Colossians 1:12-16

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 15, 2009


The church in Colosse was located in the Lycus Valley, in the area we know today as the nation of Turkey. There were two other towns located nearby, Hierapolis and a place known as Laodicea. Today all three cities are in ruins, the city of Colosse has not even been excavated.

It’s interesting to note that Paul had never visited Colosse. The church was started by a man named Epaphras who probably came to know the Lord through Paul’s ministry while Paul was staying in Ephesus, about 100 miles to the west of Colosse.

One of the chief reasons for Paul writing this letter was to address heresy.

Strange doctrines were beginning to spring up in Colosse.  Before Paul deals with the heresies, he will first clarify some important truths.

Last week we looked at Paul’s prayer for the Colossians which ends with Paul saying,

:12- What the Father has done

:12 giving thanks to the Father who has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light.

giving thankseucharisteo (“good” + “grace”) – to be grateful, feel thankful

who has qualifiedhikanoo – to make sufficient, render fit; to equip one with adequate power to perform duties of one; from hikanos – sufficient; enough

partakersmeris – an assigned part, a portion, share

inheritancekleros – an object used in casting or drawing lots, which was either a pebble, or a potsherd, or a bit of wood; the thing that you got by casting lots.

Here it is the thing that you end up winning. It’s your “lot” in life – salvation, eternity in heaven, that Jesus has won for us.

saintshagios – “holy ones”, all believers are called “saints”.

in the light – our “inheritance” or “lot” is in the “light” with the “saints”

Our lot is “in the light”. God has called us into the light.


More than enough

We sing the Jesus is “more than enough”. Here the idea is that He has made us “enough” to be able to receive heaven.
We don’t make ourselves qualified for heaven. God is the one that makes us qualified.
He makes us more than enough qualified. This is grace.
Author James Herriot tells of an unforgettable wedding anniversary he and his wife celebrated early in their marriage. His boss had encouraged him to take his wife to a fancy restaurant, but Herriot balked. He was a young veterinarian and couldn’t really afford it. “Oh, do it!” the boss insisted. “It’s a special day!” Herriot reluctantly agreed and surprised his wife with the news.
En route to the restaurant, Herriot and his wife stopped at a farm to examine a farmer’s horse. Having finished the routine exam, he returned to his car and drove to the restaurant, unaware that his checkbook had fallen in the mud. After a wonderful meal, Herriot reached for his checkbook and discovered it was gone. Quite embarrassed, he tried to offer a way of making it up.
“Not to worry,” the waiter replied. “Your dinner has been taken care of!” As it was, Herriot’s employer had paid for the dinner in advance.
God has done the same for us. Jesus’ utterance on the cross, “It is finished,” is a Greek term meaning “paid in full.”
Submitted by Greg Asimakoupoulos, Naperville, Illinois
For some of us, we can find our whole lives caught in trying to please other people.
Some of you might still be trying to do that one thing that might cause your father or mother to be proud of you.
Sometimes we can fall into the trap of thinking that we have to do something to earn God’s favor.

The truth is, you already have it.  And even more, God has taken care of the outstanding bill that you owe.

:13 He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love,

deliveredrhuomai –to rescue, to deliver

powerexousia – power of choice, the power of rule or government (the power of him whose will and commands must be submitted to by others and obeyed)

darknessskotos – darkness; of ignorance respecting divine things and human duties, and the accompanying ungodliness and immorality, together with their consequent misery in hell

There is good and evil in the world. Without Christ in your life, you are living under the power and authority of evil, darkness. “But that’s not fair” you say. It might not seem fair, but it’s the truth.

By yourself, you do not have the ability to free yourself from the evil of this world.
But that’s what Jesus came to do.

conveyedmethistemi – transfer, remove from one place to another

Just like the firemen who show up to rescue people in a building burning – they take you from the fire and bring you to a place of safety.

God came to rescue us from the burning building and take us to the kingdom of His Son Jesus.

