Bible Commentary - 2 Corinthians 5 thru Colossians 4

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Bible Commentary - 2 Corinthians 5 thru Colossians 4

#1 Post by bejay » Sat Feb 18, 2006 9:15 pm

Bible Commentary for 2 Corinthians 5 thru Colossians 4

2 Corinthians Chapter 5

Paul seems to be leaning towards the fact that he might not be alive at the return of Christ so he discusses this fact by saying that if his earthly body should be demolished, he was assured that he would have a heavenly building or body, made by God, that would last forever. He was desirous of putting on this new body so that he would be fully clothed and not be found naked as could happen while he was still in the flesh. The groaning that he spoke of were probably due to his sense of frustration due to the frailty, limitations and temporary nature of the fleshly body and he wanted to experience what the permanent and perfect heavenly body was like. God had purposed that they should have this experience and had given them a token of this, the spirit. The NIV Bible Commentary, Volume II, page 676 explains the word ‘token’ to be either ‘a pledge or guarantee, or a down payment.’

They therefore have good reason to be of good cheer because they walk by faith, not by sight but they realize that being in the fleshly body, they are absent from Christ. Even in this state they always strive to act in a way so that they will be acceptable to Christ because they will stand before the judgment seat of Christ to be rewarded for the things that they practiced whether good or bad. They keep this fact in mind as they continue persuading others to accept the good news. What they are is openly manifested before God and Paul also hopes to see these Christians so that they will have a reason to boast in respect to him rather than in those who pride themselves in outward appearances, rather than what’s in the heart. It is Christ’s love that impels them because he died for them so that they should live, not for themselves, but for Christ.

Therefore they will not view any man according to the flesh as they do not view Christ in this manner but all in Christ will be viewed as a new creation. These things are from God who was reconciling a world to Himself through Christ wherein he forgave them their sins and He gave them the ministry of reconciliation. They are therefore ambassadors substituting for Christ as God makes entreaty through them to others. Christ, who was without sin, was made sin for their sake so that they might become the righteousness of God.

2 Corinthians Chapter 6

As ambassadors, they should not accept the undeserved kindness of God and miss its purpose because this is the acceptable time and the day of salvation. (Isaiah 49:8) They do not want to give any one a reason to stumble over the good news so as to discredit it. But they are willing to suffer many hardships in order to recommend and defend his ministry. He also wants the Corinthians to be better able to defend him to those who have been making allegations against him to them. If this congregation has any feelings of constraint in their relationship with him, it is with them not with Paul. So they need to widen out or make more room in their own affection for him.

Paul then counsels the Christian not to form any close attachments with those who are not Christians such as entering into marriage contracts with them. He had already told them that if they were already married before they became Christians, they should stay in the marriage, if possible. Here, he is talking to them about their relationships with pagans after they became Christians. They do not want to do anything that would jeopardize their relationship with Jehovah, as they are the ‘temple of God.’ They must remain clean as He has agreed to reside among them and be their God and they would be His people. (Leviticus 26:11, 12) They are to ‘separate themselves and quit touching the unclean thing.’ (Isaiah 52:11) ‘He would take them in’ and be ‘a father to them and they would be sons and daughters to Him.’ (Ezekiel 20:41; 2 Samuel 7:14)

2 Corinthians Chapter 7

They should therefore cleanse themselves of anything that would pollute the body or the spirit. This statement is related to verse 14 in chapter 6 but it is not stated exactly what they had been doing that would cause Paul to have to say this to them. He continues to encourage them to make room in their hearts for him because he knows of nothing that he has done to them that would cause them to lose their confidence in him. He has great affection for them and much freeness of speech towards them. He boasts of them always and is filled with comfort because of them.

Paul continues the account of his experiences in Macedonia, how they had met with many afflictions but was comforted when Titus arrived from Corinth with good news about them and how they had reacted to the letter he had written to them. He had, at first, regretted writing this letter that had caused them such distress but when he learned that it had saddened them so as to produced in them a change of heart, he no longer regretted sending it. Their being saddened in this godly way caused them to repent and was a good thing because it would lead to salvation. This godly sadness had enabled them to accept the discipline in humility and they showed a willingness to do God’s will. They were eager to clear themselves of blame and to right the wrong. They were indignant at the ones who had wrongly accused Paul and he was now happy about their reaction to these persons. But if they had responded in any other way, it would have brought irreparable harm to them and Paul had not wanted this to happen. This letter that Paul wrote to them had produced the desired reaction and Paul was greatly comforted over this.

2 Corinthians Chapter 8

Paul relates how the congregations in Macedonia, even during a test that they underwent and in their poverty, had been very generous in making a contribution to be sent to the Jerusalem congregation. He believes that they had gone far beyond their means in order to do this and although Paul did not encourage this they begged to be able to have this privilege. He encourages the Corinthians to imitate these Christians as they too abound in faith and knowledge they should also abound in this kind of giving. They were not at this time suffering any adverse conditions nor were they in financial straits as were their brothers in Macedonia. He was not commanding them to do this but this would be a test of their genuine love and would show whether they were willing to follow the example that Jesus left who himself lived in poverty that he might become rich in a better way.

Paul reminds them that they had the previous year determined to take up a collection to help these brothers so he simply wants them to complete what they had already begun. Their giving should reflect what they have not what they do not have. He is desirous, not of causing another burden on anyone but that there should be an equalizing. The congregations in Jerusalem were in financial need now and these Christians have at this time an abundance so they will be able to offset the deficiency of these Christians and at a later time, the Jerusalem congregation can do the same for them if the need be. He then quotes Exodus 16:18 to illustrate his point.

Paul tells them that Titus, who also had a keen interest in their welfare, is eager to visit them and he will bring with him another brother, who is not named who has been appointed by the congregations to travel with Paul and be responsible for the collections. Since this collection was expected to large, this will relieve Paul from any kind of suspicions or accusations from those in the congregation at Corinth who do not like him and would be eager to say that Paul was gaining some benefit from these monies. Paul vouches for both Titus and for the unnamed brother who would come with him as fellow worker with him and he encouraged them to show a warm welcome to both of them.

