Take the 2-minute tour ×
Biblical Hermeneutics Stack Exchange is a question and answer site for professors, theologians, and those interested in exegetical analysis of biblical texts. It's 100% free, no registration required.

Exegetically, without bringing theology to the text, is Paul stating that all their sins, including future sins were forgiven in Colossians 2:13-14? Would the recipients of this letter understand "having forgiven us all our trespasses" to include future, uncommitted sins? Here is the passage:

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14 (ESV)

share|improve this question

4 Answers 4

up vote 4 down vote accepted

Grammar

καὶ ὑμᾶς νεκροὺς ὄντας [ἐν] τοῖς παραπτώμασιν καὶ τῇ ἀκροβυστίᾳ τῆς σαρκὸς ὑμῶν, συνεζωοποίησεν ὑμᾶς σὺν αὐτῷ, χαρισάμενος ἡμῖν πάντα τὰ παραπτώματα. ἐξαλείψας τὸ καθ᾿ ἡμῶν χειρόγραφον τοῖς δόγμασιν ὃ ἦν ὑπεναντίον ἡμῖν, καὶ αὐτὸ ἦρκεν ἐκ τοῦ μέσου προσηλώσας αὐτὸ τῷ σταυρῷ· (Colossians 2:13-14)

And even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has canceled what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.

συνεζωοποίησεν ("made alive together"), χαρισάμενος ("having forgiven"), ἐξαλείψας ("canceling/blotting out"), and προσηλώσας ("having nailed") are all in the aorist tense and thus say the least about the verbal action possible (it just happened).

ἦρκεν (he has taken up/set aside) is a perfect active indicative verb, and thus the Colossian Christians' record of debt ("certificate of indebtedness") had indeed come to be set aside (or taken away).

Does 'all' include future transgressions?

The grammar really doesn't say. You would have to look at the context of the entire passage and epistle, but even then there would be speculation. You could easily argue that all transgressions includes future ones, but you could also argue that it only includes all transgressions up to that point in time (the latter of which is fully supported by the grammar, but without precluding nor fully justifying the former argument). The English translation is actually very good here in both the ESV and above.

To answer the specific question, "exegetically, without bringing theology to the text," it is clear that Paul is saying to the Colossian Christians that

... even though you were dead in your transgressions and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, he made you alive with him, having forgiven all your transgressions. He has canceled what was against us, a certificate of indebtedness expressed in decrees opposed to us. He has taken it away by nailing it to the cross.

Anything beyond this would have to come from something other than the grammar, although the grammar would not conflict with either position in this case.

share|improve this answer
    
I admittedly hurried through this response and thus did not break down a lot of the syntax in this text. However, my answer does not change as a result of this - I just did not explain the text as well as I could have. My apologies, but time constraints meant this response or nothing at all. –  Dan Sep 4 '13 at 4:07

The Apostle did not write them a license to go on doing wrong, since trespassing means not knowing God. Any future transgression therefore were tantamount to being ignorant (like a dead one) of God. In that case the sinner would at some point wake up to the knowledge of his wrongdoing and his having been dead because of sin. He knows he is brought back to life with Christ after having fallen back into the guilt for which Christ had died in our behalf.

share|improve this answer

Some of the information contained in this post requires additional references. Please edit to add citations to reliable sources that support the assertions made here. Unsourced material may be disputed or deleted.

    
This answer doesn't site any sources or explain how you determined this form the text itself. As such, it is just an opinion without any reason to believe it. –  ThaddeusB Aug 13 at 14:37

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him [Christ], having forgiven us all our trespasses,

Colossians 2:13 (ESV)

The participial phrase "having forgiven" in the text shows that we are already forgiven by God the time he quickened us. This coheres with Romans 5:8:

but God shows his love for us in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5:8 (ESV)

In the context of the Scriptures as a whole, it is shown that all sins -- past, present and future -- are in Paul's mind when he talked about the forgiveness of sins. God forgave us our sins by means of cancelling the record of debt (singular) that stood against us with its legal demands (plural). Romans 6:23 spoke of the wages (plural) for sin ( the transgression of the law ~ 1 John 3:4).

by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13 (ESV)

For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Romans 6:23 (ESV)

Going back to the quickening done by God in Colossians 1:13, it becomes clear that the forgiveness of sins is highly related to the regenerative work of God in the believer.What this shows is that there are no sins to be forgiven after the new birth or else, there would be a need for Christ to be crucified again so as to nail again the debt of sin to the cross.

4For it is impossible, in the case of those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, 6and then have fallen away, to restore them again to repentance, since they are crucifying once again the Son of God to their own harm and holding him up to contempt.

Hebrews 6:4-6 (ESV)

And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross.

Colossians 2:13-14 (ESV)

This should not be confused with 1 John 1:9 wherein restoring fellowship (not relationship) with God is the issue.

share|improve this answer

There is no reference to future sins being forgiven in the text under consideration (nor elsewhere in scripture). It there is then please point it out.

According to Jewish Encyclopedia the Romans would nail the reason for the execution onto the patibulum, above the crucified. In Jesus' case it was that he [claimed that] he was the king of the Jews (per the gospels). Other charges such as "murder" or "insurrection" might be nailed above another condemned person. These charges were blotted out because they were freely forgiven by God, not paid for by Jesus. Jesus didn't pay for anyone's sins. Sins aren't paid for but are rather forgiven. And the nailing of the blank paper of charges to the cross is a metaphor for "taking them away" forever, never to be remembered again.

"...The crosses used were of different shapes. Some were in the form of a , others in that of a St. Andrew's cross, , while others again were in four parts, . The more common kind consisted of a stake ("palus") firmly embedded in the ground ("crucem figere") before the condemned arrived at the place of execution (Cicero, "Verr." v. 12; Josephus, "B. J." vii. 6, § 4) and a cross-beam ("patibulum"), bearing the "titulus"—the inscription naming the crime (Matt. xxvii. 37; Luke xxiii. 38; Suetonius, "Cal." 38). It was this cross-beam, not the heavy stake, which the condemned was compelled to carry to the scene of execution (Plutarch, "De Sera Num. Vind." 9; Matt. ib.; John xix. 17; See Cross)..." http://www.jewishencyclopedia.com/articles/4782-crucifixion

share|improve this answer
    
You make an assertion "There is no reference to future sins..." and then give us some information which doesn't seem to relate to the question at all - what does the shape of Jesus' cross and the reason for his execution have anything to do with whether "all your transgressions" includes future ones or not? As it stands, this is not an answer to the question asked. –  ThaddeusB Aug 14 at 3:18
    
The word "future" does not appear in the text. That is what I meant by "there is no reference to future sins in the text". The text doesn't reference fly-fishing either so if someone wants to say that Paul is talking about fly-fishing then the burden would be on him/her to show that. The shape of the cross was not the reason I cited that source but rather the practice of nailing the charges against the condemned. I'll highlight the germane portion to make that clearer. –  WoundedEgo Aug 14 at 9:56
    
Well all of my sins and the vast majority of the sins committed by Paul's audience would post date the crucifixion, so it is entirely plausible that by "all" Paul meant "all sins past, present, and future". It is not at all the same class of thing as not mentioning fly fishing. –  ThaddeusB Aug 14 at 18:34
    
Maybe not but the principle still holds, to not go beyond what is written. But again, it is a metaphor so you don't want to overly burden it. –  WoundedEgo Aug 14 at 19:42

Your Answer

 
discard

By posting your answer, you agree to the privacy policy and terms of service.

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.