Wednesday, May 31, 2006

Jesus & The Eyewitnesses

There can be only ONE! And if I could only read one book on the historical Jesus this year, this MUST be that one book! Richard Bauckham had done it again and put us in his service by offering another devastating critique of our awkward assumptions. I'm baffled as to how he does this, and how many more times he will do it, but I'm thankful that such a powerful voice exists: to demolish and challenge vague unsubstantiated claims of the past. Its a treat to devour his scholarship.

This new book argues that the four Gospels are closely based on eyewitness testimony of those who knew Jesus. Noted New Testament scholar Richard Bauckham challenges the prevailing assumption that the accounts of Jesus circulated as “anonymous community traditions,” asserting instead that they were transmitted in the name of the original eyewitnesses. To drive home this controversial point, Bauckham draws on internal literary evidence, study of personal names in the first century, and recent developments in the understanding of oral traditions.

Jesus and the Eyewitnesses also taps into the rich resources of modern study of memory and cognitive psychology, refuting the conclusions of the form critics and calling New Testament scholarship to make a clean break with this long-dominant tradition. Finally, Bauckham challenges readers to end the classic division between the “historical Jesus” and the “Christ of faith,” proposing instead the “Jesus of testimony.” Sure to ignite heated debate on the precise character of the testimony about Jesus, Jesus and the Eyewitnesses will be valued by scholars, students, and all who seek to understand the origins of the Gospels.
As Chris Tilling observes, only Bauckham could write this book and gain a fair hearing. My question to Bauckham would be: How many times, still, are you going to single handedly turn the tide of NT scholarship, for the better? And for those interested in Bauckham the question must be: Does this feat make him the greatest living NT scholar? Cause where I'm standing, it must. And the best thing, is that he has written nothing major on Paul - YET! AND, we're still waiting for his tome: Jesus and the Identity of GOD!, which will no doubt deal with not only Paul, but the entire NT, and redefine the way we deal with Christological Monotheism...

Friday, May 26, 2006

What's New?

A recently discovered blog: Singing in the Reign has some interesting features. Notably a section on historical Jesus methodology. It's run by a Catholic scholar, Michael Barber who is doing his PhD at Fuller Seminary. It sporadically deals with topics those in the NT guild will find interesting and important. He even has the audacity to claim that "the most glaring [mistake of Wright] is the redefinition of exile in terms of Roman oppression." I wonder if he's read Evans article on this? Because otherwise, he's got a lot of explaining to do.
Mike Bird's essay on Post New Perspective Perspective is available at the CTR. Just scroll down to find the section on the NPP. The Bird also finally sees the light on Paul and Rhetorical criticism.
Eddie has a new blog spot where he responds to my questioning Hurtado's notion of "experience" as the impetus for early devotion to Jesus. I still wish Hurtado would quantify what he means by that. Or maybe I just need to keep reading until he does...
Witherington smacks The Da Vinci Code in one swift blog. The movie is apparently not as good as the novel, nor as provocative. Paul Windsor re-directs the discussion with a helpful ? & !
Peter M. Head wonders if Mark 15:28 is really lost to us. A passage I was working on a couple of days ago, for a series I will one day preach entitled: The Gospel of Mockers. While J. B. Hood tells us of forthcoming beauties [Commentaries on matthew...] I can't wait to read Witherington and Evans. The rest are not that appealing to me...
Derek Brown stands in the presence of greatness... I've stood before one of those men before and asked: "So how does your hypothesis of Oral Tradition work with the apocryphal gospels?" TO which a great Rabbi gave me words that inspired me to researc further. But those words shall ne'er be uttered again - from those lips...
James Darlack finally discovers the hilarity of "BABY GOT BOOK"
Back to research on Worship in Colossians... Have fun Ya'll...

Wednesday, May 24, 2006

New or Old?

In the new ‘gospel’, Jesus is made out to be a mystery man, a guru. He laughs mockingly when the disciples try to understand what he’s about. He is said to reveal the mystic names of heavenly powers, and to explain how the universe was created by inferior angels. He claims that the soul is only a very temporary dweller in the body. And Judas is told repeatedly that only he understands Jesus, not the other, dimwitted, disciples. It’s the standard kind of teaching you expect from gurus of a certain sort.

