Colossians 2:1-23

@Bible_Memorization_Group

Dear Friends

This week we can catch up and review chapter 2 of Colossians as well as previous chapters that we memorized so no new verses will be posted. Next Saturday, the first two verses of Colossians 3 will be posted.

It’s also timely as this is going out to those who have signed up for Bible Memory, as we have always done.

After I complete this post, under the same heading to this post with the addition of the word “Prayer” I will posting a thread that will only pertain to prayer. It originally was named the post title because it involved those who were memorizing together but also wanted to pray for each other. Now you will not be receiving that thread unless you sign in to @Interested_in_Prayer. Please encourage anyone who wants to submit requests or wants to be in prayer to sign in there. I am so excited to be part of memorizing God’s Word and then praying with this group.

Some of the reason behind the threads is not to have an air of exclusivity but to be a close group that is interested in having somewhere to go with needs and be there as well for others, with a sense that we know each other.

I’m not confident of articulating things well these days so I hope that I didn’t lose you. Ask away if you wonder what in the world I said?

Off the subject - a while ago I began a Google map that lists where we all live so we can see the breadth of where we are all from. If you’d like to sign onto the map, please go to this link: https://drive.google.com/open?id=12npP11ry5AlTxn9N64Ips16g1HG2Ph8Y&usp=sharing
I “own” the map so it will require you to get my OK to share the site. I gladly will and then you go on and put your name, town, country and you can even put in a picture, which some of us have done. I am so visual, it helps me to see you when I hear from you or pray for you.

Finally, I have a question on an earlier discussion on the terms “body” and “flesh” in our last chapter. It seems as if we concur that flesh seems to have the connotation of the sin aspect of the body. If so, how do we deal with John 1: “and He became flesh and dwelt among us.” ? Actually there are so many other examples as when Jesus says “unless you eat my flesh and drink my blood…” What do you think?

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Hi Tim, when Jesus became flesh he still remained sinless, without blemish. We are in the process of being sanctified. Sinclair B. Ferguson says "Flesh and Spirit are not only two aspects of a Christians’ being; they are characteristics of the two ages or epochs in which the Christian lives.

I’m currently reading Devoted to God Blueprints for Sanctification, and I’ve just read the chapter on Flesh and the Spirit.

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Thanks David. That was timely!

Hello sir. I want to start by quoting this verse John 1:14 The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth. Here John said “We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth”. He is the perfect flesh that came from heaven. In the same book John 6:51 Jesus said " I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats this bread will live forever. This bread is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world.” He came to give life to corrupted flesh. His flesh had Divine power to redeem humankind. We do not have any good in our flesh . It’s always against us. Paul said in Galatians 5:17" For the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit, and the Spirit what is contrary to the flesh. They are in conflict with each other, so that you are not to do whatever you want". He has described the deeds of our flesh in Galatians 5:19-21
Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery, enmities, strife, jealousy, outbursts of anger, disputes, dissensions, factions, envying, drunkenness, carousing, and things like these, of which I forewarn you, just as I have forewarned you, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. And in Ephesians 2:3
“Among them we too all formerly lived in the lusts of our flesh, indulging the desires of the flesh and of the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, even as the rest”. I want to add William Barclay’s words here
HIS BODY AND HIS BLOOD
These ideas would be quite normal to anyone brought up in ancient sacrifice. The animal was very seldom burned entire. Usually only a token part was burned on the altar, although the whole animal was offered to the god. Part of the flesh was given to the priests as their perquisite; and part to the worshipper to make a feast for himself and his friends within the temple precincts. At that feast the god himself was held to be a guest. More, once the flesh had been offered to the god, it was held that he had entered into it; and therefore when the worshipper ate it he was literally eating the god. When people rose from such a feast they went out, as they believed, literally god-filled. We may think of it as idolatrous worship, we may think of it as a vast delusion; yet the fact remains these people went out quite certain that in them there was now the dynamic vitality of their god. To people used to that kind of experience a section like this presented no difficulties at all.
Let us see now if we can find out something of what Jesus meant and of what John understood from words like this. There are two ways in which we may take this passage.

(i) We may take it in a quite general sense. Jesus spoke about eating his flesh and drinking his blood.

Now the flesh of Jesus was his complete humanity. John in his First Letter lays it down almost passionately: “Every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is of God; and every spirit which does not confess Jesus is not of God.” In fact, the spirit which denies that Jesus is come in the flesh is of antichrist (1 John 4:2-3). John insisted that we must grasp and never let go the full humanity of Jesus, that he was bone of our bone and flesh of our flesh. What does this mean? Jesus, as we have seen again and again, was the mind of God become a person. This means that in Jesus we see God taking human life human problems, battling with our human temptations, working out our human relationships.

