Tuesday, March 5, 2013

Personal Reflection on Colossians 2:14

I was interested in understanding the word picture(s) of Colossians 2:14, particularly the term “blotted out” (as used in the King James and New World Translation – amongst others). Those that translated it differently use the words “cancel” or “wipe off” or “erase.” Another synonym I found in a Bible study reference used the term “rub out.”

I found this fascinating because the eraser we use today is relatively a new invention. So I hypothesized (as it turns out, wrongly) perhaps the “blotting” was by taking whatever the “ink” was that was used and making a big blot on top of the word or phrase to be removed so that it was illegible. But, as can be seen by the notes below, it really was a removal of the previous writing. Maybe not as effectual as erasers are in removing pencil marks today, but still enough that the idea of removal was there.

(There are articles available that indicate the passage can refer to something be crossed (or lined) out. Yet the underlying text would still be visible and that definitely is not what Paul intended.)

But that is not the end of the matter. Now I have a clearer understanding of the intent of the phrase Paul used, now I appreciate even more so the lesson Paul was teaching. It made me reflect on (Isaiah 1:18) “Come, now, YOU people, and let us set matters straight between us,” says Jehovah. “Though the sins of YOU people should prove to be as scarlet, they will be made white just like snow; though they should be red like crimson cloth, they will become even like wool.” Yes, it will be as if there was never any stain there to begin with. With such a deep love as that is the way Jehovah God desires to deal with us. BUT we must want to do what is right. Verses 19 & 20 continue: If YOU people show willingness and do listen, the good of the land YOU will eat. 20 But if YOU people refuse and are actually rebellious, with a sword YOU will be eaten up; for the very mouth of Jehovah has spoken [it].”

Clarke's Commentary on Colossians 2:14
Blotting out the hand-writing is probably an allusion to Numbers 5:23, where the curses written in the book, in the case of the woman suspected of adultery, are directed to be blotted out with the bitter waters. And there can be little doubt of a farther allusion, viz., to the custom of discharging the writing from parchment by the application of such a fluid as the muriatic acid, which immediately dissolves those ferruginous calces which constitute the blackening principle of most inks. But the East India inks, being formed only of simple black, such as burnt ivory, or cork, and gum water, may be wiped clean off from the surface of the paper or parchment by the application of a wet sponge, so as to leave not one legible vestige remaining: this I have often proved.

The expression ‘get blotted out’ comes from a Greek verb that means “wipe out, erase.” The New International Dictionary of New Testament Theology explains: “The image expressed by the verb here and perhaps elsewhere is most probably smoothing the surface of a wax writing-tablet for re-use.”

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