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« Themes of Colossians Chapter One – Part Two | Main | Themes of Philippians: CHAPTER 4 »

Themes of Colossians - Part One

The City

  • Colossae was located about 100 miles inland from Ephesus, near to Laodicea and Hierapolis (Col. 4:13, 16). Colossae was smaller than the others. An important trade route passed through there. Even though it was small, Paul believed it was important enough to write an epistle to the church there.
  • Colossae was home to every kind of philosophy imaginable in the first century. False prophets, errant doctrines and heresies abounded. Many Jews also lived there, so the church had the whole range of religious ideas to combat.

The Church

  • The church put Colossae on the map. It is not named in the Book of Acts, probably because Paul did not start or even vist the Colossian church. He says that he had heard of their faith, but did not know them personally. This makes for a remarkable fact that Paul wrote them a letter that has survived through the centuries.
  • The Colossian church was born as a result of Paul’s presence in Ephesus (Acts 19; 20:17–38). The Ephesian church no doubt reached out to surrounding cities, including Colossae, and “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks” (Acts 19:10). Colossae, Laodicea, and Hierapolis would have been included in their home missions endeavors.
  • During Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, two men from Colossae were saved —Epaphras and Philemon (Philemon 19). Epaphras may have played a major role in founding the church in Colossae, because he shared the Gospel (Col. 1:7) with his community. He also went to Hierapolis and Laodicea and carried the gospel there as well. (Col. 4:12–13).
  • Philemon opened his home for he gospel to be preached. (Philemon 2). Apphia and Archippus, mentioned in this verse, were respectively the wife and son of Philemon, and Archippus may have been the pastor of the church (Col. 4:17).
  • The Bible Exposition Commentary says, “There is a good lesson for us here: God does not always need an apostle, or a “full-time Christian worker” to get a ministry established. Nor does He need elaborate buildings and extensive organizations. Here were two laymen who were used of God to start ministries in at least three cities. It is God’s plan that the Christians in the large urban areas like Ephesus reach out into the smaller towns and share the Gospel.
  • Gentiles mainly made up the membership of the Colossian church. Paul lists a number of sins that were commonly found among Gentiles. Also, the mystery Paul writes about had more to do with the Gentiles than the Jews (Col. 1:25–29). It appears that the church was around five years old when Paul wrote this letter.


1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which  ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Greeting to saints and faithful brethren. Faithfulness stands out as a virtue worth praising and encouraging.
Hope in heaven: The importance of eternity in our present activities.

John 14:1-3

2 Corinthians 4:14 Knowing that he which raised up the Lord Jesus shall raise up us also by Jesus, and shall present us with you. 15 For all things are for your sakes, that the abundant grace might through the thanksgiving of many redound to the glory of God. 16 For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. 17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; 18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.

We cannot lose sight of heaven and eternity. Without this understanding, much of what we believe loses its meaning.

  • John 3:16;
  • Romans 6:23.

6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: 7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Epaphras was probably the one responsible for founding the church in Colossae.

9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;

Walk worthy . We have an obligation and an expectation to make our lives an authentic representation of the heart and mind of God.

We are dealing today with some distorted ideas of what Christianity is all about. It used to be that when someone left the church, they knew they were wrong and we knew they were wrong. Nowadays, people simply go out and find a church (so-called) that fits their idea of how they want to live their lives.

  • 11 For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, 12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; 13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; 14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. 15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee. Titus 2:11-12.
  • 1 I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. 2 And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Romans 12:1-2.

12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:

Partakers of the inheritance of the saints. We have treasures in heaven.
Delivered us from the power of darkness. The power and authority of Satan over us has been broken.

