Tuesday, January 31, 2017

Studies in Colossians #35

Practice Christian Living in our Personal Life 4:2-6

Having given instructions to various groups, Paul now turns to the reasonability of all believers. These ending verses give the final word on the individual actions that are to be taken and exercised on a daily basis. Each has to do with our personal relationship to God, other believers, and ourselves. We are to persistently continue in three areas:

Prayer 4:2-4

The key exhortation is to “devote yourselves to prayer” (4:2). Gromacki calls it the “very breath of spirituality.”[1] It speaks of our relationship to God. The keyword speaks of our devotion, translated continue in the KJV. The Greek word proskartereo, meaning to persist in adherence; to engage in the continuous practice of. It is an imperative, thereby a command to continue steadfastly. Both English words capture the meaning well. They point to the consistent and faithful practice of prayer. Prayer involves our communication with God. We are to be in continuous communication with Him. It is used in Romans 12:12 of the believer’s attitude in prayer. It notes participation with God, not just presenting to Him our desires. “It is a way for believers to participate in the unfolding of God’s redemptive plan in history” declares Pao.[2] It is participation in the mission of God (Rom. 15:30-33; Col. 1:9-14), The same Greek word is used in Eph. 6:18, where it is translated perseverance.

The second key to prayer is alertness— “keeping alert in it” (4:2). It is a form of our consistent and faithful practice of prayer. The word is gregoreo in the Greek text, and means alertness, watchfulness, and attention. Dunn says it is a military term that means to keep awake on guard duty.[3] Its remindful of what Jesus commanded his disciples (Mark 13: 32-37; 14:38 Johnson tells us it “suggests the aroused conscience and the keen attention to the task that ought to characterize the one who prays.[4] Alertness in prayer indicates we are to pray always (1 Thess. 5:17).  involves

  • Giving thanks (1: Thess. 5:18), which is the will of God. We are to pray “with the attitude of thanksgiving” (4:2; cf. Phil 4:6). Thanksgiving is a key concept in this epistle (1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:17; 4:2). It is a vital element in prayer. The Greek word has the meaning of good grace and carries the idea of gratitude, appreciation or gratefulness.[5]
  • Pray for enlightenment (4:3). This speaks of directing our prayers toward others to enlighten, guide, and speak boldly the mystery of Christ. In this case, it is Paul who is in prison for preaching the mystery of Christ (cf.  There are a number of features Paul is requesting in prayer (cf. 2 Tim. 2:9)
    • Paul is not asking for physical wants.
    • Paul is asking that the object is boldness to preach the Word.
    • He prays for open doors. Paul normally uses the term in regard to the gentile ministry (cf. Acts 14:27; 1 Cor. 16:9; Eph. 16:9), It is used also to remove barriers, and give opportunity for the word.
    • Notice he does not pray for the gospel in general, but specially the mystery of Christ.  This mystery entails the body of Christ which was held secret until the ministry of Paul (cf. Eph. 3:1-10; Rom. 11:25-26, 33).  Christ is now the head of the church (Eph. 1:22-23; 5:23-32). The mystery of Christ pertains to the purpose of God in His program for the church.

Prayer is a participation ministry and not a spectator one. When we pray for someone we are actively joining them in helping their ministry. Prayer is the most sublime energy of which man is capable.

  • To rejoice always (1 Thess. 5;16—the shortest verse in the Greek New Testament). Rejoicing is the constant attitude of contentment in raising our voices to God. It has the element of praise to God by our prayers.           
How do we develop devotedness in prayer?

·         Deepen our realization of the goodness of God. Realize He has in His goodness comes concern for us.

·         Deepen our trust in God.

·         Pray. The more we pray the more devoted we become to it.

·         Pray for clarity of thought and speech (4:4). Here is the prayer of understanding. Paul’s ultimate purpose was to preach “the mystery of Christ.” (cf.1:26-27; 2:2; Gal. 1:12; Eph. 3:2-4). The word clear means to bring to light, to make plain.  We need to pray for the understanding that we as members of the church, the body of Christ, may be given the opportunity to make know the mystery of Christ.

Walk in wisdom (2:5).

