Colossians 2:1-7

Sunday Morning Bible Study

April 19, 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.

One of the chief reasons for Paul writing this letter was to address heresy. Strange doctrines were beginning to spring up in Colosse.

We’re now finishing the first section of the letter which deals with the truth of who God is and who Jesus is.

Some of the phrases we’ve looked at over the last couple of weeks:

:15 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.

:16 For by Him all things were created …

Jesus is the Creator. He has created everything, the heavens, the earth, EVERYTHING.

:17 and in Him all things consist.

He not only made everything, He holds it all together. We talked about the mysterious force that holds atoms together. We talked about how He holds us together.

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

All these things point to one thing – Jesus is the one who holds “first place” in the Universe. Jesus needs to be “first place” in our lives as well. Who’s sitting in the pilot’s seat in your life? Who makes the decisions?

:19 For it pleased the Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell,

We saw very clearly that Jesus is fully God. We looked at just a few of the many passages that show that Jesus is God.

:21 And you, who once were alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled

Though our sin is really bad, Jesus has made things right with God on the cross.

:1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,

conflictagon (“agony”) – the word was used to describe the competition at the Olympic Games.

Paul used a related word in the previous verse to talk about his ministry:

(Col 1:29 NKJV) To this end I also labor, striving according to His working which works in me mightily.

Laodicea – the city was located about 10 miles northwest of Colosse. You know of Laodicea as the “lukewarm” city of Revelation 3.

As we’ve mentioned before, Paul was not the one who directly started the churches in Laodicea and Colosse. They were most likely started by those who had been in Paul’s ministry in Ephesus.

(Acts 19:10 NKJV) And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.

How did Paul fight for these people if he’s never seen them? Mostly through prayer. We get another little peek into Paul’s prayer life…

:2 that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love,

encouragedparakaleo – to call to one’s side, call for, summon; to address, speak to; to console, to encourage and strengthen by consolation, to comfort

being knit togethersumbibazo – to join together; to unite or knit together.  We think of knitting with needles and yarn.  Paul thinks of …

loveagape – love based on a choice to value another person.


The right glue

There are all sorts of glues designed to join things together.  There’s glue for paper.  There’s glue for gorillas.  There’s multi-purpose glue.  There’s super glue.  There’s hot glue guns.  I even found something called “Ear Glue”.
So what kind of glue do we use to stick people together with?
Love is the perfect thing to bind people together.
(Col 3:14 NKJV) But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.
This is the love that Paul defines in 1Corinthians 13:
(1 Cor 13:4-7 NLT) Love is patient and kind. Love is not jealous or boastful or proud {5} or rude. Love does not demand its own way. Love is not irritable, and it keeps no record of when it has been wronged. {6} It is never glad about injustice but rejoices whenever the truth wins out. {7} Love never gives up, never loses faith, is always hopeful, and endures through every circumstance.
I believe this is the way a marriage is to hold together – to make a commitment to love like this, to allow our hearts to be knit together.
It’s hard when we live in a society that teaches us to rip things up when we don’t like it.
I believe this is what a church family is supposed to be about.

:2 and attaining to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ,

full assuranceplerophoria – full assurance, most certain confidence

understandingsunesis – a running together, a flowing together with; knowledge; understanding

knowledgeepignosis – precise and correct knowledge; knowledge by experience

mysterymusterion – hidden thing, secret, mystery

We saw a glimpse into this mystery a few weeks back…

(Col 1:27 NKJV) …which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.


Blessed assurance

I can’t think of any greater treasure, any greater riches than knowing for sure that you are going to heaven.
If you have any doubts about your eternal destiny, your life is miserable.
Two things are important in coming to the place of assurance:
Trust in Jesus
Your eternal destiny depends on whether or not you believe that Jesus died for your sins.
(1 John 5:11-13 NKJV) And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son. {12} He who has the Son has life; he who does not have the Son of God does not have life. {13} These things I have written to you who believe in the name of the Son of God, that you may know that you have eternal life, and that you may continue to believe in the name of the Son of God.

God doesn’t want you to wonder about your salvation. He doesn’t want you to say, “Well I hope it all works out”. He wants you to KNOW that you have eternal life.

The issue is trust. Do you trust Jesus? Have you trusted Him to save you?

