Over the last few years our society has drifted from even the appearance of being Christian to now often being antagonistic or suspicious of those who follow Christ. Also, in many ways, our culture has moved from a science-determined truth to individual and emotional truth. However, Christ, and the message of Christ, have not changed. He is still God, still the firm foundation of truth, and still the centre of everything good.
By way of introduction and invitation to the series, here is how the Life Application Bible introduces the book of Colossians:
Remove the head coach, and the team flounders; break the fuel line, and the car won’t run; unplugged, the electrical appliance has no power; without the head, the body dies. Whether for leadership, power, or life, connections are vital!
Colossians is a book of connections. Writing from prison in Rome, Paul combatted false teachings which had infiltrated the Colossian church. The problem was “syncretism,” combining ideas from other philosophies and religions (such as paganism, strains of Judaism, and Greek thought) with Christian truth. The resulting heresy later became known as “Gnosticism,” emphasizing special knowledge (gnosis in Greek) and denying Christ as God and Saviour. To combat this devious error, Paul stressed Christ’s deity—his connection with the Father—and his sacrificial death on the cross for sin. Only by being connected with Christ through faith can anyone have eternal life and only through a continuing connection with him can anyone have power for living. Christ is God incarnate and the only way to forgiveness and peace with God the Father. Paul also emphasized believers’ connections with each other as Christ’s body on earth.
Paul’s introduction to the Colossians includes a greeting, a note of thanksgiving, and a prayer for spiritual wisdom and strength for these brothers and sisters in Christ (1:1-12). He then moves into a doctrinal discussion of the person and work of Christ (1:13-23), stating that Christ is the “image of the invisible God” (1:15), the Creator (1:16), the “head of the body, the church (1:18), and the “beginning and the firstborn from among the dead” (1:18). His death on the cross makes it possible for us to stand in the presence of God (1:22).
Paul then explains how the world’s teachings are totally empty when compared with God’s plan, and he challenges the Colossians to reject shallow answers and to live in union with Christ (1:24-2:23).
Against this theological backdrop, Paul turns to practical considerations—what the divinity, death, and resurrection of Jesus should mean to all believers (3:1-4:6), sexual impurity and other worldly lusts should not be named among us (3:5-8), and truth, love, and peace should mark our lives (3:9-15). Our love for Christ should also translate into love for others—friends, fellow believers, spouses, children, parents, slaves, and masters (3:16-4:1). We should constantly communicate with God through prayer (4:2-4), and we should take every opportunity to tell others the Good News (4:5, 6). In Christ we have everything we need for salvation and for living the Christian life.
Paul had probably never visited Colosse, so he concludes this letter with personal comments about their common Christian associations, providing a living lesson of the connectedness of the body of Christ.
Read Colossians as a book for an embattled church in the first century, but read it also for its timeless truths. Gain a fresh appreciation for Christ as the fullness of God and the only source for living the Christian life. Know that he is our leader, head and power source, and make sure of your connection to him.
____New Life Application Bible, (Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton Illinois, and Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids; 1991), 2156.
Join us this fall season as we study the book of Colossians and learn the Word of God together!