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V. Influence On Wesleyan Thought

V. Influence On Wesleyan Thought

Wesleyan biblical commentators have often focused on Paul's doctrine of the person and work of Christ in this epistle. Adam Clarke, for example, launches into a full-page excursus on the deity of Christ in his commentary on 1:16-17. The apostle Paul, he argues, “must have considered Jesus Christ as being truly and properly God” (6:516). The epistle's emphases on the sufficiency of Christ and the efficacy of his work (through death and resurrection) have also attracted considerable Wesleyan comment.

The Wesleyan emphasis on personal sanctification and practical holiness reflects those texts that speak of living “worthy of the Lord” (1:10), living “holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” (v. 22), and living “perfect in Christ” (v. 28). Special attention is accorded such passages in Wesleyan circles.

Paul teaches that the “word of Christ” (3:16) and “spiritual wisdom and understanding” (1:9; cf. 2:3) are vital to the Christian's growth and maturity. He underscores the importance of prayer and evangelism for the Christian community, especially in 4:2-6. These themes have guided the emerging shape of Wesleyan church life.

However, at some points Wesleyans have been reluctant to apply the full force of Paul's teachings in Colossians. For example, Calvinists generally reflect a greater appreciation and affirmation of the doctrine of Christ's sovereignty; Wesleyans fear too great an emphasis on divine sovereignty. Further, there is a need among evangelical Wesleyans to take what Paul says about legalism more seriously, to reexamine their understandings of God's grace in relation to human responsibility.