Lesson Two • Colossians Introduction
Pastor Noble Baird
“He has delivered 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
All my life, I have been able to remember little random facts or moments in my life vividly; others are much more difficult. One of those moments was back in high school, sitting in Bible class and discussing the New Testament. We were going over the Epistle Letters written by Paul and my teacher told us, “Great Electric Power Company.” For some, this is just a random phrase, but for me, it is a little phrase that has helped me to this day in remembering the order for four of Paul’s letters: Galatians, Ephesians, Philippians, and Colossians.
- Are there any phrases or acronyms you use to help remember things in God’s Word?
As we begin our journey through this letter that Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, I want to first encourage you to stop and pray. Pray that the Lord would not only prepare your heart but also that He would reveal something new or something that maybe has been avoided and now is the time to respond.
Colossians, we know from the opening verses, is a letter that was written by the Apostle Paul and Timothy, “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father” (Colossians 1:1-2). Timothy is often referred to as Paul’s son, brother, and co-author for much of Paul’s ministry. I have always loved and admired Paul and Timothy’s relationship. Their desire to share the Gospel is what brought them together and through the highs and lows of life and ministry, they sharpened one another and continued to do life and ministry together to the end! It is believed that Paul wrote this letter while under house arrest in Rome which places this letter being penned around 60-62 AD.
- Do you have a “Timothy” or are you a “Timothy” to a “Paul” in your life?
As the letter continues in this first chapter, we learn some important facts about the church. First, we learn of their love and faith in the Gospel, “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing – as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth” (Colossians 1:3-6). Second, we learn that their pastor, and the one who shared the message of the Gospel to those in Colossae, was Epaphras, “Just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf and has made known to us your love in the Spirit” (Colossians 1:7-8). Third, we learn that the church is actively sharing the Good News of Christ and they are being sanctified by the Spirit, “Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing – as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth” (Colossians 1:5-6).
- In Colossians 1:3-6, Paul and Timothy write about the Gospel that the Colossians had received and believed. Take some time to share what the Gospel is and share passages of Scripture to walk through it.
Paul then takes an important step in this introduction by encouraging them, but he also challenges the church. Beginning in verse 9 we read, “And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. He has delivered 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.” It is so encouraging to see Paul and Timothy’s devotion to not only prayer, but praying for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Can you imagine how our daily lives would change and how the life of the church would change, if we too did not cease praying for one another? The first encouragement and challenge we have from Paul and Timothy is prayer. They are encouraging the church by letting them know that since they received word from Epaphras of the church’s faith, they have not ceased to pray for them. Then, we have a list of four specific areas which are being prayed for and the church is challenged to grow and emulate in their walk with Christ: bear fruit, gain knowledge of the Lord, be steadfast, and be patient. They are to endure and give thanks for the gift of eternity through Christ.
- It seems as if Epaphras reached into the lives of those in Colossae and shared the Gospel of Christ with them. Who is the Epaphras in your life who shared the Gospel with you?
- What does the word sanctification mean? What has that looked like in your life?
Finally, Paul takes the opportunity in the final verses of chapter 1 to address a growing issue of deception with the doctrinal truth of Christ. Gnosticism was a growing heretical belief during this time. It was one that Paul had heard, and I am sure seen, during his travels, as a growing issue. At the core, and still to this day, this belief system believes that there is a kind of a god; however, one can access and become more spiritual and somehow attain a higher level closer to God by their own doing and acts. There is no faith in Jesus is as God, nor that He is the Messiah. Jesus is not viewed as the one true way to our Heavenly Father. Therefore, Paul writes a truly beautiful and glorifying passage about Christ’s supremacy and deity. Beginning in verse 15 he writes, “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities – all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross. And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister” (Colossians 1:15-23). I hope you took the time to truly read Paul’s words about Jesus. Honestly, I would encourage you to read it again. There is so much doctrinal and biblical truth packed into these verses that I do not want you to miss! Jesus is the beginning and the end. He is the Alpha and the Omega. He has always been there from the very beginning and He forever will be. He is alive and active this very second in His glorious resurrected body! He is the truth, and the Gospel on which we stand is through Him alone. He is how we have life and gain access to our Heavenly Father.
- What part of Colossians 1:15-23 sticks out to you?
As we begin this journey over the next couple weeks into the book of Colossians, I pray that we do so with the mindset of Colossians 1:15-23 as the foundation for this entire study. No matter what we go through, the highs, lows, valleys, storms, and times of peace and rejoicing, may we never forget the amazing Savior we serve and His love and desire for us.
Knowing that Colossians is a letter written to the church, have you read it as a letter? Most letters we read in one sitting. There would be no chapter or verse breaks. Simply read Colossians like a letter as it was written.