Paul didn’t plant the church in Colossae and he had never been there, but he had heard of the amazing work going on, so he wrote this letter for a couple of reasons. First of all, he wanted to thank God for the Colossian Christians and encourage them as a church. Secondly, however, he wanted to warn them not to turn away from Christ, that He was all they needed, that Jesus is sufficient.
In verses 3-4 Paul thanks God for two huge things he’d heard about them – their faith in Christ and their love for ALL the saints. This is evidence of salvation – big time. Love is the fruit of the Spirit, but if you only love some, you’re not filled with God’s agape love, for God loves ALL! Paul took this to mean that the Colossians were true Christians.
The Gospel had come to the Colossians, it was bearing fruit among them, and they now had this awesome hope of heaven. Epaphras (Colossians 1:7; 4:12) was a Christian from Colossae, a co-laborer of Paul’s, and was instrumental in starting the church there.
I’ve always loved the prayer of Paul’s in 1:9-12. Paul did not cease to pray that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and Spiritual understanding, that they would walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him, that they would be fruitful in every good work and increase in the knowledge of God; that they would be strengthened with God’s might…what for? For all patience and longsuffering with joy (boy, I could use some strength for that). What a wonderful prayer we can learn, maybe even memorize, so we can pray Scripture for our loved ones.
Isn’t it beautiful the way Paul describes salvation in verses 13-14? We’ve been delivered from the power of darkness and transferred into the Kingdom of the Son of His love. Paul goes on to elaborate on the greatness of Christ. When the Lord called me to start the church here at Calvary Chapel El Monte, I had heard on the radio a general suggestion to church planters that one of the most important things to do in the beginning is to preach on the greatness of Christ. In light of that, the very first book of the Bible that I taught in El Monte, was the book of Colossians.
We read in Colossians 1:15 that Jesus is the very image of the invisible God. As Jesus told Philip, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father…” (John 14:9). The title of “Firstborn over all creation,” doesn’t mean that Jesus was made or born, it simply speaks of the fact that He has the rights of the firstborn over all creation. As a matter of fact, Paul goes on to tell us that Jesus made everything (we read the same truth in John 1:3). Verse 17 teaches us that Jesus is before all things and in Him “all things consist.” This means that Jesus holds everything together. Scientists speculate on what holds the atoms of the universe together, they don’t know, so they’ve come up with a theory called “atomic glue.” If only they’d read their Bibles, they’d know, Jesus holds everything together! And check this out, Jesus is the Head of the church. As a pastor that truth brings me so much comfort!
We read in verses 19-20 that the Father determined that it would be through Christ that He would reconcile all things to Himself; He did that through the blood of the cross (see also Acts 20:28). And we, who were once enemies of God, are now friends, and children of God, we’ve been made holy, blameless, and above reproach in His sight. But, Christians need to continue in the faith. This is one of the reasons Paul wrote the book of Colossians, and Galatians, and this is also why the book of Hebrews was written. Verse 23 begins with the word “if.” We must continue to believe, we must cling to Christ, we must not be “moved away from the hope of the Gospel.” As Pastor Chuck Smith said so frequently, “I am eternally secure as I abide in Jesus Christ.”
Paul was a minister of this gospel and therefore he suffered greatly. Colossians was actually written from a Roman prison; Paul had been arrested because of His witness for Christ, but he rejoices in his sufferings, because he knew it was for them, that somehow, someway, God would use these things for good – he was a prisoner of Christ, not Rome.
Paul mentions one of the “mysteries” and that is that not only would the Gentiles be saved, but God would live IN them/us!
Verses 28-29 is a perfect summary of ministry and is the reason why we ministers MUST preach Christ! Paul says, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.”
Warn the people.
Teach the Bible.
So that people would be saved.
So that Christians would be mature.
Ministers must work hard, labor, and strive.
Ministers must be empowered by God.
Paul cared for allthe churches, even those that he didn’t personally plant. More than likely the church at Colossae was an offshoot of the church of Ephesus, so Paul had never been there, or to the church at Laodicea, but that didn’t stop him from having a great “conflict” for them. He cared for them, was burdened for them – the Greek word speaks of agonizing for them (see also 2 Corinthians 11:28). He wanted their hearts to be encouraged, united by love; he wanted them to lay hold of their spiritual riches, to have that full assurance – to know God intimately.
Paul didn’t want anyone to deceive them (4). I feel the same way. I get so concerned when I consider all the false teachers that are out there. As a pastor I know that people have access to all of them via radio, internet, social media, word of mouth, and I know how “persuasive” some of these wolves are.
How did you receive the Lord? By faith. As you have received the Lord so walk in Him. Don’t get caught up in Legalism, Asceticism, Judaism, Hedonism, Gnosticism or anything other than Christ. Paul warns the Colossians to beware of worldly philosophy or traditions of men that would turn you from the simplicity of Christ. Jesus is fully God, so Jesus is enough! (9-10)
You’ll notice that this chapter mentions our position inChrist, repeatedly. In Him are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (3). In Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily (9). We have placed our faith in Him (5) therefore we are found complete in Him (10). We are to therefore walk in Him (6) and be built up in Him (7). In Him we were circumcised (11) (the flesh has been cut away); in Him we were baptized (12) (the old man has died, the new man has risen).
Jesus has forgiven us and set us free from the hand-writing of requirements – He nailed it to the cross and at that same cross He defeated and disarmed all demons – clearly and completely. I like what Sandy Adams said, “The Old Testament regulations were given to point us to Jesus. Now that they have accomplished their purpose, they only get in the way when we try to obey them. The cross of Christ not only ended slavery to sin, but slavery to the law.”
