Though not an exegetical study, I've been reading through this letter to the Church of Colossae and will try to bring out some of the highlights, and even some of the convictions I felt while reading through the it. Join along and let me know your thoughts. Or if I can pray for you, hit the "Can I pray for you?" tab and send me a note. God bless as you open God's word!
Colossians has been a long time favorite, but it’s also been a long time since I sat and read through it. Years in fact. One overall point that I remember from previous study is that Christ is my all in all. He sums up everything, and everything is summed up in Him. That phrase “in Him” has become to mean even more after reading Ephesians. In Him we are redeemed, reconciled and restored. In Him we are made righteous and complete and so much more. Let’s see what this letter tells the people of Colossae.
Paul begins this letter by expressing his authority to do so, as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God.” I guess you can’t get much more authority than that. Who’s going to argue against the will of God, or an appointment by Jesus Christ Himself?
And oh yeah, he tells us Timothy is here, too. Paul kind of took this young man under his wing into the ministry, and they had what Paul considered a father/son relationship, as his first letter to Timothy addresses him, “my true child in faith” (1 Timothy 1:2).
Those sweet mentoring relationships are life changing for most, and it sure was for Timothy who had a Greek father and a Jewish mom and grandma. I was blessed to have a few women who poured themselves into my life for the sake of Christ, and I am so grateful for each one that trained me up.
Timothy’s mother and grandmother taught him about their faith, and the Lord brought Paul into his life to further the gospel. For you moms and grandmas out there who are still praying for your kids and grandkids to come to the Lord, don’t lose heart. God hears. He knows. Don’t stop asking, don’t stop living out your faith. You never know the impact it is having, or the impact of your prayers on their lives.
This letter of Colossians is addressed to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae. So, we know he’s writing to other believers. We know they live in the city of Colossae, which is in modern day Turkey. Located on the Lycus river in what was called Asia Minor. This church of believers was taught by Epaphras, as we’ll see later in the letter.
Paul addresses this letter with the typical greeting of grace and peace, but where God is concerned, there is nothing ordinary or typical about the grace He has blessed us with, nor the peace that He alone can offer.
Paul gives thanks for these believers, these saints, and he prays for them constantly. Being a faithful pray-er for those I know is not my strong point. The Lord has used these verses before, and now again, to remind me to be faithful in my prayers for my fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. I know so many who are hurting, need healing, need livelihoods, and it’s easy to remember to pray for them in their great need, but I should also be praying for all the saints. For all who are just trying to live daily in that grace and peace of God. Our unity of the faith, our position in Christ makes us one, so let’s remember each other in our prayers faithfully. I know I would appreciate it for myself, as it’s easy to get off-task, or side-tracked by all that’s in the world. Paul is our example to pray for others who are in Christ. What I love most is that we don’t have to sit and pray for each one by name (though often a particular name comes to mind and most certainly should be mentioned), but it’s more the communion and fellowship with God in that He knows our hearts desire for all believers to enjoy His grace and peace, for them to be blessed in Him. A reminder that we’re in this together, and that His light would shine brighter in and through us all.
Another thing the Lord convicted me of is that saying, “I’m praying for you” is not the same as actually praying for someone. One is a verbal encouragement, but the other is actually conversing with God. I need to be careful that when I say, “I’m praying for you” that I actually take the time to do that right in that moment. Praise Him, I don’t need an appointment to get to talk to my Father. He’s always available. And, it can also be a blessing to both of you if you stop and pray with that person rather than saying you’re going to pray for them. It may seem awkward at first, but I’ve never had anyone reply with “no thank you” when I’ve asked if I could pray for them right there. I’ve prayed in parking lots, grocery stores, pharmacies, sidewalks. Prayer is for everywhere and everything, because God is always present and faithful.
Paul's words inspire us to be pray-ers for our fellow saints. Who can you pray for today? You can start with me, and I will start with you. What a joy to know we are not in this alone.
Lord, please bless my fellow sisters in Christ today, May they totally be aware of Your grace and peace in their life. I pray this in the name of Christ Jesus, the One whom You have made us one in. Amen.
Have you ever seen or been a part of someone coming to a saving knowledge of Jesus, either directly or indirectly? I still remember when I was nine years old going to a Billy Graham crusade. I was already a believer by then, and I will never forget the flood of people that emptied the stands to go speak to counselors on the field to accept Christ as their Savior, while the choir sang the invitation. What an incredible moment to witness.
