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Bible Studies For Life

One Great Creator                  Session 1                     4 SEP 16

PS 33:6-7 “Heaven” here could mean Heaven or the Cosmos. The context strongly calls for Cosmos. “LORD” is Yahweh. We know Yahweh created from Genesis 1. (Gen 1:30 RSV) "And to every beast of the earth, and to every bird of the air, and to everything that creeps on the earth, everything that has the breath of life, I have given every green plant for food." And it was so." And they created humans in Genesis 1 and 2. (Gen 2:7 RSV) "then the LORD God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being."

PS 33:8 “Fear the LORD” means to become a child of God and worship and respect God. See (Eph 3:9 RSV) "and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;"

PS 33:9 This verse repents the facts of verses 6-7, thereby emphasizing them. The focus of Yahweh was through Jesus. (Col 1:15-16 RSV) "He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities -- all things were created through him and for him."

            Thus the One Great Creator is Yahweh, with each having both joint and separate work in the creation.

PS 33:10-11 The Herschel Hobbs Commentary, Summer 2000, page 67 "when we speak of God's control, we must remember that His control is qualified by human freedom and an imperfect world." It is obvious that God does not want to control any free willed person, which means each and every human. He wants the person to freely choose to be righteous through Jesus Christ. Whether a saved or lost person, God does not want to nor does He control and run anyone's life. What is true is that once a person makes choices in life, the responsibility is the person's and the resulting rewards or punishments that come with it. Because He is God and the only living God, He has the final word on what happens because of human freewill choices. God created the Cosmos to house freewill humans in His image to have fellowship with Him. The purpose of human life is to return the fellowship of God with righteous living and active fellowship of Him.

God cannot accept permanent evil in creation or Heaven. So someday when Jesus returns, there will be a Great Judgment when Ps 33:10-11 is fulfilled. Most want God to do this in their lifetime but that is not God's Plan. All human choices are given time to play out and to affect others. There are moments that He will intervene when something gets too wrong, but these are rare in human history. Most of His interventions with Israel were to establish the option of Salvation through Jesus as Lord and Savor and are not examples of typical interventions with us. Teaching and preaching must be within context of the prime directive of human freewill.

PS 33:13-14 Again we have repeats for emphasis. God knows what is going on in the Cosmos and with each human. But He does not control what they think or do.

PS 33:15 This does not say God personally creates a baby and has it born in a certain way. This is yet another statement that God’s breath is in every human. There is nothing about life-control here.

COL 1:1 In the usual style of the day, Paul signs his letter and then addresses it. He wrote it from Rome in 62 or 63. He lists Timothy as indicating Timothy was there when he wrote it but not that Timothy was a co-author. The Judaizers had always denied Paul was an Apostle. Why? It was based upon the early Jerusalem church voting to make Matthias the replacement Apostle for Judas in ACTS 1:21-26. Thus all positions were filled. Therefore Paul could not be a valid Apostle. They had a strong augment and most today hold Matthias as an Apostle. However, they were wrong in the criteria for an Apostle. The single criteria was personally appointed by Jesus! Paul was, Matthias was not. This Paul specifically stated :(Col 1:1 RSV)  "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother," So the early Judaizer Jerusalem church started off not waiting for God. This they continued into their unchanging Judaizer theology which God repudiated completely. Thus the church at Colossae had both Judaizer and Gnostic problems. Paul’s letter was primarily against the Gnostics who were members of this church. The Gnostics were a major problem even into 95 A.D. when John wrote Revelation. Paul needed the authority of being a real Apostle to try and lead the Colossians to eliminate the Gnostics.

            The Gnostics was a theory that God could not create evil. So there was a descending series of divine beings, each a little less divine, and thus perfect, than the last. At the bottom was the Demiurge who had barely enough deity to create thereby making evil creation possible. When the Gnostics looked at Christianity, they said Jesus was a Demiurge. So they believed Jesus did create the universe, but he also created the devil and evil. Naturally, there were divisions in such a popular movement. There were two major divisions:

1.      Docetic - They believed Jesus never had a human body but just seemed to have one. They denied his humanity. They became ascetics, withdrawing from the world to save their souls.

2.      Cerinthians - They believed Jesus was not born and thus did not die. He just used the body of the man called Jesus from the baptism to the Cross. Thus they denied the deity of earthy Jesus. They said it did not matter what you did in the body since it had no effect on the soul. They became libertines.

