COLOSSIANS

Background on Colossians: As far as we know Paul never visited Colossae, at least not at the time he wrote this epistle; he had only “heard” about the church at Colossae (1:4, 9; 2:1) – {Note: The book of Colossians is an extraordinary book of the Bible often the favorite book of the Bible for many Christians. The book of Colossians is unique in that the Apostle Paul was writing to a city that he had not yet been to, a city that had not had any Apostle visit it [unlike Rome where many Christians from Jerusalem and even Peter might have visited there before Paul]. The book of Colossians is considered Paul’s opening evangelical statement of what the Apostle might have said to people in any given city who gathered to hear his first public appearance and presentation of the Gospel in places that previously had little or no exposure to the Gospel of Jesus Christ.}

As far as we know Paul never visited Colossae, at least not at the time he wrote this epistle; he had only "heard" about the church at Colossae (1:4, 9; 2:1). Nevertheless, it was a product of his ministry and beautifully illustrates his commitment to impart his vision of reaching others with the powerful message of the gospel. That this is so is illustrated in the following ways. First, Paul spent three years ministering the word in Ephesus from the lecture room of the School of Tyrannus. It was during this time all of Asia heard the Word (cf. Acts. 19:8-10, 26; & 20:31). Ephesus had three great attractions that brought people into the city from all parts of Asia. It was a seaport town, a center of commerce, and, with the temple of Diana, it was also a center for idol worship. Second, while on a visit to Ephesus, a young man from Colossae named Epaphras evidently heard the gospel from Paul and was converted. It appears that he was not only saved, but that he was trained and prepared by Paul to go back and plant a church in his hometown of Colossae (1:7; 4:12). The story of the establishment of the church at Colossae illustrates an important truth. "God does not always need an apostle, or a 'full-time Christian worker' to get a ministry established. Nor does He need elaborate buildings and extensive organizations." Through Paul's vision for training others for ministry, God took two men and sent them out to reach and build others in Christ in at least three cities of the Lycus Valley. ... The Scope of Colossians: Colossians presents the all-supremacy, the all-sufficiency, the uniqueness, and the fullness of the person and work of Jesus Christ as the God-man Savior, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and the total solution for man's needs both for time and eternity. It is a cosmic book, presenting the cosmic Christ: the Creator/Sustainer who is also the one and only Redeemer/Reconciler of the universe. One of my former and beloved Greek professors at Dallas Seminary, Dr. S. Lewis Johnson, had the following excellent summary of the importance of this epistle. In the first of a series of articles entitled "Studies in the Epistle to the Colossians" he wrote: "Without doubt Colossae was the least important church to which any epistle of St. Paul is addressed." So wrote Bishop Lightfoot some years ago in one of the finest commentaries on New Testament literature. Colosse had been "a great city of Phrygia," but it was in the afternoon of its influence and importance when Paul wrote the house-church there. And yet the message to Colosse, so bright with the light of the apostle's highest Christology, has become amazingly relevant in the middle of the twentieth century. With the sudden and startling intrusion of the space age and its astrophysics, nuclear power, missiles and rockets, the church of Jesus Christ has been forced to relate its Lord and Master to the ultimate frontiers. Colossians, which presents Him as the architect and sustainer of the universe, as well as the reconciler of all things, both earthly and heavenly, provides the church with the material it may and must use. Suddenly the epistle to the little flock in the declining city has become perhaps the most contemporary book in the New Testament library. -- The usefulness of Colossians, however, is not a recent phenomenon. The epistle is no late-blooming flower, although its grandeur and brilliance may strike one's eyes with increasing force in the present time. The Christology and the ethics of the letter are important for all time. It has always furnished a proper antidote to humanly devised schemes of salvation. As A. M. Hunter puts it; "To all who would 'improve' Christianity by admixing it with spiritualism or Sabbatarianism or occultism or any such extra, it utters its warning: 'What Christ is and has done for us is enough for salvation. We need no extra mediators, or taboos, or ascetics. To piece out the gospel with the rags and tatters of alien cults is not to enrich but to corrupt it.'" [link]

Background on Colossians (Part 2): Because of the rising tide of human philosophies confronting us today, no New Testament book speaks with more relevancy than does the epistle to the Colossians – Increasingly our generation wants to take religion out of the realm of rational discourse and relegate it to the area of personal preferences and opinions. If there are thirty-one flavors of ice cream, why can we not have similar variety in religions? – Thus, Colossians is a book that speaks to our cosmic age and to this New Age movement

