Introduction to Colossians (Colossians 1:1-2)

Introduction to Colossians (Colossians 1:1-2)

Colossians

Introduction

  • Have you ever wondered what this letter (or any NT letter) could possibly have to do with us considering it was written for a specific people for a specific occasion?
    • The fact that God’s Word is inspired means that these very words spoke directly to the Colossians while also carrying intentions for the whole Church (4:16).
    • The church is absolutely necessary to correct false assumptions and suggest true ones. This means we should be active members.
    • If we can hear what the Spirit was saying to the Colossians through Paul, then we might understand what He is saying to us.
    • Maturity, growth in knowledge, gratitude, don’t look elsewhere. These are the themes we will hear over and over again. And we need to hear them just as much as the Colossians.
  • The Church in Colossae was established during the period of Paul’s Ephesian ministry (See Acts 19:10).
  • Epaphras likely planted churches in Colossae, Laodicea and Hierapolis (1:7, 8; 4:12, 13).
  • Archippus was likely left in charge (4:17).
  • Paul is writing from prison in Ephesus (52–57) or *Rome (60–61).
  • The Colossians were being challenged in their understanding of the gospel.
    • Supremacy and sufficiency of Christ in a pluralistic world.
    • The challenge is rooted in Jewish tradition, but contains philosophical (2:8) and legalistic (2:16, 20, 21) additions to the gospel. This teaching is reserved for the spiritual elite.
  • Having never met the church, Paul writes to affirm them in what they had heard. He exhorts them to remain faithful to the gospel message preached to them by Epaphras.
  • Realized Eschatology: “The ‘already’ of salvation needed to be asserted again and again over against those who were interested in ‘fullness’ and the heavenly realm, but who had false notions about them, believing they could be reached by legalistic observances, a knowledge for the elite, visionary experiences and the like.”
  • Big Idea: We all need the grace and peace that comes from God.The text follows a typical greeting formula: 1. The Author(s), 2. The Recipients, 3. The Greeting. “Paul; to the church in Colosse; greeting.”

    I. The Author(s)

  • Paul
  • This letter contains extensive personal and circumstantial details.
  • Hapax Legomena 34 in Col. (31 in Gal.). This is due to a different subject matter. Each church was in a unique circumstance.
  • “Apostle” – Christ sent Paul as an apostle. Does that role exist today?
    • The term is designated for himself only.
    • 80x’s in NT. Rarely used in an unofficial sense as “messenger” (2 Cor. 8:23; Phil. 2:25).
    • Acts 1:25; Rom. 1:5; 1 Cor. 9:2; Gal. 2:8.
    • Who can be an apostle? Only those specifically called and sent by Jesus Christ.
    • Apostolic authority extended to Gentile churches.
  • “Will of God”
    • 21x’s in NT. Rom. 12:2; Gal. 1:4; 1 Thes. 4:3; 1 Thes. 5:18; 1 Pt. 2:15.
    • Fulfilled in the life of the Xn (1:9; 4:12). Elected Paul as an apostle (2 Cor. 1:1; Eph. 1:1; 2 Tim 1:1).
    • It is a reflection upon divine “purpose” or “desire”.
    • Not the result of testing for spiritual gifts. Not the result of praying for a season about when, where, how. Whenever Paul speaks of “the will of God” it is from direction unequivocally provided to him (a door was opened/closed). We tend to over-spiritualize this concept.
  • What am I called to do/be “by the will of God”?
  • Timothy – Probably not a joint author, but possibly an amanuensis (scribe – cf. 4:18).
  • Douglas Moo, “We know that writers would sometimes give their amanuenses a certain amount of compositional freedom.”
  • Timothy may have influenced the wording, but Paul is the author.

    II. The Recipients

  • Colossians
  • “In Christ” – What does that mean? Garland provides 5 implications:
    • To be in Christ means to be incorporated in him so that he encompasses the entire life of the believer.
    • To be in Christ means that the Colossians are exclusively joined to him and to no other. One cannot be “in Isis,” “in Artemis,” or in any other god or goddess and also be in Christ.
    • To be in Christ means that he determines the behavior of believers (1 Cor. 6:15).
    • To be in Christ means that believers are inseparably joined to him. Paul expresses this powerfully in Romans 8:38–39.
    • To be in Christ means that believers are also joined to a new family where the dividing lines that separate and categorize persons have been erased.
  • Believers have been relocated (v.13).
  • “The saints; i.e. the faithful brethren.”

    III. The Greeting

  • Grace
    • Paul takes the typical Greek greeting “kairein” (greeting) and turns it into “karis” (grace).
    • God’s riches at Christ’s expense.
    • Unmerited favor.
    • Opposed to any idea of work or merit.
    • It is a gift (Eph. 2:8, 9).
  • Peace
    • Typical Jewish greeting shalom/eirene.
    • Due to its frequent use in Hebrew the word contains a general sense of well-being.
    • Peter O’Brien, “The biblical concept of peace has to do with wholeness, particularly with reference to relationships.”
    • Paul seeks to increase their comprehension that they are no longer enemies at war with God.
  • Whoever is excluded does not have grace and peace. Those included are in an ongoing need of grace and peace.
  • We seek that same grace and peace.
  • God supplies grace and peace. We should not look elsewhere for what can only be found in Him.

    Conclusion

  • At Sierra View we close each sermon with a benediction. Oftentimes, the language is similar to Paul’s greeting here. It’s not supposed to be practiced as a simple formality. Routine is not bad until it becomes rote and mindless. It doesn’t have to be that.
  • What would it look like if we began living in that “grace and peace.”
  • This text implies our need for grace and peace to be found in God. If we believed that, we would not seek grace and peace elsewhere.
  • That would change everything! (See Keller’s Counterfeit Gods):
    • Grace and peace are not found in family (even a healthy one).
    • Grace and peace are not found in career (even ministry).
    • Grace and peace are not found in education (even a good one).
  • Take all of those anxieties and worldly pressures. Briefly reflect upon the people or circumstances that bring you the most difficulties and the most joys.
  • And now hear this: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.” Amen.

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