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Jeesus huusi kovalla äänellä: "Isä, sinun käsiisi minä uskon henkeni." Tämän sanottuaan hän henkäisi viimeisen kerran. Luuk. 23:46

A new person

in English 2.4.2014 00:00 | Siionin Lähetyslehti
In his letter to the Colossians Paul warned of the dangers of sin and wanted to clarify the Colossians’ faith in Jesus Christ so they would receive the power to live a life in accordance with God’s will.
A living congregation of Christ had been born in the city of Colossus. Paul’s workmate, Epaphras, had gone to the city, where he had preached the word of truth—the gospel about Christ Jesus—to the Colossians (Col. 1:5). Many had received the gospel by faith. This is the way the group of believers in Colossus was born.

Although Paul had not been to Colossus, he had heard much about the life of the new congregation. Namely, in his letter Paul mentions that he had heard about the birth of the congregation and the related reasons for joy. He had also prayed together with other Christians that the Colossians would be strengthened in faith and would receive the power to live according to the will of God (1:8–10).  

As in his other letters, Paul above all wanted to strengthen the faith of the recipients of his letter. At the same time he warned of doctrinal fallacies and the dangers of sin which the Colossian believers had encountered.

The doctrine of Christ was threatened

Colossus was a rather small city in today’s Turkey. It had once been situated at the crossroads of important routes. Life in the city was colored by many nationalities and religions.

The problem in Colossus was that the local people felt pressure to also assimilate ideas from other religions and philosophies on an equal basis alongside the gospel of Christ. The concern that Paul expressed in his letter about teaching that mixed religions—syncretism—is current even today. The idea that each individual can build his or her own religion and adapt the word of God to it according his or her own preferences is spreading ever wider.

Paul mentions these types of wrong ideas in his letter. He points to the fact that some Jews would have wanted the believers to continue observing traditional rules of cleanliness and holy days (2:16).The idea of an ascetic way of life probably originated from Greek philosophy (2:18–23), which according to Paul only satisfied a person’s pride.

A new life in Christ Jesus

Thus the new congregation in Colossus lived in the midst of various false doctrines. At the same time the believers had become familiar with many enticements and influences of sin. For this reason Paul had to reveal to them simple belief in the mystery of God, and in Jesus Christ, in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden (2:2–3).

In the introduction Paul describes the change which takes place in a person who has received the grace of repentance. Repentance is above all a change of mind where a person’s life does not change direction just a little; it is built upon a completely new foundation and takes a direction toward a completely new goal. The foundation of faith is Jesus Christ and His atonement. The goal is eternal life in Heaven.

Paul uses as an example of this change a familiar act: dressing. He exhorts the Colossians first to undress: “because you have taken off your old self with its practices” (3:9). This means rejecting a life that is against the will of God—unbelief and sin. Paul mentions examples of things that should be rejected: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires, greed, anger, rage, malice, slander, filthy language, and lying (3:5–9).

After this Paul exhorts them to put on the new self (3:10). This is a question of the garment of righteousness of faith—a gift—with which God dressed the first human pair, Adam and Eve (Gen. 3:21). From the first pages of the Bible on we are reminded that God has prepared the gift of righteousness—the forgiveness of sins—for each and every person. Paul reveals this simple message of the gospel about Jesus Christ in his letters, also in his letter to the Colossians.

God does not tire in His love

The Holy Spirit brings forth fruits of faith in the new person, the follower of Jesus (1:8–10; Gal. 5:22). Paul lists these fruits: compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience. He exhorts the Colossians to bear with each other and to forgive one another as Christ had forgiven them (3:12–13).

God never ceases to love a sinful person even though He hates sin. That is why the “new person,” the follower of Christ, yet today in the midst of his or her failings can trust in the forgiving and renewing power of the gospel. In his great love God untiringly still searches for and calls unbelieving people into his kingdom.

Text: Antti Savela
Published: Siionin Lähetyslehti 5/2013
Translation: Keith Kosola

Tekstissä käsitellään seuraavia raamatunkohtia: Col. 3:1–17
Julkaistu englanninkielisessä kieliliiteessä 4/2014

 

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