Thursday, November 02, 2006

Apologetics-Oriented Biblical Commentary on Philippians and Colossians (RSV)

Philippians

Chapter 1

1 Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philip'pi, with the bishops and deacons:

2 Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 I thank my God in all my remembrance of you, 4 always in every prayer of mine for you all making my prayer with joy, 5 thankful for your partnership in the gospel from the first day until now. 6 And I am sure that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ. 7 It is right for me to feel thus about you all, because I hold you in my heart, for you are all partakers with me of grace, both in my imprisonment and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel. 8 For God is my witness, how I yearn for you all with the affection of Christ Jesus. 9 And it is my prayer that your love may abound more and more, with knowledge and all discernment, 10 so that you may approve what is excellent, and may be pure and blameless for the day of Christ, 11 filled with the fruits of righteousness which come through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.

12 I want you to know, brethren, that what has happened to me has really served to advance the gospel, 13 so that it has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard and to all the rest that my imprisonment is for Christ; 14 and most of the brethren have been made confident in the Lord because of my imprisonment, and are much more bold to speak the word of God without fear.

15 Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. 16 The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel; 17 the former proclaim Christ out of partisanship, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. 18 What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed; and in that I rejoice.

19 Yes, and I shall rejoice. For I know that through your prayers and the help of the Spirit of Jesus Christ this will turn out for my deliverance, 20 as it is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honored in my body, whether by life or by death. 21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. 22 If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. 23 I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. 24 But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. 25 Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, 26 so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again.

27 Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you stand firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel, 28 and not frightened in anything by your opponents. This is a clear omen to them of their destruction, but of your salvation, and that from God. 29 For it has been granted to you that for the sake of Christ you should not only believe in him but also suffer for his sake, 30 engaged in the same conflict which you saw and now hear to be mine.

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servants: Gr. doulos: Mt 20:27; 25:21; Rm 1:1; 1Co 7:22; Ep 6:6; Ti 1:1; Jm 1:1

bishops: Gr. episkopos: Ac 20:28; 1 Tm 3:2; Ti 1:7; 1Pt 2:25; cf. Ac 1:20; 1Tm 3:1

deacons: Gr. diakonos: Mt 23:11; Mk 9:35; 1Co 3:5; 2Co 3:6; 6:4; Ep 3:7; Cl 1:23; 1Th 3:2; 1Tm 3:8,12

day of Jesus Christ: Rm 2:5,16; 1Co 1:8; 5:5; 2Co 1:14; Ph 1:10; 2:16; 1Th 5:2,4; 2Th 2:2; 2Pt 3:10,12

fruits of righteousness: Mt 7:16,20; 2Co 9:10; Gl 5:22; Ep 5:9; Ph 1:22; Cl 1:10; Hb 12:11; Jm 3:17-18

Spirit of Jesus Christ: Jn 14:16; 15:26; 16:7,13-15; Ac 16:7; Rm 8:9; Gl 4:6; 1Pt 1:11

progress: Ph 1:12 (RSV: advance); 1Tm 4:15 (cf. Lk 2:52)

joy: Gr.kara: Rm 14:17; 15:13; 2Co 8:2; Gl 5:22; 1Th 1:6; Jm 1:2; 1Pt 1:8; 1Jn 1:4; 2Jn 12

the faith: (i.e., Christian doctrine, or Apostolic Tradition): Ac 6:7; 14:22; 16:5; Gl 1:23; Ep 4:5,13; Cl 1:23; 2:7; 1Tm 1:2; 4:1; 5:8; 6:10,21; Ti 1:13; Jd 3

stand firm: Rm 5:2; 11:20; 14:4; 1Co 15:1; 16:13; 2Co 1:24; Gl 5:1; Ep 6:11-14; Ph 4:1; Cl 4:12; 1Th 3:8; 2Th 2:15; 1Tm 5:20; Hb 3:6; 14; 1Pt 5:12; Jd 24;

Gospel: Gr. evangelion=gospel (e.g., Mt 11:5; Lk 9:6; Ac 8:25; 16:10; Rm 15:20; 1Co 9:16,18; 15:1-3; 2Co 11:7; Gl 1:8-11; 1Th 2:9; 1Pt 1:12,25; CCC 80-84,95,113,120,126). Contrary to common non-Catholic teaching, gospel (good or glad news) in Holy Scripture is more or less synonymous with both tradition (cf. 1Co 11:2; 2Th 2:15; 3:6) and word of God (cf. Ac 8:14; 1Th 2:13). All are predominantly oral (cf. Rm 10:14-18; 2Tm 1:13-14, 2:2) and are delivered (cf. Lk 1:1-2; Rm 16:17; 1Co 11:23; 15:3; 2Pt 2:21; Jd 3) and received (cf. Gl 1:9,12; 1Th 2:13). Tradition (Gk. paradosis) itself is extolled in Holy Scripture (as above) when referring to Christian, apostolic Tradition, as opposed to corrupt human traditions, or traditions of men (cf. Mt 15:3,6; Mk 7:8-9,13; Cl 2:8). The biblical writers not only positively embrace Tradition, but also regard their own gospel proclamations as of a piece with Sacred Tradition, as the foregoing demonstrates.

Defense and confirmation of the gospel: Here the Apostle is referring implicitly to the task and notion of Christian apologetics (from Gk. apologia=defense or justification; cf. Ac 22:1; 25:16; 1Co 9:3; 2Co 12:19; Ph 1:16; CCC 156-159). St. Paul is often described in Scripture as reasoning or arguing (usu. Gr. dialegomai=dialogue and cognates) with both Jews and Gentiles (e.g., Ac 9:29; 17:2,17; 18:4,19; 19:8-10, 24:25). Likewise, our Lord Jesus contended with spiritual and theological error (e.g., Mk 12:18-28 and many disputes with the Pharisees), and presented empirical proofs of His Resurrection (Jn 20:24-29; Ac 1:3). Jesus did not oppose reason to faith (Lk 10:27). It is imperative for all Christians to cultivate a rational, credible faith (cf. e.g., 1Pt 3:15, Jd 3) and to develop effective ways of evangelization (Ac 17:22-34; 1Co 9:19-23).

Word of God: See above commentary on Gospel. The phrases word of God or word of the Lord in Holy Scripture more often refer to oral preaching or proclamation (Gr. kerygma) of the gospel (or prophecy, as commonly in the OT) than to the written, inspired word of God (cf., e.g., Mt 13:19; Lk 3:2; 8:9-15; 11:28; Ac 4:31; 6:7; 12:24; 13:44-49; 19:20; Rm 10:8; 1Th 1:8; 2Th 3:1; 1Pt 1:25). Jesus Himself is referred to as the Word (Gr. logos) in Jn 1:1,14 (cf. 2Pt 3:5-7; Rv 19:13).