2 Corinthians Chapter 9

Paul has been boasting to the congregations in Macedonia about the readiness of the Corinthian congregation to contribute and this knowledge had stirred them up. So he was sending the two brothers ahead of him so that if he brought some from Macedonia with him and the Corinthians had not lived up to his boasts of them, he would be put to shame. He reminds them that they had promised to give bountifully and he wanted this to be given as something done willingly and not as though it had to be extorted from them. Those who give sparingly will also reap sparingly, he remind them. Each one should do has he has resolved in his heart to do, giving not with a grudging heart, but willingly as God loves the cheerful givers.

Paul assures them that God is more that able to supply them with more than they need so that they can share with others and still have enough to care for their personal needs. He quotes Psalms 112:9 in support of this statement. Because of their generous giving, much praise and thanks will be given to Jehovah not only because of their gift but because they are showing that they practice what they believe in. Others will also pray for them and will be drawn to them because they see the undeserved kindness of God upon them.

2 Corinthians Chapter 10

Paul appeals to the brothers in the mild and kind spirit of Christ that he will not have to be stern with them when he comes to them. He knows that he will have to take some action against some in the congregation who say that he is acting on his own authority. He reaffirms to them that he does not wage war according to the flesh but his battle is a spiritual one and the weapons he uses are not fleshly but are spiritual, and have been made powerful by God. They need to be able to break down every deceptive argument and lofty thing that is raised up against the knowledge of God. These things include the wisdom that this world offers and any attitude that does not allow the brothers to break free of sin that continues to hold them in bondage. Every thought must be controlled and be made obedient to the Christ. Paul is ready to inflict punishment on any who refuses to be obedient until such time as all in this congregation have proved themselves obedient, that is, when they stop associating with those who oppose his authority and they, themselves, fully recognize his apostolic authority.

The Corinthians are taking things at face value; they see only the outside. Paul tells them that he belongs to Christ as much as any other who makes such a claim. He admits that he has done a lot of boasting because of the authority that Jesus gave him to build them up but not to tear them down. But he does not believe that he has done anything to make himself feel ashamed yet he does not want to be known as the person who writes letters that terrifies them. His critics are already saying that he writes letters that are weighty and forceful but in person he is very weak and his speech is contemptible. He wants them to know that he can be just as forceful in person as he is in his letters. These persons who say such things are those who praise themselves. They set a standard that is based on their own conduct and judge themselves and others by this artificial standard.

Paul is justified in boasting of them as proof of his apostleship as he bases his boast on what he has personally accomplished. He was the first to bring the good news about Christ to them hence was not boasting in the labors that others had accomplished, as were his opponents. They were trying to take credit for work that they themselves had not accomplished but were building on another man’s work. Paul wanted to see the faith of these Christians grow so that his influence would be great among them and result in his having the confidence to take the message even further afield, into territories that were yet untouched. He would then not be rejoicing over the work that others had started. They should remember that it is not the one who recommends himself but the one that Jehovah recommends who is approved.

2 Corinthians Chapter 11

Paul is anxious over them because he has promised to present them as chaste virgins in marriage to the Christ. But he is afraid that their minds might be seduced away from the sincerity and chastity due the Christ by the same subtle means that Satan, in his cunning, used to seduce Eve. They appear to put up with those who bring them a different message than what was initially brought to them. Paul does not feel that he is inferior to those ‘superfine apostles’ who are trying to subvert their faith. He may not be a very fluent speaker but his knowledge is second to no ones. He has presented himself in a very humble manner to them not burdening them in any way in order to present the good news to them. Even when he was in need, he did not ask them for help but brothers from Macedonia came to his aid. His desire is to continue to be independent of their help so the he may continue to boast in them.

Paul wants these Christians to understand that men who are imposters are leading them astray. They want these Christians to believe that they have the same apostolic authority that Paul has but they are really from Satan. They imitate Satan in that he presents himself as an angel of light and those who are his ministers will do the same. Their reward will be in accordance to their works. Paul decides that he will act as unreasonable as his opponents are since it appears that the Corinthians respond to this type of boasting. They allow these men to take away their liberty, spend their money, exalt themselves over them and even strike them in the face. He admits that he may have been showing himself to be weak for not treating them like this.

He can brag according to the flesh just as these men are doing. He is also a Hebrew, of the seed of Abraham, and a minister of Christ, even more so that they are. His labors are more plentiful than theirs, has spent more time in prison than they, can attest to more beatings than they can, five times being beaten by the Jews thirty nine strokes, had been beaten three times with rods, stoned once, experienced shipwreck, faced death many times and has spent a night and a day in the open sea. In his travels, he has faced dangers from rivers, bandits, his own people, from the nations, dangers in the city, in the wilderness, at sea and from false brothers. He experienced sleepless nights, was often hungry and thirsty, and spent time being cold and naked. Besides these things, he is constantly anxious for the congregations for those who are weak and those who have been stumbled. Jehovah can testify that Paul is not lying in these statements. He was even hounded by the governor of Damascus but he managed to escape him.

2 Corinthians Chapter 12

Paul continues to boast in his accomplishments although he knows that it is not beneficial to do this. He speaks of a vision that he was given fourteen years previously. He saw a man who was caught away to the third heaven, whether he was in the body or not he does not know, but he knows that this man heard words that were not lawful for him to speak. This kind of man he is willing to boast about but he feels comfortable boasting only about his own personal weaknesses because he does not want any one to think too highly of him. In spite of all these revelations that he was given, Jesus did not want him to become conceited, so Paul was given a ‘thorn in the flesh’ possibly a recurring illness that he could not get relief from, even though he begged Jesus three times to help him. He was told that Christ’s undeserved kindness was sufficient for him as his power was being made perfect in weakness. He would therefore boast in respect to his weakness so that the power of Christ might remain over him. He would continue to accept insults, being in need, in persecutions and difficulties. The weaker he became, the more powerful he was.

He believes that he has been compelled to act unreasonable because the Corinthians ought to have supported him before their superfine apostles because he was in no way inferior to them. All of the evidence, the endurance, the signs, portents and powerful works had been demonstrated before them. Why must they feel inferior to the other congregations? Is it because he had not allowed them to support him financially? If so, then he would humbly ask for their forgiveness.

