Friday, June 09, 2006

Colossians & Devotion

Thinking through Colossians recently has persuaded me that Hooker's thesis about the problems and thus the purpose of Colossians is fundamentally correct, though we may demur on specific details. Larry Hurtado has written that:

Without detracting in any way from the significance of the christological affirmations expressed in Colossians, however, the text is not in fact primarily an exercise in doctrinal development or speculative innovation. Instead it mainly represents a practical concern to motivate and reinforce the behaviour of the intended readers, both devotionally and in the wider scope of their lives, so that they should aim to “do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (3:17; and similarly Eph. 5:20).
[Hurdato, Lord Jesus Christ, pg. 510]
With this in view, we must contend that Colossians was written as a pastoral exhortation to a fledgling community of faith, trying to make its way in an imperial and pagan context. "Devotion" to Jesus was Paul's central concern. Either to persuade Gentiles to adopt Jesus as LORD and thus abandon all other claims to authority over their lives or to encourage those who have pledged allegiance to the King to work this out in every area of their lives. Devotion to Jesus is thus the theme of Colossians and its central concern. It is an exhortation to a theology of, a praxis for and a relationship with the Creator and Redeemer: Jesus the Messiah.

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