Therefore it is as if Jesus said: “Feed your heart, feed your mind, feed your soul on the thought of my manhood. When you are discouraged and in despair, when you are beaten to your knees and disgusted with life and living–remember I took that life of yours and these struggles of yours on me.” Suddenly life and the flesh are clad with glory for they are touched with God. It was and is the great belief of the Greek Orthodox Christology that Jesus deified our flesh by taking it on himself. To eat Christ’s body is to feed on the thought of his manhood until our own manhood is strengthened and cleansed and irradiated by his.

Jesus said we must drink his blood. In Jewish thought the blood stands for the life. It is easy to understand why. As the blood flows from a wound, life ebbs away; and to the Jew, the blood belonged to God. That is why to this day a true Jew will never eat any meat which has not been completely drained of blood. “Only you shall not eat flesh with its life, that is, its blood” (Genesis 9:4). “Only you shall not eat its blood” (Deuteronomy 15:23). Now see what Jesus is saying–“You must drink my blood–you must take my life into the very centre of your being–and that life of mine is the life which belongs to God.” When Jesus said we must drink his blood he meant that we must take his life into the very core of our hearts.

What does that mean? Think of it this way. Here in a bookcase is a book which a man has never read. It may be the glory and the wonder of the tragedies of Shakespeare; but so long as it remains unread upon his bookshelves it is external to him. One day he takes it down and reads it. He is thrilled and fascinated and moved. The story sticks to him; the great lines remain in his memory; now when he wants to, he can take that wonder out from inside himself and remember it and think about it and feed his mind and his heart upon it. Once the book was outside him. Now it is inside him and he can feed upon it. It is that way with any great experience in life. It remains external until we take it within ourselves.

It is so with Jesus. So long as he remains a figure in a book he is external to us; but when he enters into our hearts we can feed upon the life and the strength and the dynamic vitality that he gives to us. Jesus said that we must drink his blood. He is saying: “You must stop thinking of me as a subject for theological debate; you must take me into you, and you must come into me; and then you will have real life.” That is what Jesus meant when he spoke about us abiding in him and himself abiding in us.

When he told us to eat his flesh and drink his blood, he was telling us to feed our hearts and souls and minds on his humanity, and to revitalize our lives with his life until we are filled with the life of God.

(ii) But John meant more than that, and was thinking also of the Lord’s Supper. He was saying: “If you want life, you must come and sit at that table where you eat that broken bread and drink that poured-out wine which somehow, in the grace of God, bring you into contact with the love and the life of Jesus Christ.” But–and here is the sheer wonder of his point of view–John has no account of the Last Supper. He brings in his teaching about it, not in the narrative of the Upper Room, but in the story of a picnic meal on a hillside near Bethsaida Julias by the blue waters of the Sea of Galilee. Thank you. God bless you

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O, @Tim_Ramey, I will look you up in heaven and thank you there for your hard theological questions, the latest of which, concerning ‘the flesh’, I have been thinking about over and over throughout the week. I will not thank you now, lest you be encouraged to ask more questions. This issue is a hard one, since in thinking about it I had to address ideas that I would rather not think about. However, it did make me put a lot of thought into who Adam was, who Jesus was and what he did, and who I am, and therefore I will thank you when I get to heaven. On such questions I prefer not to consult commentaries and works of theology, since it seems to me to be cheating, like looking the answers up in an answer key at the end of a book, and not wrestling with questions myself. I realize that I am at risk of poking my way out of the path of truth and wandering into heresy, but I trust the Scripture memory and prayer group to set me straight.

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Carol, you are a real thinker and I love it. I’ll not ask any more questions for the present but I sure look forward to your findings!

