In our study, we will look at Paul's answer to the question: Who's in charge of the church? This letter was written while he was under house arrest in Rome and delivered to the church in Colosse. The city was located in the Lycus River Valley of what is the modern country of Turkey. This letter was written to address gnosticism which had crept into the group of believers. A group of believers met there in the home of Philemon which the letter of the same name was addressed to.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God and Timothy our brother,
Paul introduces himself as an apostle because of God's calling. This is important in that the gnostics believed that salvation was achieved only through a secret knowledge of the scriptures. Here, he lets them know immediately that it is from God and not by any secret knowledge.
To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
The letter is addressed to the believers in the city of Colosse and he gives them his usual greeting of grace and peace. Paul usually put grace before peace to remind us that it is only by the Grace of God that we can have peace with Him.
We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints -
Paul always prayed for the believers and here he lets us in on what he prayed. We see that he thanked God for them and the fact that they had an active faith that was demonstrated by their love for others. We, too, should pray for the believers especially those that we have led to Christ and we should also demonstrate love to all men so that our faith is evident and productive.
the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel that has come to you. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God's grace in all its truth.
Paul goes on to explain that this faith and love is not from the efforts of men but from the hope that comes from God. He explains that the growth and bearing of fruit that was happening in Colosse was normal and that it was all because of the grace of God.
You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
While Paul was teaching in Ephesus, Epaphras went to Colosse and taught and the "church" was formed and met in the house of Philemon. It takes many people in many places working together for the kingdom and, by them working together in separate areas, more was accomplished. He also went back and gave an update to Paul on the progress of the believers which was an encouragement to Paul and the rest of the team.
For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Paul continues to let us know of his prayers for the Colossians. We see how important it is to have the wisdom to know the will of God. He continually prayed for them to be filled with this wisdom as it is a gift of God. He continually prayed for it to increase as we will never have all of the wisdom to understand God but we can grow in our understanding.
And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
Paul shows us the reasons that he prayed for the believers to have wisdom concerning God's will and it comes down to pleasing God. You please someone by knowing what they want and giving it to them and Paul is simply praying that they understand what God wants from them. Once the believers know that, then their lives can please God and demonstrate His power and glory to others (bear fruit). Listening to God and following His plan will help us to grow in our knowledge of Him. It is not this knowledge that saves us (the Gnostics believed that knowledge saved) as we are already saved.
being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light.
Even our ability to walk in the ways of God does not come from ourselves but is a gift from God. It is only by His power that we have the strength to continue to walk this road. Even in trials, we can be glad and give thanks for the fact that we are His children and a part of the kingdom of light.
For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Paul reminds us of what we are giving thanks for and that is the forgiveness of our sins that happened because of the blood of Jesus Christ. God loves us because He loves His Son and His Son loved us enough to die for us.
He is the image of the invisible God, the first born over all creation. For by him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or authorities; all things were created by him and for him.
Jesus Christ reigns supreme as the very Son of God. He was there at the creation of all things and is the very representation of God. He has all of the authority of the Creator. Paul is reminding the people that it is all about Jesus and the work that He does and not some super knowledge as the gnostics were saying.
He is before all things, and in him all things hold together.
Jesus is not only the Creator but He is the glue that holds everything together. He sustains all life, even those that do not accept Him as Lord and Savior. This is comforting to know in that we do not have to worry about things when we know that Jesus is on the job.
And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy.
Now, Paul gives us the answer to the question that we started with: Who's in charge of the church? and we see that it is Jesus Christ. He is supreme over everything and, as we see in Revelation 5, He is the one that owns everything. There are leaders that God has placed in His church for the good of the people but those leaders have to remain humble and subject to the leading of God through the Holy Spirit.
For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him,
Jesus was both fully God and fully man even though this may be hard for us to understand. He was fully God in that He has all of the same characteristics of God (the DNA) yet He came to this earth as a man. This fact is how we can tell those that truly are God's children from the imposters that have gone out to deceive many. (see 1 John 4).
and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
The penalty for sin always has been death and all things were tainted by sin. To have a right relationship with God (be reconciled) required the payment for sin. The Old Testament sacrifices were for individual sins and were only temporary while victory over all sin was accomplished once and for all time by Jesus on the cross.
Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior.
Before we come to faith in Jesus Christ, our minds are focused on ourselves and on things of the flesh. This makes us enemies of God because it leads to all kinds of evil actions. This verse reminds us of just how bad sin is. Oh, it may seem like fun for a season but, even then, it is separating us from God and causing us to be His enemies. When we come to Christ, we have a renewal of the mind. This word renewal is like when you remodel a house. You take the old stuff out and replace it with new stuff and that is what happens through the Holy Spirit.
But now he has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation -
Our evil behavior (sin) had to be paid for so that we could have a renewal of our relationship with our Creator. The payment for sin is physical and spiritual death and Jesus suffered through both on our behalf. His blood covered our sins just as the blood of the lamb covered the houses of the Israelites and kept their firstborn sons from being killed (see Exodus 12). Jesus was the perfect sacrifice and, when He took on our sin, he left us without blemish and justified (free of accusation).
if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.
Paul reminds the Colossians that the gospel is all about Jesus Christ who died for our sins and rose again from the grave. In the face of this teaching about a special secret knowledge, Paul just says we need to keep focused on the truth of that. That is what they started out believing and he urges them to hold on to the truth.
Now I rejoice in what was suffered for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ's afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church.
How could Paul rejoice in all that he went through such as beatings and prison? Here, he tells us that he knew that it was for the good of the body of Christ and he was willing even to the point of death. If we stay focused on telling others about Jesus, we can rejoice even when it is difficult and He will give us the strength to endure.
I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness - the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the saints.
Paul reminds them that it was God who sent him to share the gospel with the world and therefore it is God who is in charge. He also tells them that he has not held anything back but has presented the full gospel to them (no secret knowledge was necessary).
To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
Paul sums up the mystery with the fact that we, as believers, are the temple of God. God lives in us through the Holy Spirit and that was only made possible after the temple was cleansed (our sins removed).
We proclaim him, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
Paul tells us, now, why he and his team do what they do and the simple reason is that they want us all to glorify God with our lives. That is why they (and we) warn people that do not know Jesus of the coming judgment and teach those that know Jesus how to live for Him. (That is also why we do these online Bible studies.)
To this end I labor, struggling with all his energy, which so powerfully works in me.
Paul reminds us that not only is God in control of all things but He is also the sustainer. It is only through God's energy and power that Paul could serve and the same is true for us. If you try to do things (even good things) on your own, you will grow weary but, if it is God's will and plan for you, He will give you the energy and power to do them.