August 19

Philippians 4 – Colossians 4

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Commentary by Dr. Drake Travis

Jesus, we marvel at the effect you have as your Spirit is moving among us like it has since Pentecost. Thank you for working through Paul and then through his students and eventually in us. We are touched and transformed by you indeed.  Amen.

Phil.4 – The two names that sound like technical terms are prominent women who are major players in the church in Philippi but they had power issues and neither of them knew well enough to drop it. Paul urges them to put it to rest and to remain gracious for the sake of the church’s good testimony that would be jeopardized if they didn’t. It would also start to run people off.    Come what may, Paul is so joyful, he is ready to burst from his assurance of the love of God. [Remember he is writing this while chained to a wall in a Roman prison.]  Paul wants the Philippians to be calm, prayerful, and mindful of all things good.  Paul asserts to them that there is power embodied in their contentment.  His explanation of the giving that brings such change to the world is immense in its implications. The incalculable amount of good that the “giving” Church has done over the centuries is truly mind boggling.  His final greetings come also from those living within Caesar’s palace who were now Believers! Culturally, we could say that the gospel had reached “the top” and it took hardly 30 years.
The Church at Colossae was established and run by men who had been discipled by Paul: Epaphras, Archippus, Philemon, and Onesimus.  The occasion for writing the Colossians was that word had reached Paul in a Roman prison that a damaging heresy was circulating into Colossae.  It was the time of Acts 28; ca. 61 A.D.  Tychicus and Onesimus ended up carrying “Colossians” from Rome to Colossae for Paul. They also delivered the letter to the church in Ephesus and the letter to Philemon on this same trip!  Imagine having three of the books of the Bible [Original copies!!] on a single trip in your possession. Wow.  The issue in Colossians is that Christ Jesus is in all ways God, He is all-sufficient, –and the jaded philosophy presently being floated around Colossae was merely human generated empty prattle. It was actually a syncretistic creed mixing oriental philosophy, Greek thinking, and Jewish customs merged with their invented laws.  It also attempted to eclipse the fact that Christ is our mediary and advocate to God stating that the angels are really our messengers from God and to God. We may wonder why people invent this Aesop-like stuff.  Well, keep wondering for there is no constructive reason why.
Colossians 1 –  Paul is grateful and thanks God for these saints in Colossae. His prayer for them is something to be cherished . . . it ends up including us today; vv. 3-14 is everything we pray that we possess in Jesus. The paragraph about the supremacy of Christ is what should be read regularly in churches the world over.  The wonder of Christ is worth the suffering that we end up enduring. He is what God has longed to reveal to us. And we are His, for God has revealed Himself to us in Jesus. This warrants that we serve Him with all our strength.
2 – Paul had not yet been to Colossae or Laodicea [10 miles from Colossae]. The mystery that Paul mentions four times in this letter, and six times in Ephesians, IS CHRIST.  “The mystery” was a phrase the philosophers of Colossae would croon about and keep these discussions -with no solution- going.  Well, this mystery, that no earthly wisdom can solve is The Savior who had come.  All the fullness of God is found in the body of Christ. All the wisdom and knowledge of the universe resides in Christ.  Search no further for truth. Christ cleansed you, raised you, forgave you, sealed you. So Chase no falsehood, false ideas, false rules, nor false piety -for all of this man made jargon still leaves one vulnerable.
3 – This chapter is the creed of the disciple. Young and old, slave and free, both genders, any race, all must do all of this chapter to be a disciple of Jesus the Savior.  All that Christ is, all that we must succumb to in our bodies, all that is required of our heart and soul, what needs to be happening in our spirit, what our homes must be, our occupations, the path of our destiny – all of it is here in Colossians 3. My husband and his prayer group in seminary made it their pilgrimage to memorize this entire chapter and they all did it; reciting it weekly to each other during the late 1980s. Ah, just memorize the whole book!
4 – keep your prayer life, keep preaching, keep your testimony going out, and be gracious with all.  It’s advice like this that has people referring to Christians as “the nice people” throughout the world. This may sound strange for me to say this in a current western culture that is besieged by negative and false accusations about how all Christians are hypocrits and haters of everyone who isn’t Christian. This isn’t true and certainly isn’t the case for well over 90% of the world who notices the strangely happy and politely helpful people in the world that are ‘the Christians’.  Paul’s encouraging good byes and references to all the dear souls and saints that he is working with and visiting and hoping to visit and sending on their way is a testimony of endearment that we can learn from. It canNOT be overstated the depth of affection and endearment that all these folks had for each other as they suffered together, dined, and witnessed, and studied and communicated and ministered for the cause of Christ.

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