Colossians Collection

PART 1: “Living Worthy of Christ”

Colossians (Kol-ah-shuns) is an epistle from the Apostle Paul and Timothy that speaks directly to living after the nature of Jesus Christ. I would like to take some time in sharing my thoughts in studying this writing over the next several posts. I must emphasize this is not a verse by verse commentary, but rather some thoughts I am offering where I see points of guidance in the text.

I hope it serves you, is edifying, and helps you in bringing honor to the Lord Jesus. Please join me as we read and remember you can leave remarks in the comment section on this page.

Read Slowly. Read with purpose. Don’t rush.
Colossians 1:1-14 (ESV)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing – as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered 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.”

Let’s concentrate a bit on what we read. I want to give some focus on the guidance and encouragement Paul proclaims. After Paul tells us who he is, one sent by Christ (an apostle), he gives thanks to God for hearing they are living good Christian lives.

Paul’s introduction quickly gets into what is on his mind… living in Christ.

He says he is thankful to hear that the Colossians are living for God. That means, as he puts it, they are embracing their faith in Christ with love towards all the saints. Love is the indicator of genuine faith. Jesus commands us to love and warns that love that grows cold will suffer loss. To live as a good Christian is to love others. If not, what you’re doing is not Christian.

We should ask the question… would we receive such praise? Don’t skip over this question. Think about it a few moments.

In verse 9, Paul speaks about praying for “knowledge of His will.” Prayer for knowledge of His will (God’s will) is not simply knowledge of how a thing works, but of God as a person and His very nature. Those who seek God with all their heart will not have a love that grows cold. Such knowledge of God is where spiritual wisdom comes into view. When a person is regenerated, they come to understand life anew because they have encountered God and in knowing Him begin to behave with the attributes of the Lord. This is more than just doing what you are told. There is no forced obedience with God, but rather voluntary compliance supported by God’s people with prayer and action through God’s gift (Holy Spirit) and thereby built on answered prayer.

Pause for a moment to reflect on that last sentence.

The purpose of such knowledge and wisdom is to help in living worthy of the gift given to the Christian. The Holy Spirit is that gift Who alone knows and reveals the heart of God. So, Paul’s prayer is meant to increase what God has already given. I must point out the depth of God has no limit. The relationship in coming to know God can and for those who embrace Him will go on forever…

PART 2: “Thankfulness”

I hope it serves you, is edifying, and helps you in bringing honor to the Lord Jesus. Please join me as we read and remember you can leave remarks in the comment section on this page.

Read Slowly. Read with purpose. Don’t rush.
Colossians 1:1-14 (ESV)
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. 3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing – as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit. 9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God. 11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy, 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered 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.”

The thankful heart is key to the process in everything Paul is speaking about in this section of Scripture. Thankfulness is the response to God Who bestows His Spirit as a deposit for believers. He has sealed them with the promised hope of glory.

Why is thankfulness important? Don’t rush over this. Why be thankful? Are you thankful?

Luke tells us the story of a time Jesus Christ healed 10 men with leprosy:
Luke 17:11-19
Now on his way to Jerusalem, Jesus traveled along the border between Samaria and Galilee. 12 As he was going into a village, ten men who had leprosy {12 The Greek word was used for various diseases affecting the skin– not necessarily leprosy.} met him. They stood at a distance 13 and called out in a loud voice, “Jesus, Master, have pity on us!” 14 When he saw them, he said, “Go, show yourselves to the priests.” And as they went, they were cleansed. 15 One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. 16 He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him– and he was a Samaritan. 17 Jesus asked, “Were not all ten cleansed? Where are the other nine? 18 Was no one found to return and give praise to God except this foreigner?” 19 Then he said to him, “Rise and go; your faith has made you well.” (NIV)

Thankfulness reveals a soul to be well!

I believe Jesus healed not only the thankful man’s body, but because of his faith, his soul too was made well. What about the other 9? As for the other 9, we are left to wonder about them understanding that Jesus was less than pleased with their thankless response.

