Saturday, July 30, 2011

Worship of Angels in Colossians 2

Trying to pick back up writing the devotional I'm writing on Ephesians and Colossians.
Mention of the “worship of angels” (2:18) has led many interpreters of Colossians to assume that the religious movement in question involved worshipping angels. If so, it would be a “syncretistic” or mixed form of Judaism, since Jews did not believe in worshipping anything but God. However, the Dead Sea Scrolls have suggested another possibility, namely, that this Jewish movement thought their worship participated in the worship that angels did in heaven. It would thus be a form of mystical Judaism that aimed at religious experiences such as the one Paul mentions in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4. Some have even wondered if the physical disciplines of 2:23 hint of food restrictions meant to induce such experiences, although perhaps Old Testament food laws are in mind.


FrGregACCA said...

Devotional thoughts, based on the second conclusion:

Why would St. Paul have a problem with this? We DO participate in the heavenly liturgy, after all, every time the Eucharist is celebrated. The Church of both East and West teaches that every time the bread and wine are consecrated and offered, all of heaven, the Saints and angels, are indeed present and are worshiping, even as we are.

But neither we here on earth, nor the Saints in heaven, participate in the "worship of angels". It is OUR worship in, with, and through Christ, which has priority. Christ has become human, uniting heaven and earth, joining God and humanity. Christ did not become an angel; He has become human. It is we, as humans, who are created in the image and likeness of God, not the angels. Therefore the angels participate in our worship, both in heaven and on earth, and not vice-versa.

Ken Schenck said...

I suppose the majority still go with syncretism as the option. I think in Colossians the issue is that this mystic participation is seen as competition with Christ, thus its emphasis of the supremacy of Christ over all spiritual powers.

FrGregACCA said...

Kind of goes to the same thing, though, doesn't it? Participation in Christ is the crucial issue, and this is a uniquely human possibility.

Robert said...

Peter O'Brien has a brief discussion on this in his volume in the 'Word Biblical Commentary'. He sits on the fence, but it's worth looking into.