2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
"Saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colosse."
Most versions render this-
"To the holy and faithful brethren."
There is such a class of people. There must be such a class-holy and faithful-completely different from the world in all they say and do-men and women of heavenly beauty and godliness, sealed with the living seal of Christ in their character for all the world to see.
"Grace be unto you"
-"grace" means kindness, favour, blessing, mercy, goodness. "And peace"-calm, relaxed tranquility, confident in the assurance that "ALL things work together for good"-that God never slumbers, and that nothing happens or can happen that He does not control. **
Bro Growcott - Every man perfect in Christ Jesus
"Adelphois en Christo"- Brethren in Christ. And this epistle well defines those who rightly bear this name. IF we truly ARE conforming ourselves to the marvelous spiritual picture it presents, we ARE Christadelphians.
Paul first thanks God for the joy and courage that their faith and love gave him. How COULD he have carried on if there had not been SOME evidence of success to his labours - some VISIBLE working of the Spirit, transforming natural, animal men and women into spiritual children of God? There are always a FEW faithful, carrying forward the divine purpose and bearing evidence - amid disappointment and distress - that that great purpose is still alive in the earth.
Bro Growcott - Straight Words to the Colossians
Faithful brethren in Christ
...the love of the brethren which Paul commended was a love entertained by the Colossians "on account of the hope"-not a love cherished for the qualities of individuals as men in the flesh, but a love felt because of their living addiction to the hope of the Gospel. This hope is the bond every way in the "New Testament" system. Men are members of the house of Christ,
"if they hold fast the confidence and rejoicing of the hope firm unto the end" (Heb. 3:6).
Men are brethren beloved if they are "partakers of the hope" in which all the saints have their standing before God - the hope of return to the bosom of God from which the race was expelled at the beginning - a hope to be effected in the form and the way made known in the gospel - a hope which is "the hope of Israel."
To love a man who shows no living interest in the hope which is laid up for us in heaven with Christ, who is coming, is not according to the new man, and not according to what was before Paul's mind in this letter.
If a man love God, he cannot but be keenly alive to the hope of his promised mercy in the day of Christ; and if a man is dead to this hope, he is dead to God, and, therefore, outside the pale of an active fellowship with those who are alive to both.
The admiration of a man's personal qualities, apart from the relation of his sympathies to God, becomes more and more impossible with the new man: for sympathy with God is the first and increasing principle of his mental being. He is not indifferent to personal quality: far from it- odious personal qualities belong to the outer darkness.
"If any man say he love God, and walk in darkness, he is a liar":
So says John, and it is true, however shocking such plain speaking may be to modern Gentile sensibilities.
The sublimest personal qualities belong only to the circle of divine light and sympathy, and are to be found only there. But there are qualities in the unenlightened natural man, of the educated sort, that are supposed rightfully to call for admiration. Such admiration is faint with the divinely enlightened. The qualities in question do not afford a basis of fellowship, and friendship apart from fellowship is impossible with the spiritual man.
Excellent personal qualities, apart from a recognition of God and His will, are in the nature of the majesty of the lion, or the beauty of the rose, or the glory of a sunset-an ephemeral phenomenon, without roots.
In few cases are they so beautiful as those: in none are they truly so, for Gentile accomplishments are skin deep: selfish diabolism lurks under all the gloss.Seasons 1.100.
3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Paul's heart was always full of thanksgiving-thankful for the revelation of the great divine purpose-thankful that he was called to play a part in it-thankful for the holy and faithful brethren throughout the world who had been separated from the world and were united with him in God's great purpose.
"Praying always for you."
All men of God give much time to prayer-not just on specific occasions, but a continual attitude-a continual maintaining contact. All study of the Word and all work in the Truth should be done in the spiritual atmosphere of prayer-all should be done in the spirit of active, living communion with God.
Consider how many brethren and sisters were within the circle of Paul's attention and care! Yet he could truthfully say to all that he prayed always for them-not just general, impersonal prayers for them as a group, but loving and personal prayers for each one. We must pattern ourselves after Paul in this respect, keeping all the brethren and sisters in memory, contemplating them one by one in loving and prayerful regard. **
4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
This is a special love. We are commanded to love all men-that is, to look with compassion and benevolence upon them and to do them good, even in return for evil. But the love of the saints is a special love.
How do we know who are the saints?-the holy ones?-whom we should love in this special way? Paul says of some who were called brethren that they-
"... walked as enemies of the cross of Christ, minding earthly things" (Phil. 3:18).