One redeemed should say “thank you” manifest in behavior pleasing to his Redeemer. The goal is, in fact as Paul points out, to please Him who has delivered us from the domain of darkness (evil) and transferred us who believe in the Kingdom of Christ. We all are or at one point where spiritual lepers cut off from God’s Kingdom.

With that in mind, let us be thankful to our Redeemer so that we can truly please Him.

PART 3: “Love Like Jesus”

Colossians 1: 15-29 (NET)
“He is the image of the invisible God, the Firstborn over all creation, for all things in heaven and earth were created by him- all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers- all things were created through him and for him. He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him. He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross- through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.” (Colossians 1:15-20 NET)

If you did not read slowly, go back and read the passage again. Rushing through Scripture is never a good idea.

When we look to the Lord Jesus, we are seeing what God is like in His nature manifest as a human.

The above verses speak to more than one reason God sent Jesus as a human. It is to the example Jesus set that we need to highlight. The fact is the fullness of God dwells in Jesus. Jesus Himself tells us in Matthew 5:48 to be “perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect.”

What does that mean?

It means to be perfect in our nature by loving others. The fullness of God dwells in Jesus because as a Man, He loved people. That may sound simplistic, but that is the goal. We are to love God and love others. The One Human who did this best is affirmed in Scripture to have the fullness of God dwelling in Him.

Friends, we can do it as well since the Spirit Jesus baptizes His disciples with is His spirit… the Holy Spirit. Being perfect is about loving. We who have been reconciled to God out of sin and the power of death. Understand that the perfection and fullness of God that was pleased to dwell in the Son was about the Father and Son’s love for us. I am emphasizing love because many people seem to have trouble with the idea of being perfect. They know their deeds do not add up to perfection, but they do love Jesus.

Keep in mind God doesn’t think we will be faultless the moment He baptizes us in the Holy Spirit. He provides grace for a reason, but He has set the standard in Christ. Christ is the head which holds all things together. Therefore, our deeds should reflect the deeds of Jesus, but with the understanding that it is by His grace that we continue is His love and learn to love others.

How well are you loving others?
What defines your love?

PART 4: “The Big IF”

Read Slowly. Read with purpose. Don’t rush.

Colossians 1:22-23 (NIV)
“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– 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

Verse 23 I find helpful because we are told we will be present before God as holy, blameless, and above reproach.

IF.

Yes, it says, IF. If indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, then what is written is about you.

The verse goes on, but I will stop at the word heard. The hope of the gospel is what we receive by faith which is Jesus. Jesus is the One in whom the fullness of God dwells. We hold to the belief that God loves us and we follow and love others by following the direction of the Spirit deposited in our hearts. But again, the apostle Paul says IF. So, don’t think you’re going to be presented as holy, blameless, and above reproach, if you shift and are unstable in believing the hope of the Gospel.

Let that sink in a little.

IF.

Paul goes on about rejoicing in sufferings. First, let me say Paul is not talking here about suffering for the forgiveness of sins. Jesus finished that Himself. He is talking about suffering involved in the work of reconciling people to God. Anyone who shares in that work should be honored and rejoice.

I think this is what the Christian is to live for and even suffer toward knowing. God, in sending Christ, assures us He will bring rejoicing in sufferings. Since we can see in Christ the result of faithfulness to God and just what God is bringing about for us. We are to understand as it is poetically stated in 2 Timothy 2:12: “Here is a trustworthy saying: if we died with him, we will also live with him; if we endure, we will also reign with him. If we disown him, he will also disown us: if we are faithless, he remains faithful, for he cannot disown himself.”

Therefore, we are to be firm even to the point of suffering for Christ. God builds His character in us as we follow the way, the truth, and the life (see John 14:6). This builds up the body of Christ by the power of Christ who through His death brought to life His body, the Church.

PART 5: “Be Firm”

Read Slowly. Read with purpose. Don’t rush.

