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Colossians Explained

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Book of Colossians Explained

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Title: Colossians is named for the city of Colossae, where the church it was addressed to was located. It was also to be read in the neighboring church at Laodicea (4:16).

Authorship - Date: This letter was written by Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ (1:1; compare verse 23; 4:18). Though he did not personally know the recipients, Paul was acquainted with them through Epaphras. Epaphras probably planted the church in Colossae, judging from the fact that the believers there first learned the gospel from him (1:7). Afterwards he served as their minister and informed the apostle of their conversion (1:7-8).

The testimony of the early church, including such key figures as Irenaeus, Clement of Alexandria, Tertullian, Origen, and Eusebius, confirms that the opening claim is genuine. Additional evidence for Paul's authorship comes from the book's close parallels with Philemon, which is universally accepted as having been written by Paul. Both were written (ca. A.D. 60-62), when Paul was a prisoner in Rome (4:3, 10, 18; Philemon 9, 10, 13, 23); plus the names of the same people (e.g., Timothy, Aristarchus, Archippus, Mark, Epaphras, Luke, Onesimus, and Demas), appear in both epistles, showing that both were written by the same author at about the same time. For biographical information on Paul, see Introduction to Romans: Author and Date.

Colossians was likely penned, as were Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon, during Paul's first imprisonment at Rome (1:24; 4:18). The numerous parallels of vocabulary and matters discussed in Ephesians and Colossians link these epistles together. Also, there are many personal references common to Philemon and Colossians.

Destination: The letter is addressed to the church at Colossae (1:2), a town in Asia Minor about one hundred miles east of Ephesus and 12 miles south of Laodicea and Hierapolis. Colossae had once been a thriving trade center, but its commercial influence was waning in Paul's day. From (Ephesians 6:21 and Colossians 4:7), it seems that Tychicus delivered both of these epistles to their respective destinations.

Background - Setting: Colossae was a city in Phrygia, in the Roman province of Asia (part of modern Turkey), about 100 miles east of Ephesus in the region of the 7 churches of Rev. chapters 1-3) The city lay alongside the Lycus River, not far from where it flowed into the Maender River. The Lycus Valley narrowed at Colossae to a width of about two miles, and Mt. Cadmus rose 8,000 feet about the city.

Colossae was a thriving city in the fifth century B.C., when the Persian king Xerxes (Ahasuerus, compare Esther 1:1), marched through the region. Black wool and dyes (made from the nearby chalk deposits), were important products. In addition, the city was situated at the junction of the main north-south and east-west trade routes. By Paul's day, however, the main road had been rerouted through nearby Laodicea, thus by passing Colossae and leading to its decline and the rise of the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis.

Although Colossae's population was mainly Gentile, there was a large Jewish settlement dating from the days of Antiochus the Great (223 - 187 B.C.). Colossae's mixed population of Jews and Gentiles manifested itself both in the composition of the church and in the heresy that plagued it, which contained elements of both Jewish legalism and pagan mysticism.

The church at Colossae began during Paul's 3 year ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19). Its founder was not Paul, who had never been there (2:1); but Epaphras (1:5-7), who apparently was saved during a visit to Ephesus, then likely started the church in Colossae when he returned home. Several years after the Colossian church was founded, a dangerous heresy arose to threaten it, one not identified with any particular historical system. It contained elements of what later became known as Gnosticism: that God is good, but matter is evil, that Jesus Christ was merely one of a series of emanations descending from God and being less than God (a belief that led them to deny His true humanity), and that a secret, higher knowledge about Scripture was necessary for enlightenment and salvation. The Colossian heresy also embraced aspects of Jewish legalism, e.g., the necessity of circumcision for salvation, observance of the ceremonial rituals of the Old Testament law (dietary laws, festivals, Sabbaths), and rigid asceticism. It also called for the worship of angels and mystical experience. Epaphras was so concerned about this heresy that he made the long journey from Colossae to Rome (4:12-13), where Paul was a prisoner.

This letter was written from prison in Rome (Acts 28:16-31), sometime between A.D. 60-62 and is, therefore, referred to as a Prison Epistle (along with Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon). It may have been composed almost contemporaneously with Ephesians and initially sent with that epistle and Philemon by Tychicus (Eph. 6:21-22; Col. 4:7-8). See Introduction to Philippians: Author and Date for a discussion of the city from which Paul wrote this letter to warn the Colossians against the heresy they faced, and sent the letter to them with Tychicus, who was accompanying the runaway slave Onesimus back to his master, Philemon, a member to the Colossian church (4:7-9; see Introduction to Philemon: Background and Setting). Epaphras remained behind in Rome (compare Philemon 23), perhaps to receive further instruction from Paul.

Historical - Theological Themes: Colossians contains teaching on several key areas of theology, including the deity of Christ (1:15-20; 2-10), reconciliation (1:20-23), redemption (1:13-14, 2:13-14, 3:9-11), election (3:12), forgiveness (3:13), and the nature of the church (1:18; 24-25; 2:19; 3:11, 15). Also, as noted above, it refutes the heretical teaching that threatened the Colossian church (chapter 2).

Epaphras either visited Paul in Rome or was imprisoned there with him (Philemon 23). In either case, he informed Paul of the dangerous theological error circulating in the churches of Colossae and Laodicea. In response to Epaphras's plea for help, Paul writes this epistle to the Colossians, which is also to be read in the church at Laodicea (4:16), in an attempt to check the heresy's influence.

The Colossian Christians had been led to Christ by Epaphras (1:7). The majority were Gentiles (2:13) who were progressing in their new faith. Paul rejoiced over their good spiritual condition (2:5), but the Colossian church was being exposed to a local heresy that threatened to deprive them of their spiritual blessings (2:8, 18).

The heresy was syncretistic, that is, it was composed of elements drawn from paganism, Judaism and Christianity. The pagan element espoused a false philosophy (2:8), that appears to have been an early form of Gnosticism. This movement viewed matter as evil, denied the divine creation of the universe, held to many angelic beings or spiritual intermediaries existing between God and men, advocated the worship of these angelic beings (2:18), and stressed secret "knowledge" (received when initiated into their cult), as the means of attaining salvation.

The Jewish element was legalistic in nature, retained the Mosaic Law (2:14), imposed circumcision (2:11), followed dietary restrictions and calendar observations (2:16), and advocated asceticism (2:21-23). The heresy's Christian component did not deny Christ, but dethroned Him. He was not regarded as divine or as Creator of the universe, and His death was thus deprived of any saving merit.

The letter's aim was to refute the Colossian heresy, to demonstrate the preeminence of Christ, and to confirm the addressees in the Christian faith.

The supremacy and adequacy of Christ is stressed throughout. He is presented as fully God (2:9), as Creator (1:16), as preeminent over the universe and church (1:17-18), and as Savior (1:20-21). Because Christ is over all, the Colossians are "complete in Him" (2:10), that is, He is more than adequate in that He alone, rather than any angelic being, can meet all their spiritual needs. The Colossians, then, should worship God the Father through Him alone and depend on Him only for salvation, refusing to rely on vain philosophy, secret knowledge, or legalism in an attempt to secure divine favor.

In one form or another, approximately 75 of the 105 verses in Colossians can be found in Ephesians: Colossians mentions that the church is the body of Christ (1:18); this doctrine is then further developed in the sister epistle of Ephesians. Colossians stresses Jesus as Head, which Ephesians emphasizes the church as His body.


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Colossians 1
Colossians 2
Colossians 3
Colossians 4

Colossians 1

Colossians Chapter 1

Colossians 1:1 "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy [our] brother,"

"Timothy": This is Paul's co-laborer and true child in the faith, who was able to be with him because, although Paul was a prisoner, he had personal living quarters (Acts 28:16-31).

In this very first verse, we see that Paul wrote the letter. Timothy was with Paul at the time of the writing and agreed with what was said. We have mentioned several times the qualifications of an apostle, and Paul fit every one of them. We do not question that Paul was in fact, an apostle.

We also agreed that Paul was chosen by God to bring the gospel to the Gentiles in particular, and unto all mankind as opportunity arose. Timothy is spoken of as brother of Paul, when in fact; he was not related to Paul in the physical. He was a brother in the sense that all believers in Christ are brothers.

Colossians 1:2 "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colossae: Grace [be] unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ."

"Saints": Those who have been separated from sin and set apart to God, the believers in Colossae.

"Faithful": A word used in the New Testament exclusively for believers.

"Colossae": One of 3 cities in the Lycus River valley in the region of Phrygia, in the Roman province of Asia (part of modern Turkey), about 100 miles East of Ephesus.

"Grace ... peace": Paul's greeting in all 13 of his epistles.

"Grace" is used in several different ways in the New Testament. It can refer to;

(1) God's unmerited kindness on Calvary, which brings about man's salvation (Eph. 2:8);

(2) The state of grace in which the believer stands, that is, his being in God's favor (Rom. 5:2);

(3) An unusual blessing produced by divine grace (Eph. 3:8);

(4) Graciousness or attractiveness (4:6); and

(5) "Grace" can as here, mean God's "stored-up help", dispensed to His people in times of need.

"Peace" is also employed in a variety of ways in Scripture: It can signify;

(1) The opposite of war (Rev. 6:4);

(2) Harmony and concord with others (Eph. 4:3);

(3) Health and welfare (1 Cor. 16:11);

(4) Salvation in that one is at peace with God (Rom. 5:1); and

(5) As in this verse, "peace" sometimes denotes tranquility of mind that frees the Christian from fear and anxiety.

This letter was addressed to the people of the church in Colossae who had believed Jesus Christ to be their Savior. Here, again, we see that all believers are brothers in Christ. Paul's letters always start with grace. Grace is a free gift from God, which brings the peace spoken of here. The saints spoken of here, have received this as a gift after believing in Jesus.

"Colossae" was located in the Roman province of Asia, 11 miles from Laodicea in the Lycus Valley. It lay on the main road from Ephesus heading east. Both Herodotus and Xenophon regarded it as a great city in the fifth century B.C., but during the first century Strabo described it as a third-rate town.

That Paul wrote an epistle to such a small community suggests the problem at Colossae must have been great. Colossae is mentioned only once (verse 2), in the New Testament. Paul seemingly had never seen the church (verse 4; 2:1), but it probably was established by one of his coworkers during his extensive ministry at Ephesus (Acts. 19:1).

We see honor given to the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ here. The name Lord Jesus Christ tells us who, and what, Jesus really is. He is our King, our Savior, the Messiah, the Anointed One.

Colossians 1:3 "We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,"

God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ": This designation was often used to show that Jesus was one in nature with God, as any true son is with his father. It was an affirmation of Christ's deity (Rom. 15:6; 2 Cor. 1; 11:13; Eph. 1:3; 3:14; 1 Pet. 1).

Paul always starts his letters on a positive note. This is no exception. They are in the constant prayers of Paul.

Colossians 1:4 "Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love [which ye have] to all the saints,"

"Faith in Christ Jesus": This is saving faith (see notes on Rom. 1:16; 10:4-17; James 2:14-26).

"Love ... to all the saints" (verse 8). One of the visible fruits of true saving faith is love for fellow believers (John 13:34-35; Gal. 5:22 1 John 2:10; 3:14-16).

Evidence of a person's faith in Christ Jesus is his love ... "to all the saints".

More than anything in the letter, this indicates that Paul might not have founded the church here. It is as if he is saying, all that he knows about this church is what he has heard others saying. The things Paul mentions here that he has heard are good things.

The very first thing is that they have set their faith in Jesus Christ. It appears also, that this is a church of great love for God and for all of the believers.

Colossians 1:5 "For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;"

"Hope" is salvation, as it refers to the object for which one hopes. The believer's hope is inseparable from his faith (see notes on Romans 5:2; 1 Peter 1:3-5).

"The gospel" (see note on Rom. 1:1). The Greek word literally means "good news," and was used in classical Greek to express the good news of victory in a battle. The gospel is the good news of Christ's victory over Satan, sin, and death.

"Word of the truth of the gospel": could be rendered as "the message of the gospel which is true." This is meant to contradict the Colossian heresy: unlike its false teaching or "vain deceit" (2:8), the gospel is true indeed.

The hope is of the resurrection to eternal life in heaven. Paul says here, you have been taught the truth of the gospel and you believed. Paul has commented on their faith and love, and both are things that will get them to heaven.

Colossians 1:6 "Which is come unto you, as [it is] in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as [it doth] also in you, since the day ye heard [of it], and knew the grace of God in truth:"

"In all the world" ... "all creation under heaven." (verse 23). The gospel was never intended for an exclusive group of people; it is good news for the whole world (Matthew 24:14; 28:19-20; Mark 16:15; Rom. 1:8, 14, 16; 1 Thess. 1:8). It transcends all ethnic, geographic, cultural, and political boundaries.

"Fruit": Refers to the saving effect of gospel preaching and to the growth of the church (see notes on Rom. 1:13; Phil. 1:22; Matt. 13:3-8, 31-32).

The universal spread and effectiveness of the gospel verify the assertion (in verse 5), that it is the truth. The Colossian heresy is merely local; while the gospel has come to the Colossians, it has gone beyond them "in all the world". And it bringeth forth fruit: that is, when embraced by faith, the gospel produces Godly character and noble conduct in its converts.

This same gospel had been taught in all the known world of that time. Actually, love is a fruit that was brought forth by their faith in Jesus. Wherever this gospel is preached in all the world, it produces fruit.

Galatians 1:11 "But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man."

The good news of the gospel is not a man-made belief, but comes from God Himself. Christianity is contagious. In the beginning, it spread very rapidly. This happened in part because of the many eyewitnesses to Jesus. We see that many times thousands were saved in one day.

Acts 2:41 "Then they that gladly received his word were baptized: and the same day there were added [unto them] about three thousand souls."

Paul is saying, these people at Colossae have been very productive in bringing in new Christians ever since they heard the gospel themselves.

Colossians 1:7 "As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;"

"Epaphras" evangelized the Colossians with the gospel and planted the church in their city. In describing Epaphras here in such glowing terms as "our dear fellow servant", and "for you a faithful minister of Christ," Paul puts his apostolic stamp of approval on this saint's life, ministry, and gospel.

The implication to the readers: Surely you will not forsake Epaphras' gospel and pastoral care in exchange for the doctrine of the local heretics, will you?

Now we see that Epaphras was one of the ministers who had brought the truth of the gospel to the church here. Paul speaks highly of Epaphras, who had served with Paul on some of his missionary journeys. He had ministered here being sent by Paul. He had worked with Paul, and the message was the same as Paul's.

Paul is saying that Epaphras brings a true message of the gospel of Christ.

Colossians 1:8 "Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit."

"Your love in the Spirit" (or, your love by the Spirit): that is, the Holy Spirit instilled and nurtured in the Colossian Christians an affection for others.

It seems as though it was Epaphras who had told Paul of the great love of these people. Spirit here, is speaking of the Holy Spirit. None of us know how to truly love, until the Spirit comes and teaches us how to love. Man's love is because. God's love is in spite of.

Colossians 1:9 "For this cause we also, since the day we heard [it], do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;"

"Wisdom" is an accurate perception into the true nature of things.

"Understanding" is the skillful application of this wisdom in practical situations.

"The knowledge of his will": The Greek word for "knowledge" is the usual one, with an added preposition that intensifies its meaning. This is not an inner impression or feeling, but a deep and thorough knowledge of the will of God that is finally and completely revealed in the Word of God (3:16; Eph. 5:17; 1 Thess. 4:3; 5:18; 1 Tim. 2:4; 1 Pet. 2:13, 15; 4:19).

