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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"He Has Delivered Us" -- Colossians 1:3-14

The Second in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Letter to the Colossians

One of the unique (and often overlooked) things about Paul’s letter to the Colossians is the large number of echoes from the Old Testament as the Apostle makes his case for the supremacy of Jesus over all things.  Paul is responding to those in Colossae who were held captive to philosophy, human tradition, and a legalistic form of religion whose followers sought to disqualify the Colossians from their inheritance in Christ.  Paul had never visited the church in Colossae, but he has heard from their founding pastor how this congregation was doing well, despite struggling with false teachers who were, apparently, making inroads into the church.  Paul does not identify the specific nature of this false teaching–known as the Colossian heresy–but from his comments, we learn much about it.  Paul’s response to this heresy is to contend for the supremacy of Jesus over all things, and is drawn largely from the Old Testament.  Paul reminds us that Jesus is the creator of all things, but after Adam subjected God’s creation to the curse–sin and death–Jesus came as a second Adam who begins a work of new creation.  All of God’s people participate in this work which comes about through the message of the gospel–the proclamation of Jesus’ death for our sins, and his resurrection from the dead.  The second Adam will undo the curse and triumph over all those who seek to disrupt his church.  Whatever the doctrinal details of the Colossian Heresy, Paul’s answer is to proclaim the supremacy of Jesus over all things.

We are returning to our series on Colossians.  Last we time spent much of our time answering the three questions we need to ask and answer whenever we take up a new study of any book of the Bible.  “Who wrote this book?”  Paul.  “When did he write it?”  While imprisoned in Rome in the early 60's of the first century.  “Why was it written?”  To respond to the issues in the Colossian church associated with the Colossian Heresy which was brought to Paul’s attention by their pastor Epaphras.  The Letter to the Colossians is Paul’s response.

We spent much of our time last week on Paul’s introductory comments, noting that Paul is this epistle’s author–despite the claims to the contrary made by critical scholars–and that the co-sender was Paul’s close associate, the young pastor, Timothy.  We also took notice of the fact that while at first glance the epistle opens with Paul’s standard greeting, it should be noted that Paul makes an unusual reference to God as Father of Jesus, when his usual manner is to refer to God as the Father of believers.  This reflects Paul’s concern to highlight the Father’s relationship to Jesus in this epistle, which was written to demonstrate that Jesus is Lord over all things.

One of the surprising things about the Book of Colossians is the extensive number of echoes (allusions) from various Old Testament passages which prefigure, or otherwise can be brought to bear to help Paul make his case that Jesus, as creator of all things, possesses a superiority as well as an authority which no creature can.  Although Paul never does specifically identify the Colossian Heresy (i.e., who was teaching it, or its specific doctrines), we can assume from Paul’s rebuttal that this group was at least, in part, indebted to Jewish teaching.  Paul mentions a stress upon festivals, new moons, Sabbath observance, and dietary restrictions.  This may be one reason why Paul, like the author to the Book of Hebrews, turns to the Old Testament to set forth his case for the supremacy of Jesus.  But there are non-Jewish elements here as well–asceticism (rigorous self-denial of pleasurable things), the worship of angels, a stress on visions, and a form of sensuality.  Whatever the Colossian Heresy was–probably a local syncretistic religion taught by a local figure–it sounds much like the kind of religious stuff featured on PBS or Oprah (Joseph Campbell’s Power of Myth, Deepak Chopra, Eckhart Tolle and Wayne Dyer).

To read the rest of this sermon: Click Here

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