Thursday, December 4, 2014

All The Saints (part 17)

Pressing that button, Paul continues, writing “God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Colossians 1:27).  Here, it is helpful to replace the Greek “Christ” with the Hebrew “Messiah,” re-reading the affected portion of the sentence to say “this mystery among the Gentiles, which is the Messiah in you, the hope of glory.”  Paul places the Messiah in the midst of the Gentiles, referring to Him as their hope, and ultimately to their confession of Him as Lord of all as the foundation of their ability to participate in part of the Creator God’s purposes for His covenant people, which is to reflect His glory into the world.  With the ministry of Jesus as a guide, this reflection of glory has substantially revealed itself as acts of self-sacrificial love. 

Beginning with the call of Abraham, this representation of the Creator God in and for the world had been the task assigned exclusively to Israel, with the attached and concordant blessings that would flow to them for successfully carrying out this endeavor.  That which indicated one’s status as a member of Israel were the covenant markers to which have been referred ad nauseum.  With the coming of the Christ, and with the dawning of the new age of the new creation portended by His Resurrection, with an ongoing sense of “already but not yet,” this task is now assigned to the church of the Christ that is composed of all peoples. 

Building to a crescendo in this portion of his letter, Paul adds “We proclaim Him,” that being His Lordship contra-Caesar and all of the world’s pretenders to power, “by instructing and teaching with all wisdom,” though it may seem like the height of foolishness to proclaim the imperial reign of one crucified by Caesar, with such foolishness amplified by the subsequent and attached message of that person’s resurrection from the dead, “so that we may present every person mature in Christ” (1:28).  One does well to hear “every person” as yet another extension of the inclusive and world-embracing “all” which has colored the first quarter of the letter.

Moving along to the second chapter, Paul’s inclusive language expands, and we join together with the gathered church at Colossae and hear “For in Him all the fullness of deity lives in bodily form” (2:9).  This “Him,” of course, is the previously referenced “Messiah in you, the hope of glory.”  Not only is there an “all” in the filling that has resulted in “all the fullness of deity” dwelling in Him in bodily form (a basic messianic premise), which should be heard according to the melody that has been supplied to “all” in what has been heard prior to this, but Paul emphasizes the totality of that filling, extending it to the church, composed of Jews and Gentiles, looking at them as the manifestation of Jesus in the world and writing “and you have been filled in Him, who is the head over every ruler and authority” (2:10). 

As can be seen and heard, Paul not only provides assurance to Gentiles while also exhorting the church in general, but he also seizes upon the opportunity to assert Jesus Lordship and His kingdom as superior to all other kings and kingdoms.  Thusly he reminds all believers, both then and for all time, as to where their patriotic loyalties should primarily lie, while also reminding them that their loyalty to Jesus, to His kingdom, and to the call and demands of that kingdom, will infiltrate all aspects of their lives.    

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