Destruction: Gr. apolia: does not mean annihilation or utter non-existence, as some sects falsely teach, but rather, eternal punishment in hellfire, as Greek lexicons universally attest. It is used in Rv 17:8,11 in reference to the beast. Related passages Rv 19:20 and 20:10 inform us that the beast (along with the devil and the false prophet) will be tormented day and night forever and ever. The same tragic fate awaits human beings who reject God (cf. Mt 25:41,46; 8:12; 10:28; 13:24-30,36-43,49-50; Mk 9:43-48; Hb 10:28-29; Rv 14:10-11; 20:15; 21:8; CCC 1033-1041). The cognate apollumi=destroy (found at Mt 10:28) provides a similar illustration. The over-literal interpretation of annihilation applied to many instances of apollumi produces manifest absurdity (e.g., Mt 10:6; Lk 15:6,9,24; Jn 18:9). Proper hermeneutics requires a comparison of scripture with scripture, an appreciation of context, and an understanding of Greek and Hebrew definitions.

Suffer for his sake: Christians are not released from the possibility of suffering, simply because Christ suffered for us, as some wrongly and harmfully teach. Quite the contrary: St. Peter tells us to expect suffering for and even with Christ as a norm and glory of the faith (1Pt 4:12-19). Many other passages concur (Mt 10:22; Jn 15:18; Ac 5:41; 14:22; Rm 5:3-5; 8:15-18; 2Co 1:4-9; 6:4-10; 12:7-10; Ph 3:7-11; 1Th 3:3; 2Th 1:4-5; 2Tm 1:8; 2:3; 3:12; Hb 5:8; Jm 1:2-4; 1Pt 2:20-21).See also commentary for Ph 3:10 ("Like him in his death") and Cl 1:24 ("In my flesh I complete what is lacking").

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Chapter 2

1 So if there is any encouragement in Christ, any incentive of love, any participation in the Spirit, any affection and sympathy, 2 complete my joy by being of the same mind, having the same love, being in full accord and of one mind. 3 Do nothing from selfishness or conceit, but in humility count others better than yourselves. 4 Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others. 5 Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, 6 who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form he humbled himself and became obedient unto death, even death on a cross. 9 Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name which is above every name, 10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, 11 and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.

12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.

14 Do all things without grumbling or questioning, 15 that you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, 16 holding fast the word of life, so that in the day of Christ I may be proud that I did not run in vain or labor in vain. 17 Even if I am to be poured as a libation upon the sacrificial offering of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all. 18 Likewise you also should be glad and rejoice with me.

19 I hope in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you soon, so that I may be cheered by news of you. 20 I have no one like him, who will be genuinely anxious for your welfare. 21 They all look after their own interests, not those of Jesus Christ. 22 But Timothy's worth you know, how as a son with a father he has served with me in the gospel. 23 I hope therefore to send him just as soon as I see how it will go with me; 24 and I trust in the Lord that shortly I myself shall come also.

25 I have thought it necessary to send to you Epaphrodi'tus my brother and fellow worker and fellow soldier, and your messenger and minister to my need, 26 for he has been longing for you all, and has been distressed because you heard that he was ill. 27 Indeed he was ill, near to death. But God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. 28 I am the more eager to send him, therefore, that you may rejoice at seeing him again, and that I may be less anxious. 29 So receive him in the Lord with all joy; and honor such men, 30 for he nearly died for the work of Christ, risking his life to complete your service to me.

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humility: Mt 11:29; 23:12; Ac 20:19; Ep 4:2; Cl 2:18,23; 3:12; Jm 4:6,10; 1Pt 5:5-6

exalted: Nh 9:5; Ps 18:46; 118:16; Is 2:11,17; 5:16; Ac 2:33; 5:31

name of Jesus: Is 45:23; Mt 18:20; Jn 1:12; 3:18; Ac 4:12,18-19; 1Co 1:2; 6:11; Ep 1:20-21; Cl 3:17; 1Jn 3:23. Occurs over 90 times in the NT.

Lord: Gr. Kurios (overt declaration of the divinity of Jesus): Ps 110:1 (cf. Hb 1:8); Jn 20:28; Rm 10:9; 14:8-9; 1Co 8:6; 12:3; Cl 2:6,10; 1Th 4:15-16; 1Tm 1:1 (cf. Ti 2:13; 2Pt 1:1)

obeyed: Lk 11:28; Ac 5:29; Rm 1:5; 2:13; 6:17; 10:16; 15:18-19; 16:25-26; 2Th 1:8; Hb 5:8; 1Pt 1:2; 1Jn 2:3-4; 3:22,24; 5:2-3

work: Jn 6:27,29; 9:4; Ac 13:2; Rm 16:3; 1Co 3:13-15; 15:58; 16:10; 2Co 6:1; 9:8; Gl 6:4; Ep 4:12; Cl 1:10; 2Th 2:17; 2Tm 3:17; Ti 3:1; Hb 6:9-12; Rv 22:12

children of God: Mt 5:9,45; Jn 1:12; 11:52; Rm 8:14,16,19,21; 9:8; Gl 3:26; 4:5-6,28; Ep 1:5; 5:1,8; 1Th 5:5; Hb 2:10-14; 12:5-10; 1Pt 1:14; 1Jn 3:1-2,10; 5:2,19; Rv 21:7

labor: Gk. kopiao: Mt 11:28; Jn 4:38; Rm 16:6,12; 1Co 15:10; 16:16; Gl 4:11; Cl 1:29; 1Th 5:12; 1Tm 4:10; 5:17; Rv 2:3

libation: Gk. spendomai: also at 2Tm 4:6 (cf. Rm 12:1; 15:16). LXX uses this term with regard to OT sacrificial offerings: Ex 29:12,38 ff.; Lv 4:7 ff.; 23:37; Nm 29:36 ff.; Is 53:12

honor: Mt 15:4; Jn 5:23; 12:26; Rm 13:7; 1Tm 5:3,17; 1Pt 2:17

Being of the same mind: Jesus prayed at the Last Supper (Jn 17:20-24), for believers to be perfectly one, even as He and His Father were one. St. Paul and other Apostles repeatedly and sternly warn against divisions, schism, strife, and disunity (cf. Rm 13:13; 16:17; 1Co 1:10-13; 3:3; 11:18-19; 12:25; 2Co 12:20; Ph 2:2; 1Tm 6:3-5; Ti 3:9; Jm 3:16; 2Pt 2:1; CCC 820-822).

Form of God: morphe=form: the essential attributes and nature of deity are shown in the form. This is a clear and unambiguous statement of the divinity of Jesus. The related word metamorphoomai=transfigured or transformed is used with regard to the Transfiguration of Jesus (Mt 17:2; Mk 9:2; cf. Rm 12:2; 1Co 15:44 ff.; 2Co 3:18), though with primary reference to Jesus' human form. Morphe is used in a similar sense at Mk 16:12 (cf. Lk 24:16). See CCC 554-556,568.

Equality with God: isos=equal: also appears at John 5:18, where Jesus called God his own Father, making himself equal with God (cf. Jn 10:30-33). The NT frequently asserts that Jesus is God - the Second Person of the Holy Trinity (e.g., cf. Mk 9:37; Jn 1:1-4,14,18; 8:58; 13:19; 14:9; 17:11; 20:28; Ac 20:28; Rm 9:5; Cl 1:15-19; 2:9-10; 1Tm 3:16; Ti 2:13; 2Pt 1:1; Hb 1:3,8).

