Notable and Quotable: John Woodhouse

Commenting on Colossians 2:6 (ESV), “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him”…

One of the New Testament’s delightful words for living life is ‘walking’. How you ‘walk’ (that is, how you conduct yourself, what you say and do, how you behave) as a believer in Christ Jesus matters enormously. It needs to flow out of what happened when you became a believer: as you received Christ Jesus the Lord.

a. The receiving
This is what happened when you became a believer: ‘you received Christ Jesus the Lord’. We need to be careful that our contemporary Christian jargon is not read back into the New Testament. Paul is not referring here simply to ‘receiving Christ’ into your heart or into your life. That is certainly involved. But the word ‘received’ here is almost a technical term for receiving teaching that has been delivered to them. You ‘received Christ’ when ‘you heard [the gospel] and understood the grace of God in truth’ (1:6). It was not simply a matter of inviting Jesus into your heart. It was receiving the message about him, and believing it….

So in 2:6 Paul points his readers back to the experience of ‘receiving’ the tradition, the teaching of the gospel. You ‘received’ Christ Jesus the Lord by hearing, understanding and believing what you were taught about him (see 1:6,7)….

b. The walking
Now, says Paul: As you received the Christ, Jesus, the Lord, so walk in him. The receiving is not the whole, but the beginning of the Christian life. The Christian life is to be lived, however, not on some other basis, nor with some new discovery, nor on some other level from the beginning, but as you received the Christ, Jesus, the Lord, walk in him.

Paul told us in 1:10 of his praying that they would ‘walk worthily of the Lord… fully pleasing to him’. He is talking about the actual conduct, the behaviour, of the Christian person: what you do, what you say, what you don’t do, what you don’t say. No longer can I walk for myself, as I please. I have received Jesus, the Lord and the Christ. I must walk ‘in him‘. Wherever I am, whatever I am doing, Jesus is the Christ and the Lord….

This is the Christian life. So simple to state; so good to see and experience; but a very big thing to do. This is what we have received Christ Jesus the Lord for. He is the one (and no other) who is to shape all of our character and behaviour. As you received the Christ, Jesus, the Lord, so walk in him. In every situation, behave with Jesus as the Christ and Lord he is….

Excerpted from Colossians and Philemon: So Walk In Him (Focus on the Bible Commentary Series) by John Woodhouse, pp. 107-111.

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