Holy Father, we humble our hearts before you. We're making it a top priority to understand your Word. We want to understand it. We want to live it. We want to be fully ready to stand before you. We pray in Jesus' mighty name. Amen!
I'll always quote from the New American Standard Bible, unless I mention otherwise. Sometimes I make comments in the middle of quotations using brackets [ ] or [[ ]] to make them more obvious.
Last time when we stopped we were on page 148 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ." We are in the middle of a study of the Greek noun "aphesis," which is a very important word. We were discussing Col. 1:9-14 at the end of the last article, which is a very important passage on the topic of holiness and victory over sin. We finished discussing verses 9-13 in the last broadcast, and we are ready to discuss verse 14, a verse that uses aphesis.
Before I read Col. 1:14, I'll read verses 9-13 with a few comments for review. What the apostle Paul said in verses 9-13 helps us understand what he went on to say in verse 14. These verses are strongly tied together in the Greek. Verses 9-14 are all part of the same sentence in the Greek. There is a very strong emphasis in these verses on our being delivered from the authority of the kingdom of the darkness and bondage to sin and of our being transferred to the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the kingdom of the light, and of our being made saints who walk in a manner worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects by the authority and power of God.
"For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us [or, "who has made us fit"] to share in the inheritance of the saints in light [better yet, "in the light"; the definite article is included in the Greek], For He rescued us from the domain [or, "from the authority"] of darkness [of the darkness], and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son [Now I'll read verse 14], in whom [in Christ Jesus] we have redemption [we have the redemption], the forgiveness of sins [Greek aphesis]."
The Greek noun aphesis is typically translated "forgiveness" or the equivalent in this verse, but as we have discussed and will further discuss in some detail, I don't believe this is an adequate way to translate aphesis in this verse and in several other verses. A translation like, "in whom we have the redemption, the release from sins [with the guilt and the penalties]" is required. This other translation says so much more, and it agrees perfectly with what the word redemption means and with what the apostle Paul said in the preceding verses. The Lord Jesus Christ didn't just bear our sins with the guilt so we could be forgiven, as important as that is. He bore our sins with the guilt and with the penalties in His atoning death (very much including the penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin), so He could forgive us and redeem us out of the kingdom of the darkness, with its spiritual death and bondage to sin. He bore our spiritual death, so we could be redeemed out to the kingdom of spiritual death and be born again. He bore our bondage to sin, so we could be redeemed out from under that evil taskmaster and be made righteous and holy with the very imparted righteousness and holiness of God.
Now we'll get into the details of Col. 1:14. I'll be reading from my book, which uses the New American Standard Bible, 1977 edition; sometimes I modify what is written in the book for these articles. We'll start with the words, "in whom we have redemption." I would translate "the redemption." The definite article is included in the Greek. God's redemption through Jesus Christ is the redemption in that it is the theme of much Old Testament prophecy and is at the center of new-covenant salvation. Also, the apostle does not first come to the idea of redemption at Col. 1:14; he has been speaking of the redemption, using different words, in the preceding verses, especially verse 13. On the redemption see under Rom. 3:24 in chapter 6 of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin."
I'm going to turn back to page 80 and read part of what I said there in chapter 6. We're discussing the words "through the redemption which is in Christ Jesus" of Rom. 3:24. I believe these words rather strongly confirm that (in Rom. 3:24) "being justified" includes the ideas of being set free from the authority and power of sin (and spiritual death) and being made righteous. Sin formerly reigned (see Rom. 5:21, for example), and we were slaves of sin (see, for example, Rom. 3:9-20; 6:6, 17-22; 8:2, 5-8; and John 8:31-36), but now we have been redeemed out of the kingdom of sin (and spiritual death) through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.
The word redemption conveys the idea of buying a slave to set him free. We were slaves of sin (according to the New Testament), but we have been redeemed out of the kingdom of sin; we are no longer under the authority and power of sin, and we are no longer to serve our old master of sin (by sinning). If we were forgiven but were still slaves of sin, we would not be redeemed. Let's briefly consider several passages that deal with the redemption in Christ Jesus, passages that emphasize the transformation to righteousness and holiness.
