The twelfth book of the New Testament, the Epistle to the Colossians was authored by Apostle Paul during his first imprisonment in Rome (around 60 AD) and addressed the Church of Colossae. The city of Colossae was situated about 100 miles east of Ephesus in Asia Minor (present day Turkey). While of little importance at the time of this epistle, it had been at one time considerably influential. Colossae was one of three cities (the others being Laodicia and Hierapolis) situated on the Lycus river near where it flows into the famous Meander.
The church was most likely founded by Epaphras who had been converted during Paul’s three-year ministry in Ephesus and had carried the gospel to Colossae. Though Paul never visited the young church, he nevertheless had a vital connection with them. Concerned that the church became the target of a heretical attack by false teachers who conspired to limit the greatness and authority of Jesus Christ and to limit the efficiency of redemption in Him, Epaphras visited Paul in Rome.
Paul ultimately wrote a passionate letter, encouraging Colossian Christians to remain devoted to the exalted Jesus and not to give into the pressures from false teachings and from other religions. His message remains relevant today. With the advent of the internet, social media, and news coverage 24×7, false religions are all around us, tempting us with the next “must have” technology; tolerance for extreme lifestyle options and belief system; and ministries that promise the “good life” and prosperity. Paul teaches us to tune out that “noise” and to instead focus on Jesus’ gift of salvation. Through His death and subsequent resurrection, Colossian believers and believers up to and including today are now reconciled with God. No longer bound by a law that restricts our life, each of us has an opportunity to live transformed lives. As new creations, there is no part of our life that remains untouched by Jesus’ loving and liberating rule. To be truly transformed though, we must each re-examine our suffering, our temptations to compromise, our moral character, and the dynamics of our home life and relationships.
Having assessed my own life, I am first to admit that such a transformation does not occur overnight. Reborn 8 years ago, I am still tempted to say the wrong thing on occasion; to binge-watch my favorite show on Netflix rather than vacuum or do laundry; or eat too much of a good thing when going out to one of my favorite local restaurants. There isn’t a day that goes by when I don’t ask God to help me to communicate with loved ones more lovingly or to repair a still fractured relationship. With each new day though, I feel stronger, see more progress, and find joy in knowing that in spite of my imperfections I still have yet another chance to start fresh and transform. Truly humbled, God is a loving and merciful one, offering many “second chances” to transform. I cannot think of a more beautiful gift than that of salvation and everlasting life!
I. Introduction – greetings, thanksgiving, and prayer.
II. Supremacy of Christ – Jesus is the true image and firstborn of our heavenly father. At the cross, Jesus reconciled man in front of God with the Holy Spirit now dwelling within us.
III. Paul’s Labor for the Church – Paul’s suffering is not a sign of defeat. Rather, it is his way of participating in Jesus’s suffering as an act of love for us.
IV. Freedom from Human Regulations through the Life of Christ – Paul encourages Christians to fully understand and appreciated who Jesus is and what He did for them. Warning them not to compromise or to turn from Jesus, he refutes false teachers and pleads with them to reject false teachers.
V. Rules for Holy Living – As a result of Jesus’ resurrection, Christians have become a part of a new humanity that’s joined to Him.. With their lives now transformed and a part of the new humanity, Christians must serve and please Jesus alone. Their devotion to the exalted Messiah transforms their lives, their households, and every relationship.
VI. Final Greetings and Benediction