Colossians is a letter about Jesus Christ; now, of course, you could say the entire Bible is about Jesus, and you would be absolutely right—he is on every page of the Old and New Testament in some way or another—but Colossians is directly about him. There are four parts to this short letter: “Redeemed in Christ (Chapter 1:1-29),” “Rooted in Christ (Chapter 2:1-19),” “Risen with Christ (Chapter 2:20-3:17),” and “Rewarded by Christ (Chapter 3:18-4:18).”
1:1 Paul starts the letter by calling himself an Apostle of Jesus Christ, “by the will of God;” humility; not because of anything he had done, but because of what God and Jesus had done.
1:2 “Grace and peace be unto you” is a common greeting by Paul; “grace” means “unmerited favor;” one brother says it stands for God’s Riches At Christ’s Expense.
1:3 How effective are we at being thankful and praying for our brothers and sisters? There’s an old saying that “A prayerless life is a godless life.” Be fully determined to help your brothers and sisters get into the Kingdom, and pray for them.
1:4 It appears that Paul had not visited the brothers and sisters in Colossae, but he was able to write them this letter of joy and encouragement. These were people that Paul hoped to meet one day. Look for opportunities to connect with other brothers and sisters.
1:7 There were no cellphones back in Paul’s day; Epaphras would not have been able to send a text message to Paul saying “The brethren in Colossae are doing great. See you soon!” He would have travelled 1,826 kilometers from Colossae to Rome to speak to Paul face-to-face about the wellbeing of the brethren; he was determined. How many of us might have difficulty travelling to another room to pick up a phone, or walking across a meeting hall to speak to a brother or sister?
1:9 Be filled with the Lord, and there will be no room for anything else.
1:10 Throughout Colossians and Ephesians we see the concept of walking: Worthy of the Lord (Colossians 1:10), or in disobedience (Colossians 3:6-7); in Christ (Colossians 2:6), or in trespasses and sins (Ephesians 2:2); in Wisdom (Colossians 4:5), or in vanity of mind (Ephesians 4:17); in good works (Ephesians 2:10), or in darkness (Ephesians 5:8); worthy of vocation (Ephesians 4:1), or as fools (Ephesians 5:15). Which way are you walking?
1:13 The world gives us its definition of success; how much money you have, how many “toys” you have, how many accolades, how many letters next to your name (such as PhD). Paul gives us a different definition: success in God’s sight is defined as being in the Kingdom of God, to be delivered from the power of darkness.
1:15 The firstborn is supposed to be a role model, and the rights and privileges of a firstborn are not guaranteed: Reuben was called “the excellency of dignity, the excellency of power,” the beginning of Jacob’s strength, but he had also done wrong, and as a result, did not excel (Genesis 49:3-4), and he lost his birthright (1 Chronicles 5:1). Jesus was put in the position and given the authority of a firstborn; he set the precedent. He was the seventh resurrection in Scripture, but the first to eternal life.
1:16-18 35 times in 95 verses, we see the phrase “In Christ, for him, by him,” and so on. We must commit to being “in Christ” through baptism to enjoy the benefits; flesh and blood cannot inherit the Kingdom of God (1 Corinthians 15:50). 30 times, we see the use of the word “all,” “every,” “complete,” and “fulfil,” to show the completeness of Christ’s Gospel; this gives the idea of being perfect and entire, lacking nothing (James 1:4). All history is centered on Christ, whether the world likes it or not; he is the most important person ever to exist. Christ should be first in all we do (“WWJD?”). He has been given all authority in heaven and in earth (Matthew 28:18); he has that now, in the present.
1:23 So many brothers and sisters have left the faith because they were not well-grounded.
1:26 A “mystery” is something once hidden, but now revealed. The problem is man did not understand it.
1:27 “Christ in you” mean “Christ among you.” God’s mystery has been revealed through Christ. The elements: Messiah must first suffer before glorification and forgiveness and salvation only in Christ, and the Gospel would be open to Gentiles, not just Jews. God saves by developing Christ in us.
1:28 This includes everyone; do not prequalify. Try to see everyone as the next potential believer.
2:2 Anything short of full confidence in the Lord is not enough. Do you believe that you have The Truth? God’s truth is to be found in his Word; “the honor of kings is to search out a matter (Proverbs 25:2).”
2:5 Does it bring us joy to imagine God’s presence with us? His eyes run to and fro throughout the whole earth (2 Chronicles 16:9).
