John T. Willis

Saturday, April 10, 2010

Paul and Timothy's Concluding Greeting to Colossae--Colossians 4:7-18

Like all Paul's letters, the end of the Book of Colossians primarily contains various kinds of greetings and explanations. One may conveniently divide Colossians 4:7-18 into three parts: verses 7-9, 10-15, 16-18.

I. The Impending Arrival of Tychicus and Onesimus. Colossians 4:7-9.
a. Paul and Timothy tell the community of faith at Colossae that they are "sending" Tychicus from Rome to Colossae to "tell" the Colossian Christians "how Paul (I) am doing, how Paul and Timothy (we) are, and how everything is here [at Rome]. Verses 7, 8, 9.
b. Along with Colossians 4:7, Acts 20:4; Ephesians 6:21; 2 Timothy 4:12; Titus 3:12 refer to Tychicus as an Asian Christian, described as "the belover brother," "faithful minister," and "fellow servant in the Lord." Verse 7.
c. Tychicus' purpose is to tell the Colossian Christians how Paul and Timothy have been doing in Rome and to "comfort" and encourage the community of faith there. One way that Tychicus and Onesimus will do is by reading orally the Book of Colossians to the church, and then forward this epistle to Laodicea. Verse 8.
d. Onesimus himself was a member of the church at Colossae. He had been a slave of Philemon, but now is a full-fledged brother in the Lord. See the Book of Philemon. Paul and Timothy describe Onesimus as "the faithful and beloved brother." Onesimus will tell the church at Colossae what had happened at Rome. Verse 9.

II. Greetings. Colossians 4:10-15.
a. Paul first gives greetings from six individuals to the community of the faith at Colossae. (1) Aristarchus. Paul calls him "my fellow prisoner." See Acts 19:29; 20:4; 27:2; Philemon 24. A "fellow prisoner" is a person who shares one's imprisonment. See Romans 16:7; Philemon 23. (2) [John] Mark, the cousin of Barnabas, from Jerusalem. See Acts 12:12, 25. Mark traveled with Paul and Barnabas, then separated from Paul. See Acts 13:13; 15:37, 39. Later, Mark again became Paul's fellow worker. See Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11. Mark also became a fellow worker of Peter. 1 Peter 5:13. Galatians 2:1, 9, 13; 1 Corinthians 9:6; Acts 4:36; 9:27;
11:22, 30 mention Barnabas. (3) Jesus, called Justus. Paul remarks that among Jewish Christians, only Aristarchus, John Mark, and Jesus, called Justus are faithful to the Lord. (4) Epaphras. Epaphras sends a special greeting, because he founded the church at Colossae--See Colossians 1:7-8, and worked tirelessly at Laodicea and Hierapolis. Epaphras had often prayed constantly for the community of faith in these towns. See Colossians 2:1. This prayer "that you [plural--the community of faith] may stand forth perfect and be filled with everything that is God's will." This statement seems to be a polemic against the "philosophy" troubling the church at Colossae (see Colossians 2:8). Paul encourages Christians to stand firmly as "perfect" if they have been fully and completely filled with everything in God's will. (5) Luke, the beloved physician. See also Philemon 24; 2 Timothy 4:11. (6) Demas. See Philemon 24. 4:10-14.
b. Finally, Paul asks the community of faith at Colossae to greet the brothers and sisters in Laodicea and Nympha and the community in her house. Since the early church had no buildings like we do on modern times, Christians met for worship, teaching, and partaking of the Lord's Supper in the houses of individual members of the community. See 1 Corinthians 16:15; Romans 16:5; Philemon 2. 4:15.

III. Paul's Concluding Instructions. Colossians 4:16-18.
a. Paul sends another letter or epistle to Laodicea to be forwarded to Colossae, and in return send the letter to Colossae to be forwarded to Laodicea. When the letter arrives at these destinations, the messengers [here Tychicus and Onesimus] are to "read" these epistles aloud to the whole church. Obviously, there were no copies of the original epistles at this early time. 4:16.
b. Next, Paul tells the church at Colossae to say to Archippus [see Philemon 2] to fulfill the ministry the church had received in the Lord. 4:17.
c. To make certain, Paul writes the final words of this epistle in his own hand, as he did in Galatians 6:11; Romans 16:22; 1 Corinthians 16:21; 2 Thessalonians 3:17. This indicates that someone else actually wrote almost the whole letter under Paul's guidance. These writers were probably Timothy or other associates of Paul. Paul asks that Christians at Colossae remember his bonds in prison--see Colossians 4:3. The assurance: "Grace be with you," sustains the community of faith.

Our journey through the Book of Colossians has come to an end. I hope these thoughts have blessed your heart and your life. Next, we will turn to Ephesians, because apparentely Paul wrote Philemon, Colossians, and Ephesians while he was a prisoner in Rome.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Monday, April 05, 2010

Sambar Deer

The Sambar (Rusa unicolor) is an Asian deer ranging from 40 to 63 inches high and ranging from 360 to 1200 pounds. Its coat is dark brown with chestnut marks on the rump and underparts. Its antlers are rusine, the brow tines simple, and the beams forked at the tip. These antlers soetimes exceed 40 inches.

