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1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
Paul uses his title of apostle of Jesus Christ because he is going to correct some doctrinal problems in the church. Paul was not as well aquatinted with this church as he was with the Philippians. Timotheus is Timothy. He was a brother in the Lord and not an apostle. Acts 16:1-3.
1:2 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.
Saints are Christians saved by grace, and not people that had gained the title because of some great work that they had done.
1:3 We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Although Paul is in prison, he continued to praise God and pray for the church.
1:4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
1:5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
Paul was happy to hear that the Colossian saints were producing good Christian fruit, and that they had love for all the saints. Notice Paul said faith in Christ Jesus and not just faith. Salvation and our entire Christian life starts and is maintained through our faith in Christ.
"Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble. (James 2:19)"
In other words, we are saved by grace through "faith." This produces the "love" of Christ in our heart and gives us "hope" for our future that is laid up for us in heaven. This faith came by hearing the truth of the gospel in the word of God. Rom. 10:17.
1:6 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:
The gospel is designed for the whole world and not just for one region, nation, or nationality. It will bring forth good fruit in anyone that receives Christ. Fruit like the Colossian believers were producing.
1:7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
1:8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
Epaphras was from Colosse and evidently the pastor of the Colossian church. He was probably a convert of Paul and had been faithful to preach the gospel to the Colossians. Many scholars believe that he started churches in Colosse, Laodicea and Hierapolis. Epaphras came to Rome, where Paul was imprisoned, to give Paul a good report on the spiritual life of the Colossians.
1:9 For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
Paul prayed that the Colossians would be filled with the knowledge of God's will. False Gnostic teaching was infiltrating the Colossian church. Gnostic is taken from the word knowledge. The false teachers taught that they had a deeper understanding of spiritual things that the average person could not understand. That is the way most false doctrine is presented. It goes without saying that someone besides Christ will be lifted up.
Paul told the Colossians that God would give His knowledge to anyone that would sincerely seek Him
1:10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
Walk worthy of the Lord means bring honor to the Lord. Not bowing to false teachers to please men, but being led by God to do good works, while you grow in the knowledge of Gods plan for your life.
1:11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
Paul said that God would strengthen the Colossians with His power, so that they could have patience and longsuffering to stand for the truth with a joyful attitude.
1:12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
1:13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
1:14 In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:
We should be eternally thankful for the inheritance that Jesus died on the cross to give us. Rom 8:15-17 Redemption through His blood is like this: God sent Moses to redeem the Israelites. They were redeemed from Pharaoh's grip that held them in slavery. Still the Israelites had to walk with God and follow the cloud by day and the fire by night even though they were redeemed. In other words, they changed citizenship. When you become a Christian, you become a citizen of heaven even though you are still living down here on the earth. You have to walk with God daily so that He can deliver you from the fiery darts of the devil. Just because you are a citizen of Heaven does not mean that you will never have another battle with the enemy.
1:15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. Firstborn does not mean that Jesus was created. Jesus is the second part of the Trinity and has no beginning. John 1:1-3 Jesus became flesh and dwelt among us. Firstborn means He is over all creation like a first born son that received a double portion. The first born son was over all the other children under the father, who was the head of all.
1:16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
Gnosticism was the false teaching of Paul's day. Gnostic came from gnosis, the Greek word for knowledge. Gnosticism taught that Jesus was not fully God and fully man, but merely one of the semi-divine beings that bridged the chasm between God and the world. They taught that Jesus lacked the authority and ability to meet the needs of people. They taught that enlightened believers could achieve spiritual fullness through special knowledge.
Gnostics believed that man was made up of spirit and matter. They believed that the spirit part of man was good and that matter was evil. They split into two belief systems of dealing with evil matter. Some taught that since your body was just matter, that you could commit any sin because your spirit was good and the matter or your body was evil anyway. The other group hated the matter or body and tried to punish it by beating the sin out of it.
Mary Baker Eddy, the founder of Christian Science, falsely taught that Jesus was the highest human concept of the perfect man, but that he was not God. She also taught mind over mater or metaphysical healing. That is why they have reading rooms, so you can convince yourself that your sickness does not exist, but that it is only a delusion of the mind.
Spiritists falsely teach that Jesus Christ is an advanced spirit of the sixth sphere, which is similar to the Gnostic teachings in Paul's day. The Gnostics believed that the earth was surrounded by a number of cosmic spheres (usually seven) that separate human beings from God. These spheres were supposed to be ruled by archons (spiritual principalities and powers) who guard their spheres by barring the souls who were seeking to ascend from the realm of darkness below to the realm of light that is above.