"Wisdom and understanding": "Spiritual" modifies both "wisdom" (the ability to accumulate and organize principles from Scripture), and "understanding" (the application of those principles to daily living).

We have mentioned so many times in these lessons, that wisdom is a gift from God and knowledge is accumulated learning. The way we can learn of God's will, is to study His Holy Word. Then, Paul is saying, he had prayed that they would study God's Word and find out what God's will for their lives is.

This spiritual understanding here, is speaking of being guided into all truth by the Holy Spirit of God.

Colossians 1:10 "That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;"

"Walk ... worthy": This is a key New Testament concept which calls the believer to live in a way that is consistent with his identification with the Lord who saved him.

"Being fruitful in every good work" (see notes on Rom. 1:13; Phil. 4:17). Spiritual fruit is the by-product of a righteous life. The Bible identifies spiritual fruit as leading people to Christ (1 Cor. 16:15), praising God (Heb. 13:15), giving money (Rom. 15:26-28); living a godly life (Heb. 12:11), and displaying holy attitudes (Gal. 5:22-23).

"Increasing in the knowledge of God": Spiritual growth cannot occur apart from this knowledge (1 Pet. 2:2; 2 Pet. 3:18).

The evidences of spiritual growth include a deeper love for God's Word (Psalm 119:97), a more perfect obedience (1 John 2:3-5), a strong doctrinal foundation (1 John 2:12-14), and expanding faith (2 Thess. 1:3; 2 Cor. 10:5), and a greater love for others (Phil. 1:9).

This verse expresses the reason that (in verse 9), Paul wants the Colossians to obtain a knowledge of God's will. It is that they may "walk" (live), properly and fully please God. In Greek, the four explanatory participles (of verses 10b-12), spell out and precisely define what a "worthy" walk entails: the believer is:

(1) "Fruitful in every good work," productive in Christian service;

(2) Constantly "increasing in the knowledge of God," ever coming to know the Lord better;

(3) Always "strengthened with all might," becoming spiritually stronger and stronger; and

(4) In the habit of giving thanks, sincerely expressing gratitude to God in both the pleasant and unpleasant experiences in his life.

To obey God's will in our life pleases God. When we become a new creature in Christ through accepting Jesus as Savior, we are expected of God to walk in that newness of life. The only way we can walk worthy is to allow Jesus to live and walk in us.

We must be fruit bearers. God expects every Christian to produce other Christians. The best way to do all of this is to stay in the study of God's Word and accumulate His knowledge in us.

Colossians 1:11 "Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;"

"Strengthened with all might" (see notes on Eph. 3:16-20).

"Patience and longsuffering": These terms are closely related and refer to the attitude one has during trials.

"Patience" looks more at enduring difficult circumstance and persevering through problems, trails, tribulations, and so forth.

While "longsuffering" looks at enduring difficult people and forbearing the faults and offenses of others.

It is the power of God within which strengthens the inner man. The power of the Holy Spirit within produces the patience, longsuffering, and joyfulness.

Colossians 1:12 "Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:"

"Made us" means "qualified us to". The Greek word for "qualified" means "to make sufficient," "to empower," or "to authorize." God qualifies us only through the finished work of the Savior. Apart from God's grace through Jesus Christ, all people would be qualified only to receive His wrath.

"Inheritance": Literally "for the portion of the lot." Each believer will receive his own individual portion of the total divine inheritance (see the note on Romans 8:17), an allusion to the partitioning of Israel's inheritance in Canaan (Num. 26:52-56; 33:1-54; Joshua. 14:1-2; see notes on 1 Peter 1:3-5).

"In light": Scripture represents "light" intellectually as divine truth (Psalm 119:130), and morally as divine purity (Eph. 5:8-14; 1 John 1:5). The saint's inheritance exists in the spiritual realm of truth and purity where God Himself dwells (1 Tim. 6:16). Light then, is a synonym for God's kingdom (John 8:12; 2 Cor. 4:6; Rev. 21:23; 22:5).

This verse also might be translated "thanking the Father, for He made us fit to share in the salvation belonging to the saints who are in the light."

"Light" is the ethical condition in which God's children live. Namely, that of spiritual understanding, with its accompanying morality and happiness.

It is the Father through Jesus Christ our Lord which makes us acceptable unto Him. The righteousness of Christ puts us in right standing with the Father. Jesus is the Light of the world.

Acts 26:18 "To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

Our inheritance is in Jesus. We receive the inheritance because of our faith.

Hebrews 9:15 "And for this cause he is the mediator of the new testament, that by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions [that were] under the first testament, they which are called might receive the promise of eternal inheritance."

John 8:12 "Then spake Jesus again unto them, saying, I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life."

We are in Light, if we are Christians, because we are in Jesus and He is the Light.

Colossians Chapter 1 Questions

  1. Who was the letter written to?
  2. Where was Paul when he wrote this book?
  3. Approximately when was it written?
  4. The people in this area were caught up in what?
  5. What is the main message in Colossians?
  6. What does Paul call himself in verse 1?
  7. Why did Paul become an apostle?
  8. In what sense was Timothy Paul's brother?
  9. Who was the letter addressed to?
  10. What do Paul's letters always start with?
  11. What does the name, Lord Jesus Christ, tell us?
  12. What had Paul heard about them?
  13. What is the hope of the believer?
  14. Wherever in the world this gospel is preached it produces ______.
  15. In Acts chapter 2 verse 41, how many souls are added in one day?
  16. Paul names _______ who is a faithful minister to them?
  17. Who had told Paul of the great love of these people?
  18. Paul was praying that they be filled with what?
  19. How do wisdom and knowledge differ?
  20. That ye might walk __________ of the Lord.
  21. How can we walk worthy?
  22. What strengthens the inner man?
  23. What puts us in right standing with the Father?
  24. Who is the mediator of the New Testament?
  25. We receive an inheritance, because of our _______.

Colossians Chapter 1 Continued

Colossians 1:13 "Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated [us] into the kingdom of his dear Son:"

"Delivered us": The Greek term means "to draw oneself" or "to deliver," and refers to the believer's spiritual liberation by God from Satan's kingdom. Which, in contrast to the realm of light with truth and purity, is the realm of darkness (Luke 22:53), with only deception and wickedness (1 John 2:9, 11).

"Kingdom": In its basic sense, a group of people ruled by a king. More than just the future, earthly millennial kingdom, this everlasting kingdom (2 Pet. 1:11), speaks of the realm of salvation in which all believers live in current and eternal spiritual relationship with God under the care and authority of Jesus Christ (see note on Matt. 3:2).

"His dear son" (Matt. 3:17; 12:18; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35; Eph. 1:6; 2 Pet. 1:17; see notes on John 17:23-26). The Father gave this kingdom to the Son He loves, as an expression of eternal love. That means that every person the Father calls and justifies is a love gift from Him to the Son (see notes on John 6:37, 44).

"Darkness" is the religious state in which unbelievers exist, namely, that of spiritual ignorance with its attending immorality and misery.

In the last lesson, we began by speaking of how we are to walk in the Light of the Lord Jesus Christ, our Savior. Light does away with darkness. Darkness is the absence of Light. Darkness does not need a generator, Light demands a generator. The source of all power of Light is Jesus Christ who is the Light.

Darkness has no power over Light. Light destroys darkness. Before we come to Jesus, we are living in darkness. Paul was very familiar with this, because it was the Light of Jesus that stopped him in his tracks and turned him around. This power of darkness is the dominion of Satan. Satan cannot survive when the Light of the world is applied. Darkness is, and always has been, opposed to the Light.

Acts 26:18 "To open their eyes, [and] to turn [them] from darkness to light, and [from] the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me."

When we become a Christian, we are snatched away from Satan and become, immediately, sons of God.

Colossians 1:14 "In whom we have redemption through his blood, [even] the forgiveness of sins:"

"Redemption": The Greek word means "to deliver by payment of ransom," and was used of freeing slaves from bondage. Here it refers to Christ freeing believing sinners from slavery to sin (Eph. 1:7; 1 Col. 1:30; see note on Rom. 3:24).

Some later manuscripts follow "redemption" with "through His blood" (verse 20). A reference not limited to the fluid as if the blood had saving properties in its chemistry, but an expression pointing to the totality of Christ's atoning work as a sacrifice for sin. This is a frequently used metonym in the New Testament (see Eph. 1:7; 2:13; Heb. 9:14; 1 Pet. 1:19).

The word "cross" (as in verse 20), is used similarly to refer to the whole atoning work (see 1 Cor. 1:18; Gal. 6:12, 14; Eph. 2:16; see note on Rom. 5:9).

"The forgiveness of sins": The Greek word is a composite of two words that mean "to pardon" or "grant remission of a penalty" (Psalm 103:12; Micah 7:19; Eph. 1:7; see notes on 2 Cor. 5:19-21).

"Blood" reminds the Colossians of the enormous price and sacrifice paid to secure their redemption. Redemption then, is achieved by the atonement wrought by Jesus' death (Eph. 1:7).

It was the precious shed blood of Jesus that abolished our sins. The blood of an animal in the sacrifices in the Old Testament, could not do away with sin, or clear the conscience of the sinner. The blood of an animal covered the sin. The precious blood of Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, abolished sin for those who will believe.

Revelation 1:5 "And from Jesus Christ, [who is] the faithful witness, [and] the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood,"

We will see in the following Scripture that Jesus paid the price for our sin, when He shed His blood on the cross to remove our sin.

Matthew 26:28 "For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins."

This next Scripture says it all.

1 John 1:7 "But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin."

Verses 15-20: One component in the heresy threatening the Colossian church was the denial of the deity of Christ. Paul combats that damning element of heresy with an emphatic defense of Christ's deity.

Colossians 1:15 "Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:"

"Image of the invisible God" (see note on Heb. 1:3). The Greek work for "image" is eikon, from which the English word "icon" derives. It means, "copy" or "likeness." Jesus Christ is the perfect image, the exact likeness, of God and is in the very form of God (Phil. 2:6; John 1:14; 14:9), and has been so from all eternity. By describing Jesus in this manner, Paul emphasizes that He is both the representation and manifestation of God. Thus, He is fully God in every way (2:9; John 8:58; 10:30-33; Heb. 1:8).

"First-born" here signifies two things:

(1) Temporal priority. As the firstborn child in a family is born before his brother and sisters, similarly Christ existed before Creation. He existed before the universe was created. "And owing to the privileges usually given an oldest child, "first-born" also signifies:

(2) Positional priority. The firstborn in a family was customarily accorded more honor, greater authority, or large share of the inheritance, and so held a privileged position supreme over the universe. Therefore, when Paul declares Christ to be "the first-born of every creature," the apostle does not mean that He is the first person whom God created. Paul instead means that Christ is earlier than, as well as preeminent in, all creation.

We are now looking at the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. He is the image of the Father.

John 14:9 "Jesus saith unto him, Have I been so long time with you, and yet hast thou not known me, Philip? he that hath seen me hath seen the Father; and how sayest thou [then], Shew us the Father?"

This one Scripture lets us know that Jesus is the image of His Father. Jesus is the only begotten Son of the Father. You and I are sons of God through adoption. Jesus is Creator God. We are His creation.

Psalms 89:27 "Also I will make him [my] firstborn, higher than the kings of the earth."

The Spirit of God hovered over Mary and she conceived of the Spirit of God. Jesus was the firstborn Son of God. Christians are the sons of God being purchased for the Father with the precious shed blood of Jesus. God is a Spirit. He is also, the presence of the greatest Light there is. Jesus is the reflection of the Father, not in the physical sense, but in the spiritual sense.

Colossians 1:16 "For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether [they be] thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:"

"Thrones, or dominions or principalities or powers" (2:15; Rom. 8:38; Eph. 1:21; 3:10; 6:12; 1 Pet. 3:22; Jude 6). These are various categories of angels whom Christ created and rules over.
There is no comment regarding whether they are holy or fallen, since His is Lord of both groups.

The false teachers had incorporated into their heresy the worship of angels (see note on 2:18), including the lie that Jesus was one of them, merely a spirit created by God and inferior to Him.

Paul rejected that and made it clear that angels, whatever their rank, whether holy or fallen, are mere creatures, and their Creator is none other than the preeminent One, the Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. The purpose of his catalog of angelic ranks is to show the immeasurable superiority of Christ over any being the false teachers might suggest.

"All things were created by him and for him" (Rom. 11:33-36; see notes on John 1:3; Heb. 1:2). As God, Jesus created the material and spiritual universe for His pleasure and glory.

This verse provides the reason Christ is called the "first-born" (in verse 15). Paul's rationale is that: Since "by him were all things created," then;

(1) Christ must have existed before the universe, and

(2) He must be greater than all He made.

"Thrones ... dominions ... principalities ... powers" all refer to angelic beings (Eph. 1:21; 3:10). "Thrones" refer to angels who sit on thrones as rulers. "Dominions" refer to domains or kingdoms over which these heavenly beings reign. "Principalities" refer to rulers. And "powers" refer to angelic monarchs who wield regal power.

Since Christ created these various ranks of angels, He is supreme over them. Striking a blow at the Colossian heresy advocating angel worship (2:18). This text forbids Christians to pay homage to angels or other heavenly beings created by God.

As we said before, the One we call Jesus, who was the Word of God in heaven, is Creator God.

John 1:1-3 "In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God." "The same was in the beginning with God." "All things were made by him; and without him was not any thing made that was made."

The universe, and everything in it, was created by the Lord. We see in the next verse why He created them.

Revelation 4:11 "Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honor and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created."

God is Spirit, so we can see that it would not be just the things we can see with our physical eyes that He created. Actually, man is a spirit. We are made in the image of God, and if God is Spirit, then we are spirit. We live in a house of flesh, but the real person within that flesh is spirit.

We could get into a deep study here on the fact that all things that exist, are actually existing in His power. He gave all things, whether visible or invisible, the power to be. It is the Lord who really decides who will be president or king. This is one reason we must respect the office. Sometimes we cannot respect the officeholder, but we must respect the office.

It is a creation of the Word of God. All existence was in Him from the beginning. The purposes of God are sometimes carried through by those He has given power and authority on the earth.

Colossians 1:17 "And he is before all things, and by him all things consist."

"He is before all things": When the universe had its beginning, Christ already existed, thus by definition He must be eternal (Micah 5:2; John 1:1-2; 8:58; 1 John 1:1; Rev. 22:13).

"Consist": Christ sustains the universe, maintaining the power and balance necessary to life's existence and continuity (Heb. 1:3). That is, by Him all things are held together; Christ now preserves all that He made in Creation.

We read in Genesis, In the beginning God. This word used for God is covered in the following Scripture.

1 John 5:7 "For there are three that bear record in heaven, the Father, the Word, and the Holy Ghost: and these three are one."

They are all the Spirit of God. Each is separate, but are all in total agreement in the Spirit. Notice, in the few words from Genesis, it says "in", not at. We are speaking of the great I Am. I Am, means, the Eternal One who exists. I Am being the present tense, but that present tense is for all of eternity.

God is God of those who live. We live, and move, and have our being in Jesus Christ our Lord. Jesus is the Alpha and the Omega, the Beginning and the End.

Colossians 1:18 "And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all [things] he might have the preeminence."

"He is the head of the body" means, "He himself is the Head of the body." The word himself translates the Greek intensive pronoun signifying that Jesus, rather than any angelic being, is the churches' Head (leader).