Introductory Remarks: Because of the rising tide of human philosophies confronting us today, no New Testament book speaks with more relevancy than does the epistle to the Colossians. 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. Through one avenue or another, man continues to offer his own manmade solutions for the ills of society whether in the form of secular humanism or religious syncretism. But it appears many are becoming discontented over the futility of materialism and somewhat dissatisfied with the idea that life is but a cosmic accident. As a result, many are turning to the New Age movement that has been growing by leaps and bounds. This new movement claims we stand at the brink of an entirely new age of human achievement and potential, one that will unify the world and bring an end to war and an end to hunger through a redistribution of the world's resources and population control. It will lead to the conservation of the earth's environment, result in genuine equality among all races and religions and between men and women, and provide a global ethic that will unite the human family. But at the center of this movement is a religious syncretism that rejects the biblical revelation of God as revealed in Christ. According to this movement, Christ is only one of many religious leaders or influences that man may turn to because there are other ways that are equally valid. -- Increasingly our generation wants to take religion out of the realm of rational discourse and relegate it to the area of personal preferences and opinions. If there are thirty-one flavors of ice cream, why can we not have similar variety in religions? The gods of the New Age Movement are always tolerant of sexual preferences, feminism, and hedonistic pleasures at almost any cost. Why shouldn't we each choose a religion that is compatible with our private values? In order to have a meaningful faith, it must agree with our deeply held beliefs. What works for you might not work for me. Thus, Colossians is a book that speaks to our cosmic age and to this New Age movement. But let us not miss the fact that this movement has its source in the occult (though hidden under new names) and in Eastern religions that go all the way back to the beginnings of history with the fall of man. The New Age movement is not new; it is the most recent repeat of the second oldest religion, the spirituality of the serpent. Its impulse is foreign to none of us. The appeal is ancient indeed; its rudiments were seductively sold to our first parents in the garden. Human pride was tickled, and it jumped. The New Age movement promotes a belief in monism. Monism is the belief that all is one, that everything is interrelated, interdependent, and interpenetrating. It promotes the hideous idea that humanity, nature, and God are not separate from each other, but are one. As an illustration, Groothius also points out that John Randolph Price is a New Age writer who teaches that everyone should affirm, "I and the Father are one, and all the Father has is mine. In truth I am the Christ of God," and that he "tars as 'anti-Christ' those under-evolved, ignorant ones who deny 'the divinity of all men' (pantheism)." As evident from this statement by Price, pantheism is at the heart of the New Age movement. It teaches that "all is God." But their God is not a personal being; he is an impersonal energy, a force or consciousness. Out of this naturally comes another idea. Since all is one and all is God, we too are gods. The goal of the New Age movement is to awaken us to the god who sleeps within us, to teach us to live like the gods we are. The bait on this pagan hook is Satan's great delusion from the Garden of Eden, the promise of godhood. -- Secular humanism taught that "man is the measure of all things." Now, because of this promise of godhood for men, the New Age movement says with man all things are possible. The New Age worldview is what could be called "a cosmic humanism." But as mentioned, the ideas of the New Age movement are not new. It merely repeats Satan's age-old lie in a new age using euphemisms or new names to hide and remove old associations and stigmas. As will be shown, the heresy confronting the Colossians had certain similarities to the New Age movement of our day. Colossians is God's polemic and rebuttal to many kinds of delusions and heresies, but it is especially relevant to what we see happening in the world today. [link]

Colossians 1 – The Apostle Paul begins his letter to a Church stating what he would say to them if he could visit them — ‘Colossians 1:3-6 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, *praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, **For the hope which is laid up **for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the Truth of the Gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and ***bringeth forth fruit [evidence], as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the Grace of God in Truth’

Colossians 1:7-23 As ye also learned of Epaphras [a native of Colossae who on a visit to Ephesus was saved and taught Christianity by Paul, he then returned to Colossae and began the Church there] our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the [Holy] Spirit. *For this cause [their Christian love] 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; *That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to His glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, *which hath made us meet to be partakers of **the **inheritance of the saints in light: Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the Kingdom of His dear Son [Jesus]: In [Jesus] whom we have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image [same Spiritual substance] of the invisible God, the firstborn [receives the double inheritance, Jews (Exodus 4:22-23) and Christians (Hebrews 12:23)] of every creature: For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, *visible [physical] and invisible [spiritual], whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him [Jesus], and for Him: And He is [pre-existent] before all things, and by Him all things consist [exist, remain]. *And He is the head [authority] of the [Christian] body, the church: who is the beginning, *the firstborn from the dead; that in all things He might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in Him [Jesus] should all fullness dwell; ***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. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath He reconciled In the body of His flesh through death, *to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in His sight [at the Bema Seat Judgment (2 Corinthians 5:10)]: *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; - Paul begins his message with the basics a need for faithfulness Jesus Christ, redemption and reconciliation to God only through the blood of Jesus and of the headship and authority of Jesus Christ over His Christian Church.

