Paul writes to young church at Colossae of the glory, supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ,
urging them to reject syncretism with lesser things.
Practical and Pastoral Observations on the Book of Colossians (please read each chapter slowly and meditatively before reading observations below):
Introduction: Epaphras (v.7) evangelized the Lycus Valley and established the churches of Colossae, Hierapolis and Laodicea. Epaphras brought reports of the strengths and weaknesses of these churches to Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome (61-63 AD). Paul then wrote the leaders of the Colossian church, otherwise unknown to him personally, to help strengthen it by highlighting Christ above the syncretism which had developed. The young church seem to have drawn, in addition to Christ, from other streams including Jewish legalism, Stoicism (the view that the body is evil) and mysticism (including worship of angels). Paul points the young church to the uniqueness and centrality of Christ above all.
Jesus Christ is the image of the invisible God (v.15), by whom and for whom all things are created (v.16), and in whom all things hold together (v.17). Through Christ, the Father "rescued us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the Kingdom of His beloved Son" (v.13). He is head of the church (v.18), firstborn in creation (v. 15) and firstborn from the dead (v. 18), having all the rights of the firstborn. Through Him, in the blood of the cross, He reconciled all things to Himself (v.20), ultimately making peace (v.20-22) and us holy (v.22).
God's Acceptance and Satan's Rejection of Christ's perfect sacrifice: The sacrifice of Jesus' blood on the cross was full and complete atonement for us to satisfy justice of the Father and was fully accepted by Him who gave His Son that the only one qualified could do what we sinners could not. The sacrifice of Jesus' blood on the cross was also full and complete ransom for us to Satan taking from him legal rights to dominion given by us in the garden at the fall. Though full, complete and adequate in every way, Satan rejected the ransom given for us and, though now stripped of his historic legal right rooted in our sin (Colossians 2:15), continues war against God and us. Christ's second coming and final judgement will finally end Satan's illegal hostilities and thrashing on the earth, albeit in his death throes.
Our mission is based on the completed mission of Christ on the cross. It is Christ who first reconciles us, makes peace, overcomes evil, makes us holy; then we follow on the sufficiency of His mission, walking it out in our own lives, sharing Him with others, growing up fully, complete (v.28) in Him, our hope of glory (v.27).
Application: vs.12-14: "giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light. For He rescued us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, in who we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins."
I will rely on Christ alone.
I will not be discouraged by Satan's thrashing, mortally wounded, knowing the victory is sure.
I will be confident in Christ in Him as my hope of glory.
I will strive forward in sanctification and mission in His power working in me (v.29).
My Prayer: Thank you Father for Your unspeakable grace and provision in our behalf, dead in sin and under the dominion of the evil one, helpless without You. Thank you for intervening, placing Yourself in Christ between our helpless state, the enemy of our souls and Your righteous requirements, giving what we could not. How amazing, how wonderful! Even now only You can tune our hearts to worship You as You are worthy to be praised in eternity!
God in Christ, Victorious for Us: Christ, in whom the fullness of God dwells in bodily form (v.9), while we were dead in our sins (v.13), cancelled the certificate of our debt (v.14) and disarmed the authority of evil spirits against us (v.15), making us alive and raising us up with Him (v.13, forgiven and overcoming.
The certificate of debt (v.14) was an acknowledgement of debt in the handwriting of the debtor held by the person owed. Violating God's moral law put us in debt to Him. Christ made payment on the cross and wrote, rising, "paid in full" across the certificate of debt, nailed forever to the cross.
Application: We are called to invite others to join Jesus' triumphal procession and to hold fast to Him who is our head and from whom we grow as God nourishes us (v.19).
I draw encouragement of heart (v.2) and confidence in God's plan in Christ in the face of evil in the world and challenges before me. I choose to remain rooted in Christ always to grow strong and firmly established (v.7) so no storm or opposition will topple. v.9-10a: "In Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete."
My Prayer: Father, what grace and glory you give, what joy and certainty - victory in Christ! Help me be faithful to my calling also to stay rooted and grounded in Him so as to stand firm in the fray of history, pointing many also to your certain and complete salvation.
Christ Above: Christ is risen and seated in heaven on the right hand of the Father (v.1). He is our source and destination, therefore to be our continual focus; one which transforms us into His image through continual renewal (v.10).
Becoming Like Him: We are beloved, been chosen and made holy (12). Our role therefore is to look to Christ above from whom is the source of our newness of life (v.1); releasing unworthy worldly things, internal and external (v.5-9). We are to view the old nature for what it is: dead and leading to eternal death and judgment (v.6). Putting off the old and putting on the new nature in Christ are simultaneous, equally vital, not to be set over against each other and a continual process.
My Part: I will seek and set my mind on Christ above in heaven (v.1), dying gladly to the old self (v.5) and more and more easily shaking off the loosening grip of worldly passions and greed. I will put on Christ's love which binds me to all believers in unity (v.14), let the peace of Christ rule my heart whatever the storm (v.15), meditate deeply and daily on God's Word (v.16) and cultivate heart-felt gratitude for both the profound and simple things (v.16-17).
v.17: "Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father."
My Prayer: Father, I strain forward to what lies ahead and above, releasing the hold of unworthy worldly offerings, desiring only You. From Christ above comes the newness of life which alone transforms the world of it's worldliness.
God Empowers Us as We Pray: God, as we pray, empowers us to speak Christ clearly (v.3) and wisely with those who are not yet in Christ (v.5-6).
Watchful Prayer: We pray best in a way that is watchful of circumstances around us, as a sailor is watchful of weather conditions (the Greek verb is often used of being watchful in light of Christ's return), responsive with thanks to expressions of God's grace (v. 2). We pray also watchful for new opportunities to speak the life-giving word of the gift of Christ (v.3).
The opportunity to introduce others to Christ is often fleeting. The phrase is literally "buy up the time" (v.5): like people buying a product at a good price, we are to "buy up" every opportunity God gives to share the Good News and to serve others.
v.5-6: "Live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be gracious and attractive so that you will have the right response for everyone."
The example of Epaphras' prayer is helpful: he "laboured earnestly" in prayer, asking that the disciples would stand mature, be fully assured in God's Kingdom and walk in His will (v.12).
My Prayer: Holy Spirit, tune my spiritual eyes to see the best opportunity You give to speak the Gospel each day. Give me eyes to perceive; courage to speak, wisdom to respond exactly as I should.