The Apostle Paul wrote this letter to the church in Colossae (a city and a church he had never been to) while he sat in a Roman prison around 60-61 AD. Why would Paul write a letter to a group of relative strangers? As we’ll read in this book, he was concerned based on reports he had received from a friend (Epaphras) from his time serving and teaching the church in Ephesus. The church in Colossae had been overrun with false teaching and it wasn’t over nonessential, secondary (or tertiary) issues. There was disagreement over foundational, core theological issues (like the deity of Jesus, for example). The church was facing a crisis, so Paul stepped in before it was too late.
In this letter, we see Paul trying to explain to the Colossian church a full understanding of who Jesus is and why that is so important. The issue Paul was trying to address with the church in Colossae is just as important today as it was almost 2,000 years ago: What you believe about Jesus impacts everything in the Christian life. If you have a high view of Jesus, your behavior will follow. If you have a low view of Jesus, your behavior will reflect that as well.
Paul will go on to use some of his most descriptive language in all of his letters to elevate the Colossians’ view of Jesus and to rid their church of the heretical teachings and doctrines that had slipped in along the way. Dr. Chuck Swindoll, a pastor, author, and former seminary professor, said this about Colossians: “This proper view of Christ served as the antidote for the Colossian heresy as well as a building block for Christian life and doctrine both then and now.”
Let’s lean in and learn all that we can from these four chapters. Each day we’ll read deep theological truths and practical applications all at the same time. Pay attention to every word on the page–you don’t want to miss anything. Grab a highlighter and a journal. Take note of the words and phrases that jump off the page at you. Ask God to show you exactly what He wants you to learn each day as we read Colossians together.
Read Colossians 1
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Supremacy of the Son of God
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Paul’s Labor for the Church
24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
From a prison in Rome, Paul pens this letter to the Gentile church at Colossae, a city in Asia Minor. Right from the beginning, Paul commends them for being God’s holy people who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. The Colossians have a love for all believers with an understanding of the truth about God’s kindness to sinners. What a remarkable way to call out the good in them and encourage them in their faith! May we also strive to begin our conversations with others with strong encouragement.
From what we know, Paul was yet to meet this body of believers. However, he faithfully encouraged and prayed bold prayers for them. For all their good, the church in Colossae was in dire need of prayer and redirection as it had been infiltrated by various cults and religious traditions of the day. Paul speaks candidly to remind them of the fullness and freedom found in Christ: “He has rescued us from the domain of darkness and brought us into the Kingdom of his dear Son. God has purchased our freedom with his blood and forgiven all our sins” (v. 13-14).
Paul then carefully explains the divine nature of Christ as the bedrock of the Christian faith:
- Christ reflects and reveals God to us.
- He is supreme over all creation.
- He is both creator and sustainer of the world.
- He enables us to be in right standing with God.
- He seeks to reconcile all creation to himself.
- He is the head of the church.
As believers, all of our theology (what we believe about God) hinges upon these truths. Right from the beginning of this letter, Paul masterfully highlights the reality of God’s grace through Christ and the reconciliation brought to us. He admonishes believers to walk worthy of the Lord by living a lifestyle that reflects the love and holiness of Jesus. Growing in the knowledge of God demands not only knowing, but obeying, God which will bring true spiritual growth. As long as we have breath in us, we should be moving, moment by moment, toward the goal of the completed work of Christ in us.
- When did you first come to know Christ? How were you rescued from darkness and brought into the light?
- What steps are you taking to grow in your relationship with Christ? Where has the present culture watered down or influenced your theology?
- How are you impacted by the fact that Jesus holds all things together? What does that mean for your life now and for eternity?
May we have a complete understanding of your will. Endow us with spiritual wisdom so that we may honor and please you in all our endeavors. Mark our lives with goodness and kindness to others. When tested, let patience and endurance propel us. Fill us with joy and gratitude that we may faithfully serve you all the days of our lives.
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