Take care of unfinished business
Sometimes a person who has trusted in Jesus goes through a lot of doubt because of unfinished business.
(Gal 5:19-21 NLT) When you follow the desires of your sinful nature, your lives will produce these evil results: sexual immorality, impure thoughts, eagerness for lustful pleasure, {20} idolatry, participation in demonic activities, hostility, quarreling, jealousy, outbursts of anger, selfish ambition, divisions, the feeling that everyone is wrong except those in your own little group, {21} envy, drunkenness, wild parties, and other kinds of sin. Let me tell you again, as I have before, that anyone living that sort of life will not inherit the Kingdom of God.

I think that sometimes we can grieve the Holy Spirit. He’s in our lives trying to help us follow Jesus, and instead we continue to live a life that’s displeasing to Him.  When you are living a life like the things described here, you ought to be concerned about your salvation.

Turn around. Get serious about your unfinished business.

:3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

hiddenapokruphos – hidden, secret

treasuresthesauros – the place in which good and precious things are collected and laid up

wisdomsophia – wisdom, broad and full of intelligence

knowledgegnosis – knowledge, understanding

Scholars are a little unclear as to when the heresy of Gnosticism began.

Some claim that it might have begun 100 years before Christ.

Others claim that it had its roots in this church that Paul is writing to.

Some goofy scholars even think that Paul was a Gnostic because of the words he uses in this chapter.

These are the same kinds of things that the Gnostics claimed to have.

They claimed to have secrets.

They claimed to have special knowledge (“Gnostic”) and wisdom.

In fact, one of their “gods” was a woman named “Sophia”. She was supposedly the one who gave birth to the god “Yahweh”, who would create the universe.
But shhhhh… it’s a secret …

Paul says that all these things are found in Jesus. Real treasures.

:4 Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.

deceiveparalogizomai (“alongside” + “calculate”) – to reckon wrong, miscount; to cheat by false reckoning; to delude

persuasivepithanologia (“persuade” + “words”) – speech adapted to persuade, discourse in which probable arguments are adduced; in a bad sense, persuasiveness of speech, specious discourse leading others into error

:5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.

ordertaxis – an arranging, arrangement; order; due or right order, orderly condition

steadfastnessstereoma – that which has been made firm; a fortified place

This was something that the apostles were concerned for in their young churches. They wanted the churches to be “strong”, to be “firm”.  As the apostles taught …

(Acts 14:21-22 NKJV) And when they had preached the gospel to that city and made many disciples, they returned to Lystra, Iconium, and Antioch, {22} strengthening the souls of the disciples, exhorting them to continue in the faith, and saying, "We must through many tribulations enter the kingdom of God."
(Acts 15:32 NKJV) Now Judas and Silas, themselves being prophets also, exhorted and strengthened the brethren with many words.
(Acts 15:41 NKJV) And he went through Syria and Cilicia, strengthening the churches.
(Acts 16:5 NKJV) So the churches were strengthened in the faith, and increased in number daily.

Paul is glad that up to this point the Colossians have basically stayed on track. But he’s still obviously concerned that they might not stay on track.

:6 As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,

receivedparalambano – to take to, to take with one’s self, to join to one’s self; to receive something transmitted

walkperipateo – to walk; Hebrew for, to live


Walk by faith

How did you receive Christ? By faith.
So how are you to walk with Christ? By faith.
What does that mean?
Blondin the tightrope walker.
Jean Francois Gravelet was born February 28, 1824 in Hesdin, France. When he was five years old he was sent to the École de Gymnase at Lyon, and after six months’ training as an acrobat he made his first public appearance as “the Little Wonder.” He developed his skills under the guidance of P.T. Barnum (of Barnum & Bailey Circus). He became known as the Great Blondin.
In 1859 (35 yrs. old) he announced that he would do the most amazing of all feats, he would cross Niagara Falls on a tightrope 1,100 feet long, 160 feet above the water.
On June 30, 1859 the rope was in position and at five o’clock in the afternoon Blondin started the trip that was to make history. Incredulous watchers saw him lower a rope to the Maid of the Mist, pull up a bottle and sit down while he refreshed himself. He began his ascent toward the Canadian shore, paused, steadied the balancing pole and suddenly executed a back somersault. The crowd ‘screamed’, women ‘fainted’, those near the rope ‘cried’ and begged him to come in. When he finally stepped off the rope, he was grabbed by a delirious mob of well wishers who whisked him away to a champagne celebration.
He crossed the Falls several times, each time making it more difficult. In all, he crossed the rope on a bicycle, walking blindfolded, pushing a wheelbarrow, stopping to cook an omelet in the center, making the trip with his hands and feet manacled, even crossing on stilts.
His most daring crossing came when he announced that he would carry a man across on his back. It would be his manager, Harry Colcord. According to Colcord, the trip was a nightmare. In the un-guyed center section, the pair swayed violently. Blondin was fighting for his life. He broke into a desperate run to reach the first guy rope. When he reached it and steadied himself, the guy rope broke. Once more the pair swayed alarmingly as Blondin again ran for the next guy rope. When they reached it Blondin gasped for Colcord to get down. Six times in all Colcord had to dismount while Blondin struggled to gather his strength. In the end Blondin had to charge the crowd on the brink to prevent the press of people forcing them back in the precipice.
He performed privately for both the Prince of Wales and King Edward VII, he repeated the stunt of ‘carrying a man on his back’ and offered to carry the prince, but he declined.
You don’t have to be a tightrope walker to get across the falls of life. But it does help if you know a great tightrope walker.
Blondin may have been great, but he’s nothing compared to Jesus.
For some of you, you need to learn to trust your life to Jesus.
There is a great chasm between us and heaven. There’s no way you’re going to get across on your own.