Emptied himself: kenoo=empty. In becoming man, God the Son had to necessarily empty Himself of certain conditions or prerogatives of Deity and Godhood. But He remained fully God and fully Man (the doctrine of Hypostatic Union, definitively developed at the Council of Chalcedon in 451). Arian-influenced sects have misinterpreted related verses such as Jn 14:8 (. . . the Father is greater than I) as if Jesus were lesser in essence than God the Father; inferior; alas, a mere created being. Yet Holy Scripture teaches that the Father, in a sense, also "receives" from the Son (e.g., Jn 16:15,23). Jesus subjects (hupotasso) Himself to the Father (1Co 15:28), that God may be all in all (KJV), but this does not at all imply inferiority, since He also was subject (hupotasso) to Mary and Joseph (Lk 2:51), and since Cl 3:11 asserts: Christ is all and in all. See CCC 456-476,480-482.

Under the earth: Cf. Rv 5:3,13. It seems likely that souls in hell are neither able nor willing to praise God (perhaps suggested by Mt 8:29; Lk 4:34; 8:28). God refuses to receive prayer, praise, or worship from an unrepentant sinner (e.g., Ps 66:18; Pr 1:28-30; Is 1:15; 59:2; Jn 9:31; Hb 10:38). Therefore, it is reasonable to conclude that under the earth in these passages refers to a third state in the afterlife - purgatory (see Mt 12:32; Lk 16:19-31; 1Co 3:11-15; CCC 1030-1032).

Work out your own salvation: Catholics believe that man has a free will to either cooperate with (1Co 3:8-9), or resist (Mt 13:22) God's free, gracious gift, which He desires to give to all (2Pt 3:9). Pelagianism, in contrast, is the heresy of self-salvation, apart from God's necessary saving grace. The notion of instantaneous salvation is refuted in many passages which warn against falling away from the faith (cf. Mt 13:20-21; 1Co 9:27; 10:12; Gal 5:1,4; Cl 1:23; Hb 3:12-14; 6:4-6; 10:23-39; 2Pt 1:10; 2:15,20-21; Rv 2:4-5). We must persevere in good works and obedience, if we are to be saved (cf. Mt 5:20; 7:16-27; 16:27; 25:31-46; Lk 18:18-25; Jn 6:27-29; Ac 26:20; Rm 2:5-13; 1Co 3:13; 4:5; 15:10,58; 2Co 5:10; Gl 5:6; 6:7-9; Ep 2:8-10; Cl 3:23-25; 1Th 1:3; 2Th 1:11; Ti 1:15-16; 3:5-8; Hb 5:9; 6:9-10; 10:24; Jm 1:22-27; 2:14-26; 1Pt 1:17; CCC 1266,1446,1987,1987-1995,2018-2020). The related doctrines of merit and differential reward are also taught in the NT (Mt 5:11-12; 6:3,18; 10:42; 12:36-37; 25:14-30; 1Co 3:8; 1Ti 6:18-19; CCC 2006-2011,2023-2025).

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Chapter 3

1 Finally, my brethren, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is not irksome to me, and is safe for you.

2 Look out for the dogs, look out for the evil-workers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. 3 For we are the true circumcision, who worship God in spirit, and glory in Christ Jesus, and put no confidence in the flesh. 4 Though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If any other man thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: 5 circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew born of Hebrews; as to the law a Pharisee, 6 as to zeal a persecutor of the church, as to righteousness under the law blameless. 7 But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. 8 Indeed I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as refuse, in order that I may gain Christ 9 and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own, based on law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith; 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that if possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect; but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brethren, I do not consider that I have made it my own; but one thing I do, forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature be thus minded; and if in anything you are otherwise minded, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brethren, join in imitating me, and mark those who so live as you have an example in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, live as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is the belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our commonwealth is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will change our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power which enables him even to subject all things to himself.

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rejoice: Ps 33:1; 64:10; 97:12; 104:34; Is 41:16; 61:10; Jl 2:23; Hb 3:18; Jn 20:20; Ph 4:4,10; 1Th 5:16; 1Pt 4:13; Rv 19:7

evil-workers: Ps 37:1; Mt 24:48; 25:41; Lk 6:45; Jn 3:20; 5:29; Rm 1:30; 2:9; 13:4; 2Co 11:13; 2Tm 2:9; 3:13; 1Pt 3:9-17; 4:15

faith: Gr. pistis: Rm 1:17; 3:28; 4:11,13; 5:1; 9:30; Gl 3:11,24; 5:5-6; Hb 11:7; Jm 2:20-26

know him: Ex 33:13; Jr 4:22; Hs 2:20; 5:4; 6:3; Jn 8:55; 14:7,9,17; 16:3; 17:3,25; Rm 1:21; 1Co 1:21; Gl 4:9; Ph 3:8; 1Jn 2:3,13-14; 3:1,6; 4:2,6-8; 5:20

mature: Gr. telios (often perfect in KJV): Mt 5:48; 19:21; 1Co 2:6; 14:20; Ep 4:13; Cl 1:28; 4:12; Jm 1:4; 3:2

example: Jn 13:15; Ac 20:35; Rm 4:12; 1Co 10:6,11; 1Th 1:7; 2Th 3:9; 1Tm 4:12; Ti 2:7; Hb 8:5; Jm 5:10; 1Pt 2:21; 5:3

enemies: Mt 22:44; Lk 10:19; Ac 13:10; Rm 5:10; 11:28; Jm 4:4 (cf. Mt 12:30; 1Tm 4:1; 2 Tm 2:17; Ti 1:16; Hb 3:12; 10:39; Jm 4:4; 2Pt 2:1,20-22; Jd 4)

Savior: Lk 1:47; 2:11; Jn 4:42; Ac 5:31; 13:23; Ep 5:23; 1Tm 1:1; 2:3; 4:10; 2Tm 1:10; Ti 1:3-4; 2:10,13; 3:4,6; 2Pt 1:1,11; 2:20; 3:2,18; 1Jn 4:14; Jd 25. This title is equally applied to both the Father and the Son: a proof of Jesus' divinity (cf. Ps 106:21; Is 43:3,11; 45:15,21; 49:26; 60:16; Hs 13:4)

subject all things: (the omnipotence of Jesus): Mt 28:18; Jn 2:19 with 10:17-18; Jn 3:35; 5:21; Ac 17:18; Cl 1:17; Heb 1:3; 1Pt 3:22; Rv 1:18; 3:7 (cf. Nh 9:6; 1Tm 6:13)

Flesh: cf. 2Co 11:16-30. St. Paul's intention is not to denigrate Jewish pedigree, righteousness, etc. as a bad thing, but rather, to contrast the far better personal knowledge of, and trust in, Christ (3:7-9). Analogously, in Rm 2:17-29 he stresses the spiritual superiority of the circumcision of the heart (2:29; cf. Gl 6:12-15).

