Route 66 - Stop 51: COLOSSIANS

Audio File: 
Speaker: 
Dr. Rich McCarrell
Date: 
Sunday, June 24, 2018

Route 66 – Stop 51

COLOSSIANS

Author:           

The Apostle Paul (1:1, 1:23, 4:18). Again, as he did in Philippians, he links Timothy with himself as one sending greetings, but obviously he was the sole writer as he speaks in the first person.

 

Date:              

As we shared in Stop 49, this is the third of four letters which are commonly called Paul’s “prison epistles” (Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, Philemon). All four were written from Rome during Paul’s first imprisonment. This places the writing of Colossians somewhere between A.D. 60 and A.D. 64. Most scholars believe it was written around the same time as Ephesians, which would place this writing A.D. 62.

 

 Recipients:    

This is very obvious from 1:2 - - “the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colossea.” This letter, obviously addressed to the church at Colossea, has some unique features. 1) The city itself was a large city on the Lycus River, in what we call Asia Minor. It was 100 miles east of Ephesus, but only 10 miles from Laodicea. 2) Even though Paul is writing this church and obviously knew of them, there is no record in the book of Acts of Paul ever having visited Colossea. Evidently from what Paul shares in 2:1, he not only had not visited the church, but did not have a part in founding the church. It may have been that Epaphras was the servant of God who was instrumental in founding this church (1:7, 4:12-13). By reading through the short book of Philemon, we recognize that Philemon was an important part of this church as well. One scholar proposes the thought that it is possible this church came into existence during Paul’s stay at Ephesus, when he actively promoted the spread of the gospel throughout all of Asia Minor (Acts 19:10). Paul may have learned of the Colossian believers when Epaphras either was imprisoned with him or visited him in prison. (Philemon 23).     Tychicus was apparently the one who personally delivered this letter (4:7).

 

Theme:           

The preeminence and all sufficiency of Jesus Christ (1:15-19). The apostle Paul shares the key to everything he is sharing with these Colossian believers in these verses and in this theme – “that in all things Christ might have the preeminence.” Scofield said: “No passage in the N.T. more fully sets forth the Eternal Glory of the pre-existent,             omnipotent, exalted, and Eternal Son of God than 1:15-23.”

 

Purpose:         

Although he had not visited Colossea, his desire in writing was to exhort and encourage them, not to lose sight of the supreme headship of Jesus Christ. We understand during the first century, the heresy of Gnosticism was invading the church. This heresy taught that God did not create the world, and that Jesus really was a semi-god and not God Himself. It also undervalued the redemptive work of Christ. Each local church had its own “personal slant” on this heresy of the age and for the church at Colossea it was

… “a syncretistic, fusing Jewish legalism, Greek philosophic speculation, and Oriental mysticism. Specifics included dietary and Sabbath observances and                            circumcision rites (2:11, 16), the worship of angels (2:18), and the practice of                          asceticism, which stemmed from the belief that the body was inherently evil  (2:21-23).
In combating this heresy, Paul emphasizes the cosmic significance of Christ as Lord of creation and Head of the Church.”                            

- Charles Ryrie

                       

Paul is warning and exhorting these believers, that when they hear such heresy they need to be built up in the truth so they can discern and reject any such teaching. The purpose again was so the believers at Colossea would never lose sight of the supreme headship of Jesus Christ.

 

In that light, Paul wrote to:

  1. Warn against any human philosophy that would take away from Christ (2:8-10, 1:18)

  2. Warn against any ritualism that would take away from Christ (2:16)

  3. Warn against any worship that would take away from Christ (2:18-19)

  4. Warn against any doctrine of self-denial or discipline that, out of balance, could take away from Christ (2:20-23).

In other words, Christ has the supremacy over all!

 

Similarities:    

The books of Colossians and Ephesians are very similar in content. Compare:                

  1) The prayer of Colossians 1 with the prayer of Ephesians 1.

  2) The mystery of Colossians 1:24-29 and the mystery of Ephesians 3.

  3) Colossians 3:5-4:6 with Ephesians 5:21-6:9.

                       

The overall division of Colossians is the same as in Ephesians in that doctrine is stated and then out of that doctrine, practice is discussed.

 

Outline:          

  1. The supremacy of Christ (chapter 1)
  2. II. The danger of any detraction from Christ (chapter 2)
  3. Living the life of Christ (chapter 3)
  4. Enjoying the fellowship of Christ (chapter 4)

 

Key Verses:

1:9-10

2:9-10

3:9-10

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(Note)

Epaphras – May have been led to faith in Christ during Paul’s ministry in Ephesus. A fellow servant of Christ ~ companion of Paul ~ but a spiritual warrior in prayer (4:12 cf Eph. 5:18a)

 

Tychicus – A “faithful minister and fellow servant” who was with Paul during his first Roman imprisonment. He was entrusted to deliver Paul’s epistles to the Ephesians and Colossians and to bring news of the apostle to those congregations. In traveling to Colossea, Tychicus accompanied Onesimus, the former slave who was returning to Philemon. No doubt, Tychicus, as a good friend of Paul’s, emphasized the need for grace in receiving Onesimus back home. We may not know much about Tychicus, but what we do know is Tychicus was a trusted messenger, faithful preacher, and loyal friend. Paul placed great confidence in him.

- S. Michael Houdmann