I. Scripture Reading
Colossians 1, New English Translation (NET Bible)
1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, at Colossae. Grace and peace to you from God our Father!
Paul’s Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Church
3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints. 5 Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth. 7 You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave—a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf— 8 who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
Paul’s Prayer for the Growth of the Church
9 For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects—bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints’ inheritance in the light. 13 He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
The Supremacy of Christ
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation,
16 for all things in heaven and on earth were created in him—all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers—all things were created through him and for him.
17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.
18 He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.
19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son
20 and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross—through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
Paul’s Goal in Ministry
21 And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds, 22 but now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him— 23 if indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body—for the sake of his body, the church—what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ. 25 I became a servant of the church according to the stewardship from God—given to me for you—in order to complete the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery that has been kept hidden from ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints. 27 God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory. 28 We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ. 29 Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.
II. Outline. Ref: The Outline Bible, Dr. Harold L. Wilmington
A. Paul begins his letter to the church at Colosse with thanksgiving and prayer.
1. Paul gives praise to the church at Colosse.
a. He told them how they received the gospel (1:1-6).
b. He commended them in regard to three things.
(1) Their faith toward Jesus (1:4a).
(2) Their love toward their fellow Colossians (1:4b).
(3) Their hope toward the future, and are looking forward to the joys of heaven (1:5-6).
c. He explained from whom they received the gospel. Epaphras shared Christ with them and is now ministering with Paul. (1:7-8).
2. Paul prayed for the church as Colosse:
a. That they will grow in the knowledge of God (1:9).
b. That they will please God (1:10a).
c. That they will bear fruit for God (1:10b).
d. That they will be strengthened by God (1:11).
e. That they will be thankful to God:
(1) For what the Father did (1:12-13).
(2) For what the Son did (1:14).
3. Paul’s proclamation to the church at Colosse. He has been chosen, by God, to reveal God’s secret plan to them.
a. The particulars of the plan. Christ lives in you. That is the assurance that you will share in His glory (1:24-27).
b. The purpose of the plan. “We want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ (1:28-29).
B. Paul finishes Chapter 1 with a discussion about Christ.
1. Paul explains that Christ is the visible image of the invisible God (1:15).
2. Paul explains that Christ, in relation to creation:
a. He created all things (1:16).
b. He sustains all things (1:17).
c. He will reconcile all things (1:20).
3. Paul explains that Christ, in relation to the church, He has been appointed head of the church (1:18-19; 1:22-23).
III. Selected Commentary. Ref: Reformation Study Bible, DR. R. C. Sproul
A. Verse 4
faith in Christ Jesus. In the face of a teaching circulating in Colossae that questioned whether Christ alone could be sufficient, Paul reminds the readers through his prayer of thanksgiving that what they already have “in Christ” is enough
B. Verse 5
because of the hope. Faith, hope, and love, are central to Paul’s understanding of the Christian life (Rom. 5:2–5; 1 Cor. 13:13; Gal. 5:5, 6; 1 Thess. 1:3; 5:8; cf. Heb. 10:22–24). He treats them as gifts of God rather than as virtues produced by the believers themselves. Paul emphasizes the sovereignty of God in salvation and the believers’ security in their relationship with Christ (Eph. 1:4; 2:8).
C. Verses 12-14
Paul expresses his gratitude for the Colossians’ good beginning (vv. 3–8) and encourages them to recognize that their heavenly Father has decisively rescued them from the powers of darkness. They can therefore be thankful for the redemption they enjoy (2:7; 3:17; 4:2). IV.
D. Verse 12
The false teaching in Colossae resulted in cowardice before the pagan supernatural beings thought to have the power to disqualify even believers from life with God (2:16, 18, 20–23). This accounts for Paul’s use of “qualified” here—no power in the universe can question the credentials of those who are “in Christ” (vv. 2, 4).
E. Verse 13
delivered us. This language recalls God’s rescue of Israel first from slavery in Egypt and then from captivity in Babylon. Paul envisions humanity outside of Christ as being helplessly under the “domain of darkness,” the evil rule of Satan (cf. Eph. 2:1–3; 6:11). Believers are rescued from this world order (Gal. 1:4) and brought under the dominion and protection of God’s Son. The image of light is appropriate here, for elsewhere Paul speaks of the light of the gospel shining in the darkness and penetrating the blindness of those who are perishing (2 Cor. 3:15; 4:4–6; 6:14; Eph. 5:8–14; Phil. 2:15; 1 Thess. 5:5).
his beloved Son. Note the portrayal of Jesus in the Synoptic Gospels as God’s beloved son (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22), and the rich Old Testament background out of which the designation arises (Deut. 18:15; Ps. 2:7; Is. 42:1).