He was about to make his third visit to them and he would still not be a burden to them as it was them he wanted to see not their money. Children don’t save for their parents, but parents do for their children. He would prefer to do all the giving but he would not want to take anything away from them. What if they think that he used craftiness against them as he had been accused of doing? Although he sent Titus to them, they cannot state that he or any other brother took advantage of them. No one made any profit from their gifts.

In fact, Paul has been defending himself, not before them, but before God although all of the things that he did were for their spiritual edification. He is apprehensive that when he arrives, he will not find them as he wishes and they will not find him as they wish. He may find strife, jealousy, anger, contentions, backbiting and disharmony among them. Then he would become ashamed of them and be grieved over those who have sinned but have not repented

2 Corinthians Chapter 13

On his upcoming third visit to them, he will act as a speedy witness against those who refuse to repent. He seemed to be using his visits or his letters as witnesses against them. (Numbers 35:30) Many scholars believe that Paul wrote a third letter to this congregation but it was not preserved. He had already made two visits and was now about to make the third one. He intends to show them that Christ is speaking through him to them and he is not weak in any respects. It may have appeared that Christ was weak when he died on the torture stake as he did not retaliate against his enemies but he is alive now because of God’s power. Paul and others Christians share in this weakness of Christ but they too will live with Christ due to this same power of God.

They should keep testing whether they are in the faith, proving what they themselves are. If they do not recognize that Jesus Christ is in union with them, then they may somehow have become disapproved though Paul knows that he has not become so. Paul was not seeking his own vindication but he was concerned that they should do what was right relative to his counsel even if he were somehow made to be in the wrong. It was more important that the truth prevailed and that these Christians should be readjusted. His letter was designed to help them correct matters so that when he visited them he would not have to be so severe upon them. As they strive for perfection, they should continue to rejoice, to be readjusted, to be comforted, to be in agreement with each other and live peaceably together, so that the God of peace and love would be with them.

The Letter to the Galatians

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter but the date that it was written is uncertain. The name, Galatia, can refer to either an ethnic group of people or the land area that belonged to them. Their land was conquered by the Romans and incorporated into a much larger providence where other ethnic peoples lived. Paul visited the southern portion of this Roman providence during his first missionary tour when Barnabas accompanied him but there is no record of his having visited the northern part of this providence.

There was much debate at this time as to whether Gentiles who became Christians needed to keep the Mosaic Law and to become circumcised and there were many Jewish Christians who were visiting these congregations urging these Christians to do so. Paul did not agree with this and so he wrote to these Christians to convince them that Jesus’ death would have no value and they would become just another sect of Judaism if they succumbed to the teachings of these legalistic Jewish teachers.

Galatians Chapter 1

Paul begins his letter by identifying himself as an apostle appointed by Jesus and Jehovah, who raised him from the dead. Jesus had died for their sins that they might be delivered from the present wicked system of things according to the will of his father, Jehovah, who should receive the glory forever.

He writes that he is surprised at how quickly these Christians can be drawn away from God to another sort of good news, though not really another sort, but there were those who were trying to pervert the good news that had been preached to them. They were to stand firm in what they had been originally taught even if he or an angel from heaven came to them and declared something different to them. He has said this to them before and he is now repeating it, anyone who does this should be condemned.

Paul tells them that the good news that he had received was not from humans and that he was not taught it by humans but through a revelation given him by Jesus Christ. They were familiar with his having initially been a zealous Pharisee that persecuted the Christians but Jehovah, who had called him through His undeserved kindness, had revealed His son to him so that he might declare the good news about him to the nations. After this he had not meet with the apostles to get their confirmation of this commission but he had gone into Arabia for a time. Then three years later he had gone to Jerusalem and met with James, the brother of Jesus, and had spent some time with Cephas (Peter). The major part of the congregations in Judea did not know him personally, only what they had heard of his previous activities and that he was now one of them.

Galatians Chapter 2

Fourteen years later, Paul returned to Jerusalem as a result of a divine command where he explained to the leading men of the congregation the good news that he was preaching to the Gentiles. Titus was with him at that time and these men did not insist that he be circumcised although he was a Greek. The only reason that the issue came up was that certain men Paul viewed as pseudo-Christians tried to make it an issue but Paul says that he resisted their efforts to enforce such a ruling so that the good news might not be hindered for them and other Gentiles. Since these leading men had nothing new to offer to Paul concerning his ministry but recognized that Paul had been commissioned by Jehovah to take the good news to the Gentiles just as He had given Peter the commission to go to the Jews. They all were in full agreement that Paul would continue preaching to the Gentiles and they would preach to the Jews. They reminded Paul that he should not forget the poor to which he agreed that he would not.

To further illustrate his point, Paul relates an experience that he had with Peter and other Jew who had come to Antioch. Peter was freely associating with the Gentiles even eating his meals with them until certain Jews came to Antioch from Jerusalem. Peter then began withdrawing from the Gentiles and associating only with the Jews. Paul noticed that even Barnabas had begun doing the same thing. Paul then had to confront Peter in front of the others because he saw this behavior as a contradiction of the gospel that they had been preaching. He asked Peter how he could compel the Gentiles to live as the Jews do when he himself was not living as a Jew?

The Jews who were under the Law but had now put faith in Christ knew that they could not be declared righteous due to works of the Law. So if they take up the Law again it would mean that they have become transgressors of Law again. So, in effect, Paul says that he had died as respect the Law that he might come to life as respects God. He no longer lives by law but it is Christ who lives in union with him. He has been transformed and he now lives by faith that Jesus loved him and gave his life for him. He accepts this undeserved kindness of God and he knows that if righteousness were possible through keeping the law, then Jesus’ death accomplished nothing.

Galatians Chapter 3

Paul asks them if they received the spirit of God due to works of Law or by putting faith in what they had heard concerning Jesus? They can’t really believe that their spiritual lives began with their being given the spirit and would end by their going back to physical observances of the Law. Have they not learned anything from the suffering that they had gone through? Did God give them His spirit and perform powerful works among them because they were faithful to the Law or was it because of the faith they put in the word?

