Discipline is not the first word people think of today when they think of the Christian life. Who wants discipline? We want freedom, happiness, success…but discipline? And yet, every generation of Christians in the past has come to learn the same lesson: the path to “success” (better, fulfillment, contentment, godliness) is the path of discipline. I could offer you lots of sports analogies to illustrate the importance of self-control and discipline, but if Paul’s own words don’t do it, nothing will:

   For God has not given us a spirit of timidity, but of power and love and discipline. (2 Timothy 1:7)
But have nothing to do with worldly fables fit only for old women. On the other hand, discipline yourself for the purpose of godliness; for bodily discipline is only of little profit, but godliness is profitable for all things, since it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come. (1 Timothy 4:7-8)

So with this in mind I would like to invite my readers to join me in the discipline of memorization, primarily of Scripture, but sometimes of terms or phrases directly relevant to theological and apologetic issues, and, once in a while, even memorization of that which claims to be Scripture but is not (i.e., memorization of key texts that would help you to open the door of witness to a Mormon, Muslim, etc.). Each week I will be posting a brief article on a passage or term and inviting you to memorize it over the course of that week. But, unlike some of the little packs of cards you can purchase at a Christian bookstore, I do not believe in simple rote memorization outside an understanding of the original context. When we use Scripture in preaching, teaching, or proclamation, we almost never do so by just repeating a passage of Scripture. We do so in a context, and hence, to truly honor the Word, and to make the memorization effective, we likewise have to know the context of the passage we are memorizing. And so I will seek to provide at least some commentary along those lines so as to place the passage in a context. This will likewise make it easier to memorize it, for if you can lead into the text, cite it, and then apply it, you obviously have a clearer, deeper grasp of it than the person who can simply repeat the words but not explain their meaning.

The first text I’ve chosen speaks so directly to our lives as followers of Christ in a culture under the wrath of God. As Paul sought to warn the church at Colossae (a church he had not himself founded or visited) of the dangers of what we would today identify as “proto-gnosticism,” a syncretistic religious movement, he did so by directing them to the only source of wisdom and knowledge: Jesus Christ, the Incarnate One. He sought to ground them in Christ and His truth (2:7). So, I would strongly recommend reading Colossians 2:1-12 so as to place our text in its context.

See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. (Colossians 2:8-9, NASB)

Now, immediately we encounter the “translations” question in Scripture memorization. The above is from the New American Standard Bible. I would imagine the most widely used translations amongst readers of this blog would be the NASB, NKJV, ESV, and NIV. With the exception of the NKJV’s reliance upon the Textus Receptus, the other translations have the same Greek manuscript base (when the TR differs I will try to note this in passing). It seems to me that, for consistency’s sake, the best “memorizing” versions are the NASB and ESV; the NIV is often very good in a particular passage, but will be idiosyncratic (due to its dynamic equivalency renderings) in others. It is best to memorize in a single translation, and it is best to do so in the translation you normally carry and use. Consistency is important.
   
Now, I will offer some more comments on the text itself during the coming week, and will especially suggest the memorization of the Greek term translated “Deity” (qeo,thtoj) if you think you may be speaking with one of Jehovah’s Witnesses on this text in the future. But for today, here is our text so that you can get started. The discussion over the course of the week will only aid, it is hoped, the memorization process, which will include the review of the text hopefully on at least a daily basis. More on that a little later.

Text for 12/5-11/2005
See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ. For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form. (Colossians 2:8-9, NASB)

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