It is not ours to judge, but our deepest love is drawn out to those alone whose hearts are wholly centered on the things of God. Love to the saints means being truly affectionate toward them and interested in them, desiring and enjoying their company. John warns against a "love" that is just in word. **
5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
That is, "because of The Hope," as most versions render it. Love to the saints must be mutually founded on the One Hope, and the Hope must lead to love of the saints, if this hope is not a barren, lifeless one within us.
"The Hope which is laid up for you in heaven."
He says later in the epistle-as he exhorts them to keep their minds on heavenly things-
"Ye are dead and your life is hid with Christ in God."
Our hearts and interests must be centered in heaven, for Christ is there and we are part of him. We have died to our natural selves, and to all things connected with present, passing things of the world.**
**Bro Growcott - Every man perfect in Christ Jesus
The Truth of the Gospel
Here is the solid foundation of all-the Gospel of the Kingdom-the promise of God to Abraham-to Israel-to David-the return of Christ to sweep away all the present evils and sorrows of the world, and to establish universal peace and righteousness, to judge the responsible living and dead, to reward his servants with eternal life with him, and to begin the millennial reign that will bring all the earth to eternal oneness with God: "the Word of the Truth of the Gospel."
**Bro Growcott - Every man perfect in Christ Jesus
6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
Paul speaks of the Gospel BEARING FRUIT in them - spiritual fruit to God's glory - the pure beauty of the divine mind and character gradually beginning to glow among them, distinguishing them from common, ugly, perishing clay. The details of this fruit and character are brought out throughout the epistle.
The tree that does NOT bring forth fruit, said Jesus, will be cut down and burned (Matt. 7:19). These fruits are real, MEASURABLE things. In the last day God will measure them. He is no respecter of persons.
Treasure in HEAVEN is just as real and PRACTICAL an affair as treasure on earth. It is simply a matter of time, and effort, and desire. In NATURAL things we get results in direct proportion to how long, and how hard, and how carefully we work. When the books are opened at the last great day of account, exactly how LONG and how HARD we have worked for SPIRITUAL things will be found recorded in clear, impartial, unchangeable figures. There will be no argument or appeal. The full record will be there. *
7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
It would seem from this that Epaphras had been the one who had brought the truth to the Colossians. He was at this time with Paul in Rome, and it would be from him that Paul learned of the Colossians' circumstances and problems. Paul's commendation here would confirm the teachings of Epaphras and strengthen his hand in resisting the errors Paul later mentions. **
**Bro Growcott - Every man perfect in Christ Jesus
8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
Love in the Spirit is love founded upon mutual affection and understanding in spiritual things. **
9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
What does prayer for others accomplish?
Does not the salvation of each depend upon their own record? And would God's care of His Own children be any less if Paul did not continually pray for them? Do we need other intercession than Christ? Does God have to be urged and reminded to look after his children?-it may be asked.
The mystery of the power of prayer is very wonderful and very real. We must seek to comprehend it. The natural mind cannot comprehend the things of the Spirit of God.
"Pray for one another . . The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."
It is the gracious will of our Father that we be "workers together with Him" in this respect. He assures us that the earnest prayers of those who please Him do carry great weight on behalf of others. It is His will that the Body should be one interdependent whole.
Do we exercise this great power and privilege as much as we should? Paul, amid all the pressure of daily things, felt a continual sense of responsibility to pray for the blessing of his brethren. We MUST feel the same urgent sense of mutual responsibility. And there is another important consideration-we must labour, too, to be among that well-pleasing class whose prayers alone are effective with God.
**Bro Growcott - Every man perfect in Christ Jesus
10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
You have your limits. You have more mental capacity than some, and less than others. You have more physical capacity than some, and less than others. This is true of everyone except the single one at the top and at the bottom. Much can be done in both categories by exercise, but still there are limits -- and all are different. It is not important.
At his very best and highest, man is still nothing. At worst and lowest, he is still something. What counts eternally is how you use what you have been given, in mental, physical, and circumstantial opportunity. This is your personal stewardship, be it great or small. You will be judged upon it.
God requires your most and best, within your limits. This is what love will be eager and anxious to give and still wish it could give more. Do you have this love and zeal for divine service that makes the difference between life and death? It comes with long study and meditation, and prayer.
It's not a secret or special gift that some just happen to have. It's something all are COMMANDED to develop, and freely shown how. It is spiritual-mindedness, which is life and peace; and there can be neither life nor peace without it. It is not a matter of sudden and shallow emotional excitement, like orthodox "conversion." It is a deep, steady, consistent learning and growing and transforming, and becoming closer and closer to the Divine Perfection.