When you know these truths of God’s Word and apply them you won’t allow others to judge you on matters of ceremonial law; you won’t allow others to move you from Jesus or cheat you of your reward. Apparently, some of these Colossians were worshipping angels (18) why? Jesus is enough, hold tight to Him! Over the years I’ve actually seen people go backwards – back to Judaism; they start living according to all the laws of the OT, or some have gone back to Catholicism, or back to legalism. For some reason we start to think that the more rules and regulations we obey, the better Christians we are, but that’s not true. Stick to the Word, and cling only to Christ.
RememberColossians 2:23(NLT) “These rules may seem wise because they require strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline. But they provide no help in conquering a person’s evil desires.”
This has always been one of my favorite chapters in the Bible – because there’s so much here!
Paul begins by reminding me to seek those things which are above, things in the heavenly realm, things of the Kingdom – to seek my King, the Lord Jesus Christ. When I read those words in v. 2 to, “Set your mind on things above…”I can’t help but think of Isaiah 26:3,“You will keep himin perfect peace,whosemind isstayed on You, because he trusts in You.”Let’s set our minds on the Lord, let’s keep our minds stayed right there – the result will be peace, power and Spiritual productivity.
I’m to put to death the old Manny; sexual sins and covetousness are not to be any part of the practice of Christians – Paul mentions the fact that the day will come when such sins and sinners will experience the wrath of God (see v. 25 also).
What a struggle it can be, (if we walk in our own strength) with the list of things mentioned in verses 8-9 – anger, wrath, malice (desire to do evil), filthy language, cussing, lies – that’s the old me – but the new me is the new nature given to me when I was born again. I’m to put on the new man and make sure that new man grows to be more and more like Jesus. In v. 11 Paul reminds me that there is no spiritual advantage given to us because of our nationality, or because or some ceremony (like circumcision) – it doesn’t matter what our social or economic status is – it’s just all about Jesus!
As Christians we are to put on a certain tenderness towards one another – after all, that’s how the Lord is with us. Once again, we see that it all comes down to love (v. 14 would be a great passage to commit to memory).
If you’ve read the book of Ephesians you’ll notice that there are similarities between Colossians and Ephesians, as well as slight contrasts (keep in mind that these are both prison epistles written about the same time – AD 61-62). Warren Wiersbe said this, “Colossians 3:16–4:1 parallels Ephesians 5:18–6:9, except that the emphasis here is on being filled with the Word of God.”In Ephesians 5:18 Paul commands us to be filled with the Spirit. Some theologians will tell you that the book of Ephesians presents the church as the Body of Christ, while Colossians present Christ as the Head of the Church (1:18; 2:10, 19).
Verse 17 is another great verse to memorize – what a great summary of the Christian life – and what a great goal that whatever we do – whether word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, and v. 23 adds that we do it heartily as to the Lord.
Wives are to be submissive. Husbands are to be loving. Children are to be obedient. And fathers are not to provoke their children (this can happen with expectations that are too high, neglect, inconsistent discipline, favoritism, anger, or demeaning them). God helps us to be our children’s greatest encourager. And when we go to work, let’s remember, we work for God; we’re not to just work hard when our human boss is watching, no – we live and labor for the Lord.
Verse 1 of chapter 4 concludes a section in which Paul addresses the various roles one has in life; this particular passage exhorts employers to be fair to their employees, knowing that they have a “Boss” in heaven to whom one day they will give an account. Pastor Chuck offers words of wisdom, “No one can really rule properly unless he is ruled. We will answer to the Lord someday. Whenever you put a man into leadership who doesn’t understand that he is under authority, a tyranny will always develop…”
Paul then encourages the church to continue earnestly in prayer. James used Elijah as an example of a man who was just like us, but he prayed earnestly and in doing so he was able to open and close the heavens (James 5:17-18). Let’s never give up on our prayer life, let it be earnest and constant, let’s be vigilant and thankful to God. I thought it was interesting that Paul prayed for open gospel doors rather than open prison doors (see also Luke 11:9; 1 Corinthians 16:9; Revelation 3:8).
Paul’s not the only one that has a heart for the lost. Colossians 4:5-6 speak primarily of the way we ALL should have a heart to win the lost to the Lord (we need eyes to evangelize). “Those who are outside” refers to non-believers; we are to walk in wisdom knowing they’re watching us (Proverbs 11:30). Our time is limited, so let’s guard our witness, the way we live, the way we speak, should make them thirsty for Christ, just as salt creates a thirst in people. Warren Wiersbe elaborates, “The unsaved are outside the family of God, and it is our task to bring them in. Effective witness involves walking wisely, being alert to every opportunity, and being careful in what we say and how we say it (1 Pet. 3:15–17).”
In the closing section of Colossians Paul mentions eight co-laborers in the Lord, Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Jesus (called Justus), Epaphras, Luke and Demas. Even Paul needed help, he was able to get so much more done with the brothers who labored in the Lord, how grateful he was for all of them. They were brothers, ministers, servants; they were faithful and beloved. Every one of them has a story. Mark was a man who failed Paul in the past but was completely restored to Paul and ministry (see Acts 15:36-40; 2 Timothy 4:11). Demas, on the other hand, seemed to do the opposite, he started off well, but in the end, he had forsaken Paul because he loved this present world (2 Timothy 4:10).
I’ve always been enamored by the testimony of Epaphras, he labored in prayer for the Colossians. The Greek word translated “laboring fervently” is “agonizomai” it’s related to our English word “agony.” In other words, Epaphras agonized in prayer for the people, that they would, “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.” What an inspiration for all of us, but especially those of us who are ministers.
Archippus may have been a leader or the pastor of the church in Colossae, but the appeal applies to all of us, let’s open our eyes to whatever ministry God has called us to, God gave it to you, God put you there – and once that truth sinks in – Paul says, we’ll be able to fulfill that ministry, complete and finish it for the glory of God and the good of His people.