Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Holding Steady Together

Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:4-5)
The Greek word for “deceive” here is paralogizomai, which means to miscalculate, reason falsely or mislead. “Beguile” is how the King James Version puts it. The word for “persuasive words” is pithanologia, which appears only once in the New Testament. According to A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament, by Bauer, Arndt and Gingrich, it speaks of the “art of persuasion” and is used here of “plausible (but false) arguments.”

False teachers can be very charming, feeding you and deceiving you with arguments that sound good on first hearing but fall apart on closer inspection. That is why Paul wanted the Jesus believers at Colosse to be woven together in love and have the confidence that comes from knowing and experiencing God in an intimate way through Jesus the Messiah.

Most of these believers Paul had probably never seen in person but he knew about them through Epaphras, who related to him their faith in Jesus and their love for all the believers everywhere. So, though he was not with them “in the flesh,” he was able to identify with them “in the spirit” and perceive their spiritual condition. And what he saw in them filled him with joy. He rejoiced to see their “good order” and the “steadfastness” of their faith in the Messiah.

The Greek word for “good order” is a military term, which Paul uses metaphorically. It means that they held the line without any breaches. The word for “steadfastness” is similar. They were holding steady in their faith against the attacks of the enemy, maintaining a solid formation like a Roman phalanx.

It is important to remember that a line is not a line of one nor can one man form a phalanx all by himself. Paul is not writing to a collection of individuals but to a community of faith. They were not each one left to fend for themselves but were all in this together. They were a tight band of believers with a common love for one another and a common faith in and love for the Lord Jesus. And there was great strength in that.

The Focus of Our Faith
The Focus of Our Faith
Paul’s Letters to the Jesus Believers at Colosse
Bite-Size Studies Through Colossians
by Jeff Doles

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Available in paperback and Kindle (Amazon), epub (Google and iTunes) and PDF.

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