COL 1:2 The word for “and” in the RSV & KJV means either “and” or “even”. Paul was not writing to two groups. It should be translated “to the saints, even the faithful brethren.”  Probably for the context of the letter the idea translation should be “to the saints, including the faithful who have not be persuaded by the Gnostics.” While “grace” and “peace” are two standard Greek and Jewish greetings, it is unlikely Paul used then in this way. In verse seven Paul noted that they learned of Jesus from Epaphras who Paul probably lead to Christ in Ephesus. From there Epaphras went to Colossae and became their first pastor. Thus he used both words in the Greek since. “Grace” denotes the favor of God that results in spiritual well-being. “Peace” is a rich word that included wholeness and divine contentedness. Both were available to those who were “in Christ” and come from “God our Father.”

COL 1:3-6a The Greek reads “the God and father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” And that is just how it is to be. Jesus directed the Apostles to pray to the Father. (Mat 6:9 RSV)  "Pray then like this: Our Father who art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name." The Father is to be the focus of our prayers. He is on the Throne. Paul can pray a prayer of thanks because he and Timothy have heard reported of their faith in Jesus and their spiritual growth that has them loving their fellow Christians. This is based upon their confidence in Eternal Security. He is not telling them anything new since it was a part of the witness they received as the Gospel spread from Ephesus. The Gospel is “the word of Truth.”

COL 1:6b-8 The “world” here means the Roman world, which to the people in it was the whole of the known world. They were not the only “fruit” of the witness in this world. “Fruit” is used here as in (John 15:5 RSV)  "I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing." And Col 1:10. Paul noted in verse 4 their “love” which is one aspect of the Fruit of the Holy Spirit. (Gal 5:22 RSV)  "But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness," Thus they were growing Christians but they were not yet mature spiritually, since the Gnostics were allowed to be members in good standing. Hence Paul couples “fruit” with “growing.” Here Paul points out the faithful work of their first pastor Epaphras. It is he who wrote Paul about the Gnostic problem and included a discussion on their spiritual growth. But this all begins with a person first hearing and then understanding. Words without understanding are of little, if any, value. Therefore the full Gospel must be clearing told as we witness.

COL 1:9 So from the day Paul and Timothy heard of them (this was not the first time probably), they have prayed for a specific thing. The Gnostics was a mystic-type society that claimed special knowledge in spiritual matters that was available only to members. Paul jabbed at them by saying they prayed for (Greek) “full knowledge” for them concerning the “will of God the Father.” That is a subject all Christians should be concerned about. But all too few Christians learn what it really is. Paul will tell them in this sentence. But first, note that he wants this full knowledge to be “in all spiritual wisdom and understanding! In other words every Christian is a Priest and Paul wants every Priest to be fully equipped. A Christian does not need a seminary degree or college to be able to come to this state of having all spiritual wisdom and understanding. Any Christian can come to this individually by doing realizing (2 Tim 3:16-17 RSV)  "All scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, {17} that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work." Through the using the Growth Process of Peter in (2 Pet 1:5-7 RSV) "For this very reason make every effort to supplement your faith with virtue, and virtue with knowledge, {6} and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with steadfastness, and steadfastness with godliness, {7} and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love." Thus personal Bible study and learning is the key and only key to having all spiritual wisdom and understanding. It is better to have experienced people help you but all any Christian really needs is a close walk with the Holy Spirit.

COL 1:10 So what is the Will of God? “To lead a life worthy of the Lord fully pleasing to him.”!!! It is nothing more or less than that. Most people seem to think it is to be a missionary, to marry a certain person, to be a doctor, etc. But is as Paul said in (Gal 3:11 RSV) "Now it is evident that no man is justified before God by the law; for "He who through faith is righteous shall live";" Also note (Rom 12:2 RSV) "Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect." God may have a specific task for you, he may not. The basic task of every Christian is to live the Great Commission as they honor Jesus as Lord in their lives. Note carefully and specifically here. Who has the action and responsibility to lead a life worthy of the Lord? The individual Christian. God will not do it for you. Jesus will not live out his life in you! It happens only if you do (Eph 4:22-24 RSV)  "Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, {23} and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, {24} and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." Paul then defines two major elements with this Will of God:

1.      “Bearing fruit in every good work.” Or being righteous. You cannot do this without being “in Christ.” See John 15.

2.      “Increasing in the (Greek) full knowledge of God.” This can only be done by doing the Growth Process of Peter while trying to live what you are learning every day.

