Introduction To The Book of Colossians
Colossians was written by Paul at Rome during his first imprisonment there (Acts 28:16, 30),
probably in the spring of A.D. 57, or, as some think, 62, and soon after he had written
his Epistle to the Ephesians.
Like some of his other epistles (e.g., those to Corinth), this seems to have been written
in consequence of information which had somehow been conveyed to him of the internal state
of the church there (Colossians. 1:4-8).
One purpose of Colossians was to counteract false teaching.
A large part of it is directed against certain speculatists who attempted to combine the doctrines
of Oriental mysticism and asceticism with Christianity, which promised the Christians of Collossae
the enjoyment of a higher spiritual life and a deeper insight into the world of spirits.
Paul argues against such teaching, showing that in Christ Jesus they had all things.
He sets forth the majesty of his redemption.
The mention of the "new moon" and "Sabbath days" (2:16) shows also that Judaizing teachers
who were seeking to draw away the Christians from the simplicity of the gospel.
Like most of Paul's epistles, this consists of two parts -- a doctrinal and a practical.
The doctrinal part comprises the first two chapters.
His main theme is developed in chapter 2.
He warns them against being drawn away from Him in whom dwelt all the fulness of the Godhead,
and who was the head of all spiritual powers.
Christ was the head of the body of which they were members; and if they were truly united to Him,
what more could they have needed?
The practical part of the book is in chapters 3 and 4, and enforces various duties that naturally flow
from the doctrines expounded.
They are exhorted to mind things that are above (3:1-4), to mortify every evil principle of their nature,
and to put on the new man (3:5-14).
Many special duties of the Christian life are also insisted upon as the fitting evidence
of the Christian character.
Tychicus was the bearer of the letter, as he was also of that to the Ephesians and to Philemon,
and he would tell them of the state of the apostle (4:7-9).¬
After friendly greetings (10-14), he bids them interchange this letter with that he had sent
to the neighboring church of Laodicea.
He then closes this brief but striking epistle with his usual autograph salutation.
There is a remarkable resemblance between this epistle and that to the Ephesians.
Lesson 1 -- Chapter 1
The message of the book of Colossians centers on having a right view of Christ and on how to live
the Christian life.
As Paul was writing this letter, he knew that there were problems facing the church.
He knew that the Christian life was being distorted, and he knew that the truth about Christ Himself
was being distorted.
The message of Colossians is that Christ is both supreme and sufficient for our every need.
To know Christ is to experience the powerful and radical life changing grace of Almighty God.
And it all centers in Christ.
As Christians, we need to know more about Christ.
We need to focus on Him.
We need to study about Him.
We need to grow in our knowledge of Him.
Being a Christian transforms our attitudes.
And the first change that Paul sees is the emergence of faith, when we receive the truth
of the gospel, we abide by faith.
Look at verses 3 and 4:
"We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus."
Hebrews 11:1 is a definition of that faith:
"Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see."
(Hebrews 11:1 NIV)
We exercise faith each day.
When we drive across a bridge, you may not be aware of it, but we are exercising faith
that the bridge will not collapse.
When we eat at a restaurant, you are exercising faith that the food served to you
will not kill you.
These are simple matters of faith based in our experience.
Faith in Christ is like this.
We believe, and then we act on that belief.
We trust, and then we obey.
We must not only believe that Jesus died on the Cross for our sins, but we must also commit
our lives to live for Him because of what He did for us.
Look at Colossians 1:4.
We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints"
Christians, we are to live a life characterized by love.
Listen to what Jesus said:
"A new command I give you: Love one another.
As I have loved you, so you must love one another.
By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another."
(John 13:34-35 NIV)
"We know that we have passed from death to life, because we love our brothers.
Anyone who does not love remains in death.
Anyone who hates his brother is a murderer, and you know that no murderer has
eternal life in him." (1 John 3:14-15 NIV)
So, are you walking in love?
It's easy to love the lovable.
But it takes God's power to love the unlovable.
God will give us the power to love even the most difficult.
We abide in faith, walk in love, and rest in hope. ... More
Lesson 2 -- Chapter 2
We can claim that Jesus is first in our church and in our lives all we want to, but if our words
and actions don't validate our claims, it's a sham.
Get ready to go in deep water as we study this second chapter!
Paul starts by painting a portrait of what this love between Christians looks like in Colossians 2:1
when he writes:
"For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea,
and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;"
Paul starts off by saying to the Colossian believers in effect, "I just wish that you could see my heart
and fully comprehend my love for you because I believe that it would have a profound effect
upon our relationship."
Most of us don't really know what someone else thinks about us.
We can't look into their minds and feel what they feel.
