Vs. 2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” In the midst of false teachings growing, we must not forget how important prayer is (vs. 2-4). The idea of watchful is being on our guard like a soldier. Question: Why is prayer so important? Because prayer gives us the ability to face the temptations of this world. Prayer gives us the privilege to be in relationship with the Lord. I love how Paul is not timid to ask for prayers to be lifted up for him. Though we are to guard ourselves against heresy, we still need to be open to reaching out to the world around us (vs. 5-6). Though Paul was not able to be with them due to his imprisonment, he would send Tychicus and Onesimus to deliver the letter and encourage the church (vs. 7-9). The latter section of the last chapter, Paul sends his greetings to his many friends (vs. 10-18). Aristarchus, John Mark and Jesus Justus were Jews while Epaphras, Luke, and Demas were Gentiles. They all would play a vital role in supporting Paul and the ministry to share the Gospel and support the poor church in Jerusalem.
Regarding application…Ready with an Answer. Vs. 6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Our task on this earth is not to just attend church, tithe, and be a good person. We are called to bear witness and testify of the Good News that came to us! Now more than ever, people are leaving the established churches. Millennial’s are leaving the church in droves because they are not satisfied with the answers. While we cannot change people’s hearts, we can have conversation seasoned with salt (knowledge and love). The more we walk with the Lord, the more we pray, and the more we know His word will give us the humility and confidence to answer for our faith!
Vs. 1, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” In our previous chapter, we were reminded by Paul that we had died with Christ (Colossians 2:20). But, that death of our old nature (vs. 3) brings on new life as we are raised with Christ (vs. 1-4). Our faith compels us to move forward and be changed. Question: How is this different than other religions? Because we have the one factor they don’t have; Jesus! Paul does not gloss over the reality of the ugliness of sin (vs. 5-9). It’s not easy admitting our faults and the things that we struggle with. This is a good reminder for us to face our problems and admit the sins that can entangle us. To be like Christ means that we are being renewed (process) and one that is offered to all without discrimination (vs. 10-11). Question: Why would we want to stop living like our old selves? Paul goes on to list the great benefits of living in Christ (s. 12-17). But that benefit isn’t just something that is categorized for our public reputation. As renewed believers, we are called to have our faith lived out at home and work (vs. 18-25).
Regarding application…Ruling Peace. Vs. 15, “Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.” Picture peace as a referee in sports today. The referee makes ruling judgments to keep the athletes in line and competition staying friendly. If a basketball player fouls another person too hard, they can get called on flagrant foul. There are rules with how the teams are to respond to each other. If a player or even coach gets out of line, they can get ejected from the game. When we live this life, we must adhere to the ruling peace of Christ. Question: Are you living in harmony with others? It’s easier said than done. There are hurts and legitimate reasons we may have to harbor grudges. Though we are emotional beings, let us humbly allow the peace of Christ to rule our hearts and relationships.
Vs. 1, “I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.” Paul was someone special to have such a passion for people he didn’t ever meet. Question: What would drive Paul to such passionate discourse? The truth! Paul understood something we take lightly; the importance of biblical truth and the right understanding of who Jesus is (vs. 1-5)! Paul wanted to ensure that the Christians there didn’t just sit on their faith (vs. 6-8). Our faith in Christ gives us all we need to live godly lives (vs. 9-15). It’s noteworthy to be aware of the schemes of higher learning and philosophies (vs. 8). Paul also speaks comforting truth to the Gentiles and a reminder for the Jews that spiritual circumcision sets the believer apart (vs. 9-12). The clear work and sacrifice of Jesus on the cross is beautifully expounded upon (vs. 13-15). The latter half of our chapter (vs. 16-23) involves Paul giving the Colossian believers clear spiritual warning signs. We should not fear the judgment of false accusers. We should not allow the bullies of this intellectual world to intimidate us from the truth.
Regarding application…Rooted Faith. Vs. 7, “Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him…” It’s not often that I get to reference this verse! The English ministry that I serve at my Korean church is called, “Roots Ministry.” A couple of years ago, I thought of this particular passage as our verse to give clarity to the meaning of our name. The more we know God’s word, the more our spiritual roots will dig deep to keep us easily shaken by the winds of false doctrine. The role of roots for a tree is to provide nourishment, strength and stability. Question: Is your faith growing in the Lord? My mom loves to garden. I got to see first hand growing up that it takes tender loving care to grow a beautiful garden. It takes patience, time, watering, trimming, watching, etc. Likewise, our faith requires just as much TLC!