COL 1:11-12 Paul then listed four characteristics of Christians whose lives give evidence of this CONTINUAL spiritual growth:

1.      Being effective in service.

2.      Growing in knowledge of God.

3.      Being strengthened by God’s power to endure. (It’s a life-long task.)

4.      Expressing joyful thanksgiving to God for Salvation: Regeneration, Sanctification and Glorification.

In the Greek Paul speaks of “patience” which is a military term to take what the enemy has and have enough left to counter-attack to victory and “long-suffering” which means we will not counter-attack without first giving a real chance for repentance to the enemy. This is along the thought of Jesus in (Mat 5:39-40 RSV)  "But I say to you, Do not resist one who is evil. But if any one strikes you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also; {40} and if any one would sue you and take your coat, let him have your cloak as well;"

COL 1:13-14 Paul now starts the body of his letter. “He” refers to God the Father. The “power of darkness” is all things of Satan. The ultimate power is eternal death. “Has delivered” in the Greek means to rescue. This is a direct statement that no person can achieve the saving of his/her own spiritual life. Thus God needed to affect a rescue through “his dear Son.” But this rescue requires that the person take hold of Jesus’ outstretched hand (i.e. repentance and faith). “Translated” means to move from one kingdom to another. God made us citizens of Jesus’ kingdom. A careful point: Jesus’ kingdom is the Church and not some 1000 years of physical rule on this earth. He was very specific about that. (John 18:36 RSV)  "Jesus answered, "My kingship is not of this world; if my kingship were of this world, my servants would fight, that I might not be handed over to the Jews; but my kingship is not from the world."" Paul put it another way in (Phil 3:20 RSV) "But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ," We are citizens of the Kingdom of Jesus Christ. We need always to keep in mind as we study Colossians that Paul is writing what he writes to counter the Gnostics, and to a lesser extent the Judaizers. Thus as he uses “redemption” he is thinking of the Gnostics position that unless you belong to their group and advance through their systems, you cannot gain the knowledge of the Gnostics salvation. Paul here uses the Greek meaning full redemption. Thus a lost person immediately has full redemption (yet another reference to Eternal Security) immediately at the moment of salvation (regeneration). Thus Paul says this includes “even the forgiveness of sin” which the Gnostics cannot provide.

COL 1:15 “He” means Jesus. “Image” means icon, a likeness. So Paul means an exact likeness. Some say that “God” here means the Trinity. But Jesus is not invisible. We don’t see him now because he is away. (Col 3:1 RSV)  "If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God." However, Jesus is eternally visible for he because 100% human and remains 100% human in his Resurrection Body. He once was only spirit but now forever is he 100% divine spirit and 100% human just as he was on earth. Thus  God” means “God the Father.” The phrase “firstborn of every creature” is a big item of opinion among scholars. The Greek is 4416. prototokos, pro-tot-ok'-os; from G4413 and the alt. of G5088; first-born (usually as noun, lit. or fig.):--firstbegotten (-born). When we look at John 1:1-3 we see Jesus is co-existent, co-equal, and co-identical. This brings us to a companion theological issue. (John 1:1 RSV)  "In the beginning was always the Word, and the Word was always with God, and the Word was always God." John uses “God” to mean the Trinity. Thus Jesus was always a Divine Person of the Trinity. He was never divinely born by the Father. Conclusion 1: “Firstborn” cannot refer to Jesus being born spiritually into God. In (John 1:14 RSV)  ... glory as of the only Son from the Father." John states Jesus is the only son from the Father. The only way Jesus became a “son” was being born a human. Jesus was the Father’s “firstborn” human (Note God created Adam and Eve) and he is the only-born from the Father. No other human has been born as Jesus was. We note that the Greek for “creature” can mean creation or creature. Conclusion 2: Jesus is the firstborn of all of creation. So what we have Paul doing (as he does so often) is using a common play on words. The position of the firstborn son in a Jewish family was he had the most status. He got a bigger inherence. He took over when the father died. Thus Paul means in effect LORD. Thus the  idea should be translated “the Lord of all creation.”

COL 1:16-17  The Greek for “in him” means in the sphere of him (being Jesus). The totality of the Cosmos was created in the sphere of Jesus as one of the Trinity. So take this verse to mean Jesus was the sole creator. But (Gen 1:26 RSV) "Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, after our likeness; and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the birds of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps upon the earth."" says otherwise. The Trinity created as a joint effort. (Eph 3:9 RSV) "and to make all men see what is the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things;" But nothing was done without Jesus, hence in his sphere. This Paul expresses as “all things were created through him and for him.” Therefore this Cosmos was made for Jesus. He is the sustaining power of the Cosmos. When he comes again he will no longer sustain the Cosmos. (2 Pet 3:10 RSV)  "But the day of the Lord will come like a thief, and then the heavens will pass away with a loud noise, and the elements will be dissolved with fire, and the earth and the works that are upon it will be burned up."

