As I mentioned in my previous post, this epistle to the Colossians is one of four “Prison Epistles” along with Ephesians, Philippians and Philemon. Paul wrote all of these epistles during his first imprisonment while he was in Rome awaiting trial before Caesar. As we have already seen, some of the most encouraging letters of Paul were written when he was in prison.
Internal evidence suggests that though Paul had not visited Colosse (2.1), Timothy and Epaphras (1.7) had evangelized the city and founded the church during Paul’s 3 year stay in Ephesus while on his third missionary journey. Colosse is about 100 miles east of Eph. The church here was primarily composed of Gentiles.
The epistle was written to combat certain heretical teachings that had crept into the church and have never gone away! We will address these heresies as we go through this powerful epistle. These false teachings were Gnosticism; Legalism, Mysticism and secular philosophy.
False teachers also denied the Deity of Jesus Christ as Creator and His all-sufficient atonement for sin that grants salvation to sinners by grace alone, through faith alone, in Christ alone, not of works or ritual lest any man should boast.
According to Col 4.16, this epistle was to be read to then neighboring church of Laodicea, and a letter that was written to the Laodicea’s (not included in the canon of Scripture) was to be read to the saints at Colosse. So, lets jump into Colossians together:
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
Paul was not one of the original 12 Apostles (Acts 1:21-26) who were with Christ from the beginning of His earthly ministry (Acts 1:22; Luke 1:2; John 15:27). Nevertheless he did see the risen Christ (1 Cor. 9:1; 15:8-9), and he did possess special miraculous powers that were given to him by God to authenticate his apostolic authority (2 Cor. 12:12; cf. Heb. 2:3-4).
The word apostle means, “One sent out“. Because the content of this epistle is addressing doctrinal heresies, Paul speaks from apostolic authority. Paul’s right to speak with this authority is based upon the fact that he is a chosen vessel of the Lord Jesus who is has been called and sent out by God, not only as an ambassador of Jesus Christ to the Gentiles. But as a preserver of God’s truth and protector of God’s people.
There are no “capital A” apostles on earth today. However, each and every Christian should live each and every day with the realization that we are sovereignly and providentially and deliberately being sent out daily to be a witness for Jesus Christ in the world as salt and light. Beloved, wherever the sovereignty of God has placed you vocationally, that is your mission field. In fact I would go as far as saying that wherever the Lord has you living, going to school, exercising, shopping etc, that too is your mission field.
Please note that he is an apostle not because he went to school or because it seemed like a good and noble career to be devoted to. Paul was an apostle by the will of God. It was God Who separated Paul from his mother’s womb. It was God who saved Paul. It was God Who called Paul into the ministry, put the ministry into him and enabled Paul to serve Him in that capacity. His call to be an apostle was not something which he had earned or achieved; it is calling which has been given him by God. “You did not choose me,” said Jesus, “but I chose you” (Jn.15:16).
Here, right at the outset of the letter, we find a snapshot of the amazing doctrine of the grace of God. A Christian man or woman is not what he or she has made himself or herself to be. The Christian man or woman is what they are by the grace of God.
Timothy was in prison with Paul. He is also listed as being with him in Philippians and Philemon, but not in Ephesus.
Timothy had a Gentile father (Acts 16:1) but his mother and grandmother were godly Jewesses (2 Tim. 1:5) from whom he had learned the Old Testament Scriptures from childhood (2 Tim. 3:15). Paul picked up Timothy on his second missionary journey at Lystra where the “brothers … spoke well of him” (Acts 16:2). Paul spent much time discipling Timothy and wrote two of his last letters to him.
Timothy was a young man that ministered with Paul in the gospel of Jesus Christ. He was likeminded with Paul in ministry. Paul did not teach Timothy how to be a disciple in a classroom, he taught him by example and by coming alongside of him.
What a joy it is to see so many younger brothers and sisters growing in the Lord and serving here in the church. How exciting it is to see the “Timothy’s” that the Lord is raising up to serve Him around here in so many areas.
