Bible Study: Colossians

Bible study: Paul's letter to the Colossians teaches us a good deal about the basic doctrine of Christianity. The teachings are fundamental to almost all mainstream Christian Churches.

Paul's letter to the Colossians teaches us a good deal about the basic doctrine of Christianity. The teachings are fundamental to almost all mainstream Christian Churches. Paul builds a solid case for Christ as God, Christ as head of the Church and our relationship with Christ.

Christianity had to spread person to person. The message was carried by word of mouth by apostles to small groups of people in various cities. Once these missionary apostles left a city, they had to rely on people that they had trained in doctrine to keep it straight. Paul had never visited Colosse but others from there had heard him preach elsewhere and carried the message to their city. This church didn't have the benefit of a trained leader and was being lead into false doctrines. Paul dealt with this by sending a letter of encouragement and instruction to them. Paul's letter to the Colossians is an epistle of training and correction.

Paul was in prison in Rome when he wrote his letter to the church at Colosse. The year was about 60 A.D. and it was the first generation of the Christian church. In the 30 odd years since the death of Christ, Christianity had spread through the entire Roman world. Epapharus seems to have been the leader of the church at Colosse. (Colossians 1:7) Epapharus went to Rome to discuss with Paul heresies that had risen in this church. Paul addresses these issues by first establishing the authority of Christ as the Head of the Church.

In Chapter One, Paul teaches:

· That we are to be "filled with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding" (Vs. 9)

· We have been delivered from darkness by His Son, Jesus Christ. (Vs. 13)

· Our redemption has been paid for by the Blood of Christ and our sins are forgiven through Christ. (Vs. 14)

· That Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. (Vs.15)

· That Christ is God. "For by Him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him:" (Vs. 16)

· That we were separated from God by our sin and that we are reconciled with Him through Christ. (Vs. 20-21)

· That Jesus was God incarnate (in the flesh). (Vs. 22)

· That the church is the Body of Christ. (Vs. 24)

· That Christ is the mystery revealed. The revealed mystery is that Christ is in us and we are sanctified by His indwelling. When God looks at us, He sees Christ in us and we are held blameless for sin that has been washed away by the Blood of Christ. (Vs. 26-27)

The false doctrines that the Colossians had fallen into taught that Jesus was merely a man who was inhabited by the spirit of Christ at His baptism and that Christ's spirit left the man Jesus when Jesus died on the Cross, meaning that Christ never died, but Jesus did. They also believed that salvation was obtained through some mysterious manner and not available to all. What Paul proves is that Jesus was God in the flesh, that Christ died for our sins, that we are cleansed by Christ's shed Blood and that our bodies are His Church, He dwells in us.

In Chapter Two, Paul teaches:

· That all truth, wisdom and knowledge are hidden in us, because Christ dwells in us. We must know this and must know the Word of God so that we are not lead astray by false teaching. (Vs. 3-4)

· Now that we have received Christ, we must walk in His ways. We are to be rooted in the truth, built up in Christ and established in our faith. A tree that is firmly rooted cannot be easily swayed; a building built on a solid foundation cannot be easily toppled. These are our safeguards against deception. When our faith is solid, we can stand firm. (Vs. 6-8)

· Paul instructs again that Christ Jesus is fully and completely God and man. The Colossians were teaching that flesh is bad and spirit is good, thus Jesus could not have been God as Christ, but that Christ only indwelt the flesh of Jesus. In Christ we are complete, we need nothing more than Christ. Christ is the Head of everything. (Vs. 9-10)

· Verses 11-17 and 20-23 address the issues of sanctification. The Colossians were teaching that we have to live rigid lives, adhering to strict laws of diet and behavior, such as the Laws of Moses. Paul is teaching here that Christ has satisfied the law and that we are now sanctified through Christ's actions for us. We cannot correct our sins by our actions, only Christ can wash away our sin.

In Chapter Three, Paul teaches:

· We are risen in Christ and now must concern ourselves higher things, Godly things. We are to set aside our desire for earthly things and focus on the things above. (Vs.1-2)

· "For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with Him in glory." (Vs. 3-4) Again, Paul makes the point that we are crucified with Christ, live because Christ lives within us, sanctified by Christ's sacrifice for us and may approach God because God sees Christ in us rather than our sin.

· In verses 5-11, Paul tells us what behaviors we are to avoid. These are the things of the old man and we are now made new in Christ. "8 But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. 9 Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds;" We are to behave as Christ would behave because Christ is in us. There are no longer things like race or class that should separate us because we all are in Christ.

· Verses 12-22 instruct us on how to behave in a Christ-like manner. We are to be kind, meek, humble, forgiving and loving. We are to "do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by Him." (Vs. 17)

· "23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ."

In Chapter 4, Paul teaches:

· Masters to be just to their servants, as they have a Master in heaven. This instruction is valid today as it was then, teaching employers to behave justly. (Vs 1)

· To continue in prayer for all things and give thanks. He asks the readers to pray for him while he is imprisoned for the faith. This is still valid; we are to pray for our missionaries and those who suffer for the cause of Christ.

· We are to be wise and knowledgeable in the Word, so that we may always be prepared to present it correctly to those who have not heard it. (Vs. 5-6)

· He finishes his letter telling news of his fellows, letting the church at Colosse know that they are being prayed for and instructs them to share their epistle with other churches.

Paul's epistle teaches us the foundation of Christianity is Christ. He instructs that we are to be well rooted in Christ and the Word, we are to display our faith with our actions, we are to be concerned with Godly things and leave behind the sinful nature and we are the Body of Christ and Christ is our Head. Christ lives within us and we are His Church.

(All Scripture is KJV)

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