Paul uses the human body as a metaphor for the church, of which Christ serves as the "head." Just as a body is controlled from the brain, so Christ controls every part of the church and gives it life and direction (Eph. 4:15; 5:23 see notes on 1 Cor. 12:4-27).

"Who is the beginning" (or, "He is the beginning"), justifies calling Jesus the Head of the church (verse 18a). Beginning means "cause," or "origin" as (in Revelation 3:14). Why then, is He the church's Head? Because His is the "origin" from which the church comes, or the "cause" of her existence. Also, because He is "the first-born" from the dead, that is, the first of a new creation, the church, to be resurrected, never to die again.

"That in all things he might have the preeminence" (or, "so that in all things He alone has become preeminent"): Now that Jesus is Head of the church, He "alone" holds the preeminent position in both the first creation (the universe), and in the new creation (the church).

This refers to both source and preeminence. The church had its origins in the Lord Jesus (Eph. 1:4), and He gave life to the church through His sacrificial death and resurrection to become its Sovereign.

Thus, Jesus should hold first place in the believer's life. This occurs when one bows to His authority, obeys His Word, yields to His Spirit, submits to His church leaders, does His will, and bestows their chief affections on Him.

"The firstborn from the dead": Jesus was the first chronologically to be resurrected, never to die again. Of all who have been or ever will be raised from the dead, and that includes all men (John 5:28-29), Christ is supreme.

The body of Christ is His church. Every believer in Christ is part of that body. Jesus is the first of the firstfruits. Because He arose, we shall rise also. We are the inheritance of Jesus Christ. He has quickened our spirit to everlasting life in Him. Flesh and blood does not inherit the kingdom.

John 3:6 "That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit."

There is a natural body and there is a spiritual body. It is the spiritual body which make up the body of Christ. We must bear in mind that He is the head, we make up the body.

Verses 19-20: "For" gives two reasons for Jesus' "pre-eminence" (verse 18):

(1) All the "fullness" of deity is in Him. Since He is fully God, He ought to be preeminent.

(2) By Christ's death, God reconciles the universe to Himself (verse 20).

Colossians 1:19 "For it pleased [the Father] that in him should all fullness dwell;"

"All fullness dwell" a term likely used by those in the Colossian heresy to refer to divine powers and attributes they believed were divided among various emanations. Paul countered that by asserting that the fullness of deity, all the divine powers and attributes, was not spread out among created beings, but completely dwelt in Christ alone (2:9).

We will see in the next chapter of this book the following.

Colossians 2:9 "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

Actually the Spirit of the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost were all caught up in the working of the Spirit within the body of Jesus. They all agreed on the plan of salvation, even at the beginning. Just as all 3 were present at the baptism of Jesus. Jesus, being baptized, the Voice from heaven saying this is my beloved Son (Father), and the Dove of the Holy Spirit which lit upon Jesus.

Their plans were being carried out in Jesus. They were all pleased with their plan in Him.

Colossians 1:20 "And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, [I say], whether [they be] things in earth, or things in heaven."

"Reconcile all things unto himself": The Greek word for "reconcile" means "to change" or "exchange." Its New Testament usage refers to a change in the sinner's relationship to
God (see notes on Rom. 5:10; 2 Cor. 5:18-21). Man is reconciled to God when God restores man to a right relationship with Him through Jesus Christ.

An intensified form for "reconcile" is used in this verse to refer to the total and complete reconciliation of believers and ultimately "all things" in the created universe (Rom. 8:21; 2 Peter 3:10-13; Rev. 2:1). This text does not teach that as a result, all will believe; rather it teaches that all will ultimately submit (Phil. 2:9-11).

"Having made peace" (see note on Roman 5:1). God and those He saved are no longer at enmity with each other.

"The blood of his cross" (see note on verse 14).

Jesus is the One who reconciles and He is the reconciliation as well. The blood of Jesus Christ puts all who will believe in reconciliation with God. It is very difficult to separate Jesus from the Father here. Jesus opened the entrance to the Father when the veil was torn from top to bottom in the temple when He was crucified.

His blood makes it possible for all who believe to stand in front of Jesus (the Judge of the world), justified. In that sense, He reconciled us to himself and with the Father with His shed blood at Calvary.

We know also, that Jesus is the King of Peace. To know that you are just as if you had never sinned (justified), would bring you perfect peace. Jesus (the Word), is Creator God. It is understandable that He would be the One to justify His creation. Since He created all things, He also justified all things.

Colossians 1:21 "And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in [your] mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled"

"Alienated and enemies": The Greek term for "alienated" means "estranged," "cut off," or "separated." Before they were reconciled, all people were completely estranged from God (Eph. 2:12-13).

Unbelievers hate God and resent His holy standard because they love "evil deeds" (John 3:19-20; 15:18, 24-25). There is alienation from both sides, since God hates "all who do iniquity" (Psalm 5:5).

Reconciliation is the act whereby God, through Christ's atonement, brings men who are at odds with Him, back into a peaceful, proper relationship with Himself.

To be "alienated" is to be away from God. The mind is an enemy of God, before it is changed to the mind of Christ.

Romans 8:7 "Because the carnal mind [is] enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be."

The carnal mind is enemy of God, because it is of the flesh. All of mankind had a fleshly nature, before they came to God. The mind of man is not what the Lord Jesus wants, He wants your heart. When our heart is stayed upon God, then the mind will follow.

Colossians 1:22 "In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:"

"Reconciled (ending of verse 21) ... death": Christ's substitutionary death on the cross that paid the full penalty for the sin of all who believe made reconciliation possible and actual (see notes on 2 Cor. 5:18-21; Rom. 3:25; 5:9-10; 8:3; also on verse 20).

"In the body of his flesh through death" (or, "by His fleshly body through death"): The Colossian heretics may have argued that Jesus' humanity and death indicate His inferiority to the angelic beings in the universe. Paul turns this argument against them, showing that His death points to His superiority; for His death is the divine means of achieving reconciliation to God.

"To present you holy ... in his sight" (or bring you holy ... into His presence"): This expresses the ultimate purpose of reconciliation: it is to eventually usher the believer, made perfectly holy, into the heavenly presence of God.

"Holy" refers to the believer's positional relationship to God, he is separated from sin and set apart to God by imputed righteousness. This is justification (see notes on Romans 3:3; 24-26; Phil. 3:8-9). Because of the believer's union with Christ in His death and resurrection, God considers Christians as holy as His Son (Eph. 1:4; 2 Cor. 5:21).

Christians are also "blameless" (without blemish), and "beyond reproach" (no one can bring a charge against them; (Rom. 8:33; Phil. 2:15). We are to be presented to Christ, when we meet Him, as a chaste bride (Eph. 5:25-27; 2 Cor. 11:2).

It was the body of the Lord Jesus Christ that suffered death for our sins. It is very important for them to realize that Jesus had a physical body. He suffered on the cross in His body of flesh, as you or I would suffer. We are without blemish, without blame, in fact justified by the blood of the Lord Jesus Christ.

Jesus made us acceptable before the Father, when He washed us in His precious blood. It is Jesus who made us acceptable to stand before Himself as Judge of the world. He also, opened the way to the Father for us.

Colossians 1:23 "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and [be] not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, [and] which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;"

"Continue in the faith" (Acts 11:23; 14:22). Those who have been reconciled will persevere in faith and obedience because, in addition to being declared righteous, they are actually made new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). With a new disposition that loves God, hates sin, desires obedience, and is energized by the indwelling Holy Spirit (John 8:30-32; 1 John 2:19).

Rather than defect from the gospel they heard, true believers will remain solid on Christ who is the only foundation (1 Cor. 3:11), and faithful by the enabling grace of God (Phil. 1:6; 2:11-13).

"Preached to every creature" (Mark 16:15). The gospel has no racial boundaries. Having reached Rome, where Paul was when he wrote Colossians, it had reached the center of the known world.

"If ye continue in the faith" (or, "since you will persevere in the faith"). The Colossians' future entrance into God's heavenly presence depends on whether they remain in the Christian faith. The words "since you will persevere", indicate that they will remain loyal to Christ. Perseverance in the Christian's faith is a test of the reality on one's trust in Christ. This verse implies that true believers will persevere.

Paul is expressing the fact that they must continue in the faith they have received. The only way to be "grounded and settled"; is to study the Bible, and have faith in it.

Paul says, that the Word of God had been preached to every human. Probably, this means the known world at that time. It could even mean the world around Israel. Paul is saying, he has done all he could to spread the Word to all of humanity.

Colossians 1:24 "Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body's sake, which is the church:"

"My sufferings": Paul's present imprisonment (Acts 28:16, 30). Paul's motivation for enduring suffering was to benefit and build Christ's church. (Phil. 1:13, 29; 12:9-10).

"Fill up that which is behind": Paul was experiencing the persecution intended for Christ. Despite His death on the cross, Christ's enemies had not gotten their fill of inflicting injury on Him. So, they turned their hatred on those who preached the gospel (John 15:18, 24; 16:1-3). It was in that sense that Paul filled up what was lacking in Christ's affliction (see notes on 2 Cor. 1:5; Gal. 6:17).

"The afflictions of Christ:" Since Paul is a member of the body of Christ; the Lord Himself suffers when His apostle suffers. These afflictions are more Christ's that Paul's. Rather than detracting from his ministry, Paul's afflictions actually enhanced it, as they exist "for his body's sake, which is the church."

Paul counted it a pleasure to suffer for Christ. He was willing to suffer so that these Colossians could know the truth. The body in the verse above, is the body of Christ, the church.

Colossians 1:25 "Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;"

"Dispensation" meaning stewardship (1 Cor. 4:1-2; 9:17). A steward was a slave who managed his master's household. Supervising the other servants, dispensing resources, and handling business and financial affairs. Paul viewed his ministry as a stewardship from the Lord.

The church is God's household (1 Tim. 3:16), and Paul was given the task of caring for, feeding, and leading the churches, for which he was accountable to God (Heb. 13:17). All believers are responsible for managing the abilities and resources God gives them (see note on 1 Peter 4:10).

The expression "according to the dispensation of God" might be rendered "because of the divine assignment." Paul was a "minister" or servant to the church because of the divine assignment given him.

That assignment was "to fulfill the word of God," that is, to preach the gospel over a wide geographical area, winning converts to Christianity. The Greek word translated here as "fulfill": is rendered (in Romans 15:19), as "fully preached."

"Fulfill the word of God": This refers to Paul's single-minded devotion to completely fulfill the ministry God gave him to preach the whole counsel of God to those to whom God sent him (Acts 20:27; 2 Tim. 4:7).

Colossians 1:26 "[Even] the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:"

"Mystery" is the divine truth which, because it is too profound for man to discover and comprehend without help, was previously unknown but is now disclosed to man by God through His apostles and prophets (2:2; 4:3. See notes on Matt. 13:11; 1 Cor. 2:7; Eph. 3:4-5). This refers to truth, hidden until now, but revealed for the first time to the saints in the New Testament.

Such truth includes the mystery of the incarnate God (2:2, 3, 9), Israel's unbelief (Rom. 11:25), lawlessness (2 Thess. 2:7), the unity of Jew and Gentile made one in the church (Eph. 3:3-6), and the rapture of the church (1 Cor. 15:51). In this passage, the mystery is specifically identified (in verse 27).

1 Corinthians 1:23 But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumbling block, and unto the Greeks foolishness;

To those who do not accept Jesus as their Savior, it is foolishness.

Colossians 1:27 "To whom God would make known what [is] the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:"

"Gentiles ... Christ in you": The Old Testament predicted the coming of the Messiah and that the Gentiles would partake of salvation (Isa. 42:6; 45:21-22; 49:6; 52:10; 60:1-3; Psalms 22:67; 65:5; 98:2-3). But it did not reveal that the Messiah would actually live in each member of His redeemed church, made up mostly of Gentiles.

That believers, both Jew and gentile, now possess the surpassing riches of the indwelling Christ is the glorious revealed mystery (John 14:23; Rom. 8:9-10; Gal. 2:20; Eph. 1:7, 17-18; 3:8-10, 16-19).

The specific mystery here is "Christ in you." It was no secret in the Old Testament that Gentiles would be saved; but that Christ would dwell in Gentile converts was unknown at that time. In further explaining this "mystery" Paul equates "Christ in you" with "the hope of glory."

"The hope of glory": The indwelling Spirit of Christ is the guarantee to each believer of future glory that is, for a Christian it is the joyful and confident expectation of salvation. (Rom. 8:29; Eph. 1:13-14; 1 Peter 1:3-4).

"Glory" here refers to the glorious state to be enjoyed by the believer in heaven. Thus, the hope of glory refers to the certainty of heaven. That Christ's life, character, virtues, values, thoughts, attitudes, and deeds are present in a Christian is evidence that he is headed toward glory (heaven).

It is the will of God for those who believe in Jesus Christ to receive the knowledge of the mystery, which is, Christ in you, and is your hope of Glory. We have discussed before that what really happens when a Christian is baptized is, he is buried in a watery grave and rises to new life in Jesus.

The life that this Christian lives after he, or she has received Jesus, is actually Jesus living in them. The Christian is dead to the lust of the world through the desires of the flesh. They are now quickened in their spirit to everlasting life in Jesus Christ. The hope is in the resurrection.

Colossians 1:28 "Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:"

"Perfect": To be perfect or mature, to be like Christ (see notes on Romans 8:29; Phil. 3:12-14, 19-20; 1 John 2:6; 3:2). This spiritual maturity is defined (in 2:2).

This is what I call making Jesus Christ Lord of your life. We are not perfect in the flesh, but in the spirit. The Christ in us is perfect. We have put on Christ, as well as having Him inside of us.

Not only that, but He has clothed us in a white linen garment (free from sin), washed in His blood. We have put on His righteousness.

Colossians 1:29 "Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily."

"I also labor, striving according to his working": Here is the balance of Christian living. Paul gave the effort to serve and honor God with all his might. "Labor" refers to working to the point of exhaustion. The Greek work for "striving" give us the English word "agonize", and refers to the effort required to compete in an athletic event.

At the same time, he knew the effective "striving" or work, with spiritual and eternal result was being done by God through him (see notes on Phil. 2:11-13; 1 Cor. 15:10, 58).

This is simply saying, Paul desires them to have the same relationship with the Lord Jesus that he has. He worked hard to win them all to Christ. His striving was not for his own benefit, but for the benefit of the people he preached to. Paul knows that even the desire to help them, is Christ in him wanting to help them.

Colossians Chapter 1 Continued Questions

  1. _________ does away with darkness.
  2. Darkness is the absence of ________.
  3. Darkness does not need a __________, but Light demands a ________.
  4. What caused Paul's life to change?
  5. This power of darkness is the dominion of ______.
  6. What do Christians become when they are snatched away from Satan?
  7. We have redemption through His ______.
  8. Tell what the difference is between the blood of the animal given for sin and the blood of Jesus?
  9. Who did Jesus abolish sin for?
  10. What is Jesus called in verse 15?
  11. Jesus is the only ____________ Son of the Father.
  12. All Christians are sons of God by _____________.
  13. Who did Mary conceive of?
  14. What was the price paid for the Christians to be adopted sons?
  15. Jesus is the reflection of the Father, not in the __________ sense, but in the _____________.
  16. He is, in fact, the brightness of the glory of the _________ ___.
  17. For by Him were all things ___________.
  18. Is this creation just in the earth?
  19. What was the name of Jesus in heaven, before He was named Jesus?
  20. Why was all of creation created?
  21. Describe what we are?
  22. Why must we respect the office of president or king?
  23. Who is the great I AM?
  24. What names of Jesus show His eternity?
  25. If Jesus is the head, who is the body?
  26. In this instance, what is the body?
  27. In whom does all the fullness of the Godhead dwell, bodily?
  28. How were the Father, Word, and Holy Ghost represented at the baptism of Jesus?
  29. How did He reconcile all things unto Himself?
  30. When did Jesus open the way to the Father for the believers?
  31. Who is Creator God?
  32. What does "alienated" mean?
  33. The ______ of the Lord Jesus suffered and died for our sins.
  34. How did Jesus make us acceptable unto the Father?
  35. What does "grounded and settled", in verse 23, mean?
  36. What is the mystery hidden from the world?
  37. Christ in you, the _______ of glory.
  38. How can we be perfect?

