Friday, December 30, 2016

Chart of Galatians

The book of Galatians is a defense of the truth of justification by faith, which is the heart of the gospel of grace. It presents a defense of Paul, his message, and the believer’s liberty in grace. It deals with two main problems: (1) The so-called lack of the authority of Paul. (2) Circumcision, representing legalism and the Law.

The structure of the book is somewhat simple. It could be outlined as such:

Salutation 1:1-10
Defense of Paul’s Authorship 1:11-2:21
Defense of the Message of Grace 3:1-4:41
Defense of Our Liberty in Grace 5:1-6:10
Conclusion 6:11-18

Independent Revelation 1:11-12
Gospel of Grace Vindicated 3:1-29
Liberty apart from the Law 5:1-12

Independent Apostleship 1:13-2:21
Gospel of Grace Illustrated 4:1-20
Warning: Liberty is not License 5:13-25

Liberty is Life in the Spirit 5:16-26

Liberty to Service 6:1-10

Monday, December 26, 2016

Studies in Colossians #34

Servants and Masters 3:22-4:1


This speaks of household servants. Slavery has in the last 150 years all but vanished in western society. However, this is timely, especially in the light of boss and employee relationships and responsivity. Modern readers need to keep that in mind when reading this verse.

As we read this verse we cannot help but see the parallel with verse 21. Children are to “obey” / “in everything” just as are the servants. In each case the same Greek words are used (hypakouo / kata panta). The word obey is a present middle imperative, indicating continual obedience, and is the action of the servant (as well as children). This obedience is to encompass all things. The section makes up Colossians 3:22-4:1, and the majority of instructions are directed toward the servant. The masters are addressed only in 4:1.

Moo brings out that while this may seem to uphold the status quo, it delicately challenges it in the following ways:[1]

  • It is significant that they are addressed, implying they are not only a part of the assembly, but they need to choose the kind of behavior spoken of.
  • It relativizes the status by reminding both slave and master that both are responsible to obey the Lord.
  • Paul never endorses slavery as an institution, only how one should conduct themself when they are in the institution.
  • Paul instructs that Onesimus is to be received as no longer a slave, but a brother (Phlm 16). Pao observes, “the status of this slave is consistent with the trajectory one finds throughout Colossians.”[2] 

Whom servants are to obey is their masters on earth. The KJV has the longer translation of “according to the flesh (more literal).” How they are to serve is given in a negative and positive manner.

  • Negative— “not with external service, as those who [merely] please men…” (3:22 cf. Eph. 6:6).  This speaks to the manner in which they serve. The phrase speaks of earthy service only to curry favor with them while they are watching. But with no loyalty or respect toward the master. This is clear from the negative phrases. It is not to be external service (ophthamodoulia). The Greek literally means eye-service, service given under a watchful eye. Harris points to three characteristics of the word:[3] (1) it is concerned with what can be observed; (2) service only when watched; (3) Service performed only to impress the master. The word is unique to Paul. We have all seen and worked with these types of people who look busy only while the boss is watching. They serve only for their advantage. They do only the minil; there in no heart or respect in their service. What effort they put in is simple to please the boss.  
  • Positive— “but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord” (3;22). This is a phrase of contrast, as seen by the word but. In contrast to insincerity of heart or singleness of heart (KJV). The word translated sincerity is a cognate adjective indicating singleness of purpose of mind (cf. Matt. 6:22). A purpose that is sincere, pure in motives, and exercised conscientiously. The reason of our sincerity is the fear of the Lord, i.e. Christ. Fear here speaks more of reverence or in awe of Christ. It speaks of the true manner of service. In using the last part of the phrase Paul seems to be doing two things: (1) giving the basis of our service and (2) providing a transition to our motivation of service.

The transition denotes an exhortation: “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men” (3:23). This is an exhortation that explains our service in threefold way :

  • Ordinary service (Whatever you do). This does not signify special service, but the daily routine; working in the ordinary; the mundane; and the normal task. All work is service to the Lord. We are called to serve in the ordinary. Some limit the service as only that which meets the Christian standard. That is hardly the case for two reasons (1) The word whatever applies to everything we do. It places no limits on what we do. (2) The results may include punishment (3:25). This clearly indicates that some service is not up to par. It falls short, and we will be held accountable for it.