It has been said that the church is one generation away from possible extinction. How we needs to invest in our young people. Mom’s, dad’s…are you discipling your children in the Lord Jesus? Are you spending time reading the Scriptures and praying with them? Do your children see you and your wife reading the Scriptures and praying together? Or are you depending upon the Nursery servants or Sunday School or Youth Group leaders to do that? We can only supplement what you are doing at home.
- 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
The Greek word here for saints means, “Holy, different, set aside for the Masters use.” For example, the Temple was holy, in that it was set apart, different from other buildings. The Sabbath was holy for the Jewish people in that it was set apart, different from the other days of the week.
Holiness or sanctification for the child of God is a progressive work of The Spirit of God within our lives that conforms us into the image of Jesus Christ in order that we might be vessels unto honor, fit for the Masters use, in a fallen, post Christian culture that is separated from God by sin and blinded to the gospel by the god of this world.
The term saint has been so misunderstood both inside and outside of the church. Please understand that contrary to heretical teaching by the R.C. church, the term “saints,” is used in Scripture to refer to all believers, not a special group of believers who possess distinguished virtues and performed verifiable miracles.
Sainthood is not an accomplishment for work done on earth; sainthood is a position held by every single person that embraces Jesus Christ as Lord, and the position of sainthood is imputed to the believer by faith and is based upon Christ’s finished work on the cross, death, burial, bodily resurrection and ascension into heaven.
Please note that these saints are “in Christ.” Nobody is born by natural birth in Christ; we are all born “in Adam.” And just as we have had a natural, physical human birth in Adam, we need a spiritual, supernatural birth in Christ.
The word faithful speaks of their absolute trust in Jesus Christ, and obedience to Him as Lord.
Note that these saints, like you and I, have a dual residency. Every single born again follower of Jesus Christ has an earthly residence, but more importantly, you have eternal home.
- John 14:1 Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. 2 In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. 3 And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.
Saints are made on earth but move to heaven! We live and work here on earth, but at the same time, we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. As believers, we may move from one city to another city or from one job to another job; but wherever we are geographically, spiritually and positionally, we are in Christ Jesus, for it is in Him that we live and move and have our being.
That is one of the reasons why we are called to do any job with all of our heart as unto the Lord. The vocation that you are engaged in as a believer may outwardly appear to be menial, unpleasant and physically challenging. I may be doing a job that is far less than what my college degree tells me I am qualified to do. The earthly pay and rewards may be small and insignificant. Nevertheless as Christians, we are all called to be about our Father’s business, doing all things diligently, uncomplainingly and cheerfully, for we are in Christ and are called to do all things as unto the Lord. Paul will tell us:
- Col 3:17 And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.
- Col 3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; 24 Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.
Grace– God’s undeserved, unmerited favor that has been shed out abundantly through Jesus Christ Our Lord. The best acronym that I have ever read for the word grace is this….you have heard me say it many times and you can probably quote it verbatim. Gods Riches At Christ’s Expense.
- Peace– Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through Our Lord Jesus Christ. (Rom 5.1).
- This peace has been made through the blood of Jesus on the cross. Col 1.20.
Once again note that the grace of God precedes the peace of God and that is because you will never experience the peace of God apart from experiencing the grace of God through Jesus Christ. This peace beloved is not to be understood as being the absence of trouble or trial or sorrow….this peace is a Person and His Name is Jesus Christ. The peace that God gives is not of this world and is a peace that passes understanding.
As Colossians begins, Paul writes, grace be unto you, so it will end, grace be with you And that is because from the womb to the grave, all of life for the child of God is a sum total of the sovereign, providential unspeakable grace of God. Every breath that you and I take today is because of the grace of God.
- 3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Though Paul was a prisoner of Rome, he touched the world with his prayers. The most important ministry in the body of Christ is prayer. Every other visible ministry stands or falls on prayer. Prayer is a direct access to the throne of God Our Father. The word “we” suggests that Paul and Timothy often prayed for these saints.