F. Verse 14
redemption. In Rom. 8:23 Paul speaks of a bodily redemption still to be anticipated. Here redemption is understood as the forgiveness of sins and is something that has already been given (note the “once . . . now” pattern of vv. 21, 22; cf. 2:13, 17, 20; 3:9, 10). Compare Paul’s approach to the Corinthians, who overemphasized the “already” of salvation and neglected what is yet to come (1 Cor. 4:8–13; ch. 15).
the forgiveness of sins. See 2:13 and note.
G. Verses 15-20
Paul breaks into a doxology to the grandeur and glory of Jesus Christ. Many believe Paul is appropriating an early Christian hymn. By pointing to the supremacy of Christ both in creation (vv. 15–17) and in redemption (vv. 18–20), he points out what was missing in the false teaching at Colossae—an adequate view of the person of Christ. By doing this in a kind of hymn, he invites the readers to worship the Son of God.
H. Verse 15
image of the invisible God. For Paul, belief in the deity of Christ (Rom. 9:5; Phil. 2:6; Titus 2:13) is practical. Since He is by nature God, Christ reveals the God who is otherwise invisible (1 Tim. 1:17; 6:16). The thought is also found in John 1:1–18 and Heb. 1:3. Calvin observes that “we must be careful not to look for Him anywhere else, for apart from Christ whatever offers itself to us in the name of God will turn out to be an idol” (Commentary on Col. 1:15).
the firstborn of all creation. Paul is not saying that the Son was the first created being (v. 17 note). In the Old Testament, a firstborn son would be the principal heir of an estate (Deut. 21:17; cf. Ex. 4:22; Ps. 89:27). Used of Christ, the term “firstborn” means that He has such honor and dignity, not that He was the oldest child in a family. Christ is especially loved by His Father (v. 13), and all things were created in Him, by Him, and for Him (vv. 16, 17).
I. Verse 16.
all things were created through him and for him. Because He is both agent and goal of creation, Christ is Lord of all that is, even of the angelic hierarchy which the Colossians think they must placate or revere.
J. Verse 17
A strong restatement of the temporal priority and universal significance of Christ, this verse makes explicit what was implicit in v. 16: Christ existed before all creation. He is Himself not created. Nor can it be said, as followers of Arius (c. a.d. 250–336) later maintained, that “there was a time when he was not.” The thought that Jesus is the moment-by-moment sustainer and unifying power of the universe is echoed in Heb. 1:2, 3.
K. Verse 18
head of the body, the church. Using this theme of the second section of the hymn, Paul explains the image in Eph. 1:21–23, and works out its implications in Eph. 4:15 and 5:23.
the beginning, the firstborn from the dead. Jesus’ resurrection marks the beginning of a new creation (3:10 note; 2 Cor. 5:17). As the first to rise from the dead, Christ inaugurates the new age anticipated by the Old Testament prophets (Acts 2:29–36; 13:32–35) and founds a new humanity in Himself to replace the old humanity in Adam. His own resurrection is an anticipation and a guarantee of the resurrection that all His brothers and sisters will enjoy (Rom. 8:29; 1 Cor. 15:20–28; Heb. 1:6; 12:23).
that . . . preeminent. Without detracting from the glory the pre-existent Son already had with the Father, the New Testament teaches that Christ’s resurrection marks out for Him a new and higher standing, and wins for Him an even greater name (Acts 13:33, 34; Rom. 1:4; Eph. 1:20–23; Phil. 2:1–11; Heb. 1:4, 5). By virtue of His resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ is Lord of the universe that was created by Him, that He has always sustained, and which now He has redeemed.
L. Verse 20
The high point of the hymn. Humankind’s fall into sin brought with it the corruption of all creation, seen and unseen (Gen. 3; Rom. 5:12; 8:20; Eph. 2:2; 6:12). Through Christ’s incarnation and atoning death, God’s righteousness is satisfied (Rom. 3:21–26), peace between God and humankind is restored (2 Cor. 5:17–21), the eventual glorification of the created order is assured (Rom. 8:18–21), and the rebellious spirit beings have their powers limited (2:15 note).
