Here in Part 9 we will continue the excerpts from chapter 7 of my book on the meaning of the Greek noun "aphesis."
A Few Comments Regarding the Interpretation of Isaiah 61:1-3. The general principle that we'll briefly discuss here also applies to much of the book of Isaiah and to many other Old Testament prophecies. Luke 4:17-21 clearly show that the prophecy of Isa. 61:1-3 can be directly applied to the Christian church. (Many other quotations from the Old Testament in the New Testament confirm this point.) I believe, however, that it is also true that the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy of Isa. 61:1-3 will not come to pass until the end-time remnant of Israel is saved through the Lord Jesus Christ. They will look upon Him (cf. Zech. 12:10) and receive Him as Savior and Lord. Their RELEASE will begin at that time, and (as Zech. 12:10-13:6 show, cf., e.g., Zech. 3:3-5, 9; 5:1-11; 13:9; Rom. 11:25-27) the primary feature of that RELEASE will be the literal removal of sin and the transformation to righteousness and holiness.
THE RELEASE for the end time remnant of Israel may well begin on a literal Day of Atonement (cf. Lev. 25:9, 10). ((I had an endnote: I should mention that the sacrifices of Passover prefigured the Sacrifice of the Lord Jesus Christ and that He was crucified at Passover (cf., e.g., John 18:28, 39; 1 Cor. 5:7). Also, the Holy Spirit was first poured out on Christ's people on the Day of Pentecost, which was also "the Feast of the Harvest of the first fruits" (Ex. 23:16, cf. Lev. 23:15-21). On that day, in a very real sense, the Christian church was born, and these regenerated (Spirit-filled) believers can be considered an offering of "the first fruits" to God. The feasts are discussed further under Zech. 14:16 in my book, "The Mid-Week Rapture.")) (At least it is certain, from a Christian point of view, that they will be saved when they receive the benefits of the atoning death of the Lord Jesus Christ.) Since I assume that the end-time remnant of Israel will look upon the Lord Jesus Christ at the time of His mid-week return (cf. Zech. 12:10; 14:3-5), I have to assume that it is quite possible He will return on a literal Day of Atonement.
Some Concluding Remarks on the Meaning of Aphesis as it is Used in Luke 4:18. I believe it is clear that aphesis is used in Luke 4:18 with the sense of RELEASE, or the equivalent. The forgiveness of guilt is included, but the salvation pictured in Luke 4:18, 19 (Isa. 61:1-3) goes far beyond forgiveness. The captives are set free (RELEASED) from sin, Satan, and spiritual death, and they are born again and made righteous, etc.
THE MEANING OF "APHESIS" AS IT IS USED IN THE SEPTUAGINT
The Septuagint is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament. It was widely used by the early Christian church and is frequently quoted in the New Testament. The Septuagint helped prepare many Greek words to communicate the Christian gospel, which spread across the Roman world in the Greek language.
Aphesis is used approximately forty-five times in the Septuagint, but I didn't find one clear example where it is used of forgiveness. It is used about twenty-five times of THE RELEASE of jubilee. (Some fifteen of these uses are found in Leviticus chapter 25.) Approximately ten uses deal with the seventh year RELEASE, which is different than the release of Jubilee (cf. Deut. 15:1-18). Other uses are "fountains" of water (Joel 1:20; 3:18) and the "torrents" of water coming forth from the eyes of Jeremiah (Lam. 3:48).
I am not suggesting that aphesis should never be translated forgiveness in the New Testament, but a translation like RELEASE is often required.
COLOSSIANS 1:9-14 WITH SPECIAL EMPHASIS ON THE MEANING OF "APHESIS" AS IT IS USED IN COLOSSIANS 1:14
COLOSSIANS 1:9-14. "For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, (10) so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; (11) strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously (12) giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (13) For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, (14) in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness [aphesis] of sins."
COLOSSIANS 1:9-11. I prefer the reading in the margin of the NASB at the end of verse 10, "growing by the knowledge of God," in place of "increasing in the knowledge of God."