He reminds them that Abraham had been counted righteous by God because of his faith in Jehovah and that he would become father to those who exercised faith. In fact, Jehovah had declared that people of the nations would be declared righteous because of faith. Paul quoted Genesis 12:3 and 18:18 showing that the nations would be blessed by means of Abraham. Therefore those who show faith share the blessings of Abraham. Those who rely upon works of law are under a curse because they are under obligation to keep them all and none have been able to do so other than Christ. (Deuteronomy 27:26) A person cannot be declared righteous by keeping the law because as Habakkuk 2:4 shows ‘the righteous will live by reason of faith.’ (NWT) The Law does not require faith but works as Leviticus 18:5 reveals. Christ redeemed those with faith by becoming a curse instead of them. (Deuteronomy 21:23) The purpose for this was so that the blessings of Abraham would come to the nations through Jesus so that they might receive the spirit through their faith.

Paul gives another reason why faith is superior to works of law. The covenant promises given to Abraham were to him and to his seed, not a multitude of seeds, but to one seed, the Christ. The Law that came into being some four hundred thirty years later did not invalidate the covenant given to Abraham so that its promises would be abolished. If the inheritance depended upon the law then the promises made to Abraham would be of no effect. But God did give Abraham a promise.

What was the purpose of the Law? It was added to reveal what sin was and was meant to continue only until the coming of Abraham’s seed. The fact that a mediator was needed to act as a go-between shows that the law was not given directly, but was bilateral and humans were a part of it. But the promises given to Abraham were unilateral and humans were not a part of it, so that the Law could not be the fulfillment of the promises. The law was not meant to give life to those who lived under it because if it had been able to do so, then righteousness would have been by means of the Law. Therefore all men are at the mercy of sin so that the promise that results from faith in Jesus Christ might be given to those exercising faith.

Consequently the Law became a tutor leading those under it to Christ and they could then be declared righteous due to faith. Now that faith has arrived, there is no longer a need for a tutor. The Galatian Christians are now sons of God by reason of their faith in Christ Jesus as they have all been baptized into him. There are not any distinctions among them as they are all one person in union with Christ making them Abraham’s seed also, heirs to the promise.

Galatians Chapter 4

When the heir is a child, although he will be master over everything, he is under the charge of stewards until the time set by his father, so until then he is not different from a slave. In this same sense, they were like babes under the stewardship of the Law, the elementary things of the world. But when it was God’s set time to bring forth his son, he was born from a woman and came to be under the Law in order to release those under law by purchasing them with his own life and they could then receive the adoption as sons. As sons then, God sent His spirit into their hearts to cry out that God is their father. So they are no longer slaves but are sons therefore heirs through God.

The Galatian Christians were at one time ignorant of God and were therefore subject to the authority of gods that were not real. Now that God acknowledges them, how can they go back to the elementary things and become slaves under its authority again? They would be returning to observing days, months, seasons and years. If this is what they want, then he, Paul, had worked to no purpose respecting them. He encourages them to become as he is now as he once was like them. When he preached the good news to them which had come about as a result of an illness he was suffering from, they did not despise him but welcomed him as though he were Jesus himself. What had happened to this attitude that they had then? In those days Paul believes that there was not one thing that they would not have done for him. Has he now become their enemy because he tells them the truth? He is aware that there are men who would like to control them but not for a good purpose though he does not oppose others being interested in them but their motives should be pure. He is at this time very perplexed over them.

Those who want to be under law should be familiar with what the Law has to say. Abraham had two sons, one by Hagar, a slave girl, and one by a free woman, Sarah. The son by the slave girl was born in the normal manner, but the son of the free woman was born because of a promise made by God. This is a symbolic drama: The two women represent two covenants, Hagar represents Jerusalem of today and her children are in slavery but Sarah represents the Jerusalem above, she is free and she is the mother of the Christians. This was in fulfillment of Isaiah 54:1. Paul explains to them that they are children of the promise just as Isaac was. Just as the son of the slave girl began persecuting the son of the free woman, the same is true at this time. Therefore the slave girl and her child were driven from Abraham’s home because this child was not going to be an heir of Abraham. (Genesis 21:9-13) They are children, not of a servant girl, but of the free woman, unless they still prefer to be under the Law.

Galatians Chapter 5

They should remain steadfast in the freedom they have been given and not allow themselves to be confined again in a yoke. If they become circumcised, they would lose Christ, because they would now be under obligation to observe the whole law. They would have no part in Christ if they try to be justified by means of the Law. The Christians under the spirit are waiting for the righteousness that is a result of faith, faith operating through love. These Christians were doing well until someone persuaded them differently. Paul is confident that they will come to see his point of view and those who are advocating a different view will face their judgment.

Although they have freedom, they should not use this freedom to become self-indulgent but through love should slave for one another. The entire Law is fulfilled in the saying that ‘one should love his neighbor as himself.’ If they do not apply this principle, they could end up destroying their fellowship. If they walk by spirit and are led by spirit, they will carry out no fleshly desires nor could they be under the Law. Paul now gives a list of the activities that are indicative of carrying out the desires of the flesh. They will not inherit the kingdom if they are not careful to avoid them. There is no law against exhibiting the fruits of the spirit which are love, joy, peace, long-suffering, kindness, goodness, faith, mildness and self-control. Those who belong to Christ Jesus no longer carry out fleshly desires as they strive to be led by spirit.

Galatians Chapter 6

Paul advised those in the congregations who have the spiritual qualifications that they should help a person who falls into sins by striving to readjust or set him straight in the spirit of mildness, always keeping an eye on themselves that they might not fall. Each should be willing to bear the burdens of the other in keeping with the law of love. They would strive to be sympathetic towards their brothers when they have problems. Thinking more of oneself or even not thinking enough of oneself could hinder a Christian from being sympathetic. Paul advises that each person properly assess the value of his work relative to how God sees him rather than how men see him. Each one has his own work to do and he should carry it out to the best of his ability. Then he will have something to be proud of.

Those who are teachers of the word to others should be helped in a material way by the ones being taught. A person will reap only what he has sown; those who put emphasis on fleshly things will reap what the flesh offers, things that will pass away. Those who put the emphasis on spiritual matters will gain life. Therefore Paul counsels that a Christian should never give up on doing what is right because he will eventually reap what is good. They should especially do good to their brothers but should also include doing good to others.

