Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | September 25, 2006

Colossians – Part 6

Do you plan on going to Church the rest of your life?  Why or Why not? Colossians – Part 6.1:  Preeminence of Christ (Paul explains to the Colossians Christ’s position over redemption) 

1.  What have you been redeemed from?

2.  What did the false teachers at Colossae think they need to be redeemed from?

Christ Preeminent in Redemption (Ch 1:18-23) He is also head of the body the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything .  19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.  21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach – 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.   

The reckless distortion of the Person of Christ by the false teachers was resulting in a diminished view of the Work of Christ, which the Apostle here is correcting.  The false teachers were telling their victims nothing less than the Work that Christ accomplished was not complete.  They were teaching that, in addition to believing in their view of Christ you must also meet further conditions to be saved.  This flows from their understanding that Christ was less than God, since God could not be contaminated by subjecting Himself to the material realm.  In fact they had lowered the position of Christ even beneath that of angels.  As a result, the Apostle reiterates his previous statements by indicating the high position that Christ actually possesses.  The Apostle here again emphasizes the Deity of Christ and makes it clear that God is not limited to only the spiritual realm.  He then goes on to state that all of the conditions were met on the cross, not only for fallen humanity but also the fallen creation.  We understand “all things” in light of the rest of the council of Scripture, which does not allow us to say all humans will be saved.  However, the reconciliation extends not only to the elect, but the entire created order that was plunged into darkness through the fall.  Thus, he implies that the material realm is not inherently evil, since the creation had to be reconciled from the affects of man’s fall.  And although, the full benefits of the restoration of the created order has not been fully realized it is imminently approaching according to God’s sovereign plan.  He then describes the grave situation that the believers were redeemed from, which is alienation from God rooted in our bondage to sin.  Nonetheless, these liabilities are no longer vulnerabilities for the believer who has been liberated by Christ.  Note the emphasis the Apostle makes to destroy their pagan philosophy by indicating that the Liberator accomplished His victory within a “fleshly body”.  Finally, the Apostle warns the Colossians to stay firmly established in their faith and not stray far from the truth of the Gospel.  This warning seems appropriate judging the circumstances (false teaching) they were confronted with.      

The Apostle here unites Christ’s preeminence in creation, with His preeminence in redemption.  At the same time he attacks the erroneous Gnostic views that plagued the Church.  He indicates the majestic positions that belong to Christ, in order to discredit the views of the false teachers.  He indicates the union between Father (being fully spirit) and Son (truly God and truly man), thus refuting their views of material and non-material things.  And he indicates the sufficiency and efficiency of the work of Christ, using the term reconcile in the past tense to infer it’s already being complete.        

3.  Who has first place in everything?

4.  What does this mean?  And why did the Colossians need to hear this?

5.  Why was it be a problem for the false teachers if Christ “is the beginning”?

He is the beginning:  “He is the first-born from the dead; for in the resurrection there is a restoration of all things, and in this manner the commencement of the second and new creation, for the former had fallen to pieces in the ruin of the first man.  As, then, Christ in rising again had made a commencement of the kingdom of God, he is on good grounds called the beginning; for then do we truly begin to have a being in the sight of God, when we are renewed, so as to be new creatures.  He is called the first-begotten from the dead, not merely because he was the first that rose again, but because he has also restored life to others, as he is elsewhere called the first-fruits of those that rise again.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians. 

6.  Do you remember last week we talked about the best way to understand God?

7.  Is Paul making it clear to the Colossians that the flesh is not inherently (naturally) evil?

Because it hath pleased the Father that in him:  “Now, he means a fullness of righteousness, wisdom, power, and every blessing.  For whatever God has he has conferred upon his Son, that he may be glorified in him, as is said in John 5:20.  He shews us, however, at the same time, that we must draw from the fullness of Christ everything good that we desire for our salvation, because such is the determination of God – not to communicate himself, or his gifts to men, otherwise then by his Son.  “Christ is all things to us: apart from him we have nothing.”  Hence it follows, that all that detract Christ, or that impair his excellence, or rob him of his offices, or, in fine, take away a drop from his fullness, overturn, so far as is in their power, God’s eternal counsel.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians. 