  • Energetic service (do yours work heartily). The word work means to energize or produce, in thee present tense, indicating a constant energy. This energy is to come from the heart or soul. It indicates our work is to be done out of the depth of our heart or soul (cf. Deut 6:5; Matt 22:37). It can indicate the motivation of our service, but more than likely it refers to the totality of commitment.[4]
  •  Direct service (as for the Lord rather than for men). Our true master is the Lord. Our service is for Him, not simply men. It has been noted that the exhortation in designed to prevent any possibility of a mechanical perfunctory obedience.[5] The phrase shifts the believer’s focus from an earthly master to the heavenly one. Paul redefines master as the true Lord—Jesus Christ! That is who we serve, rather than man.

The basis or reason for such service is clear, its origin is our knowledge (3:24), The word knowing has the idea of sense you know. The word that is the Greek word speaks of a specific and knowable knowledge.[6] In this case there is a twofold exhortation:

  • Reward— “from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance” (3:24). This is the first aspect of our knowledge. It should be pointed out that this is eschatological knowledge, which is affected by the present life. One will received from the Lord a reward—for they serve the Lord. The word receive has the meaning of receive what is due, or to receive in full. That which is receive is “the inheritance.” Johnson points out two thoughts that are bound up in the word:
    • “In the first place, the word implies that the reward of grace. The verb may be rendered received as your due. If the is the thought of the word, the reward is considered to be debit in the sense that God has promised it.
    • In the second place, there is a paradox involved in the word. A slave in pictured as receiving the reward of an inheritance! The slave is not an heir!”[7]

It needs to be pointed out that all believers will receive an inheritance based on God’s grace, not our works (cf. Rom. 5:2, 9; 8:1, 31-39; Thess. 1:10; 4:13-17, 1 Pet. 1:9). However, it appears that the faithful will receive even more of an inheritance (cf. John 12:26; 1 Cor. 3:8, 14; 3:14-15; 9:16-18; Gal, 5:21; Eph. 5:5).

The exhortation reiterates the fact that our service is to the Lord. It reinforces the key concept that our true object of our service is to the Lord (3:22-24),

  • Retribution— “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality” (3:25). The Greek phrase who does wrong speaks of one who continually does wrong. It is a habitual act. It is primarily talking to slaves and against injustice and wrong they do against their master. However, it also goes beyond the physical to the spiritual and eternal. This is clearly seen in the phrase “without partiality.” It implies the heavenly master—the Lord Jesus Christ (cf. Eph. 6:9; Rom. 2:1; Acts 10:44).  This does not speak of the loss of salvation, but a loss of rewards before the judgment seat of Christ (cf. 1 Cor. 3:11-15).

Here is the instruction to the earthly masters— “Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master  heaven” (4:1). Up to this point the main focus has been on the slaves. Note the double use of the word knowing (3:24; 4:1). The slaves are to know that they serve more than just the earthly master; the masters know they serve the same Master in heaven. This knowledge should affect their ethical behavior as to how they are to treat their slave. “Give” it the compound word papa and exw; meaning to hold out, to confer, render, or provide, Dunn notes that it is in the middle form which means to grant.[8] Paul gives a command earthly masters are to grant two things to their service.

  • Justice. The word for justice is the Greek word dikaios meaning right, just, or equitable. It speaks of the treatment they are to give to their slaves and corresponds to the righteousness of God.
  • Fairness. O’Brien observes the “second term reinforces the first denoting the spirit of equity as distinct from the letter of obligation.”[9] It speaks of how to lay out justice on an equal basis.

Masters are to treat their slaves on a just and fair basis.

The reason is clearly defined: “knowing that you too have a Master in heaven” (4:1). This puts masters and slaves on the same level. Each answer to a higher authority. Both are subject to the higher Master (Eph. 5:24). Yet, believers are to be subject to their earthly status before God. By being obedient to their earthly masters, they are obedient to the heavenly Master.  

[5]  S Lewis Johnson Jr, “New Man in the Old Relationship,” BIBIOTHECA SACRA, April 1964, 114.
[6] According to Harris, EGGNT: COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 159; The Greek word opi speaks of a well-known fact that indicates basis of exhortation.
[7] Lewis Johnson Jr. “The Man in the Old Relationships, BIB-SAC, 114.

