Colossians, The Original
COLOSSIANS, THE ORIGINAL
Much of the theology we attribute to Paul and the other New Testament writers didn’t actually exist when they wrote their letters. We’ve read more into them than the original readers ever could have. I expect it’s the Holy Spirit growing the understanding of Jesus. But, before they were scripture – dissected by doctorates, revered by reverends, and exposited by evangelists – most of the New Testament writings were just letters from spiritual leaders to plain folk who needed guidance. So it was with the Colossian letter.
The original problem in Colossae was that the new believers needed help responding to their Jewish and pagan families, friends, and neighbors. They pressured the new believers to fit Jesus into either the Jewish religion (a pretty compelling argument, based on the ink, angst, and effort that went into dispelling it) or the pagan superstitions involving deities, “angels”, powers, and authorities.
Paul’s response was that Jesus was above those religions, not subordinate to them.
In my own unauthorized paraphrase, Paul says, beginning in Col 2:6…
Focus on Jesus. You started your faith in him; now continue to grow in him.
Yeah, there are other religious ideas ready to distract you. Blow them off.
God, known to the pagans as the big-D Deity, filled up Jesus, and Jesus fills you up, so you have the big-D Deity in you. Jesus and you are over the pagans’ powers and authorities. The Jews tell you to be circumcised and be good Jews following “rabbi” Jesus. But Jesus already circumcised you by removing your sinful nature, not just a foreskin. You are even resurrected dead men, raised with Jesus through your faith in the power of God.
God forgave your sins, nailing the Law of Moses to the cross. He also spanked the pagan powers and authorities with that same cross.
So, don’t let those people push you around. Even their holidays and traditions are just the shadows that Jesus casts. Let the Jews and pagans go on and on about their experiences and beliefs. They’re like a chicken with its head cut off – no clue where it’s going, but running as fast as it can.
You died and were brought back to life. Do you think Lazarus worried about death after Jesus raised him back to life? No! He was dangerous because he had gone where no man had gone before and religious people couldn’t intimidate him anymore. He knew what was important and what was just religious hot air.
Only Jesus is important. Open a window and let out the hot air.