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LESSON 1 – STUDIES IN COLOSSIANS - EPHESIANS
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COLOSSIANS: CHRIST IN YOU
In the time of the Roman Empire, the city of Colossae was located in the province called Asia. In Rome, itself there was a prisoner named Paul. While in prison, Paul wrote a letter to Christians in Colossae and a believer called Tychicus carried it to them. Why was Paul in prison? The Jews hated Paul because he preached the gospel of Jesus Christ and taught that men can be saved by faith apart from works. You can read about this in Acts chapters 21 to 26. In Acts 28, we learn that Paul was a prisoner in Rome for two years. During this time, he wrote four wonderful letters: Colossians, Philemon, Ephesians and Philippians. Paul had spent two years in the city of Ephesus, which was about 170 kilometres west of Colossae. During that time, many people believed and they went and told everybody in the province of Asia about the Lord Jesus, Acts 19.10. People from the same province heard the gospel on the day of Pentecost, and at first the Holy Spirit did not let Paul go there, Acts 2.9; Acts 16.6. Paul had never been to Colossae and we do not know who started the church there. We do know that Epaphras was one of the believers in Colossae and that he was a great help in the assembly there, Colossians 1.7; Colossians 4.12. We know a little about three other people in Colossae: Philemon, Archippus and Onesimus. Paul wrote the letter to Philemon about the same time as he wrote to the church at Colossae. He asked Philemon to receive his slave, Onesimus, who had run away to Rome and there became a Christian. Archippus was probably the son of Philemon and Apphia. Read Colossians 4.9, Colossians 4.17; Philemon 1.1; Philemon 1.2; Philemon 1.10; and Philemon 1.16. Colossae was only about 16 kilometres east of the city of Laodicea. Paul had never been to Laodicea, but he asked that his letter to the Colossians should also be read to the church at Lacdicea, Colossians 2.1; Colossians4.16. Paul wrote a letter to Laodicea but God has not preserved it for us. We do have his letter to the Ephesians and to Philemon and these three should be studied together. Philemon is a personal letter but contains some wonderful truth. In this book about Colossians, we will note many verses, which are about the same as some verses in Ephesians. The first two chapters of Colossians give us a great deal of teaching, and the last two show us how we should live as Christians. The first half of Ephesians is also doctrinal, and contains much teaching about the church. The second part is mostly practical, telling us how we should walk. However, there is some doctrine and some practical teaching in every chapter of both epistles. Other letters in the New Testament are the same: first doctrine, then the practical life. Many people today try to teach us that it does not matter what you believe. Just live a good life. But the Bible teaches that people act according to what they really believe and so doctrine is very important. You should read through all four chapters of this letter at one time. Do this every day for a week; it will help you to get some idea of what the epistle teaches. Then you should read the first chapter more carefully and write down in your notebook which verses you do not understand. In this book, we will study every verse: there are 95 verses in Colossians.
THE LETTER TO THE COLOSSIANS
1. Paul’s greeting, thanksgiving and prayer, Colossians 1.1-14.
2. Christ over all, Colossians 1.15-23
4. False teaching at Colossae, Colossians 2.6-19
b. Living the New Life with Others, Colossians 3.8-17
c. The New Life in the Home, Colossians 3.18-21
6. Final exhortation, Colossians 4.2-6
7. Closing greetings, Colossians 4.7-18
The main teaching in Colossians is about the Lord Jesus Christ. This letter tells of His glory and proves that He is the Son of God. This teaching is seen very clearly in Colossians 1.15-23, but first there is a personal message from Paul to God’s people in Colossae.
LESSON 1: COLOSSIANS
PAUL’S GREETING, THANKSGIVING AND PRAYER, COLOSSIANS 1.1-14
PAUL’S GREETING, COLOSSIANS 1:1-2
1. Paul called himself an apostle of Jesus Christ and this was according to God’s will. He used these words also in Ephesians 1.1, but here he added the name of Timothy, his young helper. Paul called Timothy his brother, as in 2 Corinthians 1.1; 1 Thessalonians 3.2; Philemon 1; he also called him his fellow worker, Romans 16.21; his son, 1 Corinthians 4.17: 1 Timothy 1.2, 1 Timothy 1:18; 2 Timothy 1.2; and a servant of Jesus Christ, Philippians 1.1. Timothy helped Paul in the work at Ephesus but we do not read that he was ever in Colossae.
2. Paul wrote this letter to God’s people whom he called holy and faithful brothers in Christ. They were brothers because God was their Father and they belonged to His family. They were saints because God had set them apart for Himself, and had made them holy. God made them saints and brothers because they had faith in Christ. Paul prayed that they might have God’s grace and peace. He used these words in Ephesians and in all his letters. (Hebrews is different.)
PAUL’S THANKSGIVING, COLOSSIANS 1:3-8
Paul showed why he thanked God for the Colossian believers, then he gave the name of the man who had brought him news about them.