Saturday, December 10, 2016

Studies in Colossians #33

Children and Parents (Col. 3:20-21)

Paul now turns to the child-parent relationship (3:18-19). This, like the instruction to the wife and husband, falls into two main imperatives—one for the children, the other is directed toward the father as head of the household.

To the children, “be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord” (3:20). There are a number of observations that can be made of this imperative:

First, the word children is the Greek words ta tekna, which indicates a child which is still a dependent. Under Roman law, they were legal property.

Second, the word obey is upakouete, a compound word meaning to hear under, which denotes submissiveness and obedience to the head. Ephesians 6:1 gives the same instruction. Children are to listen and obey their parents. Paul quotes the commandment of the Law in light of this injunction— “Honor your father and mother” (Eph. 6:2). This injunction is a quote from the Law. Thieleman points out that there are three reason why children are to obey:[1] (1) It is conduct expected in a Christian family. (2) It is “right” or proper and fair. (3) The Scriptures command it, and the children who obey will live long successful lives (cf. Exodus 20:12).

Third, this obedience is to be all encompassing— “in everything.”

Fourth, the basis for this obedience is that it is well-pleasing to the Lord. The idea of well-pleasing is acceptability. Paul uses the concept in Rom. 12:1; 14:18; Phil. 4:18. These verses bring out four elements that are well-pleasing to God: obedience, sacrificial living, service, and giving. The phrase to the Lord, justifies Paul’s call to the children for obedience. An act beyond the obedience to their parents, to the Lord Himself. 

To the Fathers: “do not exasperate [ provoke—KJV] your children, so that they will not lose heart” (3:21 cf. Eph. 6:4). This is a special instruction to fathers in accordance with the norm of Roman society. The Roman patria potetas (household authority) “gave the father unlimited power over his children and the law exercised a considerable degree of influence in Hellenistic culture.[2] The word exasperate is the Greek word erethizo, meaning to provoke; to stir up; or excite. Here it is used in the evil sense.[3]  It is to lose your cool or patience with the child. In his blog, Paul Tautges listed 25 things to provoke your child:

Lack of marital harmony;

Establishing and maintaining a child-centered home;

Modeling sinful anger;

Habitually disciplining in anger;

Scolding; Being inconsistent with discipline;

Having double standards;

Being legalistic;

Not admitting you’re wrong and not asking for forgiveness;

Constantly finding fault;

Parents reversing God-given roles;

Not listening to your child’s opinion or taking his or her ‘side of the story’ seriously;

Comparing them to others;

Not making time ‘just to talk’;

Not praising or encouraging your child;

Failing to keep your promises;

Chastening in front of others;

Not allowing enough freedom;

Allowing too much freedom;

Mocking your child;

Abusing them physically;

Ridiculing or name calling;

Unrealistic expectations;

Practicing favoritism; and Child training with worldly methodologies inconsistent with God’s Word. 4]

To this I would add not to be unkind, nor overprotect them.

We must be warned not to go to the extreme in discipline, which can be an act of physical or psychological abuse. It is an act of sin and an exercise of carnality (1 Cor. 3:3; Gal. 5:20). This goes against the admonition of Colossians 3:12-13. It breeds bitterness and resentfulness in the child. It kills the child’s self-esteem. Our focus of being a father is to love our child and to aid in reassuring and building up their character. C is to be used, but it is not to be overbearing.

A father’s responsibility is to act in such a way that the result will be that they do not lose heart. The KJV uses the word discouraged. The Greek word is athumeo (used only here in the NT) a compound word of not and spirit or courage, denoting feelings. It is a purpose clause. This type of clause is often used of a situation that is to be avoided (cf. Matt. 7:1; 17:27; Rom. 11:25; 15:20; 1 Cor. 4:6; 8:13; Eph. 2:9).[5] Our purpose is to prevent the child from losing heart or courage. We are to build them up, and not to destroy them.

[1] Frank Thielman, BECNT: EPHESIANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Baker, 2010], 395.
[4] Paul Tautges, 25 Ways to Provoke Our Children to Anger, /2011/07/21/.