Conduct yourselves with wisdom” (2:5). The KJV has the word “walk” instead of the translation of conduct. The Greek word is peripateo, which means to walk, walk about in the ordinary, a certain walk of life, behavior, or conduct. Although conduct is in line with the meaning of the word, walk is more accurate. The word is a present active imperative. This last command is a summary and goal of the epistle.[6] Gromacki gives us four features about our walk:[7]

  • It must be consistent on a daily basis.
  • It must be done in wisdom. In fact, the command emphasizes this; which in Greek literally reads, “in wisdom walk.” Campbell points to the truth of the mystery as a part of this wisdom. The two are often associated by Paul—1 Cor. 2:7; Col. 1:26-28; 2:2-3; Eph. 1:8-9; 3:9-10).[8]  In this case, wisdom has to do with God’s will and our walking worthily of the Lord (1:9-10).
  • It is to be especially directed “toward outsiders.” These are ones who are outside the community of believers and the church. It speaks not only of our testimony to the world, but also our treatment of them (cf. 1 Cor. 5:12-13; 1 Thess. 4:12). Our life should not be an obstacle to the salvation of others (cf. 1 Cor. 10:31-32; Phil. 2:14-15; 1 Thess. 4:11-12).
  • This type of life is urgent. This is brought out by the participle phrase: “making the most of the opportunity” or the more consistent translation of the KJV, “redeeming the time.” The Greek word means to buy up, purchase or acquire the time. It is also used in the instruction of Ephesians 5:16. We are to utilize the time with others in buying up the opportunity to be an example and messenger of grace.
Speak in grace (4:6).

This verse has been taken in two ways: first, as a continuation of verse 5; second, as a separate idea and verse. The emphasis here is on the method of speech and it is a continuation of our walk before outsiders. Our walk is to be reinforced by our talk. This is the third exhortation to believers in regard to their testimony and actions to those not a part of the church. Their speech is to be gracious. The word for speech is a general term which refers to casual speech to a proclamation of the gospel of grace. It is best to take grace not in the divine sense, but a human action of graciousness. Our witness is to be gracious. It is the sharing or demonstration power of the simple free, and clear grace to others.

This is illustrated by the modifier of salt— “[as though][9] seasoned with salt” (4:6). It is the only time Paul uses the term, but Jesus used it a number of times. But what does Paul mean by using this metaphor?  It seems that most use it in parallels in Greek and Roman literature, indicating winsome speech.[10]  This certainly means the context. However, others connect the word with wisdom in 5a which fits well with purpose of verse 6, It is one of two requirements of our speech: grace and wisdom. Salt is found in rabbinic parallels as wisdom.[11]

The purpose is “so that you will know how you should respond to each person” (1:6). It seems to be know how to respond favors the wisdom essence of the world salt. Taken in context it is not winsome language that gives one the ability of how to answer; rather it is the application of wisdom that gives this knowledge. Thus, our speech (witness) must be characterized by the following:

  • Consistent. Indicated by the word “always.”
  • Gracious. We speak with and manifest grace in speaking with others.
  • Wisely (or with salt). We must speak with edifying wisdom (Eph. 4:29). That is not to say we cannot use winsome words, but that comes from wisdom.
  • Individually. Our speaking is to the individual (to each person). Wisdom gives us a sensitivity to the needs of others and how to respond to them.
Paul exhorts us as believers to live daily by and in prayers, walk in wisdom, and exercise gracious wisdom in speaking to others.

[1] Gromacki, STAND PERFECT, 155.
[4]  Johnson Jr., “Studies in Colossians—Part 8: Paul’s Final Words to the Colossians,” BIB-SAC, Oct 1964, 313.
[5]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 175
[7]  Gromacki, STAND PERFECT IN WISDOM, 158-159.
[8]  Campbell, COLOSSIANS AND PHILEMON, 179-180.
[9]  Not in the KJV— “seasoned with salt.” The word as though is not in the text.
[10]  Pao, ZECNT: COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, 298, Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS, 232.

Saturday, January 14, 2017


Paul the receiver of grace and apostleship (1:5). Paul brings out a number of issues in this text.