The apostle Paul was concerned that the Colossian Christians (and all Christians) be transformed/sanctified and "walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects." Christians must know the will of God (cf. Col. 1:9) so they can cooperate with His grace, which includes His power (cf. Col. 1:11). These verses show that Christians are enabled (and expected) to live righteous, holy, fruitful, and steadfast lives. Colossians 1:12-14 provide the gospel basis for the prayer and exhortation of Col. 1:9 11.
COLOSSIANS 1:12. "who has qualified us." I believe the translation of the New English Bible better communicates the intended meaning: "who has made you fit." The Amplified Bible has, "Who has qualified and made us fit." The words "who has qualified" are a translation of a participle of the Greek verb "hikanoo." This verb is only used one other place in the New Testament, 2 Cor. 3:6, which says: "who also MADE US ADEQUATE as servants of a new covenant, not of the letter, but of the Spirit; for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life. In 2 Cor. 3:6 the apostle Paul was speaking of the fact that God had made him and his companions adequate ministers of the new covenant. The NIV (in 2 Cor. 3:6) has, "He has made us competent." God made Paul a competent minister by His Spirit.
God MAKES believers FIT "to share in the inheritance of the saints in [the] light" by delivering them from the domain [authority] of [the] darkness and transferring them into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ (Col. 1:13), which is the kingdom of "[the] light," and by making them "saints [holy people]." Colossians 1:14 expands on this deliverance and transformation.
"the inheritance." Normally the New Testament speaks of the inheritance as being yet future (cf., e.g., Acts 20:32; 1 Cor. 6:10; 15:50; Gal. 5:21; Eph. 5:5; Col. 3:24; Heb. 1:14). Here in Col. 1:12 it seems that the apostle speaks of "the inheritance" as being here already. However, the Greek noun "kleros," which is translated "inheritance" in Col. 1:12, need not be translated this way. ((I had an endnote: The NASB translates "kleros" as follows: allotted to your charge (1), inheritance (2), lot (1), lots (5), and portion (2). The other place where the NASB translates "kleros" as inheritance is Acts 26:18. The BAGD Greek Lexicon gives "lot" and "that which is assigned by lot, portion, share" as the basic meaning of this Greek noun. The only verse where it translates "kleros" as "inheritance" is Col. 1:12. It translates "place" in Acts 26:18. I prefer a translation like "lot" or "portion" in Col. 1:12.)) If we do translate "kleros" as "inheritance," we should think of "the inheritance" in its present, preliminary stage (cf., e.g., Eph. 1:13, 14).
"of the saints." "Saints" is a translation of the plural of the Greek adjective "hagios," which is typically translated "saint/holy" in the New Testament. Christians are "saints [holy people]" in that they have been set apart (by God) for God. They have been set apart from the kingdom of the darkness, from slavery to sin, etc. They have been brought into the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ, which is the kingdom of the light, and they are slaves of righteousness. Much of Col. 1:9-14 helps explain what it means to be "saints." (Also see Col. 1:21-4:6; 4:12; and chapter 8 of this book.)
"in light." I would translate "in the light" with the NKJV. (The definite article "the" is included in the Greek.) "The light" here is contrasted with "the darkness" mentioned in Col. 1:13. God is light and His kingdom is the kingdom of the light (cf., e.g., John 1:4-9; 8:12; 9:5; Acts 26:18; 1 Pet. 2:9; 1 John 1:5-7; Rev. 21:23; 22:5). To be "in the light" includes being in the truth, life, righteousness, and holiness of God (cf., e.g., Matt. 5:1416; John 3:19-21; 12:35, 36, 44-50; Acts 26:18; Rom. 13:12-14; 2 Cor. 6:14; Eph. 5:1 14; 1 Thess. 5:4-8; 1 John 1:5-9; 2:8-11).
Colossians 1:12 in the Amplified Bible: "Giving thanks to the Father, Who has qualified and made us fit to share the portion which is the inheritance of the saints (God's holy people) in the Light."
