Admin: I have revised the previous post offering the structural flow of thought through the epistle,  and suggest that the overall structure might be  a 9-part chiasm. 


A. 1:1-2 Salutation

B. 1:3-14 Paul’s Prayer of thanksgiving for the power of the Gospel

C. 1:15-20  Christ is the head of the New Creation – the ecclesia

D. 1:21-29  Paul’s role as minister of the Gospel to the Gentiles – to present them “holy and unblameable and unreproveable … perfect in Christ Jesus”.

E. 2:1-19 Do not be deceived by the “circumcision party” – belief and baptism into Christ is spiritual circumcision.

D’. 2:20-3:7  If we have been baptised we must put to death the old life and live the Christ-life.

C’. 3:8-4:1 Christ is the head of the New Creation- “all and in all”

B’. 4:2-6  Pray for Paul to be able to preach the Gospel

A’. 4:7-18 Salutations

4 thoughts on “Colossians”

  1. I appreciate the wise submittal above, and after reading it I had to revise my own outline as a result: I am more interested in general rules of forming chiasms than specific cases, so let me propose some general rules for making chiasms from the epistles.

    1. Generally all the Epistles are made up of an “opening”, “a 2-level chiasmus letter body. and a “closing” . Normally the “opening” or the “closing” is never a part of any chiasmus structure.

    Example: In the above submittal the A and A’ layers simply do not reflect each other. He has really proposed a 7-layer chiasm with a typical epistle opening and closing not part of the letter body. I am not trying to be critical – rather paint a general rule for all of the epistles. that only the body of the letters are chiastic. (Hebrews is an exception to this general rule).

    2. All of the text of the letter body were written by the biblical authors into one or more sequential chiasms, and these individual chiasms must chiastically fit into an overall upper-level chiasm. The chiasm above is very good, but its lower-level chiasms do not match.

    Colossians example It is proposed that the true first chiasm layer is the A layer (1:3-12), which is itself a 5-layer chiasm. See how 1:3 is “we give thanks to God”…. chiastically reflects 1:12 …”giving thanks to the Father”… See how the next inside layer “1:4 “since we heard of your faith” matches 1:9 “since we heard of your faith….’ The main point of this A layer chiasm is 1:8” “and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit”. Thus the first A-layer lower level chiasm is 1:3-12).

    Next it is suggested that the B layer 3:1-29 text is a corresponding magnificent lower-level chiasm, (a 13:14), (b:15-20); (c 21:22), x (23); c’ 24-25), (b’ 26-27), (a’ 28-29).

    Again my point is not to define the overall structure as it is to show we can define chiasmus structures using a “bottoms up” approach where all the letter bodies of each of the epistles are all consecutive chiasms. (as a general rule). The proof we have successfully done this is all of these lower-level chiasms must then be shown to be in an overall correctly formed and reflective upper-level chiastic structure. Philemon is the only exception to this – it is too short. The other exception is Ephesians which has 2 upper-level chiasms (one for the theology and the other for “therefore do”.

    What I am describing is really important – for see how the amazing chiastic structures in the New Testament really are – at least 2 level! See how truly amazing scripture really is!

    The other reply important purpose of this reply is to suggest all the entire New Testament is written in at least 2 levels of nested chiastic structures (general rule) and this realization is necessary to correctly match lower-level chiasms with upper levels. This realization opens up a new appreciation for how wonderfully the entire New Testament was written by the original authors!

    1. Thanks Myron, I will review also. I am supportive of your general thesis. I
      t is important not to press the text into preconcieved patterns. Stephen

      1. The New Testament scriptures were written by the original authors in chiastic, not paragraph form. Each author / book has their unique style, and generally the longer the book the more elaborate the chiastic style (including number of layers of nested chiasms). I chose Colossians above because of its relative simplicity as compared to Ephesians.
        The best way to evaluate a book formatted in its underlying chiastic structure is simply to review the book printed out in a chiastic format. When I have done this I have experienced a variety of responses – the older people tend to prefer the paragraph Bible they have used for decades while the younger people seek the chiastic formatted Bible.
        The bottom line is the only way to really evaluate a chiastically formatted New Testament is to simply experience how amazing all the nested chiasms fit together on the printed page. Then one needs to teach from this bible to students who critically evaluate it, as everyone learns from the peer-review usage (it gets improved this way). It is one thing to show a single chiasm in let’s say Romans, but another thing to show all of Romans formatted into its native chiastically-formatted nested state.
        How can I show you an entire New Testament chiasically formatted?

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