-Remove the head coach, and the team flounders; break the fuel line, and the car won’t run; unplug the TV and it has no power to operate. Whether for leadership, power, or life, connections are all important!
-Colossians is a book themed around “connections.” Paul, writing probably from Rome during his imprisonment (4:18) in approximately the early 60s, combats the false teachings, which had somehow infiltrated the Colossian church. The primary problem was “syncretism,” which is combining ideas from other philosophies and religions (such as paganism, strains of Judaism, and Greek thought) with the Christian truth of the gospel. The resulting heresy later became known as “Gnosticism,” which emphasized special knowledge and denying Christ as God and Savior. To combat this grievous and devious error, Paul stressed Christ’s Deity—His connection with the Father—and His sacrificial death on the cross for sin. Only by “connecting” with Christ through faith can anyone have eternal life, and only through a continuing connection with Him can anyone have power for living. Christ is God incarnate and the only way to forgiveness and peace with God the Father. Paul then goes on to emphasize believers’ “connections” with each other as Christ’s body on earth. This letter then becomes an important book to study for spiritual formation in the Christian life with many important theological truths to consider.
Christ is God- Jesus Christ is God in the flesh, Lord of all creation, and Lord of the new creation. He is the expressed reflection of the invisible God. He is eternal, preexistent, omnipotent, and equal with the Father. He is supreme and complete. This means we need to understand Christ as being supreme in our lives, recognizing Him as God’s means for our salvation
Christ is the Head of the Church- Because Christ is God, He is the Head of the church, His true believers. Christ is the founder, the leader, and the highest authority on earth. He requires first place in all our thoughts and activities. We must welcome His leadership in our lives in all we do and think. No person, group, or institutional church can regard any loyalty as more critical than that of loyalty to Christ.
Union with Christ- Because our sin has been forgiven and we have been reconciled to God, we have a union with Christ that can never be broken. In our faith connection with Him, we identify with His death, burial, and resurrection. We should live in constant contact and communication with God (1 Thess. 5:17). When we do, we will all be unified with Christ and with one another.
Man-Made Religion- False teachers were promoting a heresy that stressed man-made rules (legalism) based on their own fleshly knowledge (Gnosticism). They also sought spiritual growth by discipline of the body (asceticism) and visions (mysticism) that were not of God. This search created a deception and self-centered pride through their own efforts in futility. We must not cling to our own ideas and try to blend them into Christianity. Nor should we let our hunger for a more fulfilling Christian experience cause us to trust in a teacher, a group, or a system of thought more than in Christ Himself. Christ is our hope and our true source of wisdom.
Paul’s introduction to the Colossians gives his signature-common greeting with grace and peace. He includes a note of thanksgiving, and a prayer for spiritual wisdom and strength for those brothers and sisters in Christ (1:1-12). He then moves into a doctrinal discussion of the person and work of Christ (1:13-23), stating that Christ is “the image of the invisible God” (1:15), the Creator (1:16), the “head of the body, the church” (1:18), and “the firstborn from the dead” (1:18). His death on the cross makes it possible for us to stand in the presence of God (1:22).
Paul then explains how the world’s teachings are totally empty when compared with God’s plan, and he challenges the Colossians to reject shallow answers and to live in union solely with Christ (1:24-2:23).
With this theological backdrop established, Paul now turns to more practical considerations—what the divinity, death, and resurrection of Jesus should mean to all believers (3:1-4:6). Because our eternal destiny is sure, heaven should fill our thoughts (3:1-4), sexual impurity and other worldly lusts should not be named among us (3:5-8), and truth, love and peace should mark our life (3:9-15). Our love for Christ should also translate into love for others—friends, fellow believers, spouses, children, parents, slaves, and masters (3:16-4:1). We should constantly communicate with God through prayer (4:2-4), and we should take every opportunity to tell others the Good News (4:5-6). In Christ we have everything we need for salvation and for living the Christian life.
Paul may have never visited Colosse. The church was probably planted by Epaphras (1:7) and was the least important city that Paul addressed in any of his biblical letters. This may account for why he concludes his letter with personal comments about their common Christian associations, providing a living lesson of the “connectedness” of the body of Christ (4:7-18).
