The short little book of Colossians in the Bible is a letter written by Saint Paul to the Colossians. Paul’s letter was addressed to the “Colossians” because they were the Christian believers who lived in the little town of Colossae. Paul had never met these Colossian believers personally (Colossians 2:1) But Epaphras, a Christian brother from Ephesus, had written Paul about the new Christians in Colossae, and he had asked Paul to pray for them.
Epaphras lived in Ephesus, a town about one hundred miles from Colossae. Epaphras had traveled to the town of Colossae and spent some time there preaching the good news of salvation through Christ to the people. And many of the Colossians listened to Epaphras and put their faith in Christ! And their lives were changed!
A Christian church sprang up in Colossae, full of new Christians eager to follow Christ and learn more about their faith. So Epaphras stayed with the Colossians for a while encouraging and teaching them. Finally, Epaphras had to go back to his home in Ephesus, but he would always love and pray for his beloved Colossian brothers and sisters in Christ. Epaphras knew that God had used him to bring the Colossians to salvation and he felt like he was their spiritual father. The Holy Spirit was moving among these new Colossian Christians. They were growing in their faith and in their love for one another.
But then it seemed that false teachers traveled to the Colossian church and started teaching heresies that were threatening the very foundation of the faith! We Christians are engaged in a spiritual battle. Satan, our enemy, always tries to cause the Christian to doubt his or her faith in Christ. Often the false teachers will look and act like the Christians, coming to church so that they can sneak in their poisonous doctrines. The Bible calls these false teachers, “wolves in sheep’s clothing” (Matthew 7:15) They look like fellow Christians (sheep) but they are really in church to destroy the Christian’s precious faith, like wolves follow a herd of sheep to eat them (or destroy them).
These wolves in sheep’s clothing who came to the Colossian church, attacked the person and work of Jesus Christ! They didn’t “deny” Christ, but they “dethroned” Him. They taught that Jesus Christ is only one of several great religious teachers and not the Son of God come in the flesh. These false teachers told the Colossian Christians that they had special “knowledge” and that simply believing in Christ as Savior and Lord was not enough. Some of the Colossian believers were confused and started believing the false doctrines.
When Epaphras heard this terrible news, as their spiritual father, he was very upset! He wrote Paul a letter telling him about the false teachers who were trying to subvert Christ’s beloved church in Colossae and begged him to pray for these new Christians. Paul may have been in prison at that time, so he couldn’t travel to Colossae. But Paul prayed fervently for them and he also wrote a letter to the Colossians – a letter that today is part of our Bible.
The false teachers were teaching the Colossians that they needed more than Jesus for their salvation. That He wasn’t enough. Paul’s main message to the Colossians was that Christ is enough! That Jesus is preeminent! That Jesus Christ is Creator and Lord – the all sufficient Savior of the world! In our union with Him – by grace and through faith – the Christian finds ALL he or she will ever need. Today we will read the first part of Paul’s letter to the Colossian Church. Here it is: (Colossians 1:1-8)
“From: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To: the saints and faithful brothers in Christ who are in Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ:
We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints:
because of the hope which is kept safe for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,
Which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth:
As you learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.” ((Colossians 1:1-8)
Paul’s letter to the Colossians is filled with thanksgiving. Paul gives thanks to God for the church in Colossae. (Colossians 1:3) And he prays that the Colossian Christians might grow in their own thanksgiving to God. (Colossians 1:12) Our prayers should always include thanksgiving. (Colossians 4:2)
Along with thanksgiving, Paul begins his letter with encouragement, telling the Colossians that he has heard of their faith in Christ and their love and hope. And he reminds them that their “hope will be kept safe for them in heaven.” (Colossians 1:5) Do we need to learn how to be more encouraging? Do we need to remind each other of our great spiritual heritage in Christ? And that our hope is also being kept safe of us in heaven?
Given that the Colossian Christians were having a difficult time, how do you think they might have responded if Paul’s letter had started right off with arguments against the false doctrines that they were starting to believe? Instead of criticisms, perhaps true thankfulness plays a role in encouraging others toward a right doctrine!
In Colossians 1:6, Paul states that the gospel is bearing fruit all over the world. The word of God is the only seed that can be planted anywhere in the world and bear fruit. The gospel can be preached “to every creature which is under heaven.” (Colossians 1:23) False teachers do not take their message to all the world. They go where the gospel has already gone and try to lead believers astray. They have no good news for lost sinners!
Paul reminds the Colossian Christians that the good news of Christ is changing lives all around the known world. Perhaps a larger perspective on the impact of the gospel may help these Colossians Christians realize the value of their faith. Maybe these new Christians in Colossae will realize that their faith in Christ is alive – a living thing – and be encouraged to hold fast to their faith.
Amazing things happen when we put our faith in Christ. We are born again (John 3) We become God’s children (John 1) Our sins are forgiven. (Ephesians 1) We receive eternal life (1 John 5) and the Holy Spirit takes up residence in our lives (Roman 8) We have been given so much in Christ! Let’s hold on to our precious faith and never let any religious philosophy or any person or false teacher try to take it from us!
Many of the ideas in this blog were taken from “The Wiersbe Bible Study Series” and by Max Lucado’s book, “Colossians and Philemon”