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Escaping Deception
Colossians 3:16

In Colossians 3:16 the Apostle Paul admonishes his readers by saying, "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly".  Before we can draw any practicalities from what Paul says we need to understand his words from his frame of reference, not ours.  This takes a bit of grammatical exegesis, something few are willing to do.  The idea that an intellectual based study of the Bible has no practical use is a present day myth.  Unless we understand the Bible, historically, culturally, grammatically, and contextually, we can't derive all of its intended practicalities.  So, dig out your thinking caps and think this verse through with me.  


The subject of any sentence is a noun.  A noun is a person, place, or thing.  The subject is an important word in a sentence because the sentence is all about the subject.  The subject of Paul's sentence is the word "Word".  If we are to understand what Paul is saying, we need to know what "Word" he's thinking of. 


Paul tells us what "Word" he's thinking of by adding the words "of Christ".  He calls the volume of words spoken by Jesus, which were later recorded in the New Testament, "the Word of Christ".  Since Jesus and God are one, we must include all God has said into "the Word of Christ" as well.  Christians understand "the Word of Christ", also known as "the Word of God", to be the Bible.


There's another important word in Paul's statement and that's the verb "dwell", "enoikeo" in Greek.  "Enoikeo" is the verb form of the noun "oikos".  "Oikos" is the Greek word for "house".  Therefore, "enoikeo" means "to house", as in, "the painting is housed in the art gallery".  When Paul uses this word he's thinking of "the Word of Christ being housed in us".   


For those who are inclined towards Biblical technicalities, the Greek verb "enoikeo" is a "present active imperative".  I'll explain that for those who aren't so inclined, but before I do, I'll say this.  Paul begins his sentence with the word "let".  He says that we must "let", or "allow", the Word of Christ to dwell in us.  This tells me that it's our responsibility to open the door of our lives to God's Word.  It doesn't mysteriously drop into our lives out of the blue, and, it certainly doesn't smash its way through the door of our hearts.  If we don't let God's Word into our lives, it doesn't get in.    


As I've said, the Greek word "enoikeo" is a present active imperative verb.  Don't let that scare you.  The present part of "enoikeo", or "dwell", means it's in the present tense.  Allowing God's Word to dwell in us isn't a thing of the past or a thing of the future.  It's a thing of the present.  It's a thing of this exact moment.   


The "active" part of "enoikeo", or "dwell", means that the Word of Christ should be actively influencing us.  It's not meant to be a dusty book on a shelf.  It's the cook book of life that provides the recipe to be the healthy Christian we're meant to be.  That's why Jesus said that man doesn't live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from God's mouth. (Matthew 4:4) 


The "imperative" part of "enoikeo", or "dwell", means that letting God's Word into our lives isn't optional.  It's an imperative command; no different from "thou shall not kill" or "thou shall not commit adultery".   


So, the word "dwell" in English, or "enoikeo" in Greek, is a present (a present reality) active (actively influencing us) imperative (command).  That's what "present active imperative" means.    


The last important word in Paul's statement is the word "richly".  Paul isn't speaking of a little bit rich here.  He's speaking of "abundant wealth".  As Bill Gates is financially wealthy, so we're commanded to be Biblically wealthy.  Some of us struggle financially on a daily basis, but when it comes to being Biblically rich, especially with all the online Bible tools at our finger tips, we can bank lots of Biblical wealth.   


Practically speaking, Paul is commanding us on behalf of Jesus to allow God's Word to abundantly live within us each and every day.  It should have free rule in our lives, influencing who we are and what we do.  The sad fact of the matter is that present day statistics show that less than 20% of those who call themselves Christians in the western world actually read the Bible.  Even fewer study the Bible to gain an intelligent understanding to live by.  Fewer still allow the Word of Christ to mold who they are and dictate what they do.


If you're looking for practicalities from this verse, the practical conclusion is that if you fail to obey Paul's command, you'll fail to survive the mounting pressure from our anti-Christ culture to cave into its cultural demands.  The Holy Spirit isn't some kind of magic pill we pop in such times of need.  He works in association with the Word of God that lives in us, and, if there is little to no Word of God housed within us, the Holy Spirit has nothing to work with.  He will find no Scripture within us to direct us, teach us, encourage us, correct us, or strengthen us.        


"Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly" is more than a simple Sunday school verse, and, what I've said is more than a Greek grammar lesson.  It's the means by which we'll escape the satanic cultural deception of the last days.  The command to allow the Word of God to both live and rule in our lives is a present day imperative command.  For your own benefit, your own salvation, give the Word of God free access to mold who you are and dictate what you do. 



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