Play video of Niagara Falls Rescue

What a powerful picture. People don’t realize that they are on the edge of the falls, facing a certain death. They need someone to rescue them. They can’t do it themselves. They need God to rescue them from the power of darkness.

This is what God did in sending His Son Jesus – He came to rescue us.

When you ask Jesus into your life, He carries you from the burning building.

We too can be a part of that deliverance

(2 Tim 2:24-26 NKJV) And a servant of the Lord must not quarrel but be gentle to all, able to teach, patient, {25} in humility correcting those who are in opposition, if God perhaps will grant them repentance, so that they may know the truth, {26} and that they may come to their senses and escape the snare of the devil, having been taken captive by him to do his will.

We’re kind of like those guys on the shore pulling the ropes. People are held captive under the power of darkness. Jesus can set them free.

:14-18 Who Jesus is

:14 in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.

redemptionapolutrosis – a releasing effected by payment of ransom

We have been kidnapped by our own sins – held hostage with a gun to our heads.

forgivenessaphesis – release from bondage or imprisonment; forgiveness or pardon, from aphiemi – to send away

We even know how far away God sends our sins:

(Psa 103:12 NKJV)  As far as the east is from the west, So far has He removed our transgressions from us.

A payment has been made. The price for your release from judgment. Peter writes,

(1 Pet 1:18-19 NKJV) knowing that you were not redeemed with corruptible things, like silver or gold, from your aimless conduct received by tradition from your fathers, {19} but with the precious blood of Christ, as of a lamb without blemish and without spot.

It’s not up to us to pay the debt.  We don’t have enough in our bank account to pay the ransom.  Only God has enough.

Jesus has paid the debt for us.


The movie The End of the Spear, released in February of 2006, tells the story of Nate Saint and four other missionaries who were murdered by the Waodani people of South America. However, in a testament to forgiveness, the families of the slain missionaries later returned to the tribe, eventually winning many of them to Christ.

Nate Saint’s son, Steve, was asked: “So you’ve had a history of reconciliation [with the Waodani] over the years, but there wasn’t a specific moment of reconciliation?” He replied:

It was a developing thing, but I think that the point of reconciliation really was with Mincaye [the man who killed Steve’s father] and my Aunt Rachel. In her journal she once wrote, “Tonight when I was sleeping in the hammock I heard a noise. Somebody was walking around in the dark.” Mincaye called out to her and squatted by her fire, wanting to talk. He said, “You said that Waengongi, the Creator, is very strong.” Aunt Rachel said: “Mincaye, he is very strong. He made everything here, even the dirt.” Mincaye said: “You said that he could clean somebody’s heart. My heart being very, very dark, can he clean even my heart?” Aunt Rachel said, “Being very strong, he can clean even your heart.” She wrote that Mincaye got up and walked away, but that the next morning he came back excited. He said: “Star, what you said is true. Speaking to God, he has cleaned my heart. Now it’s waatamo—it’s clear like the sky when it has no clouds in it.” That was the real beginning of reconciliation.

Amanda Knoke, Decision (January 2006), p. 20

:15 He is the image of the invisible God,

invisibleaoratos (“not” + “visible”) – unseen, that which cannot be seen

How do you get to know somebody that’s invisible?

Play Invisible Man clip

Now even though some might think that God is like that scary, invisible man, He’s not. If you don’t understand God, if you don’t know what God is like, the answer is very simple – look to the picture that God left behind for us.

imageeikon – an image, figure, likeness

How can you get an image of something that’s invisible?

We do it all the time. If you break your arm they take an x-ray to see what damage has been done.

God has been careful to leave us a pretty good picture of what He is like.

(John 14:9 NKJV) Jesus said to him, "Have I been with you so long, and yet you have not known Me, Philip? He who has seen Me has seen the Father; so how can you say, 'Show us the Father'?

