Author Topic: Colossians 3:15  (Read 1657 times)

Brian Stoffregen

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Colossians 3:15
« on: June 06, 2022, 10:17:38 PM »
I was recently studying this verse and thought it applicable to a number of the discussions here. I also think that many translations miss key nuances in these words.

καὶ ἡ εἰρήνη τοῦ Χριστοῦ
βραβευέτω ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν,
εἰς ἣν καὶ ἐκλήθητε ἐν ἑνὶ σώματι:
καὶ εὐχάριστοι γίνεσθε.

Line 1
"and the peace of Christ"

εἰρήνη is primarily a term about interpersonal relationships, e.g., not fighting with one another; rather than some sort of individual inner tranquility.

I think that this "peace" is defined in line 3:
"into which (=the peace) also you were called in one body"

Line 3 becomes a tricky one.
βραβευέτω only occurs here in the NT.
It is related to βραβεῖον which refers to a prize that is won in a contest. It is used in 1 Corinthians 9:24 and Philippians 3:14.

The verb refers to the process used by umpires, judges, officials, and others to determine who wins the prize. When umpires call a pitch a strike and batters disagree, the batters' opinion doesn't matter. The umpires' opinion is the one that matters.

What struck me about this is that it is not doctrine, or teachings, or grace, or faith, that should be the "umpire" of our hearts, but "peace." If everyone thought, "How is peace determining what I say or write?" "How does peace determining my response?" "How am I supporting the unity of the one body?" Things might be a bit different.

Line 4
Frequently this line starts a new section. βραβευέτω is a third person imperative, a form that we do not have in English. It is usually translated with "Let peace rule/control/make decisions for your heart".

This line uses a second person imperative which in English becomes a command: "Be thankful." However, we could use the same kind of grammar as in lines 1 & 2: Let you be thankful. Our response to letting peace (i.e., the unity of the body) control our hearts should result in us being thankful - perhaps for all the different parts of the body that Christ has given us.

Reactions?
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

RDPreus

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #1 on: June 06, 2022, 11:16:42 PM »
"What struck me about this is that it is not doctrine, or teachings, or grace, or faith, that should be the "umpire" of our hearts, but "peace.""

Perhaps you are setting up a false antithesis here.  Doctrine, grace, and faith are all inextricably bound to peace.

peter_speckhard

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #2 on: June 06, 2022, 11:57:25 PM »
"What struck me about this is that it is not doctrine, or teachings, or grace, or faith, that should be the "umpire" of our hearts, but "peace.""

Perhaps you are setting up a false antithesis here.  Doctrine, grace, and faith are all inextricably bound to peace.
To say to peace should be the umpire of our hearts is a doctrinal claim. If I said, “No, violent disagreement should be our aim,” all you could do peacefully is disagree, and over time, probably stop associating with me because of my false belief/teaching and the actions that stemmed from it. Every attempt to discount the importance of doctrine has the effect of elevating false doctrine without actually reducing the importance of doctrine generally.

Charles Austin

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #3 on: June 07, 2022, 12:46:27 AM »
And so we shall all sing…
Let there be doctrine on earth
And let it begin with me
Let There Be Doctrine on Earth
The doctrine as known to me.

Defining God the Father
Brothers must all agree
Or else I break with my brother.
Whose doctrine sounds strange to me.

Let doctrine begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry book I write
Let this be my solemn vow
To take each doctrine and guard
Each doctrine, though peace be a casualty.
Let there be doctrine on earth
And let it begin with me…. And my blessed ancestors, my favorite councils, my favorite confessions.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2022, 12:48:04 AM by Charles Austin »
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Matt Hummel

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #4 on: June 07, 2022, 08:40:10 AM »
And so we shall all sing…
Let there be doctrine on earth
And let it begin with me
Let There Be Doctrine on Earth
The doctrine as known to me.

Defining God the Father
Brothers must all agree
Or else I break with my brother.
Whose doctrine sounds strange to me.

Let doctrine begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry book I write
Let this be my solemn vow
To take each doctrine and guard
Each doctrine, though peace be a casualty.
Let there be doctrine on earth
And let it begin with me…. And my blessed ancestors, my favorite councils, my favorite confessions.

