When God Winnows: A Study of Psalm 1

1 Blessed is the man That walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor standeth in the way of sinners, Nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. 2 But his delight is in the law of the Lord; And in his law doth he meditate day and night. 3 And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, That bringeth forth his fruit in his season; His leaf also shall not wither; And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. 4 The ungodly are not so: But are like the chaff which the wind driveth away. 5 Therefore the ungodly shall not stand in the judgment, Nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous. 6 For the Lord knoweth the way of the righteous: But the way of the ungodly shall perish. [1]

Mary told her farmer-husband Rick that see wanted to bake him a loaf of fresh bread. She explained to Rick that she did not have enough wheat to prepare a whole loaf. Being a good husband that he was, Rick decided that he should get her some wheat, especially since he could already taste that sweet, warm bread. So Rick went out to the grain fields, he cut down a few stalks and wrapped them in a bushel. Rick then to the bushel to the threshing floor. He laid the stalks out on the floor, and took he trident fork and began agitating the stalks. Over and over again he would throw these stalks in the air. Most of the stalk blew away with the wind, but the little seeds of grain fell back to the floor. After he was satisfied with the amount of grain he collected, he put it all in his sack and took it to his wife. Later that day, he enjoyed a nice slice of fresh baked bread.

What does this have to do with Psalm 1? In so many words, I have described the process of winnowing- the separation of the wheat from the chaff. It is an enduring process that requires faithful attention and persistence. There is a clear end goal. As we turn to the text, the Psalm writer has given a snap shot view of the winnowing process in the kingdom of God. Similar to Rick’s process, God puts his people through a winnowing process in order to produce a proper/necessary result. Psalm 1 describes for us the results of God’s winnowing process. Rick produced two things as a result of his winnowing process- chaff and seed. Likewise God’s process produces two results- the Blessed and the Wicked.

The Blessed vv.1-3 Psalm 1 can effectively be separated into 3 divisions, the first division describing those who are called Blessed. The psalmist begins by identifying things that blessed people avoid. Vv1. Walking, standing, or sitting with the sinner, or mockers. The idea here is progressive. It is one thing to walk among the scornful, but it another to sit (rest) among the scornful. Sitting or resting has the idea of being in collusion with these wicked men. Blessed is the man who is not in collusion with the wicked against the righteous one, not even easily influenced. vv.2 The blessed man is not influenced by the wicked, but is influenced by his meditation of the Word of God. This means that there is a intentionality behind his study of God’s word. Joshua 1:8 says “This Book of the Law shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night, so that you may be careful to do according to all that is written in it. For then you will make your way prosperous, and then you will have good success”. [2]

A blessed man is intentional about doing all according to the Word of God. As a result of his intentionality, the Lord establishes his “blessedness” like a tree planted by the river (it has access to all the water it needs), like a tree that brings forth fruit in its intended season (functions properly), whose leaves do not wither but prospers in all that he does. The idea is not prosperity in a carnal sense, but every God-controlled activity that this blessed individual does will come to complete divinely directed fulfillment. The Wicked vv4 The Psalmist draws a distinct separation between the blessed and the wicked introducing us to the second division. The wicked are individuals who are not in covenant relationship with God. They are empowered and driven by the own desires, pleasures, and lusts. The wicked live according to their own passions.

Yesterday, I was on HBO to Go and I decided to watch “What’s Love Got to do with it” starring Angela Bassett and Lawrence Fishbourne. I have seen this movie probably a hundred times, but as I watched it last night I could help but to notice how evil Ike Turner was portrayed in that movie. There was one scene in the movie- Anna Mae had tried to commit suicide by taking to many pills. On the ride to the hospital, as the EMT’s are doing their best to pump the pills from her stomach, Ike leans in over Anna Mae, and whispers in her ear “If you don’t make it, I’ll kill you”. The statement is obviously foolish, but he showed just how evil Ike was- in Tina’s lowest and most vulnerable moment, Ike only concern was for himself. Maybe you know someone who lives for themselves. Maybe there are a few here whose hearts are postured only towards self. The Psalmist informs us that these wicked, and evil people are like the chaff in the winnowing process- absolutely good for nothing. They are the worthless husks that are blown by the wind, never to amount to anything.

