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Sunday, April 1, 2012

It Follows

As mentioned in the last couple of posts, I have been working through Colossians.  It has been exhilarating.  I continue to see connections and structure which in all of the previous studies I have overlooked.  That logical structure is really important in the section on relationships in the family and in employment, Colossians 3:18 – 4:1.  You know the passage.  It is somewhat controversial, especially in the current cultural climate.  The issue as you know is the command to submit as it is applied to women, children, and slaves in the passage.  The reaction is so strong to that word that traditional wedding vows have been scrapped.  I have had people in Bible studies say, out loud, that Paul hates women and that he should be ignored.  Not so much.
To understand the Bible we have to look at how what we are reading follows logically from what precedes it and flows logically into what follows it.
Most of the problems with this issue and most of the other controversies in the Christian community arise from not relating the text to the overall message of the book or the section of the book in which it is found.  That is critical to understanding the Bible.  There have been more errors per square inch committed in the Christian Body by taking a verse here and there to support a position.  Connecting a passage, studying it in relation to what comes before and after it, is critical to understanding what is being communicated by the author.  This is the case here in Colossians 3:18 – 4:1 and also in the parallel text in Ephesians 5:17 – 6:9.

We cannot separate Colossians 3:18 – 4:1 from 3:1 – 17.  Because 1 – 17 is the foundation - really all of Colossians up to 18 – for what Paul is saying in this passage.  Read through 1 – 17 and note what is required of each of us as a believer before Paul begins to talk about how we apply those requirements in our relationships.  It changes the entire playing field.  Especially focus on 12 – 17.  That is the context in which the Holy Spirit through Paul is commanding submission.  You do not have one without the other – they fit together grammatically, structurally, and logically.

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