One of the NT paradigms so helpful in growing or maturing as a Christian (sanctification) is that we live out our new identity in Christ. We are a new creation in Jesus, with our old self dying and a new me rising to life with him (Col. 2:11-13; 3:1-4). From this foundation of our new status as God’s forgiven, remade, and beloved children, and from this new identity where who I am is integrally connected to my union with Jesus, we then put to death sin and put on Christ. We say “out with the old and in with the new” when it comes to those desires, thoughts, and behaviors that aren’t fitting of me now in Jesus or are fitting. Unlike how our clothes become out of fashion every few years, the virtues of Christ we’re to put on (Col. 3:12-15) are unchanging. They are attractive, fitting clothes in every season and through the ages.
As you read the book of Colossians, Paul repeatedly holds up the supremacy and sufficiency of Jesus in all things and over all things. This would be true for any of the churches he sent a letter (Epistle), but it was especially necessary at Colossae. There were those at Colossae undermining Christ’s sufficiency. They did this–as far as we know–not by rejecting Jesus, denying his humanity or divinity, or denying the claims of Jesus. Instead, it was more subtle. This false teaching conveyed the idea that Jesus is a great start, but to really arrive, grow, be happy, or experience the highest levels of knowledge and religious experience, other things needed added to Jesus or sought alongside of Jesus. It’s a “Jesus plus” or “Jesus and” theology rather than a “Jesus alone” theology.
One of the things biblical scholars love to debate is what the “heresy” at Colossae actually was. Was it a heresy? What was taught? Was it from inside or outside the church? Paul warns the church at Colossae, “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ (Col. 2:8).” So who were the false teachers at Colossae, and what was the nature of their teaching?
Colossians is full of great theology. Not just informative, but the kind of theology that warms our hearts with the knowledge of who Jesus is or that provides solid ground to stand on when our faith is shaky. The deeper we dive into Paul’s theology in this book the stronger our faith becomes.
Each week at Pennington Park Church, we provide a Sermon Discussion Guide for Small Groups to use in their time together. Below are some additional questions to study in advance to help you dive deeper in Colossians 1:9-14. Since this week will focus on prayer, we’ve also provided a five day prayer guide.
Paul’s prayers—like his letters in general—so overflow with richness that you feel like you’re working to catch every drop as it pours out. There’s always more to be seen and acted on than what you find in the moment. This makes studying the Bible exciting, knowing there’s always more to be found later when we return. We never run out of “fresh grass” to feed on. Continue reading Learning to Pray from Paul
Each week at Pennington Park Church, we provide a Sermon Discussion Guide for Small Groups to use in their time together. Below are some additional questions to study in advance to help you dive deeper in Colossians 1:3-8.
Below is an example of the daily devotional from my book Finding Satisfaction in Christ: A Devotional Study of Colossians. The book walks through Colossians a few verses at a time, explaining and applying the passage in a Christ-centered way. You can purchase the book on Amazon in paperback or Kindle. Here’s day one to give you a feel for the book.
“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” (Colossians 1:1–2)
Imagine you meet someone tomorrow and they ask you to describe yourself. What would you say? Who are you? Try summarizing who you are in ten words or fewer (really, try it).
You can now purchase a copy of my new book Finding Satisfaction in Christ: A Devotional Study of Colossians in paperback or kindle formats. I wrote this over the course of a few years. What began as a small group study on Colossians in the home of our friends Dan and Emily later turned into a Group Discussion Guide for College Park Church that blossomed into a full-length book slowly written off-and-on over the course of a few years. As any writer or teacher struggles with, I hope my personal joy and benefit of studying Colossians leads to your joy and encouragement as you read through Colossians with me. Here’s a bit about the book.
(This devotion is day twenty-four of a 30-Day Thanksgiving Challenge. Each day includes a daily reading that will be accompanied by a post on this blog.)
Read Colossians 1:3, 12; 2:7; 3:15–17; 4:2
When you open an email or an old-fashioned letter, you know right away if it’s good or bad news. The first few words set the tone for what follows.
Since Paul had never visited the city of Colossae, his opening sentence of thankfulness (Colossians 1:3) acted as a first impression for his readers. He sets the tone not with a rebuke for their failures—like Galatians—but by affirming God’s good work in them. This casts a shadow of encouragement and pastoral love over the entire letter. If New Testament letters had emojis, Paul would have included a big smile or high five.