The Judgment vv5-6 Verses 5-6 bring us to the last division of the chapter. The psalmist fast forwards us to the end process of the winnowing of God- the Judgment. God knows all things- no thing is hidden from him. Rick’s winnowing process what incomplete- some seed was left behind. But God’s process is absolutely complete. There will come a day when God will separate the wheat from the chaff. God knows who are his, those who has embraced the covenant from his/her heart, and has done all according to his Word. Paul says it this way. “ But God’s firm foundation stands, bearing this seal: “The Lord knows those who are his,” and, “Let everyone who names the name of the Lord depart from iniquity.” [3] God will save you from the impending destruction of the chaff. He will save you because you have committed your lives to him and have produced fruit that will last eternally.

[1] The Holy Bible: King James Version. 2009 (Electronic Edition of the 1900 Authorized Version.) (Ps 1:1–6). Bellingham, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.

[2] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (Jos 1:8). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

[3] The Holy Bible: English Standard Version. 2001 (2 Ti 2:19). Wheaton: Standard Bible Society.

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The Mission of God’s People: Being Missional in the Workplace

What does it mean to be missional? What is the biblical definition of mission? What does mission have to do with me, since I’m not a missionary? All of these questions are real, and have at one point in our lives have been real questions on our hearts. I want to take a closer look at the biblical definition of mission, and how it is to have an effect on our everyday lives. I want to first begin by building the argument that we, as covenant people, must be engaged in missions. Then I will move to our engagement in the public square. Lastly, I hope to offer suggestions on how we can engage people with missional intentions at our places of work.

  1.        Shaping a Missional Hermeneutic

The most quoted and common scripture used for mission is Matthew 28:18-20. “And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” This is an important missional scripture, however, much has been missed as a result of a misplaced emphasis.  As I have heard this scripture preached and taught, much emphasis has been placed on the word “go”. “Go is an imperative used as a command to go into the world.” As a result of this emphasis, many have left with the understanding that this command is primarily for foreign missions. Most lay people are not sure how to deal with this in their own sphere of life. So as a result, mission is abandoned. This is a misinterpretation of the scripture. In fact, the Greek text has the word “go” in the present participle- participle of attendant circumstance. The function of the participle of attendant circumstance is to highlight and emphasize the main verb which is “to make disciples”, in which case should be the focus of this section of scripture. Christ is interested in us making disciples. It is not only the duty of those called to the mission field, but it is the duty of every one who would declare Jesus as their Savior and King- where ever God calls us to live.

2.       Missional Engagement in the Public Square

Genesis 2:18-20 records for us God’s first commission of work. “Then the LORD God said, “It is not good that the man should be alone; I will make him a helper fit for him.”  Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name. The man gave names to all livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field”. God intended for man to work. He created so that man would have something to apply his hands and mind to. Work was to be pleasant for mankind. Adam was to preform it as worship to his God. However, as a result of Adam’s rebellion, humanity’s performance of work is now broken. But God is in the redeeming business, and he desires to redeem “work” as well.

God has called each of us to a different sphere of life. God has covenant people in the North, South, East and West. Some have been called to the Pastorate or the mission field. Others have been called to the office place. Still others are called to the blue collar spheres of life. Where ever he calls us, where are to effect and infect our spheres of life.

My Dad is one of the greatest men that I know. He is a man who is committed to God, and his family. He will work his fingers to the bones in order that his family has what they need. I can never remember a time when I needed something that he did not provide for me. My Dad is a blue collar worker. God has blessed him with a gift to use his hands. It seems like he can do just about anything. His profession is HVAC/ Heating and cooling but if you need him to be an electrician, he can put on that hat. If the job requires him to be a contractor, or mason, or carpenter, he is able to change hats and do the work. And I see how God uses him to influence. Since he is a business owner, he interacts with people continuously. In the HVAC industry, there is a great deal of temptation to take advantage of the customer, since it is such as specialized industry. I have always seen my Dad treat the customer with respect and diginity- never has he tried to con people out of their money. In fact, he often underbids the jobs. The beautiful thing is that people notice it- people are aware that there is something different about my father. People are drawn to him, and as a result he is able to show the love of Christ while he works.

God wants us to work. And while we go out and work in the market place, he wants us to represent him, to show his love to people who do not know it. Apostle Paul was well aware of this truth. He was a tent maker. Every day, he would go to the marketplace and set up his tent shop, and sell his tents so that he might earn his living. It was through his tent selling that he would meet numerous individuals that he could minister and give the gospel. Peter and John were fisherman by profession. Timothy became Bishop of the church at Ephesus (according to other historical records). No matter what sphere of life God calls us to, we ought to remain missional. Your vocation is important to God, we are called to embody the gospel in every area of life in order that we might transform the world.