Righteousness from God: Here the Apostle firmly refutes the later heresy of Pelagianism, whereby man in his own effort can become righteous, and attain unto salvation. Righteousness and merit derive wholly from God: supernatural grace. Our responsibility is to cooperate with this grace (3:10,12-13), which is neither merely extrinsic or forensic justification (separate from cooperation or free will), as some teach, nor instantaneously attained (3:12-14). The Council of Trent entirely concurs with this Pauline understanding, in its Canon I on Justification:

If any one saith, that man may be justified before God by his own works, whether done through the teaching of human nature, or that of the law, without the grace of God through Jesus Christ; let him be anathema.
Like him in his death: In order to attain the resurrection from the dead (by justification) Paul teaches that we must first be made conformable unto his death (KJV; cf. Rm 8:29; 12:1; 1Co 15:31; 2Co 1:5-9; 3:18; 4:10; Gl 2:20; 6:14,17; Cl 2:12-14; 1Pt 4:1,13; CCC 628,1220). Justification is, therefore, necessarily a sanctifying process (1Co 6:11) involving striving and suffering, as opposed to a legal proclamation by God. Many Christians - contrary to St. Paul's parallelism here - emphasize the attainable likeness of resurrection (e.g., Ph 3:21; 1Jn 3:2), but not the corresponding likeness of the cross and suffering (cf. Rm 6:3-8; 8:13,17). See also commentary for Cl 1:24 ("In my flesh I complete what is lacking") and Ph 1:29 ("Suffer for his sake").

Resurrection from the dead: all persons who are saved will receive resurrected and glorified bodies (cf. Jb 19:26; Mt 22:30-32; 27:52-53; Lk 14:14; 20:35-38; Jn 5:21-29; 6:39-40,44,54; 11:25; Ac 17:18,32; Rm 8:11,23; 1Co 6:14; 15:12-54; 2Co 4:14; Rv 20:5-6; CCC 988-1004,1015,1017).

Press on toward the goal: St. Paul often teaches that eschatological salvation and justification involves a process of perseverence, and is neither the result of a one-time commitment nor guaranteed (cf. Mt 10:22; 24:13; Lk 21:19; Rm 2:5-13; 11:20-23; 1Co 1:18; 4:4-5; 9:25-27; 10:11-12; 15:1-2; 2Co 11:3; 13:5; Cl 1:21-23; 1 Tm 4:1; 5:15; 6:20-21; Hb 2:1; 3:6,12-14; 4:1,14; 6:4-6,11-12; 10:26-29,35-38; 12:1-3,25,29; 1Pt 5:8; 2Pt 1:9; 2:20-22; 3:14-17; 2Jn 8; Rv 2:5,10,26; 3:11; 22:19).

Imitating me: The biblical injunction to imitate holy Christians (who, in turn, imitate Christ: 1Co 11:1; 1Th 1:6) is largely the basis for veneration of the saints (cf. 1Co 4:16; Ph 4:9; 2Th 3:7-9; Hb 6:12; 11:1-39; Jm 5:10-11).

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Chapter 4

1 Therefore, my brethren, whom I love and long for, my joy and crown, stand firm thus in the Lord, my beloved.

2 I entreat Eu-o'dia and I entreat Syn'tyche to agree in the Lord. 3 And I ask you also, true yokefellow, help these women, for they have labored side by side with me in the gospel together with Clement and the rest of my fellow workers, whose names are in the book of life.

4 Rejoice in the Lord always; again I will say, Rejoice. 5 Let all men know your forbearance. The Lord is at hand. 6 Have no anxiety about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known to God. 7 And the peace of God, which passes all understanding, will keep your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus.

8 Finally, brethren, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is gracious, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things. 9 What you have learned and received and heard and seen in me, do; and the God of peace will be with you.

10 I rejoice in the Lord greatly that now at length you have revived your concern for me; you were indeed concerned for me, but you had no opportunity. 11 Not that I complain of want; for I have learned, in whatever state I am, to be content. 12 I know how to be abased, and I know how to abound; in any and all circumstances I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and want. 13 I can do all things in him who strengthens me.

14 Yet it was kind of you to share my trouble. 15 And you Philippians yourselves know that in the beginning of the gospel, when I left Macedo'nia, no church entered into partnership with me in giving and receiving except you only; 16 for even in Thessaloni'ca you sent me help once and again. 17 Not that I seek the gift; but I seek the fruit which increases to your credit. 18 I have received full payment, and more; I am filled, having received from Epaphrodi'tus the gifts you sent, a fragrant offering, a sacrifice acceptable and pleasing to God. 19 And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus. 20 To our God and Father be glory for ever and ever. Amen.

21 Greet every saint in Christ Jesus. The brethren who are with me greet you. 22 All the saints greet you, especially those of Caesar's household.

23 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ be with your spirit.

* * *

book of life: Ps 69:28; Rv 3:5; 13:8; 17:8; 20:12,15; 21:27

forbearance: (also, patience): Rm 2:4; 8:25; 9:22; 2Co 6:6; Gl 5;22; Ep 4:2; Cl 1:11; 3:12; 1Tm 3:3; Ti 3:2; Hb 6:12; Jm 3:17; 5:10; 1Pt 2:18; 2Pt 3:15

thanksgiving: Gr. eucharistia: 2Co 4:15; 9:11-12; Ep 5:4; Cl 2:7; 4:2; 1Th 3:9; 1Tm 2:1; 4:3-4; Rv 4:9; 7:12. Eucharisteo (Last Supper and Communion): Mt 15:36; 26:27; Mk 8:6; 14:23; Lk 22:17; Jn 6:11,23; 1Co 11:24

peace of God: Lk 24:36; Jn 14:27; 16:33; Rm 1:7; 8:6; 15:13,33; 1Co 1:3; 7:15; 2Co 1:2; Gl 1:3; 5:22; Ep 1:2; Ph 1:2; Cl 1:2; 3:15; 1Th 1:1; 2Th 1:2; 3:16; 1Tm 1:2; 2Tm 1:2; 2Jn 3; Rv 1:4

hearts: Jr 31:33; Mt 15:8; Lk 16:15; 24:32; Jn 14:1,27; Rm 3:5; 2Co 1:22; 3:2-3; 4:6; 6:13; Gl 4:6; Ep 3:17; Cl 3:15; 4:8; 1Th 3:13; 2Th 2:17; 3:5; Hb 10:16,22; 1Pt 3:15; 1Jn 3:19; 5:10

true: 2Co 7:14; Ep 5:9; 1Jn 2:8; 5:20; 3Jn 12; Rv 21:5; 22:6; Truth: Jn 8:32,45-46; 14:6,17; 15:26; 16:7,13; 17:8,17,19; 18:37; Rm 1:18,25; 1Co 13:6; 2Co 13:8; Gl 4:16; Ep 4:15; 2Th 2:10-13; 1Tm 2:4; 3:15; 2Tm 2:15,18,25; 1Pt 1:22; 2Pt 1:12; 1Jn 4:6; 3Jn 8

Have no anxiety: This does not mean "do not ever worry about anything whatsoever," but rather, ultimate trust and firm faith that our loving and merciful God is in control of everything, in His Providence (Ps 119:151), and that His assistance and peace of mind (Ph 4:7) can always be obtained through prayer (Ps 145:18). Such rock-solid reliance on God is a common biblical theme (cf. Ps 23:4; 27:14; 34:4-10; 37:4-8; 46:1-2; 94:17-19; 118:6; Is 26:3-4; 41:10; 66:13; Lm 3:57; Jr 17:7-8; Mt 6:25-34; 11:28; 13:22; Lk 21:34; Jn 14:16-18,27; 2Co 7:4-6; Hb 12:2-3; 13:5-6; 1Pt 3:14,17; 4:19; 5:7-10; Rv 2:10).

