The Paroikos Bible Blog exists as a resource to those interested in Biblical studies and Koine Greek. It is hoped that this blog will simultaneously provide food-for-thought to the reader while pointing him or her in the direction of valuable resources, both in print and on the internet, that will further help his or her studies in the Word.

Oct 17, 2019

Studying Colossians part 1: Resources

Here at my church (Falls Baptist) we have recently begun a Sunday School series focusing on Colossians. I have definitely been edified and challenged by this study, particularly the role of the phrases "in Him/in Christ" throughout Colossians, a repeated theme that should cause us to focus on the supremacy of Jesus Christ above everything else. I appreciate how Scot McKnight articulates it: Colossians is about "Vision for the Cosmos with Christ as Center."

In part 2 I will discuss some of the key themes in Colossians. Here I want to introduce the reader to some of the best resources.

First, commentaries:If you can only afford one commentary on Colossians, buy David W. Pao, Colossians and Philemon, in the series Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament. This is turning into one of my favorite NT commentaries, period. Pao combines solid conservative scholarship (which is not so hard to come by) with theological and practical insight (which is hard to come by!) In other words, Pao actually cares about the theological and practical significance of the text of Scripture (see, for example, his excellent discussion of the Wheaton revival on page 179). Whether or not this is or will be a hallmark of the ZECNT series as a whole remains to be seen!

The most recent conservative commentary of significance is Scot McKnight's Letter to the Colossians in the NICNT series (replacing the older volume by Fee). It has much to commend it, though his treatment of baptism rubs me (a Baptist!) the wrong way. In addition, the commentaries by Douglas J. Moo (Pillar) and F. F. Bruce (older NICNT) are both worth getting. For a commentary more practically oriented and easier to read (though still scholarly), see David Garland, Colossians, Philemon, in the NIV Application Commentary series (dear reader of a more KJV-oriented perspective, please do not let the title of the series turn you away from its value. By the statement of the KJV translators themselves [read the preface!], the NIV should still be considered the Word of God, "be it not fitly translated for phrase . . .")

Finally, an "oldie-but-goodie" would be J. B. Lightfoot, St. Paul's Epistles to the Colossians and Philemon, which can be obtained quite cheaply on Amazon (and might even be public domain). Be warned, though--Lightfoot expects you to be able to read all the Latin he quotes! Nonetheless, if you're willing to dig, you can find nuggets of gold in Lightfoot's works.

Now, as for other resources:
It's always good to have a solid "New Testament Introduction" or two in your library, since these focus on matters of authorship, background, provenance, setting, date, etc. of each New Testament book. The classic evangelical NT Intro is by D. A. Carson, Douglas Moo, and Leon Morris, An Introduction to the New Testament (inexplicably Morris' name dropped off in later editions). However, I much prefer The Cradle, the Cross, and the Crown: An Introduction to the New Testament by Andreas J. K√∂stenberger, L. Scott Kellum, and Charles L. Quarles (I require this for my seminary students). Granted, I'm biased (the first two authors were professors of mine at SEBTS), but this book is superior in its treatment of the background of each book and the current theological controversies in NT studies, in my humble-but-correct opinion. In addition, The New Testament in Antiquity by Burge, Cohick, and Green is very helpful in its discussion of the background of each NT book, including Colossians.

Finally, for serious study you should have access to a "New Testament Theology" book or two, which will focus on the theological themes of each book of the New Testament (or the New Testament as a whole; the methodology will vary). Frank S. Thielman's Theology of the New Testament: A Canonical Approach is what I require my seminary students to read in the class "New Testament Biblical Theology," and it has a chapter devoted to Colossians. In addition, Michael J. Gorman's Apostle of the Crucified Lord: A Theological Introduction to Paul and His Letters has some excellent material devoted to Colossians.