The funny thing is, there was the guy over on thread about Bp. Rohrer making some salient points about the problems that arise from leadership that doesn't have the doctrine down. You ought to take a moment and read what he said. Oh... Wait. a minute... Well this is embarrassing...
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Brian Stoffregen

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #5 on: June 07, 2022, 08:42:22 AM »
"What struck me about this is that it is not doctrine, or teachings, or grace, or faith, that should be the "umpire" of our hearts, but "peace.""

Perhaps you are setting up a false antithesis here.  Doctrine, grace, and faith are all inextricably bound to peace.

Not when they lead to killing those or belittling those with different doctrines.

Matthew tells us how to discipline one whom has sinned against us, but the goal is reconciliation - restoring peace to the relationship.


There are times when “tough love” is necessary. It is heart-wrenching for the one who has to do it. Too often people seem quite pleased about attacking someone who has expressed mistaken doctrines.


A speaker Mede the distinction between brutal truth and bitter truth when speaking the truth in love. Brutal truth is when I hold my superior knowledge over you. Bitter truth is like a physician telling a long-time patient that the cancer is terminal. It is the truth, and it is painful to the doctor to say it.
« Last Edit: June 07, 2022, 08:49:23 AM by Brian Stoffregen »
"The church ... had made us like ill-taught piano students; we play our songs, but we never really hear them, because our main concern is not to make music, but but to avoid some flub that will get us in dutch." [Robert Capon, _Between Noon and Three_, p. 148]

peter_speckhard

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #6 on: June 07, 2022, 09:01:08 AM »
And so we shall all sing…
Let there be doctrine on earth
And let it begin with me
Let There Be Doctrine on Earth
The doctrine as known to me.

Defining God the Father
Brothers must all agree
Or else I break with my brother.
Whose doctrine sounds strange to me.

Let doctrine begin with me
Let this be the moment now.
With ev'ry book I write
Let this be my solemn vow
To take each doctrine and guard
Each doctrine, though peace be a casualty.
Let there be doctrine on earth
And let it begin with me…. And my blessed ancestors, my favorite councils, my favorite confessions.
Was this little parody an attempt at achieving peace or an attempt at pointed humor to say that my doctrine on the subject is wrong? What is important to you?

Rev. Edward Engelbrecht

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #7 on: June 07, 2022, 09:21:00 AM »
The context in chapter 3 includes a vice and a virtue list. The believer is to shed the vices and put on the virtues. Love is emphasized as the most important in the virtue list. Peace also appears to be emphasized as the ultimate in the list. (Thanks appears tacked on and also a result of the blessings.) Both the love and the peace have a unifying effect on the body. Peace would be the result of the activity in the believer's life which then overflows with appropriate admonition/teaching (doctrine) to others.

So peace is certainly important but it is peace that follows from cultivating the many other virtues.  The mature, equipped believer is then ready to teach doctrine and life to others.
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David Garner

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #8 on: June 07, 2022, 09:40:05 AM »
"What struck me about this is that it is not doctrine, or teachings, or grace, or faith, that should be the "umpire" of our hearts, but "peace.""

Perhaps you are setting up a false antithesis here.  Doctrine, grace, and faith are all inextricably bound to peace.

Pastor Stoffregen's statement itself is dogmatic.  That is, it prescribes what one ought to believe.

That's always the irony of the "doctrine is not important" doctrine.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

David Garner

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #9 on: June 07, 2022, 09:41:17 AM »
It reminds me of the statement Stephen Hawking made a few years back, something to the effect of "philosophy is dead."

I don't remember who asked the pertinent question, so I apologize I cannot attribute it, but the question was "is that your philosophy?"
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

Charles Austin

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #10 on: June 07, 2022, 09:42:30 AM »
Peter:
Was this little parody an attempt at achieving peace or ….

