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Colossians 1 – Skeptic's Annotated Bible answered

A response and reply to the notes on Colossians 1 in the Skeptic's Annotated Bible (SAB).

King James Version

SAB comment

My comment

1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,

"Paul ... to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse"
Although Colossians (1:1) claims to have been written by Paul, most scholars think it was written later by one of his followers.1
And who is the source of that quote? Bart Ehrman of course. I don't know about “most scholars” as counting heads to determine who is right is a pretty flawed strategy. For example another source says that most liberal scholars believe that Colossians may have been written by Paul.
But let's look at some facts: the first verse claims it is written by Paul. The epistle ends with Paul's own signature (Col. 4:18). Obviously we don't have the autographs anymore, but the first Church did have the autographs for ages, so it could easily verify Paul's signature, see my comment on Ephesians 1:1. And it is not that there were no attempt at forgeries even in Paul's time. Paul was aware of them, see 2 Thess. 2:2 and that's why he signed everyone of his own letters with his own hand.
I suppose our modern scholars will argue that our counterfeiter forged all these things, even adding greetings to particular persons, see chapter 4:10-15. I suppose there are no limits we may attribute to our all powerful forger. Just as most of Shakespeare's work was not written by Shakespeare but by someone who wrote in his style. Something like that. But such arguing is ridiculous. There is nothing known about this mystical forger of Paul's work, no name, no place, no historical accusations, nothing. This epistle was accepted as genuine by the church because it was brought by Tychicus and Onesimus, straight from Paul, had Paul's signature, and the autograph was kept.
To assume this epistle was forged is to assume that this verse is false: it is not Paul. So if this is true, what about verse 5? We read: “For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven”. If verse 1 is false, what reason do we have to believe verse 5 is true? And that is the key point: by doubting the authorship, we are led to doubt the entire Bible.
For some more information on the authorship of this epistle, see Authorship of the Pauline epistles.

2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;

8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;

10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;

11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:

13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

"We have redemption through his blood."
God bought us with someone else's blood.
When God told Adam that he would die, if he would eat of the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, Gen. 2:16-17, this was not an empty warning. Not something of: well you ate, but I didn't mean it. God meant it. Man would die. And man did die. His body died as it now became a vehicle for sin, and became capable of bodily death. His soul died as it was now inclined to all kinds of evil and would be cast in hell soon to die forever. How could this state of affairs be remedied? That is what Jesus Christ did: he became man, a descendant of Eve, but not of Adam, he remained perfectly obedient and bore the curse for mankind. That curse was death, the shedding of blood. And because he was God, he was capable of an infinitely worthy sacrifice. By his obedience he bought his people with a price, 1 Cor. 6:20, namely his blood, as he was obedient till the end.

15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:

"The invisible God"
Is God invisible?
Yes, God is a spirit and therefore invisible. But see John 1:18.

16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:

(1:16-17) "For by him were all things created."
(Including guinea worms?)
Is Jesus God?
(1:16-17) The New World Translation inserts the word 'other' four times in these two verses (although it is not included in the Greek) to support the Governing Body's denial of the divinity of Christ. (Adding words to scripture is condemned in Pr.30:6.)
It is not true that all species we see today were created as such by God. Creationism predicts rapid speciation, so from the original kinds, which we might no longer have, have come forth all the different animals. Probably from a single pair of dogs have come all the different kinds of dogs we see now.
But mankind fell and nature with him. From then on everything went downhill: devolution instead of evolution. Either the guinea worm was created by God and had a different and useful life cycle, but after the fall it deteriorated into this behaviour. Or the guinea worm is some degenerated species that devolved from a useful ancestor, i.e. it is missing certain genes or has a genetic coding error and that is why it behaves this way.
Prevention for this disease is rather easy. It's only by ignorance that it can spread.
On the Jehovah's Witnesses: the author of the SAB is exactly right: they have to modify the Bible to support their spurious claims.

17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.

19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

(1:19-20) "It pleased the Father ... having made peace through the blood of his cross"
God makes peace through blood.

20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.

21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled

22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:

23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;

"The gospel ... was preached to every creature."
Every is used here as it most often is in the Bible: every kind of creature. In this context both Jews and Gentiles.

24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

"Rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh"
The suffering Jesus was not sufficient to satisfy God's wrath, so the Paul (or whoever wrote Colossians) had to make up for what as lacking with his own sufferings.
The author of the SAB seems to say that something must be added to Christ's sacrifice for sins. But Jesus has said (John 19:30): “It is finished.” There is no need, nor is it possible to add to his sacrifice with suffering by others.
But Paul's afflictions are called Christ's afflictions because of the union there is between believers and their Saviour. The church is called the body of Christ in this verse, and Christ is the head of his church, Ephesians 5:23. When his church suffers on this earth, it is because of Christ: they suffer for his sake. This does not have an atoning value, but the church suffers because we still live in a fallen world, we are still in bondage, and the time of full freedom is not yet come. See also John Gill's comments.

25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;

26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:

27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:

29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.