Want to know God? Look at stories about Jesus:

(John 8:1-11 NKJV) But Jesus went to the Mount of Olives. {2} Now early in the morning He came again into the temple, and all the people came to Him; and He sat down and taught them. {3} Then the scribes and Pharisees brought to Him a woman caught in adultery. And when they had set her in the midst, {4} they said to Him, "Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the very act. {5} "Now Moses, in the law, commanded us that such should be stoned. But what do You say?" {6} This they said, testing Him, that they might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. {7} So when they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, "He who is without sin among you, let him throw a stone at her first." {8} And again He stooped down and wrote on the ground. {9} Then those who heard it, being convicted by their conscience, went out one by one, beginning with the oldest even to the last. And Jesus was left alone, and the woman standing in the midst. {10} When Jesus had raised Himself up and saw no one but the woman, He said to her, "Woman, where are those accusers of yours? Has no one condemned you?" {11} She said, "No one, Lord." And Jesus said to her, "Neither do I condemn you; go and sin no more."

Now don’t misunderstand the story. Jesus doesn’t tell the woman that it’s okay that she’s committed adultery. He doesn’t tell her to go back to the man she’s sleeping with. He tells her to “sin no more”.
But He also brings her forgiveness. He doesn’t condemn her.

Jesus said,

(John 3:17 NKJV) "For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.
Again, don’t misunderstand. There will be a day when men will be judged for their sin. People will be sent to hell to pay for their rebellion against God. But that isn’t what God WANTS to do. God sent Jesus so that we would be able to avoid the condemnation and instead be saved.

:15 the firstborn over all creation.

firstbornprototokos – the firstborn

The word is “anarthrous”, meaning that the word “the” is not in the original, and it carries the idea that Jesus “by nature” is “firstborn” compared to all creation.

creationktisis – the act of creating; anything created

It’s kind of funny that even as Paul is trying to set the record straight about who Jesus is, that some of his words have been misinterpreted.

Some cults have taken this to mean that Jesus is the first being to be created by God.

Yet if you pay attention to the next verse, Paul says that all things were created through Him and for Him.

Around 300AD a heresy sprung up from a fellow named Arius in Alexandria, Egypt. He claimed that Jesus was not God in the flesh, but that Jesus was just another created being.

Today the Jehovah’s witnesses believe much the same thing. They believe that Jesus was once Michael the archangel, a created being.

The term “firstborn” doesn’t always mean “first to be born”.

Isaac had twin sons. The first son born was named Esau, also known as Edom. At times he was called the “firstborn” because he was the first born.

(Gen 27:32 NKJV) And his father Isaac said to him, "Who are you?" So he said, "I am your son, your firstborn, Esau."
The other son was named Jacob, and later also was known as Israel.
At one point, Isaac was going to give the “blessing” of the firstborn to Esau, but Jacob tricked his father and got the blessing instead, because it was really his from the beginning. When Moses is later confronting Pharaoh and asking him to let the children of Israel go, God tells Moses,

(Exo 4:22 NKJV) "Then you shall say to Pharaoh, 'Thus says the LORD: "Israel is My son, My firstborn.

How could Israel be God’s “firstborn”? Esau was older than Israel.  And in terms of nations, Israel wasn’t the oldest nation, Egypt was older than Israel.

Israel was “first” in God’s eyes. Israel was the most important. Israel was preeminent to God.

One of Israel’s sons, Joseph, also had two sons.  The oldest was named Manasseh.

(Gen 41:51 NKJV)  Joseph called the name of the firstborn Manasseh: "For God has made me forget all my toil and all my father's house."
Joseph asked his father to put a blessing on his sons.  Israel seemed to do it wrong.  Instead of putting the special blessing hand on the older Manasseh, he put it on the younger son Ephraim.
(Gen 48:17-19 NKJV)  Now when Joseph saw that his father laid his right hand on the head of Ephraim, it displeased him; so he took hold of his father's hand to remove it from Ephraim's head to Manasseh's head. {18} And Joseph said to his father, "Not so, my father, for this one is the firstborn; put your right hand on his head." {19} But his father refused and said, "I know, my son, I know. He also shall become a people, and he also shall be great; but truly his younger brother shall be greater than he, and his descendants shall become a multitude of nations."
Jeremiah speaks for God and writes,
(Jer 31:9 NKJV) … For I am a Father to Israel, And Ephraim is My firstborn.

