One reason I like to blog: I can say as much or as little as I want on any given day. I try to stay at 400 words or less, sometimes it’s hard to do that little. Usually it’s about right.
Writing study notes for a Bible is a huge challenge for me. I’m working on that for Colossians right now. Yesterday’s labor of love? A footnote for, “completing what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions.” You pretty much have to say what you’re going to say in 40 words. Otherwise, you’ve used up your word count for the whole chapter.
Here was my attempt at that:
Paul sees his own suffering in ministry as an extension of the work of Christ on the cross (cf 2 Cor 4:10-12). He is working to complete (lit., “fill up”) the work of reconciliation by creating reconciled communities that participate in the reconciliation Christ has already accomplished.
You hope you’re giving folks enough tidbits and breadcrumbs to find their way to exegetical treasure.
One fascinating thread that runs through the description of Christ in Col 1: the connection with Wisdom. Here, I’m not saying anything that hasn’t been said often by others.
The connection with Wisdom in the Jewish tradition helps fill in some otherwise puzzling details.
For example, what are we to make of the language of “fullness”?
Both God and Wisdom are said to fill the earth–indications of God’s presence and saving power. But in Colossians, it is Christ who becomes the focal point of the fullness of God.
God fills heaven and earth (Jer 23:24)–but Christ is now the fullness of God. Christ is that by which God fills the earth. God’s Spirit and Wisdom fill the earth (Wisdom 1:6-7), but that fulness has Christ as its substance.
These notions of God’s presence and power are focused on Christ–and Christ is revealed as the one in whom all things on earth hold together. That sovereign presence of God, known everywhere on earth, is now a reconciling presence in the crucified and risen Christ.
And, the hope of God’s final glory is that this Christ indwells us, making God’s fullness the filling received by all who are united to Him.
How is it that Christ can be sufficient? How is it that Colossians can consistently call people away from other sources of wisdom, power, fullness, and knowledge?
Because the Christ who bears the fullness of the cosmos-filling God indwells us–and we, too, are in Him.
There I go with 400 words again…