Note how Paul expressed thanks and appreciation for these brothers and sisters in Christ whom he had never met personally. How important it is for us to verbalize our appreciation for our spouses, our parents, our children and for one another in the body of Christ. We tend to take one another for granted…This simple truth is so powerful.
Thanksgiving unto God for His work in our lives in powerful beloved. Just ask the 1 leper in Luke 17 who was miraculously touched by the Lord Jesus. While all 10 lepers were cleansed by Jesus, only the 1 leper who returned to gave thanks and glory to God was made whole.
Many of God’s people lack wholeness in their lives because they are murmurers, complainers, fault finders and critical of others instead of appreciative for who that person is in Christ and thankful for the grace of God that He has bestowed upon them.
May the Spirit of God grant unto each and every one of us a baptism of thanksgiving!
- 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
Note that we find here faith, hope, and love, just like in Rom 5:2-5; 1 Cor 13:13; Gal 5:5, 6; 1 Thess 1:3; 5:8. These are the 3 characteristics of a mature saint and a healthy church.
Faith looks upward– The first mark of a spiritually maturing believer and congregation is faith. The author of Hebrews tells us that without faith, it is impossible to please God.
When the Bible talks about the faith of the believer, it must be understood that it is the object of our faith that is being talked about, not faith in our own faith. Note here that Paul commends their faith in Christ Jesus. Beloved, our faith this morning and throughout the day is to be in the Lord and His Word, not our faith. Without faith it is impossible to please God (Heb 11.6). Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the Word of God. (Rom 10.17). The sower soweth the seed..the seed is the word of God (Luke 8.5,11). The just shall live by faith.
The church service is not meant to be an entertainment show, nor a rambling on of human speculations and opinions. Nor is it to be an hour of intellectual presentation of words that nobody but Daniel Webster himself can understand. To continue in the apostles doctrine means that our time together today and this evening, Lord willing should be a time of sowing of the living, powerful, incorruptible word of God. And my friends, the DNA of the Word of God is eternal life and faith in God.
Therefore, the church that gathers together without believing God is going to do great things will not experience renewal, revival, or blessing.
If you have come here today out of habit or out of routine, instead of believing that Jesus is going to speak our hearts do great things in our midst, then your faith the church service to you will eventually become stale, your worship will eventually become dry, and you will fail to experience the refreshment and power of the Holy Spirit. Receive by faith what God is doing RIGHT NOW!
Love looks outward– the love of God is unselfish and is meant to be shed abroad from our hearts. Love is Christ exalting and others centered. This is the greatest gift that any Christian or church family can have is love (1 Cor 13). This is the motive that Jesus is looking for in all that we do. (Rev 2.4; 2 Cor 5.14; Gal 5.22)… The Christian must have faith; he must know what he believes. But he must also have love for men; he must turn that belief into action. It is not enough simply to have faith, for there can be an orthodoxy which knows no love…. Faith in Christ and love to men are the twin pillars of the Christian life.
Hope looks forward to being with the Lord in heaven– Peter writes that this hope is reserved for all those that call upon The Name of the Lord. The hope of seeing Christ and going to heaven is not only a motivation for faith and love, but it is also a motivation for holy living.
- “And every man that hath this hope in Him purifieth himself, even as He is pure” (1 John 3:3).
Heavenly hope is the inspiration for saintly service. Here is a quote from John Piper:
Let me ask you a question. Is it true that when Christians set their hearts earnestly and intensely on the future prospect of sharing the glory of God, and seeing the risen Lord, and spending eternity with Him, that they are of no earthly use? Do they become self-centered and fall prey to escapism?
Today’s message is intended to show that the Bible portrays just the opposite. It teaches and shows that a strong confidence in the promises of God and a passionate preference for the joy of heaven over the joy of the world frees a person from worldly self-centeredness, from paralyzing regret and self-pity, from fear and greed and bitterness and despair and laziness and impatience and envy. And in the place of all these sins, hope bears the fruit of love.