The only clues we have about how someone feels about us comes when we see what they do
in our behalf.
Paul describes his feelings for them in terms of a great conflict that continually rages inside of him
where the word for conflict means "care or fear".
The word was used to describe the mental and physical rigors of participating in a fight
or in a contest in the public games.
Paul was trying to relate just how dear the believers at Colossae were to him, yet not only them,
but the believers at Laodicea who were fighting the same battles as well.
In fact, he says, "I mentally and emotionally struggle for all my brothers and sisters in Christ
everywhere including those that I have never seen personally."
Paul loved all believers and spent a tremendous amount of time thinking of them, writing to them,
and praying for them.
It was his love for the Colossians that caused him to write this letter to them to give them guidance
and comfort for what lay ahead in their lives.
Because he loved them, he was totally unselfish as their spiritual leader and desired to invest heavily
in their spiritual growth.
Beginning in verse 2, the aged apostle begins to describe some of the struggles that he really cared
about in their lives. ... More
Lesson 3 -- Chapter 3
So many Christians do not understand exactly who they are in Christ.
Our understanding must come from the Bible.
In other words, we are who God says we are, and we have what God says we have.
His word is the determining factor, not our feelings, or what someone else has said about us.
The beginning point of understanding our new identity is the infallible word of God.
It tells us the truth about us.
And we learn from the Bible that we have a new identity in Christ.
Our text tells us that two important things have happened to us–– we died and we rose from the dead.
According to the Scripture, when Christ died on the Cross for our sin, we died there with Him
in a spiritual sense.
Christ died as our substitute, in our place.
But we entered into that death vicariously.
That means that when He died, we died with Him.
We died to sin.
We have been set free from the penalty of sin and the power of sin.
In theological terms, this is called the substitutionary atoning death of Christ.
And then, when He rose from the dead, we rose with him in a spiritual sense.
Because of his resurrection, we have been raised to a new life of the Spirit.
The Bible calls this "being born again".
We have been born from above by the power of the Spirit to live an abundant life in a new spiritual dimension.
According to our text, we dwell spiritually with Christ in a heavenly realm.
The old you has been put to death and the new you has been made alive.
You are now a new creation in Christ.
We are identified with Jesus and He with us.
As Christians, we should never see ourselves apart from Christ.
Our lives are hidden with Christ in God.
We are thoroughly identified with Christ.
He is our life.
We are one with him.
We dwell with him.
We are not simply earth dwellers.
We are heaven dwellers.
Now, it is easy to say these things.
It is much more difficult to see those things.
But we must see them, even though we may be dealing with all of the problems we face
in this physical dimension.
That is the point.
The point is that if I see this new reality, it will change how I feel about my current reality.
If I see myself as dwelling with Christ, it makes all the difference in how I deal with the affairs of this life.
It makes all the difference in how I see myself, and my self worth.
That is why Paul reminds us that we have a new identity in Christ and we should never see ourselves
apart from Him. ... More
Lesson 4 -- Chapter 4
Prayer is vital.
Prayer is a priority of life.
Prayer connects us with God, and it connects us with God's provision for our lives.
Robert Murray McChenye, a preacher from the past, once wrote,
"What a man is on his knees before God, that he is, and nothing more."
That is a very powerful statement.
It could also apply to the church.
It could be easily altered to say, "What a church is on its knees before God, that it is,
and nothing more."
Jesus said it in a different way.
He said, "My house shall be called a house of… entertainment."
No, He did not say that!
"My house shall be called a house of… preaching."
That sounds better.
"Or my house shall be called a house of… worship."
He didn't even say that.
He said, "My house shall be called a house of prayer."
It is sad to say, but we have made God's house everything else, but prayer.
Samuel Chadwick said, "The one concern of the devil is to keep Christians from praying.
The devil fears nothing from prayerless studies, prayerless work and prayerless religion.
The devil laughs at our toil, mocks at our wisdom, but he trembles when we pray.”
That is so true!
Andrew Murray said, "The man who mobilizes the Christian church to pray will make
the greatest contribution to world evangelization in history."
Charles Spurgeon said, "I would rather teach one man to pray than ten men to preach."
And Spurgeon believed in preaching!
Prayer is so important that we must make prayer a life priority.
We are told in the book of James, "You have not because you ask not."
I sometimes wonder what I could have had if I had only asked.
I've often found myself complaining to God about what I want to happen or see accomplished,
and I believe that God might say to me, "Why don't you ask me?"
Some have actually sensed the rebuke of God saying, "Well, why don't you just ask me for it.
You are complaining about it, but you have never asked me for it."
Have you ever thought how much we have missed because we have never asked God for it?
What do we "have not" because we have "asked not"? ... More