Colossians is my favourite book of the New Testament, and we’ve finally come around to studying it in my New Testament class. So I thought I’d live-blog it as well (like I did with Apocalyptic books from OT class on Tuesday).
Analogies with Stoicism: 1, Deity as the Head of the Cosmos
Paul leaves no doubt that he identifies the church with the body, the cosmos which Christ is the head of. It is the microcasm of the macrocasm… The church is the miniature version of Christ’s headship over all creation… Or maybe we’re the original, and the cosmos and Christ being the head of it is the image of his headship over the church…
Analogies with Stoicism: 2, the mind is the key to the good life
Christ is all knowledge and wisdom though… being in Christ can lead to perfection… The goal of preaching Christ is that everyone would become perfect within Christ. Stoics believe perfection is possible. Likewise Paul is claiming it is possible to become perfect in Christ.
Christ’s Indwelling Life
Often talks about walking in Christ. Or Christ dwelling within Christian… The Christian being in Christ dies with Christ… metaphorically, 2:11-12. Dying and being buried in baptism, and being raised with him from the dead.
Unlike Romans, where hope is for the resurrection, Colossians, resurrection is already at hand… Reason: change in the way the Christian lives.
Parallels with Plato
Plato – God didn’t create out of nothing, but out of chaos. Order our of chaos. Chaos came from the bad god, who continues to create chaos in the world. One of the reasons that Plato advocates turning away from this world… towards the world of the forms, the ideal world, where there’s only truth, beauty and goodness.
τα στοιχεια τοθ κοσμου – elemental principles of the world… this is what Platonists god created the order from… These are the reasons for bad things happening. They are fearsome forces. This is why it’s important for Platonists to believe in reason at the heart of the kosmos, because it allowed for hope.
Plato – image of God… believed that we need to keep our eye on the forms, which is what’s real… what we have are just images. For believers, the image in whom they live is Christ…
Analogical Comparison with Gnosticism
In Christ, all of the πληρωμα of God is pleased to dwell… In Colossians, you have been filled in Him. While in gnosticism, hope is for being filled with knowledge one day.
Another feature is that those in the inner circle believe they have access to a secret knowledge. By comparison, Paul says that God’s mystery is Christ. And all who have knowledge of Christ have knowledge of the mystery.
*** Not arguing for influence. That Paul knew about these philosophies or that his audience did. Just simply looking at what different philosophies in the ancient world is saying about what reality is and how to make it better… Putting Colossians into that mix.