Now turn to the New Testament. Here is the real Jesus who actually has a recognisable human setting. His favourite method of teaching is to tell sharp and sometimes satirical stories of ordinary life, with a sting in the tail. He doesn’t suffer fools (especially religious fools) gladly, but he has all the time in the world for those who are thought to be failures. He is a straightforward, not a cynical man. He likes being with children. He knows his disciples don’t fully understand him and sometimes it makes him angry, but he goes on loving and trusting them. When he’s faced with a horrible and unavoidable death, he trembles and cries, but goes on with it.

When the Jesus of the Gospels comes back from the dead, he doesn’t go and crow over his enemies, he meets his friends and tells them to get out there and talk about him — about what his life and death have made possible, about forgiveness, making peace, being honest about yourself, checking the temptation to judge and condemn, tackling your selfishness at the root, praying simply and trustingly.
'Doubtful gospels blind us to faith'
Rowan Williams.

Sunday, May 21, 2006

James the Just

James Darlack provides not only a useful blog, but a helpful entry on James the Just. His blog includes links to several essays and articles having to do with James. I must confess to be rather ignorant regarding James and his relationship to Jesus and early Christianity but it is an area I am intrigued by, and hopefully will get to one day when they stop publishing books about Jesus...

James has a wonderful entry noting several articles from the SBJT.

The Southern Baptist Journal of Theology has published an entire issue on the Epistle of James (vol. 4, no. 3 [2000]). This issue has been made available online by Southern Seminary. Download the complete complete Journal as a PDF file here. Or download the individual articles below: 2

Editorial: Thomas R. SchreinerPractical Christianity 4

Dan G. McCartneyThe Wisdom of James the Just 66

Friday, May 19, 2006

Intertextuality File?

I was convinced that I had a file [PDF?], from a UBS Greek NT, with tables that show where the New Testament directly quotes from or alludes to the Hebrew scriptures. I was under the impression that this table showed the references for every NT book, chapter and verse with the corresponding reference to the Hebrew scriptures. IS there such a file that shows the intertextuality or is there something else that would work just as well?
Is there such a thing? Does anyone know where I could find this online? I'm completely at a loss, and I've searched high and low - but to no avail...

Concordia Symposia

Dr. Peter J. Scaer - "Justification and the Book of Acts" Dr. Mark A. Seifrid - "Imputation, Narration, and Justification: Where Do We Now Stand?" Andrew E. Steinmann - "When Did Herod the Great Reign?" James A. Waddell - "Apostolic Response to the ‘Forged Letter’ in 2 Thessalonians" Dr. Stephen Westerholm - "Justification Is the Answer; What Is the Question?" Dr. Arthur A. Just, Jr. - "The Faith of Christ" Dr. Charles A. Gieschen - "Echoes of Scripture in the Letters of Paul" Dr. Dean O. Wenthe - "An Appreciation and Response to Dr. Richard B. Hays’ The Moral Vision of the New Testament"

Thursday, May 18, 2006

Colossians 1:9

Vs. 9 For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
The response on behalf of the Colossians leads the team to pray that their knowledge of God’s intentions will be increased, and that this will be full of spiritual skill [1] and understanding. It appears the apostolic teams is convinced that sharing with them the content of their prayers will also encourage them to both pray the same sorts of prayers, and seek to implement what is being requested. Rhetorically then, Paul and the team are modelling spiritual formation. They are encouraging the Colossians by commending their behaviour which has led them back to God in thanksgiving and prayer.
The fact that they continually pray for these believers also hints at an intensity of prayer that is aware of God’s intervention.[2] Therefore, it must be seen that Paul is here looking for and expecting the intervention of YHWH, through his Spirit. God is not aloof, or far away, but rather interactive within the churches and the world. As Dunn comments:
For a theist who believes that God’s active purpose determines the ordering of the world, lies behind the events on earth, and shapes their consequences, one of the most desirable objectives must be to know God’s will. The corollary, spelled out in the following phrases, is that such knowledge gives insight into and therefore reassurance regarding what happens (often unexpected in human perspective) and helps direct human conduct to accord with that will. Such desire to know and do God’s will is naturally very Jewish in character and was, not surprisingly, shared by Jesus and the first Christians.[3]
To know what one does, and what one wills is a good indicator of what kind of person you are dealing with. Actions speak louder than words, and Paul here builds momentum for describing the great act of GOD in rescuing us from the dominion of darkness. This in turn sheds light on the very identity of GOD which is then disclosed in the famous hymn of 1:15-20. What God does, declares who God is. What God wills, declares God’s character and identity. These elements are all interconnected, and circularly related. Knowledge feeds purpose, which incites action, which then leads to insight and the cycle continues. Thus, the petition is that they might be “filled” with knowledge. This indicates that it will affect every facet of their lives.
However, it takes spiritual skill to be able to see this. It takes a heart that is devoted to God, a mind that is open to God and the disciplined practice of paying careful attention. It’s a skill and an art to hearing the voice of GOD and being invited to contemplate the supreme excellency of the divine nature. And that is what Paul is preparing the audience for. This is why Paul and company pray this for the church. The prayer of the apostles is that they will be given the insight to see what God’s will is, in every situation they face.[4] This will then commence a chain reaction of understanding and implementing that will compel them further into the purposes and knowledge of God’s will for them. Prayer is thus a catalyst for provoking momentum amongst these followers of Jesus, just as it has provoked momentum among the apostolic team in their prayer and mission.