Read this book with first century Christian communities in mind, but also apply it to your own life as it offers many timeless truths to soak in. You will indeed gain a fresh appreciation for Christ as the fullness of God and the only source for living the victorious Christian life. Know that your leader, head, and power source is Jesus Christ and make sure of your “connection” with Him!
Colossians 2:9-10 “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority.”
*Notes from this overview were aided by:
Thomas D. Lea and David Alan Black, The New Testament: Its Background and Message, 2nd edition, Broadman and Holman Publishers, Nashville, TN: 2003, pgs. 449-457.
New American Standard Bible: Life Application Study Bible, Zondervan, Grand Rapids, Mich.: 1995, pgs. 2096-2097.
-Paul’s primary concern in the first chapter is to let them know of his love for these “saints and faithful brethren in Christ” and to share the preeminence of Christ Jesus in full detail. After Paul’s typical initial greeting “grace” and “peace” with “thanksgiving” from and to the Father, he mentions his constant intercession for the beloved to whom he is writing in the faith along with Timothy, their brother in the Lord. Paul had hear of their faith in Christ Jesus along with all the love that they had for each other as saints in the Kingdom of God. This is an implied indication from the text that Paul had not actually met these folks, but his love for them was truly evident. They all shared a common “hope” that was in Christ and that was laid up for them in Heaven through the truth of the gospel (euaggelion- the good news, the glad tidings of the Kingdom of God as it pertained to salvation through Jesus Christ). It had come to them through the testimony of other believers as it was “bearing fruit” all over the world with the message of the perfect life, atoning death, and bodily resurrection of God’s own Son. They had heard and understood the grace of God in truth. Epaphras, who most think founded the church in Colossae, taught them these things as a fellow “beloved bond-servant” on behalf of Paul and other apostles. Epaphras had informed them somehow of the Colossians “love in the Spirit.” For these reasons, Paul reiterates how they have prayed for them since they heard this encouraging message from Epaphras. He specially tells them that he prayed that they “may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” Why? So that they may be able to walk in a manner totally worthy of the Lord in pleasing Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing constantly in the knowledge of God. He prayed that they would be strengthened with all power, according to God’s glorious might, so that they could attain all steadfastness and patience with joy “giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light (Colossians 1:1-12).”
-“For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (Colossians 1:13-14).” He is the firstborn of all creation, before all things, the beginning, the Creator of all visible and invisible in Heaven and earth, and holding all things together as Head of the church. He is the first-born from the dead, which speaks to the resurrection, and He takes preeminence in everything. In Him all the fullness of God dwells and He is reconciling all things to Himself for His glory making peace by the blood of His cross. Although humanity was formerly alienated and hostile in their corrupted minds engaging in evil deeds, Jesus through His work reconciled fallen people in His fleshly Body through death, in order to present the believers before the Father “holy” and “blameless” and “beyond reproach.” If believers continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel and sealed by the Holy Spirit, their destiny is secure (Ephesians 1:13: 4:30, Colossians 1:15-23).
-Paul had ministered and shared this message faithfully as a good steward with much suffering in toil and struggle according to the energy that powerfully worked through him by the Spirit. He had imparted the mystery hidden from ages past that was now being revealed. That mystery is Christ IN us, the hope of glory unto a mature man with all wisdom. He was proclaiming Him admonishing and teaching every man with all wisdom so that they, as apostles, could present everyone complete in Christ Jesus. This was the purpose of Paul’s labor as he strove according to the power that Christ gave him (Colossians 1:24-29).
-*Application* The supremacy of Christ Jesus as Lord and Savior must be at the heart of everything we do. It is truly all about Him. He is the way, the truth, and the life and no man comes to the Father except by Him (John 14:6). Exalt the Lord in your life in every way and give Him glory because of who He is and what He has done to give us an opportunity to live IN Him now and for all eternity. Praise be unto Jesus Christ our King. He is the Name above all names and the fullness of God incarnated on our behalf. He is the One who works mightily in us to do His good will and accomplish His purposes.
Verses to Memorize- Colossians 1:13-14, 27