Monday

20 October 2014

“For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily” (v. 9)


Background

Paul was no slouch when it came to philosophy. His writings are full of it. He seemed comfortable with the teaching of Gnosticism and Stoicism and appeared to be a classically-trained Greek academic. He even spoke on a regular basis in Ephesus at the university (Acts 19:9). John's Gospel comes out of the Christian community that arose from Paul's teaching (among much else of course), and it is not surprising that it is John's Gospel that begins in the most philosophical way with a Christian interpretation of the Greek idea of 'logos' (the word) (John 1:1-18).

But Paul knew the limits and the dangers of simple human reflection. It is easy for sinful people, broken and damaged by their sinfulness and that of others, to get confused and to be confusing. Despite his own ability and apparent love for human reason, it is the revelation of God that is the most appropriate focus for human exploration. Jesus is the image of the invisible God (verse 15) and it is Jesus' life, teaching, death and resurrection that show us the fullness of God. For a Jewish person as strict as Paul this is the most amazing claim. It places our understanding of God not just in an intellectual struggle, but into relationship; relationship with Christ and with the community of Christ.


To Ponder

  • The 'word of God' is not simply the Bible, it is Jesus - he is the 'logos' of which the Bible speaks. How can we therefore be certain about truthfulness?
  • What can we know about God if we focus on the life, death, teaching and resurrection of Jesus?


Bible notes author:  The Revd Dr Mark Wakelin

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