightily works within me” (1:29). God works within us (cf. Phil. 2:13). He is the force that was transmitted to Paul (and us), to have an effective ministry.

The summary of Paul’s ministry is to proclaim Christ according to the wisdom of the mystery; to perfect believers in Christ was its object; and the means was by the power of God in conjunction with Paul’s labor. In Ephesians 3:7 this energy is a part of grace that is given to him, as it is to us (cf. 1 Cor. 15:10). Paul never allows one to think that he strives or labors in his own energy. He is a co-laborer with Christ.   

[1]  S. Lewis Johnson, “Studies in Colossians—Part V: The Minister of the Mystery, BIB-SAC, July 62, 233.
[2]  Ernest Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 77.
[3]  Behm, “nouqetew, nouqesia,TDNT, 4:1019-22.
[5]  John Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 102.
[6]  J.B. Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 168: Curtis Vaugham, EBC: COLOSSIANS, 193.
[7]  Ernest Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 78.
[8]  Bornkamm, musthrion, muew.” TDNT, 4:819.
[9]  John Eadie, COMMENTARY ON THE EPISTLE TO THE EPHESIANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1977), 45.
[10]  Ernest Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 78.
[11] Hauck,kopoV, koriaw,” TDNT, 8:827-830.
[12]  Gromacki, STAND PERFECT IN WISDOM, 86.

Thursday, February 18, 2016

Stuidies in Colossians #15

C. The Preeminent Work of Christ in the Gospel of the Mystery (1:24-29)

The Commission of Paul and the Mystery (1:25-27).

Paul had become a servant of our Lord to preach the gospel of the mystery. Note the following structure of these verses:
            Description—“I became a minister
Means—“according to the stewardship (dispensation—KJV) from God bestowed on me on your behalf
Purpose—“that I might fully carry out the [preaching of] the word of God. The KJV translation is better: “to fulfill the word of God” 
Explanation—“[Even] the mystery which hath been hidden from ages and from generation, but now is made manifest to his saints to whom God willed to make know what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.”

The description opens with relative pronoun “I have become its servant” (1:25; Greek literal reading). As such it refers back to the word church (1:24). This is the only time Paul directly refers to himself as a minister to the church, the body of Christ (contrast this with 2 Cor. 3:6; 6:4; 11:15). He normally refers to himself as a minister of the gospel (Rom. 1:1; Eph. 3:7), especially the gospel of grace (20:24). Paul is the apostle of grace with the message of grace for the age of grace. The word ministry is the Greek word diakonos, meaning one who renders service (cf. 1:23).

The means is “stewardship from God bestowed on me on your on your behalf.”  The phrase starts with preposition kata (according to, or by) which indicates the standard, and can signify either cause or means.[1] Translators are mixed on which it should be, but means seem the most natural. The means is the stewardship (oikonomia), which many take it to mean an office as in the Luke 16:2-4 the idea of manager, or a divine office. I agree with Carson that the translation of an office as doubtful.[2] The parallel to this text is Ephesians 3:2, which has the more dynamic meaning of stewardship or dispensation, speaking of the activity of administering or dispensing.[3]  Paul was given a divine function and activity to dispense the grace of God to the Gentiles. Eadie comments: “In the Divine arrangement of the spiritual house, the apostle held a function which had special reference to the members of the Gentile churches.[4] It has been observed that “Paul continues his self-portrayal by locating himself with the wider plan of God[5]

The emphasis on this text is on the bestowing of this dispensation on Paul by God. The mystery dispensation is equated to the dispensation of God’s grace (Eph. 3:2). Paul did not choose this ministry; rather it was given to him. It is equivalent to the gift of God’s grace in Eph. 3:7. It was the purpose of the redemptive call (cf. Acts 9:15-16). Paul says it was “from God bestowed on me.” This marks the source of gift or responsibility given to Paul. This was in accord with the dispensation or stewardship of God that had been given to Paul. It was in accord to his commission of grace given to Him by Christ (Rom. 12:3; 15:15; 1 Cor. 3:10; Gal. 2:9). He affirms that this dispensation was entrusted to him (1 Corinthians 9:17). It was entrusted to him for our benefit. God had given Paul this stewardship of dispensation for their benefit. This dispensation is a new way in which the Lord relates to His people—one of grace instead of law.

