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Getting to Know the Bible: Colossians Overview

Peace & Blessings Beloved,

TGBTG for allowing us to see another day. I pray all is well with you and yours, and that your week has been fruitful & blessed thus far.

Today we are going to visit our Getting to Know the Bible Series. In this series, our goal is to come to a comprehensive understanding of each book of the bible. At this point of the series we're going to focus on Colossians. But before we get to Colossians 1, I want to ensure we have a baseline understanding of the book of Colossians. This way we can have a full appreciation for the exquisiteness of the entire book, as well as each individual chapter.

And so, in that spirit, see below for a comprehensive overview of the book of Colossians, as we prepare to behold and discern Colossians, beginning with Colossians 1 in our next installment of this series.

Book Type: Pauline Epistle; Prison Epistle. 12th book of the New Testament.

Authors: Paul, with help from Timothy.

Date of Writing: ~A.D. 58–62

Audience: Gentile Christians

Theme: False Teachings/Heresy; Christ's Sufficiency

Original Language: Greek

Genre: Letter

Title: The Adequacy of Christ

Purpose of Writing: Paul's second letter to the Corinthians discusses some of the things previously addressed but also deals with new issues. While 1 Corinthians called for believers to be unified with each other, in this letter Paul urges the church to be unified with him in his ministry. Paul's opponents were undermining his work, claiming that his suffering (11:24-29) proved he was not a true apostle. Paul responds that his suffering highlights his dependence on Christ, as it points to Christ's strength rather than his own. Second Corinthians includes stirring perspectives on gospel ministry (chapters 2-5), encouragements to holy living (chapters 6-7), and instructions about giving (chapters 8-9).

Summary: Colossians was written explicitly to defeat the heresy that had arisen in Colossae, which endangered the existence of the church.

He was dealing with a defective view of Christ (denying His real and true humanity and not accepting His full deity). Paul appears also to dispute the Jewish emphasis on circumcision and traditions (Colossians 2:8-11; 3:11). The heresy addressed appears to be either a Jewish-Gnosticism or a mix between Jewish asceticism and Greek philosophy.

Colossians also contains doctrinal instruction about the deity of Christ and false philosophies (1:15-2:23), as well as practical exhortations regarding Christian conduct, including friends and speech (3:1-4:18).

Overview: This four-chapter letter focuses on Paul’s teachings regarding the deity of Jesus (Colossians 1:15–20; Colossians 2:2–10), as well as key areas such as forgiveness and the nature of the church. Paul also strongly condemns various false teachings in chapter 2.

Chapter 1 includes a greeting (Colossians 1:1–2) followed by gratitude for the faith of the Colossian Christians (Colossians 1:3–8). Paul then includes a prayer intended to encourage the growth and maturity of believers in this city (Colossians 1:9–14). The letter then transitions to a focus on Christ’s greatness, including his character (Colossians 1:15–23) and notes regarding Paul's own ministry (Colossians 1:24–29).

Chapter 2 addresses various false teachings which were threatening the Colossian believers. These include ungodly philosophy (Colossians 2:1–10), Jewish legalism (Colossians 2:11–17), mysticism (Colossians 2:18–19), and ascetic living (Colossians 2:20–23).

Chapter 3 transitions to practical matters within the church. First, Paul addresses topics related to Christian conduct (Colossians 3:1–17). Second, he addresses Christian households, including bondservants or slaves (Colossians 3:18–4:1).

Chapter 4 focuses on two major themes. First, Paul discusses how a Christian speaks (Colossians 4:2–6). Finally, he presents concluding remarks, addressed to his many friends (Colossians 4:7–18).

Application: Complete sufficiency of Christ in our lives, both for our salvation and our sanctification. We must know and understand the gospel so as not to be led astray by subtle forms of legalism and heresy. We must be on guard for any deviation that would diminish the centrality of Christ as Lord and Savior.

Key Verses (ESV):

Colossians 1:15–16: He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him.

Colossians 2:8: See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ.

Colossians 3:12–13: Put on then, as God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive.

Colossians 4:5-6: Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

*Note: Colossians is one of four Prison Epistles written by the apostle Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. This was a period of house arrest around AD 60–62. During this time, Paul also wrote Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. The city of Colossae was about 100 miles east of Ephesus in modern-day Turkey.

The church at Colossae was under attack from false teachers who were denigrating the deity of Jesus; they were teaching that He was not actually God. Though Paul had never been to the church itself, he addressed these issues head-on. The nature of Jesus Christ as Creator and Redeemer was nonnegotiable, so Paul wrote to them that he might bring his wisdom to bear on this difficult and trying situation. It was critical to him that this church know God in His greatness and glory, rather than in the deficient view given them by the false teachers (Colossians 1:252:1–2).

I pray you receive this with the love intended, and apply it to wisdom.

May the joy of the Lord continue to be your strength.

Love you much.

Stay Safe, Stay Healthy, Stay Blessed!

-Humble Servant

P.S- If you have not given your life to Jesus Christ, I implore you to take the time to do so right now. Use John 3:16 & Romans 10:9-10 as a foundation for making your confession of faith. And use Ephesians 2:1-10 to provide proper context for your salvation.

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