Wednesday, October 1, 2014

An Introduction to the New Testament (Session 14 – Paul’s Letter to the Colossians & His Second Letter to the Thessalonians)

You may listen to a podcast of this session at PodBean.

During this session, we considered Paul’s Letter to the Colossians and his Second Letter to the Thessalonians.

Considering Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Among  Biblical scholars, opinion is split concerning Paul’s authorship of Colossians. Those who doubt the authorship point to the following:

  • At the beginning of the letter, the author is identified as Paul and Timothy. 
  • Colossians and Ephesians have a lot in common. 
  • The style of Colossians seems to differ from the undisputed letters. For example, in Colossians “which is” is used five times but no where else in Pauline writings.
  • The vocabulary is slightly different. 
    • Some important Pauline words aren’t in Colossians, such as “to trust,” “law,” “freedom,” “righteousness,” and “salvation.”
    • In Colossians, the reader is never addressed as “brother.”
    • Although some words appear separately in the other letter, they’re combine in Colossians, like “blood of the cross” and “body of flesh.”
  • There are theological differences. 
    • The Spirit is only mentioned once.
    • The future would seem to be now in Colossians, without mention of Jesus return.
    • Like in Ephesians, the church is the body with Christ as the head.
    • Paul sounds as though he’s being described, rather than describing himself. 
  • Those who believe Paul wrote the letter note the following: 
    • There’s a connection with the Letter to Philemon. 
    • The writer sends greetings to people in the church.

There’s a problem with the church that received the letter. According to ancient records, the city of Colossae was destroyed by an earthquake in AD 60-61.

Regardless of the author, the letter seem focused on two issues: confronting a dangerous philosophy and establishing a code of conduct.

  • The nature of the philosophy is offered in Colossians 2:8-23
  • The code of conduct can be found in Colossians 3:5-4:1

Considering Paul's Second Letter to the Thessalonians

There’s also disagreement over 2 Thessalonians. Although it seems to deal with the same general issue, it does it in a very different way.

  • 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18: But we do not want you to be uninformed, brothers and sisters, about those who have died, so that you may not grieve as others do who have no hope. For since we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so, through Jesus, God will bring with him those who have died. For this we declare to you by the word of the Lord, that we who are alive, who are left until the coming of the Lord, will by no means precede those who have died. For the Lord himself, with a cry of command, with the archangel’s call and with the sound of God’s trumpet, will descend from heaven, and the dead in Christ will rise first. Then we who are alive, who are left, will be caught up in the clouds together with them to meet the Lord in the air; and so we will be with the Lord forever. Therefore encourage one another with these words. 
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12: As to the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to him, we beg you, brothers and sisters, not to be quickly shaken in mind or alarmed, either by spirit or by word or by letter, as though from us, to the effect that the day of the Lord is already here. Let no one deceive you in any way; for that day will not come unless the rebellion comes first and the lawless one is revealed, the one destined for destruction. He opposes and exalts himself above every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, declaring himself to be God. Do you not remember that I told you these things when I was still with you? And you know what is now restraining him, so that he may be revealed when his time comes. For the mystery of lawlessness is already at work, but only until the one who now restrains it is removed. And then the lawless one will be revealed, whom the Lord Jesus will destroy with the breath of his mouth, annihilating him by the manifestation of his coming. The coming of the lawless one is apparent in the working of Satan, who uses all power, signs, lying wonders, and every kind of wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion, leading them to believe what is false, so that all who have not believed the truth but took pleasure in unrighteousness will be condemned. 


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