Israel 2016

Israel 2016
Roman architectural influence in Bet Sean, Israel

Tuesday, December 13, 2016

Chronological Reading Plan for Dec 14 - Col 1-4, Pmn

Today's readings are Col 1-4 and Pmn. Tomorrow's are Eph 1-6. 

Paul wrote Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon around the same time, while he was in prison in Rome, around 60-61 AD. 

Paul wrote to address false teaching in Colossae. We're not positive as to what the nature of the false teaching was. But, from the letter we can assume that the centrality of Christ was attacked while an emphasis was placed on lesser, non-essential issues. The false teaching apparently focused on philosophical traditions, encouraged dietary restrictions, adhered to certain Jewish rites, advocated worshipping angels, and leaned toward asceticism. It seems a dangerous mixture of legalism and mysticism had entered the Colossian church. 

Paul's counter to all this is to focus on three things, the supremacy of Christ in all things, the work of the ministry and the church. He ends the letter with a series of exhortations and encouragements designed to remind the church of its original calling and purpose.

Looking at the big picture, it's easy to see that the new church is trying to incorporate cultural issues and practices into its makeup, many of them antithetical to the gospel. It's trading its original mission for one of allowing outside influences and unscriptural, mystical practices to permeate its meetings and teaching. Perhaps this was an effort to appeal to a broader audience and make itself more attractive to those who need the hear its message. Regardless of the reasons, Paul wants to nip these things in the bud before they become a larger problem. The solution he offers is universal for the church, "Go back to the basics, read your Bibles, share the gospel. Be the godly influence on the culture rather than becoming the influenced in it."  

In much the same vein, Philemon is a beautiful statement on slavery which was commonly practiced at this point in history. The Bible never condones nor condemns slavery. It does, however, acknowledge that slavery exists in some cultures. In those cases where slavery is mentioned, the Bible admonishes slaves to be obedient and respectful while at the same time admonishing masters to be merciful and compassionate. The point is that even in cultures that tolerate slavery, the love of God and the compassion of the church should be expressed for the sake of the gospel. Notice, Paul does not encourage believers to judge the culture nor to rebel against it. Rather, he wants them to live the gospel while living in the culture, making examples of themselves within the context of their society. In Onesimus's case, Paul encourages him to receive Philemon, a former slave, as a brother and an equal.

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