Greetings and Thanksgiving:
(Read Colossians 1:1-8)
Paul begins the epistle with his standard greeting. He refers to his apostleship in the beginning because he was unknown to the Colossians. Apostles are called and commissioned by Christ with authority. They were endued with the power of the Holy Spirit to perform miracles and combat the false teaching. Paul was an apostle by the will of God. This speaks of his divine appointment. Paul includes Timothy in his greeting. He was a trusted companion and coworker. This letter was addressed to the church at Colossae. They are saints in God’s sight because of their identity with Christ. They are separated unto God for His use. They are also the faithful ones. They are full of faith in Christ and loyal to him. They are in Christ. This speaks of their spiritual position. They are the brethren because they belong to the family of God. Paul greets them with grace and peace. Grace is God’s unmerited favor lavished upon believers in Christ Jesus. Peace is the result of grace. Peace is the calm tranquility of the heart in the midst of trouble. Grace and peace come from God. Paul gives thanks for their faith in Christ and their love for all believers. They were well known for their faith and love for other Christians (1:8). Love is the evidence of faith and the mark of Christianity (John 13:35; 1 John 3:14). They loved all those who laid their hope in Christ and heaven (1 Peter 1:3-5). Truth is the very essence of the gospel (John 14:6). Faith looks backward, love lives in the present and hope looks forward. Love links faith and hope. Colossians probably got saved as the gospel spread in the Roman Empire and through the preaching of Epaphras, a native of Colossae. Spiritual growth and fruit bearing always go together. The church at Colossae was known for their Christ-centered faith and their love towards all believers. Paul wants them to remember who they are now and what Christ has done for them. God wants all believers to grow in the grace and in the knowledge of Jesus Christ (2 Peter 3:18).
Prayer and intercession:
(Read Colossians 1:9-11)
Paul was a man of prayer. Paul prayed daily for the Colossian church that they may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. He wanted them to remember who they are in Christ. They are delivered from the power of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of God’s beloved Son (1:13). He calls on them to live a life that pleases God and become fruitful in every good work (1:10). Spiritual wisdom and understanding come from God. Spiritual knowledge is gained by experience. This knowledge contrasts the knowledge of Gnostics. This knowledge is necessary to know God’s will and purpose for our lives. Wisdom is the God given ability to use knowledge for His glory. Understanding is the spiritual insight and the ability to make clear discernment. The knowledge is not given to satisfy our curiosity but to strengthen us in faith with God's power. It is necessary to endure trials with patience, joy and thanksgiving (1:11). God’s power is limitless. Spiritual growth and fruit bearing will always go together. This is the evidence of discipleship (John 15:8).
(Read Colossians 1:12-14)
Paul wants Colossians to be a thankful people because they have been made fit to share the inheritance of the saints in the light (1:12). It is a reference to our future heavenly blessing. Secondly they have been delivered from the power of darkness and transferred into the kingdom of His dear Son (1:13; 1 Peter 2:9). Thirdly in Christ, they have redemption, the forgiveness of sins (1:14). Redemption is defined as the act of buying back from the slave market. We were once slaves to Satan and sin. We inherited our sinful nature from Adam (Romans 5:17). For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God (Romans 3:10, 23). But God sent His Son to redeem us from our sin by his death on the cross (Mark 10:45; Galatians 3:13). We are redeemed by the blood of Christ (1 Peter 1:18-19). In Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7; Micah 7:18; Isaiah 43:25). Forgiveness means “the removal of sins'' (Psalms 103:12). There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Romans 8:1).
Preeminence of Christ:
(Read Colossians 1:15-19)
In this moving passage, Paul declares the supremacy of Jesus Christ over all things, visible and invisible. From the creation of all things to the salvation of souls, Christ is Lord of all. Jesus is divine because He is eternal. He is the creator of all things. He controls all things and He is the head of the church. He defeated death and rose from the dead. He is the only way to God. Jesus is more than a mere prophet, teacher or humanitarian. He is nothing less than God himself. To deny this central truth is to deny the basis of the Christian faith. This is the truth that motivated the disciples of the first century to turn the world upside down through the preaching of the gospel. The common denominator of cult is to deny the deity of Jesus Christ.
First, Christ is the image of the invisible God
(Read Colossians 1:15)
This speaks of Christ’s relationship to God the Father. Many Christians look at Christ with a consumer mentality to get all He could offer. It is vital to have a true understanding of who Jesus is. We must see Jesus from a new perspective. Jesus Christ is the fixed point of the universe. His divinity and humanity meet in His incarnation. He is co-equal with the Father and the Holy Spirit. Christ is the image of the invisible God (John 17:5). The invisible God became visible in Jesus. God is now approachable and knowable in Jesus (John 1:1, 14, 18). Recognizing Christ as Lord is fundamental to Christian faith.
