In Colossians and Philemon, David W. Pao continues providing the powerful exegetical commentary this series has offered on other books of the Bible. Written primarily for the pastor and Bible teacher, the text succinctly exegetes each passage of Scripture in its grammatical and historical context. Each passage of Colossians and Philemon is interpreted in the light of its biblical setting, with a view of grammatical detail, literary context, flow of biblical argument, and historical setting.
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“The evidence, therefore, appears to favor a syncretism with Jewish elements providing the controlling framework.” (Page 31)
“This letter that addresses a congregation challenged by a form of syncretism has significant contemporary application in a society in which the ‘virtues’ of pluralism and tolerance are exalted as most important. Instead of simply pointing out the errors of the various practices and beliefs promoted by the false teachers, Paul begins and ends with an intense focus on Christ as the foundation of the believers’ existence. As a result, one finds powerful theoretical and practical outworkings of a robust Christology.” (Page 31)
“In light of the fact that the Colossian false teaching appears to contain both Jewish elements and those that do not fit comfortably within a traditional Jewish framework, it appears that some sort of syncretism lies behind this false teaching.” (Page 30)
“Equally important is the fact that while the word ‘law’ (νόμος) appears more than thirty times in Galatians, it is not used at all in Colossians. Jewish legalism should not, therefore, be considered the primary target of Paul’s discussion in this letter.” (Page 28)
I feel quite comfortable commending this commentary to pastors who want to consult a reliable commentary for Bible study, preparation for sermons, and even personal study. Pao always presents the interpretive options, and offers a rationale for his preference. My favorite part of the volume, the element I felt made it stand out among available Colossians commentaries, is the section on theology and application. Plenty of commentaries re-hash the same exegetical conundrums. But preachers often get stuck making the leap from the first century to today. Commentaries like the ZECNT, including Pao’s volume, offer the kind of counsel that preachers desperately need.
Nijay K. Gupta (PhD, University of Durham), Themelios, Volume 38, Issue 3, 2013
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