3.       Practical Engagement in Mission

What does real-life missions look like? It can look many different ways. I hope to offer just a few practical suggestions that might help you embody Christ in your workplace.

  •        Instead of eating lunch alone, intentionally eat with other co-workers and learn their story.

One of the greatest and most effective ways of evangelizing is through relational interactions. Let’s take a cue from Jesus. Luke 15:1-2 says, “Now all the tax-gatherers and the sinners were coming near Him to listen to Him. And both the Pharisees and the scribes began to grumble, saying, “This man receives sinners and eats with them.” Luke emphasizes Jesus relational attitude. Even though these people were viewed as the lowest of the city, Jesus desire to be near them. And they were drawn to him! While nobody else cared, they knew Jesus cared.  As a result, he was able to effectively minister to them, just because he desired to know who they were. John Piper, former Pastor of Bethlehem Baptist Church, says “We should find people interesting”. Find people interesting, genuinely get involved in people lives- this is how we can most effectively minister.

  •       Get to work early so you can spend some time praying for your co-workers and the day ahead.

Prayer changes things! When we offer prayers to God, he promises that he hears them and is ready to act on our behalf.  James 5:16c says, “The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.” In other words, our prayers have power! Maybe you can pray for that coworker that you have been eating lunch and developing a relationship with.

  •        Bring extra snacks when you make your lunch to give away to others

This may seem kind of childish, but people enjoy being given free stuff, even if it’s just a snack. People might wonder why you are so happy, or why you choose to give your things away- this opens a door for the Gospel (Jesus gave more than a snack to his friends, he gave his very life).

  •       Make every effort to avoid gossip in the office. Be a voice of thanksgiving not complaining.

Have you ever known someone who complained all the time? Everything about their life is negative. There complaining even causes a sphere of negativity around them. Complaining is destructive and personally debilitating, and certainly not one of the fruits of the Spirit that are to be manifested in the lives of believers. It is sobering to think about those in scripture who though complaining would get them anywhere. For the people of Israel, their grumbling and complaining got them no where. In fact, it led to their sin of idolatry which caused them to remain in the dessert longer.

  •       Find others that live near you and create a car pool

Why not fellowship with other coworkers while reducing your carbon foot print?  Besides, God has entrusted the care of his creation to us, we should steward it well by reducing carbon emission. Seems pretty logical to me! Either way, this goes back to relationship building. Are we intentional about being in relationship with those whom we do live with so closely? We should be, this should be our missional motivation.

  •         Lead the charge in organizing others to help co-workers in need

If you have been involved in any type of mercy ministry, you will know that the first steps in ministering to those in need, is to actually meet that need. A hungry man has a hard time listening to you while he is still hungry, but once you feed him he will be more willing to hear what you are saying. In our stressed economy, it is probable that you have a coworker that is experiencing a hardship. How great of a gospel proclamation could you make to someone than meeting a need of theirs?

Here are a few others:

  1. Make it a daily priority to speak or write encouragement when someone does good work.
  2. Ask someone who others typically ignore if you can grab them a soda or coffee while you’re out.
  3. Invite your co-workers in to the service projects you are already involved in.
  4. Make every effort to know the names of co-workers and clients along with their families (this goes a long way).

There are a number of things that we can do be missional at our workplaces. God has redeemed, and is redeeming every aspect of his creation. Humanity’s work is no less important to God. He has called to these spheres of life and we are required, mandated, and commissioned to influence it.

Exegetical Paper- Colossians 1:3-8

1.    Introduction

In this paper, I hope to address some key points in the Epistle to the Colossians to help us understand what exactly Paul is saying, specifically dealing with chapter 1 verses 3-8. I will give some brief background and details, moving to the exegetical analysis of verses 3-8, and concluding with brief summary and final thought.

Authorship

While most of us attribute Paul to writing the letter to the Colossians, there are some very compelling arguments that suggest Paul may not have physically written this letter. The most compelling is the style upon which Colossians was written. It is unlike any of the letters of Paul’s critical canon[1]. The language used in this letter is not seen anywhere else in Paul’s work. However, the subject matter is very different form the others, which could be the result of the different language. Some scholars even argue that the theology on Colossians is quite different, in terms of eschatology, ecclesiology, Christology, and tradition[2]. I am in agreement with Moo that it probably was not physically written by Paul (at least the earlier half). Paul used a scribe to write his words and ideas, and at the end wrote the thanks and encouragements himself.

