Colossians 2:1-5

It is, without a doubt, life is full of troubles.  It is the price we pay for being in a fallen world.  Added to the expected difficulties of life is the conflicts that arise because of our beliefs and the stances that we take.  Paul echoes this thought in another Scripture, “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12).  The difficulty seems inevitable, but Paul demonstrates that it is possible to maintain faithfulness to Christ through the pain.

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 mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing 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 Christ.

What conflict is Paul experiencing for the church at Colossae and Laodicea?  At this point, it is an inner conflict.  He longs to visit and help these churches, but Paul has an issue with visiting churches that he did not start (Romans 15:20).  Paul knows the reputation he has, and he does not want to mess with the work other people started.  Still, he has conflict in his inner self for these people.  He writes that he longs for their heart to “knit together in love” and that they would have “understanding” the mystery of God.

This mystery is that they would have the full assurance of salvation.  Many people, even today, struggle with their salvation.  They do not have confidence either in their walk or with God’s ability to save them.  The mystery is how God could give us scandalous grace.  We do not deserve salvation, but God has given it to us nonetheless.  Paul wanted to remind the believers that in his absence, they can have assurance of their salvation.  We do not need someone else to confirm our salvation; the Holy Spirit does that for us.  We can be confident in our salvation through Jesus.

All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.

Colossians 1:23-29: Bible Study

When suffering comes, we will be tempted to give up.  Hard times will come.  Our reaction will be a determining factor of how we go through those difficult seasons.  Paul demonstrates what a committed attitude looks like for us.

Colossians 1:23-29

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; Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.

Verse 23 starts by calling our attention to our personal faith.  Paul shows us that standing before God justified is contingent upon us contining “in the faith groudned and settled”  We are encouraged to not”be moved away from the hope of the gospel.”  It is important to note, that the moving away was from Christianity to Judiasm in most cases.  When we forget who Jesus us, the temptation is to rely on other sources for salvation.  Believers need to keep their focus on Christ.

The remainder of this passage focuses on Paul’s perseverance in preaching the gospel through suffering.  Basically, as Paul preaches to all creation, he receives marks (wounds) in his physical body.  However, they are worth Revert stripe. 

The first point Paul Makes about his preaching is that it is the culmination of God’s plan.  God has revealed Himself through time to different people, who then recorded it into what we call the Old Testament. Now, God’s plan has come to fulfillment in Jesus Christ, God’s Son. The Gospel, the good news about Jesus, that Paul preaches is the continuing of the Old Testament revelation. 

The last part of this passage explains the purpose of preaching.  Paul labored jn the ministry so that believes will be presented, “perfect” or “complete” before God. I do not use the word “mature” as many do for the word perfect.  This is because God does not do any partial work in us. He is faithful to complete it. We do not need to fall in sin every day in word, deed, or thought. We can, by the power of the Holy Spirt, stay above sin. 
All Scripture Quotations are from the King James Version.

Colossians 1:9-22, Part 2: Bible Study

In the previous blog post, we looked at Colossians 1:9-13.  We will be looking at the remainder of the larger passage in 1:9-22.  In this passage, Paul emphasizes the preeminence of Christ.  Preeminence is the superiority of an individual in comparison to others.  Even more, it advances the idea that this person is “before” others.  What else could be said of Jesus?  He far surpasses all creation and is before all things.  In this study, we will look at the passage in smaller pieces since this is still a larger portion of scripture.

Colossians 1:14-22

“In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the 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 should all fulness 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:

Vs. 14

The subject of this verse forms a circular reasoning Paul.  He will bring it back up in verse 19.  His focus in verse 14 is the atonement Jesus made for humanity through the shedding of His blood.  Atonement is a central theme of the whole Bible.  To atone for something is to make amends, make peace, or repair a broken relationship.  Our relationship with God was broken with God.  The price for atonement was our blood, but it is tainted with sin.   We could not atone for our sins, but Jesus could, and did by His blood.

