Friday, February 02, 2007

Colossians in Focus

Here's my translation of Colossians 3.1-17 and note in bold the questionable translations that I have made. Feel free to offer critical comments.

If then you have been raised with Christ seek the things above where Christ is, enthroned at the right hand of God. Set your minds on the things above and not on the things of earth. For you have died and your life has been hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is your life, is manifested, then you also will be manifested with him in glory. Therefore, put to death the members of your earthly being, sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, and greed which is idolatry. Because of which the wrath of God is coming upon the sons of disobedience and in them you formerly walked when you lived in these things. But now you also put off all such things, anger, wrath, malice, slander, and perverse talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, stripping off the old man with its deeds and having clothed yourselves with the new man which is being renewed according to the image of the one creating him. In that renewal there is no longer Greek and Jew, circumcized and uncircumcized, Barbarian, Scythian, slave, and free; but Christ is for all and in all. Therefore, as God’s elect, holy and beloved, cloth yourselves with hearts of compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience. Bearing with one another, and if anyone has a complaint against someone, forgiving each other just as the Lord graciously forgave you, and thus so with you too. And to all these virtues add love, which is the bond of perfect unity. And Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, into which you were called in one body - and so be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing each other in all wisdom, and singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with thanksgiving in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or deed, do all things in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
Let me offer two notes on application.
(1) On forgiveness in v. 13. This is a word that is used often in the NT (see Col. 1.14 and the link with redemption) and we use it all the term in talking about relationships. As a matter of definition forgiveness means that I forfeit the right to demand reparation or reprisal for your misdoing even though I am the offended party (think on that!). Forgiveness does not mean that I no longer feel the pain and anger of your hurtful action, but I give-up my right to show my hurt and seek reprisal. That is what God does in the cross. He does not forget our sin in the literal sense but God gives up his right to inflict a judicial recompense upon us. That becomes a model of human relationships too. As someone once said, "To err is human, to forgive divine."
(2) Count yourselves dead to sin in v. 5. Biologist E.O. Wilson noticed that colonies of ants communicated through a complex system of chemical pheromones that could indicate certain things such as danger, hunger, mating and even death. Ants that emitted the pheromone of death were carried away from the nest. Wilson decided to experiment and see what would happen if a fully functional ant was sprayed with the death pheromone. He found that the death-smelling ant, despite being alive and healthy, was picked up by other ants like a dead ant and carried away from the nest and dumped. The ant would return to the nest and resume work, only to have the same process repeated again and again. This provides a fine analogy for Christians who live between the ages and have a life that is hid with Christ in God, but also wait to be revealed with Christ in glory (Col. 3.3-4). They are to put death earthly things even if they are not quite dead yet.

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