COL 1:18 Jesus is also (naturally) the “head”, i.e. leader, boss, Lord, of the Church (all saved of all time). Jesus began the Church. Paul also states he is the firstborn of the dead, in order for him to legitimately be “pre-eminent.” Paul said it another way in (1 Cor 15:20 RSV) "But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who have fallen asleep." Jesus was the first to be raised from the dead in the context of spiritual death. The Church is made up of (1 Cor 15:23 RSV) “... those who belong to Christ." (Gal 3:26 RSV)  "for in Christ Jesus you are all sons of God, through faith." This makes Jesus the first member of the Church. So technically, all the faith people of the Old Testament were not really saved until Jesus was raised from the dead. Only then were they officially made part of the Church. This further explains the need for Hades, the abode of the dead (O.T. Sheol). Saved people went to the Paradise side of Hades (“Abraham’s bosom”) to await the work of Jesus. When Jesus was finished he cleared out the saved from Paradise. (Eph 4:8 RSV) "Therefore it is said, "When he ascended on high he led a host of captives, and he gave gifts to men.""

COL 1:19-20 Again Paul slams the Gnostics with their own terms. “Fullness” was a favorite Gnostic term by which they referred to the very essence of something. They offered a partial fullness on their path of progression in knowledge. Paul clearly said Jesus is the (Greek) “total fullness of God was pleased to dwell.” Some think “God” here means the Trinity but it most certainly means the “God” from verse 15, the Father. Verse 20 is a repeat of verse 13-14. The Father, through Jesus, uses Jesus to reconcile all things, whether on earth or throughout the Cosmos (not Heaven) by the Cross event.

COL 1:21 Paul now sums up what he has said so far. They are to remember that once they were lost and as such (Greek) belonged to another while (Greek) hating in their mind (Greek meaning is the total person, similar to how we use heart) [God and thus doing] evil works. This “another” is Satan. (John 8:44 RSV) "You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father's desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, and has nothing to do with the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks according to his own nature, for he is a liar and the father of lies."

COL 1:22-23 But now “he” (Jesus) has “reconciled” (saved) them through his “body of flesh.” Another slam at the Docetic Gnostics so said Jesus never was really human. “By his death” means the whole Cross event per 1 Cor 15. All this “... in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him," If one is blameless and irreproachable, then there can be no fault found at the Judgment and thus no reason to not get rewards. (1 Cor 3:14 RSV) "If the work which any man has built on the foundation survives, he will receive a reward."

COL 1: 23 (KJV) “if ye continue” and (RSV) “provided that you continue” sounds just the opposite of what Paul has said about Eternal Security. It sounds like you can become lost again. The Greek reads 1489. eige, i'-gheh; from G1487 and G1065; if indeed, seeing that, unless, (with neg.) otherwise:--if (so be that, yet). It is used here, as Paul often does in many letters, to mean that he assumes their faith is genuine. However, there is another meaning he could be stating which has nothing to do with losing your salvation but does use the meaning “if indeed.” Connecting “in order to present” with “if indeed”, the idea is whether Jesus will be able to present you as “blameless.” This would not be the case for the Christian in 1 Cor 5 or people with a lot of “wood, hay, and stubble” in 1 Cor 3:12-15.  The idea is as in (1 Cor 3:15 RSV) "If any man's work is burned up, he will suffer loss, though he himself will be saved, but only as through fire." Will we embarrass Jesus at the Judgment by being “only as through fire”? Paul is both warning and encouraging the Colossians to be “stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you have heard” to what the Gnostics and/or the Judaizers preach. Paul is not saying that the gospel has already been “preached to every creature under heaven” but that it is being preached and he is a minister to help do just that.

So in summary, because of the Lordship of Jesus and His right to hold that position, we are (Col 1:10 RSV) "to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God." We are to live out our commitment to Jesus as Lord. (Phil 2:12 RSV)  "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling;" This simply means we saw above about COL 1:10. We are saved and we are to live like it! (Eph 4:22-24 RSV) "Put off your old nature which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful lusts, and be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and put on the new nature, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness." WE ARE TO DO IT! GOD WILL NOT DO IT FOR US!

 

Marvin Ganote, Hobbs Study Class, Adult Teacher. ganotemd@outlook.com Home Page: http://dma1.org/~ganotemd/lesson.htm