by Mike Ratliff
7τοὺς δὲ βεβήλους καὶ γραώδεις μύθους παραιτοῦ. Γύμναζε δὲ σεαυτὸν πρὸς εὐσέβειαν· 8ἡ γὰρ σωματικὴ γυμνασία πρὸς ὀλίγον ἐστὶν ὠφέλιμος, ἡ δὲ εὐσέβεια πρὸς πάντα ὠφέλιμός ἐστιν ἐπαγγελίαν ἔχουσα ζωῆς τῆς νῦν καὶ τῆς μελλούσης. (1 Timothy 4:7-8 NA28)
7 Have nothing to do with profane, old wives tales and train yourself for godliness; 8 for while bodily training is somewhat profitable, godliness is profitable for all things, as it holds promise for this life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
In the passage above (1 Timothy 4:7-8) the Apostle Paul used the Greek word ευσεβεια in v8, which is translated here as “godliness.” What is godliness? The word ευσεβεια in this context describes the condition of devotion and piety toward God. Godliness is a good translation, though it could also have been rendered as “holiness.” Godliness is a word which encapsulates the whole of true religion and is is called “godliness” because piety toward God is the foundation and the principal part of it. In the Greek, when this word is used to describe a devout worshipper of God, it also carries with it the general sense of a pious life or a life which is morally good. My brethren, this is the description of those who are truly alive in Christ because this is also the description of Christlikeness when it is applied to to genuine believers belonging to the Lord Jesus.
6Ὡς οὖν παρελάβετε τὸν Χριστὸν Ἰησοῦν τὸν κύριον, ἐν αὐτῷ περιπατεῖτε, 7ἐρριζωμένοι καὶ ἐποικοδομούμενοι ἐν αὐτῷ καὶ βεβαιούμενοι τῇ πίστει καθὼς ἐδιδάχθητε, περισσεύοντες ἐν εὐχαριστίᾳ. (Colossians 2:6-7 NA28)
6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him, 7 having been rooted and being built up in him and being firmly founded in the faith as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. (Colossians 2:6-7 translated from the NA28 Greek text)
Before we exegete these two verses let us remember the definition of godliness from above, which is the foundation for Christlikeness. Now let us look at what it really means to be alive in Christ. Carefully read vv6-7. What is Paul exhorting us to do? Notice first that this is a message intended for those who have actually received (παρελαβετε) Christ Jesus as their Lord. This word describes the action of associating oneself in a familiar, intimate act. This verb is in aorist tense, indicative mood, and active voice in v6. This describes action that the subject has done already. We don’t continually receive (παρελαβετε) Christ as Lord. It is once for all. However, Paul is telling us that we must walk (περιπατειτε) in Christ the same way we received (παρελαβετε) Him. However, περιπατειτε in v6 is in present tense, imperative mode, and active voice. This describes a command which involves continuous or repeated action, therefore, we are to walk in Christ as a way of life a certain way.
Those who truly receive Christ as Lord and Saviour do so the same way and it is described here for us as the same way we are to walk (περιπατειτε) in Him as a way of life. We are to walk (περιπατειτε) in Him, rooted (ερριζωμενοι) and built up (εποικοδομουμενοι) in Him and founded (βεβαιουμενοι) in the faith (πιστει), just as we were taught (εδιδαχθητε), abounding (περισσευοντες ) in thanksgiving (ευχαριστια).
Before we define these words remember the term walk in Him or walk in Christ is the familiar New Testament term denoting our daily conduct. To walk in Christ is to live a life patterned after his. It is not as the Emergents or New Calvinists or New Evangelicals who say “a way of life called a ‘missional discipleship of spiritual formation that guides people to follow “Jesus” in his mission of restoration and reconciliation.‘” None of these terms refer to anything we are discussing here. Instead they refer to integrating mysticism and new age philosophy into a “church” environment, but the end product is anything but Christian and the fruit of it will not be the same either. The “Jesus” they profess to follow is not Jesus Christ, but another Jesus who denounces the Word of God as the truth, despising the good doctrines of Penal Substitution, and the coming Final Judgment.
That said, those who are truly alive in Christ actually walk in Him and are able to do this because they are rooted (ερριζωμενοι) and built up (εποικοδομουμενοι) in Him. The word ερριζωμενοι refers to becoming stable in Christ. This word is a perfect participle in passive voice. This is an action that is the result of the main verb and it is done to the subject; he or she does not do it to themselves. However, the word εποικοδομουμενοι is a present passive/middle participle, which describes continuous or repeated action that is contemporaneous with the main verb. This word describes the action of building up or edifying. Christians are also established (βεβαιουμενοι) in the faith (πιστει). The usage of the word βεβαιουμενοι here refers to the action of making firm or reliable so as to warrant security and inspire confidence, to make true, to fulfill. In the New Testament when used in reference to Christians personally, it signifies confirming his or her salvation or their preservation in a state of grace. This establishment of Christian authenticity is made in the faith (πιστει). The sense here is objective, referring to the truth of Christian doctrine. Spiritual maturity develops upward from the foundation of biblical truth as taught and recorded by the apostles. This rooting, building, and establishing is in sound doctrine.
Paul then tells us that all of this was the fruit of the teaching they had received from him abounding (περισσευοντες ) in thanksgiving (ευχαριστια). This describes the worship of God from a grateful heart that knows the truth that without the grace of God we would still be in our sins, ignorant of our lost condition, and bound for Hell. True worship of our omnipotent, omniscient, omnipresent and immutable God is done correctly only by those who are truly alive in Christ and know that without Him they can do nothing.
To all reading this, are you truly alive in Christ? If you believe that you are, but your “relationship” with Jesus Christ is in any way different or established differently than what we have looked at in Colossians 2:6-7 then you are not truly alive in Him so you cannot walk in Him. If you are truly in Christ, are you truly walking in Him as we saw in these verses? If you are not then more than likely you have a huge problem. I saw a video several years ago of an interview with a man who claimed to be Christian, but who saw nothing wrong with being drunk, fornicating, stealing, lying, et cetera. Why? Because he had recognized these as sins and knew that they were so and so He was forgiven of them. He never read His Bible. He lived and looked just like the world, but he was a “Christian” because of a profession of faith he made as a child even though he did not walk in Christ in any way whatsoever. His life was totally devoid of any piety or devotion towards God. Is he truly alive in Christ? Are you?
Soli Deo Gloria!