Colossians is another of Paul’s “prison letters”, written while he was in Rome. What makes this letter different from other of Paul’s letter is that Paul had never met the Colossian church. The church was started through the work of Epaphras whom Paul had discipled and work alongside. The overarching theme of Colossians has to do with the preeminence (or superiority) of Christ. The Colossian Christians were being pressured to adopt Jewish practices and this letter is written to reassure them of the sufficiency of Christ.
September 12 – Maturity Motivated by Mercy
As Christians, our desire should be to live a life worthy of the Lord and to seek to please him in every way. But this desire can easily become legalistic or driven by guilt. For Paul, the reason we should aspire to be spiritually mature is rooted in what God has done for us: “he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves.” This contrast between our former way of life and our new life in Christ will be repeated several times throughout the book. This message will also serve as the introduction to the entire book of Colossians.
Main Point: Let God’s mercy be your motivation.
Colossians 1:1-14 … 9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
September 19 – Jesus is Enough
One of the reasons why Paul writes this letter is to confront the false teaching that Jesus isn’t enough. Some of the false teachers were teaching that faith in Jesus alone was insufficient and needed to be supplemented by old traditions, rituals, or practices. This section of Colossians is filled with great truths about Jesus (Christology). Jesus is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all of creation, the source of creation, the one who holds all things together, the head of the church, and in whom God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell. This same Jesus also walked among us as a fellow human and died for us on the cross. Jesus isn’t one among many options, or even the best alternative. He is preeminent, unique, and more than sufficient.
Main Point: Jesus alone is all-sufficient.
Colossians 1:15-23 … 15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. 17 He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
September 26 – Spiritual Maturity
Whether we are twelve, twenty-five, or fifty-five when we are born again, each of us begins our spiritual journey as spiritual infants. The goal of following Jesus is to become more like him – to become more and more mature. While the goal is maturity, it starts with the right message: Jesus is the one we proclaim. Spiritual maturity isn’t about self-discovery but discovering who Jesus is and becoming more like him (fully mature in Christ). In the same way, it’s not our will power that brings about maturity but the energy of Jesus working powerfully within us.
Main Point: The point of following Jesus is to become more like Jesus.
Colossians 1:24-2:5 … 28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me. 1 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
October 3 – Rooted in Christ
While some may downplay the importance of theology, theology at the most basic level is the study of God. What we believe about God will shape our decisions, influence our priorities, and impact our relationships. When we are properly rooted in Christ, our faith will be strengthened, and our gratitude will increase. Paul contrasts being rooted in Christ with being taken captive by “hollow and deceptive philosophy” – ideas that depend on “human tradition” and the “elemental spiritual forces of this world.” It’s important to remember that Paul is issuing this warning to Christians, not non-Christians. It’s a reminder that we need process ideas from a biblical, Christ-centered perspective.
Main Point: Spiritual mature people put their roots in the right place.
Colossians 2:6-15 … 6 So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7 rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness. 8 See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
October 10 – Living by a New Standard
Old covenant practices were “shadows of the things that were to come.” The reality was found in Jesus. Throughout Paul’s letters, he often appeals to the cross as the reason why we should or shouldn’t do something. Instead of simply telling the Colossians to stop doing what they were doing, he says “since you died with Christ” why do you still submit to the rules of the world? Old standards – or reasons for behaving a certain way – are to be replaced with ones that reflect our new relationship with God. As people who follow Jesus, he has become the standard by which we measure ourselves.
Main Point: The gospel defines how we should live.
Colossians 2:16-23 … 16 Therefore do not let anyone judge you by what you eat or drink, or with regard to a religious festival, a New Moon celebration or a Sabbath day. 17 These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ … 19 They have lost connection with the head, from whom the whole body, supported and held together by its ligaments and sinews, grows as God causes it to grow. 20 Since you died with Christ to the elemental spiritual forces of this world, why, as though you still belonged to the world, do you submit to its rules: 21 “Do not handle! Do not taste! Do not touch!”? 22 These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23 Such regulations indeed have an appearance of wisdom, with their self-imposed worship, their false humility and their harsh treatment of the body, but they lack any value in restraining sensual indulgence.
October 17 – Jesus Comes First
Chapter three picks up where chapter two ended. We no longer live according to the old playbook – the practices and principles of the world. We died to those things when we died with Christ in baptism. As resurrected people, our priorities have changed. We no longer pursue selfish interests but the interests of Jesus. We set our hearts and minds on things above (similar to the Lord’s prayer: your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven). The reason for this shift is simple: Christ is now our very life (v. 4). As a Christian, Jesus is not just a part of your life; he is your life.
Main Point: Following Jesus means he is your top priority.
Colossians 3:1-17 … 1 Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3 For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory … 17 And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.
October 24 – God-Honoring Relationships
This section deals with a variety of interpersonal relationships. How we deal with one another is a direct reflection of our relationship with God. 1 John 4:20 says, “Whoever claims to love God yet hates a brother or sister is a liar. For whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” The relationships are husbands and wives, parents and children, slaves and masters. While Paul gives principles specific to each relationship, his underlying principle is this: “It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” The key to having God-honoring relationships is to always be mindful that Christ is present.
Main Point: God-honoring relationships keep Jesus in the center.
Colossians 3:18-4:1 … 23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
October 31 – Pray and Proclaim
Paul closes by asking the Colossians to pray for him. He specifically asks that God open a door for the gospel message and that Paul will proclaim it well. We should be praying the same things today. One way God opens doors is through our interactions with “outsiders” – those who do not believe in Jesus. Our interactions will either lead to further conversation and the opportunity to share Jesus or they will close the door. Therefore, Paul commands us to have conversations that are full of grace (including social media). Through prayer and spiritual development, we will be able to provide helpful answers.
Main Point: God can use you to introduce someone to his love.
Colossians 4:2-18 … 2 Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3 And pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. 4 Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5 Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6 Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.