M. Verses 21-23
Having considered Christ’s majestic role in creation and in the reconciliation and pacification of the universe, Paul returns to the Colossians themselves. Once God’s enemies and alienated from His life, they have now been given peace with God (Rom. 5:1, 2).
N. Verse 21
alienated . . . evil deeds. The text may be taken as indicating either that mental alienation from God has a behavioral root or that mental alienation is expressed behaviorally. Paul’s point is that mind and will cooperate in their rebellion against God.
O. Verse 22
Christ’s death in the flesh means that the reconciliation God has accomplished is not merely a matter of the universal pacification of the hostile powers; it brings with it the personal renewal and purification of those who grasp and adhere to the gospel (2:13; Rom. 5:6–11; Eph. 2:4–10).
P. Verse 23
continue in the faith . . . not shifting from the hope. Saving faith is persevering and enduring faith (v. 11), anchored in hope (v. 5). But contrary to the opponents’ teaching, true faith and hope are nowhere else than in Christ. This relationship with Christ is confirmed by faith and hope, rather than by rigorous ascetic disciplines.
proclaimed in all creation. Paul can speak of one of the conditions of the consummation of the ages, the worldwide proclamation of the gospel (v. 6; Matt. 24:14; Mark 13:10), as already having been completed. Paul here is using hyperbole (literary exaggeration for emphasis). Still, by aiming his ministry at the urban centers of the Roman Empire, he understood himself to be reaching the civilized world (Acts 19:10; Rom. 15:18–25).
Q. Verses 1:24-2:5
Paul has reminded the Colossians of the cosmic scope of Christ’s lordship (1:15–20) and the way Christ’s redemptive work has come to bear on their lives (1:21, 23). Now he turns to his own role in God’s redemptive plan and the relationship he hopes to establish between himself and the Colossians, most of whom he has not met, in order to woo them from the captivity of the so-called “philosophy” in their midst (2:8).
R. Verse 24
filling up what is lacking. Given the context of this passage, which stresses the total sufficiency of Christ, as well as what he says elsewhere (e.g., Rom. 3:21–26; 2 Cor. 5:17–21), Paul does not mean that Christ’s saving work on the cross is deficient in some respect. Rather, because the church is called to suffer for Christ (2 Cor. 4:7–12; 1 Thess. 3:2–4), there is a divinely appointed requisite of suffering to be endured by Christians. Paul may also have in view here the sufferings which will accompany the endtimes (Matt. 24:21, 22), a period ushered in by the death and resurrection of Christ (Rom. 13:11–14; 1 Cor. 7:29). This also explains the reference to Paul’s suffering for the sake of the church (Eph. 3:13; 2 Tim. 2:10). As a servant of the gospel, Paul rejoices in his opportunity to participate in the sufferings of God’s people. The passage does not mean that the church is a continuing incarnation of Christ whose members by suffering add saving merit beyond what Christ achieved.
S. Verse 26
mystery. In contemporary pagan religion the “mysteries” were secret insights given (usually for a fee) to a select, initiated few. With some irony Paul uses the term for the revelation God has made available freely to the nations (v. 27; 2:2; 4:3; Eph. 1:9; 3:3, 4, 9; 5:32; 6:19). In Paul’s use, “mystery” refers to what once was hidden, but is now being revealed.
hidden. God’s saving purpose for Gentiles was largely hidden from them prior to the coming of Christ. Previous generations were allowed to “walk in their own ways” (Acts 14:16; cf. Rom. 1:24–32; Eph. 2:12). The Old Testament revealed in shadows, signs, and hints that God would personally take up residence in His people (v. 27; Ezek. 36:25–27), and that He would create a new humanity uniting Gentiles and Jews through the Messiah (Gen. 12:3; Zech. 9:9, 10; Eph. 3:5, 6 notes).
