As previously noted,
most neglected readers of the first century were the Romans. Paul gave his most detailed written teaching about "reckoning"
and "presenting" to his
Roman readers because no apostle had been there to teach it. Paul
lived in Corinth (act18:1-11) before he wrote his
epistles to the
Corinthians so he had no need to lay again the foundation of the King
(1cor 3:10-11) for the Corinthians. Likewise, Paul lived in Ephesus (Act19:1-10)
Thessalonica (1Th 2:1-12) before writing epistles
to each of
them. He had preached in Galatia (Gal1:8,11) and
16:12-40) before he wrote epistles to them. He personally knew
Titus, and Philemon before sending them epistles, but he had not been
to Rome or Colossae before he wrote to each of them.
Colossian readers had an advantage over the Romans. Paul explicitly affirmed that Ephaphrus had laid the foundational teachings about King Jesus in Colossae (Col 1:5-7, 2:6-7, 4:12-13). The Romans were the most neglected, having no teacher like Epaphrus, explicitly affirmed as laying the foundation in Rome. The Colossians were the second most neglected having learned only from an apostolically-approved teacher, but not an actual apostle.
Since the most neglected readers (the Romans) received the most detailed teaching concerning the foundation of reckoning ourselves in the King, it stands to reason that the second most neglected readers would get the second-best teaching on the Reckoning. In fact we do find the Reckoning taught explicitly and frequently in the letter to the Colossians. Paul comes close to quoting Romans 6:2-11 in Colossians 2:12-13, "having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead... He made you alive together with Him..."
In Colossians 2:11 Paul had illustrated the Reckoning in terms of circumcision, cutting away the old sinful self in the crucifixion of the King: "In Him you were also circumcised with a circumcision made without hand in the cutting off of the sinful flesh, in the circumcision of King." Later in the same chapter, he addressed the Colossians as a people who practiced the Reckoning. He used the Reckoning as an assumption on which he could build other teachings: "If you died with the King to the base elements of the world, why (as if you were living in the world) would you subject yourselves to..."
At the top of chapter three, Paul assumed again that they reckon themselves. He built on the Reckoning by saying, "If then you were raised up with the King..." A few verses later, Paul explicitly presented the Reckoning, saying, "...you have taken off the old man with his ways, and have put on the new man who is being renewed in mind to the image of his Creator... for the King is all, and in all."
"IN THE NAME OF JESUS"
After reading what Paul taught the Colossians, we can more clearly understand some of the depth of a phrase we often use very lightly. Before Colossians 3:17, Paul had retaught them what Epaphrus had first taught them. Paul said they were reckoned by God as having their sinful flesh circumcised in their King's death (2:11). He said God reckoned them as having died with their King in Baptism (2:12-13). He had said the Colossians reckoned themselves as having died with their King (2:20) and resurrected with Him (3:1). He had said the Colossians took off their old identities (3:9) and put on a new self (3:10) whose mind was being renewed toward God's image (3:10). Paul had even said their King is every believer and is in every believer (3:11).
Paul then culminated three chapters of teaching in 3:17 when he wrote, "Whatever you do in word or in deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus..." We rarely use the phrase "In Jesus's name." Most often it comes at the end of a prayer followed with "amen." Even when we pray the words, "In Jesus name," we rarely think it through. Paul taught the Colossians to put on the identity of Jesus in everything they said and everything they did. How would our words change if we considered ourselves as covered in His identity while we spoke? How much harder would we work if we worked, thinking, "In the name of Jesus I perform this task." How much purer would our rest and recreation be if every time we turn on the television, we prayed, "Thank you, Father God for this movie; I watch it in the name of Jesus." How much more edifying would our words become if every sentence began with the silent thought, "In the name of King Jesus I say..."
Paul's second most neglected readers received the second most intensive teaching of the Reckoning. Since he taught it in depth to the Romans who had no apostolic teaching and taught it heavily to those who had only learned it from an approved foundation-teacher, one can confidently assert that everywhere Paul went, he laid the foundation of Jesus as King and the self-reckoning identification in the King as the way in which citizens of the kingdom lay aside their sin-selves and put on the Son, daily renewing their minds toward His image to do everything "in the name of the Lord Jesus"!
"Colossal Identity" by Matthew Bryan was first published at www.matthewbryan.net on September 30th, 2013. All rights are reserved.