Dear lovers of Scripture: When I was thinking about ‘flesh’ being bad (we are urged to put off the body of the flesh), I started thinking about what is it in ‘flesh’ that is bad. In Genesis, before Adam and Eve rebelled against God, there was nothing bad in them. There only existed the possibility of them turning against God. Once they sinned, it was not in their bodies that the push to disobey God came from, but from their ‘flesh’. When, in John 1, it says that ‘the Word became flesh’, I don’t believe it refers to the sinful part of humans, rather that he became human in that body/flesh combination that we are all born into. My first problem was in seeing Jesus inherit the sinfulness just in being born. He was 100% divine even before birth (Luke 1:43-44), but in being born human after the fall in Eden, he inherited the tainted flesh that we have. This makes me squirm to think about it. But then, in everything he did, he still did not sin against the Father. But he was able to be tempted (Matthew 4:8-10, for example), as is says in Hebrews 4:15, 'For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but one who is every respect has been tempted as we are, yet without sin." So it seems that Jesus had the option to disobey the Father, if he chose, but in every case he chose to obey. The big obedience, on the cross, bought for everyone who looks to him in faith to have the same option to obey or disobey, but the plague of having that sinful flesh that drives us to turn against God is still in us. And yet, being inhabited by the Spirit of God/Spirit of Jesus, it is theoretically possible for us to love our God completely, and love our neighbors as we do ourselves. I think that when Paul talked about putting off the body of the flesh, he was referring to that dual nature we have; we need to walk (think/speak/act) in Christ Jesus and deny the urges of the ‘flesh’. I joined the group in the middle of Colossians 1, and did not memorize Philippians 2 with y’all. I think maybe if I had, I would have thought more deeply about what it was that Jesus emptied himself of when he became human. If people read this and see that I am wrong, please let me know. I am uncomfortable thinking about Jesus allowing himself to be so defiled as to inherit our sinful nature.

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Hi Carol
Could you clarify? As you ponder these things are you thinking that the “sinful nature” is different than the flesh? Also to my knowledge I don’t think it’s possible for something or someone to have a dual “nature”: If we’re talking about the nature of a thing, we’re talking about its essence/ or characteristics that make it what it is. Like for example a specific object like a cup has characteristics that make it what it is: The nature of that cup might be that it is made of glass, that stands 5 inches tall and is cylindrical in its shape, with a 3 inch diameter and a 3 inch handle. That’s the essence of its makeup and the inherent qualities that distinguish it from a different cup with a different nature. (like maybe a wooden cup)

So for example if the glass cup I described was to actually have a dual nature could it be both 3 inches in diameter while also being 4 inches in diameter?? or could it be made of glass while also being made of wood? Clearly the glass cup has different aspects (handle, rim and it’s substance) Plus, as a cup it could hold different substances (like water, or oil) But those aspects don’t attribute a dual nature to the cup. :upside_down_face:

The dual nature consideration is kind of like pointing out that a fountain cannot be both salt water and fresh. It’s one or the other and can’t contend to be both at the same time.

Don’t think I’m suggesting any weird radical doctrines by this. I’m just pointing out for now, that the term “dual nature” probably needs to be relabeled with something that can bolt together. Otherwise the subtle, selfcontradictory nature of what’s being said using the term dual nature, may point us to discombobulated conclusions. :grimacing:

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Good point, @timotto. I’m thinking this through and will hopefully come up with better examples or terms. Thank you for your response.

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There is so much that comes up with your post and then with yours Tim O (I’m Tim too so it could be confusing. I’m Tim R)! However, Carol, I can’t think through all of your post but the final line about Jesus inheriting our sinful nature, I think of in 2 Cor 5 it says, “For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.” I struggled with that but as I looked into the Greek and Hebrew (I’m no scholar) it pointed to to the fact that He was not inheriting our sinful nature by being made sin but in the Septuagint it is translated as becoming the sacrifice for sin. So by being made in the flesh, He was born of the Spirit so had no original sin and was sinless but being in the flesh for Him was the sacrifice for sin possibly?

Also, in Col 1:24 Paul says “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church,” Could He be completing the sinful part of the flesh that Jesus’ afflictions couldn’t “complete” because He was not truly sin?

I’m just throwing these out and need to re-read both your posts, Carol and Tim as what I said may have obvious holes in them.

Hi Tim R. Good to meet you… (“Tim O” works for me) :slight_smile:

I appreciate your willingness to put your thoughts out there… even if you haven’t got all the puzzle pieces figured out. I don’t have everything all figured out either. But these are some very relevant “pieces” to handle. Clearly you’re aware that “so much comes up” within this conversation. especially related to the text of Colossians and other related scriptures as each of us sets out on the journey to reconcile these things with other scriptures, various doctrines and assumptions we hold.

Regarding your 2nd question (Col 1:24), Paul’s job (commissioned by God) was to complete that which was lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of the church.

So the question would be “what was lacking that Christ didn’t fulfill which Paul was commissioned to fulfill?” The verses following (Colossians 1:25-29) detail what that was:

In a nutshell: Paul’s job, which worked to complete Jesus’ work on the cross, was to reveal the knowledge of God (the mystery) to the gentiles and to the church to bring them to maturity in Christ:

Colossians 1:25-29
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

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