The purpose is “so I might fully carry out the [preaching of] the word of God” (1:25). The Majority Greek Text reads “to fulfill the word of God” which is more in line with the KJV, which is a better translation of the phrase. The word fulfill (plnrosai) means to bring to completion or to make full. This is a unique responsible that was given to Paul. The phrase has two possible interpretations:
·         The dispensation mentioned here is the Word given to Paul concerning the mystery of the Church, and to make it fully known, thus to make all men see the truth of the mystery (Eph. 3:9).
·         The dispensation is to provide the revelation that completes the truth or the Word of God. It is a new revelation that is unique to this truth of the Word and completes the full revelation of God. It is the last and new piece of revelation that is unique to this dispensation of grace.
Campbell notes that “Regardless of which emphasis we give this passage, the dispensation of God, the Divine arrangement of the Church, is the last program and purpose God has disclosed to men....[6]

Unless one misunderstands, Paul goes on to explain: “[that is], the mystery which has been hidden from the [past] ages and generation, but has now been manifested to His saints, to whom God willed to make known what is the riches what of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1:26-27). The phrase “the Word of God” is in apposition to “the mystery.” The two equate to one another. The Word is the Mystery; the Mystery is the Word of God. The hidden mystery further defines the Word of God. As such it explains the content of the Word which is to be fulfilled or completed. This is seen in this passage by the following:
·         We are explicitly told that this mystery had been hidden from past ages and generations. That the mystery was hidden until God revealed it through the ministry of Paul is reinforced in Romans 16:25; 1 Corinthians. 2:7-9; Ephesians 3:5, 9.
·         But has now been manifested to His saints” (1:26) is a point of contrast to its being hidden. It is a past/present contrast. This speaks of the whole sweep of past human history.[7] Some wrongly see this as the entire messianic era brought in by the death and resurrection, and actualized in the gospel as the mystery.[8] However, there was no mystery to the death, resurrection, and gospel. These were known by the prophetic word of the Old Testament. It is no mystery. Nor is the mystery simply salvation of the Gentiles. The mystery is not that Gentiles would be saved, but they could be “fellow-heirs” (Eph. 3:6) because the middle wall of partition is no more (Eph. 1:12-14). There is now no difference between Jew and Gentile (Rom. 10:12), for all are sinners (Rom. 3:22-23). Of course, it is now an open secret, being now manifested to the saints. The word manifest is the Greek word phaneroo, which mean to bring to light, to make known, disclose, or to reveal.

This was disclosed to the saints by the message and ministry of the Apostle Paul (Eph. 3:1-11). To “whom” (1:27), refers back to the Apostles. It also indicates that he was the chosen vessel to reveal the message. He was through whom “God willed to make known” the mystery. God’s will here speaks of the exercise of his positive determination to bring about an item or truth. It is His sovereign will to do so. It speaks of His prior decision to disclose this truth to Paul. The words “to make known” refers directly back to the word “manifest” (1:26) in an affirming manner. His sovereign will was to use Paul to reveal the message of the mystery which directly affected the Gentiles apart from the nation of Israel. Israel was no longer the primary conveyor of the message of salvation during this time (cf. Rom. 11:25). The riches of His glory is now that there is no distinction between Jew and Gentile, all can abound in the riches of Him that called them (cf. Rom. 10:12-13). The Gentiles are no longer strangers with no hope (cf. Eph. 2:12). In our text he refers to this as “the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles” (1:27). These riches are further defined by the phrase “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (cf. Eph. 3:17). It speaks of the indwelling Christ in the Gentiles, not just Israel. They now have this hope of glory.  Baker observes:
The Body of Christ is a joint-body of Jews and Gentiles, but it is evident that the Gentile nations of the world far outnumber the small Jewish nation. Therefore, the Church is largely gentile and the Mystery is described as the mystery among the Gentiles.[9]

This section clearly shows that Paul suffered for the mystery, served the church according to the mystery, and revealed the mystery to the church.

[3]  Hoehner Harold W., EPHESIANS: AN EXEGETICAL COMMENTARY, [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2002], 422.
[4]  Eadie, COLOSSIANS, 93.
[5]  Poa, ZECNT: COLOSSIANS, 127.
[6]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 71.

Sunday, February 14, 2016

Expository Sermon Outline - Genesis

Text: Genesis 1-2:3

He is Creator (1:1)
  1. He is eternal
  2. He is the strong one (Elohim)
  3. He is plurality in Unity (cf. Gen. 1:26)

His Creative Act
  1. Elements of the creative act: Time (beginning); Space (the Heavens) Matter (the earth); Motion (moved).
  2. Purpose of Creation – Colossians 1:16-17 / Rev. 4:11
  3. The Plan of Creation—Form and Filling
      3 days forming creation / 3 days filling creation
The same process in the New Creation of the believer (cf. 2 Cor. 5:17; Phil 2:13)

His Complete Creation (2:1-3)
  1. He rested because His work was completed. God does not leave anything half finished.
  2. His work was blessed
  3. His work was special (sanctified).

