Saturday, February 4, 2012

The Word that Qualifies Us

And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to which also you were called in one body; and be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom, teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord. And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him. (Colossians 3:15-17)
Paul continues his talk on what the new life we have in Jesus should look like on us, with everything bound together with love as the mature and complete expression of that life. Now he shifts the analogy. “Let the peace of God rule in your hearts.” The Greek word for “rule” is brabeuo, which speaks of a judge in an athletic competition. We came across it earlier, in Colossians 2:18, where Paul said, “Let know one cheat you of your reward.” There the form was katabrabeuo, to “judge against,” and Paul was talking about the false teachers who were trying to disqualify believers by teaching them they needed something besides King Jesus. But here, it is the peace of God that comes to make the decisions.

Being Jewish, Paul would have understood peace as shalom, the wholeness that comes from God. It does not come to condemn but to teach us how to live this new life in Jesus. The false teachers gave their pronouncement, “Disqualified.” But the peace of God speaks over us and declares, “Qualified!” God has called us together in one body — the body of Jesus the Messiah — so that we may know and enjoy this peace. This should lead us to a life of continual praise to God, and in a moment, Paul will tell us how we come into that.

Since we are the body of King Jesus, we should be attentive to His word. It is the word that comes from Him that guides us, not the word of angels, or the teachers of the “mysteries,” or the superstitions of folk religionists, or lists of rules and regulations. The word of the Messiah is the message of the Gospel, the teaching about who He is and why He came, the things He said and did — all that comes from Him and pertains to Him. It comes to fill us abundantly with His wisdom.

With this word and the wisdom it brings, we are to teach and exhort each other. The way we do this, Paul tells us — and here is something we were not expecting — is with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. This is worship, an activity of the Holy Spirit in us. It is only by the Spirit that we can say, with any conviction, that Jesus is Lord (1 Corinthians 12:3). In his letter to the believers at Ephesus, Paul speaks of this same activity coming as a result of being filled with the Holy Spirit.
And do not be drunk with wine, in which is dissipation; but be filled with the Spirit, speaking to one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and making melody in your heart to the Lord, giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. (Ephesians 5:18-20)
On the night of the Last Supper, Jesus taught that Holy Spirit would take the things of Jesus and declare them to us (John 16:15). That is, He comes to teach us about Jesus. When we are filled with the Spirit, then, it will always be about Jesus. This is the grace of God at work in our hearts, bringing praise to God. Everything we say and do is to be done in the name of King Jesus the Messiah (not in the name of angels). In this way we give proper thanks to the Father through Him.

Focus Questions
  1. How does the peace of God rule in our hearts?
  2. In Ephesians 5, it is being filled with the Holy Spirit that leads to psalms, hymns and spiritual songs. Why does Paul emphasize, here in Colossians, that it is being filled with the word of the Messiah that leads to those things?
  3. What does it mean to do all things in the name of King Jesus? Why is this important?

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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