Week 6 Life Group: Colossians Bible Study


I. From

II. To

III. Greeting

IV. Body

A. Introduction–Laying a Good Foundation

B. Issues

Expanded Outline

A. Introduction–Laying a Good Foundation

1. Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians (vv 1:3-12a)

a. Thanksgiving (1:3-8) THIS LESSON

b. Paul describes his Supplication for them (vv 1:9-12a)

Paul’s Prayer of Thanksgiving–Colossians 1:3-8

I Statement of the Prayer: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, (v 3 NIV)

II Paraphrase: We always include you in our prayers, and when we do, we always thank God, who is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, for you.

III Paul’s Reason for his Thanksgiving: because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— (v 4)

A. Their faith in Christ Jesus

B. The love they have for all God’s people

IV Explication of Faith and Love: the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. (vv 5-6)

V The Means by which the Colossians Heard the Gospel: You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. (vv 7-8)

VI Chronological Order of the events leading up to and resulting in Paul’s prayer of thanksgiving for the Colossians (mostly working backwards through the text, vv 3-8)

  • Epaphras learned the gospel from Paul and discipled with him, possibly while Paul was in Ephesus for two years (Acts 19:1-10, specifically vv 1 and 10)
  • Epaphras was from Colosse (Colossians 4:12) and returned there to spread the true message of the gospel (v 5) in his own neighborhood
  • The gospel grew and bore fruit among the Colossians, just as in the whole world (v 6)
  • The Colossians realized the hope stored up for them [you] in heaven (v 5)
  • This realization resulted in the Colossians’ faith in Christ Jesus and … love…for all God’s people (v 4)
  • Paul heard about their faith and love from Epaphras (vv 4 and 8)
  • Paul began regularly praying for them (v 3)
  • Paul wrote his letter of thanksgiving, encouragement, and exhortation (encouragement and instruction) to them

VII Key Words: hope, faith, love, gospel, fruit

A. Hope

1. as a verb–an attitude and activity of heart and mind

2. as a noun–here in this verse–not mere wishing

a. the full Christ-centered assurance and yearning for the fulfillment of the promises of God

b. a “living and sanctifying force” (Hendriksen, 49) (1Peter 1:3)

c. the thing hoped for; the object of hoping, the inheritance all saints receive in Christ (Colossians 1:12)

i. Jesus himself (Colossians 1:27Hope faith love invert

ii. Jesus’s heavenly treasure, the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20)

iii. the inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and that can never fade (1 Peter 1:4)

iv. the glory which shall be revealed to us (Colossians 1:27, Romans 8:18)

v. we see this hope from far away (the present) and greet it joyfully (Hebrews 11:13)

3. The living hope produces faith and love within the believer’s heart.

B. Faith — saving faith in Christ in response to hearing the Word preached, the Gospel of life in Christ

They replied, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved–you and your household.” -Acts 16:31

If you declare with your mouth, “Jesus is Lord,” and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. -Romans 10:9

For since in the wisdom of God the world through its wisdom did not know him, God was pleased through the foolishness of what was preached to save those who believe. -1 Corinthians 1:21

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17

C. Love — Christ-like actions, speech, motives towards others, inspired by the presence of the Holy Spirit within the hearts of believers (Colossians 1:8)

This is how we know who the children of God are and who the children of the devil are: Anyone who does not do what is right is not God’s child, nor is anyone who does not love their brother and sister. -1 John 3:10

For this is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another. -1 John 3:11 

“A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another.” -John 13:34

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ 31 The second is this: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no commandment greater than these.” -Mark 12:30

D. Gospel — Can you state the gospel in no more than one or two sentences?

Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. -Romans 1:1-5

For Christ did not send me to baptize, but to preach the gospel–not with wisdom and eloquence, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. 18 For the message of the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. -1 Corinthians 1:17-18

God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. -2 Corinthians 5:21

He has saved us and called us to a holy life–not because of anything we have done but because of his own purpose and grace. This grace was given us in Christ Jesus before the beginning of time, 10 but it has now been revealed through the appearing of our Savior, Christ Jesus, who has destroyed death and has brought life and immortality to light through the gospel. -2 Timothy 1:9

Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, descended from David. This is my gospel, -2 Timothy 2:8

Jesus performed many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not recorded in this book. 31 But these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, and that by believing you may have life in his name. – John 20:30-31

E. Fruit …the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world–just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. Colossians 1:6

1. within the lives of individual believers as they become more fully conformed to Christ’s nature and character through Scripture and the promptings of the Holy Spirit

2. within communities of believers (local churches) as they express the love of Christ in word and actions among themselves and to other communities of believers

3. to the unbelieving world at large through acts of love and through the preaching of the gospel

4. in this way, the quality of Christ-like character increases in believers throughout the world, and the numbers of believers increase throughout the world

VIII Key Points

A. How did the Colossians arrive at their belief? (Colossians 1:6-7)

1. hearing (So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ. -Romans 10:17 )

2. understanding – ἐπέγνωτε (e-peg-no-te) = full knowledge, no mysteries left untold

3. learning – ἐμάθετε (e-math-e-te) = discipleship, not a quick dip and I’m outta’ here, detailed lessons and practice and life application over time, what the disciples did in the years that they spent with Christ

B. Initial faith can be instantaneous and there is nothing simpler in the whole world: believe that Jesus Christ is Son of God, was born as man, died for our sins, rose again, and is preparing an eternal place by his side for all who believe.

For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, –1 Corinthians 15:3

My Father’s house has many rooms; if that were not so, would I have told you that I am going there to prepare a place for you? 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and take you to be with me that you also may be where I am. -John 14:2 

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. The one who believes in me will live, even though they die; 26 and whoever lives by believing in me will never die. Do you believe this?” -John 11:25-26

C. Discipleship–fruitful increase in faith and love–is an ongoing process that lasts one’s entire life.

IX How does Paul in this portion of his letter, this prayer of thanksgiving, lay a good foundation for the key issues he brings up in Chapter 2 and beyond?

A. He establishes his approval of the Colossians

1. He commends the Colossians’ faith, love, and hope.

2. He commends the Colossians’ pastor, Epaphras, on whose gospel message and discipleship training their beliefs are based.

3. Paul approves of them so much that whenever he prays for them he gives thanks to God.

B. He lays out the main realities of Christian belief–grace, faith, hope, love, truth, the gospel, fruit, the Spirit, Christto be developed later.

C. He introduces the themes of learning and full understanding, which were themes used by the false teachers to entice the Colossians into compromise.

1. He states that the Colossians already have full knowledge.

2. They have this in Christ.

X Application

A. Take a dipstick test of my love for “all the saints.” Name specific ways – make a list – of how I regularly and frequently express this love in action. Where do I fall short? Where should my prayer focus be?

B. If not already doing so, begin incorporating statements of genuine thankfulness in my intercessory prayers for others, naming specific qualities or facts about them.

C. Am I doing my part to share the spoken-out-loud Gospel of Christ with others, so that they too may hear and believe?

D. Do I spend more time with my thoughts fixed on worry or on the hope that is stored up for me in heaven?

NEXT WEEK: We will be having a Fellowship Dinner, so no new lesson.

Link to (Colossians Bibliography)


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