Jehovah's Witnesses falsely teach that Jesus was created an angel and is Michael the archangel incarnated.
Paul stops all of these false teachings in their tracks when he said that all things were created by Jesus Christ and for Him.
1:17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.
"Consist" means "hold together" or "are sustained." In other words, He is the sustainer of the universe and the source of its perpetual motion. If Christ decided to move the sun or stars or other planets around, life as we know it would cease to exist.
Everything man makes is temporal and everything God makes is perpetual. Men build great buildings and highways, but without maintaining these things they would disappear back into the earth in a few thousand years. The things that God makes replenish themselves like plants, animals, and man. I personally saw this when they changed the road in my area to take out a sharp turn. They blocked off the old road so no one could use it. Soon the freeze and thaw process made cracks in the pavement of the old road. Grass and trees started to grow between the cracks. Leaves fell over the road and created mulch. Within twenty years the old road was hard to find.
1:18 And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.
The church or true believers are the body of Christ. The church is a living organism and Christ is the body's source of life. Christ as the first born from the dead means that He is the first fruit of the resurrection. There were others who were raised from the dead before Christ, like Lazarus, but they died later. Christ is the first to receive a glorified body.
"Preeminence" means "superior, before" or "above others."
1:19 For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell;
The plērōma, the full fullness of God, dwells in Him. In other words, the fullness of the God head always dwelled in Christ. The Gnostics falsely taught that Christ was only a link in the chain and that we should look past Him to a higher deity. This is similar to the Jehovah's Witnesses who teach that you bypass Christ and go to the Father.
1:20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
Jesus made peace between God and man through the price He paid on the cross. Some falsely take the words "reconcile all" to mean that everyone is now reconciled and saved. It seems that some people are looking for a way to receive the benefits of being a Christian without a commitment to Christ. Religion is always trying to find a way to get to God. Christianity is realizing that God, through His Son Jesus, is trying to get to you and all you have to do is come to His out stretched arms by faith.
1:21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
Our sin alienated us from God, but Jesus reconciled us and changed our thinking so that we are sorry for our sin.
1:22 In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight:
Jesus became flesh and that flesh was crucified to pay the price to make us blameless before God. Jesus was born a little baby, but His birth did not save us. He did many miracles, but the miracles did not save us. It was His death on the cross, in our place, that made the atonement for our sin and made peace with God.
1:23 If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;
If you continue in the faith means exactly what it says. Works do not save us, but we are saved because we are in the faith and our hope is in the gospel. The gospel means good news and the good news is that we can have salvation through faith in Christ. Mark 4:14-20 On the other hand, when we are saved the product of good works will flow out of us.
1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:
I think the New Century Version says it best. "I am happy in my sufferings for you. There are things that Christ must still suffer through his body, the church. I am accepting, in my body, my part of these things that must be suffered."
Let me clarify something that is very important. Only Christ's suffering and death on the cross has redemptive power.
1:25 Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;
1:26 Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints:
Paul's ministry was two fold. His first objective was to preach salvation and lead people to Christ. The second part of his ministry was to be a good steward, and to train the converts on how to fulfill the word of God, and how to serve Christ. "Dispensation" means "stewardship" or "administration."
The mystery is something that the Lord has known from the foundation of the world, but waited until the time was right to tell us.
1:27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:
The mystery is that the Jews and Gentiles, that accept Christ by faith, will make up the body of Christ, the church, and Christ is the head. Eph 3:4-6. Remember that most of the Colossians were Gentiles. Paul said that Christ wants to live in you Gentiles, too, and that is your hope of glory. The Jews were used to being God's chosen people, but this was a great revelation to the Gentiles
1:28 Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:
Whom we preach means preaching Jesus, not politics or philosophy. It is sad when we hear some of the things that are being preached today. I have heard sermon topics like: How to Release God's Wealth in Your Life, or Taking Authority over Your Finances. Thank God for preachers who preach Christ and teach the church how to serve Him with integrity. "Perfect" means "complete" or "mature" in Christ and not sinless.
1:29 Whereunto I also labor, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.
Paul was willing to labor and strive, like an athlete, to accomplish God's will which he sensed was guiding him in a mighty way. This is the divine unction of the Holy Spirit, which takes us higher than our own abilities.