Colossians 2 – Paul then talks about the importance of not being deceived by the ‘enticing words’ [false religions, false science, empty philosophies] of man — ‘Colossians 2:1-5 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; 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 [3 in 1] Mystery of God [Holy Spirit], and of *the Father, and of *[Jesus] Christ; ***In whom [Holy Spirit, Father, Jesus Christ] are hid **all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile [deceive] you with enticing [i.e. Gnostic] words. 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 [Jesus] Christ.’

Colossians 2:6-19 As ye have therefore received *Christ Jesus the Lord [authority], so walk ye in Him [Jesus]: Rooted [anchored] and built up in Him, and stablished [established] in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with Thanksgiving. **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. For in Him [Jesus] dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. ***And ye are complete in Him [Jesus], which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are [spiritually] circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: **Buried with Him in [spiritual] baptism, **wherein also ye are risen with Him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised Him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened [made alive] together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses [sins]; 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; And having spoiled principalities and powers, **He made a shew of them openly [in the resurrection], triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you [religiously, physically] in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the Sabbath days: **Which are a shadow [O.T. example] of [New Testament] things to come; but the body [content of the Holy Bible] is of Christ. 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, And not holding the Head [Jesus Christ], from which all the Christian Church] body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. - Paul gives more cautions and warnings that individual Christians are to be careful and not to get trapped into religious practices or into the preferences and spectacles of men as they do not foster a true Spiritual relationship with God in Jesus Christ.

Colossians 3 – The importance of living a new spiritual; heavenly, godly life, a maturing Christian life centered in the Holy Bible and focused on Jesus Christ — ‘Colossians 3:1-10 If ye then be risen [resurrection] with [Jesus] Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth [enthroned] on the right hand of God. **Set your affection on things above, **not on things on the earth. For ye are dead [to this world], and your [new] life is [Heaven] hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear [2nd Coming], then shall ye also appear with Him in Glory. Mortify [put to death] therefore *your members [worldly, desires, urges] which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry: For which things’ sake the wrath of God cometh on the children of disobedience: In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them. But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old [sin] man with his deeds; And have put on the new [Spiritual] man, which is **renewed in [Biblical] knowledge after the image [spiritual substance] of Him [God] that created him [a new Spiritual person]:’

Colossians 3:12-17 Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful. 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. 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. ... Colossians 3:23-25 *And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily [with eternal significance], as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons. - Everyone is to keep a holy perspective and an eternal purpose even while in this current physical life.

Colossians 4 – The Apostle Paul concludes his letter, a letter written to group of people that he will most likely not meet until after they have been gathered together and are a part of the great Congregation in Heaven — ‘Colossians 4:2 Continue in prayer, and watch [look for the 2nd Coming of Jesus] in the same [prayerful manner] with thanksgiving’ … ‘Colossians 4:5-6 Walk in wisdom toward them [non-Christian] that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace [hospitable], seasoned with salt [giving people a taste of Christianity, eternity], that ye may know how ye ought to answer [having ourselves a graceful attitude towards God and giving every person a desire for Christian spiritual things] every man.’

Paul concludes the Bible's book of Colossians: Colossians 4:15-18 Salute the brethren which are in Laodicea, and Nymphas, and the Church which is in his house. **And when this epistle (letter) is read among you, ***cause [make it happen] that it [this letter] be read also in the Church of the Laodiceans; **and that ye likewise read the epistle from Laodicea [probably know known as the Book of Ephesians]. **And say to Archippus, **Take heed to the Ministry **which thou hast received in the Lord, **that thou [continue] fulfill it. The salutation by the hand of me Paul. Remember my bonds [imprisonment]. Grace be with you. Amen. -Note: The letters of the New Testament [and all of the Bible but specifically the N.T. epistles] are meant to be read out loud in the gathered Churches. This ancient practice of reading Paul's letters [and all the letters of the N.T.] to the Church fellowship seems to have been neglected by the modern Church and it is a practice that we are commanded to do. Having one person or several people slowly read an epistle to the congregation should be a standard Church practice even today.

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