8.  Did Christ only redeem human beings?

9.  What else is being redeemed in Christ?  Romans 8:19-22

And by him to reconcile all things to himself:  “In the first place, let us consider that our happiness consists in our cleaving to God, and that, on the other hand, there is nothing more miserable than to be alienated from him.  He declares, accordingly, that we are blessed through Christ alone, inasmuch as he is the bond of our connection with God, and, on the other hand, that, apart from him, we are most miserable, because we are shut out from God.” John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

10.  What does propitiation mean?  Isn’t this an uncommon way that we look at God?

11.  Does God have the right to be angry?

Making peace through the blood of his cross: “He speaks of the Father, — that he has been made propitious to his creatures by the blood of Christ.  Now he calls it the blood of the cross, inasmuch as it was the pledge and price of the making up of our peace with God, because it was poured out upon the cross.  For it was necessary that the Son of God should be an expiatory victim, and endure the punishment of sin, that we might be the righteousness of God in him (2 Corinthians 5:21.)  The blood of the cross, therefore, means the blood of the sacrifice which was offered upon the cross for appeasing the anger of God…I say that men have been reconciled to God, because they were previously alienated from him by sin, and because they would have had him as a Judge to their ruin, had not the grace of the Mediator interposed for appeasing his anger.  Hence the nature of the peace making between God and men was this, that enmities have been abolished through Christ, and thus God becomes a Father instead of a Judge.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

How should we approach God? Why? Colossians – Part 6.2:  Preeminence of Christ (Paul explains to the Colossians Christ’s position over redemption) 

12.  What does Paul describe our previous status as?

13.  Why did we possess this status?  Do all humans have the same condition?

In wicked works:  “He shews from its effects the inward hatred which lies hid in the heart.  For as mankind endeavor to free themselves from all blame, until they have been openly convicted, God shews them their impiety by outward works, as is more amply treated of in Romans 1:19.  Farther, what is told us here as to the Colossians, is applicable to us also, for we differ nothing in respect of nature.  There is only this difference, that some are called from their mother’s womb, whose malice God anticipates, so as to prevent them from breaking forth into open fruits, while others, after having wandered during a great part of their life, are brought back to the fold.  We all, however, stand in need of Christ as our peace maker, because we are often the slaves of sin, and where sin is, there is enmity between God and men.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians           

14.  Since all possess the same condition, does this mean that being human means you are not perfect?

15.  Why or Why not?  Which did the Colossian false teachers affirm?

16.  Who are examples that support your case?

In the body of his flesh:  “For it was necessary that the Son of God should become a man, and be partaker of our flesh, that he might be our brother:  it was necessary that he should by dying become a sacrifice, that he might make his Father propitious to us.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

17.  Paul says that believers will be presented holy, blameless and beyond reproach, does this apply to us?  How?

18.  Are you perfect?  Why or Why Not?

19.  What would the Colossian false teachers think about this?

That he might present us holy:  “For the entire blessing of redemption consists mainly in these two things, remission of sins, and spiritual regeneration.  (Jeremiah 31:33.)  What he has already spoken of was a great matter, that righteousness has been procured for us through the death of Christ, so that, our sins being remitted, we are acceptable to God.  Now, however, he teaches us, that there is in addition to this another benefit equally distinguished — the gift of the Holy Spirit, by which we are renewed in the image of God.  This, also, is a passage worthy of observation, as shewing that a gratuitous righteousness is not conferred upon us in Christ, without our being at the same time regenerated by the Spirit to the obedience of righteousness, as he teaches us elsewhere, that “Christ is made to us righteousness and sanctification. (1 Corinthians 1:30).  The former we obtain by a gratuitous acceptance; and the latter by the gift of the Holy Spirit, when we are made new creatures.  There is however an inseparable connection between these two blessings of grace.  Let us, however, take notice, that this holiness is nothing more than begun in us, and is indeed every day making progress, but will not be perfected until Christ shall appear for the restoration of all things.  For the Coelestinians and the Pelagians in ancient times mistakingly perverted this passage, so as to shut out the gracious benefit of the remission of sins.  For they conceived of a perfection in this world which could satisfy the judgment of God, so that mercy was not needed.  Paul, however, does not by any means shew us here what is accomplished in this world, but what is the end of our calling, and what blessings are brought to us by Christ.  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians     

20.  What does Paul say that we should continue in?

21.  What is faith?

22.  Do you have hope in the Gospel?

If ye continue:  “Now he paints in lively colors assurance of faith when he bids the Colossians be grounded and settled in it.  For faith is not like mere opinion, which is shaken by various movements, but has a firm steadfastness, which can withstand all the machinations of hell…  He afterwards takes notice also of a relationship which subsists between faith and the gospel when he says that the Colossians will be settled in the faith only in the event of their not falling back from the hope of the gospel; that is, the hope which shines forth upon us through means of the gospel, for where the gospel is, there is the hope of everlasting salvation.  Let us, however, bear in mind, that the sum of all is contained in Christ.  Hence he enjoins it upon them here to shun all doctrines which lead away from Christ, so that the minds of men are otherwise occupied.”  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

23.  Was Christ in our study today?

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