IV. Personal Notes.
A. Vs 1. Paul was appointed an Apostle of Jesus by spiritual ordination and gifting of God. See Ephesians 4:11.
B. Vs 5. The hope of believers in Christ is that of salvation which we already enjoy in Christ, and which has a future meaning. It is an expectant hope that is ours here and now, with its fulfillment being in the resurrection age. The Christian hope is that of Jesus, himself, who lives at the right hand of God, and indwells His believers at the same time. This literal indwelling of the Spirit of Jesus in each believer is the believer’s “hope of glory.” 1:27.
C. Vs 10. Believers in Christ should show obedient lives of service to Him. The fair fruit of good works should result in greater abundance from the spiritual seed which has been literally planted within us. We should also have an ever increasing progress in the knowledge of God.
D. Vs 12. It is only by God’s grace that believers have been given the inheritance of eternity with Him. There is nothing that we can do to bring this “sharing in the inheritance of light” about.
E. Vs 13. It is by God’s grace that believers have been saved from an eternity of separation from God, and placed with Christ.
F. Vs 14. It is through Christ, that believers have forgiveness of sin.
G. Vs 15. God the Father, who is invisible, revealed Himself through Christ who was visible.
H. Vs 16. Jesus created everything.
I. Vs 17. Jesus is above all things, and holds all things together.
J. Vs. 18 Jesus is the head of His Church, and above everything.
K. Vs 19. All of God indwells Jesus.
L. Vs 20. Jesus made salvation possible for those who were lost, and experiencing a lifetime of sin and separation from God.
M. Vs 21. All of us were separated from God before Jesus saved us.
N. Vs 22. By Jesus making us holy, our spirits will be as perfect as the Spirit of Christ.
O. Vs 24. “His” body, the church will be related to Matthew 26:26, this is “My body.” Strong’s reference number, “4983.” is used to explain both uses of “the body of Christ.” 4983 = “body” in both verses. See 4983 in the following two verses
1. Mt 26:26: spoken figuratively of the communion bread as representing the body of Christ as crucified for the salvation of man.
2. Co 1:24: spoken figuratively for a body, meaning a whole, aggregate, collective mass, as spoken of the Christian church, the whole body of Christians collectively, of which Christ is the head.
3. 1 Cor 11:26: “this do … in remembrance of Me.”
4. In Mt 26:26, Jesus is not saying that the bread of the Passover meal becomes his actual body.
P. Vs 26. Paul discusses a secret.
Q. Vs 27. The secret was that Gentiles could be saved, and would result in the Spirit of Christ literally indwelling those who are saved.
R. Vs 28. Mature (ESV), and Complete (NASB) are explained by Strong’s reference number “5046,” is “complete, full, lacking nothing.”
IV. Closing Thoughts. Ref: What Does Every Bible Chapter Say? John Hunt.
A. Main Themes.
1. The apostle Paul commended the church at Colosse for their faith, love, and hope in Jesus (1:1-8).
2. The apostle Paul prayed for the fruitfulness of the Colossians in spiritual knowledge (1:9-14).
3. The apostle Paul emphasized the supremacy of Christ (1:15-23).
4. The apostle Paul explained that he is the apostle of the Gentiles (1:24-29).
B. Main Keys.
1. Key Verse. 1:10. “And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way.”
2. Key Phrase. 1:18. “He might have the supremacy.”
3. Key Theme. The supremacy of Christ.
4. Key Things To Look Out For. Christ is supreme over everything and everyone because He alone is God.
5. Key Bible Cross-Reference. See Ephesians 1:7. “In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace.”
V. Inspiration of Scripture. Consider parallel versions of 2 Timothy 3:16. At the time of the writing there was no New Testament, so Paul’s reference is made to the Old Testament writings. Still, all scripture, Old or New Testament, is inspired by God. The ESV wording is strong.
New International Version
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness,
New Living Translation
All Scripture is inspired by God and is useful to teach us what is true and to make us realize what is wrong in our lives. It corrects us when we are wrong and teaches us to do what is right.
English Standard Version
All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
New American Standard Bible
All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness;
King James Bible
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:
Holman Christian Standard Bible
All Scripture is inspired by God and is profitable for teaching, for rebuking, for correcting, for training in righteousness,
International Standard Version
All Scripture is God-breathed and is useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
Every scripture is inspired by God and useful for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
VI. Worship And Praise.
Consider the Presence of God in our lives. Consider the worshipful attitude that can be obtained as we listen to the music of worship and praise that is led by Women Of Faith.
Wonderful Merciful Savior
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