Posted by: William | February 3, 2008

The Message of Colossians & Philemon

This is day two of being incapacitated from sickness. To be frank, it’s hard to write; my mind is cloudy from all the drugs and Vicks steam floating through the air. However, I am here to write, and write I shall.

I recently completed the IVP/BST commentary on Colossians and Philemon entitled, The Message of Colossians & Philemon written by R.C. Lucas. Published originally in 1980 under the title Fullness & Freedom, this commentary is short at just under 200 hundred pages.

Paul had never visited the Colossian church. He wrote the Letter of Colossians while in prison after receiving a report from Epaphras that the young church was being threatened by some visitor’s teachings. The visitors claimed Christ’s work on the cross to be the foundation, but true spiritual completeness would come, first of all, in this lifetime in the form of some kind of experience and second of all would come through following these visitor’s teachings (i.e., self abasement, diets, fasting & festivals). Paul used this letter to exhort the church to see Christ’s work on the cross as finished and once one is in him, they have reached this lifetime’s pinnacle; they already have Christ’s fullness.

The commentator’s notes on Philemon are short, only about 10 pages long, but sheds some light on the early church’s take on slavery and hierarchical relationship. However, for much fuller understanding of Philemon and the things surrounding this letter, I highly recommend Slave of Christ, written by Murray J. Harris, as part of the NSBT series.

This commentary is by no means a thorough exegesis. Lucas generally will take four or five verses at a time, then over the next chapter break them apart in a non-numerical order. While, understanding the meanings of each verse becomes difficult when the commentator discusses the scripture in this way, it’s much easier to grasp general themes and ideas. You won’t walk away from this commentary with a comprehensive understanding of the scripture; you will however find it easier to understand the scripture when you read it yourself, until later when perhaps you step into a more detailed study.

All in all, I recommend this as a companion, but don’t stop here. Don’t stop anywhere, really.

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