Learned and received and heard and seen in me: A noteworthy instance of the authoritative nature of apostolic transmission (received), oral proclamation (heard), and godly example (seen). The Christian Apostolic Tradition (paradosis=tradition) is both delivered and received (cf. 1Co 11:23; 15:1-3; Gl 1:9,12; 1Th 2:13; 2Th 3:6). In context, it is clear that this is usually an oral proclamation (cf. Is 59:21; Lk 10:16; Rm 10:17; 1Co 11:34; Gl 3;2,5; Ep 3:3; 2Jn 12; Rv 3:3), as opposed to a written word encapsulated in Holy Scripture - though indeed much of it (but not all: Jn 20:30; 21:25) later was recorded in Scripture, by the inspiration of God, recognized by authoritative Church Councils. Oral traditions nowhere found in the OT have been authenticated in the NT (e.g., Mt 2:23; 23:2-3; 1Co 10:1-4; 2Tm 3:8; Jm 5:17). Clearly, the 16th century notion of sola Scriptura, or Scripture Alone as the rule of faith, is not itself the biblical teaching on authority. At 2Co 3:1-6, St. Paul even uses the written word as a metaphor for oral transmission of the gospel message ( ! ) - one could see in the Corinthians what was passed on to them by the Apostle: . . . you show that you are a letter of Christ delivered by us, written not with ink but with the Spirit of the living God . . . (2Co 3:3). See also related commentary for Ph 1:5 ("Gospel") and 3:17 ("Imitating me").

I can do all things: (cf. Nh 8:10; Ps 37:24; 46:1-2; 55:22; 59:9; 62:5-8; 73:26; 145:14; Is 40:29-31; Rm 16:20; 1Co 15:10; 2Co 12:9; Ep 1:19; 6:10-12,16; Cl 1:11; 1Th 1:5; 2Th 3:3; 2Tm 1:7; Hb 13:19). The magnificence of God's strengthening assistance is perhaps most strikingly expressed by St. Paul at 2Co 9:8: And God is able to provide you with every blessing in abundance, so that you may always have enough of everything and may provide in abundance for every good work. See also the commentary immediately below.

God will supply every need: (cf. Ps 145:16; 1Co 10:13; 2Co 1:4-5,9; Hb 2:18; 2Pt 2:9). God supplies our needs by means of the power of His indwelling in our hearts (Ex 31:2-3; Jn 14:23; 1Co 3:16; 2Co 6:16), and by His grace, which comes in various measures, according to our need and the task set before us (Ac 4:23; Rm 12:6; Ep 4:7; Hb 4:15-16; Jm 4:6; 1Pt 4:10; 2Pt 1:2). See also the commentary immediately above.



Colossians

Chapter 1

1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ at Colos'sae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love which you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing--so among yourselves, from the day you heard and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 as you learned it from Ep'aphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.

9 And so, from the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his willin all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 to lead a life worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the dominion of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation; 16 for in him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or principalities or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 He is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in everything he might be pre-eminent. 19 For in him all the fulness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.

21 And you, who once were estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him, 23 provided that you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which has been preached to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.

24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the divine office which was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, striving with all the energy which he mightily inspires within me.

* * *

apostle: Gr. apostolos=sent one or ambassador: Mt 10:2; Lk 22:14; Ac 2:37; 8:18; 15:2-6,22-23; Rm 1:1; 11:13; 1Co 1:1; 9:1-5; 12:28-29; 2Co 1:1; 12:11-12; 1Pt 1:1; 2Pt 3:2; Jd 17; Rv 21:14

God, the Father: Is 9:6; 64:8; Jr 31:9; Ma 2:10; Mt 5:45-48; 6:1-32; 11:27; Jn 3:35; 5:18; 6:27; Rm 1:7; 8:15; 1Co 8:6; Gl 1:1-4; 4:6; Ep 5:20; Ph 2:11; Cl 3:17; 1Th 1:1; Hb 1:5; Jm 1:27; 1Pt 1:2-3; 1Jn 2:1,14-24

grace of God: Lk 1:28; Jn 1:17; Ac 4:33; 6:8; 11:23; 13:43; 14:26; 15:11,40; Rm 5:15; 16:20; 1Co 3:10; 15:10; 16:23; 2Co 8:1; 9:14; 13:13; Gl 2:21; Ep 3:2,7-8; Ph 1:2,7; 1Th 5:28; 1Tm 1:14; Ti 2:11; Hb 2:9; 1Pt 5:5,10,12; 2Pt 3:18; Jd 4; Rv 22:21

good work(s): Jn 10:32; 14:12; Ac 9:36; 2Co 9:8; Gl 6:4,10; Ep 2:10; Ph 1:6; 2Th 2:17; 1Tm 2:10; 5:10,25; 6:18; 2Tm 2:21; 3:17; Ti 1:16; 2:7; 3:1,8,14; Jm 2:14-26; Rv 20:12

redemption: Lk 21:28; Rm 3:24; 1Co 1:30; Ep 1:7,14; 4:30; Hb 9:15

his body, that is, the church: Rm 7:4; 12:5; 1Co 10:17; 12:12-27; Ep 1:22-23; 4:4,12,16; 5:30; Cl 1:18; 2:19; 3:15

Christ in you: (the indwelling): Jn 14:17-18,20,23; 15:4; 16:7; 17:23; Rm 8:9-11; 1Co 2:12; 3:16; 6:19; 2Co 6:16; Gl 4:6; 1Jn 3:24; 4:12-13

Image of the invisible God: God the Father is invisible, and can't be seen, as He is a Spirit (cf. Ex 33:20,23; Jn 1:18; 5:37; 6:46; Cl 1:15; 1Tm 1:17; 6:16; 1Jn 4:12). But Jesus reveals, and is the eikon=image of, the Father (cf. Jn 1:18; 12:45; 14:7-9; 2 Co 4:4; Cl 1:15; Hb 1:3; Rv 22:1-4). Thus, the passages about the invisible God are adequately explained in a non-contradictory manner. Only trinitarianism can make sense out of, and harmonize all the biblical teaching about God's nature.

First-born of all creation: Gk. prototokos=firstborn: here means preeminence and eternal preexistence, not first-created as some Arian sects hold. OT usage is instructive. David is called first-born in Ps 89:27, not because he was the literal first child of Jesse (for he was the youngest), but in the sense of his ascendancy to the kingship of Israel. Likewise, Jr 31:9 refers to Ephraim as the first-born, whereas Manasseh was chronologically first (Gn 41:50-52). The nation Israel is called my first-born son by God (Ex 4:22). The Jewish rabbinical writers even called God the Father Bekorah Shelolam, meaning firstborn of all creation, precisely as St. Paul uses the phrase here. Prototokos is also used as a title for Jesus in Hb 1:6. In context, Jesus is described as omnipotent (1:3), the reflection (image) of God's glory (1:3), Creator (1:10), worthy of worship (1:6), and is called God by the Father (1:8). All of these characteristics can only apply to God.

In him all things were created: Jesus is both eternal and the Creator (cf. Is 9:6; Mc 5:2; Jn 1:1,3,10; 8:58; 13:19; 1Co 8:6; Cl 1:15-17; Hb 1:2,8,10; 13:8; 1Jn 1:1; Rv 1:17-18; 22:13). Besides the above direct indications, Holy Scripture also says that only God is the Creator (cf. Gn 1:1; Ps 33:6; Is 40:28; 44:24; Rm 11:36; 1Co 11:12; Ep 3:9; Hb 2:10; CCC 295-308).