Vs. 15

Dennis Kinlaw wrote a book titled, “Let’s Start with Jesus.”  It is an excellent book, and the premise is for Christians to have a well-formed theology of who God is, must start with Jesus.  Why?  This verse explains that.  Jesus “is the image of the invisible God.”  John 1:18 reads, “No man hath seen God at any time, the only begotten Son, which is in the bosom of the Father, he hath declared him.”  If we want to know God the Father, we go to Jesus, God the Son.

The phrase, “firstborn” of every creature is not a designating of birthing order.  Rather it signifies birthing type.  In the infamous verse, John 3:16, the phrase “only begotten” implies this as well.  There is no one else like Jesus.  He is not part of creation, he proceeds it and has always been.  His procession from God Father is unique and eternal.

Vs. 16-17

How was Jesus involved in creation?  In phrasing comparable to Genesis 1:1, John 1:1 shares that Jesus is, in fact, the Word of God.  When God spoke, Christ was there.  Through the Word, God created and thus, Jesus was the instrument through which God created the universe and heavens.  Whatever was made, was not made from things that already existed.  All that was made was done through the spoken Word of God.  It also remains because the Word upholds it.  In fact, you are here because the Word sustains your very breath.

Vs. 18-19

It is concluded, that if Christ is the creative force behind the universe, the church is without a doubt, also under Christ.  Jesus is the head of the church, those called out by the Lord and belong to Him.  And, why not?  Jesus being fully God.  The deity of Christ was not diminished any by His humanity.    Rather, the fulness of God rested in Christ.

Again, the same terminology of firstborn is here.  Jesus is not the first to be raised from the dead.  Several in scripture had risen from the dead, but there is a fundamental difference.  Jesus’ resurrection was to life eternal.  The previous were brought back from the dead only to die again.  Jesus is the first of a new and unique type of resurrection that only those in His church will experience.

Vs. 20-22

Again, we hone in on the sacrifice of Christ, the shedding of His blood, and the peace that it brought to God and humanity.  In full circle, Christ, who was the catalyst in creating all things, is also responsible for redeeming all things in Himself.  Jesus brought the sinner, who was far from God, near.  Not only has our proximity from God lessened, but we have been changed by His incredible grace.

All Scripture quotation is from the King James Version.

Colossians 1:9-22, Part 1: Bible Study

The following passage of Scripture is lengthy.  To fully observe the passage, I am going to look at it in two parts.  We will look at the first part, verses 9-13, in this post.  In the next post, we will look at verses 14-22.  The entire passage, seen as a whole, is a beautiful Christology.  In the first set of verses look at the salvific work of Christ and the second, the preeminence of Christ.  I will describe these terms as we go through the verses.

Colossians 1:9-13

For this cause 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:

The pastoral prayer

In the previous passage, Paul commended the evangelistic and pastoral work of Epaphras among the Colossians.  In their absence, Paul wanted them aware that they were endlessly praying for them.  Verses 9-12 focuses on this prayer and will eventually lead to the reason we can pray in verse 13, Jesus Christ.  It is a demonstration of being Christocentric, meaning, centered around Christ.

The prayer contains many things different to most prayer requests.  Much prayer is made for physical healing, financial blessings, and the removal of trials.  Paul does not mention any of this at this time.  Instead, his pray for the believers at Colossae includes.

  • To be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in wisdom and spiritual understanding.
  • To walk worthy of the Lord, pleasing Him.
  • To be fruitful in every good work.
  • Increasing in the knowledge of God.
  • To be strengthened with all might, according to God’s glorious power toward patience and endurance with Joy.
  • To give the Father thanks for making believers partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light (Holy Spirit and heaven).

WHAT A PRAYER!  When is the last time you prayed for those qualities to be added to your life?  Imagine the change that would take place in our life, families, churches and communities.  We should make that change in our prayers immediately.