He reminds the Galatians that the ones who want them to get circumcised are doing it so that they will not face persecution from the Jews. They really don’t strive to keep the Law but they want to boast that they have made some converts to the Law from among the Gentiles who became Christians. Paul wants no part in this kind of boasting as he will boast only in the torture stake of Christ. He knows that circumcision is nothing nor is uncircumcision anything, but the fact that they are a new creation is something. To all that will live by this principle, the true Israel of God, may they experience peace and mercy.

The Letter to the Ephesians

The Apostle Paul wrote this letter while he was in prison in Rome. It was written not only for the congregations in Ephesus but was to be circulated to all the congregations in Asia. In this letter he did not address any particular heretical issue but is writing to help them to better understand the depth of God’s eternal purpose and undeserved kindness so that their appreciation for the high goals set for them would grow.

Ephesians Chapter 1

Paul opens this letter by giving praise to Jehovah and to the Lord, Jesus Christ, for giving them through Christ all spiritual blessings of heaven. Before the world was founded he chose them that they should be holy and blameless before Him and foreordained that they should be adopted as sons of His through Christ according to His will and glorious undeserved kindness. It is by means of Him that they have the forgiveness of their sins through the blood of Christ. He has made known to them this sacred secret that He has purposed to set up an administration at the full limit of the appointed time when He will gather all things together in Christ, those things in heaven and those on the earth.

They are heirs in union with Christ that they should serve for the praise of Him, who works out all of His purposes according to His will, as they (the Jews) were the first to hope in Christ. These Gentile Christians also put their hope in Christ when they heard the good news of salvation and were sealed with the promised holy spirit, which is a token or a down payment given them in advance as an assurance that God will do as He promised.

Paul always gives thanks to Jehovah for the strong faith of these Christians and keeps them in his prayers that God may give them a spirit of wisdom and insight so that their accurate knowledge of Him would increase. He also prays that God will enlighten the ‘eyes of their hearts,’ that is, their inner awareness, so that they will understand the hope to which they have been called and the surpassing greatness of His power towards all who believe. This power is evidenced when he raised Jesus from the dead and seated him at His right hand far above all government, authority, lordship and every name; subjecting everything under his feet and making him head over all things to the congregation, which is his body.

Ephesians Chapter 2

God made them alive though they were still spiritually dead in the sins committed while walking according to the standards of this system of things and its ruler, Satan, who operates in the sons of disobedience. But God through His great love made them alive together with the Christ and seated them in heavenly places in union with Christ. He did this so that He might demonstrate the unsurpassing riches of his undeserved kindness towards them in the coming system of things. It is by the undeserved kindness of God through their faith that they were saved and it was a gift from God. It was not due to their works so that they would be able to take the credit for their salvation. They are His work and were created by Him to be in union with the Christ to do the good works that He had prepared in advance for them to do.

They should always remember that they were once people of the nations as to the flesh and were without Christ, alienated from Israel and the covenant promises, hopeless and without God. But now they are in union with Christ by means of his blood. Christ was the means by which God brought peace between the two peoples by removing the wall that separated them, that is, the Law of commandments, so that both peoples would be one new man. He made it possible that they would be reconciled in one body to Him through the torture stake. Through Jesus’ death, the enmity between the Gentiles and the Jews was destroyed. This good news of peace was declared to the Gentiles both near and far that through the Christ both peoples would have an approach to the Father by means of one spirit.

The Gentiles are now no longer strangers and alien resident but have full citizenship among the holy ones and are members of God’s household and now have become a building that is standing upon the foundation made up of apostles and prophets, the foundation cornerstone of this building being Christ Jesus. In union with him, they are being made into a temple that Jehovah will inhabit by spirit.

Ephesians Chapter 3

This is the reason that he has become a prisoner of Christ on behalf of the Gentiles. They were aware that God had entrusted him with this ministry to them and how God by means of a revelation revealed this sacred secret that he previously spoke of. (1:9; 2:16) This sacred secret had been hidden from previous generations but now has been revealed to the apostles and prophets that God purposed that people of the nations should be joint heirs and partaker in the promise with the Jews. This is what he became a minister of according the free gift of the undeserved kindness of God.

Paul considered himself to have been the last one that would have been shown such undeserved kindness and be allowed to take this good news about Christ to the nations and help them understand how this sacred secret would be administered. It was His intent that through the congregations His diversified wisdom would be made known even to the angelic hosts. This was in accord with His eternal purpose centered in Jesus Christ through whom they now have the freeness of speech and the confidence to approach God because of their faith. Therefore they have every reason to continue steadfast in their faith and feel honored that he is suffering on their behalf.

As he contemplates the carrying out of this purpose of God, he kneels and gives thank to Him to whom all families owe their name, and asks that He would strengthen their inner being with power through His spirit to have the Christ dwell, through their faith, in their hearts in love. Then they will be able to mentally grasp the breadth and length, height and depth of the love of Christ, which surpasses knowledge and that they would have all the fullness that God gives. To Him who is able to do more than they could ask or imagine, be the glory in the congregations and in Christ, forever. Amen! Paul concludes his prayer in their behalf.

Ephesians Chapter 4

Paul entreats these Christians to walk worthily of their calling with complete humility, gentleness and patience, putting up with one another in love and striving to keep the unity of the spirit in peace. There is one body, one spirit, one hope, one Lord, one faith, one baptism, and one God and Father who is over all, through all and in all.

Undeserved kindness has been given to each of them in accordance to how Christ allotted this free gift. It is written that “when he ascended on high he carried away captives; he gave gifts in men.” (Psalms 68:18) He gave some as apostles, some as prophets, some as evangelizers, some as shepherds and teachers with the view of preparing his people for their ministry and for building up the body of Christ until they all reach unity in the faith and in accurate knowledge of the Christ. The aim being that they will reach the full maturity that belong to the Christ so that they will not be babes who are at the mercy of those who promote crafty teachings designed to lead them astray. No, but speaking truth, they will grow in all ways into Christ, their head, by whom the whole body, joined and held together and made to cooperate by means of supporting ligaments, grows and builds itself up in love as each member does his part.

