Jun 11, 2014

Colossians Chapter 1 to 4


 Colossians 1:1-14 (NIV)
1Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sistersa in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.b3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 5the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant,c who is a faithful minister of Christ on ourd behalf, 8and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9For 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,e 10so 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, 11being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified youf to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light. 13For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Discovering the Word
  1. What characteristics of the Colossians cause Paul to always be thankful for them (vv. 3-6)?
  1. What impresses you about how the gospel was spreading (vv. 5-8)?
  2.  After affirming their strengths, Paul tells the Colossians what he prays for them. What are Paul's requests for how they think and act?
  3. How might spiritual wisdom and understanding help us to understand God's will (v. 9)?
  4. According to Paul, true knowledge leads to a "life worthy of the Lord" (v. 10). What qualities does such a life include (vv. 10-12)? How are these qualities related to each other?
  5. In what specific ways do you see the qualities in verses 10-12 developing in your life?
  6. Reread verses 12-14, putting your name in each sentence. How would meditating on these verses help you to appreciate what God has done for you?
Colossians 1:15-23 (NIV)
The Supremacy of the Son of God
15The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16For 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. 17He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18And 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. 19For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, 20and 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.
21Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because ofg your evil behavior. 22But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation— 23if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

Colossians 1:15-23: Jesus Is Supreme

We frequently hear: "All roads lead to God. Everyone is trying to get to the same place. That belief is fine for you, but I don't buy it for myself. Only bigots and fanatics label belief true or false." 
The Colossians heard, "Worship Jesus, but not exclusively. Jesus is just one spirit among many to be worshiped." In this passage we'll study Paul's adamant declaration of Christ's supremacy over every being and idea which invites our attention.

Warming Up to God

8.  What problems have you encountered in helping someone understand why Jesus is the only way to God?
9.  What does it mean that Christ is the "head of the body, the church" (v. 18)?
10.  What actions was God pleased to take to reconcile us to himself (vv. 19-22)?
11.  How does understanding God's actions help you explain why Jesus is the only way to God?

Applying the Word

12  .  How do the words reconciled, holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation (vv. 22-23) motivate you to continue firm in your faith in Christ?
13. How might those words appeal to unspoken needs of the friends you want to introduce to Jesus?
14.  How did some recent choice you made about your time or money reflect Christ's supreme place in your life?

Colossians 1:24-2:5: Struggles for Maturity

Paul’s Labor for the Church
24Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of his body, which is the church. 25I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness— 26the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
28He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. 29To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.

Discovering the Word

15.  How does Paul define God's commission to him (1:24-29)?
16.  In the New Testament the term mystery refers not to something mysterious but to something previously hidden which God now wishes to make clear. What is the mystery that represents the "word of God in its fullness" (1:26-27; 2:2-3)?

17.  According to Paul, what are the marks of Christian maturity (2:2-5)?

18.  The Gnostics taught that their secret knowledge was the key to salvation. How would Paul's description of Christ (2:3-4) protect the Colossians from the "fine-sounding arguments" of the Gnostics?

Applying the Word

19.  What "fine-sounding arguments" today lure us away from Christ and hinder our spiritual maturity?

    20.  What can you do to refocus your attention on Christ and on his goals for you?
Colossians 2:6-23: No Additions Needed
Kim Yeng and his family celebrated the day they became American citizens. Now they were no longer refugees but free citizens with full privileges and endless opportunities. But soon the neighbors began to question Kim. "Why are you making your kids superpatriots? They don't have to wear flags on their shirts every day." "Why did you spend all that money installing a tall flagpole in your yard?" "Don't you know that making your family eat hamburgers instead of eggrolls doesn't make you a better citizen?"
 In this study Paul questions the Colossians about the foolish human additions they are trying to add to all they have in Christ.
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.  Col.(2:6 & 7)