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Colossians 2

Colossians Chapter 2

Colossians 2:1 "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;"

"Great conflict": The word means "striving" and comes from the same root as (in 1:29). Both the Colossians and Laodiceans were among those for whom Paul struggled so hard in order to bring them to maturity.

"Laodicea": The chief city of Phrygia in the Roman province of Asia, located just South of Hierapolis in the Lycus River valley.

We see in this verse, that Paul had sent some of his people who actually did the founding of the church. It was at Paul's direction, so in a sense Paul did start this church. Paul had not actually been with them in person, because we see that they had not seen Paul's face.

In the first lesson, we had discussed that Paul started the church, and he did, because he had sent men that he had trained here.

The persons who worked with Paul had been trained by him, and they were actually working under his supervision. Paul's concern for them was the same as for the churches he physically started, because he felt responsible for what had been taught them at the first.

Colossians 2:2 "That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;"

"Full assurance of understanding": "Understanding" of the fullness of the gospel, along with inner encouragement and shared love, mark mature believers who, thereby, enjoy the "assurance" of salvation (see notes on 2 Peter 1:5-8).

This verse could also be translated: "That their minds may be strengthened by being lovingly instructed, and so obtain all the wealth of assurance that comes from (proper spiritual understanding). More precisely, to obtain a mature knowledge of God's mystery about Christ." The Colossians' "minds" need to be "instructed" in the truth to safeguard them against the circulating heresy.

"Mystery ... Christ" (see note on 1:26). The mystery Paul referred to here is that the Messiah Christ is God incarnate Himself (1 Tim. 3:16).

Paul is trying to do what he can to put them at ease. Paul is trying to emphasize the bond that should be between all believers in Christ. The heart of man is what he really is. Whatever we believe in our heart determines what we really are. The following Scriptures have a great deal toward the explanation of the mystery.

Matthew 11:25-27 "At that time Jesus answered and said, I thank thee, O Father, Lord of heaven and earth, because thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent, and hast revealed them unto babes." "Even so, Father: for so it seemed good in thy sight." "All things are delivered unto me of my Father: and no man knoweth the Son, but the Father; neither knoweth any man the Father, save the Son, and [he] to whomsoever the Son will reveal [him]."

One of the most important parts of our salvation is found (in Romans 10);

Romans 10:9 "That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved."

We may not fully understand how salvation is accomplished. We must believe that Jesus paid the price for our salvation, and that He rose from the dead. This must not be a surface confession of this, we must truly believe in our heart.

Colossians 2:3 "In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

"Hid" does not mean unknown. For not all these "treasures of wisdom and knowledge" are unknown to man (as 1:26 clearly shows). "Hid" signifies "laid up," "stored away," or "reserved." Christ, then, is the source from which all wisdom and knowledge come.

"All the treasures" (verses 9, 10, 1:19). The false teachers threatening the Colossians claimed to possess a secret wisdom and transcendent knowledge available only to the spiritual elite.

In sharp contrast, Paul declared that all the richness of truth necessary for salvation, sanctification, and glorification is found in Jesus Christ, who Himself is God revealed (John 1:14; Rom 11:33-36; 1 Cor. 1:24, 30; 2:6-8; Eph. 1:8-9; 3:8-9).

All wisdom and knowledge are of God. Wisdom that we have, is a gift from God. The treasure of knowledge can be ours by the study of the Bible. The Holy Spirit reveals to us exactly what it is saying.

Colossians 2:4 "And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words."

"Beguile" means "deceive." Paul did not want the Colossians to be deceived by the persuasive rhetoric of the false teachers which assaulted the person of Christ. That is why throughout chapters 1 and 2, he stressed Christ's deity and His sufficiency both to save believers and bring them to spiritual maturity.

Man's knowledge and wisdom gotten from the world are not truth. God is Truth. From the very beginning, there had been false teachers who were there to try to separate the new converts from the realities of God. One thing that should have triggered them, and should trigger us, that something is false, is if it appeals to the flesh.

Colossians 2:5 "For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ."

"Absent in the flesh ... with you in the spirit": Because he was a prisoner, Paul was unable to be present with the Colossians. That did not mean however, that his love and concern for them was any less (1 Cor. 5:3-4; 1 Thess. 2:17). Their "good discipline and "stability" of faith; (both military terms depicting a solid rank of soldiers drawn up for battle), brought great joy to the apostle's heart.

This appears to me, to be very much like many of the churches of our day. They really are Christians, and really do want to do the will of God. They have just listened to some teachers who have confused them in certain areas. They were caught up in knowledge and the power of the mind. Unknowingly, they had been deceived. They had great faith in Christ.

Paul had discerned their problem in his spirit, since he was not there in person. He rejoiced over their faith in Christ being firm, but wanted them to be careful not to get into mind control.

Colossians 2:6 "As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, [so] walk ye in him:"

"Walk ye in him": "Walk" is the familiar New Testament term denoting the believer's daily conduct (1:10; 4:5; Rom. 6:4; 8:1, 4; 13:13; 1 Cor. 7:17; 2 Cor. 5:7; 10:3; 12:18; Gal. 5:16, 25; 6:16; Eph. 2:10; 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15; Phil. 3:16-18; 1 Thess. 2:12; 4:1, 12; 2 Thess. 3:11; 1 John 1:6-7; 2:6; 2 John 6; 3 John 3-4). To walk in Christ is to live a life patterned after His.

The verse may be paraphrased thus: "Therefore, just as you accepted the teaching that presents Jesus as both Messiah and Lord, so continue to maintain this relationship with Him." The recipients had been taught that Jesus is

(1) Messiah (the One divinely anointed to secure man's salvation), and

(2) Lord (the divine person to whom man submits in obedience).

The heretics denied Jesus' atoning death and lordship. So, the Colossians are urged to keep Him just as they were initially taught, as Messiah and Lord. They are to continue to look to Him for salvation and continue in submission to His authority.

This is just saying; walk every day with Christ in you making your decisions. Depend on His power within you, and not on your own power.

Colossians 2:7 "Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving."

"The faith": The sense here is objective, referring to the truth of Christian doctrine. Spiritual maturity develops upward from the foundation of biblical truth as taught and recorded by the apostles (3:16). This rooting, building, and establishing is in sound doctrine (1 Tim. 4:6; 2 Tim. 3:16-17; Titus 2:1).

Paul is saying; let your roots be in Jesus Christ. Base everything on Jesus, your rock of foundation. Keep the faith in Jesus Christ.

Be like an old oak tree that wind cannot easily move. When winds of false doctrine come, you will not be shaken, because you have your roots in Jesus. Have faith, without faith, it is impossible to please God. Think back on the teaching that brought you to the Lord in the first place. Be thankful to God for all things.

Colossians 2:8 "Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ."

"Spoil you": Here is the term for robbery. False teachers, who are successful in getting people to believe lies, rob them of truth, salvation, and blessing. "Spoil" could also be rendered, "carry you away from the truth by false teaching."

"Philosophy and vain deceit": "Philosophy" (literally "love of wisdom"), appears only here in the New Testament. The word referred to more than merely the academic discipline, but described any theory about God, the world, or the meaning of life.

Those embracing the Colossian heresy used it to describe the supposed higher knowledge they claimed to have attained. Paul however, equates the false teachers' philosophy with "empty" or worthless "deception" (1 Tim. 6:20; see note on 2 Cor. 10:5).

"Rudiments of the world" are elementary religious teachings coming from the world system. The Greek grammar suggests that the particular "philosophy" in view here, is "vain deceit." Not all philosophy then, is bad; when presented in a God-centered way, it can be helpful to believers.

Far from being advanced, profound knowledge, the false teachers' beliefs were simplistic and immature like all the rest of the speculations, ideologies, philosophies, and psychologies the fallen satanic and human system invents.

Paul is trying to remind them that it was not their great knowledge that brought them to Christ, but simple faith. The worldly education of man builds up the man. This brings vanity and pride; which God is opposed to.

The Jews had followed the traditions of men, and they had missed God. Paul is saying; fix your thoughts and faith in Christ. Philosophy, many times, questions God. Have faith; do not question God's purposes.

Colossians 2:9 "For in him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

"For" verifies the assertion (in verse 8), that the heretics' "philosophy" is in accord with the tradition of men and not with Christ or in line with Christian doctrine. This is done by stating that the whole of the divine nature ("all fullness of the Godhead"), dwells in Jesus in bodily form.

"Fullness of the Godhead": Christ possesses the fullness of the divine nature and attributes (see note on 1:19; John 1:14-16).

"Bodily": In Greek philosophical thought, matter was evil; spirit was good. Thus, it was unthinkable that God would ever take on a human body. Paul refutes that false teaching by stressing the reality of Christ's incarnation. Jesus was not only fully God, but fully human as well (see notes on Phil. 2:5-11).

This refutes the Colossians heresy denying the Son's full deity and that He possessed a body that could die and make atonement for sin.

When Jesus came to this earth to minister and save the lost, it was the will of not only Himself, but the Father and the Holy Ghost as well.

John 14:10 "Believest thou not that I am in the Father, and the Father in me? the words that I speak unto you I speak not of myself: but the Father that dwelleth in me, he doeth the works."

The fullness of the Godhead bodily means that God the Father, God the Word (Jesus), and God the Holy Spirit, all are Spirit, and the fullness of the Spirit of God dwelled in the body of Jesus on this earth.

The fullness of the Power, goodness, wisdom, etc. was in the flesh of Jesus. The power in the body of Jesus was without measure. He was actually God with us "Immanuel". He was the Spirit of God made real in the flesh.

Colossians 2:10 "And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:"

"Ye are complete in him" (or, "you are filled by Him"): Believers have been filled by Jesus with all the spiritual blessings they need; hence, they are "complete" and lacking nothing. This too, refutes the heresy that denied the sufficiency of Christ and encouraged Christians to look to other spiritual beings for help.

Believers are complete in Christ, both positionally by the imputed perfect righteousness of Christ (see note on 1:22), and the complete sufficiency of all heavenly resources for spiritual maturity (see notes on 2 Pet. 1:3-4).

Five of these blessings, with which believers have been filled, are listed (in verses 11-15). They are:

(1) Spiritual circumcision (verse 11);

(2) Being raised from the old life (verse 12);

(3) New life (verse 13);

(4) The removal of the curse of the law (verse 14); and

(5) The conquering of Satan and his demonic forces (verse 15).

"The head of all principality and power:": Jesus Christ is the creator and ruler of the universe and all its spiritual beings (see note on 1:16). not a lesser being emanating from God as the Colossian errorists maintained.

The key words in this Scripture are (in Him). We are hid in Christ, if we are Christians. It is actually the shed blood of Jesus covering the Christian which hides us from the enemy. Even the principalities and powers are all subject unto Him.

Philippians 2:10 "That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of [things] in heaven, and [things] in earth, and [things] under the earth;"

Verses 11-12: Circumcision made without hands": Circumcision symbolized mans' need for cleansing of the heart (Deut. 10:16; 30:6; Jer. 4:4; 9:26; Acts 7:51; Rom. 2:29), and was the outward sign of that cleansing of sin that comes by faith in God (Rom. 4:11; Phil. 3:3).

At salvation, believers undergo a spiritual "circumcision" by putting off the sins of the flesh (Rom. 6:6; 2 Cor. 5:17; Phil. 3:3; Titus 3:5). This is the new birth, the new creation in conversion. The outward affirmation of the already accomplished inner transformation is now the believer's baptism by water (Acts. 2:38).

Colossians 2:11 "In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:"

Circumcision denotes a cutting off or removal. The "circumcision" in view here is not physical but spiritual, whereby the ruling power of the believer's "flesh" or sinful nature is broken or removed by Christ.

This is speaking of the circumcision of the heart which occurs when we receive Jesus as our Savior. Jesus spiritually cuts away all the flesh away from the heart, and gives us a heart stayed upon Him.

Romans 2:29 "But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God."

This heart is what makes us a new creature in Christ. This new body desires to please God. We are no longer a flesh man, but a spiritual man. Our sins were nailed to the cross. We have now been quickened by the Spirit through faith in Jesus Christ.

Colossians 2:12 "Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with [him] through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead."

"Buried with him in baptism": This is not water baptism, but Spirit baptism, by which Christ brings the believer into an intimate relation with Himself and with His people (the church), through the Holy Spirit (1 Cor. 12:13).

"Ye are risen" signifies that God has raised the Colossians from the sins, habits, values, and guilt of their unconverted life, not allowing them to remain in their old ways and iniquities.

Romans 6:3-5 "Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death?" "Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life." "For if we have been planted together in the likeness of his death, we shall be also [in the likeness] of [his] resurrection:"

Colossians 2:13 "And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;"

"You ... hath he quickened": God gave them new (spiritual), life.

"Dead in your sins" (See notes on Eph. 2:1, 5). So, bound in the sphere of sin, the world (Eph. 2:12), the flesh (Rom. 8:8), and the devil (1 John 5:19), as to be unable to respond to spiritual stimuli; totally devoid of spiritual life. Paul further defines this condition of the unsaved (in 1 Cor. 2:14; Eph. 4:17-19; Titus 3:3).

"He quickened together with Him" (See notes on Eph. 2:1, 5). Only through union with Jesus Christ (verses 10-12), can those hopelessly dead in their sins receive eternal life (Eph. 2:5). Note that God takes the initiative and exerts the life-giving power to awaken and unite sinners with His Son; the spiritually dead have no ability to make themselves alive (Rom. 4:17; 2 Cor. 1:9).

"Forgiven you all trespasses" (1:14). God's free (Rom. 3:24), and complete (Rom. 5:20; Eph. 1:7), forgiveness of guilty sinners who put their faith in Jesus Christ is the most important reality in Scripture (Psalms 32:1; 130:3-4; Isa. 1:18; 55:7; Mica 7:18; Matt. 26:28; Acts 10:43; 13:38-39; Titus 3:4-7; Heb. 8:12).

The penalty for sin is death. We were condemned to eternal death before we received life in Jesus Christ. I love the word "all" in the verse above. When He took our sin on His body on the cross, it abolished all of our sin. When He rose on the third day, it gave all believers in Christ the hope that they would rise also.

Jesus is the quickening Spirit. He is life. When we receive Him, we receive Life. We are justified (just as if we had never sinned), because Jesus destroyed our sin.

