One of the first things you’ll notice is the similarity between this book and the Book of Ephesians. There are a number of reasons for this similarity. First is the geographical proximity of these two cities. They are roughly 100 miles apart and were both important Asian population centers in the first century. Colossae and Ephesus are directly connected by trade and travel. They are similar in make up and are dealing with many of the same cultural, social and spiritual issues.
Additionally, the two letters are likely written at the same time and Paul has certain topics on his mind.
While Paul was extremely familiar with the Church in Ephesus, he had never visited Colossae. The Church there was planted by one of Paul’s Protégés, Epaphras, likely during Paul’s three year stay in Ephesus. Because of his lack of personal relationship with the Congregation there in Colossae, Paul sticks to higher level talking points and doctrinal matters.
Having said all that, we do learn that in addition to Epaphras, Paul does know some of the members of the Colossian Church very well. In chapter 4, Paul sends personal messages to Nympha, who had a group meeting in her home. To Archippus, who may very well be the son of Philemon who gets his own letter from Paul. Then there is Onesimus, Philemon’s runaway slave, who is going with Tychicus to deliver the letter to the Church.
Undoubtedly, Epaphras and Onesimus had shared all they knew about the Colossian Church with Paul, so he is able to write a meaningful letter despite having never actually been a part of the congregation there.
Let’s spend a little time looking at some of the themes Paul addresses in this letter.
Chapter one is devoted to Jesus. In many ways it reminds me of the first Chapters of both the Gospel of John and the first Epistle of John. All three of those chapters heavily emphasize both the humanity and divinity of Jesus and His place in the Universe as well as in the Church.
Before we talk at any length about other issues, it is mission critical that we have Jesus right. Of all the doctrines of Christianity, the doctrine of Jesus is front and center.
Verses 15 and 16 are particularly reminiscent of the first chapter of John’s Gospel. Coincidentally, John wrote his Gospel from Ephesus and was likely very familiar with Paul’s letters to the Ephesians and Colossians.
Verse 17, is extremely curious where Paul finishes his thought on Jesus as creator with the idea that He is also the sustainer ‘and in Him all things hold together’.
In particle physics there is a little understood particle called Higgs Bosson and nicknamed ‘the God particle’. In an oversimplification, this God Particle is the ‘glue’ that holds the universe together. For decades scientists have known it must exist because certain particles have mass that by all understanding shouldn’t have it. And since effects have causes, the Higgs Bosson was theorized and nicknamed, as I said, ‘the God particle’.
In 2012/13 with the help of the massive and outrageously expensive Large Hadron Particle Collider it was confirmed that a ‘God Particle’ does exist, but not much else has been confirmed. Extremely expensive experiments continue at the underground location of the collider in attempt to further understand how our universe exists and operates without flying apart.
According Paul, Jesus of Nazareth is the God Particle; The ‘secret ingredient’ that holds all creation together.
I’m also particularly interested in verse 19, “In Him, all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell.”
One of the great debates on earth is “who is Jesus of Nazareth’? Prophet? Teacher? Healer? Fraud? Con Man? Charlatan? Myth?
The New Testament consistently and repeatedly calls Him God in the Flesh. He is Immanuel, creator of heaven and earth, Head of the Church, both God and Man, eternally existing, killed, buried and raised. Exalted and preparing for a Return .
There is no contradiction or ambiguity about what the Bible teaches about Him. As you read through the New Testament, please pay careful attention to the claims of, and about, Jesus. They are the core of everything Christians believe.
Paul continues the theme in chapter 2 where he encourages the Christians in Colossae to remember the truth about Jesus when false teachers, who can be very persuasive, come in and try to lead them away from the Gospel as they first believed it. This is very similar to the first three chapters of Galatians.
False teacher, whether cultists, occultists, heretics, prosperity gospel preachers and others have always been around and some of them are very bright. They can twist and tie us in knots, if we’re not firmly rooted. But this isn’t new. On some level, the devil is a one trick pony. From the Garden, his message, his whisper in our ear has always been, “Did God really say….”
Paul reminds them, and us of the Truth, and puts it in writing so that we can go back to it, when we need confirmation and courage.
In chapters 3 and the first part of 4, Paul moves on to some practical guidance on how our Faith should change our behavior and our relationships. Again, this is very familiar to some of the things we read in Ephesians.
Finally, Paul finishes chapter 4 with some personal greetings and encouragement, which is a great reminder that our faith is not just a matter of doctrines and beliefs, but it’s about real life, real people and real relationships.
My wife reminded me the other day that Colossians is a wonderful letter for new Believers because it reminds us to put first things first. It is all about the basics of the Faith. I guess then the old saying is really true, the main thing is to keep the main thing the main thing.
And that’s all I got. I do encourage you to read through Colossians and see for yourself how many core beliefs are highlighted and how much encouragement comes in these four small chapters.
Next week we’re in the awesome books of 1 and 2 Thessalonians. All of you who are big fans of End Times studies need to be sure and tune in. And tell your friends. Until then, have a great week. Be blessed…and be a blessing.
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