- Bro Growcott
Don't drift. Don't play. Make all your time sensible and constructive and useful. Play is for children. It is essential for them. Your childhood is over. Grow up. There is plenty of exercise and enjoyment and relaxation in practical and effective work. Eschew the fleshly illusion that time must be wasted to be enjoyed. That's stupid. We have no justification or excuse for wasting God's valuable time in childplay -- for ALL our time is His, for His purpose.
We have solemnly agreed to this. So be honest. Live up to it. You KNOW there is no satisfying peace or joy in slipping back into the vacuous and juvenile play of infancy. Grow up! Press on! Keep your eye on the glorious goal. You have a brief, once-only opportunity to secure eternity. Don't bungle it. Disneyland is for immature and empty minds. It's a dressed up skeleton: a grinning corpse. Look beyond the glitter and tinsel to the cold and dead bones beneath. It's the whole mad world in microcosm: shun it as the plague.
11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
How is weak, natural, evil flesh to develop spiritual patience? By keeping the mind firmly FIXED ON GOD - His love, His desires, His greatness, His ever presence beside us - and upon that man who perfectly manifested Him. God's great plan is being worked out with infinite, divine patience. If we are to be co-workers with God in developing a holy, eternal community for His glory, PATIENCE is essential.
The Spirit through Isaiah, speaking of Christ, gives a wonderful picture of spiritual patience (42:2-4).
"He shall not cry, nor lift up, nor cause his voice to be heard in the street. A bruised reed shall he not break, and the dimly-burning flax shall he not quench: he shall bring forth judgment and truth. He shall not fail nor be discouraged TILL HE HAVE SET JUDGMENT IN THE EARTH: and the isles shall wait for his law."
A quiet, loving, persistent, IRRESISTIBLE determination for good - never rough, never discouraged. Infinite care to avoid injury, and yet an unswerving adherence to divine principles. That is patience, as exemplified by the Great Example. Paul continues (Col. 1:11)-
". . . patience and longsuffering WITH JOYFULNESS: giving thanks unto the Father."
Paul - beaten with many cruel stripes and chained fast in the inner dungeon at Philippi - could still at midnight JOYFULLY sing praises to God. He had the true and healthy outlook. God does not want a brooding and self-pitying patience. Paul KNEW that ALL things - in the eternal, ultimate reckoning - work together for GOOD for those that truly love God. He KNEW he was faithfully doing God's will and helping forward His purpose and that -regardless of the present - time would reward his efforts and justify his joy.
Joy and thanksgiving are the normal state of the spiritual mind. *
13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
TRANSLATION INTO THE KINGDOM.
Now, being in the ignorance, or darkness, of the gospel's adversary, the Gentiles could at no subsequent period become "light in the Lord," or be in the light, unless they were "delivered" from their ignorance, and consequently its powers, and "translated into" the light of the gospel of the kingdom. The apostle saith, that the Colossian Gentiles had been the subjects of this deliverance and translation, by which they had "put off the old man with his deeds, and had put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge (or light), after the image of him that created him"-Colossians 3: 9-10-they were therefore in the new man, having put him on.
But, the original word rendered "translated," does not require 'into' after it to give it its full force and signification. The verb of which it is the first aorist is methisteemi, and signifies "to move from one place to another, remove, transfer." By metonymy it also signifies, "to cause to pass from one mode of thinking to another, and to cause to change sides." The Colossians had changed their position, as the result of their mode of thinking, being changed by the knowledge sent them from God through Paul's preaching.
Formerly, they thought as the children of disobedience think; now, their thinking was according to the mind of God; then they were in darkness; now they were in the light; then they worshipped in the temples of dumb idols; now in the assemblies of the saints: they had passed over from the adversary unto the hope of the kingdom of God's dear Son. Having come, therefore, unto this, the apostle encourages them to hold on to it, assuring them that Christ would present them holy, and unblameable, and unreprovable in God's sight; "if," says he, "ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven" -Colossians 1: 22.
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, Feb 1853
15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
This phrase might be supposed to mean that Jesus and Jesus anointed, were the beginning of the creation of which Moses treats in Genesis; or that they were the chief of the creation. But these suppositions cannot be admitted, for the sufficient reason that Jesus unanointed or Jesus anointed, had no existence in the era of the Adamic creation.
The anointing spirit created these, and was the creating energy; but at the same time an uncreated agent, and therefore not the first of a creation. In the passage before us, the Lord the Spirit, or Jesus anointed, refers to another creation - to a new creation.
He is the beginning of the new creation of the Deity, even of that referred to in Rev. 21:5, in which Jesus anointed says.
