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Volume 20 - Page 11 of 195 Index | Zoom | |
Studies in Colossians.
A discovery of its theme.
pp. 56 - 58
The epistles to the Ephesians and the Colossians are a pair, and deal with the same
theme. With so few epistles that actually deal with the dispensation of the mystery, one
might at first wonder why there should be such repetition. This feature is not, however,
limited to these epistles. In the Gospels there are many repetitions, notwithstanding the
fact, as John tells us, that if all things which the Lord did were written, he supposed the
world would not be large enough to contain the books that must be written.
In Phil. 3: 1 the apostle has said: "To write the same things to you, to me indeed is
not grievous, but for you it is safe." While, therefore, we recognize the similarity of these
two great epistles, we are prepared to find that they each have a distinctive feature that
makes each witness essential. This distinctive feature we desire to make clear in this
article, and then to pursue the study of Colossians in a subsequent series.
Ephesians is mainly concerned with positive teaching. Broadly speaking, its three
opening chapters are taken up with the revelation of the mystery, and its three concluding
chapters with the walk that should accompany such a calling. Warning concerning error
or the attack of evil teachers is perceptible in Eph. 4: 14, and one phase of the evil
expressed in Colossians is found in Eph. 5: 6. Also, the apostle gives clear warning as
to the spiritual foes that confront the believer, but in Ephesians he does not enlarge upon
their method of attack nor expose the doctrine that is invented by the "cunning craftiness"
of those who "lie in wait to deceive". Yet, after all, this knowledge is essential if we are
to be saved from the snares that beset us, and it is in the unfolding of that system of evil
doctrine, largely connected with "angels, principalities and powers" that Colossians takes
its place. Instead of following the outline of Ephesians, Colossians compresses the truth
somewhat, both in the doctrinal and practical sections, so that a large central section may
be devoted to the great warning that occupies the bulk of Col. 2:
We now proceed to set out in barest outline the teaching of the epistle, leaving the
development of detail for subsequent studies:--