Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians Part V: The Minister of the Mystery -- By: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Journal: Bibliotheca Sacra
Volume: BSAC 119:475 (Jul 1962)
Article: Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians Part V: The Minister of the Mystery
Author: S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians
Part V:
The Minister of the Mystery

S. Lewis Johnson, Jr.

In Elisha’s day King Ben-hadad of Syria gathered his great host of men together and besieged Samaria. The famine became so desperate that an ass’s head was sold for fourscore pieces of silver. The prophet of God, however, untroubled in the midst of it all, calmly promised the king of Israel a bountiful deliverance: “Hear ye the word of the LORD; Thus saith the LORD, Tomorrow about this time shall a measure of fine flour be sold for a shekel, and two measures of barley for a shekel, in the gate of Samaria” (2 Kings 7:1). Four leprous men at the entering in of the gate, ignorant or unmindful of the prophecy, determined to fling themselves upon the mercy of the Syrians. After all, if they were to enter the city, it would simply be to encounter the famine, and if they remained at the gate death faced them there also. What could they lose? So, they rose up and made their way to the camp of the Syrians. Arriving in the camp they were startled to discover that the Syrians, panicking over the noise of chariots and horses of a great host which the Lord had caused them to hear, had fled for their lives and abandoned their supplies. Wasting no time, the leprous men began to stuff themselves with the Syrians’ rations, washing the food down with greedy swigs of wine. Clothing and silver were hidden for later recovery until suddenly their consciences awoke, and they remembered the starving, desperately needy inhabitants of the city. “We do not well,” they said, “this day is a day of good tidings [a gospel day], and we hold our peace” (7:9). Mildred Cable, a great missionary, once said, “The greatest crime of the desert was to know where water was and not to tell it.”

Is an analogy permissible? If so, let me suggest that the experience of the leprous men is a faint shadow of the experience of the Apostle Paul. He, too, had found riches in Christ that were unsearchable and could not rest until the good tidings were preached to the whole creation under heaven. Professor Denney used to say that he did not care anything for a theology that did not help a man to preach. Paul’s theology not only helped him to preach, it compelled him to preach. This finds illustration in the passage to which we have come in our Colossians studies.

The apostle has just finished his brilliant interpretation of the person of Christ (1:15–18) and launched into a significant treatment of His work, using the term reconciliation as the hub of his teaching (You must have a subscription and be logged in to read the entire article.
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