Reflections on Colossians

I’m reading through the Bible in a year, and every month I (try to) post about what I’ve read. Other posts this month are on 1 Kings, Ezekiel, Daniel, Ephesians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians and 1 Timothy.

Paul hadn’t personally been to Colossae, and the church there had been started by Epaphras, a local who’d probably been converted during Paul’s long stay at Ephesus.

1:1-8

Paul is thankful to God for the Colossians’ faith, love and hope. He describes Epaphras as a ‘beloved fellow servant’ and a ‘faithful minister of Christ’. What an honour!

1:9-14

Paul’s prayer for them (and us!) is to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will.

How? Through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.

Why? So that we may live a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him.

With what evidence? Bearing fruit in every good work and growing in the knowledge of God.

Through what means? Being strengthened according to His glorious might.

To what end? So as to have great endurance and patience.

Our response? Joyfully giving thanks to the Father.

What for? Because He has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints; He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and has forgiven us.

1:15-23

Why should Jesus have the preeminence?

Christ is the firstborn of all creation and the firstborn from the dead. He is the Lord of creation and Lord of the new creation.

Our response? To stand firm.

1:24-2:5

Why does Paul admonish and teach? To present everyone mature in Christ.

What is his hope  for those he hasn’t met? That they may be encouraged in heart and united in love; that they may have the full riches of complete understanding; that they may know Christ.

2:6-23

Our response? To continue to walk in Christ. To be rooted and built up in Him. To be strengthened in faith. To be abounding with thankfulness.

Christians have been circumcised in Christ, buried and raised with him. God has made us alive with Christ, forgiving us. Therefore, we shouldn’t let anyone judge or disqualify us. Instead, we should focus on Christ, who holds together the body.

3:1-17

Our response to having been raised with Christ?

  • To set our minds on things above (3:1-4)
  • To kill off idolatrous substitutes (3:5-8). Our behaviour now must be in line with our longing for heaven. (Think of how the anticipation of a vacation affects behaviour, for example).
  • To be renewed in the image of Christ (3:9-15), reflecting Christ’s character in love, compassion, kindness, humility, meekness, patience, forbearance and forgiveness.

3:18-4:1

Motivation for the Christian life?

  • “as is fitting in the Lord” (3:18)
  • “for this pleases the Lord”(3:20)
  • “reverence for the Lord” (3:22)
  • “as working for the Lord”(3:23)
  • “It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” (3:24)

4:2-6

What should we persevere in? Prayer, being watchful and thankful. Thankfulness has been a recurring theme so far, appearing in 1:3, 12; 3:15-17.

4:7-18

Paul mentions both Jewish and Gentile coworkers in a list second in length to that in Romans. Tychicus and Onesimus are both described as “faithful” and “dear brothers”. We learn that Epaphras is a hard worker and a prayer warrior. Luke is a “dear friend”, and Archippus is exhorted to finish the work given him. Also in the list is Demas, who didn’t turn out too well. Don’t let Demas steal your joy!

Sources: D.A. Carson, Jonathan Fletcher, David Jackman, Nigel Wilson-Brown

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