"Behold! I make all things new."
When all things are made new, there will be a new creation upon the earth, adapted in all its elements to the new population prepared in the previous seven thousand years to inhabit it. Jesus anointed is the creator of this new creation, and himself also the first element of it that has been created without human intervention. - Dr. Thomas.
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
These are Supernal States in which Paul locates principalities, powers, world-rulers of the darkness of the times of the Gentiles, which he styles "this aeon," and the spirituals of the wickedness enthroned throughout the earth.
These heavenlies are constituted providentially or instrumentally by human authority and power after "the course of this world;" and are the tabernacle of
"the Prince of the power of the Air, the Spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience" (Eph. 2:2).
This Prince-power and Spirit of the Air is Sin's Flesh; whose spirit pervades all sublunary human constitutions, styled "thrones, dominions, principalities, and powers,'' which Paul specifies as ''things in the heaven" or "the Air'' (Col. 1:16).
...The dwellers in this Aerial are the civil and ecclesiastical orders of society; such as, emperors, kings, diplomatists, nobles spiritual and racial, legislators, magistrates, priests, clergymen, parsons, and all of that class, styled by the apostle "spirituals of the wickedness" which reigns in "the Court of the Gentiles without the temple."
Between this heaven and "the Heavenlies in Christ" there is implacable and uncompromising hostility. No peace can be permanently established in the earth till one or other of these heavens be suppressed or subjugated: and who can doubt which of these heavens shall be shaken, be rolled up as a scroll, and be made to pass away with the great tumult of war?
The heavenlies, or high places, of this world are decreed to Yahweh and his Anointed Body; who, by the thunders and lightnings issuing from the throne newly set in the heaven, shall take the dominion under the whole heaven, and possess it during the Olahm and beyond (ch. 11:15; 4:1-5; Dan. 7:18,22,27).
This is the fiat of Eternal Wisdom and Power. The Seventh Vial, the last blast of the Seventh Trumpet, is to pour out its fury upon the Air, the secular and spiritual constitution of which will thereby be thoroughly and radically changed. The things now in the Air will be transferred to "them who dwell in the heaven" in Christ; who, having passed through the Vail of the Flesh which divides the Heavenlies, in the putting on of immortality, will be manifested as the Most Holy Heavenly in Christ; and the Air, filled with their glory, will become the New Heavens, in which righteousness will dwell forever.
The Air will then no longer be malarious with the pestiferousness of secular and spiritual demagogues, who "with good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." The Prince of the Power of the Air will then be the Spirit that works in the children of obedience - the truth incarnated gloriously in Jesus and his Brethren; who, in the highest sense, will be those who dwell in the heaven.
22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
The goal is very high. The POWER is God's but the APPLICATION of it is up to us. Complete devotion to His Word is the way. The power lies there in abundance, waiting for the few wise who will heed, but He will not force it upon any.
"Warning every man, that we may present every man PERFECT" (Col. 1:28).
To the Ephesians he said (Acts 20:31) that for the space of THREE YEARS he had ceased not NIGHT AND DAY to warn everyone WITH TEARS. There certainly must be very GRAVE DANGER of failure, if such incessant and urgent warnings are necessary! Are we SURE we are fully alive to the deceptiveness of the danger that threatens us? "Narrow is the way, and FEW there be that find it" - but those few DO find it, and all others COULD if they were willing to make the necessary effort.
NO EASY SLIDING INTO GLORY
The warning is to seek FIRST the Kingdom of God - to make SURE of that ONE thing to the sacrifice of everything else. It is quite possible to ALL - but only with the utmost effort. There will be no easy sliding into glory. A constant, tearful warning is needed against the Truth-choking concerns of this life and the deceitfulness of treasure on earth. *
* Bro Growcott - Straight Words to the Colossians
23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
To be "in Christ" is to remain in him. The brother who turns traitor to the truth is not regarded by Christ as "in him" (John xv. 6; viii. 31; 2 Cor. xiii. 5; Heb. iii. 6; 1 John ii. 28).
TC July 1894. p302
The Bible representation of human nature is found experimentally to be true - that man is dark left to his native resources; that there is no good in him by nature; that light comes from without; that there is no light but Christ; that this light, by the Gospel, heard, understood, believed and obeyed, shines into the inner man, and constitutes the recipients children of light; yet that the reception of this light does not save him unless it remains with him; that there is danger of its not remaining; that man is weak; that he is liable to "let slip" the "things which he has heard"; that he is in danger of being hardened through the deceitfulness of sin, and departing from the living God; drawing back into perdition, after having run well for a while.