Sometimes the word “firstborn” means the “greater” one.

As it does here.
Paul’s point is not to say that Jesus is a created being, his point is to say that Jesus is the head over everything.  Paul will continue to say this same thing over and over and over again, just in case you didn’t get it the first time.

:16 For by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible,

were createdktizo – to make habitable; to create

in heaven and on earth – Jesus didn’t just create things on our planet, but in the heavens, things in the spirit realm, including angelic beings.

visible and invisible – not everything that’s real is visible. There are things that you can’t see that are very real, like angelic beings.

:16 whether thrones or dominions or principalities or powers.

thrones or dominions or principalities or powers – names of rankings of angels

thronesthronos – a throne seat; kingly power or royalty

dominionskuriotes – dominion, power, lordship

principalitiesarche – beginning; the leader; the first place

powersexousia – the power of him whose commands must obeyed

Jesus was not a glorified angel. He created the angels. He is greater than the angels.

The writer to the Hebrews points out how much better Jesus is than the angels:

(Heb 1:4-8 NKJV) having become so much better than the angels, as He has by inheritance obtained a more excellent name than they. {5} For to which of the angels did He ever say: "You are My Son, Today I have begotten You"? And again: "I will be to Him a Father, And He shall be to Me a Son"? {6} But when He again brings the firstborn into the world, He says: "Let all the angels of God worship Him." {7} And of the angels He says: "Who makes His angels spirits And His ministers a flame of fire." {8} But to the Son He says: "Your throne, O God, is forever and ever; A scepter of righteousness is the scepter of Your Kingdom.
Did you catch that? When the writer is quoting Psalm 45:6, he says that God Himself is calling the Son “God” (Your throne, O God)

John tells us that Jesus has always existed as God.

As you study John 1, you will find that John will initially call Jesus “the Word”. John starts his gospel by writing,

(John 1:1-3 NKJV) In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. {2} He was in the beginning with God. {3} All things were made through Him, and without Him nothing was made that was made.
The Jehovah’s Witnesses like to point out that in the original Greek text that there is no “definite article” (our English word “the”) before the last word “God” in verse 1, and so they translate it, “and the Word was a god”. They are correct about the definite article, but incorrect in their knowledge of Greek. When a word lacks a definite article in Greek, then the emphasis is on the nature of the word, not that it is a specific (definite) thing.

In other words, “the Word was by nature God”.

Jesus, as the Word, has always existed. He has always been God. He made all things.

:16 All things were created through Him and for Him.

throughdia – He is the one through whom everything was created

foreis – We were created for Him.

Have you ever asked yourself the question, “What am I here for?

There is a reason for your existence. You were created for Him.

I would like to suggest that until you figure this out, you’re going to have trouble.


Eric Liddell was the Scotsman portrayed in the 1981 movie “Chariots of Fire”.  He was a Christian.  He was an athlete.  In the 1924 Olympics he made a painful decision to not run the race he was best at because the race was being run on Sunday and he felt he needed to show honor to God by staying out of the race.  He ended up being asked to run a much longer race, one he hadn’t trained for …
Play clip from Chariots of Fire.
Did you notice that there were people in the stands watching?
(Heb 12:1 NKJV)  Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us,
Mr. Liddell did more than just run in the Olympics.  After the Olympics, he would move on to the other passion of his life – missions.  He served in China from 1925 until his death in a Japanese internment camp in 1945.
He had a purpose in life.  He lived for God’s glory and honor.