  • This was a crucial episode that decided the fate of mankind. Adam and Eve represented mankind. At issue here was whether man would consent to obey God his Creator, or use his free will to rebel and submit to Satan. The tragic outcome is that when given a clear choice, man chose to obey Satan rather than God. And because authority hinges on obedience, when man obeyed Satan, he gave him a legal right to impose his evil influence on human life!
  • Satan’s authority over mankind is not absolute. It is proportional to the degree to which man chooses to disobey God. Because of the depravity and rebelliousness of fallen man, the apostle John conceded that, “…the whole world lies under the sway of the wicked one.” (1 John 5:19). Jesus also recognized the extent of Satan’s authority over fallen mankind, referring to him as “the ruler of this world” on at least three occasions (John 12:31 , 14:30 , 16:11 ).
  • John 12:31 “Now is the judgment of this world: now shall the prince of this world be cast out.”
  • John 14:30 “Hereafter I will not talk much with you: for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me.”
  • John 16:11 “Of judgment, because the prince of this world is judged.”
  • The Greek word for “prince” is archon, meaning one who is first in rank or power. The fact is that we are not just dealing with Satan as a deceiver, a liar, an evil spirit, etc. We are dealing with him as one who is in authority over this present world. The only way an individual can be delivered from the authority of Satan is to submit to an authority that is higher than Satan!

Translated us in the kingdom of his dear Son. We are now citizens of another kingdom.

  • To illustrate, no one can travel to another country without a passport or an agreement between countries. All kinds of issues come up in this relationship, like “Do I have to obey the laws here? Can the authorities here steal my money and throw me in jail? Will my native country get me out if I get in trouble here?” No person is an authority unto themselves. Regardless of where we are, someone has authority over us, usually depending upon our citizenship . Either we are ruled by Christ or we are ruled be Satan.

14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: 15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: 16 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: 17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.

The image of the invisible God. Image from Greek word eikon, or icon. Jesus Christ is the physical, human, literal representation or likeness of the invisible God. Taken another way, Jesus is God in a body.

  • Image does not mean person . Image does not mean another God. Image does not mean a lesser God.
  • Image does not mean that Jesus is a shadow of God. Hebrews 10:1
  • The fact that Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God can only mean that God is Jehovah unseen and Jesus is Jehovah seen !

By Him were all things created.

The “Firstborn” is not part of Creation because He created “all things.” One cannot create himself. Jesus already existed as the Almighty God. (Jehovah’s Witnesses wrongly add the word “other” six times in this passage in their New World Translation. Thus they suggest that Christ created all other things after He was created! But the word “other” is not in the Greek.

He is before all things and by him all things consist.

  • Paul used three different prepositions to refute false teachers.
  • Greek philosophers taught that everything needed a 1) primary cause, 2) an instrumental cause, and 3) a final cause. The primary cause is the plan , the instrumental cause the power , and the final cause the purpose .
  • When it comes to Creation, Jesus Christ is the primary cause (He planned it), the instrumental cause (He produced it), and the final cause (He did it for His own pleasure).

18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in  all things he might have the preeminence. 19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;

Head of the body, the church. You cannot have a relationship with the church without Jesus Christ. Neither can you have a relationship with Christ without a relationship with the church.

Firstborn from the dead . “Firstborn” means two things:

  • Christ preceded the whole Creation
  • Christ is Sovereign over all Creation.


  • The Greek word translated preeminence is proteuo and it appears only here. It is the one word that puts Christianity at odds with the religions and philosophies of the world. We are granted a place in the pantheon of Gods, but not first place. We are acknowledged but not given preeminence.
  • Acts 17:22-34.

All the fullness dwells in Him. Greek is pleroma. It means “the sum total of all divine power and attributes.” This was a technical term used by ancient theologians. Paul boldly and unequivocally states that this term describes Christ himself.

  • The Oneness of God represents the purest, most powerful concept of the Godhead. Once you understand the oneness of God you understand theology, creation, salvation, worship, the church, authority and everything else related to God. Romans 1:20.
  • Deuteronomy 6:4 is the foundational scripture for the Jewish religion. “Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD.” The Oneness view of God gives us truth, focus and clarity. If we intend to have a relationship with God, we must know who He is and how to reach him. Jesus Christ is God. That summarizes our theology .

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