The Book of Colossians – part 8, Dr. Alan Bandy (PowerPoint)

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BRINGING THE CHRISTIAN
HOUSEHOLD UNDER THE
REALM
OF CHRIST’S
(3:18–4:1)
LORDSHIP
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• 3:18–4:1– Paul now applies how doing
everything in the name of the Lord
translates to every member of a
household.
• Household codes, beginning with
Aristotle, were a common feature in
ancient society as a means for explaining
the roles of various family members
(including slaves).
Household Codes
• Many ancient household codes
were set in context of discussions
of city management and included
instructions on how to behave
toward the state as well as
toward parents, elders, friends,
and members of one’s
household.
• According the Greco-Roman
mindset, the household mirrored
the government of a city-state.
Public and household obligations
were often treated together.
Household Codes
• Plato – Republic
– Children, women, and slaves are
to submit in different ways to the
man’s authority and are not to
aspire to the roles of another.
• Aristotle – Oeconomica
– The acceptance of one’s station in
life “demands in the first place
familiarity with the sphere of
one’s actions.”
Commendable social behavior as God’s
people (2:11-3:7)
• Stoic and other philosophers
commonly used ethical codes to
delineate proper relationships with
others.
• Philosophers who discuss
“household codes” include:
–
–
–
–
–
–
Plato - Republic
Xenophon - Oeconomicus
Aristotle – Oeconomica
Plutarch – Advice to Bride and Groom
Seneca – Moral Epistles
Dio Chrysostom – On Household
Management
Household Codes
• According to Roman law, the father
was the paterfamilias who had
complete control over his children
as long as he lived.
• One of most famous examples of
this was the right of the head of the
household to reject newborns. If a
child was born and the head of the
household decided that ‘we have
too many children as it is’, or that
‘the child seems rather sickly’, or
that ‘we have too many girls
already’, the head of the household
could refuse to pick up the child and
at that point the child would either
have to be killed, or abandoned to
either die or be picked up by
someone else or others.
Household Codes
• Household codes do not occur in
the OT or Jewish writings until
Judaism engages the Greek
worldview.
• Because Greco-Roman culture
was so steeped in the household
code, no religious or moral
philosophy could fail to address
it.
• Both Peter and Paul included
household codes in their letters
when addressing people with a
Greco-Roman worldview.
Household Codes
• Early Christians, likewise, adopted
and modified this format for
describing appropriate behavior
of members in a Christian
household (cf. Eph 5:21–6:9; Ti
2:2–10; 1Pt 2:18–3:7; 1 Clem 21:68; Ignatius, Poly 4:1–6:2).
• J. H. Elliott, Home for the
Homeless, argues that
household codes function to
bring the church to a
cohesive identity that would
be consistent with its
missionary goals.
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• Paul exhorts each member of
households in three pairs:
(1) wives and husbands;
(2) children and parents; and
(3) slaves and masters.
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• 3:18 –Paul exhorts wives to be
submissive to their husbands.
• Paul always uses this verb in the
context of authority relationships (cf.
Rm 8:7; 8:20; 10:3; 13:1, 5; 1Co 14:32,
34; 15:27, 28; 16:16; Php 3:21; Col
3:18; Ti 2:5, 9; 3:1).
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• In Ephesians, everyone must submit to Christ’s
authority (cf. Eph 1:22; 5:24) and must relate
to one another with an attitude of submission
(cf. Eph 5:21).
• This submission is not subservience, but
voluntary respect for her husband.
• It is based on her relationship with Christ and
her role within the family (as is fitting in the
Lord), rather than on some false notion of
inferiority (cf. 1Co 11:3, 7-9; Eph 2:23-24).
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• 3:19 – Paul now admonishes husband to love
your wives with the additional warning not
to become bitter against them.
– Love refers to selfless sacrificial concern and
care for the welfare of another (cf. Eph 5:25-33).
– Become bitter pertains to harsh treatment and
could be translated as “to cause bitter feelings.”
• Husbands, therefore, must always
affectionately care for their wives and never
deal harshly with them.
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• 3:20 – Children obey your parents.
– The word obey shares the same root as “listening to
someone,” and lacks the voluntary sense found in the
command to be submissive.
– A child pleases the Lord through obedience to his or
her parents.
– This obedience of course would not pertain to
immoral or idolatrous demands from a parent, for
that would conflict with behavior pleasing to the
Lord.
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• 3:21 - Although the term Fathers could include both
parents (cf. Heb 11:23), fathers, in particular, are
warned to not exasperate their children (Eph 6:4).
– Exasperate means to cause or provoke someone to
harbor feelings of resentment.
– The reason for this injunction is so thy do not
become discouraged or disheartened.
• Thus, fathers must avoid dealing harshly with their
children by constantly deriding them.
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• 3:22-25 – It is thought that slaves in the
ancient world might have been lazy
because they did not personally profit
from their labor.
• Paul includes an exhortation for
Christian slaves to obey their earthly
masters in everything.
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• Paul adds an extensive explanation and rational for
this injunction:
– (1) they are to work even when unsupervised, because
they are ultimately serving the Lord;
– (2) their service to the Lord will be gloriously rewarded;
and
– (3) God does not discriminate when it comes to
punishing bad behavior.
•
The Christian Household under
Christ’s Lordship
• 4:1 –Paul now exhorts masters to deal justly with
their slaves because they themselves are slaves to
God.
– The terms right and fair imply the notion of
treating someone with equality.
Questions for Reflection
• What is the purpose for the household codes?
• What are some of the biggest challenges for
understanding and applying the household
codes in contemporary society?
• How should we handle these issues within the
context of our churches?
• How do we approach the issue of slaves and
masters?
ENCOURAGEMENT TO
PRAYER AND
CIRCUMSPECT
Encouragement to Prayer and
Interaction with Unbelievers
• 4:2 –Paul concludes his lists of commands by urging
them to habitually and continually stay stay alert in
prayer with an attitude of thanksgiving. Stay alert or
staying awake refers to the mental attitude of
expectancy and watchfulness.
• 4:3 –An open door became a common expression for
God to make an opportunity available for someone to
do something (cf. Acts 14:27; 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12). Paul
wants them to intercede on his behalf so that he may
continue to spread the gospel.
Encouragement to Prayer and
Interaction with Unbelievers
• 4:5 – His final exhortation to the Colossians is
that they use wisdom in their interaction with
nonbelievers (cf. 1:9, 10).
– The phrase making the most comes from a verb
meaning to buy up as if finding a barging, and used
here it seems to convey the idea of making the most
of all the time spent with nonbelievers.
• 4:6 – Using wisdom and making the most of time
with nonbelievers specifically relates to their
speech.
Outline
I.
III. CLOSING (4:7–18)
A. Commendation of Tychicus and
Onesimus (4:7–9)
B. Greetings from Paul’s Coworkers
(4:10–14)
C. Final Instructions (4:15–17)
D. Final Greetings and Benediction
(4:18)

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