COLOSSIANS 1:13. "For He delivered us from the domain [authority] of [the] darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son."
The Greek has, "the darkness." "The darkness" here is contrasted with "the light" of Col. 1:12. Also, as the margin of the NASB shows, a more literal translation of the Greek noun "eksousia" is "authority" instead of "domain."
Formerly we were slaves of sin and Satan, under "the authority of the darkness." (The words "the 'eksousia' of the darkness" are used in the Greek of Luke 22:53. On the sinful deeds of darkness, see, for example, John 3:19-21; Rom. 13:12-14; Eph. 5:8-14; 1 John 2:9-11.) God the Father has "delivered us from the authority/domain [kingdom] of the darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son [the Son of His love]."
Acts 26:18 (which we will discuss in more detail later in this chapter [but not in these excerpts]) is an important cross reference for Col. 1:12 14. Let's look at this verse.
Acts 26:18. "to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, in order that they may receive forgiveness [aphesis] of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me."
The Greek noun translated "dominion" in Acts 26:18 is "eksousia" (the noun translated "domain" in Col. 1:13). The dominion/domain/authority [kingdom] of darkness is the equivalent of the dominion/domain/authority [kingdom] of Satan. The emphasis in Acts 26:18 (as in Col. 1:9-14) is on the deliverance from the kingdom of sin, Satan, and darkness and the transformation to the righteousness, holiness, and light of the kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ.
It is important for us to see that the emphasis of Col. 1:12 and 13 (and Col. 1:9 11) goes far beyond the forgiveness of the guilt of sins, though that is included and is very important. On being set free from the authority of sin, cf., e.g., John 8:31-36; Rom. 5:19-6:23; 8:1-14; 1 Cor. 6:9-11; Gal. 5:16-25; Eph. 4:17-6:20; Titus 2:11-3:11; and 1 Pet. 1:13-2:25. On being set free from the authority of Satan, cf., e.g., Matt. 28:18-20; John 16:11; Gal. 1:4; Eph. 1:20-2:10; 4:27; Col. 2:15; and Heb. 2:14-18.
COLOSSIANS 1:14. "in whom we have [the] redemption. I would translate "the redemption." (The definite article is included in the Greek.) God's redemption through Jesus Christ is "the redemption" in that it is the theme of much Old Testament prophecy and is at the center of new covenant salvation. Also, the apostle does not first come to the idea of redemption at Col. 1:14; he has been speaking of "the redemption" (using different words) in the preceding verses, especially verse 13. On "the redemption" see under Rom. 3:24 in chapter 6 of this book. Two important verses (not discussed under Rom. 3:24) that speak of the same redemption are Heb. 9:12 and 15. ((I had a three paragraph endnote: HEBREWS 9:11-15. "But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things to come, He entered through the greater and more perfect tabernacle, not made with hands, that is to say, not of this creation; (12) and not through the blood of goats and calves, but through His own blood, He entered the holy place once for all, having obtained ETERNAL REDEMPTION [my emphasis]. (13) For if the blood of goats and bulls and the ashes of a heifer sprinkling those who have been defiled, sanctify for the cleansing of the flesh, (14) how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the [His] eternal Spirit offered Himself without blemish to God, cleanse your conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (15) And for this reason He is the mediator of a new covenant, in order that since a death has taken place for THE REDEMPTION OF [FROM] THE TRANSGRESSIONS [with the guilt and the penalties (my capitalization for emphasis)] that were committed under the first covenant, those who have been called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance."
In Heb. 9:15 I would translate "redemption from" instead of "redemption of." ("Redemption from" is the translation in the BAGD Greek Lexicon under "apolutrosis," and several commentators express this viewpoint. The NIV has, "to set them free FROM [my emphasis] the sins.") Those who were under the old covenant ("the first covenant") were still under the transgressions [with the guilt and penalties ] that were (committed) under the first covenant - they still needed to be redeemed. (Cf., e.g., Ps. 130:8; Isa. 52:12-53:12; Acts 13:38, 39; Gal. 3:13; 4:5.) It is also true that those who were under the old covenant were (along with the rest of mankind) under the penalty for the transgression of Adam.