It is not heavenly-mindedness that hinders love. It is worldly-mindedness that hinders love, even when it is disguised by a religious routine on the weekend. Only one thing satisfies the heart whose treasure is in heaven: doing the works of heaven. And heaven is a world of love! It is not the cords of heaven that bind the hands of love. It is the love of money and leisure and comfort and praise—these are the cords that bind the hands of love. And the power to sever these cords is Christian hope. John Piper
- 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
As Paul just wrote, it is this gospel of the grace of God that brings forth fruit. When a person is truly converted, they will bring forth fruit. When Jesus is truly living in a person’s heart, there will be fruit. Gal 5.22 But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, gentleness, goodness, faith, 23 Meekness, temperance:
This fruit is the result of fellowship with Jesus moment by moment. (John15). Religion, like fig leaves can only irritate you….religion can only be a source of discomfort for you…. religion is a form of godliness but no power….religion is a corpse covered with makeup. The gospel of Jesus Christ is resurrection life and power for the glory of God.
- 7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
Epaphras was a minister (Greek diakonos) of Christ…the Greek word means a table waiter or servant (Jn 2:5, 9). As followers of Jesus Christ, each one of us are called to be servants of the Lord Jesus Christ. To be a servant of King Jesus is what true greatness is all about. (Mk 10:43.
In addition to being called a dear fellow servant, Epaphras was also a man of prayer and great zeal (4.12,13). I am so blessed to be surrounded by so many praying, godly, holy, Spirit filled saints who love Jesus so much and are faithful to His call upon their lives.
Epaphras did not simply lead the Colossians to Christ and then abandon them. He taught them the Word and sought to establish their faith. The word translated “learned” in Colossians 1:7 is related to the word disciple in the Greek language. It is the same word Jesus used: “Learn of Me” (Matt. 11:29) or, in effect, “Become My disciple.”
The Great Commission does not stop with the salvation of the lost, for in that commission Jesus commanded us to teach converts the Word as well (Matt. 28:19–20). Thus our 4 fold mission here at KF is to know Christ, grow in Christ, proclaim Christ and glorify Christ.
Winning souls….growing in grace and in the knowledge of Jesus, and brining Him glory is what of the local church is all about.
I like Epaphras. He went about speaking around speaking about the love in the Spirit. Beloved, may I encourage you to be like Epaphras. May I encourage you to talk about how what a blessing this brother or that sister is behind his or her back, for not only does this please the Lord, but it also has an impact on me as well. How? To a very real degree, you are the person I say you are when you’re not around. You see, if when you leave church and, on your way home, talk about what an idiot the pastor is, he will become that person to you the next time you meet. Talk negatively about him, and, even if those things are not totally true, that’s what he will become in your sight. On the other hand, if you speak well of a person behind his back, that is the way you will tend to view him.
Epaphras spoke about the love of God that was flowing through this body. Gossip good things about others and you will find yourself noticing good things in others.
In closing my friends, What is the gospel?
- Acts 20:24 But none of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy, and the ministry, which I have received of the Lord Jesus, to testify the gospel of the grace of God.
- Ro 4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. 5 But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. 6 Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, 7 Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. 8 Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.
The gospel of grace and peace is the power of God unto salvation. The grace of God through Jesus Christ means that He died for our sins according to the Scriptures and that He was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures. We are heaven bound because of what Jesus did for us. We are complete in Him. Every time we have communion we are reminded of that simple, but powerful truth.
We are not saved by faith in faith. There is a cult of “believism” today that promotes faith but has little to do with Jesus Christ. Saving faith involves the mind, the emotions, and the will. With the mind we understand the truth of the Gospel, and with the heart we feel conviction and the need to be saved. But it is only when we by the power or The Holy Spirit exercise the will and commit ourselves to Christ that the process is complete. Faith is not mental assent to a body of doctrines, no matter how true those doctrines may be. Faith is not emotional concern. Faith is a God given belief that Jesus died for my sins according to the Scriptures. That He was buried and rose again according to the Scriptures. And as a response to the work truth of God’s Word and the prompting of The Spirit, I confess that Jesus is The Son of God and based upon what He has done for us, I commit the keeping of my soul to Him, and the remainder of my life to serving Him as Master and Lord.