Sunday, February 12, 2017

Paul's Epistles – Colossians - Part 1: Introduction

Paul's Epistles – Colossians - Part 1:
Pastor Bruce A. Shields
House of Faith Church | |


Paul’s letter (Epistle) to the Colossians was a letter to correct Heresy.

Heresy is having an opinion which is in opposition to true doctrine. In other words, the Colossian church had, as many other early churches, fallen prey to false doctrine.

Paul had a fellow prisoner in Rome by the name of Epaphras (Philemon 23), we do not know when this man was converted, perhaps during Paul’s 3 year ministry in Ephesus, but it is very clear that Paul did NOT found the Colossian church. (Colossians 1:4,7,8; 2:1), it is thought by scholars and theologians that Epaphras had done so. (Colossians 1:7; 4:12)

Paul learned from Epaphras that heresy had broken out in the Colossian church. There is a lot of discussion over the years about what the exact heresy or false doctrine was, but as we have looked at before, examining the content of the epistle gives us clue as to what Paul’s solution was, which then gives us clue to what the problem was.

We see a mixture of Judaism, Gnosticism, Asceticism, Angel worship, etc.

Judaism would be the adherence to Old Testament teachings while ignoring the completed works of the cross.

Gnosticism is the belief that “secret” knowledge existed, specifically that the world was created by a lesser divinity, and ruled by an emissary of the remote Supreme Being. This belief system, which was carried over to Christianity, placed God the Father as the Supreme and Jesus as the lesser ruling divinity.

Asceticism is the severe self-discipline and avoidance of all forms of indulgence, typically for religious reasons.   The doctrine that a person can attain a high spiritual and moral state by practicing self-denial, self-mortification (embarrassment and shame – “mortified”) and the like. Rigorous self-denial; extreme abstinence; in a severe nature.

Certain Latino systems of Catholic belief practice Flagellants, which is a more radical form of Asceticism having its roots in the 13th Century Catholic Church.

Asceticism including the extreme Flagellants were found in various belief systems such as the Cult of Isis in Egypt, Dionysian Cults of Greece, and also in Ancient Rome where the Galli flogged themselves until they bled during the festival called Dies Sanguinis, (Day of Blood).

This practice is still practiced today in some Catholic circles under the guise of penance, voluntary self-punishment inflicted as an outward expression of repentance for having done wrong.

It is obvious why this is false doctrine, and has no place in a Christ following church.

The heresy in the Colossian church taught that the flesh is essentially evil, and God is Holy, and a great gulf between the two exist. So the teachings conclude that there must be a way to close that gap through “purifying” ones evil flesh.

They taught there were creations, many of them, each “less Holy” than the previous, (which included Jesus) until they were “less Holy” enough to touch man and close that gap.

It casts a cloud over the Glory of Jesus Christ, placing Him in the background.

The heresy, destroyed the Supreme lordship and sovereignty of Jesus Christ, it dethroned Him, destroying the mediator-ship of Christ, making Him only 1 of a multitude of mediators, (such as the Hindu belief in avatars, a manifestation of a deity or released soul in bodily form on earth; an incarnate divine teacher.)

However, we know Jesus is so much more than that, He was, is and always will be God.

In the Colossian Epistle, we can see Paul correct the poor view of Christ by emphasizing the Headship (Colossians 1:18; 2:10, 19) of the Christian (Colossians 1:13, 14), and Christian worker (Colossians 4:7-13), but the main object and purpose of the letter is to draw a faithful portrait of the Lord Jesus in all His dignity, Deity, and Glory.


Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the loveyou have for all God’s people— 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. 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.

For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 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.

Paul opened his letter with thanksgiving and prayer to all, thanking them for their service, and love of God.

The overall message of this epistle to the church is;
The Supreme Glory, Deity and Dignity of Christ Jesus”.

The epistle of Colossians is divided into 2 major sections, Doctrinal and Practical.

a. Thanksgiving and Intercession
                                                                 i. Colossians 1:1-14 (read today)

                                                              ii. NOTE: Paul says Faith first exercised before love manifested
1. “…because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 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.”

                                                           iii. NOTE: Verse 8 is the only mention of the Holy Spirit in this Epistle.

                                                            iv. Paul includes his intercession on behalf of the Colossians after his thanksgiving for them.

                                                               v. Paul states in Verse 9, “…since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.”

                                                            vi. This prayer has no formal ending, but merges into a worshipping confession of the Glory of the Christ of God.

b. Colossians 1:15-2:3 Supreme Dignity of Christ Jesus
                                                                 i. This, being the “heart” of the Epistle, Paul does not dictate, but rather gives a quiet heart moving and soul subduing affirmation of the glory of the Lord Jesus.

c. Christ IS All in All
                                                                 i. In DEITY
1. Equality with God, image of God (vs. 1:15), abode of fullness (vs. 1:19; 2:9), firstborn (vs. 1:15) a title of dignity.

                                                              ii. In CREATION
1. Creator of the universe, He is the cause, Head and goal of the created universe (vs. 16)
                                                           iii. In PROVIDENCE
1. Sustainer of the universe (vs. 17), He who by one creative act formed the universe, by continuous activity sustains it.

                                                            iv. In CHURCH
1. In Ephesians we see what the Body is to the Head, in Colossians what the Head is to the Body (vs. 18), in Ephesians emphasis is placed on the Church as the Body, in Colossians the emphasis is on Christ as its Head.

                                                               v. In REDEMPTION
1. Verses 20-23, He (Christ) is the only Redeemer, and His redemption has wide extent.

“…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.
21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of[g] your evil behavior. 22 But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.”

                                                            vi. In GOSPEL MINISTRY
1. Verses 24-29, the mystery is “Christ in you”

a. The Warning
                                                                 i. Against error and heresy

b. The Union
                                                                 i. With Christ and its result

c. The Final Greetings
                                                                 i. To the Colossians who were a rich collection of Christian workers.


Will provide a complete display and proof of Christ’s supreme glory, deity and position as Head of the Body, which is the Church, the congregation of believers.

CONCLUSION – Doctrinal issues are easily corrected

As long as the listeners are willing to allow God’s Holy Spirit to do a work, and live in a manner that is worthy of the Gospel, in submission to the Lord and Brothers and Sisters to maintain unity in the church, as well as keep Christ at the Head.

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