The epistolary opening.
See 2 Cor 1.1; Gal 1.1
Saints, holy ones, believers (2 Cor 1.1; Rom 1.7; Phil 1.1; Eph 1.1
Prayers and God's redemption. Two prayers (vv. 3–8, 9–12
) reveal the basis of the community's growth in faith: God rescued the believers from the power of darkness and moved them
into the kingdom of his beloved son (v. 13
Themes of growth and learning (
1.28; 2.6; 3.10; 4.12
) emphasize the fruit-fulness of the gospel (v. 5
) in increasing the knowledge of God's will (vv. 9–10
) and in building the body of Christ (
). Epaphras (v. 7
) taught hope linked to Christ, unlike the “heresy” which downplays Christ (see 2.18–19
Hope, no longer the firm expectation of God's promise but an object already available, laid up or stored up, though it awaits revelation.
Bearing fruit and growing describes the gospel of God's grace.
4.12; Philem 23
A shift from past reception of the gospel to a fuller comprehension of God's will.
Knowledge…spiritual wisdom and understanding. All three have practical implications. Wisdom (a favorite term; see 2.3, 23; 4.5
) and understanding or insight are linked in the Hebrew Scriptures
or their Greek translation (see Deut 1.13, 15; 1 Kings 16.18; Isa 3.3
Lead, or conduct; see 2.6; 3.7–17; 4.5
Inheritance, share or allotment.
This basic statement of belief recites what God has done.
A hymn to the universal Christ and comment on his redeeming work. Christ, the cosmic agent of creation, has reconciled creation's warring elements (vv. 15–20
), and the reconciled must remain faithful to their early teachings to ensure maturity (vv. 21–23
The hymn's origin is unknown, but if not Christian it may be an adaptation from a Greek mystery religion,
a Jewish text about the Son of Man and the end times, or a Hellenistic
Jewish wisdom text like Prov 8.22–31
or Sir 24.1–22
. It easily divides into two: Christ as the agent of creation (vv. 15–18a
) and Christ as an agent of redemption (vv. 18b–20
Christ's role in creation is like the role of Wisdom (see Prov 8.22–26; Sir 24.9
Head of the body,
see 2.19; Eph 1.22–23
Reconcile, restore to friendship from enmity. See 1.22; Rom 5.10; 1 Cor 7.11; 2 Cor 5.18–21; Eph 2.16
A direct exhortation
to the recipients: God has reconciled them and they will be blameless before God if they are steadfast.
Estranged, alienated or unfamiliar with something. See Eph. 2.12; 4.18
A personal witness and a warning. An autobiographical sketch describes the church's maturation (
) and leads to a warning against deviating from the truth (
A certain amount of suffering is assumed to be necessary (see 1 Thess 3.3
) before the end can arrive. Completing … Christ's afflictions, any suffering brings the end sooner.
is Christ in you, the image of Christ growing in you.
Toil, struggle, the effort to bring about the community's maturity. See 1 Thess 2.9
Live your lives, “conduct” your lives; see 1.10
The warning: Although the heresy appears as wisdom because of its ascetic and ritualistic practices, Christ's death and resurrection
are sufficient to bring the believers' lives into the new dominion.
Takes you captive, false teachers are like robbers or kidnappers.
Putting off, buried with him in baptism,
baptismal images joined with spiritual circumcision
to describe entry into the new life (see Gal 3.27
Record, a note of debt.
Disarmed, stripped of power. Roman emperors led captives in a public triumphal procession.
Shadow and substance, a familiar contrast in Greek thought (see Plato's Republic 514a–518b).
Angels' worship, worship offered to angels or worship offered by angels, probably the latter.
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