Spiritual Fullness in Christ  (Colossians 2:6-23)
6So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him, 7rooted and built up in him, strengthened in the faith as you were taught, and overflowing with thankfulness.
8See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forcesa of this world rather than on Christ.
9For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, 10and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority. 11In him you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the fleshb was put off when you were circumcised byc Christ, 12having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God, who raised him from the dead.
13When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made youd alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins, 14having canceled the charge of our legal indebtedness, which stood against us and condemned us; he has taken it away, nailing it to the cross. 15And having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross.e
Freedom From Human Rules:    16Therefore 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. 17These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ.18Do not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you. Such a person also goes into great detail about what they have seen; they are puffed up with idle notions by their unspiritual mind. 19They 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.
20Since 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!”? 22These rules, which have to do with things that are all destined to perish with use, are based on merely human commands and teachings. 23Such 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.

Discovering the Word
  1. How do each of the images rooted, built up, strengthened and overflowing (v. 7) help usunderstand how we should continue to live in Christ?

  1. In verse 8 we get the first real glimpse of the heresy being taught to the Colossians. What do we learn about it?
  2. How would Paul's two statements about fullness in Christ (vv. 9-10) protect the Colossians from those deceptive ideas?
  3. In verses 11-15 Paul describes some of what "fullness in Christ" includes. Which of our basic needs did Jesus' death, burial and resurrection meet?
  4. What "shadows" were the Colossians adding to the "reality" they had found in Christ (vv. 16-17, 20-23)?

Colossians 3:1-11:

New Life, New Lifestyle (Part 1)

Have you seen pictures of marathon runners? Concentration and determination seem to ooze from every pore. These people set their hearts and minds on one thing—finish this race. They focus on the next step, the next checkpoint, until the race is complete. They shed pounds, unnecessary clothing or anything else that might slow them down. Attach their official number and they are ready to run. 
As Christians, we are to live like marathon runners. We are to take off anything that slows us down and set our hearts and minds on the finish line.
Living as Those Made Alive in Christ
1Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. 3For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God.4When Christ, who is youra life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.
5Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. 6Because of these, the wrath of God is coming.b 7You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived.8But now you must also rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. 9Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices 10and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. 11Here there is no Gentile or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all.
  1. What do you think Paul means by things above and earthly things (vv. 1-2)?
  2. How can we set our hearts and minds on things above rather than on earthly things?
  3. What do the things we are to "put to death" have in common (v. 5)?
  4. Our old ways of reacting are compared to a garment we took off at conversion (vv. 8-10). Why is each type of behavior inconsistent with our new life in Christ?
  5. Although we may still struggle with these sins, what resources for change do we now have (vv. 9-11)?
  6. How can we keep God's perspective on immorality and greed when our culture accepts them as the norm?
  7. What has been the effect on you and others when you have fallen back into these old motives or actions (vv. 5, 8-9)?
  8. In verse 11 Paul lists the distressing divisions between people in the Colossian culture. How would becoming aware of Christ in other Christians help us to eliminate our cultural divisions?


    Colossians 3:12-17: New Life, New Lifestyle 

    (Part 2)

    13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. -Colossians 2:13

    Marathon runners not only shed anything that might slow them down, they also dress carefully. They choose the best running shoes and the most comfortable shorts and shirt possible. After telling us what to get rid of, Paul now speaks about the new clothes we are to wear because of our new life in Christ.
    Read Colossians 3:12-17  12Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. 14And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity.
    15Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful.16Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom through psalms, hymns, and songs from the Spirit, singing to God with gratitude in your hearts. 17And 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.

    Discovering the Word

    9. Why does Paul begin by reminding us of who we are in God's sight (v. 12)?
    10.Why is the description "God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved" (3:12) not dependent on our feelings or efforts (1:12-14; 2:9-10)?
    11. Paul recognizes that grievances occur even in the church. How are his instructions for handling grievances different from the way our culture handles them (vv. 13-14)?
    12. Paul also recognizes that Christians conflict with each other. How could conflicts be better managed with peace ruling (literally, "functioning like an umpire") in our hearts (v. 15)?
    13.What does it mean to let the word of Christ "dwell" in us richly (v. 16; see also Eph 5:18-20)?
    14. What "new clothes" (v. 12) would you like to put on?
    15. How would doing everything "in the name of the Lord Jesus" transform what you have to say and do today (v. 17)?

