Colossians 1:17-18

Sunday Morning Bible Study

March 22, 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.

The church of Colosse 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 began to dive into the doctrinal section, where Paul is telling us a little clearer just who God is and who Jesus is.

Some of the phrases we looked at last week:

(Col 1:15 NKJV)  He is the image of the invisible God,

If you want a clear picture of what God is like, look at the best picture God has left us – Jesus.

:15 the firstborn over all creation.

Contrary to what some of the cults teach, this isn’t saying that Jesus was the first being created, it is saying that Jesus is superior to all of creation.

(Col 1:16 NKJV)  For by Him all things were created …

Jesus is the Creator.  He has created everything, including powerful angelic beings.

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

He not only created everything, but everything was created for Him.  Do you wonder what your purpose is in life? You were made for Him.

:17  And He is before all things,

beforepro – before

The word can speak of both being “before” things in relation to time as well as being “before” things in position.

In our context, both are correct.  The one I want to focus on is that:

Jesus has always existed.

In our study through the book of Exodus, we talked about the name of God, Yahweh, meaning the “eternally existing one”, the one who “always IS”, the great “I AM”.

Jesus hinted several times through the gospel of John as being the “I AM”.  He even said it was vital that you believe this truth:
(John 8:24 NKJV)  "Therefore I said to you that you will die in your sins; for if you do not believe that I am (He), you will die in your sins."

We believe that because Jesus was God in human flesh, when He died for our sins, He laid down an infinite life, enough to pay for the sins of the whole world.  If Jesus was just an ordinary human, His death wouldn’t be able to pay for more than one other person.

As Jesus discussed this with the Jews, He talked with them about how unlike Abraham they were.
(John 8:57-59 NKJV)  Then the Jews said to Him, "You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?" {58} Jesus said to them, "Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM." {59} Then they took up stones to throw at Him;

Why did they want to stone Jesus?  Were they just offended at Him?  They knew that Jesus was claiming to be God, and this was something worthy of death (unless you in fact were God).

When Jesus was praying before going to the cross, He said,

(John 17:5 NKJV)  "And now, O Father, glorify Me together with Yourself, with the glory which I had with You before the world was.

:17 and in Him all things consist.

consistsunistao (“together” + “to stand”) – to place together, to bring or band together; unite parts into one whole; to cohere

He not only made all things, but He holds all things together.

I am not a scientist, and I won’t try to pretend to be one.  There are some very smart people who have thought about some of the implications of this passage.

From Physicist Lambert Dolphin: (also see this article)

The nucleus of every atom is held together by what physicists call “weak” and “strong” forces. Physicists today are familiar with four basic forces in the natural world: gravity, electrical forces, a “strong,” and a “weak” nuclear force which act at very short ranges. The first two forces decrease in strength inversely with the square of the distance between two objects. Recently two additional close-range, weak gravitational forces have been suggested. These are thought to be quantum mechanical corrections to Newton’s Law of Gravitation.

The nucleus of the atom contains positively-charged and neutral particles—to use a simplistic model. Mutual electrostatic repulsion between the like-positive protons would drive the nucleus apart if it were not for the “strong force” which binds the nucleus together.

There is thus an active force imposed on the universe, which actively holds the very atoms of the material world together moment by moment, day by day, century by century.

Similarly, accelerated electrons circling the nucleus should quickly radiate all their energy away and fall into the nucleus unless there exists an invisible energy source to counteract this.

What is that “invisible energy source” that holds the atom together?

I wonder if it isn’t Jesus.

Peter writes something that ties to this:

(2 Pet 3:10 NKJV)  But the day of the Lord will come as a thief in the night, in which the heavens will pass away with a great noise, and the elements will melt with fervent heat; both the earth and the works that are in it will be burned up.

meltluo – to loose any person (or thing) tied or fastened
(Play Nuclear clip) Could it be that when this happens, the Lord simply “lets go” and things dissolve?

Correct theology leads to correct living.

Does your concept of God affect your life?


