Colossians Chapter 1

February 21, 2013

This Preaching in Shorts Bible study is on Colossians. Each chapter is read verse by verse with the major points highlighted and discussed.

You can listen to the study by clicking here

Colossians is often referred to as a prison letter because Paul wrote it while he was in prison at Rome. This letter was probably written while he was under house arrest where he was still probably chained to a guard but was allowed to have visitors and write letters.

Paul starts the letter by commending the Colossians for their love of the believers. Like the church in Rome, the church in Colosse was not actually planted by Paul. The Colossian church was started by Epaphras, one of Paul’s converts.

The city of Colosse was 100 miles east of Ephesus. It had a large Jewish population and was a major trading center in the area.

In the letter to Colossians Paul is dealing with some heretical teachings about Jesus that were causing some problems among the believers there. It was important then, and it is important now, for us to know who Jesus is. In effect, our salvation is not based on what we know, but whom we know.

Colossians 1:1-29 (NIV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints– 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross. 21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation– 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant. 24 Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness– 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ. 29 To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.

Colossians 1: 1-5

As discussed in the introduction, the church in Colosse was started by Epaphras. Paul has not yet visited there, but is writing apparently at the request of Epaphras to deal with some heretical teachings about Jesus that have been causing confusing among the believers. These heretical teachings are along the lines of Gnosticism, which teaches among other things that it took some special knowledge to be accepted by God, that Christ alone was not enough for salvation.

Colossians 1:6-8

The gospel, the good news, the truth about Jesus Christ has been spreading around the world and where the message is heard and believed people are being changed. God’s Word is not just for our information, it is for our transformation. Becoming a Christian is more than just turning over a new leaf or determining to be good, it is the beginning of a life changing relationship with God.

As believers loving God and loving others we can have an impact that moves beyond our own communities and actually impact the world around us for Christ.

Colossians 1:9-14

Paul deals with the false teachings of Gnosticism that have crept in to the Colossian church. Gnostics valued the accumulation of knowledge, but Paul pointed out that knowledge in itself is empty. To be worth anything, it must lead to a changed life and right living.

Paul also gives us a great model for how to pray for people. We can request that they (1) understand what God wants them to do, (2) gain spiritual wisdom, (3) honor and please God, (4) produce every kind of good fruit, (5) learn to know God better and better, (6) be strengthened with God’s glorious power, (7) have great endurance and patience, (8) be filled with joy, and (9) give thanks always.

These are basic needs of all those who are walking with Jesus.

Colossians 1:15-23

In verses 15 through 23 of Chapter 1 you will see what is a type of liturgy in the early church that points out clearly who Jesus is, and refutes the claims of the heretics and gnostics.

In verse 15 Jesus is the express “image of the invisible God”. He is not some distant, inferior reflection.

In verses 16 and 17 Jesus is the direct Creator of all things in the material and spiritual universe—even of the angelic hosts. By Him and for Him everything was made. Clearly God and the material universe are not at odds!

In verse 18 Jesus is Head of the body, and He is supreme in everything.

In verse 19 the fullness of God resides in Him alone.

In verses 20-22 a real Incarnation—in Christ’s physical body through death—God has reconciled us, bringing us into His very presence. In Christ we are “holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation”. In fact spiritual effects are accomplished in the physical body. Our life in this world and our life with God are not at odds, but harmonize.

In verse 23 Paul encourages the Colossians to continue in their faith and not be moved from the hope held out in the Gospel.

Colossians 1:24-29

No knowledge is hidden, as the Gnostics claim. All has been revealed, even the great secret “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”.

Christ is in you, and you are in Christ and that is where we will end our discussion on Chapter 1.

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