Colossians Chapter 2 Questions

  1. What does verse 1 reveal about the founding of this church?
  2. How then did Paul found this church?
  3. What is Paul trying to emphasize in verse 2?
  4. What shows us what a man really is?
  5. What is the most important thing that brings us salvation?
  6. All wisdom and knowledge are of ____.
  7. How can the treasure of knowledge be ours?
  8. How were they trying to beguile these Christians?
  9. What is one thing that should make us know a teaching is false?
  10. Paul was not with them in person, but in what?
  11. What does verse 6 mean by "walk ye in Him"?
  12. What is Paul saying in verse 7?
  13. Beware lest any man spoil you through ____________.
  14. What had brought them to Christ?
  15. For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the _________ ________.
  16. What does "Immanuel" mean?
  17. What hides us from the enemy, if we are Christians?
  18. When is the heart circumcised?
  19. We are no longer a flesh man, but a ____________ man.
  20. We have now been quickened by the Spirit through _____ in ______ _______.

Colossians Chapter 2 Continued

Colossians 2:14 "Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;"

"Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances": This refers to the handwritten certificate of debt by which a debtor acknowledged his indebtedness. All people (Rom. 3:23), owe God an un-payable debt for violating His law (Gal. 3:10; James 2:10; Matt. 18:23-27), and are thus under sentence of death (Rom. 6:23).

Paul graphically compares God's forgiveness of believers' sins to wiping ink off a parchment. Through Christ's sacrificial death on the cross, God has totally erased our certificate of indebtedness and made our forgiveness complete.

Nailing it to his cross": This is another metaphor for forgiveness. The list of the crimes of a crucified criminal was nailed to the cross with that criminal to declare the violations he was being punished for (as in the case of Jesus, as noted in Matt. 27:37).

Believer's sins were all put to Christ's account, nailed to His cross as He paid the penalty in their place for them all, thus satisfying the just wrath of God against crimes requiring punishment in full.

"The handwriting of ordinances": In secular literature, this "handwriting" was an IOU signed by the debtor. Here it might be paraphrased, "a certificate of debt consisting of decrees." This refers to the Mosaic Law, which the Jews had contracted to obey, and to which Gentiles by conscience were obligated.

Owing to man's inability to fulfill this obligation of obedience, he was therefore indebted to God. But through Christ this debt was graciously blotted out.

The word "blotting" means that they were done away with forever. Our sin was not covered, it was blotted out. Our sin is gone. Our sin died on the body of Jesus on the cross.

Acts 3:19 "Repent ye therefore, and be converted, that your sins may be blotted out, when the times of refreshing shall come from the presence of the Lord;"

Jesus fulfilled the law, when He was our perfect sacrifice on the cross. He was, in fact, our Substitute.

Colossians 2:15 "[And] having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it."

"Having spoiled": In yet another element of the cross work, Paul tells that the cross spelled the ultimate doom of Satan and his evil host of fallen angels (Genesis 3:15; John 12:31; 16:11; Hebrews 2:14).

"Having spoiled principalities and powers": By the Cross God disarmed or deprived Satan and all his demonic horde of the power and sway with which they formerly gripped the Colossians. By this statement, Paul might well have asked the Colossians, how can you give ear to any doctrine advocating angel worship (verse 18), when they are all subject to God? (See note on 1:16).

While His body was dead, His living, divine spirit went to the abode of demons and announced His triumph over sin, Satan, death, and hell (see notes on 1 Peter 3:18-19).

"Made a shew of them openly": The picture is that of a victorious Roman general parading his defeated enemies through the streets of Rome (see notes on 2 Cor. 2:14-16). Christ won the victory over the demon forces on the cross, where their efforts to halt God's redemptive plan were ultimately defeated. For more on that triumphant imagery (see notes on 2 Cor. 2:14-16).

Sin was a terrible power over all of us, before we were saved. The penalty of sin (death), was a constant threat. Usually principalities and powers are speaking of the power of darkness.

It was Satan, who Jesus destroyed on the cross. Satan was defeated. He even lost the keys to hell. Jesus took them away from him. Jesus went into hell, and took the keys, and brought out many captives with Him.

Verses 16-17: Paul warns the Colossians against trading their freedom in Christ for a set of useless, man-made, legalistic rules (Gal. 5:1). Legalism is powerless to save or to restrain sin.

Colossians 2:16 "Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of a holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath [days]:"

"Therefore" (draws on 2:14): Since God has annulled the law, the Colossians are to "Let no man ... judge you" regarding dietary matters ("meat ... drink"), or regarding religious calendar observations.

The false teachers sought to impose some sort of dietary regulations, probably based on those of the Mosaic Law (Lev. 11). Since they were under the New Covenant, the Colossians (like all Christians), were not obligated to observe the Old Testament dietary restrictions (Mark 7:14-19; Acts 10:9-15; Rom. 14:17; 1 Cor. 8:8; 1 Tim. 4:1-5; Heb. 9:9-10).

"Holyday": The annual religious celebrations of the Jewish calendar (e.g. Passover, Pentecost, or Tabernacles (Booths); Lev. 23).

New moon": The monthly sacrifice offered on the first day of each month (Num. 10:10; 28:11-14; Psalm 81:3).

"Sabbath days": The weekly celebration of the seventh day, which pictured God's rest from creation. The New Testament clearly teaches that Christians are not required to keep it (see notes of Acts 20:7; Rom. 14:5-6).

The only Judge that Christians should be concerned with is Jesus. Jesus has placed His law in the heart of the Christian. We call it conscience. If you do not feel guilty for not keeping these specified days, it is because you have a clear conscience. The men spoken of here, are those who would put you back under the law. You cannot please men. Stop trying. Just please God.

Colossians 2:17 "Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body [is] of Christ."

"Shadow ... body": The ceremonial aspects of the Old Testament law (dietary regulations, festivals, sacrifices) were mere shadows pointing to Christ. Since Christ, the reality has come, the shadows have no value (Hebrews 8:5; 10:1).

This verse could be translated: "For these were a shadow of future things, but the substance belongs to Christ." The Mosaic dietary restrictions and calendar celebrations (verse 16), were a "shadow of things to come", in that they foreshadowed or foretold of coming spiritual blessings.

But the substance of these blessings or divine benefits themselves come; not from the law, but from Christ. The Colossians then, should not allow heretics to tie them up with legalistic rules and regulations. They should instead occupy themselves with all the blessings granted them through Christ.

If we are the body of Christ and He is the Head, we should do as the Head instructs us. He controls us.

Colossians 2:18 "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,"

"Beguile you of your reward" (or "rob you of your prize"): The heretics, if their doctrine were accepted, would rob the Colossians of their spiritual blessings. These false teachers displayed false "humility", and advocated a gospel of "worshiping of angels," that is, paying homage to angelic beings.

Paul warns the Colossians not to allow the false teachers to cheat or defraud them of their temporal blessings or eternal reward (2 John 8), by luring them into irrational mysticism.

"Voluntary humility": Since the false teachers took great delight in it, their 'self-abasement" was actually pride, which God hates (Prov. 6:16-17).

"Worshipping of angels": The beginning of a heresy that was to plague the region around Colossae for several centuries and far beyond, a practice the Bible clearly prohibits (Matt. 4:10; Rev. 19:10; 22:8-9).

"Things that he has not seen": Like virtually all cults and false religions, the Colossian false teachers based their teaching on visions and revelations they had supposedly received. Their claims were false; since Jesus Christ is God's final and complete (see notes on verses 3-4), revelation to mankind (Heb. 1:1-2).

"Fleshly mind" (see note on Rom. 8:6). This describes the unregenerate and is further defined (in Eph. 4:17-19).

"Intruding into those things which he hath not seen": The heretics claimed to have witnessed numerous revelations and visions.

Angels are part of the creation. They are not the Creator. We should worship and serve only God. This is the mistake that a third of the angels made when they followed the archangel Lucifer. The best advice is worship the Creator and not any of His creation.

Colossians 2:19 "And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God."

There is no spiritual growth for the body (the church), apart from union with the Head, Christ (John 15:4-5; 2 Pet. 1:3).

The Greek word "holding" means to hold fast to someone, so as to remain united with him. The "Head" is Christ. Thus, "not holding the Head" reveals that the local heretics possessed no relationship with Christ; they were not therefore true Christians. As the "Head" is Christ, so the "body" is figuratively represented to be the church, and the "joints" and "bands" are by implication the individual believers within the church.

"Having nourishment ministered, and knit together" means being supported and united. From Christ (the "Head"), then, the church ("body"), derives spiritual growth as it is supported and united by the various ministering believers ("joints," "bands") in the assembly.

All Christians, who make up the body of Christ, should grow by letting the Head (Jesus Christ), direct them in all they do. The body can only function properly when the head gives the signals to each part of the body.

In a human, the brain sends impulses to the arms and legs and other parts of the body for them to function properly. If the signals are not received from the brain, the other parts of the body do not function properly. It is the same thing in the spiritual sense. Let the Head control the body, or else the body will not function properly.

Colossians 2:20 "Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,"

"If ye be dead" (or, "since you died"): Paul's expression, "to die," figuratively means to be free from something. That from which the Colossians had been freed is "the rudiments of the world," that is, from the elementary religious teachings espousing salvation by merit and good works.

"Dead with Christ": Refers to the believer's union with Christ in His death and resurrection (see notes on Rom. 6:1-11), by which he has been transformed to new life from all worldly folly.

"Rudiments of the world" (see note on verse 8). These are the same as "the commandments and teachings of men" (verse 22).

Since the gospel has freed the believer from attempting to gain heaven by self-effort, he should never "submit" himself again to such legalistic "ordinances."

When you are dead, you do not have to follow ordinances. You do not have to pay taxes when you are dead. This is just saying, that to be dead in Christ took care of all of the fulfillment of ordinances.

When you are in Christ, He makes the decisions. It is no longer necessary to have a set of rules to go by. Christ breaks no spiritual laws. The verse above is showing that true Christianity makes you one with Christ. There is no law against the activities of Christ.

Verses 21-23: These verses point out the futility of asceticism, which is the attempt to achieve holiness by rigorous self-neglect (verse 23), self-denial (verse 21), and even self-infliction. Since it focuses on temporal "things destined to perish with us," asceticism is powerless to restrain sin or bring one to God.

While reasonable care and discipline of one's body is of temporal value (1 Tim. 4:8), it has no eternal value, and the extremes of asceticism serve only to gratify the flesh. All too often, ascetics seek only to put on a public show of their supposed holiness (Matt. 6:16-18).

Colossians 2:21-22 "(Touch not; taste not; handle not;" "Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?"

These three prohibitions are examples of the heretical teaching to which the Colossians were about to submit. They were to abstain from certain foods and drinks. Legalism is largely negative in nature; Christianity is nicely balanced, containing both negative and positive aspects.

This was one of the things that made the Pharisees so angry with Jesus. He did all the above. We know that the Jews were very careful to keep all the ordinances. Jesus fulfilled these ordinances on the cross.

Since all these foods "are to perish with the using,' it is foolish to base one's eternal salvation on abstinence from temporary things like food.

What you touch, or put into the mouth, does not defile you. The two following Scriptures say it best.

Matthew 15:20 "These are [the things] which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man."

Mark 7:15 "There is nothing from without a man, that entering into him can defile him: but the things which come out of him, those are they that defile the man."

Colossians 2:23 "Which things have indeed a show of wisdom in will-worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honor to the satisfying of the flesh."

This verse is better translated, "Which things do indeed have an appearance of wisdom consisting in self-imposed worship and false humility and in severe treatment of the body; but this is of no value against the indulgence of the flesh."

The apostle concedes that legalism is outwardly impressive, but he denies asceticism's ability to harness the sensual appetite of man's sinful nature ("flesh").

In this, Paul is still reminding them that many things that appear to be wise to the flesh of man are not necessarily wise in God's sight. It is good to crucify your flesh, but if it is done to prove something to the world, it is wrong. Our salvation lies in Christ alone, not in any will worship on our part.

Colossians Chapter 2 Continued Questions

  1. Describe what happens to us when we are baptized.
  2. The penalty for sin is ________.
  3. When was our sin abolished?
  4. Who is the quickening Spirit?
  5. What has Jesus done with the handwriting of ordinances?
  6. Who specifically, did Jesus defeat on the cross?
  7. How many of the angels followed Lucifer out of heaven?
  8. What causes the body to function properly?
  9. True Christianity makes you one with _______.

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Colossians 3

Colossians Chapter 3

Colossians 3:1 "If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God."

"If ye then be risen" (or, "therefore, since you were raised"): This verb actually means "to be co-resurrected." Because of their union with Christ, believers spiritually entered His death and resurrection at the moment of their conversion (see notes on Rom. 6:3-4; Gal 2:20), and have been and are now alive in Him so as to understand spiritual truths, realities, blessings, and the will of God.

Those glorious benedictions (Eph. 1:3), are the privileges and riches of the heavenly kingdom, all of which are at our disposal. Paul called them "things above." To understand what these are (see note on 2:3).

The word "risen" therefore infers a corollary truth from 2:20 ("you died with Christ"), not only have the Colossian believers been freed from sin, they have also turned to a new life, leaving behind old ways, habits, values, vices, interests, and sins.

"Seek those things which are above": These "things" include deeper knowledge of Christ, closer fellowship with Him, experience of His resurrection power, victory over sin (verses 5-11); the development of godly virtues (verses 12-17); the fulfillment of domestic and social responsibilities (3:18 - 4:1); and effective prayer life (4:2); fruitfulness in witnessing (4:3-6).

"Sitteth on the right hand of God": The position of honor and majesty (Psalm 110:1; Luke 22:69; Acts 2:33; 5:31; 7:56; Eph. 1:20; Heb. 1:3; 8:1; 1 Pet. 3:22), that Christ enjoys as the exalted Son of God (see note on Phil. 2:9). That exaltation makes Him the fountain of blessing for His people (John 14:13-14; 2 Cor. 1:20).

In a word, the attainment of Christian maturity, and all the spiritual benefits God has for His people during their days on earth. To have been raised with Christ and not to seek these blessings, would be a contradiction.

Christians are in this world, but not of this world. Our home is in heaven. We are seated in heavenly places with Christ Jesus. We are strangers in this land. We are foreigners, since our homeland is heaven. We are to lay up our treasures in heaven, not here on this earth.

We should get our eyes off the circumstances which surround us on this earth. We should keep our eyes on Jesus and heaven. The desires of this earth, and of our flesh, should be far from us. We should be looking to heavenly rewards. Jesus is seated in heaven at the right hand of the Father, because His work is done. It was done when He said, "It is finished", on the cross.

Colossians 3:2 "Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth."

"Set your affection on things above": The Greek word literally says, "Set your mind on things above."

This can also be translated "think," or "have this inner disposition." As a compass points north, the believer's entire disposition should point itself toward the things of heaven. Heavenly thoughts can only come by understanding heavenly realities from Scripture (Rom. 8:5; 12:2; Phil. 1:23; 4:8; 1 John 2:15-17; see note on Matt. 6:33).

The readers are not to be preoccupied with "things on the earth," such as current heretical philosophies (2:8), legalistic practices (2:16, 21-23), and vices (verse 5). Nor are they to dwell on things that are not wrong in themselves (houses, jobs, careers, ambitions, etc.), but can be wrong should they become priorities above Christ.

Our affections should be for our home in heaven. We should not love the earth.

Colossians 3:3 "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God."

"Ye are dead" (see notes on Rom. 6:1-11; 2 Cor. 5:17; Gal. 6:14). The verb's tense indicates that a death occurred in the past, in this case at the death of Jesus Christ, where believers were united with Him. Their penalty of sin was paid, and they arose with Him in new life.

"Your life is hid with Christ in God" (or, "Your life is deposited with Christ, who is in intimate relation with God").

