Why read and carefully study this letter?
Staying Focused on the Word of God Gives Us a Right Heart
- the Bible tells us why we have trials
- the Bible commands and encourages not to give up
- the Bible animates us to not lose hope and confidence
- the Bible aligns us to something greater than ourselves and our life situations–namely, God
- God’s Word gives us strength to stand
- God’s Word gives us freedom to walk
- will trials rule me? Or, as I cling to his Word and draw near to him, will his Spirit of life direct my steps?
- God’s truth makes me whole
This is a letter approved and sent by Christ through his servant Paul to be interpreted in a church setting by the Holy Spirit. Conditions for attentively reading this letter still exist today.
Although Paul at some point may have traveled through Colosse as the route of a journey further west (Hendriksen, 8-9), it is all but certain that he did not “meet and greet” many of the soon-to-become Christians there (Colossians 2:1). Epaphras did the evangelizing of the folk in his hometown (Colossians 1:7; 4:12), having apparently been discipled by Paul.
In view of the fact that Paul had not founded the church at Colosse, nor even met its people, but had heard about them, most likely from Epaphras, he lays a carefully diplomatic and lengthy foundational introduction before he launches into the meat of his practical exhortation to them. Both the foundation and exhortation center upon consideration of Christ’s centrality and all-sufficiency for each and every Christian and for the church as a body.
I. As a Letter
- From (1:1)
- To (1:2a)
- Greeting (1:2b)
- Prayer (1:3-12a)
- Body (1:3-4:6)
- Closing and Farewell (4:7-18)
II. As a Carefully Aimed Arrow
A. Introductory Remarks: Laying a Good Foundation to Support the Exhortation (1:3-2:5)
- Prayer for the Colossians (1:3-12a)
- The Father’s Role in the Colossians’ Salvation (1:12b-13)
- The Son’s Role in the Universe and in Salvation (1:14-23a)
- Paul’s Role (1:23b-2:5)
- for the gospel (1:23b)
- for the church (1:24-29)
- for the growth of the Colossians and Laodiceans (2:1-5)
All of the above includes only positive statements in the sense that Paul gives no hint of any lack among the Colossians nor of exhortation of any kind, except for mentioning in 1:23 the general requirement that Christians must continue in the faith in order to receive the blessings of being in Christ.
Application: Do I use Paul’s techniques in my own correspondence, including email and text messages?
B. Paul’s Exhortation (2:6-4:6)
- Paul threads his theology of Christ into his exhortation
- Paul’s theology of Christ is the foundation for his exhortation
C. Closing and Farewell (4:7-18)
Scriptural Highlight: Christ Is All in All
NIV Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 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. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.