They then should no longer walk as the nations do in their aimless life being in mental darkness due to being alienated from God because they chose to close their hearts to Him. With a dulled sense of morality, they abandon themselves to loose conduct, working out all that is unclean along with greediness. But this is not what they have been taught by Christ to do. Learning the truth, they should put away the old personality which is corrupted by deceitful desires and put on the new personality that is created according to God’s will in true righteousness and holiness.

Now that they have put aside falsehoods, they should speak truth to each other, as they are all members belonging to one another. Do not allow anger to degenerate into bitterness, nor allow it to simmer overnight. In this way one would not give the Devil any room to maneuver. Those who once stole for a living will need to stop doing this and began doing hard work with his hands so that he can also do good works in that he will have something to help others with. Only those sayings that are upbuilding should proceed from the Christian’s mouth. They should also strive not to do anything that would grieve God’s holy spirit with which they have been sealed. No bitterness, anger, slander, or wrathful speech should be heard among them but they should be kind towards each other, tenderly compassionate, and be willing to forgive one another as God has free forgiven them through Christ.

Ephesians Chapter 5

These Christians are encouraged to imitate God in the manner that a child would imitate his father and want to be just like him. They should walk in love following the example left by Christ who made the supreme sacrifice for those he loved. (John 15:13) They are holy people and their pattern of life should reflect this, as they are aware that no fornicator, or unclean person or greedy person will gain an inheritance in the kingdom of God and Christ. It is because of just such persons that the wrath of God is coming. So as children of light their fruitage should consist of every sort of goodness, righteousness and truth. They should keep making sure of what is acceptable to the Lord. They would have no sharing in the works that belong to darkness but they should be reproving those who practice these shameful deeds.

Christians would keep careful watch on how they live their lives using every opportunity to the best advantage because of the evilness of the days. They should relinquish every sign of unreasonableness and cease getting drunk with wine, which leads to debauchery. They should keep the will of God before them at all times and strive to be filled with spirit, speaking to each other with psalms and praises to God, singing and accompanying themselves with music in their hearts, always giving thanks to God through Christ Jesus.

Wives should be in subjection to their husbands because he is her head as Christ is head of the congregation. Husbands are to continue loving their wives just as Christ loved the congregation giving his life for them so that he might make them holy. He cleansed them with water that is the word so that when he took her to himself, she would be in glorious splendor with no spots or wrinkles but would be without blemish. Husbands should likewise love their wives as they love their own bodies. Since a man will not mistreat his own body, he would not mistreat his wife. Genesis 2:24 even makes the point that the man and woman are no longer two but are one flesh just as Paul has described the relationship between the congregation and Christ.

The NIV Bible Commentary, page 778, has this to say about the word ‘love:’ “The word that sums up the role of the wife is ‘submit’ (vv. 22, 24); the word that does the same for the husband is ‘love’ (GK 26) This is the highest and distinctively Christian word for loving. As over against words for ‘sexual passion; and ‘family affection,’ Paul chooses a verb that insists that the love of a Christian man for his wife must be a response to and an expression of the love of God in Christ extended to the church.” And of course, we know this word to be ‘agape.’

Ephesians Chapter 6

Additional concerning family matters, Paul advises children to be obedient to their parents who are in union with the Lord as this is the righteous way. Obedience to parents is part of the divine law. The fifth commandment directed that children should honor their parents. (Exodus 20:12) To honor one’s parents includes more than simple obedience, it also involves respect and esteem. Paul tells us that this commandment is the first one with the promise of a good and long life. Father are told not to make it difficult for their children to obey by making unreasonable demands of them or over correcting them causing them lose heart.

Slaves who are Christians must be obedient to their masters not just for the sake of pleasing them but with fear and trembling, as slaves of Christ doing the will of God whole-souled. Whatever good he does towards his master he will receive back from Jehovah. Masters who are Christians should treat their slaves as they would expect their slaves to treat them and would not continue threatening them recognizing that they both have the same master to answer to.

Christians are to put on a suit of armor from God that will enable them to remain standing in the fight that they are engaged in with the Devil. Paul describes their enemy as wicked spirits in heavenly places not those of flesh and blood. So they need to be clothed with the complete suit of armor, which includes: a covering for the loins, which is truth; the breastplate that is righteousness; their feet shod with the good news; the large shield of faith designed to stop the burning missiles shot at them by Satan; the helmet of salvation; and the sword of the spirit, which is God’s word.

In addition, they should carry on prayer and supplication on every occasion in spirit asking for what they need. As they remain awake, they should persevere in prayer for the holy ones including Paul so the he will be able to continue to make known the sacred secret of the good news with all boldness. Paul is sending Tychicus to them so that they will know how he is doing and to reassure them. He concludes with the desire that the brothers will have peace and love with faith from Jehovah and Jesus Christ.

The Letter to the Philippians

Paul wrote this letter during his first imprisonment at Rome during the years of 59-61 AD. The congregation at Philippi had sent him a gift by Epaphroditus who was to take care of any personal needs that Paul had. While in Rome, Epaphroditus became gravely ill and the Philippians heard about it. This greatly distressed him and after his recovery, Paul sent him back home and requested that the brothers receive him with joy and that it was on account of the Lord’s work that he had nearly died. This letter is one of the more personal ones that Paul wrote as he did not include any rebuke to the congregation because of any problems they may have had.

Philippians Chapter 1

This letter begins with greeting from both Paul and Timothy. Timothy is included probably because he is well known to this congregation and was with Paul in Rome at the time of its writing. Paul writes of his gratitude because these Christians are continuing to grow spiritually and are having a share in spreading the good news. He is confident God will help them right up to the day of the Lord. They are close to Paul’s heart not only because of their being sharers with him in his prison bonds but also in his work of defending and establishing the good news. He continues praying that their love may grow with increased accurate knowledge and a deeper perception so that they will always know the best way to act so that they will be flawless and without blame right up to the day of Christ.

