Tag Archives: Epistles

Letter to the Colossians

The letter to the Colossians is a short book, only four chapters, but ties together not just the thoughts of the Paul of Tarsus and John the Evangelist, but of the Hebrew religion with later Christian developments like the Nicene Creed.

Because though he was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born ofthe Virgin Mary, and suffered under Pontius Pilate, He died for the cenutrians as much as the women at the well.

centurian cross 1016longinius

Pau’s letter to the Colossians concerns the the LORD, the Human God, the incarnation and person of the Deity with arms and legs, with saliva and blood.

Christ is the Co-Creator with God

The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Colossians 1:15-17

Being the LORD, Christ is not worshiped because of the Law — the Law is “the law” because it comes from Christ. He is the Sovereign LORD who dictated the Law’s terms. The Law is a shadow of the LORD, Jesus Christ is the LORD Himself

Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.
Colossians 2:16-17

This is important. The text is a messenger. An Angel is a Messenger. A Prophet is a messenger. All have their place and all have their honor. But worship is for God, not his creations.

Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow.

Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings.
Colossians 2:18-23

We worship Christ Himself, not His angels and not His prophets. And while distance forces a bodily seperation from each other, while the tyranny of distance gives us only spiritual proximity to each other:

I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
Colossians 2:2-5

Christ is physically with us.

If you are near anyone, you are near Christ

Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
Colossians 3:11

In any relationship, Christ is one of the related. He is loved when the other is loved. He is hatd when the other is hated. He is honored when the other is honored. He is enslaved when the other is enslaved. This is the easiest part of Christianity to say, and the hardest to live

Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.

Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.

Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.

Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.

Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.

Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
colossians 3:18-4:1

In each murder He is in the murdered.

And in the murderer.

centurion-at-cross

He is in he who is nailed to the cross.

And in he who holds the hammer and drives the nail.

When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross.
Colossians 2:13-14

The Human God is nailed to a cross. God, in the human, in the one who nails to the cross.

bull in field

The Canaanites, who seem to have been visited by the Holy Spirit and knew so much, but through shadows, calle God “The Bull El.” The strength, the fury, the testicles must have impressed upon the Canaanites the sense of the Ruler of the World, but so must have been a Bull’s fearsome protection.

He has given offerings for the gods to eat
Obligations that the sons of Qudsu might drink!
Will you not bless him, O Bull El, my father,
Strengthen him, O Creator of created things?
Let there be a son in his house,
A scion in the midst of his palace
CTA 17.I.17-27

Garinpettingbull

The way one feeds God, of course, is to give the poor food (Matthew 25:42). And this prayer, for the virtuous man Danel, is incorporated by reference by the Holy Spirit, who spoke through the Prophet Ezekial, who reminded us that before there were Hebrews, God was still active in the world. (And how could He not be, when He is the firstborn of all creation?)

The word of the LORD came to me: “Son of man, if a country sins against me by being unfaithful and I stretch out my hand against it to cut off its food supply and send famine upon it and kill its people and their animals, even if these three men—Noah, Danel and Job—were in it, they could save only themselves by their righteousness, declares the Sovereign LORD
Ezekial 14:12-14

No wonder the Hebrew Bible also describes God as a bull

God who brings him out of Egypt,
is like the horns of a wild ox for him;
he shall devour the nations that are his foes
and break their bones.
He shall strike with his arrows.
Numbers 24:8

No wonder the Bull demanded a sacrifice of a Bull. Because God Himself would be there — the priest, the victim, the altar, and even in the murderer – when God himself was sacrificed.

“Bring the bull to the front of the tent of meeting, and Aaron and his sons shall lay their hands on its head. Slaughter it in the Lord’s presence at the entrance to the tent of meeting. Take some of the bull’s blood and put it on the horns of the altar with your finger, and pour out the rest of it at the base of the altar. Then take all the fat on the internal organs, the long lobe of the liver, and both kidneys with the fat on them, and burn them on the altar. But burn the bull’s flesh and its hide and its intestines outside the camp. It is a sin offering
Exodus 29:10-14

The bull. The sin offering. The slaughter. The blood.

bull fighting blood mouth s32_19640973

God, let the blood be on these people, and their children. It will wash away the sins of the world.