The salvific work of Christ

Paul doesn’t waste any time making his way toward Christ.  In verse 13, he introduces us to our greatest praise to God, the atoning work of his Son.  Paul’s pray of thanksgiving for salvation quickly turns into a sermon on Christ.  Before he discusses the nature of Christ in verses 14-22, he introduces us to Christ in verse 13.

Paul’s prayer of thanks for salvation is to God the Father, because of His Son.  Notice the change in how Paul addressed God, he moved from the names, God and Lord, and to Father.  This scripture a hint of trinitarian theology in verse 13.  The name of God is “Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost” (Matthew 28:19).

The Son, Jesus Christ, is attributed with two descriptors of salvation.  Deliverance from the power of darkness and translation into the kingdom of the Son.  The first is a little easier to understand.  Romans 5-7, describes sin and a powerful influencer.  Under sin, we can be led toward any act of evil.  What Paul describes in those three chapters of Romans, is the influence of sin is broken in Christ.  Jesus has delivered us from the power (influence) of darkness.  We do not have to fall in sin anymore.

The second descriptor is harder to understand in the first reading.  What does it mean to be “translated” into the kingdom of the Son?  Other versions replace this word with, “conveyed, transferred, brought, and carried.”  Well, that makes the reading a little easier to understand.  Again, Romans 5-7 is applicable here, as well as chapter 8.  We are no longer under the influence of sin, neither are we citizens of Satan’s kingdom.  We have been set free by Christ.  He has transferred our citizenship into His kingdom.  We are the sheep of His pasture.  We are His people.

Our application

With a renewed sense of salvation that is centered on Christ, let us praise God with renewed fervor for salvation.  Let us pray a new prayer of spiritual growth.  With our focus on Christ’s work and how that plays into our everyday life.

 

All Scripture quotations are from the King James Version.

Colossians 1:7-8: Bible Study

Paul always demonstrates gratefulness for those who help in the ministry.   Colossians is no different.  Paul refers to a pastor-like individual named, Epaphras.  His name means, “lovely.”  He was the first to bring the Gospel to the people of Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13).  The rest is shrouded in mystery.  For Epaphras, there only remains a few more descriptions of his character.

Colossians 1:7-8

“As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow-servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”

The first description about Epaphras is that he is a “dear fellow-servant.”  The second, he is a “faithful minister of Christ.”  These are important for ministers to examine.  Epaphras may not be a well-known person, but he demonstrates essential qualities for those who look to make a long-term impact.

Dear fellow-servant

Paul uses the term fellow-servant to imply that Epaphras and him, both serve the same master.  He is a dear or beloved individual.  It is interesting to note that the Greek word for love, “agape,” is a root word for “dear.”  Agape love, as it is often called, refers to love that is self-sacrificial.  It is a reminder of Jesus’ words in John 15:13, “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.”

Faithful Minister of Christ

Epaphras acted as an evangelist and pastor to the people of this region.  The ministry he had there seemed to come with great results.  He shares with Paul and companions about the Colassian’s “love in the Spirit” (Col. 1:8).  Whether he was doing the work of the evangelist or the pastor, Epaphras was faithful.  Even in absence, as in this time of Paul’s writing, Epharas was still laboring in prayer for the church of Colossae.  They were written on his heart, and he worked for their good without end

Our Application

How easy is it for us to become forgetful of our pastors and those who care for our needs?  Often, we tend to forget that they labor in the Word of God, prayer, and the promotion of unity among believers.  It is easy to see them as individual’s who make a weekly religious talk, but in times of trouble and sickness, they are there to pray and offer the services of the Church.  Let us pray for our pastors and other leaders in the church.

All Scripture is from the King James Version.

Colossians 1:1-6: Bible Study

Over the next few days, I will blog through the letter to the Church at Collosae.  Colossians, as we know it, provides a robust Christology to the church.  It was written somewhere between 58-62 A.D.   The apostle, Paul, wrote this letter to a congregation of believers who may have become heavily influenced by heresies concerning the nature of Jesus’ deity and humanity.  Paul also deals with the typical teaching of the Jewish insistence of circumcision and other various traditions.  For us, Colossians provides us with a high assurance of the supremacy of our Christ.