Background

Dating the letter to the Colossians is a rather difficult task. This letter, nor the city of Colossae is ever mentioned in any other place. The only evidence for date and origin lies within the letter itself. From the letter we find out that Paul was a prisoner at the time. From the book of Acts we determine 3 occasions of where Paul was imprisoned: Philippi, Caesarea, and Rome. Some believe that Paul may have spent some time in prison in Ephesus, which then becomes a legitimate place of authorship. Looking also at Ephesians and Philemon, the two most closely related letters, we see a lot of overlap in language, and theology. Furthermore, the greetings in Philemon and Colossians are almost identical1.  We also find Tychicus as the carrier of both Ephesians and Colossians, which probably means that they left at the same time. I agree with the origin being Rome, since Ephesians is accepted to originate in Rome during Paul’s last years. Colossians deals with some very new issues, not seen in any other letter. False teaching is the main theme that is being dealt with in this letter. Unlike Paul’s other letter, Colossians does not speak (or attack) a particular person or a particular hearsay that is plaguing the people. Instead, he issues these warnings. Paul never tells us what these false teachings are, but he does tell us how these teachings affect the believers there at Colossae. First, he calls the false teachings a “hollow and deceptive philosophy”1.  Scholars believe this philosophy is wrapped up in this ideas of the fullness of God, worship of angels, things that have been seen upon entering, voluntary worship, humility, and severe treatment of the body2. Paul directly addresses all these issues throughout the letter. Secondly, there were rules being propagated that Paul calls wordly2. These rules were obviously not rooted in Christ, and were not apart of the gospel that was preached from Epaphras who began the church at Colossae. There is said that there may have been a Gnostic Judaist movement in Colossae. Others believe that there was a pagan mystery cult present. Nonetheless, there was something that Paul did not approve of, and the letter to the Colossians was Paul’s initial response. Now looking at the context of chapter 1:3-8, we find that this is at the beginning of the letter in the opening. The opening of the letter sets the stage for Paul’s warnings about the false teachings in chapter 2. So therefore this section (1:3-8) is his Paul’s way of encouraging the Colossians to “understand that their adherence to the gospel of God’s Son provides for all the spiritual blessing and power that they will ever need”1(74).  There is really only one theme in this particular section of the opening, namely thankfulness.  It is the typical epistolary structure that is found throughout Paul’s letters. Paul is giving thanks to those at Colossae who are apart of the body of believers there. It is, however, a very elaborate section of thankfulness that needs some further exegetical analysis. 2.   

Exegetical Analysis

Vs. 3- Εὐχαριστοῦμεν τῷ θεῷ πατρὶ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ πάντοτε περὑμῶν προσευχόμενοι εὐχαριστοῦμεν 1per. Pl. pres. act. Ind., “we give thanks”. The subject of this is probably Paul and Timothy since Timothy is mentioned in the prescript (1:1). τῷ θεῷ πατρὶ τοῦ κυρίου ἡμῶν Ἰησοῦ Χριστοῦ.  Paul is expressing his thanksgiving to God the Father, literally who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Πατρι is in simple apposition to τῷ θεῷ. This is unusual for Paul, as he usually thanks both God the Father, and Jesus Christ. Some theologians suggest that Paul’s focus on the Father is deliberate, in order to elevate Christ within the letter. He wants to anchor the person of Christ firmly to God the Father1. πάντοτε is an adverb that modifies εὐχαριστοῦμεν. I don’t think it would be accurate to have it modify προσευχόμενοi because firstly, adverbs in NT Greek often follow the verb that they modify, secondly it reflects the usually patterns of Paul epistolary greetings, and thirdly it would seem to be a bit of a exaggeration to say that we are always praying for you in a temporal sense. περὑμῶν προσευχόμενοι which literally means praying on behalf of you. προσευχόμενοι is a present adverbial participle, denoting a durative aspect. The action, i.e. praying, is happening at the same time of the main verb εὐχαριστοῦμεν. So this means that on every occasion that Paul prayed for the Colossians, he gave thanks for them[3]. This carries tremendous weight for the character of Paul that he has dedicated himself to praying and giving thanks for people whom he had never even met.

