Welcome to a 12-week bible study on the Book of Colossians! The Lord put Colossians on my heart in June of 2014, when I began studying and memorizing chapter 1. I was so captured by what God was teaching me in chapter 1, I just kept going, and it has been so much fun to dig into a book of Scripture like this. I hope that you’ll enjoy it as much as I have.
Here’s how it works: Each week I will post here on the blog my notes from the live class I teach at 7am CST , with a link to download notes you can fill-in as you read. I will make distinctions with BLUE LETTERS where there are answers to the blanks in the post. And in addition to the blog post, I will give you a link to homework that you can do for more in-depth study on your own until we meet here again next Tuesday!
The #1 goal when we study God’s Word is to know & love Him more, to understand Who He is, and to worship Him. He has something to say to His children today, He speaks and when we focus on His words, we can hear His voice! #2 is that I am asking God to pour out His Spirit in full-personal revival for whoever embarks on this 12-week journey of studying Colossians. Revival means bringing back to life. May the study of His Word bring your fervor & passion for Jesus Christ back to life so powerfully that you are compelled to go out and share Jesus with everyone who will listen, and love those who don’t even more. And finally, #3 – is Unity in the body of Christ. No matter what body of believers we gather with on Sundays, no matter what style of worship we prefer or what spiritual gifts we actively use & pursue – you & I can all stand united under the Name of King Jesus, undivided & strong! THAT is how the world will know He came & is coming again! (John 17).
With those things in mind, Holy Spirit, we ask you to come and speak to our hearts as we come before you. Lord, show us great & mighty things in Your word today!
Please click here for notes that you can fill-in as you read below:
(When you click you will find 2 pages of notes for the intro; then 5 subsequent days of devotionals related to what we are learning in Colossians 1:1-2)
Author(s): Paul & Timothy
Recipients: God’s holy people, Believers in the city of Colossae
Date Written: Early 60’s A.D. (61-63 likely)
toward end of his Roman Imprisonment
around the same time he wrote the letters to the Ephesians & to Philemon
Delivered by Tychicus (TU-he-Coss) & Onesimus (whom Paul was sending back with a letter to his master, Philemon, who was a member of the Colossian Church (Col 4:7-9))
City of Colossae:
in the Roman province of Asia Minor called Phrygia (Fru-Gee-a) located in the southwest corner of modern-day Turkey
Revelation 1:11 – “Write what you see in a book and send it to the seven churches, to Ephesus and to Smyrna and to Pergamum and to Thyatira and to Sardis and to Philadelphia and to Laodicea.” – Notice all of those churches are northwest of Colossae.
10 miles from Laodicea and 13 miles from Hierapolis, 100 miles from Ephasus
Colossae, Laodicea & Hierapolis destroyed by earthquakes in 17 A.D. (in the reign of Tiberius) and again in the 60’s A.D. (in the reign of Nero).
Paul mentions the Churches in Laodicea 4x’s in Colossians, and Hierapolis 1x
Rebuilt after each earthquake, Colossae never regained its early prominence
manufactured a beautiful dark red wool cloth (colossinum) for which the city became famous.
In Paul’s day, the trade-route was moved & bypassed Colossae which increased trade in Laodicea and Heiropolis, but almost killed the commerce in Colossae completely (THINK of why Cresson is fighting against a by-pass right now)
by 400 A.D. the city no longer existed, no excavation has occurred to date
The Colossian Church:
- The church at Colossae began during Paul’s 3-yr ministry at Ephesus (Acts 19)
- Founded by Epaphras (Col 1:5–7), who apparently was saved during a visit to Ephesus, then likely started the church in Colosse when he returned home.
- many speculate the Colossian church was a house-church meeting in Philemon’s home.
- Mostly made up of Gentiles, but evidence of some Jewish believers there as well. In Acts 2:10 it lists “Phrygia” (which was a Roman province in Asia at the time) as a place where Jews had come from during Pentacost
The House Church (likely Philemon’s Home)
- Philemon 2b: Paul sends greetings to the church in his house
- Colossians 4:15 says to greet Nympha and the church meeting in her home
- Acts 16 & Romans 16: Lydia; Aquila and Priscilla (house church in Ephesus); Gaius
- According to Anglican evangelist David Watson,
“For the first two centuries, the church met in small groups in the homes of its members, apart from special gatherings in public lecture halls or market places, where people could come together in much larger numbers. Significantly these two centuries mark the most powerful and vigorous advance of the church, which perhaps has never seen been equaled. The lack of church buildings was no hindrance to the rapid expansion of the church; instead…it seemed a positive help.” (67 million Chinese Christians, house churches)
- Donald Guthrie (lecturer London Bible College; book: New Testament Theology) wrote that
“the expression ‘in church’ (en ekklésia)…refers to an assembly of believers. There is no suggestion of a special building. Indeed, the idea of a church as representing a building is totally alien to the NT.”