More recently, I was praying for a couple that was having marital problems, but worse, not knowing Jesus, they had no tools to cope with it. My pastor was their friend and he asked me to pray for them, occasionally sharing an update of how God let him share with them. I had never met them, but I prayed for them. It would be a long while of praying - months and months and months. Then one day, I was in Staples office store when my pastor called to tell me that they had just accepted Christ as their Savior. I had to go to the back aisles of the store with my cell phone because I had burst into joyful tears as he told me their story. I can’t tell you the emotions I felt for these two I’d never met but had been praying for over the past year.
Someone once said that not all of us are “closers”, meaning that we aren’t the ones that God uses to close the deal of someone coming to Jesus. Some of us are waterers, some of us are seed planters, and some of us, like that long list of those considered faithful in Hebrews 11, never see the fulfilment of what we have planted, or watered, or prayed for. But it doesn’t mean God isn’t using it all.
In Colossians 1:3-12 we see that Paul, who is writing this letter, has never met these believers in Colossae. Instead, Epaphras is their minister. But Paul, who knows Epaphras well, prays for these believers. It says, he gives thanks to God the Father. Praying for them always, for these who have faith in Christ Jesus, these who have love for all the saints. For these whose hope is in Christ.
He says their faith and the love they have for the saints is because of the hope they have laid up for them in heaven. This hope they heard about when the truth of the gospel was shared with them. I know that joy Paul had for these he’d not yet met. Just to know, they get it! They understand the grace given to them, and they are living in it. That’s a pretty joyful thing when you’ve invested your prayers and thoughts toward someone.
This “Hope” is elpida – it’s a response to what they have heard. An awaited goodness. A confident expectation that what God has promised will be provided. Paul refers to this hope in his letter to his “spiritual son” Timothy in 2 Timothy 4:6-8 “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering” (by the way, drink offerings were not the main sacrifice, but rather one poured over the sacrifice to create a sweet aroma.) Going on, he tells Timothy his time is almost up, “the time of my departure has come. I have fought the fight, I have finished the course, I have kept the faith; in the future there is laid up for the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge will award to me on that day; and not only me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” Did you catch that? “To all who have loved His appearing.” We each one of us have a future hope. Since God is who He says He is, we can believe it.
Paul is grateful to God for these who accepted the grace of God that Epaphras shared with them. Is there someone you are thankful for that God sent to share the gospel message to someone you know? Have you thanked the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for them? This portion of the chapter shows us Paul’s example of praying for the saints. Not as some religions pray to so-called saints that man deemed acceptable to be called a saint, but we address our prayers to the Father, realizing His word teaches that every believer is made a saint in Christ Jesus.
What are the things we can pray for other believers? Paul says he prays in thankfulness for their faith in Christ and the way they love others because of it. And that's a good starting point for us too.
He prays in verses 9-12 that they be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. That’s a sentence full of doctrine, right there. It is only by His Spirit that we can know God’s will. It’s only as we are birthed spiritually at salvation that we can understand the deeper things of God. We’re told in 1 Corinthians 2:14 “…a natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; and he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually appraised.” We need the Spirit of God to reveal His wisdom and give us understanding, so that means we need to be walking by the Spirit, not by our own strength and guidance. We can get by in this world with some good old common sense, but if we are going to understand God, we are going to have to rely on spiritual sense that comes by walking with His Spirit.
Paul goes on to ask that they “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord” and that again is only possible as they submit to the Holy Spirit’s leading, for how can we walk worthy of the Lord apart from His help? I don’t know about you, but I know me, and me, left to my own devices, can never walk worthy of the salvation gift Christ gave me. His thoughts are so much higher than mine. I must have the Spirit living and moving within me to even come close to living out God’s divine and righteous plan in my life.
When we are walking “in a manner worthy of the Lord”, we will be pleasing Him “in all respects”. Think on that one! We will bear fruit in every good work (remember, only the works that God planned for us are actually good). And as a bonus, as we walk by His Spirit, we will increase in the knowledge of who God is.
The more we know about God, the more we will understand how He wants to work in and through us. We will be strengthened with all the power of His glorious might. Oh, I so need His power and might, because on my own, I can only function for a short time. My will power is just not strong enough for the long haul. My emotions are not courageous enough to face all that this world throws at me, alone. My intellect is not so great that I can overpower the schemes of the devil. I need GOD, and His mighty power working in me. It’s only then that I can attain steadfastness, patience and have a joyful life of gratitude.
We can be all that and do all that because of the fact that He has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light! The Light of the world came to show us how to live, walking by the Spirit.
