Brian Walsh and Sylvia Keesmaat’s commentary, Colossians Remixed, blends three elements: a postmodern approach, a socio-economic critique of empire in the West, and a creative attempt to get into the realities of the Colossian letter and its recipients. Chp 3 is creative.
The chp begins with an attempt to imagine historically what it was like for someone like Nympha, from Colossians 4:15 — “and to Nympha and the church in her house” — to encounter the gospel. Here are some of their imaginative recreations…
She’s wealthy; she encounters another person involved in the dye industry, named Lydia — from Acts 16:14-15. Lydia gives her, not arguments, but the story of God in this world with Israel as it is fulfilled in Jesus. Lydia’s message had to do with a direct counter of Jesus to Caesar. Peace, the cross, Israel’s story, and the power of the communities of faith, churches, in the Roman empire.
The message about Jesus and the kingdom, she learned, was “nothing less than treasonous, a threat to the empire” (54). Nympha began to think … she began to see signs of empire everywhere and in particular in places she had not noticed. The whole of her life was shaped by empire. But, there were no changes — progress — going on. No equality; the poor get poorer and the rich get richer. She began to see despair in slaves. She saw that there was a difference between the world of Caesar and the world of Jesus. Jesus’ “lordship clearly precluded Caesar’s” (55).
So she goes to church. She was shocked — mixing of races etc.. They challenged Rome with an alternative society. She realized that if she began to worship Jesus that it would cost her dearly — good comments on this one by W-K.
They emphasize a community-shaped apologetic: “The life of this assembly of Jesus followers awakened in me an insatiable curiosity about Jesus and his story” (56). And then: “One day in a conversation… I found I was using the word we. I had, almost without noticing it, thrown in my lot with Jesus and his followers” (57).
The question: how far do we go in living for Jesus? What is it like to live for Jesus in Colosse and Laodicea?