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Paul's Letter to the Colossians





BOOK : Colossians

Description : A letter by Paul to a church he has not visited but has been told about, largely to counter false teachings and strengthen them in right teachings.

Author: The apostle Paul

Date written : Probably AD60

Chapters : 4



Brief Synopsis:


•  After Epaphras had brought the Gospel to Colosse (1:7, 4:12) he had reported back to Paul and obviously told of the difficulties they were facing, having to stand against counterfeits or heresies, which Paul teaches against through this letter.
•  Paul shares his thankfulness for them adhering to the Gospel, and spells out what has happened to them and who Jesus is, by way of reminder.
•  After warning against false teachers he gives them good teaching on putting away the old life and putting on the new.



Outline :


1:1-14 Introduction

1:1-2 Greetings

1:3-8 Thanksgiving

1:9-14 Prayer

1:15-23 The Supremacy of Christ
1:24-2:7 Paul's Labor for the Church

1:24-29 A Ministry for the Sake of the Church

2:1-7 A Concern for the Spiritual Welfare of His Readers

2:8-23 Freedom from Human Regulations through Life with Christ

2:8-15 Warning to Guard against the False Teachers

2:16-19 Pleas to Reject the False Teachers

2:20-23 An Analysis of the Heresy

3:1-4:6 Rules for Holy Living

3:1-17 The Old Self and the New Self

3:18-4:1 Rules for Christian Households

4:2-6 Further Instructions

4:7-18 Final Greetings


Some Key Verses:


Epaphras went and shared the Gospel and reported back

1:6-8 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. You learned it from Epaphras , our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.


The Wonder of Jesus

1:15-20 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 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. 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 and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 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.


The Wonder of Jesus' work

2:9-12 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority. In him you were also circumcised, in the putting off of the sinful nature, not with a circumcision done by the hands of men but with the circumcision done by Christ, having been buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead.


The start of a list of fellow workers obviously known to them

4:7-9 Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about our circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.



Verses that encourage them to Press On


A call found in most of Paul's letters

1:10 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


A reminder that we need to continue in our faith

1:22,23 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-- if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel.


It's all about being ‘in Christ'

2:6,7 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him, rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.


It's a mind and perspective thing

3:1,2 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things . (and rest of chapter)



Verses that warn against being led astray


2:4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.


2:8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the basic principles of this world rather than on Christ.


2:16-18 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ. Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you for the prize.


2:20-23 Since you died with Christ to the basic principles of this world, why, as though you still belonged to it, do you submit to its rules: "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!"? These are all destined to perish with use, because they are based on human commands and teachings. Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence



False Teachings that Paul was writing to Counter


These appear to be an extreme form of Judaism and an early stage of Gnosticism:


1. Ceremonialism. It held to strict rules about the kinds of permissible food and drink, religious festivals (2:16-17) and circumcision (2:11; 3:11).

2. Asceticism. "Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!" (2:21; cf. 2:23).

3. Angel worship. See 2:18.

4. Deprecation of Christ. This is implied in Paul's stress on the supremacy of Christ (1:15-20; 2:2-3,9).

5. Secret knowledge. The Gnostics boasted of this (see 2:18 and Paul's emphasis in 2:2-3 on Christ, "in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom").

6. Reliance on human wisdom and tradition. See 2:4,8.



Concluding Comments


An unusual letter in that Paul has apparently not been to this church in person, but has been told about them by Epaphras who God has used there to bring the Gospel, and who reported back to Paul.


It is obvious that they were battling against a number of heresies that the enemy was trying to use to bring them away from the true faith.


It therefore brings us various clarifications and warnings about the faith and the ways it can be distorted. There is good teaching here about Christ, and his work, and about living out the Christian life.



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