Holding it together

If Jesus is big enough to hold the universe together, could it be possible for Him to hold your life together?
Mark Moring writes,
When our church organized a work team for a short-term missions trip to Spain, they wanted “skilled” workers, but were willing to take a few non-handy guys like me. (You’ll never see my face on “Home Improvement”!)
Fortunately, we had enough “Tim Taylor” types for the trip—including Art, who knew just about everything there was to know about pouring concrete. We were building new teepees at a Christian camp for kids, and the teepees were to be built on concrete foundations.
Another church team had worked at the site the week before we arrived, building a few teepees. Unfortunately, the foundations they’d poured were already beginning to crumble at the edges.
But Art knew how to do it exactly right, using forms around the edges and reinforcing rods underneath to hold things together—for a long time. Jesus tells us to take the same care with our spiritual foundations, to build our “house upon the rock.”
Mark Moring, editor of Men of Integrity. Men of Integrity, Vol. 1, no. 1.
Play video clip “Pouring concrete”
If you come up to a construction project after the concrete has been poured, you might not see those steel rods in the concrete, but if it was done right, they’re there.  Without them, the concrete is in trouble.  If you put a big load on top of concrete, it will crack.
Let Jesus be the one that holds you together.  Other things will fail you.  Jesus keeps you together.

:18 And He is the head of the body, the church,

body – Paul often compares the church to a body.  We all are parts of the body.  Some of us are thumbs, some are big toes, others are like an eye, others like a mouth.  But Jesus is the head.  He’s the one in charge.  He makes the decisions.

When you become a Christian, you become part of the body.

(1 Cor 12:12-13 NKJV)  For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. {13} For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body; whether Jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free; and have all been made to drink into one Spirit.

Some confuse this verse with the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” (Mark 1:8; Acts 1:5).  But if you study the passages, the “baptism of the Holy Spirit” is Jesus immersing you in the Holy Spirit like John the Baptist immersed people in water.
Here it’s baptism by the Holy Spirit that does the immersing, and He immerses you into the body.
Every true Christian is a member of the body of Christ.

churchekklesia – a gathering of citizens called out from their homes into some public place.

The “church” is not a building with a cross or steeple on it.  The “church” is the group of people formed by those who have come to believe in Jesus Christ.

The church is not made up of Calvary Chapel people.  It’s bigger than that.


The story goes that old Fred finally died and found himself in heaven.  It was an awesome place.  He was met at those pearly gates by good old Peter.  Fred couldn’t believe it.  He pinched himself to see if he was just dreaming.  It was true.  He asked Peter if he could get a little tour before he settled down.  Peter said “Sure”.  Peter took Fred through the beautiful dining rooms, past the beautiful mansions and awesome baseball fields, and a rockin’ music studio.  As they were walking down one particular road, Fred noticed a very high wall with a sign on it, “Please be quiet”.  Fred asked Peter what that was all about.  “Well,” said Peter, “We try to keep things quiet in this section for the folks that are on the other side of this wall.”  “What?” said Fred. Peter replied, “Well that’s where those Calvary Chapel folks are, and they like to think that they’re the only ones up here!”

This week we had a knock on the door at home and since we were expecting a UPS delivery, I rushed to open the door without seeing who it was.  I found two lovely Korean gals on my doorstep, there to tell me about the truths in the Bible that I had never heard about.  I have to tell you that I don’t do good in front door debates – I don’t think up my best lines until after they leave …

They went on to tell me that there is a “mother god” in heaven (that’s another story), and they made it clear that there was only one “church” in the world, their church.  Their church was the only true church because they were called the “church of God” (a phrase which appears 8 times in English).  They pointed out that Paul wrote his Corinthian letters “to the church of God” (1 Cor. 1:2; 2Cor. 1:1)
(2 Cor 1:1 NKJV)  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the church of God which is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in all Achaia:

I do find it interesting that Paul didn’t use that phrase when he wrote to Ephesus or our folks here in Colosse.  Using their argument, I think a better name for a church would be “the saints” (a phrase found 61 times),

(Eph 1:1 NKJV)  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and faithful in Christ Jesus:
(Col 1:2 NKJV)  To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Don’t get hung up with names.