Let’s be sure to pray for our fellow believers in gratitude and purpose, that each of us would walk worthy of Him today.
Did you know you needed rescuing? As I said, I was about nine when I finally committed to following Jesus, but I knew well before that time that I needed to be rescued. When we come to the knowledge of who God is, and who we are not, it’s time for a rescue.
In Colossians 1:13-14, Paul says we’ve been rescued from the domain of darkness. Sounds ominous, doesn’t it? The domain of darkness. And it is. When you consider how dark and evil this world can be, just take a deeper look to an eternity in the most diabolical evil there ever was or will be, where there is nothing that is good, except possibly the fact that the darkness might hide the hideous ugliness that surrounds, no, even that can’t stop the sense of foreboding evil of being locked up with the worst of the worst, in utter darkness.
As a believer you don’t have to fear it, you don’t even have to look at it, because “God has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints of Light”. How did God do this? It goes back to our participation by faith, as we saw in the book of Ephesians. At the moment we place our faith in the work of Christ on the cross, God “transferred us to the kingdom of His Beloved Son” (v. 13).
It is by our position in Christ “in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (v 14) This verse might sound familiar as it was also stated similarly in Ephesians 1:7. Paul repeats to these believers in Colossae what he found of paramount importance in his letter to the church of Ephesus. Our rescue is complete when we are placed in Christ Jesus. When Jesus died on that cross, taking upon Himself the sins of this world: our sin, my sin, your sin, God the Father looked on that sacrifice and accepted it as payment for all that we owed, and when we said, yes, I will let Jesus pay that for me, God willingly then removed us from the pit of darkness we were in and placed us into His Son.
Look at these words that Saul/Paul explains to King Agrippa that Jesus spoke to him on the road to Damascus. Jesus said to him:
“But get up and stand on your feet; for this purpose I have appeared to you, to appoint you a minister and a witness not only to the things which you have seen, but also to the things in which I will appear to you; rescuing you from the Jewish people and from the Gentiles, to whom I am sending you, to open their eyes so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the dominion of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who have been sanctified by faith in Me.” (Acts 26:16-18).
Sanctified by faith in Jesus. That’s what takes us out of the darkness and into His light. And the light reveals so much, doesn’t it? We had no idea the level of filth we were even living in until the Light shone on it. The more we let His Light shine in us, the more that is revealed. Things that were once gray areas in our lives become much more black and white.
We have been forgiven of every sin (so don’t be holding on to that one you somehow think He can’t forgive), we have been redeemed, the ultimate price has been paid to take you out of darkness! So, let His Light Shine. Let it shine, let it shine, let it shine!
Who is this Jesus that they have believed in? The Apostle Paul spells it out for these in Colossae, and we get to peek in on the truths he shared.
“[Jesus] is the image of the invisible God”. If you wonder what God looks like, look at Jesus Christ. He was formed to show us God’s likeness. This happens, as we see in John chapter one, that “in the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being through Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being… And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us...” (verses 1-3, 14a)
God came in the likeness of man to reveal the likeness of God to mankind. A paradox for sure, but one that we can be eternally grateful for. When it speaks of Jesus being the image of the invisible God, it’s important to note that he isn’t speaking about His physical appearance for we know that God is spirit. The Word became flesh and dwelt among us to reveal how God’s Spirit works. Everything He did was done in the Spirit. Empowered by the Spirit. Led by the Spirit.
We speak in terms of the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit because our earthly brains can’t comprehend how this triune God works, but Jesus came to show us. He is the image of the invisible God. He came as a theophany to those in the Old Testament, and He came in the flesh for us. Many stories in the Old Testament show Him visiting those whom He was directing to do this or that. Beginning with walking with Adam and Eve in the cool of the evening, He has always made a way to relate to mankind. A blessing that other religions cannot enjoy.
Verse 15 goes on to say that Jesus is “the firstborn of creation.” Don’t be confused by our English understanding of firstborn. The term here is not saying that God the Father created Jesus before He created anything else. No, in fact, Paul makes sure to show that in fact, it is by Him (Jesus/the Word) that everything was created. Everything in the heavens, and everything on the earth, both visible and invisible. They were all created by the Word that became flesh. Because He (the Word/Jesus) is the Creator He has pre-eminence, a superior status, to any other created thing or being. He existed before any other created thing. Just as John spoke of. The Word was with God, the Word was God. He was in the beginning.
Verse 17 assures us that “He is before all things, and in Him all things are held together.” There’s more to Jesus than this man who was born of a virgin. He is the creator of all, the image of God made manifest to us, and He is, even now, holding all things together.