Beginning: Gk. arche, from which is derived the word architect. Its literal meaning, according to Greek scholars, is origin, active cause, source, uncreated principle. So Jesus is the architect, or Creator of the Universe, as Cl 1:16-17 make clear (and see entry immediately above). He was in the beginning (arche) with God the Father (Jn 1:2; Hb 1:10). He created all things, and is before all things, so He Himself cannot possibly be a thing (i.e., a created entity). In Rev 1:8 (often rendered Alpha) and 21:6 (cf. Is 41:4; 44:6; 48:12) arche is applied to the Lord God, the Almighty (God the Father), so it can't possibly mean created being, as Arian-influenced sects maintain. Similar terminology (first and last, Alpha and Omega) is applied to Jesus in Rv 1:17-18; 2:8; 3:14, and 22:13,16. Thus, both Father and Son are God. Scripture teaches the Holy Trinity: the one God exists eternally in three Persons: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

In my flesh I complete what is lacking . . .: This is the most striking example in Scripture of what Catholics call redemptive suffering or vicarious atonement, whereby the sufferings of a Christian, as fellow workers with God (1Co 3:9) can be applied - like prayer or fasting or evangelism - to the benefit of another, either on earth, or in purgatory (2Mc 12:39-45 with 1Cor 15:29; CCC 1032). Our sufferings (Mt 16:24) can be literally offered up to God (Rm 12:1), meritoriously and redemptively on behalf of others or ourselves. Explicit biblical indications of this teaching - much disputed by non-Catholic Christianity - are numerous (cf. Ex 32:30-32; Nm 16:46-48; 25:6-13; Rm 8:13,17; 1Co 12:24; 2Co 1:4-9; 4:10; Gl 2:20; Ep 3:13; Ph 2:17; 3:10; 2Tm 4:6; Hb 11:39-40; 1Jn 3:16). Paul even serves as a co-redeemer or co-mediator of God's grace, since he was a steward of grace and salvation (Ep 3:2; cf. 1Co 9:22) - precisely as Catholics teach concerning the Blessed Virgin Mary. He informed Timothy that he, too, could be a savior of sorts, for himself and his hearers (1Tm 4:16). All grace comes from God, but creatures have a share in its dispensing and application, in God's Providence (e.g., Rv 1:4). See related commentary for Ph 1:29; 3:10, and cross-references for libation, Ph 2:17; also CCC 307,618,1508,1521.

* * *

Chapter 2

1 For I want you to know how greatly I strive for you, and for those at La-odice'a, and for all who have not seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged as they are knit together in love, to have all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, of Christ, 3 in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I say this in order that no one may delude you with beguiling speech. 5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so live in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

8 See to it that no one makes a prey of you by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the universe, and not according to Christ. 9 For in him the whole fulness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have come to fulness of life in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of flesh in the circumcision of Christ; 12 and you were buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 having canceled the bond which stood against us with its legal demands; this he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the principalities and powers and made a public example of them, triumphing over them in him.

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a sabbath. 17 These are only a shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on self-abasement and worship of angels, taking his stand on visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the universe, why do you live as if you still belonged to the world? Why do you submit to regulations, 21 "Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch" 22 (referring to things which all perish as they are used), according to human precepts and doctrines? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting rigor of devotion and self-abasement and severity to the body, but they are of no value in checking the indulgence of the flesh.

* * *

wisdom: Gr. sophia: Mt 13:54; Lk 2:40; 21:15; Ac 6:3,10; Rm 11:33; 1Co 1:17-24; 2:4-7; 3:19; Ep 1:8,17; 3:10; Cl 1:9,28; 3:16; Jm 1:5; 3:13,15,17; 2Pt 3:15

knowledge: Gr. gnosis: Lk 1:77; Rm 2:20; 11:33; 15:14; 1Co 1:5; 8:1,7,10-11; 12:8; 13:2,8; 14:6; 2Co 2:14; 4:6; 6:6; 8:7; 10:5; 11:6; Ep 3:19; Ph 3:8; 1Tm 6:20; 1Pt 3:7; 2Pt 1:5-6; 3:18

human tradition: cf. Mt 15:3,6; Mk 7:7-9,13; Ac 20:29-30; 1Pt 1:18; 1Jn 4:1-3 - in contrast to Apostolic, Christian Tradition, which is regarded entirely positively by the biblical writers. See commentary for Ph 1:4 ("Gospel")

principalities and powers: Rm 8:38; 1Co 15:24; Ep 1:21; 2:2; 3:10; 6:12; Cl 1:13,16; 2:10; Ti 3:1; 1Pt 3:22; Rv 13:4-5,7,12

world: Gr. kosmos (as world-system, hostile to God): Jn 1:10; 7:7; 8:23; 12:31; 14:27; 15:18-19; 16:11,33; 17:6,14,16,25; 18:36; Rm 3:6,19; 5:12; 12:2; 1Co 1:27-28; 2:6-12; 11:32; 2Co 5:19; 7:10; Gl 6:14; Hb 11:38; Jm 1:27; 4:4; 1Jn 3:13; 4:3-4; 5:4-5,18-19

Fulness of deity dwells bodily: (cf. Cl 1:19). This is a remarkable proof for the divinity of Christ. The Father and the Son are presented as fully and essentially in union (monotheism), yet the distinctiveness of Divine Persons (trinitarianism) is also evident. Jesus is fully God, yet God Who has taken on human flesh (the incarnation). Ph 2:6-8 offers a similar description of the incarnate God (cf. Jn 1:1,14; Ac 20:28; 1Tm 3:16). St. Augustine wrote:

The same One who is God is Man, not by a confusion of nature but by a unity of person . . . He that is the Son of God by being generated and who is coeternal always with the Father, - that same One begins to be Son of Man from the Virgin. And so too humanity is added to the Son's divinity; and yet, no quaternity of Persons results, but the Trinity remains (Sermons, 186, 1).
Buried with him in baptism: St. Paul here connects baptism - which regenerates - with justification. This is a common teaching of Holy Scripture - though denied by many Christians. Ac 2:38 speaks of being baptized for the forgiveness of your sins. 1 Pt 3:21 says baptism . . . now saves you (cf. Mk 16:16; Rm 6:1-6). Paul recalls how Ananias told him to be baptized, and wash away your sins (Ac 22:16). In 1Co 6:11 the Apostle seems to imply an organic connection between baptism (washed), sanctification, and justification. Ti 3:5 informs us that he saved us, . . . by the washing of regeneration (cf. Mt 28:19; Jn 3:5; Gl 3:26-27; Ep 4:5; 5:26; Hb 10:22; 1Pt 3:20).Cl 2:11-13 also establishes a connection between baptism and circumcision. Israel was the church before Christ (cf. Ac 7:38; Rm 9:4). Circumcision, given to 8-day old boys, was the seal of the covenant God made with Abraham, which applies to us also (Gl 3:14,29). It was a sign of repentance and future faith (Rm 4:11). Infants were just as much a part of the covenant as adults (cf. Gn 17:7; Dt 29:10-12; also Mt 19:14). Likewise, baptism is the seal of the New Covenant in Christ. It signifies cleansing from sin, just as circumcision did (cf. Dt 10:16; 30:6; Jr 4:4; 9:25; Rm 2:28-9; Ph 3:3). Infants are wholly saved by God's grace just as adults are, only apart from their rational and willful consent (see, e.g., Mk 2:1-6; 1Co 7:12-14). Their parents act in their behalf. Infant baptism is taught by Scripture (cf. Ac 16:15,33; 18:8 with 11:14; 1Co 1:16). See CCC 405,628,683,977-978,1113,1210-1213,1220,1250-1252,1263-1270,1992