All of creation has fallen. But He is greater than it all, the source of it all, the Redeemer of it all.

He is the LORD

A God with internal organs, liver, kidney, and fat, with flesh and intestines.

A God in those who are burned. A God in those excluded.

Behold Him born in a manger! Behold the Image of the Invisible God! Behold the Firstborn of All Creation!

hereford bull calf

Letter to the Romans

Paul’s Letter to the Romans is a wisdom book, similar to Proverbs, Job, and Ecclesiastes. Like those books it does not introduce new doctrine, new stories, or even deep grounding in an environment. Rather, it is a guide for how to think about what has already been written.

cole_st_paul, Wed Mar 26, 2008,  5:11:42 PM,  8C, 5378x6746,  (380+569), 100%, bent 6 stops,  1/60 s, R86.6, G51.8, B74.4

We know about Paul from his friend Luke, author of the Gospel of Luke (the story of Jesus and Peter) and Acts of the Apostles (the story of Peter and Paul). We know from Luke that Paul was a Pharisee — at trial he famously said “.” We know from Luke that Paul began as a villain (assisting in — if not leading — the martyrdom of Stephen) and that Paul’s basic character is a man searching for God — his first recorded words are “Who are you, Lord?”

  • It is in this context that we read “Scripture says, No one who believes in him will be put to shame. The same Lord is Lord of all and he bestows riches upon everyone who calls upon him, for whoever calls upon the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:11-13)
  • It is in this context that we read, “For your sake we’re being put to death all day long and we’re regarded as sheep for the slaughter.” (Psalms 44:22, quoted in Romans 8:36)
  • It is in this context that we read “It is hardly likely that someone would die even for a righteous man, although someone might have the courage to die for a good man” (Romans 5:7)

How many men in the Bible would know this first hand? That cowardice would keep them from dying for the righteous, but a few might die for the good?

the-martyrdom-of-st-stephen

The general focus of The Letter to the Romans is to explain the revolution in the Torah brought by Jesus. The Gospel of Matthew, written as a capstone to the Hebrew Bible, presented the LORD as simultaneously Legislator, Prophet, and King. But the implications of this are more apparently in the Gospel of Luke, and now in Paul’s own letter: it is the LORD that is the proper focus, and not his offices of Legislator, King, Prophet. Non-Jews, who were not under the Torah, not ruled by David’s House, and not spoken to by the prophets, are saved by Jesus as much as Jews are. Indeed, of God of Israel is fundamentally a human God of a human man, not only (but no less) a Jewish God for Jewish men.

abraham_and_lazarus

Paul’s argument elevates Genesis, not just a prologue for Moses, but fundamentally preceding the Hebrew Law. And Father Abraham, not just a prefiguring of Moses, but fundamentally preceding Moses

We say, Abraham’s faith was credited to him as righteousness, but when was it credited to him? Before he was circumcised, or after he was circumcised? It was before he was circumcised, not after…

For the promise to Abraham and his descendants that they would inherit the world was not based on Abraham’s observance of the Torah but on the fact that he had been restored to fellowship with God through faith.
Romans 4:9-10

Israel was a man before his children became a nation.

Aside from Love, the law is an x-ray machine. It can identify weakness. But the Law was just method of doing so.  Even in Psalms did learn

No one is righteous, not even one,
no one understands, not one seeks God.
Psalms 14, quoted in Romans 3

The Letter to the Romans is essential to Christianity. The purpose and function of religious teaching is explained, prioritization is made, and an ocean of words and experiences made sensible.

You shall not take vengeance or bear a grudge against any of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am the LORD.
Leviticus 19:18

You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Deuteronomy 6:5

He said to him, “‘You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ This is the greatest and first commandment. And a second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ On these two commandments hang all the law and the prophets.”
Matthew 22:37-40

Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
Matthew 12:29-31

He answered, “You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself.”
Luke 10:27

If you love me, keep my commands.
John 14:15

For you shall not commit adultery, you shall not murder, you shall not covet and any other commandment can be summed up in one sentence — You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Romans 13:9