- Ekklesia is used 111 times in the NT, never used for a building or place, always used for the gathering of Believers
The Cultural Influence in Colossae (Paul’s main concern in writing to the Colossians):
Pagan Mysticism and Jewish Legalism and that had to be dealt with by Paul when he got the report from Epaphras
non-Christian teachings were circulating within the Colossian church. The problem was syncretism: the amalgamation or attempted amalgamation of different religions, cultures, or schools of thought.
Jewish and Gentile beliefs and practices were being combined, creating a sort of hybrid religion that no longer resembled true Christianity.
- 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)
- a secret, higher knowledge above Scripture was necessary for enlightenment and salvation
- that humans could transcend evil and the corruptions of the world through asceticism and their own strength of will.
- worship of angels and mystical experience
- Gnostics believed that they could essentially ignore the world and follow their own desires and impulses.
- Paul wrote to the Colossian church to warn them away from error and reiterate the importance of the Christian ethic.
- -Bible.org “Not only do we live in an atomic and space age, but in the most technologically advanced age of all time. As in the past, this is a day where, duped by the age-old lie of Satan, man still continues to believe in himself and his ability to solve his problems apart from God as He is revealed in Scripture.”
- (Wiersbe Bible Commentary, 13.) Do we have any of this heresy today? Yes, we do; and it is just as deceptive and dangerous! When we make Jesus Christ and the Christian revelation only part of a total religious system or philosophy, we cease to give Him the preeminence. When we strive for “spiritual perfection” or “spiritual fullness” by means of formulas, disciplines, or rituals, we go backward instead of forward. Christian believers must beware of mixing their Christian faith with such alluring things as yoga, transcendental meditation, Oriental mysticism, and the like. We must also beware of “deeper life” teachers who offer a system for victory and fullness that bypasses devotion to Jesus Christ. In all things, He must have the preeminence!”
- the necessity of circumcision for salvation
- observance of the ceremonial rituals of the OT law (dietary laws, festivals, Sabbaths), and rigid asceticism(self-discipline).
Click here for a list of the Themes in the Book of Colossians:
Okay! Now let’s get into the actual letter Paul wrote to the Believers in Colossae: Take a look at Colossians 1:1
1. This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
- He asserts his apostleship here, as he does in many epistles (Bob Utley)
- Turn to 1 Cor. 1:1
Colossians Translator’s handbook says:
God’s Will may be translated “this is what God wanted” or “this is what God planned”; “God caused me to be an apostle of Christ Jesus”
Apostle of Christ Jesus must appropriately reflect the importance of the message communicated by Paul, as well as the special relationship between the apostle and the One Who sent him
I love how Paul says he’s an apostle chosen by the will of God, his testimony demands that he let everyone know he is not on his own mission, he wasn’t just born into this lifestyle of preaching/spreading the gospel, it is by GOD’S WILL alone that Paul is who he is…because of where Paul came from, he formerly “thought” he was in the will of God because he was operating in the system in which he was raised, a devout Jew, a persecutor of the Church and anyone who called Jesus Lord – He wants to make it clear that it was not his idea, he was undoubtedly CALLED BY GOD to spread the Good News of Jesus
What is your testimony?
What could you say of your own calling?
Are you living out the calling God has put in your life?
What are you passionate about?
2. We are writing to God’s holy people in the city of Colosse, who are faithful brothers and sisters in Christ. May God our Father give you grace and peace.
- God’s holy people: The saint is one called out by God, set apart, same idea of a kingdom of priests in the O.T.
- IN the city of Colossae:
“When God sees us, He sees His church in Elkart, in LaGrange, in Middleburg. He doesn’t see Maple City Chapel, He doesn’t see First United Methodist Church. He sees it as The Church. He doesn’t see it as the Amish district in Millersburg. He doesn’t see the differences between denominations, He sees it as His people. And the way that we begin to realize that is through the Holy Spirit.” – Dr. Kyle Martin
- Faithful brothers & sister IN Christ: in Him we live, move, have our being, we are inside the sphere of Jesus Christ
Charis = Grace, very similar to the greek word for “greetings”,
Bob Utley (Bible Scholar) says that he believes Paul does this on purpose when writing to the Gentiles because it would be a play on words or sorts. They would expect the normal greeting, but this greeting means something SO MUCH more amazing.
And Peace, the Hebrew idea of Shalom.
We will discover much more depth in the 5 days of homework! If you missed the opportunity to download the homework Col PN Intro, 1.1-2 and print pages 3-7 so that you can dig into God’s Word for yourself over the next week! I’ll meet you back here next Tuesday. May you feel the presence of the Lord in a powerful way this week, and may you be molded and shaped by the power of His Word! He is worthy & He is worth it!!!