Sabbath: (cf. similar texts about excessive legalism with regard to observance of days: Gl 4:9-11; Rm 13:8-10; 14:4-13). Cl 2:12-17 is a disproof of the belief of some that Christians ought to observe Saturday as the Sabbath / Lord's Day (Rv 1:10). From the beginning, Christians met and worshiped on Sunday, due to the Resurrection of Christ (cf. Ac 20:7; 1Co 16:1-2; vast patristic testimony: e.g., Didache 14; St. Ignatius, Magn 9:1; St. Justin Martyr, Apol 1:67; CCC 2168-2175,2190).

Worship of angels:The Bible forbids all creature worship (cf. Ac 10:25-26; 14:11-15; Rv 19:10; 22:8-9). God alone is to be worshiped (cf. Nh 9:6; Mt 4:10; Lk 4:8; Rv 4:9-11). Jesus - being God - often receives (and fully accepts) worship in the NT (cf. Mt 8:2; 9:18; 14:33; 15:25; 20:20; 28:9,17; Mk 5:6; Lk 24:52; Jn 5:23; 9:38; 20:28). The Apostles also teach that Jesus is to be worshiped (cf. Ph 2:9-11; Hb 1:6; Rv 5:8,12-14; 7:9-12,15-17).

* * *

Chapter 3

1 If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. 3 For you have died, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ who is our life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

5 Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: fornication, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. 6 On account of these the wrath of God is coming. 7 In these you once walked, when you lived in them. 8 But now put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and foul talk from your mouth. 9 Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old nature with its practices 10 and have put on the new nature, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there cannot be Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scyth'ian, slave, free man, but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, 13 forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

18 Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in singleness of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

* * *

raised with Christ: Mt 10:8; 22:31; 27:52; Mk 12:26-27; Lk 10:27; 20:36; Jn 5:21,29; 11:24-25; Ac 23:6,8; 24:15,21; 26:8; Rm 6:5,8-11; 8:11; 1Co 6:14; 15:12-13,21,29-52; 2Co 1:9; 4:14; Ep 2:6; Ph 3:10-11; Cl 2:12; Hb 6:2; 11:19,35; Jm 5:15; Rv 20:5-6

right hand of God: Ex 15:6,12; Ps 16:11; 48:10; 60:5; 63:8; 98:1; 110:1,5; 118:15-16; Is 41:10; 62:8; Mt 19:28; 22:44; 25:31; 26:64; Mk 14:62; 16:19; Lk 22:69; Ac 2:33-34; 5:31; 7:55-56; Rm 8:34; Ep 1:20; Hb 1:3,8,13; 8:1; 10:12; 12:2; 1Pt 3:22; Rv 5:1-14; 7:17; 22:1-4

you have died (i.e., spiritual or metaphorical death): Rm 5:15; 6:2,8,13,16,21,23; 7:4,6,9-10,13,24; 8:2,6,13; 1Co 15:22,31; 2Co 5:14; Gl 2:19; Cl 2:20; 2Tm 2:11; Rv 2:11; 20:6,14; 21:8

old nature: Mk 2:21-22; Jn 8:44; Rm 5:12-14; 6:6; 7:5-6,8-11,14-25; 8:5-8,19-23; 1Co 5:7-8; 15:53; Ep 2:3; 4:22; 2Co 4:16

new nature: Ez 11:19; 18:31; Mk 14:25; Lk 5:36-39; Jn 3:3; Rm 6:4; 7:6; 8:1-17,21,23,29-30; 12:2; 13:14; 1Co 5:7; 2Co 3:3,18; 4:16; 5:17; Gl 6:15; Ep 2:15; 4:23-24; 6:11; Hb 8:10; 9:15; 10:20; 1Pt 1:3; 2Pt 1:4; 1Jn 3:2

inheritance: Mt 5:5; 19:29; 25:34; Mk 10:17; Lk 10:25; 18:18; Ac 20:32; Rm 8:17; 1Co 6:9-10; 15:50; Gl 3:18,29; 4:7; 5:21; Ep 1:11,14,18; 5:5; Cl 1:12; Ti 3:7; Hb 1:14; 6:12,17; 9:15; 11:7; Jm 2:5; 1Pt 1:4; Rv 21:7

reward: Mt 5:12; Lk 6:23,35; Hb 11:26; 2Jo 8; Rv 22:12

Forgiving each other: Forgiveness is, of course, a distinguishing characteristic of the Christian life. We are to lovingly forgive others (cf. Mt 5:24; 6:12-15; 18:21 ff.; 18:35; Mk 11:25; Lk 6:37; 17:4; 2Co 2:7,10; Ep 4:32), because God has forgiven us (cf. Mt 6:14-15; 9:6; Mk 2:7,10; Ac 10:43; 13:38; Rm 5:10-11; 2Co 5:18-19; Ep 1:7; 4:32; Cl 1:14,20,22; Hb 9:22; Jm 5:15). The recipient must repent, however, in order to ask for, and obtain true forgiveness, which is not absolutely unconditional, as many falsely teach (cf. Mt 3:11; 11:21; 12:41; Mk 1:4,15; 6:12; Lk 3:3; 5:32; 13:3,5; 17:3-4; 24:47; Ac 2:38; 3:19; 5:31; 8:22; 11:18; 13:24; 14:15; 17:30; 19:4; 20:21; 26:18,20; Rm 2:4; 2Co 5:20; 7:9-10; 12:21; 1Th 1:9; 2Tm 2:19,25; Hb 6:1,4; 1Pt 3:11; Rv 2:5,16,21-22; 3:3,19; 9:20-21). True repentance is a heartfelt acknowledgement of one's sin (Lk 7:36-50; 15:7), a firm resolve to try to do better (Mt 3:8; Lk 3:8; 22:32; Ac 26:20), and a determination to cease engaging in that sin (Jn 5:14; 8:11; Gl 4:9; Cl 1:21-23; 2Pt 2:21). Our willingness to mercifully forgive anyone who repents and asks for forgiveness ought to be unconditional. The Catholic notion of priestly absolution is grounded in Holy Scripture (cf. Mt 16:19; 18:18; Lk 24:47; Jn 20:21-23; 2Co 2:5-11; Jm 5:15). The unforgivable sin or sin against the Holy Spirit is a rejection of God's offer of salvation (cf. Mt 12:31-32; Mk 3:28-29; Lk 12:10). This provides further evidence that even God cannot and will not forgive a person who doesn't repent and accept the forgiveness (in this case, salvation itself - see 2Pt 3:9). For to forgive everyone unconditionally would reduce to universalism, whereby everyone is saved, with no one being consigned to hell - itself a most unbiblical doctrine (see commentary for Ph 1:28).