The Sambar deer lives in much of south Asia, mainland southeast Asia, southern China, Taiwan, and Sumatra and Borneo in Indonesia. Sometimes, sambars congregated in large herds in protected areas like national parks and reserves in India, Sri Lanka, and Thailand.

Sambars usually are browsers living in woodlands and feeding primarily on coarse vegetation, grass, and herbs. Sambars are diurnal and live in herds of 5 to 6 members, grazing on grass, sprigs, fruit and bamboo buds. They are usually near water. They are hardy and range from sea level to high elevations like the mixed coniferous/deciduous forest zone in the Himalayan Mountaisn sharing its range with the Himalayan musk deer. Sambars live ranging from tropical seasonal forests, subtropical mixed forests to tropical rainforests.

In Taiwan, sambar along with sika deer have been raised on farms for their antlers, which they drop annually in April to May and are highly prized for use as knife handles and as grips for handguns. Sambars are a favorite prey item for tigers and Asiatic Lions. They can be taken by crocodiles.

Although sambars have no specific mating season, they commonly mate from September to January. Males defend rutting territories and attempt to attrach females by vocal and olfactory displays. The males are solitary and highly aggressive toward other males during this time. Females mal live in groups of eight. A male may have one whole group of females in his territory. The gestation period for the females in approximately 9 months with one calf born at a time. Sambar cales have brown hair with light spots which they lose very shortly. Calves stay with their mothers for up to two years.

Sambar deer is just another example of God's innumerable creatures. I hope YOU appreciate and support sambars. Above this, I hope YOU are amazed at God's wonders right here one earth.

Share YOUR experiences and thoughts and insights with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis

Sunday, April 04, 2010

Prayer and Loving Outsiders--Colossians 4:2-6

After a section dealing with "household guidelines" in Colossians 3:18-4:1, Paul and Timothy return to practical admonitions found in Colossians 3:5-17, and proclaim additional admonitions in Colossians 4:2-6. These additional admonitions fall into two parts: verses 2-4 and verses 5-6.

I. Prayer, thanksgiving, petition--Colossians 4:2-4.
a. Continuing, fervent prayer is absolutely essential to Christian sustenance, growth, and victory--not only individuals but the entire community of faith. Without God's daily presence, there is no hope at all. Hence, Christians must "devote themselves to prayer." See Luke 18:1-8; Romans 12:12; Acts 1:14; 2:42, 46; 6:4. The core of spiritual health is prayer. Verse 4:2a.
b. Prayer is the correct way to exercise watchfulness. Mark 13:34-35; Matthew 25:13; 1 Thessalonians 5:6. This keeps the eyes and the heart focused on God above--see Colossians 3:1-2. Prayer calls for petition, but first for thanksgiving for all God our Father has done and continues to do for us. See Colossians 1:2; 2:7;
3:15-17. Verse 4:2b.
c. Intercession is imperative. Paul and Timothy urge the community of faith at Colossae to pray for them [note the words "we" and "us" here]. Specifically, Paul and Timothy yearn for God to "open a door," an opportunity (see 1 Corinthians 16:9; 2Corinthians 2:12; Acts 14:27) for them to proclaim the gospel to others. Paul and Timothy had prayed unceasingly for them (Colossians 1:3, 9). Now, they ask the Christians at Colossae to pray for them [see similarly 1 Thessalonians 5:25). Right now, Paul is in prison at Rome (see Acts 28:11-31; Philemon 9; Ephesians 6:20). This text refers to God's message as "the mystery of Christ," which Paul defines as "Christ himself" in Colossians 2:2 and "Christ in you [plural=the entire family of God]" in Colossians 1:27. In ages past, this "mystery" was hidden, but now in Christ, God has revealed it--see Colossians 1:26; Romans 16:26; 1 Timothy 3:16. Verses 4:3-4.

II. Proper Christian Behavior toward "Outsiders." Colossians 4:5-6.
a. In the eyes of God our Father and Jesus Christ our Lord, it is VERY IMPORTANT for Christians individually and collectively to behave in a godly way in the mind of "outsiders," non-Christians--see 1 Thessalonians 4:12; 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; Mark 4:11. The people of God live in a "spiritual aquarium." Everyone can always see what is happening in the aquarium. It is only right for "outsiders" to evaluate and assess the people of God with scrutiny and critically in order to see whether Christian living is REALLY AUTHENTIC. Alleged Christians and churches are often hypocrites, fakes, phonies, pharisees, two-faced. This is why so many people reject proposed Christians and churches. Hence, Christians must "conduct themselves wisely." Verse 5a.
b. It is important for the family of God to "make the most of the the time," to seize each and every opportunity which times offers. See Galatians 6:9; Ephesians 5:16; 1 Corinthians 7:29. Verse 5b.
c. The SPEECH of Christians and churches is crucial. Such speech must always "be gracious, seasoned with salt"--see Mark 9:49-50; Matthew 5:13. "Outsiders" will inevitably raise important questions. HOW Christians respond is very important. Each answer must be interesting [not dull], captivating, judicious, kind, gentle, and loving. See 1 Peter 3:15. How many individuals and churches turned searching hearts away by their arrogance and harshness and insensitivity? SPEECH is imperative. Verse 6.

These teachings are exceedingly important. Ponder over these admonitions daily. Pray over these guidelines.

Share YOUR thoughts with others. Let me hear from YOU.

John Willis