Vs. 15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” False religions and wayward spiritual thinking has existed long before our present age. Though Colosse was in decline, it was still a larger cosmopolitan city. Paul opens his letter with a typical thanksgiving and prayer for the church (vs. 1-14). He was thankful for their response to the Gospel! However, he needed to recalibrate their estimation of who Jesus was. There were those who were doing an effective job causing the young church to question the supremacy of Christ. Their teachings were a mixture of eastern religions and Jewish legalism. If they sought true knowledge, God would bring them to a level of spiritual enlightenment. The problem with this enlightenment was that it was based on human experiences rather than the truth of Jesus’ teachings and the prophets before him. That’s why Paul would spend the early part of his letter defending Jesus’ work and power (vs. 15-23). The latter section of our chapter (vs. 24-29), Paul asserts his joy in his present circumstances to help validate the fact that he was not in prison having been defeated. He was in prison because he was doing the right thing!
Regarding application…Holy Benefit. Vs. 22, “But 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.” The crux of the issue was this false belief in thinking that goodness and holiness could be attained on our own. If holiness could be achieved through our own spiritual enlightenment, than Jesus’s work on the cross is a moot point. The benefit for us is astounding! Jesus did what the Old Testament was never meant to do; He saved us! This legalistic quasi approach (Gnosticism) elevated the work and intellect of humans. It is hard for me to grasp the fact that we can be holy before a mighty God. I suppose that is why Amazing Grace resonates in our hearts so much. This holy benefit is offered to Jew and Gentile alike. It is offered to all who call upon the name of the Lord.
The letter to the Colossians was written by Paul early on in his Roman imprisonment. It was probably written around the same time (61 AD) he wrote to the Ephesians and Philemon. The city of Colosse was located in the Roman province of Asia (Modern day Turkey) and was about 100 miles east of Ephesus. Colosse had once been a thriving city when the Persians were in power. But during Paul’s time, it was in somewhat of a decline. While the population as primarily Gentile, there was a contingency of a wealthy Jewish community. Though Paul had not planted the church in Colosse, he was writing them because of his close ties to Epaphras. Epaphras had been saved while Paul was in Ephesus and brought the Gospel to Colosse. The intention of Paul’s letter was to address a growing heresy among the early church; Gnosticism. Gnosticism is an adherence to a belief system that acknowledges that God is good, but matter is evil. The attempt was to logically reconcile how we explain evil. But by doing so, they believed such a belief would bring spiritual enlightenment. This put Christ on a lower level and denied his virgin birth, death and resurrection.
Vs. 2, “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” As Paul is closing up his letter to the Colossians, he is reminding them of one of the main things they can do: Pray. Question: Why? Because it simply works. The more we pray, the more we depend upon God rather than our own abilities. There was both a corporate prayer request as well as a personal one (vs. 3-4). I think it’s important to see that Paul was not hesitant to ask for people to pray specifically for him. As we transits to the final greetings section, we are reminded that Paul didn’t do alone (vs. 7-18). If Paul had the technology of our time, I think he would have had quite a number of Facebook friends. Notice how socially connected Paul was, but this was all for the sake of the Gospel!
Regarding application…Grace-Filled Conversation. Vs. 6, “Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Question: How do you communicate to others? This was a very convicting passage for me as I reflect upon the last couple of weeks. The Holy Spirit has been convicting me of not complaining in the Philippian sermon series and then this past Sunday the application to the message was about rejoicing. I’ve been more aware of my own conversation and also how others converse. It’s surprising how unseasoned our conversation can be! Let us be people who have exercise grace in all that we say and do. Not for the praises of men, but because we honor the Lord Jesus when we live in such a way.
Vs. 1, “Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Question: What does it look like to live a Christian life? First, Paul makes is very clear that even the way we think and feel (vs. 1-4) should be different now that we have put to death our old sinful nature (vs. 3). Even though our sinful nature is now dead, we must also ensure that we put to death the way we also used to live (vs. 5-9). I like how Paul reminds us that it is not about our culture that defines our identity (vs. 11). Paul then continues on to share the way we should now live as new creations (vs. 12-17). It is not a coincidence that we are exhorted additionally to ensure we are living as good examples of the faith to the people that we live with (vs. 18-25). It’s important to understand that Paul was not advocating slavery, as much as he was instructing how one should respond in their life situation (vs. 22-25). Whether your were a slave or a slave-master, there is a appropriate way to respond. It is the Lord who is in control (vs. 24).