Me:
If you have to ask…
It just seemed to me that when “peace” was mentioned as a priority, the first response was a horrified “No! Doctrine!”
And O what violence I see done to the word when you would want to make “peace” a “doctrine.” I’m fairly certain that is not what Brian meant
« Last Edit: June 07, 2022, 09:46:22 AM by Charles Austin »
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David Garner

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #11 on: June 07, 2022, 09:45:40 AM »
The context in chapter 3 includes a vice and a virtue list. The believer is to shed the vices and put on the virtues. Love is emphasized as the most important in the virtue list. Peace also appears to be emphasized as the ultimate in the list. (Thanks appears tacked on and also a result of the blessings.) Both the love and the peace have a unifying effect on the body. Peace would be the result of the activity in the believer's life which then overflows with appropriate admonition/teaching (doctrine) to others.

So peace is certainly important but it is peace that follows from cultivating the many other virtues.  The mature, equipped believer is then ready to teach doctrine and life to others.

This is likely the reason the Patristic literature is littered with talk of putting off pride and acquiring humility.  If one is prideful, one will never have peace.  Conversely, if one is humble, not seeking to elevate one's self, peace naturally follows.

I would argue (with the Fathers), the chief passion is pride, and the chief virtue is humility.  From these, all other passions and virtues flow.
Orthodox Reader and former Lutheran (LCMS and WELS).

peter_speckhard

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #12 on: June 07, 2022, 10:08:02 AM »
Peter:
Was this little parody an attempt at achieving peace or ….

Me:
If you have to ask…
It just seemed to me that when “peace” was mentioned as a priority, the first response was a horrified “No! Doctrine!”
And O what violence I see done to the word when you would want to make “peace” a “doctrine.” I’m fairly certain that is not what Brian meant
What “seems” to you is so rarely what actually is. Peace wasn’t mentioned as “a priority,” it was called the umpire of the heart, and my response was not horrified in any way. I used reasoned, measured language to point out largely what David Garner has reiterated in a different way— that the effort to downplay doctrine is itself a doctrinal matter, and thus only ever succeeds at changing the doctrine that is accepted as true.

Dan Fienen

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #13 on: June 07, 2022, 10:53:28 AM »
But it is not just generic peace that is to be the umpire of our hearts, but the peace of Christ. Is there something distinctive about the "peace of Christ" that we should consider? It is Christ who said, "Do not think that I have come to bring peace to the earth. I have not come to bring peace but a sword." (Mt 10:34) But it is specifically the peace of Christ not just peace that is to be umpire.


Also, it is Jesus who said to His disciples, "Peace I leave with you; my peace I give to you. Not as the world gives do I give to you. Let not your hearts be troubled, neither let them be afraid." (Jn 14:27) Just what kind of peace is it that Jesus gives us, that can be designated as the peace of Christ as distinct from the peace that the world might give us.


Just making peace, presumably an absence of conflict, untroubled by differences in doctrine, teaching, or faith, our umpire does not appear to do justice to what Paul said here.



What struck me about this is that it is not doctrine, or teachings, or grace, or faith, that should be the "umpire" of our hearts, but "peace." If everyone thought, "How is peace determining what I say or write?" "How does peace determining my response?" "How am I supporting the unity of the one body?" Things might be a bit different.


This appears to me to be an overly simplistic take on the passage, especially when taken in context.


Should we consider this verse, and the conclusion that it is simply peace, rather than doctrine, teachings, grace, or faith, that is to be our umpire, in isolation from the rest of the passage?


"16Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."

In the very next verse, Paul admonished us to let not only the peace of Christ, but the word of Christ dwell in our hearts, and we are to teach and admonish one another. That would appear to say that we should also teach each other and even correct and admonish each other, which all implies doctrine (which, after all is simply a more formal teaching) is important. Isolating verse 15 from the prior and succeeding verses does not seem a good interpretive strategy.

« Last Edit: June 07, 2022, 10:55:42 AM by Dan Fienen »
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Charles Austin

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Re: Colossians 3:15
« Reply #14 on: June 07, 2022, 11:10:45 AM »
If you say there is no peace without Jesus, that the peace of Christ is the only peace that matters, then you will never achieve peace with your brother, and you will further the sometimes fatal consequences of not finding peace.
Retired ELCA Pastor. Parishes in Iowa, New York and New Jersey. LCA/LWF staff. Former journalist  Writer for many church publications.