This summer, I had the privilege of attending a session where the epistle to the Colossian church was studied and taught. I really enjoyed the Bible study and the lessons. I translated for the English speakers at the session. I really had to think through the messages as I translated so the main idea and principles were imprinted upon my mind. I had never studied Paul’s epistle to the Colossian church before so I was excited to learn new things. I want to share some of the lessons via this blog in the form of articles. I will teach this study to the core of our youth group this fall so I want to use this opportunity to refresh my memory.
Paul writes this letter because of his concerns in the Colossian church. The main idea is to present Jesus Christ to them as He is and by explaining sound doctrine, protect them from the heresies that were prevalent during their day. One of the major heresies during the ministry of the apostle Paul was Gnosticism. This was a dangerous teaching because it denied the deity of Jesus Christ and taught that there was another way to God other than through Jesus Christ. This teaching has been preserved even until today under different forms. There are several cults that practice many of the principles of Gnosticism today. For example there are the Jehovah’s Witnesses who deny the deity of Christ, that He is God. The Mormon church claims that Jesus is a god but not the God. Islam also denies the deity of Christ. In fact, Christianity is separate from all other religions because of the recognition of Jesus Christ as God Himself. So, in order to be kept from being deceived by false teachings about Christ, which lead people away from spiritual maturity and keep them on track toward maturity, Paul explains how to become complete (mature) in Christ. The foundation of this message is Colossians chapter 1.
I. Receive the Gospel proclaimed to you
3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints ; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, (Colossians 1)
In order to receive the Gospel, someone must first proclaim it to you. This is what happened to the people in the Colossian church. Someone (not Paul) came to them and proclaimed the Gospel. It is important to understand that this Gospel must be the pure Gospel that points to the God-Man, Jesus Christ as the only way of salvation, the only path to God the Father. Verses 15 through 22 explain what the pure Gospel is by explaining what It teaches about Jesus Christ. This is how is He is described.
- He is God, the physical image of God (15)
- He is the first-born of all creation (there is nothing in God’s creation greater than Christ, this does not mean that Christ was created because He . . . .
- created all things (16)
- He created all things and they were created for Him
- Before all things came into being, He was/existed (17)
- He is the head of the church (18)
- He is the beginning
- He is the first-born from the dead (He is the fist of many to resurrect)
- He has first place in everything
- The fullness of God dwells in Him (19)
- He is able to reconcile all things to God (20) (there is no relationship with God without Jesus Christ)
- His blood makes peace with God (you cannot be right with God without Jesus Christ)
- He reconciles us to God through His fleshly body’s death on the cross (22)
- He makes us holy, blameless, and beyond reproach
Epaphras is the one who proclaimed the Gospel to the Colossians. He is a bond-servant of Christ like the Apostle Paul, who not only shared the Gospel but also prayed for the recipients that they would accept and grow in the Gospel. The person who preaches the Gospel to you must preach the pure Gospel of Jesus Christ as found in the Word of God, the Bible (see verse 5). Once the Gospel is received, the person understands the grace of God and now has hope. This is not the end but just the beginning. Once a person accepts, now the process of maturity begins.
II. Make effort to grow in the Gospel
In order to grow, that person who shared the Gospel with you needs to pray for you as well as spend time with you, teaching you theory through the Bible as well as being a living example for you. (see verse 9). Your spiritual leader has a specific goal in mind, that you would grow in your faith which begins with you being filled with the knowledge of Christ’s will though the Word. As you grow in the knowledge of the Word of God then you will be filled with all spiritual wisdom and understanding, the result being that you walk in a manner worth of the Lord (10). What does it look like, practically? You become steadfast, moving on toward maturity day by day in your faith. You become a patient person, no matter what the circumstances in life are. You have an unquenchable joy that can never be taken away from you. You become a grateful person, thankful to God for what He has done and does for you. (12) Are these characteristics of your daily life? If you follow the teachings of the Word of God then these WILL be the characteristics of your life. How does a person come to have these characteristics?
13 For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. (Colossians 1)
It is through Jesus Christ. When we come to Christ then we are forgiven and transformed.
III. Proclaim the Gospel to others
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25 Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. (Colossians 1)
Once we have been transformed and begin to live a new lifestyle we then want to take this treasure to others so that they can benefit from it too. If you are moving toward maturity in the faith then you will have a burning desire to share this treasure with others. Know that suffering and persecution will come as a result of sharing this treasure because you are infringing on enemy territory but that is okay because God is with you and you will be victorious. Do not stop because of persecution or suffering because the results are worth it. People will hear the message, accept it, and be transformed as you were. You are to proclaim the message because God has called you to do it. You are called to go to others and transmit the message of the Gospel bu teaching the Word of God to them. This glorious message was hidden, a mystery in former times but now has been revealed and is to be taken to all. You take hope to a hopeless world. It has been said that depression is the disease of the 21st Century and in part it is true. Many are depressed because they have no hope for the future, no hope for eternity. When you take the Gospel to them then you are taking the hope that destroys all depression. How do you do this? Verse 28 explains. We are to admonish and teach people the Word of God.
May the Lord help us all avoid false teachings by growing in the true Gospel so that we can have hope and can share that hope with others.