2:8 How much more relevant is this today? This whole society that we live in is based on philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men.
2:15 They put Christ to death, but he rose from the dead, and is now immortal; he triumphed over them.
2:19 The head holds everything together, and “the body is dead without the Head.” One body of Christ is only possible when all members grow together in God.
2:20 If something is “dead,” it is gone completely, not just “taken down a notch.” No wonder Paul says to be dead from the rudiments of the world; give them no occasion.
2:21 Legalism goes all the way back to the Garden of Eden; God said not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil (Genesis 2:17), but notice that Eve added to that: she said they couldn’t even touch it (Genesis 3:3).
2:22 Godly habits are very helpful in cultivating good ground, but we can’t reduce godliness to ritual or series of metrics; God requires transformation of heart, not compliance to ritual. Do not confuse good habits with righteousness (Isaiah 58).
2:23 If we focus on external appearance, we will completely miss the mark.
3:1-2 Christ is in heaven; look up. Two years ago, we had a Solar Eclipse here in North America; I was privileged to see Totality in South Carolina. For those few hours—even though most of North America only experienced a partial eclipse—as a country, we may have broken the record for most people looking up at the same time; the great and vast majority of people went outside and looked at what was going on in the sky. We’re reminded of Acts 1:11, when the angels said, “Ye men of Galilee, why stand ye gazing up into heaven? This same Jesus, which is taken up from you into heaven, shall so come in like manner as ye have seen him go into heaven.”
3:2-4 Seek first the Kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33); set our eyes on Christ and we will reign with him.
3:5 Covetousness, defined here as idolatry, is something I have a hard time with; not material covetousness, but jealousy and envy (“Why does this brother have a better job than me, why does that brother have so many talents, why is his life a lot more exciting than mine?”). Strive to eliminate covetousness by developing thankfulness. We live under a grace-based system where we get what God gives us.
3:7-8 We see here a transition: “in the which ye also walked in sometime, when ye lived in them,” to “but now…” God wants us to turn from our wicked ways and do better.
3:13 Forgive as Christ forgives, and we will be forgiven. This is not said lightly (Matthew 6:14-15); if we refuse to forgive, we are refusing to make God’s forgiving character our own.
3:15-16 God has extended his grace to us; will we accept the offer of life in Christ to obtain peace? Christ has left his peace with us; not the “peace” that the world gives (John 14:27). Let not your heart be troubled.
3:17 Be careful what you do; do nothing through strife or vainglory (Philippians 2:3).
3:18-19 If husbands love their wives and have their best interest in mind, wives should have no problem submitting, and to love their husbands will come naturally.
3:22 Treat your employer as Christ.
3:24-25 There is a reward for the righteous and unrighteous.
4:1 God does not treat believers unfairly (Ezekiel 18:25, 29).
4:3 We can preach to anyone. Paul uses language of an “open door” here; reminds us of the Philippian jailer in Acts 16:26-34.
4:5 Have a good report of those outside the faith; remember that you may be the only Bible that some people ever read; “live in such a way that people who know you but don’t know God will want to know God because they know you (1 Peter 2:12).” Redeem the time, buying up every opportunity to develop Christ in us and in each other.
4:6 The tongue can be a fire, a world of iniquity (James 3:6); use it instead for good.
4:12 Put others first and pray for their well-being; notice all the personal pronouns here describing Epaphras’ work for his brothers and sisters.
4:18 Remember that Paul was in prison when he wrote this letter; look for lessons God is teaching us based on our surroundings and circumstances. Think about a trial you are presently going through; how will you focus beyond that to still care for others? Do not let trials negatively affect your work for the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).
“Thanks Be To God”-2019 Camp Song
Called out from the world, our garments washed in his dear blood,
Though brought from many nations now in Christ
We are united by our faith in promises made long ago,
We walk together in the light of truth and righteousness.
Dying once to sin, our Lord laid down his life for men,
And now exalted to his Father’s side
The law of works is done away, for grace and truth by Jesus came,
That we might find salvation though a new and living way.
Looking to that day when we as one will bow the knee
And sing the song of Moses and the lamb
Before our Savior and the King, who mounts us up as eagles’ wings,
When finally we’ll made like unto him and free from sin!
Thanks be to God who calls us from this world of sin,
Giving us the hope of living in His Kingdom!
By grace we have been given life, in Christ we’ll overcome all strife;
Looking unto him in everything: our Lord Jesus Christ.