Oct 29, 2017

Mature in Christ: Life Group Study 9

HISTORICAL CONTEXT:

During the time of this letter, the Roman society the Colossians lived in had its own rules regarding husbands and wives.  In many ways, wives were considered the husband's "property."  Their husbands had control over their legal rights.  The primary philosophy that informed this view of marriage was Stoicism.  They observed that males in nature were the dominate gender.  They used their larger strength and power to dominate family groups.  This, they concluded, is a natural law and should also be followed in human life.

The Gospel blew this culture apart.  It's "radical" teaching that men and women were both made in the image of God, and are thus equal in value, was in direct opposition to the Roman understanding of gender.  Now the Church was left to figure out how this new found equality was lived out in marriage.

LITERARY CONTEXT:

Paul continues to discuss the implications of what it means to "set your minds on things above".  He showed the Colossians how to focus on Christ's love to drive out old, earthly ways and live into their new identity.  Now he begins to look at how a person shaped by this sacrificial love lives a married life.

NOTE: This discussion is for single people, too! We live in a culture that has told men and women that, in order to be complete human beings, you must be married. Unfortunately, the Church has (either silently or explicitly) adopted this unbiblical teaching, and this can often make those who are not married feel left out. St. Thomas' is sensitive to this, and we seek to make sure all of our scriptural teaching has blessings for all those in our Church. Though there are many, here are three reasons why single people will be blessed by this study.

  • It teaches you about how much God loves you. The primary way God describes his relationship to his people is that he has married them. Jesus is the Groom, and the Church is his Bride. By looking at the Bible's teaching on earthly marriage, we simultaneously receive teaching on how God has committed himself to us.
  • You can serve married friends & family. While you may not have human experience of being a husband or wife, you do have something greater: God's Word. As a brother or sister in Christ to someone who is married, you have the authority and credibility to share Biblical teachings with them. You can counsel with with God's truth and wisdom on marriage regardless of your marital status.
  • You may be called to marriage one day. Marriage, like any ministry, begins with a calling, and you may be called to it one day. Thus, it is wise to begin to understand a picture of Biblical marriage now. This will also serve you in discerning if a potential spouse is right for you in that you will judge him/her based on Biblical principles and not personal ones.

Scripture | Colossians 3:1-4 + 17-19

  1. In your own words, how would you describe/define "marriage"? What is the relationship between husband and wife? What are their duties to each other? Individual rights? Expectations for husband and wife?
  2. How do you think our culture defines marriage? The relationship between husband and wife? Rights and responsibilities? Expectations?
  3. What does the Scripture instruct wives to do? What do you think this means? What do you think it does NOT mean? How do you feel about this? — Verse 18a
  4. What reason does this verse give for "submitting"? What do you think this means? How might the preceding verses (3:12-17) help us to understand this? — Verse 18b
  5. What does this Scripture instruct husbands to do? What do you think this means? How might the preceding verses help us to understand this? — Verse 19a
  6. What does this Scripture instruct husbands to NOT do? What do you think this means? — Verse 19b
  7. According to Verses 1-4 where do we get the power/ability to submit & love?
  8. What do you think are some Biblical examples of this type of "equal yet submitting/serving" relationship?
  9. How has this Scripture effected your understanding of marriage? God? God's love for you?
  10. How does this Scripture help you as an ambassador of Christ where you live, work, play, and learn?