This rich expression has a threefold meaning:

(1) Believers have a common spiritual life with the Father and Son (1 Cor. 6:17; 2 Pet. 1:4);

(2) The world cannot understand the full import of the believer's new life (1 Cor. 2:14; 1 John 3:2); and

(3) Believers are eternally secure, protected from all spiritual enemies, and with access to all God's blessings (John 10:28; Rom. 8:31-39; Heb. 7:25; 1 Pet. 1:4).

As all wisdom and knowledge reside in Christ (2:3), so the believer's new life is stored up in Him. This means that the Christian life belongs to the spiritual or heavenly realm.

Jesus is in intimate relation with God; they should seek those matters and interests pertaining to heaven and not to earth.

We are dead to this world, dead to fleshly desires, even dead to sin itself. We must be buried with Him, to rise to new life in Him. It is a mystery indeed, that we are in Christ and He is in us. We are seated in the heavenlies with Him, and yet He dwells within us here on the earth.

This has to be the omnipresence of God. This is saying that Christians are dead to the lusts of this earth, but alive to heavenly thoughts and deeds.

Romans 5:21 "That as sin hath reigned unto death, even so might grace reign through righteousness unto eternal life by Jesus Christ our Lord."

Colossians 3:4 "When Christ, [who is] our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory."

When Christ ... shall appear": At His second coming (Rev. 19:11-13, 15-16).

Paul says it best when he says, absent in body, but present in spirit. All of our hopes are caught up in Him. We are in Him and He is our life.

Colossians 3:5 "Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:"

"Mortify therefore" (see note on Rom. 8:13; Zech. 4:6; Eph. 5:18; 6:17; 1 John 2:14). This refers to a conscious effort to slay the remaining sin in our flesh.

"Mortify" means to "put to death." By a figure of speech "members" is put in place of the various sins that exist in, and seek to express themselves through different "members" of the human body. Paul urges his readers to "put to death all sins residing in your bodily members."

"Therefore" looks back (to verse 3): Since they "are dead" to sin, they are to make this death to the old life a reality in daily living.

"Fornication": This refers to any form of sexual sin (see note on Gal. 5:19; 1 Thess. 4:3).

"Uncleanness": This term goes beyond sexual acts of sin to encompass evil thoughts and intentions as well (see note on Gal. 5:19; Matt. 5:28; Mark 7:21-22; 1 Thess. 4:7).

"Inordinate affection, evil concupiscence": Similar terms that refer to sexual lust. "Inordinate affection" is the physical side of that vice and "evil concupiscence" is the mental side (see notes on Rom. 1:26; 1 Thess. 4:3; James 1:15).

"Covetousness": Literally this term means "to have more." It is the insatiable desire to gain more, especially of things that are forbidden (Exodus 20:17; Deut. 5:21; James 4:2).

"Which is Idolatry": When people engage in either greed or the sexual sins Paul has cataloged, they follow their desires rather that God's, in essence worshiping themselves, which is idolatry (Num. 25:1-3; Eph. 5:3-5).

These things are earthly things. These are sins of the flesh. These things are no longer part of a Christian's life, when they become born of the spirit. "Mortify" means to totally do away with. These are all sins of flesh man. They are not part of the life of a spirit man. The desire to commit any of these sins must be put to death that the spirit might live.

I have mentioned so many times, that we are a spirit living in a body of flesh, and that one of the two will rule the soul, or will of man. If we follow the flesh, we are flesh man. If we do away with fleshly desires and let the spirit rule, we are spirit. If the sins mentioned above are active in your life, you are not spirit man. You are of the flesh.

Colossians 3:6 "For which things' sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience:"

"Wrath of God": His constant, invariable reaction against sin (see notes on John 3:36; Rom. 1:18; Rev. 11:18).

"Children of disobedience" (see note on Eph. 2:2). This expression designates unbelievers as bearing the very nature and character of the disobedient, rebellious sinfulness they love.

Notice the word children, in the verse above. This could mean then, that these are people who profess Christianity but are not Christians. Wrath is when God cannot look the other way any longer. His fury (wrath), comes up in His face, and He rains terror upon those disobedient. God will not overlook the sins mentioned in verse 5.

Colossians 3:7 "In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them."

"In the which ye also walked": Before their conversion (Eph. 2:1-5; Titus 3:3-4).

This is saying that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God, when they were walking in the flesh, before they were saved. This is the walk of the flesh.

Colossians 3:8 "But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth."

"Put ... off" A Greek word used for taking off clothes. (Acts 7:58; Rom. 13:12-14; 1 Pet. 2:1). Like one who removes his dirty clothes at day's end, believers must discard the filthy garments of their old, sinful lives.

"Anger": A deep, smoldering bitterness; the settled heart attitude of an angry person (Eph. 4:31; James 1:19-20).

"Wrath": Unlike God's settled and righteous wrath (see note on Rom. 1:18), this is a sudden outburst of sinful anger, usually the eruption that flows out of "anger" (see note on Gal. 5:20; Luke 4:28; Acts 19:28; Eph. 4:31).

"Malice": From the Greek term that denotes general moral evil. Here it probably refers to the damage caused by evil speech (1 Pet. 2:1).

The normal translation when using the word "slander" when it refers to God is "blasphemy." But here, since it refers to people, it is better translated "slander." To slander people, however is to blaspheme God (James 3:9; Matt. 5:22; James 3:10).

All of these sins are part of that old flesh man that must be buried for the spirit man to live. All of the things above such as anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, and filthy communication should not be a part of the Christian.

The Christian is a new creature in Christ. The spirit is in control. The Life within them is Christ living through them. The words of our mouth speak what is in our heart. Filthy communication comes from the mouth of the lost.

Verses 3:9-10: Lie not ... put on" (see notes on verse 8; Eph. 4:24-25). These words are the basis for the command of (verse 8). Because the old man died in Christ, and the new man lives in Christ. Because that is the fact of new creation or regeneration (2 Cor. 5:17), believers must put off remaining sinful deeds and be continually renewed into the Christlikeness to which they are called.

Colossians 3:9 "Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;"

"Old man": The old, unregenerate self, originating in Adam (see notes on Rom. 5:12-14; 6:6; Eph. 4:22).

"Seeing" means "since." The "old man", is all that a person was prior to salvation: his worldly thinking and sinful acts. Since all this was renounced at conversion, one should "lie not." Falsehood ill becomes the person claiming to be a disciple of Him who said, "I am the ... truth."

We can see from the following Scripture, where lies come from.

John 8:44 "Ye are of [your] father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do. He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it."

Look with me at the seriousness of lying in the next verse.

Revelation 22:15 "For without [are] dogs, and sorcerers, and whoremongers, and murderers, and idolaters, and whosoever loveth and maketh a lie."

Colossians 3:10 "And have put on the new [man], which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:"

"The new man" is the person one becomes after conversion: he possesses a new nature, values, aspirations, and a new life-style. This "new man" is constantly being "renewed" or developed until he attains a mature "knowledge" of the God who (re) "created" him. The more a believer knows and understands of God, the more he will be like God in character and conduct.

The new, regenerate self, which replaces the old self; this is the essence of what believers are in Christ (Eph. 4:17; 5:1, 8, 15). The reason believers still sin is their unredeemed flesh (see notes on Rom. 6:6, 12; 7:5).

"Renewed" (see note on 2 Cor. 4:16; Rom. 12:2; 2 Cor. 3:18). This Greek verb contains a sense of contrast with the former reality. It describes a new quality of life that never before existed (Rom. 12:2; Eph. 4:22). Just like a baby is born complete but immature, the new self is complete, but has the capacity to grow.

"Knowledge" (see note on 1:9). A deep, thorough knowledge, without which there can be no spiritual growth or renewal (2 Tim. 3:16-17; 1 Peter 2:2).

"Image of him that created him": It is God's plan that believers become progressively more like Jesus Christ, the one who made them (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:49; 1 John 3:2; see notes on Phil. 3:12-14, 19-20).

When we become Christians, we have turned our will over to the spirit and have taken all authority away from the flesh.

Romans 8:5 "For they that are after the flesh do mind the things of the flesh; but they that are after the Spirit the things of the Spirit."

God is a Spirit, if we are in His image; we are a spirit man, as well. Christians should be Christlike. We should reflect the Light of Jesus in our lives.

Colossians 3:11 "Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond [nor] free: but Christ [is] all, and in all."

Even as individual believers must discard old, sinful habits, the body of Christ must realize its unity and destroy the old barriers that separated people (Gal. 3:28; Eph. 2:15).

"Greek": A Gentile or non-Jew (see note on Romans 1:14).

"Jew": A descendant of Abraham through Isaac (see note on Rom. 2:17).

"Barbarian" (see note on Rom. 1:14).

"Scythian": An ancient nomadic and warlike people that invaded the Fertile Crescent in the seventh century B.C. Noted for their savagery, they were the most hated and feared of all the so-called barbarians.

"Bond ... free": A social barrier had always existed between slave and freemen; Aristotle had referred to slaves as "a living tool." But faith in Christ removed the separation (1 Cor. 12:13; Gal. 3:28; Philemon 6).

"Christ is all, and in all": Because Jesus Christ is the Savior of all believers, He is equally the all-sufficient Lord of them all.

Not only is the "new man" to put sin to death, he is also to put away man-made barriers that divide people and that nourish the vices of the old life. Among renewed humanity there are no national, ceremonial, cultural, or social distinctions. To the redeemed "Christ is all;" that is, He is everything, and He is what matters most to them. And "Christ is ... in all;" that is, He dwells in all believers.

We find a companion Scripture to this (in Galatians):

Galatians 3:28 "There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus."

God looks on the spirit of mankind, and not on the flesh. All of the separations mentioned in both verses above are in the flesh. A spirit does not segregate because of nationality, or color, or gender. Circumcision is not even important in the spirit, because the flesh has been done away with.

Those who are free, are Christ's servants, and those who are slaves, are Christ's freeman. The Spirit of Christ is in all who believe.

Colossians 3:12 "Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;"

In view of what God has done through Jesus Christ for the believer, Paul described the behavior and attitude God expects in response (verses 12-17).

"Put on" literally means to "dress oneself" (with clothes); here used metaphorically, it means to take on or assume certain virtues and qualities.

"Elect of God": This designates true Christians as those who have been chosen by God. No one is converted solely by his own choice, but only in response to God's effectual, free, uninfluenced and sovereign grace (see notes on John 15:16; Rom. 8:29; 9:14-23; Eph. 1:4; 2 Thess. 2:13-14; 2 Tim. 1:8-9; 1 Pet. 1-2; Acts 13:46-48; Rom. 11:4-5).

"Beloved": Election means believers are the objects of God's incomprehensible special love (John 13:1; Eph. 1:4-5).

"Bowels of mercies" means heartfelt compassion. It is a Hebraism that connotes the internal organs of the human body as used figuratively to describe the seat of the emotions (Matt. 9:36; Luke 6:36; James 5:11).

"Kindness": Refers to a goodness toward others that pervades the entire person, mellowing all harsh aspects (Matt. 11:29-30; Luke 10:25-37).

"Humbleness of mind" (see notes on Rom. 12:3, 10; Phil. 2:3; Matt. 18:4; John 13:14-16; James 4:6, 10). This is the perfect antidote to the self-love that poisons human relationships.

"Meekness" (see notes on Matt. 5:5; Gal. 5:23). Sometimes referred to as "Humility", it is the willingness to suffer injury or insult rather than to inflict such hurts.

"Longsuffering" (see note on 1:11; Rom. 2:4). It is also translated "Patience", the opposite of quick anger, resentment, or revenge and thus epitomizes Jesus Christ (1 Tim. 1:16; 2 Pet. 3:15). It endures injustice and troublesome circumstances with hope for coming relief.

This is describing the personality of those who have Christ living in them. These are really the gifts of the Spirit that come to us, when we are baptized in the Holy Spirit of God.

Paul is saying, you are the elect of God, now do your part by living like the elect of God. We are to be holy, for He is holy. These virtues of kindness, mercy, humbleness of mind, meekness, and longsuffering are descriptions of the Lord's personality. If we have taken on Christ, then they are our personality, too.

Colossians 3:13 "Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also [do] ye."

"As Christ forgave you" (see notes on Matt. 18:23-34; Eph. 4:32). Because Christ; as the model of forgiveness has forgiven all our sins totally (1:14; 2:13-14), believers must be willing to forgive others.

The fact of believers being urged to assume the virtues of (verse 12), signifies that none has yet "arrived" spiritually. As the believer is developing these virtues, he must be "forbearing" and "forgiving" toward his fellow church member.

For his Christian brother is also in the process of acquiring the virtues of (verse 12), and therefore retains some flaws, deficiencies, and weaknesses. Hence the need of forbearance and forgiveness.

God loves the unlovable, as He loved us while we were yet in sin. Forgive, and you shall be forgiven.

Matthew 18:21-22 "Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times?" "Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven."

This is just saying, forgive him every time he asks for forgiveness. Don't let the sun go down on your wrath. Do not be angry without a cause.

Colossians 3:14 "And above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfectness."

"Bond of perfectness" (see notes on Eph. 4:3; Phil. 1:27; 2:2). Supernatural love poured into the hearts of believers is the adhesive of the church (Rom. 5:5; 1 Thess. 4:9).

"Charity" is love, here called the "bond of perfectness." Love is the crowning grace completing the list of virtues required for perfectness or spiritual maturity. As a "bond", it binds all other virtues together in harmony and unity.

The charity that this is speaking of is a Godly kind of love. This is love in spite of what a person has done to you, not because of what they can do for you. Jesus told the rich young ruler, if he would be perfect, to sell what he had and give it to the poor.

Charity covers a multitude of sin. God deals with us in the manner we have treated others with. There is no greater gift than Agape love.

Colossians Chapter 3 Questions

  1. If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are ________.
  2. Where does Christ sit?
  3. The Christian's home is in _________.
  4. Why is Jesus seated at the right hand of the Father in heaven?
  5. Set your affections on things ________.
  6. Your life is ____ with Christ in God.
  7. What are some of the things we are dead to, if we are Christians?
  8. What is a mystery indeed?
  9. What appears with Him, our spirit, or our body?
  10. Name some of the things Christians should mortify in their life?
  11. What does "mortify" mean?
  12. How can you tell the difference between spirit man and flesh man?
  13. The wrath of God comes on whom?
  14. Verse 8 says, Christians must put off what things?
  15. The _______ of our ________ speak what is in our heart.
  16. What other sins are grouped with loving and making a lie?
  17. How are we in the image of God?
  18. Where is there a companion Scripture to Colossians chapter 3 verse 11?
  19. Why are none of these separations not important to God?
  20. Describe the personality of the elect of God.
  21. ___ loves the unlovable.
  22. How many times did Jesus tell Peter to forgive someone?
  23. What is the bond of perfectness?

Colossians Chapter 3 Continued

Colossians 3:15 "And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful."

"The peace of God" The Greek word "peace" here refers to both the call of God to salvation and consequent peace with Him (see note on Rom. 5:1), and the attitude of rest or security (Phil. 4:7), believers have because of that eternal peace.

This "peace" is the harmony and concord created by God among His people. It is to "rule." This Greek verb means to act as an umpire who makes decisions in an athletic contest. Thus, "let the peace of God rule in your hearts" means that when believers are at odds with each other, whatever course of action best maintains peace and fosters harmony is the course to be taken.