  • The phrase “Though whom” connects verse 4 and 5.  Clearly Paul is a receiver by the means of Jesus Christ. It reveals the continued activity of Christ and indicates that God is the source (cf. 1 Cor. 1:9; Gal. 1:1). Some downgrade this phrase, saying it is “scarcely necessary.”[1]Though whom” or “by whom (KJV) is the preposition genitive, dia, signifying immediate agency or instrumentality. Wallace identifies it as a genitive of production which produces the nouns (grace and apostleship).[2]
  • The main verb is the word “received,” which means to take in hand, thus, to receive. It applies directly to Paul. It is used with we, an epistolary plural. As such, it refers to Paul alone. In the English, it is the same as the editorial we. It speaks of Paul, who alone is the apostle to the gentiles (cf. 1:8-16; 11:13)
  • What he received is identified by the two main nouns: They specify the awareness that his ministry is unique to the Gentiles (cf. 1:8-16). He states clearly in verse 5 that his ministry is for all the Gentiles. The nouns of grace and apostleship entail his mission and area of responsibility. There is some debate on the understanding of these two nouns. Either way is permitted.[3] Some understand these as two distinct things: grace and apostleship. Others take it as a hendiadys denoting grace-apostleship. If this is correct, it certainly signifies that the apostleship was a gift of grace. However, Haldane is probably correct that both terms are to be distinguished.[4] God saves us by grace; He gives us gracious gifts to be used in His service.
  • The purpose of grace and apostleship given to Paul is “to bring about [the] obedience of faith” (1:5). This phrase is used both at the beginning of the epistle and at the end (16:26). It has particular reference to the ministry of Paul and his gospel or apostleship (15:18). Paul received grace and the gracious gift of apostleship for the purpose of obedience of faith. The phrase itself has given way to a number of interpretations, which Longenecker contributes to the uncertainty of the meaning of the genitive (of faith). He identifies 5 ways in which it could be taken, but he takes it as a genitive of source.[5] Thus, obedience that comes from faith. However, Moo makes these two statements the same: “This obedience to Christ as Lord is always closely related to faith, both as an initial, decisive step of faith and as a continuing faith relationship with Christ. In light of this, we understand the words obedience and faith to be mutually interpreting; obedience always involves faith, and faith always involves obedience.[6] Godet in his commentary says, “The only possible meaning is: the obedience which consists in faith itself.[7]
  • The object of this mission to bring obedience of faith “among all the Gentiles” (5:5). It speaks of the unique ministry of Christ through Paul. His apostleship was a gentile apostleship (Rom. 11:13; Eph. 3:1-10). Only Paul has such an apostleship…it was unique, directed, and focused upon the Gentiles.

[1]  C.E.B. Cranfield, ICC: ROMANS, [Edinburgh, T&T Clark, 1975], 1:66
[2]  Daniel B Wallace, GREEK GRAMMAR: BEYOND THE BASICS, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, 1996], 105-106.
[3]  C.E.B. Cronfield, ICC; ROMANS, 1:66;
[4]  Robert Haldane, AN EXPOSITION OF ROMANS, [Grand Rapids MI, MacDonald, reprint, n.d.], 30.
[5]  Richard N. Longenecker, NIGTC: ROMANS, 79-80,
[6]  Douglas J. Moo, NICNT: ROMANS, 54.
[7]  F. Godet, COMMENTARY ON THE EPTISLE TO THE ROMANS, [Grand Rapids MI, Zondervan, reprint1956], 82.

Friday, January 6, 2017

Book Review: Preaching OT Narratives

Preaching Old Testament Narratives

Benjamin H. Walton [Grand Rapids MI, Kregel, 2016]

You hear very few sermons on the Old Testament anymore. Here is a book that will help a Pastor to feel more confident in doing so.

Walton begins where preaching should begin with hermeneutics. This is fundamental to preaching, specially to preach with authority. He is correct that preaching with authority is to preach the Word. However, he seems to overlook the job of the Holy Spirit and what used to be called the unction of the Spirit in preaching. He emphasizes genre as an essential unit the Old Testament text and must be preached in that light. He is correct in indicating Old Testament text differs from the New Testament epistles, not being as direct or as understandable. Be careful. Walton, uses his own jargon in this book (example: “CUT,” meaning complete unit of. “THT” take home truth, “OTM;” original Theological message, among others). These are generally useful.  He uses this jargon in giving an overview of the steps of his hermeneutical process.

