June 28, 2015.
Daily Reading: Colossians 1-2.
Background: Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae is unique in the sense that this was not a church that had been originally founded on one of his missionary journeys, nor was it one to which he had personally visited (see 1:7, 2:1). It could have been founded by Epaphras, one of Paul’s fellow workers, as he has an intimate connection with the Colossians and seemed to be the go between for Paul and the Colossians. Since Paul had never personally visited the church, there seems to be an emphasis on doctrine and warnings of false teachings, as Paul struggled with false teachings and setting things straight in places he had never visited (see 2:1-5). Colossians is typically categorized as one of the prison epistles that Paul wrote while he was in chains.
Concepts and Connections.
1. Opening and thanksgiving: Paul opens in his typical fashion, identifying himself and those who are with him, and then expressing the love he has for the brethren in the place that he is writing to. As stated in the background, Paul had not physically visited the church at Colossae, but rather had heard about them and their faith probably from Epaphras who the minister of Christ on their behalf. When he learned about them, he rejoiced and began praying for them immediately. Notice the love and devotion that Paul has to all the churches of our Lord. He rejoices that the gospel is being spread in their area, and tells them of his prayer for them. He prays for their spiritual knowledge, wisdom and understanding, that they might mature and be fruitful in the kingdom. Then he reminds them that they had been translated out of the kingdom of darkness in to the kingdom of Christ.
2. The preeminent Christ: Focusing on doctrine and the foundation that any church should have, verses 15-23 give a beautiful overview of the glory of Christ, his preeminence, deity and power, and further outlining the good news that was being spread throughout the world. Christ is set on the royal throne, the firstborn of God, with authority over all things. He is the head of the church and has the fullness of God. Through His cross, He makes peace, reconciling the lost who believe on Him to the Father above. This is the gospel, that though we were separated from God because of our sins, Christ has laid out the sacrifice that we might be washed clean in His blood, able to stand before God (see Romans 6:1-11, Colossians 2:8-15).
3. Paul’s ministry to the Colossians: Paul then turns to his ministry and calling in the Lord, as a servant to the Gentiles that he might bring the gospel to them and strengthen them in the faith. This mystery, the gospel of Christ, had been hidden in the ages had now been revealed in the present time to the saints. It was Paul’s mission to bring this mystery to the Gentiles and all who would listen, and that was what he strived to do with his whole life. We can take example from this, putting the gospel at the forefront of our daily thoughts and actions.
1. False teaching: It seems that there was a lot of false teaching going on in the churches that Paul had not visited, as his ministry to the Colossians here turns to exposing false teaching of binding regulations. Though he had not met the Colossians, he wished to be a stronghold for them, imparting wisdom and knowledge in the Lord to a church that might not have had the strongest foundation, susceptible to sweet sounding false teaching. One of the largest problems in the churches in the first century was with Jewish Christians who tried to force the Law of Moses on Gentile Christians. This may have been what was going on here. Regardless, there were those who were trying to regulate their freedom in Christ by binding them to law that was not spoken of from the Head. They were promoting self-made religion, and the Colossians needed to be warned not to follow their false teachings and laws that had no bearing in the gospel of Christ. Their foundation had to be Christ, and the teaching of Christ that they had received in the beginning.
2. Raised with Christ: Verses 8-15 lay out the doctrine of our death, burial and resurrection with Christ, the circumcision that is not made with hands, in our baptism in Him. As we enter the water, we die with Christ, die to our old self and the ways of the world, and are buried to raise again with Him through faith as a new creation, washed in the blood. In this sacrament, the debt of sin is cancelled that was created through our transgression of the law, and our sins are forgiven. Though His death, He has defeated rulers and authorities, nailing sin to the cross and raising again in victory over death itself. We are made alive in Christ just as He arose alive from the dead. All praise be to His glorious name.
Tomorrow’s Reading: Leviticus 7-9.
Be alive in Him.