The church is made up of all those who trust in Jesus for salvation.

I have to say that the “church” is a whole lot bigger than some of us want to admit.  There will be some Baptists in heaven.  There will be some Methodists in heaven along with some Pentecostals.  There might be a few Catholics in heaven and maybe a few Mormons as well.

It’s an old trap of religion to make you think that your little group is the only one.

Here’s the truth:
If you want to be saved from hell, you must trust in Jesus.

It doesn’t matter as much which particular Christian church you are going to, as long as you believe that Jesus Christ has paid for your sins when He died on the cross.

Catholics?  Mormons?  I think there are folks in those churches who truly trust in Christ and are probably not too aware of what their church actually teaches.

The issue is Jesus.  Have you trusted your life to Jesus?


Who’s in charge?

If you pay attention to what the talking heads on TV say, you might get the impression that the Pope was in charge of the Christian church.  If you hang around our church too long, you might get the mistaken idea that I’m in charge of the church.  And if you are in charge of a ministry, whether it’s teaching a Men’s Bible Study or teaching a Sunday School class, you might be tempted at times to think that it’s “your” ministry, and you are in charge.
In reality, Jesus is the head of the church.
Now you or I might have a say or two in how things work out in our particular ministry.
But things ought to change just a little if we were to realize that Jesus is the Head of the church.
Sometimes things don’t always go the way you want them to in your ministry.  But it’s not really your ministry.
The church belongs to Jesus.

The church is called the “Bride” of Christ.  Don’t make the mistake of thinking that the Bride belongs to you.  She belongs to someone else.

:18 who is the beginning,

beginningarche – beginning, origin

This word is found in several forms referring to Jesus:

(Rev 3:14 NKJV)  "And to the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write, 'These things says the Amen, the Faithful and True Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God:

As the “first”, Jesus is the beginning, the origin of creation.

(1 Cor 15:20 NKJV)  But now Christ is risen from the dead, and has become the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep.

The word used is “first” + “fruits”
(1 Cor 15:20 NLT)  …He has become the first of a great harvest of those who will be raised to life again.
(1 Cor 15:20 The Message) …the first in a long legacy of those who are going to leave the cemeteries.

(Heb 2:10 NKJV)  For it was fitting for Him, for whom are all things and by whom are all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make the captain of their salvation perfect through sufferings.

The word used is “first” + “to lead” (= “captain”)

(Heb 12:1-2 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, {2} looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.

The word “first” is added to the word “to lead” to make “author”.


Annie Chapman writes, All alone, she sat in the back of the church. The rest of the 500 women at the women’s conference that weekend had already exited the auditorium. I was gathering up my books, papers, and props when I saw her at the back of the room.  I walked over to where she was sitting; her head was bowed low, and her shoulders were drooping. I sat down, and she began to tell me her story.  She was the mother of three. Her oldest son, suffering from muscular dystrophy, had been confined to a wheelchair for most of his 17 years. Her other two children had a variety of learning and emotional challenges.  With her head still bent, she whispered, “I’m married to a mean, hateful man who makes my life miserable. He won’t help me with our son. He even refuses to help while I hold our son when he goes to the bathroom.  “I buried my father this week,” the woman continued. “At the funeral I learned that my father had disinherited me from his estate because he hated my husband.”  Then she told me something that still haunts me: “I came this weekend with one prayer,” she said. “I asked God to kill my husband. I prayed, ‘Lord, I need a way out! I feel like a bird in a cage.’”  Finally she lifted her eyes and said, “When I prayed that prayer, God spoke to me as clearly as I’ve ever sensed His voice. He said, ‘Even a bird in a cage sings.’”  With tears running down her face she asked, “What am I supposed to do with that? How do I live with that answer?”  Feeling utterly powerless, I replied, “If God says, ‘sing,’ you need to find your song.”
Annie Chapman, "Even in Pain, Finding Our Song," Decision (October 2002), p. 9

Jesus is the one who has “written” the story, the song of our faith.  Follow what He says.  He’s not only written the right things for us, but He’s set the example and done it Himself.