If your life feels as though it’s spiraling out of control, look to Jesus. He is the one in which all things are held together. If you belong to Him, He has a firm grip on you and your circumstances by His grace, and His grace is sufficient for every need. I promise you that because He has said so (2 Cor. 12:9).
Let Him be your head, just as He is the head of the body of believers, the Church.
He has all authority and power. Look at verse 18 – He’s not only the One with pre-eminence over creation, He’s the one with pre-eminence over death.
This weekend we celebrate the resurrection of Jesus Christ. There is SO much to celebrate there, for the moment He died on the cross for our sins, He stripped Satan of any power to defeat us by death. Jesus stripped away even the fear of death by giving us hope of eternal life in Him. God sent Jesus to pay the penalty for our unrighteousness, and to make us holy and blameless before Him, all we have to do is call upon His name as our Savior and we will be saved.
The last two verses today, verses 19 & 20 say, “For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness [of God] to dwell in Him and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross, through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.”
We have the ability to walk in peace with God because of Jesus Christ having pre-eminence in creation and in death. He wasn’t the first to be resurrected, but He was the first to be resurrected to eternal life. Lazarus would die physically, again. The young girl whom He raised would suffer physical death once again, but Jesus died on that cross, a terrible death of separation from the Father’s Spirit for the very first time as He hung there, and was raised to be restored to the glory that was His before He came, never to have to die again.
John 17:3-5 “This is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent. I [Jesus] glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given me to do. Now, Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.” This is part of a prayer that Jesus prayed just before His betrayal by Judas, and His walk to Calvary began.
Oh yes, He made known to us the Father and the Spirit. The image of the invisible God, so that you and I could see Him, could know Him, and understand the great sacrifice of His death and resurrection.
As we celebrate the fulfilment of God’s plan of redemption and reconciliation this weekend, may we each pursue the fulness of joy He intended. We have the promise of eternal life and all hope because of this Jesus.
Happy Resurrection of the hope of our glory! He is risen! He is risen indeed!
We were formerly… what great hope is in that phrase; it means we aren’t the same. In God’s great grace and mercy, He provided a Savior, an exact representation of who He is. And through Him, He restores all those who would call upon His name into a new life in Christ.
Formerly we were considered alienated, and such we were, for in our sinful nature we could have no part of a relationship with God. Everything about God was foreign to us. His words, like a different language, His thoughts, seemed out of this world. Unthinkable, unimaginable. We were aliens to God.
In fact, we were so far from Him that our minds were hostile to Him. Fighting a battle for self to reign we engaged in evil deeds, to keep ourselves on the throne of our lives.
YET NOW, hope reigns, as He has now reconciled us to God. There was a great debt owed for our thievery, stealing away what was rightfully God’s, for our lordship belonged to Him.
And, “yet now…” Jesus Christ has paid that debt, reconciling the cost we owed for our sin. In that transaction of payment on the cross He made peace with God for us. All this to present us to the Father as holy and blameless and beyond reproach. Sounds reminiscent of Ephesians one, doesn’t it? Those in Christ were chosen to be holy and blameless before Him (v. 4); In Him we have redemption (v 7); God summed up all things in Christ (v 10)
Our faith in His work has made us established (in Him), we are now steadfast and immovable in the hope we have in Christ. The gospel message is this, that God sent the Son to be the Savior of the world, a fallen, sinful world. A world that needed redemption. And He was to reveal all the glory of the Father while walking as a man. Tempted as we are tempted, yet, without fail for He walked by the Spirit’s leading, and only did what the Father said to do. He is our perfect example of walking in the Light.
This reconciliation is the gospel message, that He could take us, who were once alienated and hostile in mind, and reconcile us to the Father. Our faith in that message let’s hope reign. We give Him ourselves in faith, and watch the transformation as we become something new. 2 Corinthians 5:17 states it clearly, “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creature; the old things passed away; behold, new things have come.”
Praise God, in Christ we are no longer the same. We have hope, a confident expectation, of all He will do in and through us who now are no longer an alien to Him, but have become His own.
Father, what an incredible gift. You sent Your Son, not just to save us, but that in Him we could see an example of how we are to walk by Your Spirit. You sent Him to stand in our place, and draw us into a relationship where we can have understanding and fellowship with You because in Him You made us holy and blameless and beyond reproach. That is amazing! Praise You God for your great hope given to us in Christ Jesus, through Whom we are allowed to come. Amen.