Paul wanted the Christians to understand more about Christ. This would guard them against the false teachers. In this Session we look at Chapter 3 in which Paul refers to particular things that the false teachers taught and he explains why Christ is superior. He also talks about the new life that Christ brings to those who believe in and trust in Him.
Colossians 1:24-29 CEV I am glad I can suffer for you. I am pleased also that in my own body I can continue the suffering of Christ for his body, the church. God's plan was to make me a servant of his church and to send me to preach his complete message to you. For ages and ages this message was kept secret from everyone, but now it has been explained to God's people. God did this because he wanted you Gentiles to understand his wonderful and glorious mystery. And the mystery is that Christ lives in you, and he is your hope of sharing in God's glory. We announce the message about Christ, and we use all our wisdom to warn and teach everyone, so all of Christ's followers will grow and become mature. This is why I work so hard and use the mighty power he gives me.
Paul was serving the church as an apostle. An apostle is a person whom God sends to lead Christians. An apostle also teaches about Jesus. A man does not decide to be an apostle. God chooses him. We hear people who call themselves Apostles, but God calls Apostles. So if God calls them they have authority which is why Paul says that at the beginning of his letter.
Paul emphasised that he had told the Colossians the complete message about the gospel. They did not need the secret information that the false teachers pretended to possess. In the past, God had not told people the complete message. There was a mystery. The Jews had the part of the Bible that we call the *Old Testament. They could read about some of God’s plan. They thought that his plan was only for Jews. But God showed his complete plan when Christ came. The ‘secret’ is that Christ lives in Gentile Christians and in Jewish Christians
Paul preached the message about the gospel.The good news about Jesus Christ, which is for everyone. God can forgive people when they sin. He can forgive them because of what Jesus Christ did. Jesus lived a perfect life. He died and then he became alive again. This is the message of the true gospel. The unfortunate thing was that the Christians at Colossae had started to believe false teachers. So Paul wrote to remind the Christians about the true message of the gospel.
And he prayed for them. He praised them because they still believed the truth. He also taught Christians how to become more mature. Paul did not want them to remain Christians who did not grow.
The false teachers declared that they had secret wisdom and power. But true wisdom, which comes from God, helps every Christian. True wisdom helps Christians to know Christ more. That's why he worked so hard but it was because Jesus was the one that gave him the power to work hard.
In this chapter, Paul refers to particular things that the false teachers taught. Also, he explains why Christ is superior.
Colossians 2:1-5 CEV I want you to know what a struggle I am going through for you, for God's people at Laodicea, and for all of those followers who have never met me. I do it to encourage them. Then as their hearts are joined together in love, they will be wonderfully blessed with complete understanding. And they will truly know Christ. Not only is he the key to God's mystery, but all wisdom and knowledge are hidden away in him. I tell you these things to keep you from being fooled by fancy talk. Even though I am not with you, I keep thinking about you. I am glad to know that you are living as you should and your faith in Christ is strong.
He starts this part of his letter by saying that he's going through what he's going through in order to encourage them. How is what's happening to him encouraging to them?
Remember that early in the letter he had already praised the Christians at Colossae because they loved other Christians.
Colossians 1:3-8 CEV Each time we pray for you, we thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have heard of your faith in Christ and of your love for all God's people, because what you hope for is kept safe for you in heaven. You first heard about this hope when you believed the true message, which is the good news. The good news is spreading all over the world with great success. It has spread in this same way among you, ever since the first day you learned the truth about God's wonderful kindness from our good friend Epaphras. He works together with us for Christ and is a faithful worker for you. He is also the one who told us about the love that God's Spirit has given you.
This united them with him.
He also wanted them to know and to believe the complete truth about Christ. They did not need the secret knowledge and wisdom that the false teachers had. Christ gives to Christians all that they need. This should encourage them, as they trust Christ.
If there was a secret it has now been revealed in the Gospel and that Christ died for everybody Jew and Gentile.
Colossians 1:25-27 CEV God's plan was to make me a servant of his church and to send me to preach his complete message to you. For ages and ages this message was kept secret from everyone, but now it has been explained to God's people. God did this because he wanted you Gentiles to understand his wonderful and glorious mystery. And the mystery is that Christ lives in you, and he is your hope of sharing in God's glory.
Once a person realizes this truth they can't be fooled.
They will recognise lies. And he will recognise anything that is false.
Colossians 2:4 CEV I tell you these things to keep you from being fooled by fancy talk.
So the Christians at Colossae had to know more truth about Christ. Then they could recognise what was false.
Verse 5 just reinforced his commendation and prayer that we read in Chapter 1 where he praised them because they still believed the truth.
Colossians 1:3, 5 CEV Each time we pray for you, we thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. because what you hope for is kept safe for you in heaven. You first heard about this hope when you believed the true message, which is the good news.