[1] It appears that within the context, the writer has ‘practical wisdom’ as the intended meaning here. Thus sofiva/, is better rendered “skill.” This is something they must know how to do well, not just something they must know.
[2] O’Brien, Colossians and Philemon, pg. 20
[3] Dunn, Colossians, pg. 69
[4] O’Brien, Colossians and Philemon, pg. 20 notes that “the petition is that God might fill the Colossian Christians with a perception of his will, which consists of an understanding of what is spiritually important.”

Once More: Pistis Christou

The Bird has comments on Mark Siefrid's position on the now famous, Pistis Christou debate. According Siefrid [assuming the Bird has represented him properly, which I think he has]

Proponents of the subjective genitive can displace the significance of Christ's atoning death for a moral ideal of fidelity.

But my question is how and why are these two mutually exclusive? I thought one of the points of Hays dissertation was to show that these are not mutually exclusive? Or have I missed something significant? Jesus' Faithfulness is what leads to our atonement. Without his faithfulness, there is no atonement. And precisely because Jesus has modelled faithfulness, that becomes a moral ideal of fidelity.
Or, is Siefrid interested in returning/correcting the balance of emphasis that's placed on the atoning death of Christ, according to his own understanding of that, which fits [neatly?] into Reformation [Penal Substitution] categories [Which are, questionably, Paul's emphasis?]?
I would read the book, but my list of things to read is tight and heavy - so it aint gonna happens for a long time...

Friday, May 12, 2006

Hermeneutical Question

Colossians 3:18-4:1?
My nemesis emailed me the other day to ask me if I had any resources on women in leadership/ministry and the arguments surrounding the issue. He made the peculiar comment that he wish to see the hermeneutical problems surrounding this issue. Now, of course there are hermeneutical presuppositions that will guide this discussion...
But that got me thinking: What hermeneutic shall we embrace with regards to the household codes? These codes appear to enforce some form of male hierarchy. A straight exegesis of Ephesians may tend towards more of a complementarity, given Eph 5:21. But Colossians is pretty apt in stating: Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. Husbands, love your wives and never treat them harshly. [Colossians 3:18-19]
However, what most commentators forget, is that these codes also include categorical statements about slavery. For example, Colossians will go on to state that: Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything, not only while being watched and in order to please them, but wholeheartedly, fearing the Lord. Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters, since you know that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you serve the Lord Christ. For the wrongdoer will be paid back for whatever wrong has been done, and there is no partiality. Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, for you know that you also have a Master in heaven. The Colossian household code says more about the relationships between slave and master, than it does about wives submitting to their husbands. I know of no contemporary exegetes who advocate slavery, but many who still advocate women's submission. Which raises the hermeneutical question:
Is it valid to appropriate these codes into contemporary practice, and then blatantly ignore what they clearly say about slavery?
I am aware of the arguments that show that wherever these codes come from, they are already subverting their traditional interpretation by mentioning first those who have been dominated and are thus slightly liberated through this preference to speak to them first. But even this does not undermine what these texts clearly say.
So why do some just pick and choose which parts of the code are still valid for today? By what criteria do exegetes attempt this task? Is it just presuppositions which dictate these conclusions? As Gordon Fee notes:
To conclude otherwise forces one logically into the position of justifying slavery as a God-ordained structure for the present age, since the two household codes (Eph 5:21-6:9; Col 3:18-4:1) assume both realities in the same structure: the Greco-Roman household of the privileged. Those who advocate the continuation of male authority today have failed to address this problem adequately.[1]
A n y c l u e s ?
[1] G. Fee "Male and Female in the New Creation" in Discovering Biblical Equality: Complementarity without Hierarchy eds. R. W. Pierce and R. M. Groothuis (IVP, 2004) pg. 184