Hebrews 9:14 shows that the blood of Christ (unlike the old covenant sacrifices mentioned in Heb. 9:13) has the power to cleanse the inner man. The born again Christian is enabled to serve the living God in righteousness and holiness. (Hebrews 9:13, 14 are discussed later in this chapter, under Heb. 10:8-18 [not included in these excerpts].)) There are many other verses that will help us understand "the redemption." ((I had an endnote: Each of the primary verses discussed here in chapter 7 of this book (Luke 4:18; Eph. 1:7; Acts 13:38, 39; 26:18; and Heb. 10:18) is relevant, especially Eph. 1:7, which speaks of "the redemption." Some other verses are Ex. 6:6, 7; 2 Sam. 7:23, 24; Ps. 25:22; 130:8; Isa. 44:22, 23; 48:20; 62:12; Jer. 31:11; Luke 1:68 (with Luke 1:67-79, espec. 1:75, 77); Gal. 3:13 and 4:5. (Psalm 130:8 is quoted and discussed below, still under Col. 1:14.) )) Also, everything that is said below under "the forgiveness [aphesis] of sins" will help us understand "the redemption."
"the forgiveness [aphesis] of sins." I would translate "the release from sins [with the guilt and penalties (including being released from the penalties of spiritual death and the bondage to sin that comes with spiritual death)]," or the equivalent. With these words, which are in apposition with "we have the redemption," the apostle expands upon what he means by "the redemption."
Formerly we were under our sins [with the guilt and penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)]. (See chapters 1, 2, 3, 4, and 6 of my book.) To be under our sins [with the guilt and penalties] included being under the authority of sin, Satan, spiritual death, and the darkness. These enemies gained authority over us through our sins, especially Adam's transgression. (Cf., e.g., Rom. 5:12-21; 1:18-32, espec. verses 24-32; Isa. 59:2; 63:17.)
God sent His Son to bear our sins [with the guilt and penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin], and "He delivered us from the domain/authority [kingdom] of the darkness" (Col. 1:13). The deliverance of Col. 1:13 refers to the same basic gospel reality as do the expressions "the redemption" and "the release from sins [with the guilt and penalties (including being released from the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)]." All these expressions include the forgiveness of the guilt of sin, but they also include much more. We were not just redeemed from the guilt of sin - we were redeemed from the kingdom of sin. This means, among other things, that we are no longer required to (or supposed to) serve our former master of sin (by sinning).
Isaiah chapter 53 (discussed in chapters 1, 2, and 3 of this book) is a very important passage to show by what means we are released from our sins [with the guilt and penalties (including being released from the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)]. The other passages that we are studying in this chapter are all important illustrations of this concept of being released from sins. Hebrews 9:15 is another illustration. ((On Heb. 9:15 see the three paragraph endnote above, under Col. 1:14.)) Since this concept is so important, and since it is not widely understood, let's consider several more illustrations:
"And He will redeem Israel
From all his iniquities."
"Iniquities" is a translation of the plural of "awon." I believe this Hebrew noun is being used here in the sense of iniquities with the guilt and the penalties. ("Awon" is discussed in chapter 2 of this book.) Israel needs to be redeemed from her iniquities with the guilt and penalties. Psalm 130:8, understood in its ultimate sense, prophesies of full salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ. The concept of being redeemed from iniquities [with the guilt and penalties (including being redeemed from the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)] in Ps. 130:8 is essentially the same as "the redemption, the release from sins [with the guilt and penalties (including being released from the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)]" of Col. 1:14.
SEVERAL COMMENTATORS ON PSALM 130:8
J. J. S. Perowne ("Commentary on the Psalms" [Kregel, 1989 reprint], page 405), commenting on the words "from his iniquities," says: "Not merely from the punishment (as Ewald and Hupfeld). The redemption includes the forgiveness of sins, the breaking of the power and dominion of sin, and the setting free from all the consequences of sin."
