Jehovah’s Word Is Alive

Highlights From the Letters to the Galatians, the Ephesians, the Philippians, and the Colossians

UPON hearing that some Christians were being deflected from pure worship by Judaizers, the apostle Paul writes a powerful letter “to the congregations of Galatia.” (Gal. 1:2) Written sometime during 50-52 C.E., the letter contains direct counsel and strong exhortation.

Some ten years later while in Rome as a “prisoner of Christ Jesus,” Paul writes to the congregations in Ephesus, in Philippi, and in Colossae, giving them sound advice and loving encouragement. (Eph. 3:1) We today can benefit by paying attention to the message of the Bible books of Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.​—Heb. 4:12.

“DECLARED RIGHTEOUS”​—HOW?

(Gal. 1:1–6:18)

Since Judaizers craftily seek to discredit Paul, he defends his apostleship by providing certain autobiographical details. (Gal. 1:11–2:14) Counteracting their false teachings, Paul makes the point: “A man is declared righteous, not due to works of law, but only through faith toward Christ Jesus.”​—Gal. 2:16.

Christ ‘released by purchase those under law’ and set them free to enjoy Christian freedom, says Paul. He strongly admonishes the Galatians: “Stand fast, and do not let yourselves be confined again in a yoke of slavery.”​—Gal. 4:4, 5; 5:1.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

3:16-18, 28, 29—Is the Abrahamic covenant still valid? Yes, it is. The Law covenant was an addition to and not a replacement of God’s covenant with Abraham. Therefore, the Abrahamic covenant remained in effect after the Law was “abolished.” (Eph. 2:15) Its promises are passed on to Abraham’s true “seed”​—Christ Jesus, who is the primary one, and those who “belong to Christ.”

6:2—What is “the law of the Christ”? This law consists of all that Jesus taught and commanded. It especially includes the commandment to “love one another.”​—John 13:34.

6:8—How do we ‘sow with a view to the spirit’? We do this by living in a way that allows God’s spirit to operate freely on us. Sowing with a view to the spirit involves wholeheartedly participating in activities that promote the flow of the spirit.

Lessons for Us:

1:6-9. Christian elders need to act without delay when problems arise in the congregation. Using sound reasoning along with the Scriptures, they can quickly refute false reasoning.

2:20. The ransom is a personal gift from God to us. We should learn to view it that way.​—John 3:16.

5:7-9. Bad associations can ‘hinder us from keeping on obeying the truth.’ We are wise to shun them.

6:1, 2, 5. Those with “spiritual qualifications” may help us to carry a burden, such as something troublesome or heavy resulting  from our unknowingly taking a false step. When it comes to carrying the load of our spiritual responsibilities, though, we must do it ourselves.

‘GATHERING OF ALL THINGS IN THE CHRIST’

(Eph. 1:1–6:24)

Highlighting the theme of Christian unity in his letter to the Ephesians, Paul speaks of “an administration at the full limit of the appointed times . . . to gather all things together again in the Christ, the things in the heavens and the things on the earth.” Christ has given “gifts in men” to help all to “attain to the oneness in the faith.”​—Eph. 1:10; 4:8, 13.

To honor God and promote unity, Christians should “put on the new personality” and “be in subjection to one another in fear of Christ.” They also need “to stand firm against the machinations of the Devil” by putting on the complete suit of spiritual armor.​—Eph. 4:24; 5:21; 6:11.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

1:4-7—How were anointed Christians foreordained long before they were born? They were foreordained as a group, or a class, not as individuals. This took place before the sinful world of mankind came into existence. The prophecy recorded at Genesis 3:15, declared before any sinful human was conceived, includes God’s purpose to have certain followers of Christ rule with him in heaven.​—Gal. 3:16, 29.

2:2—How is the spirit of the world like the air, and where does its authority lie? “The spirit of the world”​—the spirit of independence and disobedience—​is as pervasive as the air we breathe. (1 Cor. 2:12) Its authority, or power, lies in its persuasiveness, persistence, and relentlessness.

2:6—How can anointed Christians be “in the heavenly places” while still on earth? The expression “heavenly places” here does not refer to their promised heavenly inheritance. Rather, it denotes their exalted spiritual position resulting from their being “sealed with the promised holy spirit.”​—Eph. 1:13, 14.