Da Vinci Trial

A friend emailed me this: Dan Brown’s publishers were sued for copyright infringement by the authors of The Holy Blood and the Holy Grail. The judgement went against them, but, in the course of the trial, Dan Brown gave evidence and the Judge in his judgement sums up his evidence and describes the writing process. He also makes comments on the themes of the book along the way. While the conclusion of the judgement has been reported, most people will have missed some of the comments that the Judge makes. I would recommend anyone interested in responding to the Da Vinci Code to read the judgement.

I would particularly draw attention to paragraphs 345 and 346. The judge writes concerning Dan Brown’s evidence:
'His failure to address these points in my view shows once again that the reality of his research is that it is superficial. This in my view is the explanation for his evidence. He has presented himself as being a deep and thorough researcher for all of the books he produced. The evidence in this case demonstrates that as regards DVC that is simply not correct with respect to historical lectures.'

Thursday, May 11, 2006


I shall now retreat into a quiet place...
a place where thoughts will abound...
a situation where awe will unfold...
a circumstance of wonder will behold...
a corner where Larry Hurtado will explain...
a tome on how devotion to Jesus was done...
a book: Lord Jesus Christ... Devotion to Jesus in Earliest Christianity...
Will now be devoured, by this hungry soul...

Colossians 1:9-10

I'll begin this section by quoting Colossians 1:9-12 in Rob Lacey's beautiful language.

So from day one of hearing your story we’ve been pushing your case with God, asking him to fill you in on his plans via his spiritual wisdom package. Why? So your lifestyle will ring true. So they’ll look at you and it’ll be obvious you belong to the King. So you’ll make God happy in every category of life- getting on with good things, getting to know him personally because you’re plugged into his power supply, which is dazzling, long lasting, the only high worth having. So you’ll be bubbling with joy- and you’ll know who to credit: the one who’s signed you in for a chunk of inheritance (tax free).

The language employed here allows a unique insight into Paul's intentions...

Wednesday, May 10, 2006

Colossians 1:7-8

Vs. 7. This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf,
The gospel is wrapped up in peoples lives. It’s relational, connecting people from various streams of life into a global family that is on a mission to New Frontiers in God and in this world. Epaphras was sent to the city, possibly by Paul, to plant a work of God among them. He has served this church well, and is part of a larger team (“our beloved servant”) of people working together within the kingdom to establish local communities of people who have embraced Jesus and “the way” that he is.
The verb used (“as you learned”) may imply that Epaphras had seen his task in Colossae not simply as winning them to faith but as instructing them in the traditions and parenesis without which they would have no guidelines in translating their faith into daily living (Rom 16:7; 1 Cor 4:6; Phil 4:9).[1]
Epaphras is thus, an emissary of the gospel, part of Paul’s team[2] and loyal to the gospel story of King Jesus. He has taught the Colossians the gospel and is commended by Paul. Paul probably notes this to reinforce his leadership among them and to convey to them that they should continue to follow him faithfully.
Vs. 8. and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
Paul finishes this section by reminding the Colossians that he is well aware of their situation, and of the “love” commitment that they have for one another and for himself. Paul’s apostolic oversight of this church is thus relational, even to a community that he has not met or established. They, Paul and others, had commissioned Epaphras to serve in Colossae by planting and establishing a church, but this community of faith is not an isolated entity, rather it is part of a much larger family network of relationships. There appears to be constant communication in the early Church as different communities work together to announce God’s presence and power among them. However, the “love” which connects them is no ordinary kind of love, but rather a “love in/by the Spirit.”

