Under the pressures of the crisis in Colosse (see the introduction), Paul's description of God's rescue operation modifies his earlier teaching. For example, Paul's futurism is softened by his emphasis on the new life believers already attain by the working of God's redeeming grace in Christ Jesus. Thus, believers now experience the reality of God's redemption as the forgiveness of sins. Earlier in his ministry, Paul spoke of human "sin" (singular) as a world force, "a power which found entrance into the world through Adam's deed and since then has exercised its tyranny over men" (Lohse 1971:39; see Rom 5:12—8:2; 2 Cor 5:16-21). When Paul uses the plural sins, as he does here, he means specific acts of disobedience and their real and terrible consequences. Thus the idea of redemption, which pictures slaves set free from the Roman slave market, takes on a personal and practical meaning as well: God rescues us from the results of our sinful acts which we experience in our daily lives and read about in our daily newspapers.
As a feature of Paul's retelling of the exodus story, God's gracious work in Christ liberates a true Israel from the consequences of their former rebellion against God, which had prevented God from transforming them in accord with his original intentions at their creation. Grace not only rights our relationship with God; it also redeems us from those actions that deny God access into our lives, so that God can heal us and help us along the narrow way that leads into the promised land.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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