Lessons for Us:

4:8, 11-15. Jesus Christ “carried away captives,” that is, took men away from Satan’s control to use them as gifts for the building up of the Christian congregation. We can “by love grow up in all things into . . . Christ” by being obedient and submissive to those taking the lead among us and by cooperating with congregation arrangements.​—Heb. 13:7, 17.

5:22-24, 33. Besides being in subjection to her husband, a wife is to respect him. She does this by manifesting a “quiet and mild spirit” and by endeavoring to bring him honor as she speaks well of him and works to make his decisions succeed.​—1 Pet. 3:3, 4; Titus 2:3-5.

5:25, 28, 29. Just as he “feeds” himself, a husband ought to be a good provider for his wife​—physically, emotionally, and spiritually. He should also cherish her by spending adequate time with her and by treating her tenderly in speech and action.

6:10-13. To resist demonic forces, we need to be wholehearted in putting on the suit of spiritual armor from God.

“GO ON WALKING ORDERLY”

(Phil. 1:1–4:23)

Paul’s letter to the Philippians breathes love. “This is what I continue praying,” he says, “that your love may abound yet more and more with accurate knowledge and full discernment.” Helping them to avoid the snare of overconfidence, he exhorts: “Keep working out your own salvation with fear and trembling.”​—Phil. 1:9; 2:12.

 Paul encourages those who are mature to pursue “down toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God.” He states: “To what extent we have made progress, let us go on walking orderly in this same routine.”​—Phil. 3:14-16.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

1:23 and footnote​—From what “two things” was Paul under pressure, and what “releasing” did he desire? Because of the circumstances he was in, Paul was under pressure from the two possibilities open to him: life or death. (Phil. 1:21) While not stating what he would choose, he makes known what he desired​—“the releasing and the being with Christ.” (Phil. 3:20, 21; 1 Thess. 4:16) This “releasing” during Christ’s presence would result in Paul’s receiving the reward that Jehovah had prepared for him.​—Matt. 24:3.

2:12, 13—In what way does God cause us “to will and to act”? Jehovah’s holy spirit can work in our heart and mind to increase our desire to do our very best in his service. Hence, we are not without help as we ‘keep working out our own salvation.’

Lessons for Us:

1:3-5. Though they were materially poor, the Philippians set a fine example for us in displaying generosity.​—2 Cor. 8:1-6.

2:5-11. As Jesus’ example shows, humility is not a sign of weakness but of moral strength. Moreover, Jehovah exalts humble ones.​—Prov. 22:4.

3:13. “The things behind” may be such things as a lucrative career, the security of belonging to a wealthy family, or even serious past sins of which we have repented and “been washed clean.” (1 Cor. 6:11) We should forget these things, that is, cease to be concerned about them, and ‘stretch forward to the things ahead.’

“BEING STABILIZED IN THE FAITH”

(Col. 1:1–4:18)

In his letter to the Colossians, Paul counteracts the wrong views of false teachers. Salvation depends, he reasons, not on the requirements of the Law, but on ‘continuing in the faith.’ Paul encourages the Colossians to “go on walking in union with [Christ], rooted and being built up in him and being stabilized in the faith.” How should such stabilization affect them?​—Col. 1:23; 2:6, 7.

“Besides all these things,” writes Paul, “clothe yourselves with love, for it is a perfect bond of union. Also, let the peace of the Christ control in your hearts.” The apostle tells them: “Whatever you are doing, work at it whole-souled as to Jehovah, and not to men.” Regarding those outside the congregation, he says: “Go on walking in wisdom toward” them.​—Col. 3:14, 15, 23; 4:5.

Scriptural Questions Answered:

2:8—What are “the elementary things of the world” against which Paul warned? These are the elements of Satan’s world​—basic things or principles that make up, guide, or motivate it. (1 John 2:16) Included among these are the philosophy, materialism, and false religions of this world.

4:16—Why is the letter to the Laodiceans not part of the Bible? This could be because the letter did not contain information necessary for today. Or it may be that it repeated points from other canonical letters.

Lessons for Us:

1:2, 20. The ransom, a provision of God’s undeserved kindness, can clear our conscience of guilt and give us inner peace.

2:18, 23. “Mock humility”​—a pretense of humility to impress others perhaps by renouncing material things or by treating the body with severity—​is an indication of one’s being ‘puffed up by one’s fleshly frame of mind.’