Vs.4- κούσαντες τν πίστιν μν ν Χριστ ησο κα τν γάπην ν χετε ες πάντας τος γίους ἀκούσαντες is the launching point for the rest of the passage. It is a nom. pl. masc. aor. act. participle used to express cause. This is unlike the usual usage of an aorist participle, which is used to express antecedent action, action that happens before the main verb.  In this case, it is used to express cause, “because we have heard”. τν πίστιν μν ν Χριστ ησο κα τν γάπην ν χετε ες πάντας τος γίους.  Here the “triad” of faith, love, and hope (v.5) are introduced. These are important pillars in the life of the Christian. Naturally, Paul begins with faith. Apart from faith, there would be no Christian existence2.   This faith is in Christ, which describes the sphere in which this faith lives and acts. Love is the practical expression of care and concern for one another. And hope (ἐλπίς) found in verse 5, is what Paul bases faith and love upon. Paul is basically saying that there is a connection through this triad that binds you to the fellow Christians in your region.

Vs. 5- δι τν λπίδα τν ποκειμένην μν ν τος ορανος, ν προηκούσατε ν τ λόγ τς ληθείας το εαγγελίου As was mentioned, the faith and love rests on the hope in verse 5, διὰ τὴν ἐλπίδα. This is different form Paul’s usual juxtaposition of faith, hope, and love.  This is the only account where Paul places hope as the foundation of the other two. What this means is that, unlike the usual reference to hope (attitude of hope), he is referring to the “totality of blessings that awaits the Christian in the life to come”2.  There was teachings in Colossae that began to lead the faithful to wonder whether Christ could supply all their spiritual needs, so Paul decides to remind them that their faith and love rests on the solid foundation (i.e. hope) of what God has promised and committed to do for them in the future. To push this point a bit further, Harris writes, “ An objective fact produces subjective attitudes. The inheritance (i.e. hope) of Christians has the effect of stimulating in them stronger faith and deeper love. Your faith and love are based upon what you hope for.”3. This is Paul’s purpose for writing this. ἣν προηκούσατε 2 pl. aor. act. ind. from προακουω, which literally means to hear beforehand. It is referring to the time when they first heard the gospel, instead of the time before they heard the false teaching. ἐν τῷ λόγῳ τῆς ἀληθείας τοῦ εὐαγγελίου. Paul uses three very distinct and weighty words to describe the message that was sent through Epaphras. τῆς ἀληθείας (of truth) is an attributive genitive, adjectivally modifying τῷ λόγῳ (in the word). τοῦ εὐαγγελίου is in apposition to τῷ λόγῳ. I think this is an important construction because the emphasis is placed on the word. The emphatic meaning is that the word or message is or contains the truth, and this message is the gospel.

Vs. 6- το παρόντος ες μς, καθς κα ν παντ τ κόσμ στν καρποφορούμενον κα αξανόμενον καθς κα ν μν, φ’ ς μέρας κούσατε κα πέγνωτε τν χάριν το θεο ν ληθείᾳ τοῦ παρόντος εἰς ὑμᾶς. Paul uses this to identify some very real truths about the Colossian church. παρόντος literally means to be present or have come3. So the true gospel has come to them. I think he is using this to say, you have heard the true gospel and it is present among you, do not be fooled by these new false teachings. καθὼς καὶ ἐν παντὶ τῷ κόσμῳ. I think κοσμος should be defined here as “all of creation”, instead of simply “world”. I think it is appropriate because it is echoed in verse 23 in this way. Also, when we think of the word world, we think of man alone. Paul is not saying that the gospel has touched every man in the world. The emphasis is that the gospel message is exerting power “widely, in many different places”1. Some theologians suggest that Paul speaks to universalism3, that the gospel is universal to all creation. κόσμῳ ἐστὶν καρποφορούμενον καὶ αὐξανόμενον καθὼς καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν. Both of the participles here are present tense, which gives us a durative aspect. However, they have different voices. αὐξανόμενον is passive in voice. But καρποφορούμενον is middle in voice. This has some implications. The subject of the participles is found in the verb ἐστὶν (It is), and “it” is referring to the gospel message. Since καρποφορούμενον is middle in voice, this suggests that the gospel itself continuously bears fruit. This is a great truth about the gospel. Paul also lists καρποφορούμενον and then αὐξανόμενον. A result of the effects of the gospel is that it always bears fruit and grows in the lives of the believer.  Again, he encourages them with truth saying καθὼς καὶ ἐν ὑμῖν. ἀφ’ ἧς ἡμέρας ἠκούσατε καὶ ἐπέγνωτε. Again, Paul is being very strategic to counter the false teachings that were circulating. Paul continuously highlights the reality of Christ in the lives of the believers in Colossae. He uses this clause to say not only has the gospel exerted transforming power among them, but also it has been doing so since the day they first heard it1. τὴν χάριν τοῦ θεοῦ ἐν ἀληθείᾳ. Paul is so concerned with grace and understanding it in relation to the gospel message, that he plainly centers it as the defining transforming moment beginning their lives as believers. This is a good construction, Paul begins with what has happened to the people (the result of the message), then he moves in verse 7 to the messenger