The second part of the book is on delivering the message. He starts this with the four pillars of excellent preaching—Accuracy, relevance, clarity, and inspiring. He briefly writes on the common ways of preaching text (verse by verse, alliteration, principlization, etc., but does not appear to be a fan of any of these). He rather gives his own method, explaining it section by section, which takes up most of the book. This is the heart of the book, where he gives the nitty-gritty of putting together the sermon. In a nutshell, his method involves:

·         Create an Introduction (Chapter 5). Included in this is what I call the basic ingredients of an introduction that he brings out—identification, relevance, and setting the stage. Somewhat simple, but necessary ingredients.

·         Preach through the CUT (compete units of thought) movement (Part 1: Chapter 6). He says these movements are effective and illuminate the text. He warns not to make these main points; they are only to keep the sermon on focus. Make the connections to real life.

·         Preach through the CUT (Part 2: Chapter 7). This is a continuation of chapter 6. He says the CUT movements can simply be summarized, read and explaine, or used as lead-ins. Movements are not the same as main ideas.

·         State the Take-Home truth (Chapter 8). What he refers to Take-Home truth, I would classify as application. He defines it as a timeless or contemporary expression of the OTM (the original Theological Message).

·         Help listeners “buy” the Take-Home truth (Chapter 9). This is to overcome objections listeners may have with the Take-Home truth. This is a helpful chapter.

·         Develop Picture-Painting Applications (Chapter 10). He states preaching is about life. Painting life pictures from the sermon gives it added meaning.

·         Move to Christ (Chapter 11). He deals with the meaning of preaching Christ in the Old Testament narrative that the sermon must reflect New Covenant reality about by Christ (a definition not all will agree with).

·         Finishing well in the conclusion (Chapter 12).

·         From good to excellent (Chapter 13). He gives us elements both outside the pulpit and inside to makes us better.

 In an appendix, he gives some example sermons.

My overall evaluation is that this will be helpful in preaching the Old Testament. Preaching from the Old Testament is a common struggle among preachers, in which this can help. He gives good detail of this method of preaching, which some would equally apply to other types of sermons. However, everyone will not agree with the overall method which is presented in a rigid manner. At times, he seems too narrow. However, these will be overlooked by most experienced preachers. This is a good solid work that will be a benefit to preachers on Old Testament narratives.

Thanks to Kregel for the free provision of work for my review.

Wednesday, January 4, 2017


James R Gray
[from forthcoming book]

The sermon is aimed at those who will enter the earthly kingdom of the Messiah. This is evident by two truths: First, those in the already in earthly kingdom cannot have the promise made that they will inherit the earth. They have inherited the earth once the kingdom begins. Second, the character of the age is the same as this present evil age. Evil is dominant (5:6); corruption is widespread (5:13); moral darkness, for they need the light (5:14); ambition, jealousy and pride rule; and the Devil is free (6:13).  As McClain notes, “The age of which the Lord spoke, and the age of His Millennial Reign, could not be set in sharper contrast.[1] Thus, the primary audience is those who will enter the earthly kingdom, especially those who will go into and through the Tribulation period. This fits the theological pattern of Matthew, which deals with the King and the kingdom. The kingdom is at hand (Matthew 4:23), but not yet arrived.

However, there is real application of us today. Four principles make this clear:

  • The teaching of discipleship cannot be restricted to the Tribulation or the kingdom. A disciple is a believer and learner of Christ. That includes every believer since the giving of the sermon.
  • The sermon has to do with the character of believers. He is speaking of the character they are to have. Paul likens it to be imitators of God (Eph. 5:1). The characters of believers are inter-dispensational in principle. 
  • The teaching of Paul sustains the applying Jesus’ teaching on discipleship to this dispensation. Paul does not teach a different or reduced code of behavior. In fact, we find in Paul’s epistles corresponding teaching to the sermon. For example, Paul says we are to shine as lights, just as Jesus told his disciples they were lights (Matthew 5:15 cf. Ephesians 5:8). Believers in all dispensations were to be the lights to the world.
The teaching of Jesus on character and discipleship apply to us because the sermon gives principles and characteristics that are inter-dispensational.

[1]  Alva J. McClain, DANIEL’S PROPHECY OF THE SEVENTY WEEEKS, (Grand Rapids, Zondervan, 1959), 9.