Jesus is the King of Peace. When we make Him the Lord of our life; the peace of God does rule in our heart. He brings the kind of peace that goes beyond explanation. In the midst of trouble, His peace causes us to be calm. It is called the Peace beyond understanding. This is the peace that Job had when he was under such great attack.

Colossians 3:16 "Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord."

"Word of Christ": This is Scripture, the Holy Spirit Inspired Scripture, the word of revelation He brought into the world.

"Richly in all wisdom" (see notes on Eph. 5:18). "Richly" may be more fully rendered: "abundantly or extravagantly rich" and "dwell" means "to live in" or "to be at home." Scripture should permeate every aspect of the believer's life and control every thought, word, and deed (Psalm 119:11; Matt. 13:9; Phil. 2:16; 2 Tim. 2:15).

This concept is parallel to being filled with the Spirit (in Eph. 5:18), the power and motivation for all the effects is the filling of the Holy Spirit; here it is the word "richly" dwelling. Those two realities are really one. The Holy Spirit fills the life controlled by His Word. This emphasizes that the filling of the Spirit is not some ecstatic or emotional experience, but a steady controlling of the life by obedience to the truth of God's Word.

"Psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" (see note on Eph. 5:19).

When believers are forbearing, forgiving (verse 13), and loving (verse 14), toward one another, when peace reigns among God's people (verse 15), then the church is fertile soil for the blessings produced by "the word of Christ."

Jesus Christ our Lord is the Word of God. The Bible is the Word of God. If you hide this Word of God in your heart, no one can take it away from you. They may take the written Word from you, but they cannot take what you have hidden in your heart. Wisdom is a gift from God. The two great powers in the world are the spoken and the written Word.

Build each other up in the most holy faith. When friends get together and study the Word of God, it builds them up, and brings perfect peace to them. The Psalms are like warm oil pouring over you. They bring such a peace to all who hear them.

Have you ever sat down and just read the words in the beautiful hymns? The people who wrote them were under the anointing of the Holy Spirit. They have such Truth of the Word in them. They are comforting, because they tell truth in a melodious way. Singing this type of spiritual music makes a sweet, sweet sound in God's ear. Singing builds up the spirit of man.

The grace spoken of here, is a thanksgiving for the free gift of grace that God has given us. Notice, this singing is not for performing, this is sung reverently to the Lord.

Colossians 3:17 "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, [do] all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."

"Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus": This simply means to act consistently with who He is and what He wants (see note on 1 Cor. 10:31).

The beneficial influence produced by the indwelling word of Christ is not only to affect public and private worship (verse 16), but it is also to control all areas of a Christian's life.

When I see this Scripture, I think of the blood that was applied to the thumb of the right hand of the priests and the high priest. To me, this meant that everything we put our hand to do must be dedicated to God. Whatever our task is in life, we must do our work as unto the Lord. We must not only hear and speak the Word, but we must do it as well.

We should apply the teachings of the Word of God to our everyday tasks. The best sermon that everyone can preach is the way they conduct their daily lives. Every task should be done with thanksgiving in our heart. We thank the Father for sending His Son to save us. We thank the Son (Jesus) for actually saving us.

Verses 3:18 - 4:1: Paul discusses the new self's relationships to others. This passage is also a brief parallel to (Eph. 5:19 - 6:9; see notes there).

Colossians 3:18 "Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord."

"Submit yourselves" (see notes on Eph. 5:22-23). The Greek verb denotes willingly putting oneself under someone or something (Luke 2:51; 10:17, 20; Rom. 8:7; 13:1, 5; 1 Cor. 15:27-28; Eph. 1:22).

Wifely submission cannot be forced; it must come from her own free will. "As it is fit in the Lord" means that the wife's submission to her husband is proper in her relationship with Christ: submission rendered her husband is submission rendered to Christ.

The church is the bride of Christ. The entire church must be submitted to the Lord Jesus Christ. Husbands and wives on the earth are a shadow of the heavenly scene. We see in this, that the wife and husband are one flesh, as the church and the Lord Jesus Christ are one Spirit.

The wife is not to work against her husband, especially seeing they are one flesh. The wife is the helpmeet of her husband. His welfare should be of utmost importance. In the flesh, the wife should submit to her husband. The only time that this is not so, is if it causes her to fall away from God.

Colossians 3:19 "Husbands, love [your] wives, and be not bitter against them."

"Love" (see notes on Eph. 5:25-29). This is a call for the highest form of love which is rendered selflessly (Gen. 24:67; Eph. 5:22-28; 1 Pet. 3:7).

"Be not bitter": The form of this Greek verb is better translated "stop being bitter," or "do not have the habit of being bitter." Husbands must not be harsh or angrily resentful toward their wives.

The duty of husbands is to "love your wives." The Greek word for love is agapao, the same affection with which "God so loved the world" (John 3:16). This type of love (1 Cor. 13; 1 John 4:10), is a willing and sacrificial giving of oneself for the benefit of another, without thought of return.

"Be not bitter against them" might be translated, "Do not be harsh toward them." The husband who loves his wife will not be rude, unkind, or cruel toward her. This implies that wifely submission is gained in part by the husband's love.

The love spoken of here is a love like Jesus had for the church. This love is a protection for the lesser vessel.

Colossians 3:20 "Children, obey [your] parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord."

"In all things" (see notes on Eph. 6:4). Also translated "provoke." This word has the connotation of not stirring up or irritating.

"This is well-pleasing unto the Lord". In most manuscripts (including the oldest), the Greek reads, "well-pleasing in the Lord." That is, obedience to parental authority is pleasing to the Lord in the child's relationship with Him. The obedience given to parents is obedience given to Christ.

Again, we see that this obedience of the child for their parents shadows the obedience of God's children for Him.

1 Samuel 15:22 "And Samuel said, Hath the LORD [as great] delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey [is] better than sacrifice, [and] to hearken than the fat of rams."

Obedience to an earthly parent is a type of respect, or honor. Honor thy Father and Mother is one of the Ten Commandments.

Obedience, has a side benefit. All the regulations that God put on mankind were for mankind's benefit. The regulations that parents put on their children are for the child's benefit as well. We may not see the benefit when it is happening, but it is beneficial. Do yourself a favor, obey your parents.

Colossians 3:21 "Fathers, provoke not your children [to anger], lest they be discouraged."

"Provoke" or exasperate (see notes on Eph. 6:4). Also exasperate is translated "provoke". This word has the connotation of not stirring up or irritating.

All correction should be in a loving and kind way. Constant screaming at a youngster sends him, or her, the message that you do not love them. It also has a way of downing their self-esteem. If my dad does not believe in me, who will?

Verses 3:22 - 4:1 (see notes on Eph. 6:5-9). Paul upholds the duties of slave and master, of which the modern parallel is the duties of employee and employer. Scripture never advocates slavery, but recognizes it as an element of ancient society that could have been more beneficial if slaves and masters had treated each other properly.

Here, Paul followed Christ's example and used slavery as a motif for spiritual instruction, likening the believer to one who is a slave and servant to Jesus Christ and seeing service to an earthly master as a way to serve the Lord.

Colossians 3:22 "Servants, obey in all things [your] masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God:"

"Servants" (see note on Romans 1:1).

"Eyeservice" is work done only when the master is watching. Christian slaves were to work hard even when their owners were absent (see notes on Eph. 6:6). This refers to working only when the master is watching, rather than recognizing the Lord is always watching, and how our work concerns Him (verses 23-24; 1 Tim. 6:1-2; Titus 2:9-10; 1 Pet. 2: 18-21).

"Singleness of heart" means "a sincere disposition."

Jesus is Lord of all. We are His servants. The verse above is a shadow of the fact that Jesus is Lord. Jesus is Lord in the spirit, and this verse is speaking of the master who is lord over your flesh. This was written when there were slaves, but it still applies today toward the people you are working for.

Employees, give the man who hired you your loyalty. He deserves a full day of work for the pay he has given you. When you are on his payroll, you must do as he asks you. The only time it is not alright to do what he asks you, is if you resign from the job or he asks you to do something which is against God's commandments and Statutes. Loyalty is very important, when you are working for someone.

You must do the work the way they want it done. Once you have made an agreement for the wages you will work for, fill the contract. You must keep your word. The boss must keep his word too. He has a boss also. Jesus is looking at the way we conduct our lives. We must deal fairly with each other.

Colossians 3:23 "And whatsoever ye do, do [it] heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;"

"Do it heartily" means the slave is to perform his slave duties "wholeheartedly, doing the best job he can with all his strength. A slave could be enthusiastic in carrying out his menial tasks because they were done, not so much for his earthly master ("unto men"), but for his heavenly Master ("to the Lord").

It really does not matter what our work is in this world. This is the task that God has chosen for us to do. Do it as unto the Lord. It is the Lord who makes one man a doctor, and another man a porter. Do your job well, whatever it is. You will not be judged by the other man's job. You will be judged by what you did with the talents God gave you.

Verses 24-25: "Reward of the inheritance" (see note on Eph. 6:7-8). The Lord ensures the believer that he will receive a just, eternal compensation for his efforts (Rev. 20:12-13), even if his earthly boss or master does not compensate fairly (verse 25). God deals with obedience and disobedience impartially (Acts 10:34; Gal. 6:7). Christians are not to presume on their faith in order to justify disobedience to an authority or employer (Philemon 18).

Colossians 3:24 "Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."

"The reward of the inheritance" (or "the reward which is salvation"): The fact that Christian slaves will receive salvation from the Lord rather than from men verifies the assertion (in verse 23), that they serve Christ, not their masters.

Our inheritance in heaven is not determined by the wealth we had on this earth. We should be laying up treasures in heaven. We are all in the service of the Lord. He has placed us in the body where we can be the most useful. If everyone was a scientist, there would be no one to cook our food. You can easily see that each of us has a job to do for the Lord, and that is the job we need to be doing.

1 Peter 1:3-4 "Blessed [be] the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, which according to his abundant mercy hath begotten us again unto a lively hope by the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead," "To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you,"

Seeing He has prepared all of this, it is a little thing to serve Him here.

Colossians 3:25 "But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons."

Jesus is the judge of all the earth. He judges us not as groups, but one at a time. What you do with your life, is up to you. God will not force himself upon you. You have a free will. You can choose to do wrong, and reject Jesus and His plan for your life. If you do, there is payment for the decision to do wrong, just as there was an inheritance for those who followed Jesus.

The difference is, the reward for a disobedient life is an eternity in hell. Jesus is a just God. He gives us the reward we chose. It does not matter whether you were the boss, or the worker, judgment is just. Treat other people as if Jesus was watching everything you do, because He is.

Colossians Chapter 3 Continued Questions

  1. Let the _________ of God rule in your hearts.
  2. What kind of peace did Job have in his troubles?
  3. Let the _____ of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom.
  4. Teaching and admonishing one another in _________ and _______ and __________ _______, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
  5. Who is the Word of God?
  6. What are the two great powers in the world?
  7. What makes a sweet sound in the ear of God?
  8. We must do all in word and deed unto the ________.
  9. What was applied to the thumb of the right hand of the priest to show the work he did was dedicated to God?
  10. We must not only hear and speak the Word, but we must __ __, as well.
  11. Wives, __________ yourselves unto your own husbands.
  12. Who is the bride of Christ?
  13. Husbands and wives on the earth are one _______.
  14. Jesus and His church are one _________.
  15. What kind of love is spoken of in verse 19?
  16. What is a side benefit of obeying parents?
  17. What can we apply verse 22 to today?
  18. Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the ________.
  19. Who have an inheritance with the Lord waiting for them?
  20. Who is Judge of all the earth?
  21. If you choose to do wrong and reject Jesus, what is your reward?

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Colossians 4

Colossians Chapter 4

Colossians 4:1 "Masters, give unto [your] servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven."

The reason earthly masters should give their "servants that which is just and equal" is that the masters themselves "also have a Master in heaven." As they want Him to be just and fair with them, so they must be toward their servants (see note on Eph. 6:9).

Paul is reminding these masters that they have a Master up in heaven, who is watching the way they deal with their subordinates here. To have a really good servant, you must be a good, honest master. Give them a job to do, and when they have done a good job, let them know that you are pleased with them.

The way we measure to the people here on the earth is the same way God will measure to us in heaven. We should never take advantage of someone, just because they are working for us.

Masters and servants are brothers, if they are both believers in the Lord Jesus Christ. God is not a respecter of persons. We are all one in Christ. Whatever position you are filling here on the earth, do it to the best of your ability. Be kind to all people, and especially those you are over.

Colossians 4:2 "Continue in prayer, and watch in the same with thanksgiving;"

"Continue in prayer" means "persevere in prayer." To be courageously persistent" or "to hold fast and not let go" and refers here to persistent prayer (Acts 1:14; Rom., 12:12; Eph. 6:18; 1 Thess. 5:17; Luke 11:5-10; 18:1-8).

"Watch in the same" means that the Colossians are to be mentally alert and spiritually sensitive to the needs for which they pray. In the most general sense this means to stay awake while praying. But Paul has in mind the broader implication of staying alert for specific needs about which to pray, rather than being vague and unfocused (Matt. 26:41; Mark 14:38; Luke 21:36).

"With thanksgiving" signifies that gratitude is the attitude in which prayer is offered. The readers are to persevere in prayer with alert minds and grateful hearts.

We should give God thanks for everything. Remember, if you are a Christian, the devil cannot do anything to you that God does not permit. We should grow in every tribulation that we have. They come to make us strong in the Lord.

James 5:16 "Confess [your] faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much."

Prayer is a conversation with God. Jesus taught the disciples the way to pray in what we call the "Lord's Prayer". He told them in this prayer to reverence the Father. Prayers are prayed to the Father in the name of Jesus. Jesus opened the way for us to go to the Father, when the veil covering the holy of holies was torn from the top to the bottom at the crucifixion of Jesus.

We have power of attorney to use the name of Jesus. Pray believing that you will receive your answer. The following verses are some things that Jesus said about prayer.

John 14:12-14 "Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater [works] than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father." "And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son." "If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do [it]."

Notice, all prayer should be given in the name of Jesus. The power is in His name.

Verses 3-4: The Colossians are asked to make two prayer requests for Paul and his associates:

(1) That God would grant them opportunities both inside and outside prison to preach the gospel (verse 3); and

(2) The evangelists would make the truth "manifest" as they "ought to speak," that is, to preach it with courage and clarity.

"Withal praying also for us" means praying for Paul "together with" the prayer commanded (in verse 2).

Colossians 4:3 "Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:"

"A door": An opportunity (1 Cor. 16:8-9; 2 Cor. 2:12).

"The mystery of Christ" (see notes on 1:26-27; 2:2-3).

Paul is in chains when this is written. This does not stop him however. He has his door of utterance. Some of Caesar's household were saved. Paul also, preached in the home where he was under house arrest. Wherever you are, God will open a door for you to minister. The only thing you must do is say Lord, here am I, send me.

Be willing to minister wherever you are. Christianity is an individual thing. If there is just one person there, tell them about Jesus. Paul was in bonds, because he would not compromise the Word of God. Look how far his message went, and is still going, in these letters he wrote.

Colossians 4:4 "That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak."

To manifest is to make real. Paul wanted to make Christianity real to the people he spoke to. The best way for any of us to minister, is for Christ in us to minister. Turn yourself, especially your tongue, over to God and let God minister through you.

Colossians 4:5 "Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time."

"Them that are without": This refers to unbelievers (see notes on Eph., 5:15-16). Believers are called to so live that they establish the credibility of the Christian faith and that they make the most of every evangelistic opportunity.

