The Apostle, Paul, wrote letters to seven churches in the Roman World. He discussed a wide range of issues, including theology, personal relations, family relations, being a church, living the Christian life and recognizing and avoiding heresy. He has made such a mark on Christianity that it is hard to conceive what Christendom would be without Paul’s writings.
Our loving Father gave us a four dimensional view of Jesus and His teachings as a foundation for His new revelation in Christ. The Holy Spirit inspired Matthew, Mark, Luke and John to record the life and teachings of Jesus. God knew that we needed more than the Gospels, so the Holy Spirit anointed Peter, James, John, Jude, and especially Paul to help us build our lives on the foundation of Christ.
Colossians is often neglected, being overshadowed by the theology of Romans, the teaching of the body of Christ and the love chapter of Corinthians, the legal controversy in Galatians, the practicality in Ephesians, the perseverance in Philippians and the expectation of the Lord’s Coming in Thessalonians. Nevertheless, the Holy Spirit had things to say to us through Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. Paul wrote them this letter that in many ways carries the same message as his letters to the Galatians and Ephesians. He seeks to free the Colossians from the bondage to asceticism (Galatians) and instruct them in living the Christian life (Ephesians). He expected that the Colossians would share this letter with the Laodiceans, so they too could benefit from the truths of the Holy Spirit.
Paul did not plant the church, Epaphras, Paul’s disciple did. Since, in a sense, Paul was their “grandfather” they had come to his attention. Colossae was situated in a fertile valley. It had an illustrious history as a center of trade, but by the First Century it had become overshadowed by the growth of Laodicea and Hierapolis. By the time of Paul’s writing Colossae, while still a fertile area, had become just a waypoint on the trade route.
Antiochus IV Epiphanes, some three centuries before had banished thousands of Jews from Israel, transporting them into this region. In Paul’s day there was a sizable population of ethnic Jews here. They had the spiritual foundation of the Old Testament Scriptures. It was both an hospitable place for preaching the Gospel of Christ the Messiah and a place where resistance to the teaching of the Messiah as a Suffering Servant and a sacrificial lamb could be anticipated.
All in all, this was fertile ground not only for producing food, but also for the sprouting of the Gospel.
Rev. Ross highlights what Paul and the Holy Spirit wants them and us to know. Paul wrote to the Colossians, instructing them to pass the letter on to the Laodiceans. It is obvious that his words were intended to be shared, spread around. How could he have conceived that nearly two millennia later Paul’s epistle would not only benefit the Colossians, the Laodiceans and perhaps other churches as well, but also believing Christians of this modern world.
Ross raises the standard of the uniqueness of Jesus the Christ, the Messiah in this work. He points out that this uniqueness, the “singularity of Christ,” is enwrapped in the mind-boggling concept of the Trinity. Ross helps us struggle with this one-in-three and three-in-one contra human logic concept. Ross tells us, “The word singularity is defined as a trait marking a thing or person as distinct from others; a peculiarity.”(pg. 12) Christ is unique in all the world, in all the cosmos.
Ross guides us through the reality that the Triune God was in the man, Jesus, “His wholeness became focused or localized in His humanity.” (pg. 165) The uniqueness of God Himself a member of the Trinity of God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit (as children say) “squinching” Himself down to a human cell and growing in a virgin’s womb, is beyond human reason. This is a singular occurrence that causes us to marvel.
This work again and again highlights the “singularity” of the Trinity. God is not only distinct in His unreasonable three-in-one person, but also in being fully man, Jesus acts in many ways distinct from humanity. He stands out as the distinct beacon of what humans should be—loving, compassionate, merciful, righteous, immovably standing on principle, declaring sin wherever He finds it, calling for absolute justice, and having no reluctance to call to account those in authority. The careful reader is astonished that the Person who has compassion on the widow of Nain can courageously describe the Pharisees as hypocrites. It is strange to us that Jesus can in one breath commend Peter for acknowledging Him as the Messiah, but in the next call Peter by the name of Satan. This is the singularity of Jesus the Son of God.
The Holy Spirit is a one-of-a-kind. He has ministered majestically throughout human history and yet never points to Himself. He is fully God, and yet ever pointing away from Himself to the Father and to the Son. His ministries are unique. He is not the Father. He is not the Son. He is the Comforter, the Guide, the Teacher, and the Convincer. He is the power who conceived Jesus in the virgin’s womb. He is the one who baptized Jesus in Himself at the river Jordan. This is the singularity of the Holy Spirit, the Spirit of God.
The Father is unique. He declares “I am the LORD, and there is none else, there is no God beside me: (Isaiah 45:5, KJV) He is unique because He created all things (except Himself) from nothing. He preexisted matter, time and space. He spoke Adam into being and created Eve. He revealed Himself to Noah and Moses. He led the Children of Israel out of bondage and through the wilderness. He manifested His shekinah glory in the Tabernacle. This is the singularity of God the Father.
Each Person of the Trinity is unique, distinctive, peculiar, and yet they are not unique to one another—they are One. Jesus was in the creation as was the Holy Spirit. The Father was in the son of man as was the Holy Spirit. The Son and the Father participated when the Holy Spirit communicated His messages and warnings to the prophets, They were there in the coming of the Holy Spirit at Pentecost, and are present as He guides people today to surrender to Christ and receive the blessing of salvation and eternal life.
In this context of the Singularity of the Trinity, Ross digs into Colossians. He excavates gems in the Greek exposing them to our minds. He opens up this Epistle, placing the truths Paul taught the Colossians into our hands. These lessons Ross highlights for us and shows us how we need to listen to Paul’s instructions to Colossae. Further, he points out how we need to embrace these teachings and inculcate them into our own lives.
Ted Bradshaw, B.A., M.Div.
May 12, 2010
To be release September 2010 – more…