First we'll look at 1 Cor. 6:18-20. "Flee immorality. Every other sin that a man commits is outside the body, but the immoral man sins against his own body. (19) Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own? (20) For you have been bought with a price; therefore glorify God in your body." We were bought with the price of Jesus' blood. His precious blood redeemed us out of the kingdom of sin, Satan, and spiritual death.
Now I'll read Titus 2:11-14 from the NIV, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. (12) It teaches us [and, I might add, it enables us] to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, (13) while we wait for the blessed hope - the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, (14) who gave himself for us TO REDEEM us from all wickedness [or, lawlessness] and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good." (I mentioned that Titus 2:11-14 are briefly discussed later in this chapter of my book.).
Now 1 Peter 1:14-19, which is another passage that speaks of redemption and puts a very strong emphasis on the need for Christians be set apart from all sin for God. "As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance [back before you became Christians], (15) but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior; (16) because it is written, 'YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.' (17) And if you address as Father the One who impartially judges according to each man's work, conduct yourselves in fear during the time of your stay upon earth [We must be afraid to sin against God; that's a healthy fear and a necessary fear according to the Bible, both the Old and New Testaments.]; knowing that you were not REDEEMED with perishable things like silver or gold from your futile [and I might add, sinful] way of life inherited from your forefathers, (19) but with precious blood, as of a lamb unblemished and spotless, the blood of Christ." Christians have been redeemed from their former futile, sinful way of life by the atoning blood of Christ. (First Peter 1:13-19 are discussed in the last chapter of this book.)
Now I'll turn back to page 148 and continue to quote what I said under Col. 1:14, Now we'll discuss the words "the forgiveness [aphesis] of sins" of Col. 1:14. As I have mentioned, I can't live with the translation "forgiveness" for aphesis here. I would translate "the release from sins [with the guilt and the penalties]," or the equivalent. With these words, which are in apposition with the words "we have [the] redemption," the apostle expands on what he means by "the redemption."
Formerly we were under our sins with the guilt and the penalties. (See chapters 1, 2, 3, 4 and 6 of my book.) To be under our sins with the penalties included being under the authority of sin, spiritual death, Satan, and the darkness. These enemies gained authority over us through our sins, especially Adam's one great transgression (see Rom. 5:12-21).
God sent His Son to bear our sins with the guilt and the penalties, and He delivered (rescued) us from the authority of the darkness (see Col. 1:13). The deliverance (rescue) of Col. 1:13 refers to the same basic gospel reality as do the expressions "the redemption" and "the release from [our] sins [with the guilt and the penalties]" of verse 14. All these expressions include the forgiveness of the guilt of sin, but they also include much more. We were not just redeemed from the guilt to sin. We were redeemed out of the kingdom of sin. This means, among other things, that we are no longer required to (or supposed to) serve our former master of sin by sinning. This is very good news! This is what we want, isn't it?
Isaiah chapter 53 (which is discussed in this book) is a very important passage to show by what means we are released from our sins with the guilt and the penalties. That chapter deals with the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ. The other passages that we are studying in this chapter of my book are all important illustrations of this concept of being released from sins with the guilt and the penalties. Since this concept is so important, and since it is not widely understood, let's consider several more illustrations:
First we'll look at Psalm 130:8. I'll read the verse, "And He will redeem Israel From all his iniquities." Iniquities is a translation of the plural of the Hebrew noun "awon.". I believe this Hebrew noun is used here (as it very often is) of the iniquities with the guilt and the penalties. (Chapter 2 of my book deals with the meaning of this Hebrew noun.) Israel needs to be redeemed from her iniquities with the guilt and with the penalties. Psalm 130:8, understood in its ultimate sense, prophesies of full salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. The concept of being redeemed from iniquities with the guilt and the penalties in Psalm 130:8 is essentially the same thing as "the redemption, the release from sins [with the guilt and the penalties]" of Col. 1:14.
