Lesson 1: The Gospel Received (Colossians 1:1-8)
When you get your mail, what will you open first? Bills? Official looking stuff? Personal mail? Well, you’ll want to open this one!
This lesson will take a little longer than most because we ask you to read through the entire letter of Colossians—twice! Reading through the whole letter (only 4 chapters long in our Bible form) is the best way to see the entire message and get the “big picture” before we divide it into smaller pieces to enjoy it more slowly. For your convenience, the letter to the Colossians is provided for you at the end of the last lesson.
Day One Study
1. Read the letter to the Colossians as it was intended … a letter from one dear friend to another; read at one sitting.
· What strikes you as one overall emphasis of Paul’s letter?
· What other issues does he address that particularly interest you?
2. Read the letter a second time. As you read the letter this time, do the following:
· Circle the phrases that refer to being “in Christ” (also in Him, by Him, through Him).
· Underline fullness, mystery, knowledge, complete and all (plus variations on these words).
3. Regarding being “in Christ,” how many times does Paul emphasize this relationship?
4. Paul, the master communicator, often uses the enemy’s very own words to refute bad teaching—fullness, mystery, knowledge, complete, all. How many times does he use these terms?
5. Now, compared to your reading it the first time, what do you think is the overall emphasis of Paul’s letter to the Colossians?
Day Two Study
6. Read Colossians 1:1-8. Don’t ignore the introductions to Paul’s letters. What important information does Paul include in the first two verses of his letter to the Colossians?
From the Greek: The Colossian believers were “saints” (Gr. hagios, those set apart to God) in their position and “faithful brethren” (Gr. pistis adelphois) in their practice.” (Constable’s Notes on Colossians, p. 7)
7. Looking at vv. 3-8, what specifically about this church made Paul excited and thankful?
Scriptural Insight: “The Holy Spirit had created love for Paul in the Colossians. This is the only reference to the Holy Spirit in this epistle. In Colossians Paul ascribed the activities of God that he normally associated with the Holy Spirit to Christ. He probably did this to glorify Jesus Christ before the Colossians who were being taught that Christ was less than He is.” (Constable’s Notes on Colossians, p. 8)
8. Since Paul never met these people, how do we know the Colossians had received the complete gospel from Epaphras?
9. Using the following verses, what is the gospel?
· Acts 2:22-24—
· 1 Corinthians 15:3-4—
· Acts 16:30-31—
10. What is the significance of Paul stressing that the gospel they received had been bearing fruit everywhere?
Think About It: Heresies (such as the one at Colosse) are local and harmful; but truth is universal and helpful. One of the unmistakable characteristics of the true gospel is God’s grace in all its truth. Some preach a “different gospel—which is really no gospel at all” (Gal. 1:6-7). This is because it is a gospel of grace plus works, or faith plus works. But the true gospel is one of grace alone (Rom. 11:6; Eph. 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7). (The Bible Knowledge Commentary New Testament, p. 670)
11. Staying Healthy: When did you receive the gospel? Did what you receive match what Paul and Epaphras preached?
12. Staying Healthy: Paul’s first words to these Colossian believers were positive and filled with assurances. Apply this to a specific situation in your home/work/church life. Ask someone in the group to hold you accountable during this next week to apply it.
13. Deeper Discoveries (optional): We gloss over the triad—faith, hope, and love—because we have heard the words so often. But they are the marks of real spiritual life. Look up these passages and discover how these words are related to one another and are manifested in a believer’s life: 1 Corinthians 13:13; Hebrews 10:22-24; 1 Thessalonians 1:2-3 and 1 Peter 1:3-5; 22.
Jesus Christ is above all powers and authorities, in all believers, and is all we need for earth and heaven!