Secondly, Christ is the firstborn of all creation
(Read Colossians 1:16-17)
Firstborn signifies priority in time. This speaks of Christ’s deity and sovereignty in relation to creation. He is the firstborn and not the first created. He is the self-existing God. He was before all creation and not a part of creation. He is the great “I AM” (John 8:58). All things were created by Him and for Him (1:16). Christ is the divine source and agent of creation. For His use and glory all things were created. The Jehovah of the Old Testament is the Jesus of the New Testament (Isaiah 40:26; John 1:3; Hebrews 1:2). Christ is the sustainer and preserver of all things. He maintains harmony, order and controls the laws of the universe (Hebrews 1:3). Apart from Christ, the universe will disintegrate and will be in a state of chaos.
Thirdly Christ is the head of the body, the church
(Read Colossians 1:18-19)
This speaks of His relationship with the church. Christianity is Christ. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. This is a reference to His resurrection. He is the source of new creation. He alone directs, controls, guides and governs the church. The church is a living organism through which Christ works. The church is composed of people who are saved and share in the resurrection life of Jesus (Acts 3:15). The church is also a family where Christ is preeminent. The church is those who are added to the Lord by the Holy Spirit. The church is the place where God dwells (1 Corinthians 14:25). People don't see the presence of God in the church if believers are not transformed by the Spirit. For in Christ all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell (1:19). He is the manifestation of the sovereign God. The sum total of God’s power and attributes dwell in Christ. Only in Christ we find the divine perfection of God dwelling permanently
(Colossians 2:9; 3:11). This is complete denial of the Gnostic philosophy. The Gnostics distribute divine nature among many things, including angels. Those who see Christ from a spiritual perspective will find that they have in Christ all the resources they need for life and godliness. Pray that Christ’s will and purpose will take precedence in our lives.
Christ Reconciled Sinners unto God:
(Read Colossians 1:20-23)
Reconcile means to restore the divine harmony back. Sinners are alienated and hostile toward God. In our thought, attitude and disposition of mind we are at war with God (Romans 1:30). Christ removed all sinful barriers and restored divine harmony through His blood. The blood speaks of Christ’s redemptive work. Religion is man seeking God. Christianity is God seeking man (2 Corinthians 5:18-20). We are not reconciled through Christ’s birth, teachings and miracles but by his death on the cross. The purpose of reconciliation is to present us holy and blameless before God. Holy means to set apart for God and for His use. It is the positive side of salvation. Blameless means free from character flaw. It also means above reproach which means free from accusation (Romans 8:1). Paul tells us that the Word of God is our firm foundation. The church is built upon the solid foundation of Christ and his Word so that it is not shifting away from the hope given in the gospel. This hope is in Christ. It is the living hope, the hope of righteousness and the hope of eternal life (1 Peter 1:3-4; Galatians 5:5; Ephesians 1:18; Titus 3: 7). Paul knew that he was called to proclaim the gospel. Pray that God would give us a desire to grow deeper in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Paul’s Sacrificial Service for Christ:
(Read Colossians 1:24-29)
Paul was in prison, yet he was rejoicing in the Lord. Paul identified his suffering with the suffering of Christ for the church and for the proclamation of the gospel. Paul knew that he was given the responsibility of serving the church by proclaiming the gospel. His message was about Jesus Christ. His method was to teach the scriptures. The Gospel was a mystery hidden for ages but now revealed by the Holy Spirit to his saints (Ephesians 1:17-18). God wanted us to know the riches and glory of Christ (Ephesians 3:17). Paul learned that all believers are indwelt by Christ through the Holy Spirit. He is the hope of glory (1:27). Religion and philosophy cannot bring transformation. The resurrected life of Jesus Christ works from inside out to transform us to His image (John 15: Galatians 2: 20). In Paul we see the example of Christian ministry. His ministry was meeting the spiritual needs of people with joy. Paul tirelessly labored to present everyone mature in Christ (1:28). Paul preached the person of Christ with authority. It was a balanced ministry of warning and teaching every one with all wisdom. Warning refers to convincing people of errors and leading them to repentance. Teaching is instructing in faith and doctrine. It was a purposeful ministry to present everyone mature in Christ. Perfection does not mean sinlessness but spiritual maturity. He worked tirelessly like an athlete with all his energy depending on Christ’s mighty power. Paul’s ultimate goal was that others would benefit from his ministry and Christ alone would be glorified. He was God’s instrument, doing God’s work, through God’s power and for God’s glory. Pray that God would help us to follow Paul’s example in our ministries.