Now we come to the subheading, "Several Commentators on Psalm 130:8." J. J. S. Perowne ("Commentary on the Psalms," a 1989 reprint by Kregel), commenting on the words, "[He will redeem Israel] from [all] his iniquities" says (in part), "The redemption includes the forgiveness of sin, the breaking of the power and dominion of sin, and the setting free from all the consequences of sin."
F. Delitzsch (Volume 5 of the Keil and Delitzsch commentaries on the Old Testament) says (in part), "...He, in the fullness of the might of His free grace, will redeem Israel from all its iniquities, by forgiving them and removing their unhappy inward and outward consequences. With this promise the poet comforts himself. He means complete and final redemption, above all, in the genuinely New Testament manner, spiritual redemption."
Now we'll take a quick look at Psalm 39:8, "Deliver me from all my transgressions; Make me not the reproach of the foolish." The word transgressions was translated from the plural of the Hebrew noun "pesha." I believe the idea is "Deliver me from all my transgressions [with the guilt and with the penalties]," or just, "Deliver me from the penalties of my transgressions." The first chapter of my book deals with the meaning of the Hebrew noun pesha, and Psalm 39:8 is discussed in that chapter.
Now Matthew 1:21, another verse that will help us understand the concept of being saved from our sin [with the guilt and with the penalties]. "And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins." That is, He will save His people from their sins [with the guilt and the penalties]. Note the preposition "from" in Matt. 1:21 ("He will save His people from their sins [with the guilt and the penalties]"), and note the preposition "from" in the next verse listed here, Rev. 1:5. I'll read Rev. 1:5, "To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins [released us from our sins with the guilt and with the penalties] by His blood." I should mention that the preposition "from" was also used in Psalm 130:8 and Psalm 39:8, verses we just looked at.
Now 1 Peter 2:24, 25, "and He Himself bore our sins [He Himself bore our sins with the guilt and the penalties] in His body on the cross, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness, for by His wounds you were healed. (25) For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls." The Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, bore our sins with the penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin so that we might be born again and live in the very righteousness and holiness of God, as His born-again children.
Now we come to the subheading, "Two commentators on Colossians 1:14." Adam Clarke, who was an associate of John Wesley (in his commentary on the Bible abridged by Ralph Earle, published by Baker in 1967), commenting on the words "the forgiveness of sins," said, " 'The taking away of sins'; all the power, guilt, and infection of sin."
R. C. Lucas ("The Message of Colossians and Philemon," published by Inter-Varsity Press in 1980) has an interesting discussion regarding the meaning of "the forgiveness of sins." I'll quote the major part of his primary paragraph on this topic, "The blessing of forgiveness has sometimes been devalued, as though it were no more than the wiping of the slate clean. But sin is always a power that holds people in thrall [in bondage], so, in Paul's teaching forgiveness must include the breaking of that power. It is inconceivable that God should forgive the past, and then send us back incapable of living a new life. Pardon without deliverance would be a mockery, and it is never so contemplated in the New Testament. We ought not speak of 'mere forgiveness' as though this were but an initial blessing of the gospel. The gospel is precisely the offer of freedom because of the forgiveness of our sins. (E.g., Acts 13:38, 39.) That forgiveness flows from the cross where Christ not only cancelled our debt but also disarmed our enemy (see Colossians 2:14, 15)."
I appreciate these words by R. C. Lucas, but I'll make two brief comments. Most Christians don't use the word forgiveness in the full sense presented in this quotation, and I don't believe they ever will. Secondly, I believe a translation like "release from sins [with the guilt and the penalties]" more accurately reflects the meaning intended for aphesis here in Col. 1:14, and in several other verses.
That completes our study of Col. 1:9-14, now we come to the heading "Ephesians 1:7 and the Meaning of 'Aphesis.' " I'll read Eph. 1:7, "In Him [in Christ] we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness [aphesis] of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace."
