Duality and Unity in Paul

Colossians 3:1-11 is a tough passage to swallow.  It is one of those places where Paul draws a strong line between earth and heaven; between this age and the age to come; between things temporal and things spiritual; and flies in the face of just about everything I preach and teach.  From the outset, Paul has the Christians in Colossae looking beyond there here and now to the great by and by.

“If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.”

He then goes on to lay out a plan for Christian life that is all but sectarian.

  • “Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth.”
  • “Put to death… whatever in you is earthly…”
  • “On account of these [earthly things] the wrath of God is coming on those who are disobedient”

But then, all of a sudden, he changes his tone from the duality of the sacred and profane to the unity that comes in Christ Jesus which is available right here and right now.  “… you have stripped off the old self with its practices and have clothed yourselves with the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge according to the image of its creator.  In that renewal there is no longer Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and free; but Christ is all and in all!”

I didn’t study philosophy, so whenever I attempt to philosophize it is dangerous, but the preacher who is schooled in such things might take the chance to preach Col 3:1-11 as it moves, rather abruptly, from Platonic Duality and Unity in Christ.