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God’s Word for You

Colossians 3:11 Christ is all

by Pastor Timothy Smith on Saturday, July 6, 2019

11 Here there is no Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave; free. Instead, Christ is all, and is in all.

“Here” is where the old self has been taken off and the new self has been put on (vs. 9-10). Where there are Christians, there should not be any differences. There must not be any distinctions between race, station, or status. If Paul had been in India, he might have said, “There is no Brahmin or Untouchable.” In America, he might well have said, “There is not black or white.” In modern Israel, he could say, “There is no Israeli or Palestinian.” Or he might say, “There is no Communist or capitalist.” Or, “There is no Democrat or Republican.”

The difference between Greek and Jew was even more extreme than Gentile and Jew. “Greek” was a word including Greek culture and social status. The Greek would boast about his intelligence and philosophy, the Jew would boast about the law of Moses. Greeks scoff at Christ because he seems weak to them, but a Greek who came to faith in Christ would set aside his philosophy for the gospel of the cross. Jews outwardly mock Christ as an upstart, but they refuse to pronounce his name the same way they refuse to pronounce God’s name because this windblown leaf has put them to fright. But a Jew who came to faith in Christ would see that the crucifixion of Christ fulfilled the ancient law of Moses and set it aside forever.

The next difference Paul blasts is that of circumcision and uncircumcision (or non-circumcision). Those who insisted on circumcision were embracing the law of Moses once again, after its fulfillment, and therefore rejecting Christ. In our time, circumcision goes in an out of fashion, but parents should take care not to have their sons circumcised if they think it’s required by the Bible, for this is one of the key points Paul makes in most of his epistles. There is no longer any command to circumcise, and no one should ever insist on it. “Circumcision is nothing and uncircumcision is nothing” (1 Corinthians 7:19).

“Barbarian” was a derogatory word used by anyone of any social standing for a foreigner. “Bar-bar” seems to have been a way of imitating someone else’s language. By saying, “There are no more barbarians,” Paul is telling Christians never to judge anyone’s faith, their language, customs, or other distinctions.

The Scythians Paul mentions have been called “the barbarians of the barbarians” (Bengel); or the most barbaric of the barbarians. The Scythians were a tribe of horsemen from Siberia, and perhaps some Scythian immigrants to Greek or Roman territories had been brought to faith in Christ.

“Slave” and “free” end this list, but these are not the only remaining distinctions to be shattered. Still, a slave should not avoid Christianity because he thinks it’s a free man’s religion, nor should a free man avoid Christianity because he thinks it’s a slave’s religion. Paul’s letter to Philemon is an essay on this topic, especially verses 15-17.

If “Christ is all” is too abstract for the reader to grasp, then move to the next phrase: “Christ is in all.” The brother or sister in the faith with whom you have a disagreement or a quarrel must shine in your eyes. Remember that Christ is in them; they are part of the family of believers, the Holy Christian Church.

To put it more plainly:

The man you plan to steal from? Christ died for him, and God gave him that object or idea to be used in his (God’s) service.

The woman you’re about to gossip about may have her reputation so ruined by your words that she might never listen to the gospel. Your action today may destroy her doorway to Christ which might still be decades away.

The girl you lust after is a child of God; a sister in Christ. If you act on your sinful impulses, she might run away from the church, away from her faith into some heresy, just to avoid you. Would you have her perish in hell simply because you could not bring yourself to refrain from your lust for one hour?

The prostitute who offers herself to you: Consider that even beyond the act of adultery she offers and the potential for a life-changing infection she may pass along to you, her offer and your acceptance will only continue the world’s oldest profession into our culture. This is the path in our present world that kidnapping and slavery take, far more commonplace now than fifty years ago, or one hundred years ago. Indeed, our nation must cast shamed eyes back to the days leading up to the Civil War when slavery reached the numbers in our nation that it is coming close to achieving today. Today’s slave is not in the field, but in the brothel, but she is also on the website, on the movie screen, and can still be found in magazines. She is still being used for sex, whatever form her slavery takes, and she still has a pimp controlling everything she does; her slaveholder, her ‘advertiser.’ Do not buy his product; nothing he wants to sell. Only then will he have no reason to find more slave girls.

The old man with the foul mouth might only be waiting for one sincere heart to say to him: “Please don’t talk that way. That’s the name of my God you’re using to curse with, and Jesus Christ has blessed me.” Set aside your fear of such a man or your disgust for him, and reach out. Your act may be the only true door to the gospel that opens for him.

Finally, consider the role of self-denial in your life. Jesus said, “Whoever wants to come after me must deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me” (Luke 9:23). God is the Alpha and the Omega, the beginning and the end (Revelation 1:8), and so out of all the things we love, the love of God must come first. That is not to say that we must spurn all other loves. God commands you to love your spouse (Ephesians 5:25; Song 3:1-2), love your children (Proverbs 13:24), love your friends (Proverbs 17:17), love your neighbors (James 2:8), and even to love strangers who are Christians (3 John 5). We are even shown that the best love of ourselves is in loving our spouse (Ephesians 5:28,33). But let your love begin in God and end in God. Like a plant or a flower that always turns its face to the sun from which it gets its life, so also turn your heart, soul, mind, and abilities to Christ with all of your daily tasks, giving glory to him with everything you do. Christ is all, and in all.

In Christ,
Pastor Timothy Smith

Pastor Tim SmithAbout Pastor Timothy Smith
Pastor Smith serves St. Paul’s Lutheran Church in New Ulm, Minnesota. His wife, Kathryn, attended the Chapel from 1987-1990 while studying Secondary Education (Theater and Math) at UW-Madison. Kathryn’s father, John Meyer, was also the first man to serve as a Vicar at Chapel.

To receive God’s Word for You via e-mail, please contact Pastor Smith.



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