Friday, January 30, 2009

Stuckenbruck on Colossians

The author discourages the Colossian Christians from becoming involved in a series of practices which he regards as superfluous to one’s basic identity in Christ.[1]
Because the structure of the universe, whether heaven or earth, has been fashioned through the agency of Christ in creation (1:15-20), the state of being ‘raised with Christ’ and being devoted to ‘things that are above’ (3:1-2) require that one take seriously the created order as a whole. Hence attentiveness to what is ‘above’ finds legitimate expression, not in asceticism of the body or through participation in angelic life, but in love, mutual support, and ordered behaviour within the framework of existing relationships in the Christian community (3:5-14) and of existing social structures in the world (3:18-4:1).[2]
The hymn’s emphasis that throne’s, dominions, rulers, and powers were – along with everything else – created through the agency of Christ 1:13-22 (1:16) helps the author diminish the importance being attached to the angelic and elemental powers which the readers are being tempted to adhere to (2:8, 18, 20).[3]
The Christ event not only has brought forgiveness of sins and reconciliation (1:13, 20, 21; 2:13), but is the very framework within which the readers are to structure their lives. Through baptism they have been initiated into the triumph of Jesus’ death over the legal demands and inimical powers (2:14-15) and they have already been ‘raised with Christ’ (2:13; 3:1), whereby they may ‘put on’ a new form of life in which ethnic, social, and religious distinctions no longer count in the same way as before (3:9-11, 12-14). Hence it is imperative that the readers realise not only what their identity is in relation to the Christ event, but also that this be the sole basis on which they grow into maturity (2:6-7, 19). It is in Christ that they are to convert their identity into appropriate ethical and social behaviour (3:5-8; 3:18-4:1); in Christ spirituality and life in the community have their foundation; and in Christ the ‘glory’ destined for God’s people will become fully manifest (1:26-7; 3:4).[4]

[1] Stuckenbruck, “Colossians and Philemon” in The Cambridge Companion to Paul ed. J. D. G. Dunn (Cambridge), pg. 122
[2] Stuckenbruck, “Colossians and Philemon”, pg. 123
[3] Stuckenbruck, “Colossians and Philemon”, pg. 124
[4] Stuckenbruck, “Colossians and Philemon”, pg. 124-5

1 comment:

Michael F. Bird said...

I thought this was a very good short introduction to Colossians by Loren Stuckenbruck. Thanks for summarizing it.