Paul turns from his responsibilities for evangelism (verses 3-4), to the Colossians' evangelistic duties (verses 5-6). They are to "walk in wisdom" or "live wisely" in their relations toward "them that are without." That is, unbelievers.

"Redeeming the time" is to make the most of every opportunity. They are to seize each opportunity to display wise behavior toward the unsaved and to use it as a chance for witnessing.

Our life on this earth is such a short time, so we must make every minute count. Walking in wisdom is walking the path that God has chosen for you, doing the things that God would have you do. This is saying; minister to everyone the love of Jesus.

There are still people in the world who have not heard the name of Jesus. Tell them before it is too late. I talk to church people who have been Christians for years, and they are still sitting in the congregation soaking up all the good teaching. That is fine, but there is a lost world out there that they could be ministering to.

I hear Christians say, I am not qualified. Find someone who knows less than you do about God and share with him or her, what God has shown you. Be wise and do what you can at whatever level you are. Don't waste precious time.

Colossians 4:6 "Let your speech [be] always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man."

"With grace": To speak what is spiritual, wholesome, fitting, kind, sensitive, purposeful, complimentary, gentle, truthful, loving, and thoughtful (see notes on Eph. 4:29-31).

"Seasoned with salt": Just as salt not only flavors, but prevents corruption. The Christians' speech should act not only as a blessing to others, but as a purifying influence within the decaying society of the world.

An example of wise conduct (verse 5), is daily "speech" that is gracious ("with grace"), in nature. Such speech is to be "seasoned with salt," that is, characterized by the wisdom of (verse 5). Gracious, wise conversation will enable the Colossians to know how "to answer every man" when speaking to him about the gospel.

When teaching others of the Lord Jesus, we must do it in love and gentleness. Salt is a preservative. The salt in the teaching must be something that will help them keep their salvation, after they have received it. The evangelist, who comes through town, many times gets people saved, but the pastor of the church applies the preservative.

The sermons the pastor gives are to help the people live their salvation. They must grow in Jesus. This salt is truth that helps us grow in grace. Paul is saying; tell them to seek the power of God in their own lives.

I believe there should be a time for the new convert in church to ask questions, so the things puzzling them can be answered. Of course, the best answers given are when the Holy Spirit answers them through you.

Colossians 4:7 "All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, [who is] a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord:"

"Tychicus ... a beloved brother ... a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord": In describing Tychicus (believed to be the Colossians' pastor), in such glowing terms, Paul puts his apostolic stamp of approval on him, so the church will accept his ministry as he deals with the current heresy.

The name means "fortuitous" or "fortunate." He was one of the Gentile converts Paul took to Jerusalem as a representative of the Gentile Churches (Acts. 20:4).

He was a reliable companion of Paul and a capable leader, since he was considered as a replacement for Titus and Timothy on separate occasions (2 Tim. 4:12; Titus 3:12). He had the responsibility to deliver Paul's letters to the Colossians, the Ephesians (Eph. 6:21), and Philemon (verse 9).

We see that Paul is sending Tychicus to them. Paul gives him a recommendation, when he calls him, beloved brother.

"Fellow servant": We also see in this, that he was a capable minister. Perhaps, Paul had trained Tychicus as he traveled with him.

Colossians 4:8 "Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;"

Paul was very interested in what became of these Christians, and it appears that Tychicus was to bring a report back to Paul on their growth in the Lord. They had desired Paul to come, but since he was in chains, he sent Tychicus in his place. This showed the loving care of Paul for these people.

Colossians 4:9 "With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is [one] of you. They shall make known unto you all things which [are done] here."

"Onesimus": The runaway slave whose return to his master was the basis for Paul's letter to Philemon.

"With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you": This prepares the Colossians for the return of Onesimus, the runaway slave who stole from his master Philemon, a prominent member in the Colossian church. Paul hopes this remark, along with the letter to Philemon, will gain for Onesimus, a new Christian, forgiveness and acceptance on the part of the church.

Onesimus was apparently a native of Colossae and the slave of Philemon. He fled from and probably robbed Philemon (Philemon 18). During his travels, he reaches Rome, hears the gospel, and is saved.

Paul then writes to Philemon exhorting him to restore Onesimus, not only as a slave, but as a brother in Christ. Paul uses this opportunity to teach both the position (Philemon), and the responsibility (chapter 3), of Christian slaves.

Jesus had taught them to send them out by twos. I believe that it was important for two to go out, so they could have the power of the prayer of agreement. I still believe that it would be much better, if two ministers could work together in a church.

Possibly, one of the reasons it was him going instead of someone else, is the fact that he knew the country.

Colossians 4:10 "Aristarchus my fellow prisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister's son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)"

The Greek name of a Jewish native of Thessalonica (see verse 11, Acts 20:4; 27:2). He was one of Paul's companions who was seized by a rioting mob in Ephesus (Acts 19:29), and also accompanied Paul on his trip to Jerusalem and his voyage to Rome (Acts 27:2).

Aristarchus was a Thessalonian. It seems that he had gone to Rome with Paul. Whether he was in chains, or not, we cannot tell. Perhaps, he was just staying in the place where Paul was under house arrest. At any rate, he was with Paul.

"Marcus" will probably visit the Colossian assembly in the near future. The Colossians may be hesitant to welcome him, since he once abandoned Paul on the mission field (Acts 15:36-39). To ensure that this does not happen, Paul describes Mark as the cousin of Barnabas, a highly-esteemed Christian, and gives the Colossians instructions to receive him.

This Marcus is the same one that had caused a division between Paul and Barnabus earlier. This is the same as John Mark who went with Paul on the first missionary journey. Sometime during the journey, he left Paul. It seems that this was several years after that happening (it could have been about ten years).

Mark, after having fallen out of favor with Paul for some time, he is seen here as one of Paul's key helpers (2 Tim. 4:11).

The mother of John Mark was thought of very highly in the church in Jerusalem. It is good to know that Paul forgave him, and even recommends him here. Paul tells them to receive John Mark, if he comes, as a brother.

Colossians 4:11 "And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only [are my] fellow workers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me."

"Jesus which is called Justus": Possibly one of the Roman Jews who believed Paul's message (Acts 28:24).

"Who are of the circumcision" identifies Aristarchus, Marcus (verse 10), and Justus as Jewish Christians. Of all Jews converted to Christ, only these three are known to have been Paul's fellow workers in the ministry.

The name Jesus was sometimes Joshua. It seems in this case, it is Justus, however. This name means just, or righteous. Notice this has to do with the Jews (of the circumcision). Paul is saying that these are brothers that are still with him here in Rome.

Colossians 4:12 "Epaphras, who is [one] of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always laboring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God."

"Epaphras": The church at Colossae began during Paul's 3 year ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19). Its founder was not Paul, who had never been there (2:1); but Epaphras (1:5-7), who apparently was saved during a visit to Ephesus, then likely started the church in Colossae when he returned home.

"That ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God" means that "you may appear perfect and fully assured in all His will" (Luke 1:23, 29). This refers to the Colossians being ushered into God's heavenly presence in a morally perfect state. When this someday occurs, their experience of progressive maturity and assurance will have preceded it.

"Perfect and complete": His goal for the Colossian believers was the same as Paul's (1:28 - 2:2).

It appears that Epaphras was a native of Colossae. It also appears that he was devoted to the work of Christ (servant of Christ). We see that he is sending greetings to his people in Paul's letter. There is no more important job in a church than the job of prayer intercessor. Any church is just as strong as the prayers that are prayed for it.

This is unusual in that the desire of the prayer is made known here. Paul says, the desire of the prayers was that they would be in the perfect will of God.

Colossians 4:13 "For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them [that are] in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis."

Tychicus labored not only in the Colossian assembly, but also in the churches at Laodicea and Hierapolis. These cities were six miles apart and 12 miles from Colossae.

Laodicea was the seventh of the Asian cities addressed (in Revelation 2 and 3). It lay at the junction of east-west and north-south highways and in a fertile valley. It was located some distance from the other cities of Revelation, but was close to Colossae, being 11 miles northwest of that town (see note on 2:1).

Whereas Colossae was declining during the New Testament era, Laodicea was prospering and was noted for its black wool, medicinal powder, and banking. Laodicea did not possess its own water supply. Rather, water had to be piped through huge cubical blocks of stone from distant hot springs, and it arrived lukewarm.

In A.D. 60 the city, along with the neighboring towns of Colossae and Hierapolis, was greatly damaged by an earthquake. Of the seven churches of Revelation, Paul mentions only Ephesus and Laodicea. The church at Laodicea (like Colossae), was no doubt established by Paul's coworkers while he was in Ephesus (Acts 19:10; Col. 2:1).

Paul also mentions a letter "from Laodicea" (verse 16), which the Colossian church was to read. This phrase omits of several interpretations, among them:

(1) A letter to Paul from them;

(2) A letter written by Paul from Laodicea;

(3) The letter to Philemon who may have lived in Laodicea; and

(4) The epistle known as Ephesians.

The church in Laodicea is mentioned in Revelation as one of the 7 churches. It seems they had fallen to a lukewarm condition at that time. It seems that Epaphras' prayers were needed for this church. Perhaps, Epaphras was the one who started these churches, or perhaps he was an overseer. The Scripture does not say. We do know that he had great concern for them.

"Hierapolis": A city in Phrygia 20 miles west of Colossae and 6 miles north of Laodicea.

Colossians 4:14 "Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you."

Of all the individuals mentioned (in verse 7-14), only "Demas" is given no commendation by Paul. Perhaps Paul already senses some glaring flaw in his character. This verse may well foreshadow (2 Tim. 4:1), where "Luke, the beloved physician," has remained loyal to Paul, but Demas has forsaken him.

Demas was a man who demonstrated substantial commitment to the Lord's work before the attraction of the world led him to abandon Paul and the ministry (2 Tim. 4:9-10; Philemon 24).

"Luke", mentioned by name only three times in the New Testament (verse 14; 2 Tim. 4:11; Philemon 24), was nevertheless an important individual in early church history. Though not identified by name in his writings, he was the author of the third gospel and Acts for the following reasons:

(1) The author places himself with Paul on three occasions in Acts, which are indicated by the author's use of "we" instead of "they" and other third-person references to the group. Of Paul's companions, only Titus and Luke could have been with him on these occasions.

(2) The author demonstrates a knowledge of medicine. Luke was a physician (verse 14).

(3) Early traditions unanimously concur that Luke was the author of both acts and the third gospel.

Though he was a Gentile, he authored more of the New Testament than even Paul, writing over 28 percent of it. Many, including the early church historian Eusebius, identify Antioch of Syria as Luke's home, which might explain why the Book of Acts gives much space to events in that city.

Luke enters the narrative of Acts when he joins Paul at Troas during the second journey (Acts 16:10). He remains with Paul only briefly, because when Paul leaves Philippi, Luke seemingly stays behind (Acts 16:40). At the end of Paul's third journey, five years later, Luke rejoins Paul as he passes through Philippi (Acts 20:5-6).

Luke later continues with Paul on his way to Rome and during the two-year imprisonment (Acts 27, 28; Philemon 23, 24). Several years later, after Paul's re-imprisonment in Rome, Luke supports him to the end (2 Tim. 4:11). Tradition says that Luke subsequently served the Lord in Greece until his death at the age of 84.

2 Timothy 4:11 "Only Luke is with me. Take Mark, and bring him with thee: for he is profitable to me for the ministry."

Luke and Paul were good friends. This Demas is possibly, the one from (2 Timothy), that had forsaken Paul. At any rate, Paul did not give him a recommendation.

Colossians 4:15 "Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the church which is in his house."

While Paul greets all Laodicean Christians, he especially singles out "Nymphas, and the church which is in his house." If the church of Laodicea was too large for any one house, this likely refers to that part of it meeting in the house of Nymphas. (Church buildings set apart solely for church activities were not used until much later).

It appears that Nymphas was a man, or woman, who had turned their house into a church. Most Bible scholars believe this Nymphas to be a woman, and not a man. It really does not matter. The important thing is whoever it was, he or she was devoted to God. This person (male or female), was a leading member of the Laodicean church.

Colossians 4:16 "And when this epistle is read among you, cause that it be read also in the church of the Laodiceans; and that ye likewise read the [epistle] from Laodicea."

"When this epistle is read among you": This letter was to be publicly read in the churches in Colossae and in Laodicea.

"Epistle from Laodicea": A separate letter from Paul, usually identified as the epistle to the Ephesians. The oldest manuscripts of Ephesians do not contain the words "in Ephesus," indicating that likely it was a circular letter intended for several churches in the region. Tychicus may have delivered Ephesians to the church at Laodicea first.

This letter is more of a general nature, and it appears that it should be read in all the churches in this area.

Colossians 4:17 "And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it."

"Archippus": Most likely the son of Philemon (Philemon 2). Paul's message to him to fulfill his ministry is similar to the exhortation to Timothy (2 Tim. 4:5).

"Take heed to the ministry" can be interpreted in one of two ways:

(1) It is a rebuke to Archippus for failing to finish his Christian service; or

(2) It may be Paul's way of informing the Colossian church of his approval on Archippus' ministry, and the church was to let him finish it.

It appears from this, that Archippus had an important job in the church at Laodicea. Whether he was pastor, we cannot say. It does appear that he has been discouraged, and Paul is telling him to stay in there and do the work that God has called him to do. Paul also says in this, that he was chosen of God for this job, he had not appointed himself.

Colossians 4:18 "The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds. Grace [be] with you. Amen."

"By the hand of me": Paul usually dictated his letters to an amanuensis (recording secretary), but would often add his own greeting in his own writing at the end of his letters (1 Cor. 16:21; Gal. 6:11; 2 Thess. 3:17; Philemon 19).

"Remember my bonds" (see note on Phil. 1:16; Heb. 13:3).

This letter, and the greeting at the end here, were from Paul himself. Paul asks them to pray for him, remembering that he is still in bonds. Paul always speaks grace to the one he is writing to. "Amen" means so be it.

Colossians Chapter 4 Questions

  1. Masters, give unto your servants that which is ______ and _______.
  2. We must remember we have a ________ in heaven.
  3. How can you have a really good servant?
  4. What makes the master and servant brothers?
  5. Continue in ________.
  6. Why do Christians have tribulation?
  7. What did Jesus have to say, in John, about prayer?
  8. All prayer should be in the name of ________.
  9. Paul wanted them to pray that a door of _________ would be open for him.
  10. What mystery did Paul want to speak?
  11. Where is Paul, when this is written?
  12. Who was saved while Paul was ministering in Rome?
  13. Why was Paul in prison?
  14. What does manifest mean?
  15. Why must we make every minute count?
  16. Let your speech be always with ________.
  17. Season it with _______.
  18. Salt, in the Scripture, is a ______________.
  19. Who is Paul sending this message by?
  20. What does fellow servant show us about Paul and Tychicus?
  21. Onesimus was from where?
  22. Who did Paul call fellow prisoner?
  23. Marcus here, is the same as whom?
  24. What nationality was Aristarchus?
  25. Who was Mark's mother?
  26. How were they to receive Mark?
  27. What does the name Justus mean?
  28. Who prayed for them often?
  29. What is one of the most important jobs in the church?
  30. Where is the church at Laodicea mentioned?
  31. Who was the physician mentioned?
  32. Why did Paul not give a recommendation to Demas?
  33. What was Nymphas?
  34. What other church was this to be read at?
  35. What warning did he send to Archippus?
  36. How does Paul end every letter?

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