The love that mirrors the love of God in Christ can only be aroused and sustained by the Spirit of God. The phrase carries overtones of an inspiration that wells up from within, charismatically enabled (Rom. 2:29; 1 Cor. 12:3, 9, 13; 14:16; 1 Thes. 1:5), and that depends on continued openness to the Spirit if its quality of unselfish service of others is to be maintained.[3]

This community of believers is powered by and moved by love that has its origins in the work of the Spirit among them. This is the only direct reference to the Spirit in Colossians, but there are many other hints that infer the work of the Spirit among them, and thus we should not conclude that Spirit activity was somehow absent from their community experiences (cf. Col. 3:16).

[1] Dunn, Colossians, pg. 64

[2] Dunn, Colossians, pg. 63 notes that “It may have been Paul’s missionary strategy to concentrate his own energies in major cities, which sending out mission teams to towns in the region (Acts 19:10).”
[3] Dunn, Colossians, pg. 65

Tuesday, May 09, 2006

Colossians 1:5-6

Vs. 5. because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel...
The reason Paul and others have heard of their faithfulness and love for the church is because they are motivated by “the Hope lad up for you in heaven.”
Hope can have either a subjective sense, referring to the at of hoping, to expectation, yearning or desire, or it can have an objective sense, referring to what one hopes for (1 Thess 5:8; Gal 5:5; Rom 8:24-25). The descriptive phrase “kept for you in heave” makes it clear that the second or objective sense is in view here.[1]
Christ’s victory, and their participation in this victory through allegiance with Christ, provokes them to action. It’s a confidence in what Christ has done that sets them free to explore ways to know him, and make him known. Hope inspires exploits for the King and his kingdom. Heaven beckons a life-long reaction to God’s grace revealed in Christ Jesus, the Lord. But how can one talk of hope, without immediate reference to the gospel? Thus, Paul is quick to note that “hope” is found in the proclamation of great news, the world changing news that is, Jesus the King.
Vs. 6. that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.
This message has come to them in the “true story” or “message of truth” which is, the gospel: the announcement of Jesus’ victory through his life, death and resurrection which means that he is none other than the LORD. This is the story of which they have now become part of and which they are telling and living. The story of God’s kind intervention, the announcement that Jesus, the crucified and risen Messiah is Lord, is having a global impact. Seeds are not just being planted and scattered, rather they are already gathering in a harvest. There is an immediate participation and reception of God’s grace and kindness which has included them. The consequences and effects of this narrative proclamation have been grasped and applied to their lives. There is possibly a rhetorical strategy here, whereby saying that they have “truly comprehended” the gospel, the Colossians will question whether or not they have, and then make sure that they have. Paul is pastorally very concerned that believers and followers of Jesus fully know and understand what it means to confess Jesus the King, as LORD.
[1] Thompson, Colossians and Philemon, pg. 20

Friday, May 05, 2006

Paul @ Carey

Check out Paul Windsor's blog! Paul is the principle of Carey Baptist. I did a lot of my undergraduate work at this place, with cool people like George Wieland, Laurie Guy and the legend at Carey, Brian Smith [who's understanding of Greek and the NT is insane...].
I spent a lot of valuable time with these people and they definitely shaped the way I think, believe and act. Although, they should not be held responsible for my de-faults.

Thursday, May 04, 2006

Colossians 1:3-4

Paul notes that they, (as leaders [Tim & Epaph?] or as a church?), pray for the believers in Colossae. This isn’t just a once off prayer, but many “prayers” have been prayed for this bursting community of faith. The reason for which will be mentioned later. The direction of thanks and prayer is towards God. Probably because of what God has been doing in the community. God is thus seen to be the source of their flourishing and impact. Note that this is not some impersonal or abstract God, but rather the Father. The intimacy expressed here is one which must have been strange for a Pharisee who grew up in fear of the Almighty and transcendent God. But now, given the fact of Jesus and all that that entails, God is now close. So close the only language to express this is in familial language. God is our Father, the source of all good things. Why? Because of the Lord Jesus Christ and all that he has done, accomplished and is busy doing through his church, the body of Christ.
Vs. 4. The linking of the word “for” to this next verse is important as Paul develops his thought. The causal factor in Paul’s and Timothy’s [and their team or base Church’s?] thankfulness is the testimony of “faithfulness” for Jesus and his mission, which they are accomplishing “in Christ”. They have held on to what was delivered unto them, and they have persevered in putting into practice what was given to them in the gospel. The sphere of this activity is all “in Christ Jesus” by which Paul means a life lived in intimacy with Jesus and a life reflecting the reign of Jesus. But this raises the interesting question of what it is that they were doing, that made their faith/fullness well known, even to Paul? If principally the message of Jesus is an "open secret" to be seen in human lives, not just read in a sacred book, then what is it that these Christians were doing that made their life in Christ newsworthy to the rest of the Christian community? Something for contemporary disciples of Jesus to ponder often...