    Colossians 3:18-4:1: At Home and On the Job

    Factory workers in the Philippines had been meeting for months for a lunch-hour Bible study. One day the supervisor came to the leader and asked, "Could you start some more Bible studies in the factory? The men in the study have become the best workers on my shift."
    That wouldn't have surprised the apostle Paul. In this section he instructs us about the distinctive attitudes and behavior that should mark Christians at home and on the job.

    Instructions for Christian Households
    18Wives, submit yourselves to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord.
    19Husbands, love your wives and do not be harsh with them.
    20Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord.
    21Fathers,c do not embitter your children, or they will become discouraged.
    22Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 25Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
    1Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.

    Discovering the Word

    16.  How do Paul's commands to wives/husbands, children/fathers and slaves/masters address our tendency to do the opposite?
    17. The wife is to submit to the husband "as is fitting in the Lord" (v. 18). From what you learned in Colossians 3:5-17, what would that kind of submission include? What would it not include?
    18. The husband is to love his wife and not be harsh with her (v. 19). How would Colossians 3:12-19.  help him understand what that love should be like in actions and attitudes?
    20. What attitudes and actions of parents embitter or discourage their children?
    21. When and how are slaves to obey their masters (vv. 22-25)? With what motives?
    22. What would it demand of a master to "provide your slaves with what is right and fair" (4:1)?
    23. How could the motivations of pleasing the Lord (v. 20) and not discouraging others (v. 21) improve relationships in your family?
    24. How would obeying these instructions change how you do your job as employee or employer (3:22—4:1)? 

    Colossians 4:2-18: Making the Most of Opportunities

    No one ever becomes a Christian by just watching how a Christian lives. An observer might think the Christian is earning his way to heaven by trying to be good. How could anyone ever guess how to become a Christian? Debating if what we say or how we live is more important in witnessing is like asking which leg is more important for walking. In this study Paul shows that witnessing is an interplay between prayer, living and speaking. His closing greetings illustrate many ways Christians help and encourage each other.
    Further Instructions
    2Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. 3And 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. 4Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should. 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
    Final Greetings
    7Tychicus will tell you all the news about me. He is a dear brother, a faithful minister and fellow servanta in the Lord. 8I am sending him to you for the express purpose that you may know about ourb circumstances and that he may encourage your hearts. 9He is coming with Onesimus, our faithful and dear brother, who is one of you. They will tell you everything that is happening here.
    10My fellow prisoner Aristarchus sends you his greetings, as does Mark, the cousin of Barnabas. (You have received instructions about him; if he comes to you, welcome him.) 11Jesus, who is called Justus, also sends greetings. These are the only Jewsc among my co-workers for the kingdom of God, and they have proved a comfort to me. 12Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured. 13I vouch for him that he is working hard for you and for those at Laodicea and Hierapolis.14Our dear friend Luke, the doctor, and Demas send greetings. 15Give my greetings to the brothers and sisters at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house.
    16After this letter has been read to you, see that it is also read in the church of the Laodiceans and that you in turn read the letter from Laodicea.
    17Tell Archippus: “See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.”  18I, Paul, write this greeting in my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.
    1.    What one piece of advice about witnessing would you give to a younger Christian?

    Discovering the Word

    1. In verses 2-6 Paul teaches us how to speak to God about people and how to speak to people about God. Why would he tell us to devote ourselves to prayer (v. 2)?
    1. Paul might have asked the church to pray for his release from prison. What requests does he make instead (vv. 3-4)? Why?
    1. What advice does Paul give us about the way we live and converse with non-Christians (vv. 5-6)?
    2. Paul concludes this letter with numerous personal messages and greetings. What qualities in people does Paul affirm, and why (vv. 7-18)?
    3. In what ways might you "be wise in the way you act toward outsiders" and "make the most of every opportunity" (v. 5)?

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