Whatever – Colossians 3:17 09/20/20

Whatever – Colossians 3:17 09/20/20

In our present time and culture, names are little more than a sounds used to identify someone or something. Our text today forces us to think about the significance of a name as the ancient world understood it. The word “name” (ὄνομα) appears over 1000 times in the Bible, attesting to its theological significance.[1] Names were significant and were understood to be more than simple identifying sounds. The name was considered to be virtually equivalent to the nature, desires, and purposes of the person named.[2]

Therefore, when we see the name of Jesus Christ, it refers to all that Jesus is as Savior, as King, and as Lord… but it also contains within it reference to the work of Jesus on the cross to purchase our pardons.[3] Therefore, as the ancient world would have understood it, to do something in the name of someone else was to do something consistent with His character, purposes, and desires.[4]

Our text today is Colossians 3:17, which probably deserves to be memorized. Here, everything that’s been said so far in the letter to the Colossians is concisely wrapped up. If you want a single statement defining Christian living, here you have it.[5]

17 And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.[6]

The expression “whatsoever” (πᾶν ὅ τι ἐὰν)[7] is actually four words in the Greek, literally, “all what some if.” This is an example of a Semitism. Later in the sentence this is restated as “do all” (πάντα).[8] Again, with this one little sentence the Apostle sums up everything that he’s said so far.[9] In the historic context of the passage, the Colossian believers not only came to God through Jesus, they were to live their lives conscious of his authority and reputation[10] as they lived “in Him.” The impact of this statement, rightly understood, is that everything, absolutely all that we do, is supposed to be done in such a way that it can be done consistent with the desires and purposes of Jesus.[11] If we could grasp this one truth with more than just our heads it would revolutionize our lives.[12] The simple fact of Christianity is that there’s no division between the sacred and the secular.[13]

Remember, for the ancient world, to believe in His name was the same thing as believing in His person. I think this is more important than we 21st century western-culture Christians may understand. The entire content of the Christian’s salvation is wrapped up in the name of Jesus.[14] Belief in His name is God’s command to us.[15] In doing so, we receive forgiveness of sin.[16]

The passage concludes with a command to give thanks to God. Let’s look at this a little more closely. We’re instructed to give thanks to the Father through Jesus. The participle “giving” (εὐχαριστοῦντες)[17] refers to the attitude that should be a part of all that we do.[18] It is a present active participle indicating that it is something that we do, and it is something that we are supposed to do all of the time. It doesn’t matter what the circumstances are, the trial, the hurt, the joy, or the glory. In everything we’re called upon to give thanks to God.[19]

This is done “through” Jesus Christ.[20] What does that mean? The word “through” (διά)[21] is a preposition, usually with a focus on how something is done.[22] Here, the object of the preposition is “Him” (αὐτοῦ).[23] “Him” is in the genitive case which typically marks a noun as the source or possessor of something.[24] Coupling “through” with a noun in the Genitive case results in conveying the sense of “by means of,” that is, revealing how something is done.[25] In this sense, Jesus stands as the Mediator between us and the Father, granting access so that we’re able to give thanks.[26]

What’s supposed to be the Christian way to live?[27] The process of life transformation each Christian enters into must include all aspects of life, both in attitude and action.[28] Whatever you do, at work, at home, at play, in all relationships, this simple instruction applies.[29] Do it in the name of Jesus.

[1] R. Youngblood, Names in Bible Times, Significance of, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 812. [2] R. Youngblood, Names in Bible Times, Significance of, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 812. [3] The People’s Bible Encyclopedia: Biographical, Geographical, Historical, and Doctrinal, ed., Randall Barnes, (The People’s Publication Society, Chicago, IL.: 1924), 776. [4] R. Youngblood, Names in Bible Times, Significance of, in the Evangelical Dictionary of Theology, Second Edition, ed., Walter Elwell, (Baker Academic, Grand Rapids, MI.: 2001), 812. [5] J. Vernon McGee, Thru the Bible with J. Vernon McGee: Volume V, 1 Corinthians – Revelation, (Thomas Nelson Publishers, Nashville, TN.: 1983), 360. [6] The New King James Version (Nashville: Thomas Nelson, 1982), Col 3:17. [7]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:17. [8]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:17. [9] Curtis Vaughan, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids M I.: 1978), 216. [10] Richard R. Melick, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon, vol. 32, The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1991), 306. [11] Eduard Lohse, A Commentary in the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1968), 152. [12] Robert James Utley, Paul Bound, the Gospel Unbound: Letters from Prison (Colossians, Ephesians and Philemon, Then Later, Philippians), vol. Volume 8, Study Guide Commentary Series (Marshall, TX: Bible Lessons International, 1997), 46. [13] Norman L. Geisler, “Colossians,” in The Bible Knowledge Commentary: An Exposition of the Scriptures, ed. J. F. Walvoord and R. B. Zuck, vol. 2 (Wheaton, IL: Victor Books, 1985), 682. [14] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 44, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco TX.: 1982), 211. [15] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 44, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco TX.: 1982), 211. [16] Peter O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, Volume 44, gen. eds., David Hubbard and Glenn Barker, NT ed., Ralph Martin, (Word Books, Waco TX.: 1982), 211. [17]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:17. [18] John Peter Lange et al., A Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Colossians (Bellingham, WA: Logos Bible Software, 2008), 71. [19] Curtis Vaughan, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids M I.: 1978), 217. [20] Eduard Lohse, A Commentary in the Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, Hermeneia – A Critical and Historical Commentary on the Bible, trans., William Poehlmann and Robert Karris, ed., Helmut Koester, (Fortress Press, Philadelphia, PA.: 1968), 153. [21]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:17. [22] Johannes P. Louw and Eugene Albert Nida, Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament: Based on Semantic Domains (New York: United Bible Societies, 1996), 779. [23]Kurt Aland et al., The Greek New Testament, Fourth Revised Edition (Interlinear with Morphology) (Deutsche Bibelgesellschaft, 1993), Col 3:17. [24] Michael S. Heiser and Vincent M. Setterholm, Glossary of Morpho-Syntactic Database Terminology (Lexham Press, 2013; 2013). [25] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 150. [26] Gerhard Kittel, Gerhard Friedrich, and Geoffrey William Bromiley, Theological Dictionary of the New Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: W.B. Eerdmans, 1985), 150. [27] Earle Wilson, Alex Deasley, and Barry Callen, Galatians, Philippians, Colossians: A Commentary for Bible Students, Wesleyan Commentary Series, gen. publisher, Donald Cady, exec. Ed., David Holdren, managing ed.., Lawrence Wilson, theological ed., Stephen Lennox, snr. ed., Darlene Teague, (Wesleyan Publishing House, Indianapolis, IN.: 2007), 338. [28] Max Anders, Galatians-Colossians, vol. 8, Holman New Testament Commentary (Nashville, TN: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1999), 332. [29] Curtis Vaughan, Colossians, in The Expositor’s Bible Commentary, Volume 11, Ephesians – Philemon, gen. ed., Frank Gaebelein, assoc. ed., J.D. Douglas, NT eds., James Boice and Merrill Tenney, manuscript ed., Gerard Terpstra, (Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids M I.: 1978), 217.

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