Christ Brings New Life
Colossians 2:6-19 CEV You have accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord. Now keep on following him. Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful. Don't let anyone fool you by using senseless arguments. These arguments may sound wise, but they are only human teachings. They come from the powers of this world and not from Christ. God lives fully in Christ. And you are fully grown because you belong to Christ, who is over every power and authority. Christ has also taken away your selfish desires, just as circumcision removes flesh from the body. And when you were baptized, it was the same as being buried with Christ. Then you were raised to life because you had faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from death. You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God's people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins. God wiped out the charges that were against us for disobeying the Law of Moses. He took them away and nailed them to the cross. There Christ defeated all powers and forces. He let the whole world see them being led away as prisoners when he celebrated his victory. Don't let anyone tell you what you must eat or drink. Don't let them say you must celebrate the New Moon festival, the Sabbath, or any other festival. These things are only a shadow of what was to come. But Christ is real! Don't be cheated by people who make a show of acting humble and who worship angels. They brag about seeing visions. But it is all nonsense, because their minds are filled with selfish desires. They are no longer part of Christ, who is the head of the whole body. Christ gives the body its strength, and he uses its joints and muscles to hold it together, as it grows by the power of God.
Verse 6 says that the Colossians had started their Christian life in the right way. They had accepted Jesus as Lord.
Now let's look at verse 7.
Colossians 2:7 CEV Plant your roots in Christ and let him be the foundation for your life. Be strong in your faith, just as you were taught. And be grateful.
The picture here is of a tree or plant whose roots
fix it into the ground. You cannot pull up the tree. It is strong. When people become Christians, they fix their lives into Christ. When people build a house on a strong, level base. That house will not fall down.
Matthew 7:24-25 CEV Anyone who hears and obeys these teachings of mine is like a wise person who built a house on solid rock. Rain poured down, rivers flooded, and winds beat against that house. But it was built on solid rock, and so it did not fall.
This is what Paul was encouraging the Christians in Colosse to do and what we should do. Plant our roots and build our houses on Christ.
Paul now explained why the false teachers were wrong.
Colossians 2:8 CEV Don't let anyone fool you by using senseless arguments. These arguments may sound wise, but they are only human teachings. They come from the powers of this world and not from Christ.
‘Philosophy’ refers to human wisdom and thinking (senseless arguments). But wisdom without Christ is false wisdom. These things may seem to be good and wise but depend on human ideas and human wisdom. They do not depend on God’s wisdom.
In fact many of these ideas, thoughts, philosophies come from evil or demonic spirits.
2 Corinthians 11:13-15 CEV Anyway, they are no more than false apostles and dishonest workers. They only pretend to be apostles of Christ. And it is no wonder. Even Satan tries to make himself look like an angel of light. So why does it seem strange for Satan's servants to pretend to do what is right? Someday they will get exactly what they deserve.
Colossians 2:9-10 CEV God lives fully in Christ. And you are fully grown because you belong to Christ, who is over every power and authority.
The Christians at Colossae did not need to get anything from the false teachers. Christians already have all that they need. Christ rules over every angel and spirit.
Colossians 1:16 CEV Everything was created by him, everything in heaven and on earth, everything seen and unseen, including all forces and powers, and all rulers and authorities. All things were created by God's Son, and everything was made for him.
Union with Christ alone is sufficient, for he is head of all other authorities; they can add nothing to holiness or to redemption.
John 1:1 CEV In the beginning was the one who is called the Word. The Word was with God and was truly God.
Colossians 2:11-13 CEV Christ has also taken away your selfish desires, just as circumcision removes flesh from the body. And when you were baptized, it was the same as being buried with Christ. Then you were raised to life because you had faith in the power of God, who raised Christ from death. You were dead, because you were sinful and were not God's people. But God let Christ make you alive, when he forgave all our sins.
There is no direct analogy between Christian baptism and the 'old age' rite of circumcision. Circumcision here is the death of Christ, by which he wrought severance from the old age, cleansing of sin, and reconciliation to God
This is not about a physical procedure or ritual; rather a spiritual, God-centered and God-led endeavor. We are spiritually circumcised in Christ. This means our sinful nature is cut off and removed in God's eyes and we are set free. As Christ lived, died, and was raised from the dead, we are also symbolically buried and we rise to have new life and freedom imparted to us. We are in Him, to be raised in Him because we have faith and action of that real faith by our trust in Him. Real faith turns into action, if we do not, we are dead in our sins, empty and purposeless, and our sinful nature will have control over us. We are alive in Christ; God has forgiven our trespasses and sins, removed our damming evidence that was against us and then canceled our debt, and we are now released from our legal demands of the Law by our reconciliation in Him. Thus, we must continue our growth in Him as He nails our sins to the cross, and annuls our guilt bearing our shame Himself. Because of Jesus triumphant over sin, He bears the culpability of our sin; He will disarm our evils and the evils against us, showing their true shame, even as He will do in the world. We now have victory by the cross of Christ!
Paul is seeking to unlock some critical doctrines of the faith that often get confused and skewed. The Colossae church was adding Jewish legalism, mixing it with Greek philosophy, and thus demanding that men have a legalistic circumcision in order to become a Christian. Circumcision is not wrong; the demanding of it is wrong, because it becomes a power of the flesh and not Holy Spirit. Paul set out to show that we need no outward sign to have grace and faith. The only true sign will be the fruit we produce.
Galatians 5:22-23 CEV God's Spirit makes us loving, happy, peaceful, patient, kind, good, faithful, gentle, and self-controlled. There is no law against behaving in any of these ways.
Paul was not saying that either this or baptism were wrong, but because we have already been delivered from the "tomb" of sin and depravity, why seek to add to His grace? Paul's point was that it is wrong to demand we have power in the flesh and say we must add it to our faith as the sign of being a Christian.
We'll continue this discussion next week.