:18 the firstborn from the dead,

firstbornprototokos – the firstborn

Last week we looked in depth at this word.  Let me just review by saying that

Sometimes “firstborn” doesn’t mean “first to be born”.
Sometimes the word “firstborn” means the “greater” one.

If you think that “firstborn” here means that Jesus was the first one to be raised from the dead, you’d be wrong.

There were several people who were raised from the dead before Jesus.
Elijah raised the widow’s son (1Ki. 17:22)
Elisha raised the Shunamite’s son (2Ki. 4:35)
Elisha’s bones raised a dead man…when he came in contact with Elisha’s bones (2Ki. 13:21)
Jesus raised several people from the dead:
Jairus’ daughter (Mark 5:42)
The son of a widow at Nain (Luke 7:15)
His friend Lazarus (John 11)
Jesus was not the first one to be raised from the dead.
He WAS the most important one to be raised from the dead.

His resurrection assures our salvation.  Because He was raised from the dead, never to die again, we know that all of our sins have been completely paid for.

(1 Cor 15:17 NKJV)  And if Christ is not risen, your faith is futile; you are still in your sins!

:18 that in all things He may have the preeminence.

the preeminenceproteuo – to be first, hold the first place

from protos – first in time or place

All of these things point to one thing – Jesus is preeminent.  Jesus holds first place.


Does He have first place in your life?

It’s all good and nice to say that Jesus has first place in the universe.
Does He have first place in your heart?
How could we dare to let ANYTHING have a higher place in our heart?
(Luke 6:43-49 NKJV)  "For a good tree does not bear bad fruit, nor does a bad tree bear good fruit. {44} "For every tree is known by its own fruit. For men do not gather figs from thorns, nor do they gather grapes from a bramble bush.
You can tell what kind of a tree it is by the fruit it bears. 
You can tell what kind of person you are by the things that come out of your life.
{45} "A good man out of the good treasure of his heart brings forth good; and an evil man out of the evil treasure of his heart brings forth evil. For out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.
One of the ways you can learn about a person is by paying attention to the things that come out of their mouth.
I remember my pastor, Mark Bove, talking about your heart being like a cup full of stuff.  As you’re driving down the freeway and you suddenly have to put on the brakes, the stuff in the cup tends to spill out.  What kind of stuff spills out when you are jerked around?

You don’t have to be on the freeway to get “bumped” by someone near you.

Do you ever pay attention to the things that come out of your own mouth?

Every once in a while a brief moment of self-consciousness hits me and I start noticing the kinds of things that are coming out of my mouth.

Sometimes the things coming out of my mouth are nothing but complaints and criticism.

What does that tell me about my heart?

For me – it often tells me that I’ve run ahead of the Lord, that I’ve moved away from the peace I have when I spend enough time with the Lord.

{46} "But why do you call Me 'Lord, Lord,' and do not do the things which I say?
He is the preeminent one.  He is the first.  Why is it that we intellectually acknowledge that He is “Lord”, but in reality we don’t do what the He as the Lord asks us?
{47} "Whoever comes to Me, and hears My sayings and does them, I will show you whom he is like: {48} "He is like a man building a house, who dug deep and laid the foundation on the rock. And when the flood arose, the stream beat vehemently against that house, and could not shake it, for it was founded on the rock. {49} "But he who heard and did nothing is like a man who built a house on the earth without a foundation, against which the stream beat vehemently; and immediately it fell. And the ruin of that house was great."
It may be that our nation will be going through some difficult times ahead.  But even if that isn’t so, it is still a fact that you and I will go through “storms” in life.
It grieves me that too many Christians get wiped out in storms.
I find it interesting that the man that survived had “dug deep” when he laid his foundation.

It’s important that Jesus is a part of our life.

It’s even more important that we let Him go deep into our life.

Be careful about being satisfied with being a “surface” Christian.  Don’t be afraid of letting God get into the deep things in your life, the things that make you who you are.