Colossians 2:2-3 (NET)
“My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,” 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”

To be a Christian is to share in the joy and struggle of growing into and proclaiming Christ. Accomplished by following His instruction and in so doing teaching about the glory that resides in the Christian. Christ has ascended to the Father yet through Christians His ministry continues in the same power and authority. His ministry continues primarily through the lifestyle manifest in love seen in His people; the Church.

The goal is to firmly reveal the mystery within the Christian and Paul’s goal thereby is that the Colossians (and us in reading his letter) understand what God has entrusted to us by indwelling the Christian heart with the Mystery of God.

Read Slowly. Read each word in context. Don’t rush.

Colossians 2:6 (NET)
“Therefore, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, rooted and built up in him and firm in your faith just as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.”

I think we should notice that Paul makes a differentiation between “received Christ” and “continue to live in Christ.” Faith is included in each, but I think it is safe to say it is one thing to “receive Christ,” but it is through the firm “continuance of faith” that we do His will.

Jesus Himself said (when his mother and brothers came to speak to Him): “For whoever does the will of My Father in Heaven is My brother and sister and mother” (Matthew 12:50, NIV). He also says, “Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of My Father in heaven” (Matthew 7:21, NIV). Paul here is saying don’t just receive Jesus and call Him Lord, but just as you received Him as Lord, so live.

What does that mean?

When we continue to live for Christ, then you will reveal the mystery of Christ because you will be living as Christ lived and thereby doing God’s will.

We do not do this perfectly for we are still learning ourselves. Paul gives a warning a few verses later about empty deceitful philosophy. I take his statement (printed below) to mean any philosophy that does not help you in the pursuit of reflecting Christ’s nature is empty or has no value.

He says that in the following verses:
Colossians 2:20-23 (ESV):
“If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations – 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 ( referring to things that all perish as they are used) – according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.”

What do these verses mean?
What do we follow in our lives that has no value?
What spirits of this world influence us away from Christ and in so do we permit their under their control in our lives?

Firm self-denial is not simply treating yourself harshly. Firm self-denial is not letting others be hard on you. Firm self-denial is turning from self-preservation as a primary focus and following Christ’s example loyally. Follow His teachings.

Plus, we must keep in mind the Apostle Paul is speaking to people coming out of at least the beginnings of Gnostic-influenced teaching in Colossae. Don’t think such false teaching is not still with us today!

Just because someone comes saying they speak for Christ doesn’t mean they can be trusted!

We are told in the Bible to test the spirits (see 1 John chapter 4). Self-interest on our part or on the part of others should not have superiority in the teaching we follow. The reality is we have needs. We live in a world full of deceit. But in that world, the Christian is called to be true among all the lies. So, as it is said in Hebrews 12:2, we must fix our eyes on the Author and Finisher of our faith. We must also understand Christ once said, “I am sending you out like sheep surrounded by wolves, so be wise as serpents and innocent as doves” (Matthew 10:16 NET). Jesus spoke this to His 12 disciples, but it does have life application for our daily walk.

Conformity must be to Christ alone, and such living is known not to be empty. Through not because it meets our needs in the here and now primarily, but because Christ has resurrected from death.

Part 6: “Out with the Old, In with the New”

Read Slowly. Read with purpose. Don’t rush.

Colossians 3:1, written by the Apostle Paul, says:
Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (NET).

There is great depth to the person of Christ, therefore, there is no limit to our growth. I would say, “the sky is the limit,” but there is no limit. Our goal is reflecting God Himself. We are honored among all created beings on earth to be made in the likeness of God. Paul in Colossians chapter 3 tells us to seek after all that means because that is just what Christ’s cross set us free to do.

Here is Colossians 3:1, written by the Apostle Paul, again:
Therefore, if you have been raised with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God” (NET).

There seems to be a twofold result in fixing our eyes on Christ:
#1 growing in His likeness
#2 the putting to death of sin

Are we doing either of those things?

On the one hand, we follow Christ’s teaching as revealed in the Bible in harmony with the leading of the Holy Spirit. On the other hand, we put to death anything that does not look like Jesus. We need to prune it all off like dead leaves on a plant. Yes, anything that thwarts intimacy with God goes out with the trash. Of course, we tend to need a learning curve in baring this out in reality.

