Something to learn..
In Chapter 3 Paul exhorts the Colossians to develop Christian character by making sure their profession of faith is matched by their conduct and practice. This in turn is determined by the reality of the indwelling life of Jesus Christ. In theological language, Paul’s approach is known as ‘paraenetic’ – which means it’s about practical and ethical Christian living – in other words, producing the goods!
The use of the word “therefore” in verse 12 means we can’t detach verses 12-17 from the setting of the previous verses 1-11 where Paul has been talking from a negative perspective – that is, indicating what Christians should stop doing if they claim to be following Christ. Now in verses 12-17, he adopts a positive approach in which he encourages the types of behaviour fitting for Christians, both individually and corporately.
Paul takes as an analogy for illustrating his teaching an action picture which contrasts two different ways of living – namely the old self and the new self. The picture involves ‘taking off’ and ‘putting on’ – exchanging one set of clothes for another. It reflects a theme Paul addresses in Romans chapter 6 that true born again Christians must die to self and become alive to Christ.
It’s possible that reference to ‘stripping off’ old clothing and ‘putting on’ new clothing may reflect the change of clothing involved with the practice of baptism. Paul perhaps suggests this in Galatians 3.27. However, it is likely that Paul bases his clothing metaphor mainly on his understanding of the Old Testament – especially Genesis chapters 1-3. In Colossians 3.10 Paul is probably alluding to Genesis in his use of the divine ‘image’ and ‘knowledge’ of God. In Genesis chapter 3 we hear how Adam and Eve tried to cover up their sinful nakedness by their own efforts. But in a gracious act of restoration after their fall God clothed them with new garments. The clear implication is that their own handmade clothing was removed and replaced by divinely made clothing because the clothing Adam and Eve made for themselves was insufficient to cover their alienated and shameful condition in the presence of God.
Likewise, Paul refers to believers who have ‘stripped off’ the clothes belonging to the old autonomous sinful self and have ‘clothed themselves’ with the ‘new man’ – which confirms their inaugurated new-creation relationship with God. Paul repeats something very similar in Ephesians 4.22-24. Elsewhere he talks about the ‘first Adam’ and the new resurrected ‘last Adam’. The first Adam is the corporate embodiment of unregenerate humanity; the last Adam represents the corporate embodiment of a new humanity in Jesus Christ. Paul elucidates this theme in Romans 5.12-21 and 1 Corinthians 15.22 and 45.
In Colossians 3.12-17, therefore, Paul is setting out what it looks like to ‘put on’ or ‘clothe ourselves’ with Christ. Because at the end of the day, as Paul has already asserted in chapter 1.27, the whole aim of a Christian’s life is to become like Jesus.
Something to talk about…
Read Col 3:12-17 out loud twice through using the ICB version to include children and young people.
- What do you like and find encouraging?
- What do you struggle with and find challenging?
- What do we learn about God?
- What are we going to take away to do?
A spiritual practise to try…
Our World Continued impact of the IJM Lent focus to help ‘Make #SlaveFree Normal’.
Our Church Gregg and his finance team, with thankfulness for our continuing financial stability
Myself My taking time this week to ‘feed my new life with God’ (Colossians 3)
For resources for kids follow the link: https://ajourneythroughcolossians.wordpress.com/2020/12/17/latimer-kids-resources/