Wives, be subject to your husbands: In his Apostolic Letter On the Dignity and Vocation of Women (1988), Pope John Paul II wrote:

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as to the Lord. For the husband is the head of the wife (Eph 5:22-23) . . . to be understood and carried out in a new way: as a mutual subjection out of reverence for Christ (cf. Eph 5:21). This is especially true because the husband is called the head of the wife as Christ is the head of the Church; he is so in order to give himself up for her (Eph 5:25) (section 24).
The greatest among you will be your servant (Mt 23:11; cf. Ep 5:28-31). The highest of God's created beings, according to Catholicism, is a woman (the Blessed Virgin Mary), and a woman - Mary Magdalene - first saw the risen Jesus (Jn 20:11-18). Wives are equal to husbands in the same way that Jesus is equal to the Father (Jn 10:30; Cl 2:9), even though in subjection to Him (Ph 2:5-8). Analogously, marriage, by nature, creates a spiritual oneness (Mt 19:5-6) which nevertheless incorporates male headship and differential gender roles. Masculinity and femininity are ontological realities created by God, not human culture (cf. 1Co 11:3,7-9; 1 Tm 2:12-14; 1Pt 3:7), thus accounting for marriage roles and exclusively male ordination. Yet men and women are fundamentally equal, according to St. Paul: there is no longer male and female; for all of you are one in Christ Jesus (Gl 3:28).

* * *

Chapter 4

1 Masters, treat your slaves justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

2 Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; 3 and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, 4 that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak.

5 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the most of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer every one.

7 Tych'icus will tell you all about my affairs; he is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. 8 I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, 9 and with him Ones'imus, the faithful and beloved brother, who is one of yourselves. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.

10 Aristar'chus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions--if he comes to you, receive him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Ep'aphras, who is one of yourselves, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always remembering you earnestly in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in La-odice'a and in Hi-erap'olis. 14 Luke the beloved physician and Demas greet you. 15 Give my greetings to the brethren at La-odice'a, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it read also in the church of the La-odice'ans; and see that you read also the letter from La-odice'a. 17 And say to Archip'pus, "See that you fulfil the ministry which you have received in the Lord."

18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my fetters. Grace be with you.

* * *

watchful: Mt 24:42-43; 25:13; Lk 12:37; Ac 20:31; 1Co 10:12; 16:13; 1Th 5:6; 1Pt 5:8; Rv 3:2-3; 16:15

open to us a door: Ac 14:27; 1Co 16:9; 2Co 2:12; Rv 3:8

mystery: Mt 13:11; Mk 4:11; Lk 8:10; Rm 11:25; 16:25; 1Co 2:7; 4:1; 13:2; 14:2; 15:51; Ep 1:9; 3:3-4,9; 5:32; 6:19; Cl 1:26-27; 2:2; 2Th 2:7; 1Tm 3:9,16; Rv 1:20; 10:7; 17:5,7

Let your speech always be gracious: Jb 27:4; Ps 19:14; 39:1; 141:3; Pr 10:11; 15:26; 21:23; 22:11; 31:26; Ec 10:12; Mt 5:22; 12:34-37; Lk 4:22; 6:45; 1Co 13:1; 16:10; Ep 4:29-31; 5:4; Ph 1:27; 2Tm 2:14; Ti 3:2; Jm 1:19,26; 3:2,5-10; 4:11; 1Pt 2:1,12; 3:9-10,15-16; Rv 14:5

assured: Jn 14:20; 15:11; 16:24; Ac 2:28; Rm 2:18; 8:16,28,38-39; 15:13-14; 2Co 7:4; Ep 1:18; 3:12,19; Cl 2:2,10; 1Th 1:4-5; 2Tm 1:12; Hb 6:11,19; 10:22; 11:1; 1Jn 3:2,14,19,24; 4:18; 5:13

ministry: Gr. diakonia: Ac 1:17,25; 6:1,4; 12:25; 20:24; 21:19; 1Co 12:5; 16:15; 2Co 3:6; 4:1; 5:18; 6:3-4; Ep 3:7; 4:12; Cl 1:7,23,25; 1Th 3:2; 1Tm 1:12; 2Tm 4:5,11

Continue steadfastly in prayer: (cf. 1Ch 16:11; 2Ch 7:14; Ps 5:1-3; 27:8; 109:4; 116:2; Mt 7:7-8; 21:22; Lk 2:37; 11:1-13; 18:1; 21:36; Jn 14:13-14; Ac 2:46-47; 6:4; 10:2; 12:2; Rm 1:9; 12:12; Ep 1:15-16; 6:18; Ph 4:6; Cl 1:9; 1Th 3:10; 5:17; 1Tm 2:8; 5:5; 2Tm 1:3; Hb 4:16; 10:25; Jm 5:16; CCC 2564-2565,2592,2607,2612,2621,2659-2669, 2725,2738-2745,2752,2779-2802). Venerable John Henry Cardinal Newman, in his sermon The Daily Service (1836), exclaimed, with typically magnificent eloquence:

Stated and continual prayer, then, and especially united prayer, is plainly the duty of Christians. And if we ask how often we are to pray, I reply, that we ought to consider prayer as a plain privilege, directly we know that it is a duty, and therefore that the question is out of place . . . When thoughts such as these are set before the multitude of men, they appear to some of them strained and unnatural; to others, formal, severe, and tending to bondage. So must it be. Christ's commands will seem to be a servitude, and His privileges will be strange, till we act upon the one and embrace the other. To those who come in faith, to receive and to obey, who, instead of standing at a distance, reasoning, criticising, investigating, adjusting, hear His voice and follow Him, not knowing whither they go; who throw themelves, their hearts and wills, their opinions and conduct, into His Divine System with a noble boldness, and serve Him on a venture, without experience of results, or skill to defend their own confidence by argument: who, when He says 'Pray,' 'Continue in prayer,' take His words simply, and forthwith pray, and that instantly; these men, through His great mercy and the power of the Holy Ghost working in them, will at length find persevering prayer, praise, and intercession, neither a bondage nor a barrenness . . . May He lead us on evermore in the narrow way, who is the One Aid of all that need, the Helper of all that flee to Him for succour, the Life of them that believe, and the Resurrection of the dead!
Will of God: (cf. Mt 6:10; 7:21; 12:50; 26:42; Mk 3:35; Jn 5:30; Ac 21:14; 22:14; Rm 1:10; 2:18; 9:19; 12:2; 1Co 1:1; 2Co 1:1; 8:5; Gl 1:4; Ep 1:1,5,9,11; 5:17; 6:6; Ph 2:13; Cl 1:1,9; 1Th 4:3; 5:18; Hb 2:4; 10:7-10; 1Pt 2:15; 3:17; 4:2,19; 1Jn 2:17; 5:14; CCC 2611).
Men do not take for the object towards which they act, God's will, but certain maxims, rules, or measures, right perhaps as far as they go, but defective because they admit of being subjected to certain other ultimate ends, which are not religious. Men are just, honest, upright, trustworthy; but all this not from the love and fear of God, but from a mere feeling of obligation to be so, and in subjection to certain worldly objects (Ven. John Henry Cardinal Newman: sermon Obedience Without Love, 1838).

Written in 1998 by Dave Armstrong. All rights reserved.

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