Vs. 7- καθς μάθετε π παφρ το γαπητο συνδούλου μν, ς στιν πιστς πρ μν διάκονος το Χριστο Paul finally introduces the messenger Epaphras in this verse. Little is known about Epaphras. He is only mentioned in Colossians and Philemon. Theologians have inferred that Epaphras was probably a native of Colossae and Paul converted him during his missionary journey in Ephesus1. One important thing to note is that Paul calls him a ἀγαπητοῦ συνδούλου and a διάκονος τοῦ Χριστοῦ. These are very weighty titles for someone who is not apart of the apostolic order. In fact Paul only uses ἀγαπητοῦ συνδούλου one other time in the New Testament, and διάκονος τοῦ Χριστοῦ is only used for a select hand full of people. I think Paul is doing something here. First, he used such strong endorsements to identify the reliability of Epaphras and his commitment to the church in Colossae. Paul has complete confidence in Epaphras2. Secondly, because he has never met the church at Colossae, he strongly asserts that Epaphras is a representative of him. He is an extension of Paul’s ministry. διάκονος τοῦ Χριστοῦ “minister of Christ” or literally “servant of Christ” is the language of honor. Often used in the Old Testament, its usage referred to those people chosen by God and predestined for His service2. Abraham, Moses, David, the Prophets were all servants of God. Verse 7 focuses of Epaphras’ faithfulness as a servant and verse focuses on his reliability as one. I will note here that I did my word study πιστὸς. It is an adjectival modifier of διάκονος “faithful servant”. I found that πιστὸς dates back to at least 500 BC. The semantic range of meaning is rather narrow. Often it was used to denote one who is faithful or trustworthy. In some cases, obedient was used. Overall, all the glosses live in the realm of someone who is trustworthy. Believing is also a possibility in the New Testament. Its frequency of use is low when compared to the translation faithful. In all, this word has held up through time, and there is no reason to believe that it means anything more than faithful. We also encounter a text critical issue in verse 7. The two variants are μν or υμων. I chose μν as the correct variant. It has the earliest witness or reading (papyrus 46), and it gepgraphic distribution is greater. The compliments it shares between the Alexandrian and Western text types hint to its superiority. Furthermore, contextually, μν just reads better. In other words, Epaphras is a fellow servant of ours, of the apostles.

Vs. 8- κα δηλώσας μν τν μν γάπην ν πνεύματι I believe Paul is pleased with the church in Colossae, because he makes it a point to mention their love being displayed there. I think this may be a subtle way of affirming their true conversion and praising them. Love displayed means that they are operating in grace. ἐν πνεύματι. This is probably hinting to the Holy Spirit that is enabling them to love. O’Brien suggest that this phrase indicates that the community’s life was filled with love enabled by the Holy Spirit, which allows them to attend to the needs of the saints2. The believers there would have known about Paul, and would have loved him just as they love other saints in the area. He highlights this truth, which certainly would have help in addressing the issues with the false teaching2.

3.    Conclusion

In accordance with Paul’s usual epistolary greeting, he opens this letter to the Colossians by giving thanks to God for the faith and love of his readers. He tells us that this faith and love that we have in Christ and for others is rooted in a hope that is kept safely in heaven. This hope comes from Christ, himself, through his work on the cross (we get this in the hymn 1:15-20), and this message was given through Epaphras, whom Paul whole-heartedly endorses. This message is continuously bearing fruit and increasing in the Christian life, and is doing so from the time it was first preach by Epaphras. Epaphras is working hard for me, Paul, to deliver to you a worthy gospel message, therefore we must listen to him and not these other false teachers. Paul recognizes that the gospel is working in Colossae and praises them for loving one another in the Holy Spirit. Paul was very pastoral in his approach with these first few verses of Colossians. He affirms that which is true first and foremost, before addressing the issues. This is shepherding at its best. He affirms the reality of Christ in the lives of the believers, not condemning them first, or destroying their hope for believing and probably practicing the false teaching. Keep in mind that these people had never meet Paul, and attacking them would not have been a sensible move. I think all pastors, leaders, and teachers should have the same tactfulness in their approach. Addressing a very real and serious issue, while allowing those in harms way to keep their dignity, and spiritual vitality is so much easier and accepted than doing the opposite, which unfortunately is what I have seen a lot of pastors, leaders, and teacher do in my local and neighboring congregations.