Paul wants them to know that his being in prison had been a cause for the good new to spread rather than it being hindered. The reasons for his imprisonment have become widely known among the Praetorian Guard because of his preaching and the brothers are showing more courage to speak the word of God more fearlessly. The NIV Bible Commentary, page 792, has this to say about these soldiers: “During the first century, prisoners sent to Rome in cases of appeal were entrusted to the care of praetorian guards. As these guards were assigned in succession to Paul, it soon became clear to them that he was no ordinary captive.”

Not everyone had the proper motives for preaching the good news. Paul mentions some doing so for selfish motives. They were probably trying to promote themselves among the brothers at Paul’s expense. It seems that they were resentful that he was in Rome even though he was in chains. There was obviously nothing wrong with what they were preaching but their motivation for doing so was what he had in mind. There were others, however, who were preaching the Christ out of love and recognized that Paul was in prison because of his defense of the good news. No matter what the reasons, Paul was glad that the good news of salvation was being disseminated and that was the only important thing.

He was confident that through their prayers and Jesus strengthening him, he would continue to be able, with freeness of speech, to magnify Christ and this whether he lived or died. As long as he lived, Christ was first in his life as he was the reason for all that Paul did, but if he died he would have more of Christ as he would be in his presence. He would find it difficult if he had to make a choice between living and dying. Of course, he believed that being with Christ would bring him relief from all of his sufferings but as long as he lived on earth he felt that he would always have much to do especially in continuing to help the brother grow spiritually. He then told them that he would more than likely continue with them and would be able to help them progress in the faith.

He encourages them to always live their everyday lives in a way that would speak well of the good news so that whether he saw them in person or not, he would learn that they were standing firm in one spirit, striving side by side for the sake of the good news and were not allowing any opposers to hinder them. These opposers will lose their fight and this will be a sign from God that they have been granted the privilege of not only putting their faith in Christ, but also to suffer in his behalf just as he, Paul, was now doing.

Philippians Chapter 2

If these Christians have had any encouragement or consolation, sharing of spirit, any tender affection and compassion from their union with Christ, then they should be united in thought and love. They would have no rivalry or selfishness among them but each one would seek the advantage of the other, not giving any thought to his own personal advantage, but considering the other person as superior to him. This was the mental attitude the Jesus had. Although he lived in heaven as a spirit person alongside God, he never gave any thought to being equal to God. No but he agreed, in obedience to his heavenly Father, to give up his lofty position and came to be in the likeness of men, which for him was literally a slave’s position. As a man he continued to humble himself even to the point of dying on a torture stake. Therefore God has exalted him and gave him a name that is above every other name that everyone should acknowledge that he is Lord to the glory of God the Father.

They are to continue to be obedient and keep working out their own salvation with fear and trembling. They should do all things in a manner free from murmuring and arguments acting as children of God who are without blemish in this crooked and twisted generation among whom they are shining as illuminators. They should always keep a tight grip on the word of life assuring Paul that he had not run in vain and that his hard work had not been done for nothing. He is planning to send Timothy to them so that he can be cheered by the news of how well they are doing. He has all the confidence in Timothy because he has proved himself to be an unselfish worker alongside him. He is also sending Epaphroditus who has expended himself in caring for Paul’s needs and who was very concerned about their response to the news that he had been very ill. They are to welcome him with open arms because it was on account of the work of the Lord that he had come quite near to dying.

Philippians Chapter 3

Paul warns the Philippians to watch out for those who advocate circumcision. Those who have the real circumcision are those who are rendering sacred service by God’s spirit and who boast in Jesus Christ and not in the flesh. Paul says that he can boast in the flesh as well as any of his opponents can. He was circumcised on the eighth day, is of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born from Hebrew parents, a Pharisee in respect to the Law, a zealous persecutor of the Christians and was blameless in respect to keeping the Law. He considers all of these things as refuse in comparison to his calling by Christ. His goal is to be found in union with Christ and is not concerned with the righteous that results from the Law but the righteousness that issues from God on the basis of faith. His only desire is to come to know Christ; to share in Christ’s suffering even submitting to a death like his, in order that he may attain to the earlier resurrection.

This is not something that he has already attained but he is still pursuing it so that he can lay hold of it. In trying to lay hold of this prize, he has left all things behind and is keeping his eyes straight ahead, as one who is running in a race would do, so as to reach his goal of the upward call of God. All who are mature should also have this same mental attitude in them, if not, then they can petition God who will reveal it to them. But for now, their conduct should be consistent with the spiritual understanding they now have.

They should continue imitating Paul and those who are already follow the example that he left. Many have strayed from the faith and have made themselves enemies of the torture stake of Christ. They have chosen to pursue earthly things and these will lead to their destruction. But true Christians are reminded that their citizenship is in heaven and they are eagerly awaiting their savior who will give them a body that conforms to his using the same power that he has to subject all things to himself.

Philippians Chapter 4

Paul urges these brothers to stand firm in the things that he has written to them about. He exhorts two sisters in Christ to solve their differences and he asks the others in the congregation to keep assisting them, as they have been faithful workers alongside him when he was fighting for the good news. Clement and others are mentioned also and their names are written in the book of life. All should rejoice in the Lord and find their joy in him at all times. Be known as reasonable people as the Lord is near. They should not be anxious over anything but should take their petitions to Jehovah and His peace that excels all thought will guard their hearts and their mental powers by means of Christ Jesus.

They should continue thinking and doing what is morally and spiritually excellent and he lists a number of these things. They are to put in practice the things that they have learned from him, the things they heard from him as well as what they saw him do and if they do this the peace of God will be with them.

Paul writes that he is very appreciative of the interest that they showed in his welfare. He does not intend to intimate that they had forgotten him but this is the first opportunity that they have had to show their concern. He was not seeking anything from anyone because he has learned how to deal with any circumstance that he may find himself in. But he is grateful that they were willing to share in his difficulties as they have also done in the past. The size of the gift is of no matter but the fact that this gift will be credited to their account. Their generosity is like a lovely fragrance, a sacrifice that pleases the very heart of God. In return, God will supply all that they need through Jesus Christ in a manner that only God can do.