God is still actively creating. He is creating a new creation in believers (2 Cor. 5:17). Believers are His workmanship created in Christ (Eph. 2:10); created in righteousness and truth (Eph. 4:24). Therefore we are to put on the new man (Col. 3:10). 

Wednesday, February 10, 2016

Rebuilding the Temple

Been thinking about the prophetic events, especially the temple being rebuilt. There are three real parallels between the rebuilding of the second temple with the future third coming temple: 
(1) They are rebuilt by permission and aid of a gentile ruler (Cyrus and the anti-Christ). 
(2) Both temples are built during the period known as the “times of the Gentiles.” [Luke 21:24]. The time from the Babylonian empire and the coming of Christ. 
(3) It is a part of the political decree or covenant made by the gentile ruler and the nation of Israel [Ezra 1:1, Neh. 2;1-9 cf. Dan. 9:27]. This will make the rebuilding of the temple possible.

Monday, February 8, 2016

Book Review on the Parables

James Montgomery Boice
Moody Press, Chicago IL, 1983

James Montgomer Boice was one the best Bible teachers and preachers in the last half of the 20th Century. For over 30 years he was the pastor of the Tenth Presbyterian Church in Philadelphia, and the speaker on the Bible Study Hour broadcast. His teachings were always Biblical based, plain, and understandable. However, this does not mean they were shallow. This work on the Parables of Jesus is no exception.

I enjoy reading this work on the Parables. It is written on the popular level, but still educational and edifying to the reader. It is very readable, practical and understandable. This is because they are based on series he preached in 1980-81. His love for the Word is as evident as his love for the people of God in this series.

He writes (or preached) on the parables of Jesus under five general headings: Parables of the Kingdom; Parables of Salvation; Parables of Wisdom and Folly; Parables of the Christian Life; and Parables of Judgment. I found these classifications interesting and helpful. These are not in depth studies as some other works on the parables. It is Calvinistic in perspective which comes out clearly, and sometimes strongly. However, it does meet a need in giving a strong Biblical and spiritual emphasis to the readers. It will enlighten and edify. It will give some helpful insights to the preacher who wants to preach the parables. 

However there are some weaknesses to this type of popular teaching. First, at times one will feel the need for a more detailed explaining and insight than is given. Second, because of its being sermons in written form, they are somewhat repetitive. Third it is limited in number of parables taught, however, it does balance the overall tone and teaching of the parables. It is not intended to be an academic work, therefore most Pastors and teachers will need a stronger work on the parables. For the general laymen these weaknesses will not be that much of a hindrance. He will enjoy and gain insights to the parables.

I see two advantages to the book: First, it will be good in edifying the reader in the basic teaching of the parables. Second, it would serve well as a guide for anyone teaching on the parables (i.e. Home Bible study; Sunday School). There is some good information that will be helpful to the readers. Do not overlook this work because of its popular classification. It is worthwhile.

. "I received this title
from Moody Publishers in exchange for my honest review."

Sunday, February 7, 2016

Chart on the Parables

THE PARABLES OF JESUS_______________________________________

The Parable
Bridegroom’s Guest

Cloth and Wineskins

Binding of the Strong man

The Sower and the Seed
13:1-9, 18-23
4:1-9, 13-20
8:4-8, 11-15

Lamp and Measure

Secret Seed Growing


Mustard Seed


Wicked Talents

Budding Fig Tree



Wise & Foolish Builders


Two Doors




Lost Sheep


Wedding Banquet


Thief in the Night


The Two Servants


The Talents/Pounds


Good and Bad Tree


Wheat and Tares
13:24-30, 36-43

Hidden Treasure

Pearl of Great Price

Unforgiving Servant

The Vineyard Workers

The Two Sons

The Ten Virgins

Sheep and Goats

The Two Debtors


The Good Samaritan


Friend at Midnight


The Rich Fool


Barren Fig Tree


Tower Builder & Warring King


Lost Coin


Prodigal Son


The Unjust Steward


Rich Man and Lazarus


The Servant’s Reward


The Unjust Judge


Pharisee & Tax Collector


The Good Shepherd

The True Vine