[1] Moo, Douglass. The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon. Nottingham, England: Apollos, 2008. Print. Pillar New Testament Commentary.
[2] Hubbard, David Allan., and Peter T. Obrien. Word Biblical Commentary: Colossians, Philemon. Waco, TX: Word, 1982. Print.
[3] Harris, Murray J. Colossians & Philemon. Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1991. Print.

Storms

23 And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. 24And behold, there arose a great storm on the sea, so that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. 25And they went and woke him, saying, “Save us, Lord; we are perishing.” 26And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, O you of little faith?” Then he rose and rebuked the winds and the sea, and there was a great calm. 27And the men marveled, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even winds and sea obey him?”

Matthew 8:23-27

Have you ever pondered a storm? Have you ever wondered how out of no where the clouds become dark, and rain begins to fall? Science tells us that it is because of opposing forces (winds) that meet and they have a violent interaction. It is a very mind boggling and amazing phenomenon that only a God could accomplish. But the more amazing thing is the calm that come after a violent storm. Once the clouds pass over, and the winds die down there is peace.

How many of you have ever been in a spiritually violent storm? It seems as if out of no where the winds begin to pick up, and the boat begins to sway more, and the waves seem to take over your boat. A mega storm. I know I have. But I am encouraged, because Matthew lets us in on a little secret above. Not all storm are a result of disobedience (my opposing force), but rather some mega storms are God appointed.

Verse 23 says, “He [Jesus] got into the boat, and his disciples followed Him.” You may say, “well that’s okay, they were doing what they were supposed to do”. My response is that you are absolutely correct, their job was simply to follow Jesus. But in verse 24 something happens that changes the atmosphere, literally. Matthew writes, “And behold“, which means suddenly, out of no where, they find themselves in the middle of a GREAT storm. How many times have you found yourself walking with Christ, but some how you end up in a storm or valley.

I have been blessed to have had a relationship with both my grand parents. Everything was going great, and out of no where my grandmother passes away. I was rather young at this time. It was a devastating moment in my life. She was a pillar in the family and when she passed it seemed like all the walls would cave in. This certainly was a GREAT storm in my life that really seemed to have come from no where.  I realize now that, while this may have seemed like a storm to me, God was doing something great. He was strengthening the family.

In the latter half of verse 24, notice what Jesus was doing while the disciples were stressing out. He was asleep. How often do we fail to realize that in times of trouble that Jesus is still in the boat. Then he asked his disciples, “Why are you afraid”? Has not the Lord promised you that he would protect you? Has not the Lord promised that He is with you always? I was afraid when my grandmother passed because I was young. But now I’m older, and I understand that God gets the glory when we go through GREAT storms. How often do people who profess Christ forget that Christ is in the boat when there is storms. These are God appointed storms that are making you better. Joseph was exalted to the highest seat of office next to Pharaoh in Egypt.  Joseph was sold into slavery, accused by Potifer’s wife, and jailed. He had some mega storms. But at the end of it all, he recognizes that it was God in his complete sovereignty, who appointed those storms, so that he could hold such position as Pharaoh’s right hand man. That should be our mentality when great storms come.

The next words that Matthew writes are powerful to me. Verse 26 he says, “Then He rose”. In the midst of storm, in the midst of trial, in the midst of trouble, always remember that Jesus rose. And we know that all things work together for the good of those who love the Lord, who are called according to His purpose. This is his promise. If Jesus, the creator of the universe, who has all authority, whom creation awaits to serve, can sleep then so should we.  Jesus has the power to speak peace in your storm.

Verse 27 concludes with this “And the men marveled…” They were not marveling at the fact that the storm was over but they marveled at the man who rebuked the storm. Once you come out of the storm, dont marvel or glory that the storm is over, marvel at the one who causes the storms to leave. Jesus Christ the Prince of Peace.