Under the grace, discipline, and conviction of God, we can walk the narrow way.

We should have our minds on things that are above. The idea is not to escape our duties and stewardship on earth, but rather to orderly as does God’s family in heaven play out our family roles with love and respect here on earth. We should always with thankfulness to God act this way, not only as individuals but as families as well.

Paul thinks this way as we can see in Colossians 3:18-25 which speaks for itself:
Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged. 22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism.”

Know what these words mean:
Submit
Fitting
Harsh
Obey
Embitter
Reverence
Favoritism

I do think the section speaks for itself, but let me highlight some of the words.
For the Wives: “As is fitting in the Lord”
For the Husbands: “Do not be harsh”
For the Children: “In everything”
For the Fathers, “Will become discouraged”
For the slaves: “It is the Lord you are serving”
For us all: “There is no favoritism”

Part 7: “Three Last Things”

Colossians 4:2-6 (ESV):
Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. 3 At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison – 4 that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak. 5 Conduct yourselves wisely toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. 6 Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.”

The Apostle Paul then closes the letter of the Colossians. I would like to highlight three points of guidance from verse 4:2-6 to you:
To Pray
To be Thankful
To be Salty

To Pray is emphasized the type of prayer that helps one say alert (watchful prayer). Prayer is about spiritually living not just bodily surviving. Prayer is the call to do this genuine living or maybe better put, action-oriented vow keeping. Also, we should do so with a prayerful heart for fellow believers. In the case of this passage, Paul himself asks for prayer.

And again, Thanksgiving is instructed as at the beginning of Colossians. I must say I know as likely do you. How easy it is to get one’s mind stuck on the harshness of life and to not do as Paul teaches earlier in the letter. We must keep our minds on things up where Christ is seated. That is key and what keeps me thankful (and I hope you too!).

He also states to be salty or “speech seasoned with salt.” I think this is a reference to be a living sacrifice before others. In the Bible, salt is used for a couple different things that are both related.

We see in the Old Testament the use of salt in the sacrificial system to get the blood out of the meat because life was within the blood. The Israelites were not to eat the blood.

Also, salt was used in covenant agreements or business type arrangements. For example, in a land deal that meant you needed to meet the requirements in your business arrangement by fulfilling payment on your loan. If you defaulted, your land would be salted and left useless. So in salting a deal, it was meant to hold you to account or keep you honest to the agreement with the knowledge of what would result if your land was salted. To break the deal would result in the salting of your land, which was the agreement if default occurred. The result thereby would be the loss of productive land and your way of making a living.

(You should, of course, do your own study on the topic because there are other views, but for what it’s worth, that is what I have gathered in my study that can be stated in a few sentences)

Temple sacrifices, in a similar way, were salted with the understanding life is dependent on God, and one must be genuine to covenant made with God. For the Israelite, that was the Old Covenant. For the Christian, the Old Covenant has fulfillment in Christ. We must remain salted in that regard knowing without Christ there is no life. So just as the sacrifices in the temple were salted so our lives, living sacrifices, should have speech salted (language that speaks to our covenant commitment in our worship of Christ) so that we are sacrifices genuine before God. This means His Spirit will be present in our very words, graciously as we serve and direct others to Christ. The worship in spirit and truth as Jesus described in John 4:24.

Jesus Christ also happened to talk about being salty.
Matthew 5:13-14, “You are the salt of the earth. But if the salt loses its saltiness, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled by men. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden” (NIV).

Jesus goes on in the passage about being light in the world which is what God sows His Spirit in us to do. We bring forth His Glory!

Therefore, we should be in prayer (watchful prayer), thankful, and genuine in our lifestyle before others and God. For Christians like the Colossians, that meant living for Christ without shrinking back from being genuine light. They were told to be a people of living sacrifices who worship God through Christ in spirit and truth.

I assume it is the same for us today.

 

BMD

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