Regarding application…Why Forgive Others? Vs. 13, “Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” We forgive because Jesus forgave us. Before Jesus shared the Parable of the Unmerciful Servant (Matthew 18), Peter came and asked Jesus how much he should forgive someone. Three times was customary, so for Peter to suggest to forgive up to seven times was showing certain godly grace. Yet, we are reminded the importance of why we must forgive. Question: Are you forgiving others? Is there any bitterness in your heart towards anyone? Certainly people have hurt us in our lives. Let us extend forgiveness as Christ forgave us. Yet, if a person has no desire to ask for forgiveness, than it would be hard to extend it. In the end, we should be seeking to ask for forgiveness as well as extend forgiveness in the relationships we have here on earth. Remember, generally there are two sides to as story so if there is a dispute, we should consider what we may have done to hurt the other party too.
Vs. 6, “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live in him.” The key to this admonishment is “in him.” Salvation and knowledge cannot be obtained outside of the Lord. Remember, the Colossians were dealing with a great heresy in Gnosticism: belief that the material world was evil and salvation would be achieved by attaining “special” knowledge of spiritual realities. God has given us a mind to comprehend and think intellectually, but there were those who were perverting the truth (vs. 1-8). Both the philosophy and traditions (vs. 8) were trumping the knowledge of God in Colosse. Some of the believers were putting back on their sinful nature and had forgotten the new creation Christ gave us (vs. 9-15). The false teachers had put on quite a show to convince the young and naïve of their supposed genuineness (vs. 16-23).
Regarding application…Rooted in Christ. Vs. 7, “rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.” The ministry I have the privilege of serving is called “Roots Community Church” under the umbrella of Bell Memorial Church. The name has grown on me. I’ve moved enough now in my years to know that there is only one place I can put my roots in: The church. Yesterday’s passage reminded us that Christ is the head of the church (Colossians 1:18). Question: Where are you putting your roots in? I tried putting it in careers (Banking, and even attempted law enforcement). I tried putting it in hobbies. I tried putting it in relationships. But, the more I walk this life, the more I realize that nothing else can come close to the joyful and adventurous life in Christ! When we are rooted in Christ, He gives us a whole different heart and eyes to see the world as we should. This is a place that longs and hungers for love. Let us be people who are strengthened in faith in the church to make a difference in this world!
Vs. 15, “The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.” Paul is writing back to defend the truth of what lies in the Gospel. He reminds the Colossians that God had appointed him an Apostle with authority to share the truth (vs. 1). Paul then goes to his customary thanksgiving and appreciation for the Colossian church (vs. 3-13). Bear in mind, not everyone believed these heresies. Paul reminds us how important it is to encourage even in the midst of tough admonishment. Part of this Colossian heresy was the denial of the deity of Jesus Christ (vs. 15-23). The heresy of mixing in Eastern religion and Jewish legalism was literally rocking the faith of the young Colossian Christians. The enemies of the cross were probably pointing out to the Colossians that Paul was in prison and defeated. But Paul refutes such negative thoughts (vs. 24-29) as he rejoices!
Regarding application…Christ is Supreme! Vs. 18, “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.” Don’t even think about it! That’s what Paul was basically saying. Jesus is supreme, numero uno, ichiban, #1 period! A couple of days ago, the Olympic Basketball team for 2012 began to trash talk (Kobe Bryant) how their team could have beaten the 1992 true Dream Team. Charles Barkley and most notably, Michael Jordan begged to differ. Which team would have won? While there certainly can be healthy debate (though the 1992 Dream Team would have demolished any team), regarding who is supreme. There is no debate whatsoever when it comes to our esteem of Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior! Question: Is Christ Supreme in your life?
Colosse was located in the same area as the 7 churches addressed by Jesus in the book of Revelations. It was a city near Laodicea. While Paul was the author of the letter to the Colossians, Paul had never visited them. Epaphras, a convert when visiting Ephesus during Paul’s three year ministry, returned home to Colosse and planted a church. As the years progressed, there was a growing heresy: Gnosticism. It is believed Paul wrote the letter of Colossians and Philemon together while in prison in Rome (60-62 AD). Gnosticism was the belief that the material world was evil and salvation would be achieved by attaining “special” knowledge of spiritual realities. This was certainly a heresy, for Jesus came physically as a human. The book of Colossians is refuting these false heresies and focusing on supremacy of Christ.