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8. The Letter to the Colossians

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In our lessons so far, you have learned these truths about Christ.

  • In Romans, Christ is our righteousness. Every believer is equally right with God and has equal righteousness from God.
  • In 1 Corinthians: Christ is the wisdom of God, greater than any human wisdom or strength.
  • In 2 Corinthians: Christ is our comforter when we hurt.
  • In Galatians: Christ is our freedom from the law of works to earn God’s acceptance.
  • In Ephesians: Christ is the powerful head of the church. Christ’s power works in us to help us live God’s way and for us to protect us from anything evil.
  • In Philippians: Christ is the supplier of every need of yours so that you can help others.

Now, we will look at Christ in Colossians.

“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.” (Colossians 1:16 NIV)

The Key Question

What comes to mind when you hear or read the word “lord?” Do you tend to submit to authority or push against it to follow your own way? Many of us like the idea of authority managing everyone and everything else as long as we can keep doing what we like with no one bothering us. Go ahead and admit it. 

The key word for our lesson today is lord. The questions to ask are, “Who is really ‘lord’ of our lives, and what does that mean?” Some of Paul’s friends needed to know the answer to those questions.

The People and Their Need

On his third missionary journey, Paul spent 3 years in Ephesus, a large city of at least 250,000 people. While there, Paul held classes every day for anyone wanting to learn about Jesus Christ, having their sins forgiven, and gaining a new way to live. One of Paul’s students named Epaphras traveled to the nearby town of Colossae to teach the Colossians living there. The people were mostly Greeks and Romans who didn’t know God. So, Epaphras taught the Colossians the “good news” about Jesus dying for their sins and becoming alive again so that they could believe in Him and receive eternal life.

A few Jews believed the message about Jesus, but it was mostly the Greeks and Romans who listened and trusted in Jesus to take away their sins. They started worshiping God together and learning more about Jesus and their new life as Christians. After Epaphras left Colossae, other men told the new Christians that Epaphras didn’t tell them the whole story. Some said that Jesus was not really God, that it’s better to worship angels who were closer to God than Jesus was. Others taught that only by following special rules can anyone have a right standing with God. Those rules said you could only eat certain foods, could enjoy nothing fun, and couldn’t get married. Yet, none of those rules taught them how to get rid of bad behavior like telling lies, speaking mean words, and getting angry. Seven years after the church was started, Epaphras was so concerned that he traveled to Rome where Paul was a prisoner and told him all about it.

Paul had never met the Colossians, but he loved these young Christians very much. So, Paul wrote a letter that Epaphras carried back to Colossae. Paul knew that Epaphras had taught the Colossians that Jesus Christ was Lord over everything, including angels. Remember that Jesus is His name; Christ is His title, which refers to His authority as Lord.

In his letter, Paul emphasized the truth that Jesus is Lord over everything. We have that letter called Colossians. It is a gift from God to us. Paul says to them and to us that Christ is Lord over everything—angels, creation and even our behavior. What does that look like? Let’s find out.

The Answer: Christ Is Lord over Everything

1. Read Colossians 1:15-18. What does Paul emphasize about Christ in these verses?

  • Verse 15—
  • Verse 16—
  • Verse 17—
  • Verse 18—

As God, Christ is the Lord over creation (“firstborn” refers to priority in inheritance). All things were created by and for Him. Jesus Christ is Lord over all creation, including angels. Christ was present before the world was created.

He holds everything together. This might mean that He makes it keep working in the way He planned. Christ is Lord over our world. Jesus died and then became alive again. And, Christ is Lord over the Church, which includes all believers.

In Colossians, Christ is Lord over everything. Paul told the Colossian Christians they had received the full story about Jesus from Epaphras. Christ is completely God and as God, He is Lord over everything, including angels. Paul was telling them to not worship angels. Then, he goes on to remind them of something wonderful.

2. Read Colossians 1:13-14. What is true about every Christian?

3. Read Colossians 2:13. What is true about every Christian?

When we each trust Christ, all of our sins are forgiven. We now can serve God completely with our lives and honor Christ as Lord over our behavior. That’s what Paul taught the Colossians as well.

4. Read Colossians 3:8-9. What kind of behavior is not appropriate for a follower of Christ who has been given a new life?

Christ as Lord over our behavior wants us to stop our destructive anger, rage, hate, lies, and filthy/mean words. Let’s see what kind of behavior is right for us.

5. Read Colossians 3:12-15, 17, 23. According to each verse, what kind of behavior is appropriate for a follower of Christ who has been given a new life?

  • Verse 12—
  • Verse 13—
  • Verse 14—
  • Verse 15—
  • Verse 17—
  • Verse 23—

These are hard to do and do not come naturally to us. Paul writes in Colossians 1:29, “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Christ’s power in us enables us to live this way as we trust Him to work in and through us.

According to verse 15 above, Christ gives you peace in your heart. You are to let that rule your actions like an umpire saying to anger, “You’re out!” and to kindness, “You’re safe!” Christ is Lord over your behavior.

In verse 17, we are reminded to do everything we say or do in light of Jesus as Lord. We read in verse 23, “Work at everything you do with all your heart. Work as if you were working for the Lord, not for human masters.” This applies to any work you do—inside and outside the place where you live.

In Colossians, Christ is Lord over everything. He is Lord over the universe, the earth, the angels, and our behavior. As Lord over our behavior, He is powerful enough to change our bad behavior into good behavior that pleases Him. We must choose to submit to Him as Lord. He deserves it!

Our willingness to let Him change us is worshiping Him as Lord.

Living Dependently on Christ

1) Bible verse to learn:

“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.” (Colossians 1:16 NIV)

2) Response in prayer & praise:

Read Psalm 139:23-24. What does David ask of God? Okay, now you pray those verses as a prayer to Jesus. You are asking Jesus to help you recognize the areas of your life where you are not submitting to Him as Lord. What has He revealed to you? Thank Him for showing it to you and for His forgiveness. Ask Him to make the change in your life so your behavior matches who you are as a follower of Christ.

3) Getting to know Him more:

Spend a few minutes each day reading this wonderful letter and reflecting on how God’s marvelous grace offers you a life of freedom and joy.

  • Read Colossians chapter 1. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Colossians chapter 2. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Colossians chapter 3. Reflect on what you read.
  • Read Colossians chapter 4. Reflect on what you read.

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