***©2006 by YORWW Congregation

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Bible Commentary - 2 Corinthians 5 thru Colossians 4

#2 Post by bejay » Sat Feb 18, 2006 9:20 pm

The Letter to the Colossians

The general consensus is that Paul wrote the letter to the Colossian congregation while he was imprisoned in Rome in 62 AD. It may have been written in the same general time frame, as were the letters to the Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon. This letter was written to refute false teachings that were being propagated in the congregation.

Colossians Chapter 1

As with the letter to the Philippians, this letter begins with greetings from Paul and Timothy. Paul writes that he is constantly thankful to God in prayer for them because he has heard of their faith in Christ and the love that they have for all the holy ones. They have firmly grasped hold of the hope of attaining their reward that has been reserved for them in heaven which was presented to them when they accepted the truth of the good news. This good news that had been presented to them is now spreading all over the world and wherever it goes it produces and develops the Christian character as it has done in them. They learned these things from Epaphras, a beloved fellow slave of those who were ministers of Christ. He had also informed Paul of the progress of this congregation and therefore Paul continually kept them in his prayers.

His prayer is that they will be filled with accurate knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and discernment in order that they may live their lives in a manner that brings honor to Jehovah, striving to please Him as they go on bearing fruit in all that they do. May Jehovah strengthen them in the might of His power so that they will be able to endure with patience and joy, always giving thanks to Him that He qualified them to have a share in the inheritance with the holy ones.

Jehovah rescued them from the authority of darkness and transferred them into the kingdom of His beloved son, the one whose gave his life so that they could be forgiven their sins. He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. By means of him all things in heaven and earth were created as they were all created through him and for him. He is the head of the congregation, the firstborn from the dead that he might become the one who is first in all things. Jehovah saw fit to have His fullness dwell in him that through him He would reconcile to Himself a people by making peace through Christ's shed blood on the torture stake.

They were once strangers and enemies to God because their minds were focused on that which is wicked but they have been reconciled to Him by means of Christ’s death. If they continue steadfast in the faith, they can remain holy and unblemished before him, not allowing themselves to be turned aside from this good news that has been preached to all creation. Paul rejoices in the knowledge that his sufferings have been for the benefit of all that are the body of Christ. He has been given a special commission to declare the sacred secret that has been hidden for so long but which has now been made known to all the holy ones concerning His purposes to bring the Gentiles into union with Christ. He was indeed exerting himself by means of the power operating in him towards this end.

Colossians Chapter 2

Paul wants all the member of the congregations who have never seen him, to know how he is struggling on their behalf so that they may all be united in love and understand completely the full riches of this sacred secret, which is Christ, in whom is hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This understanding is imperative if they are not to be deceived by those who come to them with hollow and deceptive arguments. Paul may not be with them in body but certainly he is with them in spirit and he rejoices that they are remaining firm in their faith in Christ. They need to remain in union with Christ, being rooted in him, being continually built up in him, being stabilized in the faith as they were taught and being full of thanksgiving.

But they must keep on the watch as there is always someone who wants to entrap them through hollow and deceptive philosophies, according to the traditions of men and the elementary things of the world and not according to Christ. Because of the union in Christ that they enjoy, they have a circumcision that is not of the flesh but one that belongs to Christ. This union is accomplished by their stripping the flesh from the body because they were buried with him in his baptism and raised from the dead with him through their faith in God. God forgave them their trespasses and removed the written code with its decrees that was against them by nailing it to the stake.

Knowing this, they should not allow any man to use things such as what they eat or drink, whether they observe festivals, new moons or the Sabbath as a measuring rod of whether they were true Christians because these things were only a foreshadow of the reality that belongs to Christ. They would be wary of those who themselves practice false humility and the worship angels, who go into great detail about some vision he has seen thus allowing his fleshly frame of mind to cause him to become puffed up. This individual is not recognizing the head of the body, Christ, on whom the body depends for its spiritual growth. Since they died together with Christ towards the elementary things of the world, why would they allow themselves to be caught up with things that do not last but are destroyed through use such as with food and drink. These acetic rules such as ‘do not handle, taste or touch’ appear to be reasonable and wise but they are from humans and they do nothing to help in restraining sensual indulgences.

Colossians Chapter 3

Those who have been raised up with Christ should expend their time and energy on keeping their minds fixed on the things above and not on earthly things if they want to receive the glory that could be theirs when Christ is made manifest. They should deaden their body members as respects fornication, sexual appetite, hurtful desire and covetousness, which is idolatry. Those practicing such things will bring God’s wrath upon them. Although they once practiced such things they must now put them away from themselves, things such as wrath, anger, abusive speech, obscene talk, and lying to one another. They should have stripped off the old personality with its practices and put on the new personality, which is being made new through accurate knowledge.

In harmony with this new personality, they would clothe themselves with tender affections of compassion, kindness and long-suffering. They should put up with one another if there are problems and freely forgive each other as Jehovah has freely forgiven them. More importantly, they would clothe themselves with love, as it is the perfect bond of union. The peace of Christ should pervade their hearts, they should teach and admonish one another with psalms and praises to Jehovah and whatever they do should be done in the name of Jesus, thanking Jehovah through him.

He now gives admonition to wives, husbands, children, slaves, and masters. These admonitions can be found in the letter Paul wrote to the Ephesians, chapters 5 and 6. They are to remember foremost that they are to do all things whole-souled as to Jehovah and not to men because it is from Him that they will receive their reward.

Colossians Chapter 4

Paul stresses the importance of prayer telling these Christians to persevere in it with all thanksgiving. He asks that they include him, along with those with him, in their prayers that God would open a door whereby they could speak concerning the sacred secret of Christ, the message that he is imprisoned for. They should be tactful towards those who are not Christians and make sure they make the best use of the time they have with them. Their speech should gracious, seasoned with salt, so that they would know how to give an appropriate answer to each person’s question.

Paul had sent this letter to these Christians by means of Tychicus and Onesimus who would apprise them of how his situation was going. Greetings are included from various individuals and Paul instructs them to send this letter to the congregation in Laodicea for them to read and they are to read the letter he wrote to the Laodicean. He sends word to Archippus to be sure to keep his attention focused on the ministry that he has been given from Jesus. He ends by telling them not to forget his imprisonment.

***©2006 by YORWW Congregation

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