Da Vinci Code Madness

It's coming...

And as I'm currently writing my lecture on The Da Vinci Code, it's with great pleasure that Ben Witherington alerts us to a discussion between Bart Ehrman and Richard Hays on this very issue. It's an Mp3 file, so make sure you've got broadband and listen to it!

There is an An excerpt of the discussion (6 min)or The entire Beyond the Da Vinci Code event (1 hour, 45). Hays is a master NT exegete and I'm sure this will be well worth our time and effort.

I'm still hoping a resident Bird will drop off an email of a certain lecture that he may have written on this very topic... Hint, Hint, nudge, nudge, Wink, Wink... :)

While I'm asking for favours, does anyone know where I can get a photo of the Gospel of Philip? I'd like to have a look at the actual fragments that were found at Nag Hammadi. Any help here would be much appreciated.

Tuesday, May 02, 2006

Back to Colossians

Well, after a much needed holiday and finishing off some other important projects, let me take a tour back into the world that is Colossians...

Colossians 1 1-2 Paul, an apostle of King Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
This letter, which I tend towards being authored by Paul (written by Tim?), begins with a characteristic introduction about Paul’s calling and authority. Paul labels himself an ‘apostle of Christ’ and this is ‘by the will of God.’ Apostolic ministry is rather vague in scholarly writing. I don’t think that the western world has quite grasped what it is that Paul and other apostles did. Paul was a massive pioneer, much like Bill Gates with Microsoft. His aim was to make Jesus a household name, and quite frankly [with a little help from friends and GOD], he did a pretty good job. So when Paul writes Colossians we must not forget that Paul is on a massive mission and he never loses sight of that mission. With that in mind, Paul reminds this congregation that he has authority over them, despite this church not being specifically birthed by himself. The church is united and working together, and apostolic leadership sets the tone and the pace of early Christianity. Paul is concerned here to instruct them, and they must heed his message as one sent by ‘the will of God.’
Paul writes, not just to the leaders of this community of faith, but to the whole church. In a stunning phrase that could possible be the big idea that Paul will spend unpacking in this epistle, Paul notes that they are ‘in Christ and in Colossae.’ This is a loaded statement. I suggest that if the Colossians, and us, would fully grasp this statement, then problems and issues, such as the one’s the Colossians faced and the one’s we face, would be aided and helped along because of the freedom and joy that it brings. To live in Christ is to live the life of Christ in relationship with Christ. Christians first live in the sphere of King Jesus, and then in the geographical sphere of their respective localities. If this pivotal truth can be grasped from the start of reading this letter, one shall already have grasped one of the central arguments it proposes: Christ is enough. You don’t need anything else.
A formal benediction, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father” ends off this opening remark and “indicates a prayerful concern for the readers.”[1] If this is the case, then Paul wants his readers to be aware that this is not an imposition of authority but the heart of a true pastor ‘at large’ who is taking time to care for this specific flock by sending them a letter that will aid their spiritual journey through fierce terrain. ‘Peace’ must be seen as the contrast of ‘pax’ the peace which Rome provides. But this will be explicated later in this letter. For now, we must merely alert the readers that Paul’s opening quotation of this benediction, sets the atmosphere for what will follow. Just as God is their Father, in an intimate and personal relationship, so Paul’s concern for them imitates that closeness of relationship. Both grace and peace are gifts from an almighty God who cares deeply for his people. And it is God’s care for his people that has lead Paul to write this letter with an imitated concern.
Paul’s character in this letter will strive to be both gracious and peaceful so that they may follow Jesus faithfully and remain true to their identity as ‘saints’ of the most High.
[1] O’Brien, Colossians and Philemon, pg. 5