This week, we’re looking at the Colossian hymn as a word against the competing worldviews of Paul’s audience. Yesterday, we looked at how it presented Christ as superior to all that Judaism was looking for – indeed, Jesus is its fulfilment – as well as superior to the local pagan mystery religions, with their desires to connect with the spiritual world. Today, we ask what it might have to say to the Graeco-Roman world as a whole: to citizens of the empire.
Having looked at what this hymn said against the background of the competing philosophies of the first century – and against the rhetoric of empire – what might it say in our time and culture?
I think the key to reading it today lies in the overwhelming message given to everyone in Paul’s diverse first-century audience: don’t settle for an inferior, derivative copy when we have the real thing. We’ve got Jesus: accept no substitutes. Accept no pale imitations.