Nothing is more plainly revealed than that it is he who endureth to the end that is to be saved; that it is they who hold fast the beginning of their confidence and rejoicing of the hope, steadfast unto the end, that are to be made partakers of Christ; that the man not keeping in memory the Gospel, not remaining grounded and settled, but being moved away from the hope of the Gospel, will fail in entering into the kingdom of God.
Bro Roberts - Light and darkness, Seasons 1:31.
We do not belong to the party that either plays with the truth, or doubts the truth, or unsettles the truth by perpetual surmise and so-called "investigation". We belong to those with whom the truth is a settled thing, and whose sole aim is to apply it, either in the enlightenment of the stranger, the comfort of the believer, or the purification of the obedient. We endorse absolutely the position taken up by Dr. Thomas, when he said:-
"Christadelphianism is a term representative of the system of the truth taught by the written word concerning Christ and his brethren. It represents the truth disinterred from the rubbish of clerical and denominational tradition, and sufficiently developed for all practical purposes connected with the remission of sins and eternal life. This is the great spiritual feature of the time of the end-the great light which shines upon the dark peoples of Britain and America...The scheme of human redemption has been brought out in all its particulars and scriptural proportions.
It is not now a matter of search or discussion.
What it is, is known to the initiated, who need not now to waste their energies in vain speculations and bootless investigation. They know what the truth is, and need not vex themselves in discussing the vagaries of mere novices who, like silly women, are ever learning and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth...They repudiate everlasting investigation, which implies search after the unknown. Periodicals that are always investigating are nuisances and not worth the postage. The apostacy abounds with these. They discuss everything and settle nothing...Such investigating periodicals are of no use to genuine Christadelphians.
These wisely seek to digest what they already have,
that they may not remain babes and weaklings all their lives."
Robert Roberts, 'The Christadelphian' October 1892 page 388.
If ye continue in the faith
WE are on probation - a probation which must one day end
Will it end in victory or defeat? This depends upon whether we are mindful of those little "ifs," which are providentially scattered here and there throughout the Scriptures:
"If we faint not"-"If we keep his commandments"-"If we walk in the light"-
"If we continue in the faith."
Are we helpless in the matter of these "ifs"? Have we or have we not a voice in meeting their requirements? Is the doctrine right which says that, if we are born to be saved, we shall be saved, and cannot help it; and if born to be damned, we are equally helpless?
No, this plausible, pleasing, popular doctrine is wrong-dangerously wrong. Fatalism is one of Christendom's deadly errors. Let us take care lest it insidiously take root in our weak and all-too-impressionable hearts. Let us think well before we excuse ourselves with a "cannot help it."
How does the matter stand according to the Scriptures? Moses thus expresses it:
"I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life"
What was said to the Jews is, in substance, said to Gentiles. To choose implies the action of free-will. The Scriptures do not trifle-they do not mock us. Our free-will may be bounded by limitations, and well that it is, but we have sufficient to obey or disobey-sufficient to establish a ground on which God can righteously bless or curse, save or destroy.
The psalmist's view is a right one, and his example is safe:
"I have chosen the way of truth"-"I will run the way of thy commandments"
(Ps. 119:30, 32).
Yes, it is a question of "I will" or "I will not." Let our choice be the wise one, and, having decided, let us cheerfully press onwards.
Bro AT Jannaway
The Christadelphian, June 1902
The Policy of the Christadelphian
In a public newspaper which is common ground, or a meeting called for public deliberation, both sides of a question are equally entitled to exhibition, and the men in charge would be guilty of unfairness in giving one more prominence than another: but the case is different with The Christadelphian.
It is not a public vehicle. It does not invite the public to discuss what truth is. It represents the truth as a foregone conclusion, and is dedicated to its advancement. It is as if a man asked the public to hear an exposition, or invited those espousing the same principles to meet and deliberate upon the best mode of promoting their advancement, in which case an opponent would clearly be out of place in seeking to be heard, and could make no just complaint at the opportunity being denied him.
This may be regarded as a narrowminded policy, but it is a policy that private individuals are at liberty to adopt without justly incurring the charge of unfairness.
It is the policy of The Christadelphian in relation to the truth, and a policy that will be earried out to the end as long as it is under its present management-the dissent of friend or foe to the contrary notwithstanding. No one is compelled to listen. Therefore no injustice is done. It is a matter of taste or choice.
... The odium of unfairness popularly associated with this line of action, we must endure. Such a charge has no foundation in truth.
The Christadelphian, March 1871