F. Delitzsch (Vol. 5 of Keil and Delitzsch, page 304) says (in part): "...He, in the fulness of the might of His free grace (Isa. 43:25), will redeem Israel from all its iniquities, by forgiving them and removing their unhappy inward and outward consequences. With this promise (cf. Ps. 25:22) the poet comforts himself. He means complete and final redemption, above all, in the genuinely New Testament manner, spiritual redemption."
E. A. Leslie ("Abingdon Bible Commentary" [Abingdon Press, 1929], page 590) says (in part): "God will surely take away the calamities that are the result of Israel's wickedness, and even wickedness itself."
"Deliver me from all my transgressions [plural of the Hebrew noun "pesha"];
Make me not the reproach of the foolish."
I believe the idea is "Deliver me from all my transgressions [with the guilt and penalties]," or just "Deliver me from the penalty(ies) of my transgressions." (This verse is discussed in chapter 1 of this book.)
"And she will bear a Son; and you shall call His name Jesus, for it is He who will save His people from their sins [with the guilt and penalties (including saving them from the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)]."
Note the preposition "from" in Matt. 1:21 and in Psalm 130:8; 39:8; the next verse that is quoted (Rev. 1:5), and other verses. ) See the first endnote under Col. 1:14 above.
"To Him who loves us, and released us from our sins [with the guilt and the penalties (including releasing us from the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)] by His blood."
1 PETER 2:24, 25
"and He Himself bore our sins in His body on the cross [with the guilt and the penalties (including the major penalties of spiritual death and bondage to sin)], that we might die to sin and live to righteousness; for by His wounds you were healed. (25) For you were continually straying like sheep, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Guardian of your souls."
When the Lord Jesus Christ bore our sins [with the guilt and penalties], He defeated sin, Satan, and spiritual death, and He set us free. Now, through His atoning death, we have been born again and are called, enabled, required, and privileged to live in the righteousness of God.
TWO COMMENTATORS ON COLOSSIANS 1:14
Adam Clarke ("Adam Clarke's Commentary on the Bible," abridged by R. Earle [Baker, 1967], page 1197), commenting on the words "the forgiveness of sins," says: " 'The taking away of sins'; all the power, guilt, and infection of sin."
R. C. Lucas ("The Message of Colossians and Philemon" [Inter-Varsity Press, 1980], page 42) has an interesting discussion regarding the meaning of "the forgiveness of sins." I'll quote the major part of his primary paragraph on this topic.
"The blessing of forgiveness has sometimes been devalued, as though it were no more than the wiping of the slate clean. But sin is always A POWER that holds people in thrall, so, in Paul's teaching, forgiveness must include the breaking of that power. It is inconceivable that God should forgive the past, and then send us back incapable of living a new life. Pardon without deliverance would be a mockery, and it is never so contemplated in the New Testament. We ought not speak of 'mere forgiveness' as though this were but an initial blessing of the gospel. The gospel is precisely the offer of freedom because of the forgiveness of our sins. (E.g., Acts 13:38, 39.) That forgiveness flows from the cross where Christ not only cancelled our debt but also disarmed our enemy (Col. 2:14, 15)."
I very much appreciate these words by R. C. Lucas, but I would like to make two brief comments. Most Christians don't use the word forgiveness in the full sense presented in this quotation, and I don't believe they ever will. Secondly, I believe a translation like "release from" more accurately reflects the intended meaning of "aphesis" here in Col. 1:14 (and in quite a few other verses).
This is as far as I will go with these excerpts from chapter 7 of my book. As I mentioned these excerpts cover the first half of the chapter. We will go on the excerpts from chapter 8, the last chapter of this book in Part 10 of this paper.
I trust that many of you who appreciate this teaching will want to purchase a copy of my book, "Holiness and Victory Over Sin: Full Salvation Through the Atoning Death of the Lord Jesus Christ" that is available at amazon.com and at my website (karlkempteachingministries.com).