3. Paul prayed always for the believers at Colossae and he gave thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We will see what Paul prayed for in verses 9 to 11, and more about Paul’s thanksgiving in verses 12 to 14.
4. He had been praying for the believers ever since he heard of their faith in Christ. They proved their faith by their love for all other Christians.
5. They also had hope that God would fulfil His promises. These three things, faith, hope and love, are seen in 1 Corinthians 13 and are the marks of a true Christian. Paul gave thanks to God because he heard these good things about the Colossians. They had faith in God’s Word and He gave them love for other Christians and hope for the future. Our hope is to be in heaven and the God of heaven can never fail. Christ is our hope, verse 27.
6. The true gospel tells us about God’s love and promises. The Colossians had heard this message and Paul was writing to those who had believed it. The gospel was going out to the whole world and was producing fruit and increasing. People heard and believed and were saved. They began to live for God, worship Him, and tell others about the Lord Jesus. The gospel is the Truth, verse 5, and tells us the truth about God and His grace, verse 6. The gospel is the same today, and we must give it to people all over the world. This is a command from the Lord Jesus Christ, Mark 16.15.
7 & 8. Epaphras had given the gospel to the people of Colossae and taught them more about God. He himself may have believed when he heard Paul preach in Ephesus and then may have taken the message of the gospel to Colossae. He went to Rome while Paul was in prison and told him about the Colossian church. Paul called him his dear fellow worker and a faithful servant of the assembly. Epaphras told Paul about the Colossians’ love, which was produced by the Holy Spirit,Galatians 5.22. So in these verses we learn what Paul knew about the Colossians and who had told him.
PAUL’S PRAYER, COLOSSIANS 1:9-14
Again, Paul assured the Colossian believers that he was always praying for them. Now he explained just what he hoped God would give them. He prayed for six things:
9. He prayed that they might be filled with the perfect knowledge of God’s will. For this, they would need both wisdom and spiritual understanding, which only God’s Spirit can give.
10. This knowledge would help them to live a life that would be worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way. Paul also prayed that they would bear spiritual fruit in every good work. The Lord Jesus taught that this was possible only if we abide in Him, John 15.4. This life will help us to know God better. So we start by being filled with the knowledge of His will, and if we do His will, we will know more about Him day by day. Paul prayed that the Christians would grow in their knowledge of God.
11. But living this life is possible only if we are strong, so Paul prayed that the believers might have great strength. We are weak in ourselves, but God has all power and He is willing to give us all we need. God’s strength will help us to be patient in time of trouble and not soon angry when people attack us. Through it all, we may know the joy of the Lord. These things also are the fruit of the Spirit, Galatians 5.22.
12. Finally, Paul prayed that we might give thanks to the Father for all His goodness to us. Some people think they are praising God when they make noises, which no one can understand. In the Bible, God gives us many reasons why we should praise Him. In verses 12 to 14, the apostle gives five great reasons for praise.
(1) He has made us fit to share in the wonderful inheritance, which He has prepared for all His people. We will have our inheritance when we get to heaven where all is light, Revelation 22.5. Give God thanks for this!
(3) More still, He has brought us into the kingdom of His Son. God loves His Son, and He loves us. Therefore, He has put us under the control of His Son. The King will also protect His people.
GOD’S LOVE TO CHRIST IN JOHN’S GOSPEL 3:35
The Father loves the SonJohn 5:20; The Father loves the Son John 10:17 Therefore My Father loves me John 15:9. As the Father hath loved me John 17:23. As you have loved me John 17:24. You loved me before the foundation of this world John 17:26 The love with which you have loved me. Praise God for these things!
14. (4) We were sinners at one time and quite willing to be slaves of Satan. Now we have been redeemed from his power and set free to serve the Lord Jesus.
(5) God is holy and He cannot have sinners or rebels in His kingdom, unless first their sins are forgiven. God is able righteously to forgive our sins only because the Lord Jesus died for us. Now through Christ He has redeemed us, and forgiven our sins. It is necessary that Christ should die for us, and our redemption is through His blood shed on the cross, Ephesians 1.7.
Thank God if you are sure your redeemed and forgiven.
TEST LESSON 1- STUDIES IN COLOSSIANS - EPHESIANS
1. Paul was at Corinth when he wrote Colossians - TRUE .................. FALSE ..................
2. Paul spent two years at Ephesus - TRUE .................. FALSE ..................
3. Philemon lived in Ephesus - TRUE .................. FALSE ..................
4. Some believe that if you live a good life you will be saved - TRUE .................. FALSE ..................
5. Paul was appointed an apostle by others - TRUE .................. FALSE ..................
Fill in the blank in the space provided.
6. Paul wrote to people he called ........................ and ........................ in Christ
7. Paul had heard of their ........................ in Christ
8. ........................ preached the gospel to the people at Colossae
9. Paul pray for ........................ things for the Colossians
10. Before saved we are controlled by the ........................ of ........................
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Created by Harold Smith
Updated May 2012 by Shelly Allen