Now we'll discuss the words, "In Him we have redemption through His blood." As in Col. 1:14, I would translate "the redemption." The definite article is included in the Greek in both verses. We discussed "the redemption" in some detail when we discussed Col. 1:14. The words "through His blood" speak of the all-important atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ (see, for example, Rom. 3:24, 25; Titus 2:14; Heb. 9:12-15; 1 Pet. 1:18. 19; and 2:24, 25).
Now we'll discuss the words "the forgiveness [Greek aphesis] of our trespasses" of Eph. 1:7. As in Col. 1:14, these words are in apposition with the words "the redemption," and they expand on the meaning of "the redemption." And, as in Col. 1:14, I would translate "the release from our trespasses [with the guilt and the penalties]," or the equivalent. "The trespasses [with the guilt and the penalties]" here in Eph. 1:7 is the equivalent of "the sins [with the guilt and the penalties]" in Col. 1:14.
"The redemption through His blood, the release from our trespasses [with the guilt and the penalties]" includes our being set free from sin, Satan, and spiritual death. On our being set free from sin and being made righteous and holy, see Eph. 1:4; 2:1-10; 3:14-21; and 4:1-6:20. On our being set free from the authority of Satan, see Eph. 1:20-2:10; 4:8-10, 27; 5:8; and 6:10-18. (Although Satan has no legal authority over true Christians, we must still resist him. The warfare has not ceased, but we need not, and should not, be defeated.) On our being set free from spiritual death by the indwelling Spirit of life, see Eph. 1:13, 14; 2:5, 18; and 3:6.
Now we come to the subheading, "Several Commentators on Ephesians 1:7." First I'll quote several sentences from Francis Foulkes ("Epistle of Paul to the Ephesians," published by Eerdmans in 1963). "His death means that blood has been shed as a sacrifice for sin; it may also be described in terms of sin's defeat and so the release of man from its bondage. The sacrifice is thus the means of redemption which is the forgiveness of sins. Sin involves the bondage of mind and will and members, but forgiveness is freedom, and aphesis, the word used here, means literally the loosing of a person from that which binds him." I very much appreciate what the commentator says here, but he is using the word forgiveness in a much fuller sense than most Christians do. Typically forgiveness is understood to mean the cancellation of the guilt of sin.
Next I'll quote several sentences from Henry Alford ("New Testament for English Readers," volume 3; this reprint was published by Baker in 1983). Commenting on the words "the (or, our) Redemption," he says (in part), "[redemption] from that which brought us under God's wrath, the guilt and power of sin, Matthew 1:21."
Later in his discussion of Eph. 1:7, Alford comments of the meaning of the words "the remission [or, forgiveness]...of our transgressions." He says, "explanation of the words, our Redemption: not to be limited, but extending to all riddance from the practice and consequences of our transgressions." Then he comments on the meaning of the words, "according to the riches of His grace," He says, "This alone would prevent the word 'remission' applying to merely the 'forgiveness' of sins. We have in this grace not only redemption from misery and wrath, not only forgiveness, - but we find in it the liberty, the glory, the inheritance of the children of God, - the crown of eternal life; compare 2 Corinthians 8:9." I'll read 2 Cor. 8:9, "For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for our sake He became poor, so that you through His poverty might become rich."
The last commentator I listed here was John Wesley. I'll quote part of what he said under Eph. 1:7 in his "Explanatory Notes Upon the New Testament. "...we...Who believe, have from the moment we believe, redemption from the guilt and power of sin, through his blood - Through what he hath done and suffered for us."
That completes our study of Eph. 1:7 and the Greek noun aphesis. We'll go on to a study of Eph. 1:3, 4. We won't finish this study today; we'll finish it in the next article. I'll be quoting from my paper that includes verse-by-verse studies of Ephesians chapters 1 and 4 that is on my internet site. I highly recommend that you take a look at this paper. For one thing, it has a lot to say about holiness and victory over sin.
I'll read Eph. 1:3, 4. "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ, (4) just as He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before Him." The verse continues with the words, "In love." We'll discuss those important words when we come to them.
