The outworking of divine grace within the history of the faith community is first of all understood by Paul as God's rescue of sinners from the dominion of the evil one. The special vocabulary of this passage—"inheritance of the saints" (1:12), rescued us, brought us into the kingdom, redemption, the forgiveness of sins—employs the "terminology of conversion . . . which makes fit for service those who are unfit" (Schweizer 1976:50). Also, Paul is able to frame the experience of conversion by a familiar historical event (the exodus) and a particular people (the Israelites; compare Lohse 1971:33-35). Jewish religion seems a prominent source for the teaching of Paul's opponents in Colosse, and Jewish holy days and dietary rules continue to be observed by some believers there, so the apostle draws on biblical traditions that remind his readers that the authentic celebration of exodus belongs to those who are brought into the kingdom of the Son through the proclamation of the Christian gospel.
Paul's conviction that believers already realize the promises of God's future salvation—a "realized eschatology"—is actually informed by his "realized Christology": the true Israel (see Rom 2:28-9) enters the place where God's salvation is found because of what the crucified Christ has already accomplished for them. Characterizing the congregation as belonging to the realm of light, Paul sets up a contrast with the dominionof darkness (1:13), a metaphor for evil. That is, the church's rite of passage from darkness into light, out of sin and death into holiness and life, is through Christ's completed work. In Christ the new exodus of the true Israel has already occurred, and God's people have already entered their promised land to receive the good gifts of their Lord and Savior.
IVP New Testament Commentaries are made available by the generosity of InterVarsity Press.
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