Colossians 1:1-6

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

In the first couple of lines, Paul introduces himself.  He identifies himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.”  He repeatedly defended his apostleship (sent-ness) due to not being an original disciple.  He was labeled “as of one born out of due time” (1 Cor. 15:8).  He reaffirmed his calling as God’s will for him.  He knew what God had called him to do, even when others would not recognize it.

Paul references Christ five times in this opening passage.  It is safe to assume that for Paul, Christ was the center of theology.  It is important to note, each of the references here to Jesus, involve the title, Christ.  Paul only refers to Jesus with this earthy name, seven times in the letter.  Compare this with the title, Christ, which Paul uses 26 times.   The word Christ is the Greek equivalent of the Hebrew word, “Messiah.”  These words both mean, “the anointed one.”  Even in the introduction and a quick word study, we see an emphasis of Paul on the preciousness of Jesus.

Another point of interest to note, is Paul’s pastoral care for this local Church, namely, through his prayers.  Paul focuses on the prayers for his brothers and sisters in the faith.  Why?  Because of the “hope which is laid up for you in heaven.”  Paul demonstrates in the verses that the Gospel has gone out and is capable of transforming the lives of those that receive it.  The believers at Colossae have done this, and Paul directs their attention now toward the reward of their faith.  This reward is eternal bliss.  In the book of Romans, salvation was strongly linked with escaping future wrath, but in Colossians is it tied with a heavenly invitation.  Paul is very futuristic in many of his descriptions of salvation.

Paul is very futuristic in many of his explanations of salvation.  Salvation, for Paul, is a two-sided coin.  On the first side, salvation is an escape from wrath.  On the second side, it is the reward for faithfulness to Christ.  Still, the nature of those two realities, promotes the need for our pursuit of holiness, life changed by the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Our Application

Are you centered on Christ?  Or, is He just an option?  Downplaying His impact and importance in life is tempting.  Distractions, misplaced priorities, and a bad theology might have us compartmentalizing Jesus into a corner of our schedules.  When this happens, our Christian faith becomes a hobby and something we have to schedule into our calendar.  Instead, we should center our life around Christ.  We must allow Christ to be on display in every arena of life, and in control.

 

Scripture is from the King James Version

Salvation Possible

Today, because of traveling for school, I had the privilege of attending the College Wesleyan Church.  It was a great experience.  While listening to the sermon, I found myself thinking about the surrounding context of the kingdom parable the minister was preaching.  The parable is about the workers of a vineyard who put in different hours, but all receive the same wages (Matt. 20:1-16).  The preacher’s interpretation warranted further investigation into the background of the parable.  It is found in 19:16-30.

This post, is not about the background, though.  Instead, my attention focused on two statements found in verses 25 and 26.  The disciples ask, “who then can be saved” (vs. 25). Jesus replies, “With men this is impossible; but with God all things are possible” (vs. 26).  Say what?

Inevitably, this is the whole point of the kingdom parable.  Salvation is not feasible through our own work.  It is simply not obtainable through our own ability.  But, God makes it possible and calls us to salvation.  It is impossible for any to be saved without God.  It is only through His Son, Jesus Christ, can we obtain salvation.  This is the gracious gift of God.  Thank you, Lord!

Thank you, Lord, for giving us Your Son!

Amazing Grace, how sweet the sound,
That saved a wretch like me.
I once was lost but now I’m found,
Was blind, but now I see.

‘Twas Grace that taught,
my heart to fear.
And grace, my fears relieved.
How precious did that grace appear,

Through many dangers, toils and snares,
I have already come.
’tis grace that brought me safe thus far,
and grace will lead us home.

When we’ve been there ten thousand years,
bright shining as the sun.
We’ve no less days to sing God’s praise,
than when we first begun.