Verse 3 starts with the word "Blessed." I'll read what I said in a bracket regarding this word, The NIV has "Praise (be to)." God the Father is to be blessed/praised (with thanksgiving) for the blessings He has bestowed on us in Christ Jesus. This sentence, which continues through verse 14 in the Greek (what a glorious sentence!), puts a strong emphasis on praise to God for His gracious and glorious plan of salvation. In verse 6 the apostle Paul speaks of "the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved [in Christ Jesus]," and in verses 12 and 14 he speaks of "the praise of His glory." In verse 7 he speaks of "the riches of His grace, which He lavished upon us." In verse 5 he speaks of "the kind intention [or, good pleasure] which He [God the Father] purposed in Him [or, probably better, "which He purposed in Himself"]."
I'll read verse 3 again, then comment further on the meaning of these words, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places in Christ." The apostle goes on to speak of these spiritual blessings as he continues this long sentence. The primary blessings are spiritual, but the blessings are not limited to the spiritual dimension. Some of these blessings are available now, and some of them are reserved for the future (see Eph. 1:14, for example). Even now we have the victory "in the heavenly places" by virtue of our being "in Christ." On "the heavenly places," see Eph. 1:20; 2:6; 3:10; and 6:12. Note that the words "in Christ," or equivalent words (like "in Him" and "in the beloved") are repeatedly used in this long sentence (and in a large number of other passages in the New Testament), referring to the glorious union believers have with the Lord Jesus Christ (see verses 3, 4, 6, 7, 9, 11, and 13). Verse 5 shows that we are adopted as sons through Jesus Christ.
Now we come to Eph. 1:4, "Just as He [God the Father] chose us in Him [in Christ] before the foundation of the world [I have a lengthy discussion here, but I'm going to skip down to the next words for this article], that we would be holy and blameless before Him...." As I pointed out under verse 1, the Greek adjective translated "holy" here in verse 4 was translated "saints" in verse 1 (the adjective was plural in verse 1). Saints are holy (set apart) people. The call and enablement to be holy and blameless is a major feature of the present spiritual blessings given to us in Christ Jesus. Our living in God's righteousness and holiness (by His grace) is the bottom line of Christianity (see, for example, Eph. 2:8-10; 3:14-6:17; Rom. 6:1-23; 8:1-14; 1 Pet. 1:13-25; 2:24; 4:1-6; Rev. 2:1-3:22; and 22:12-15).
Through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ (see Eph. 1:7), and by the work of the Holy Spirit (see Eph. 1:13, 14, for example), Christians are enabled (by grace through faith) to live in a state of holiness and blamelessness - set apart by God for God, and living in the center of His will, with the victory over all sin. This is the ideal state that we can (and should) be living in as born-again Christians. Holiness is not optional for Christians (see Heb. 12:14, for example; I'll read Heb. 12:14 from the NIV, "Make every effort to live in peace with all men and to be holy; without holiness no one will see the Lord.") We must make living in a state of holiness a top priority. Christians aren't automatically holy. The only way we can live in a state of holiness is by grace (which includes all the work of the Holy Spirit) through faith (a faith that is based on the good news spelled out in the New Testament).
In closing I'll read what I said in a parenthesis here. It's true, of course, that forgiveness is a foundational part of the Christian gospel. This truth is typically well understood by Christians, but there is a major problem when, as it so often happens, most of the emphasis is put on forgiveness and right standing. I believe we should put about ten percent of the emphasis on forgiveness and right standing and about ninety percent on being righteous and holy through the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit, by grace through faith.
We'll come back to Eph. 1:4 in the next broadcast. God bless you! His name be glorified! His will be done! His will be done in each one of us!
Copyright by Karl Kemp
http://www.karlkempteachingministries.com Karl Kemp worked as an engineer in the space field throughout the 60s. He became a born-again Christian in 1964. He received an MA in Biblical Studies in 1972. He has been a Bible teacher for 45 years. See the website for more info on his books, papers, etc.
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