You just need to trust Jesus enough to get on His shoulders.

Don’t be like the Prince of Wales and simply settle for being entertained. Take the offer.

For some of us, we need to learn to get back onto Jesus’ shoulders.
We trusted Him to save us. Will we trust Him to take us through the rest of our life?
Peter learned a lesson about walking by faith. The lesson took place after Jesus had fed the five thousand … it would be a lesson about walking on water…
(Mat 14:22-33 NKJV) Immediately Jesus made His disciples get into the boat and go before Him to the other side, while He sent the multitudes away. {23} And when He had sent the multitudes away, He went up on the mountain by Himself to pray. Now when evening came, He was alone there. {24} But the boat was now in the middle of the sea, tossed by the waves, for the wind was contrary. {25} Now in the fourth watch of the night Jesus went to them, walking on the sea.

I’ve been learning lately that when I neglect my prayer time that life seems to be extra hard. Perhaps some of the circumstances would be the same whether I prayed or not, but my ability to cope with them seems to be less.

I know that Jesus walking on water is probably just related to the fact that He’s God. But I wonder if there isn’t a connection between Him walking on the water and His prayer life.

I’m not saying that if I prayed more that I could tip toe across our pool in the back yard. But I wonder if I might be able to handle the storms a little better.

{26} And when the disciples saw Him walking on the sea, they were troubled, saying, "It is a ghost!" And they cried out for fear. {27} But immediately Jesus spoke to them, saying, "Be of good cheer! It is I; do not be afraid." {28} And Peter answered Him and said, "Lord, if it is You, command me to come to You on the water." {29} So He said, "Come." And when Peter had come down out of the boat, he walked on the water to go to Jesus.

If Jesus walked on water because He was God, what does that mean about Peter at this point? I wonder if the issue is more about faith than it is about whether the guy on the water is God or not.

{30} But when he saw that the wind was boisterous, he was afraid; and beginning to sink he cried out, saying, "Lord, save me!" {31} And immediately Jesus stretched out His hand and caught him, and said to him, "O you of little faith, why did you doubt?" {32} And when they got into the boat, the wind ceased. {33} Then those who were in the boat came and worshiped Him, saying, "Truly You are the Son of God."

I think Jesus isolates the problem. The problem is our faith.

We have trouble in the storms because we have trouble trusting God to do the right thing.

:7 rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught,

rootedrhizoo – to cause to strike root, to strengthen with roots, cause a person or a thing to be thoroughly grounded

Trees that don’t have strong roots will tend to get knocked over in the storm.

built upepoikodomeo – to build upon, build up; To finish the structure of which the foundation has already been laid.

establishedbebaioo – to make firm, establish, confirm, make sure


Stability from the Word

Our roots are strengthened with God’s Word.
(Psa 1:1-3 NKJV)  Blessed is the man Who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, Nor stands in the path of sinners, Nor sits in the seat of the scornful; {2} But his delight is in the law of the LORD, And in His law he meditates day and night. {3} He shall be like a tree Planted by the rivers of water, That brings forth its fruit in its season, Whose leaf also shall not wither; And whatever he does shall prosper.

A man who lives his life with God’s Word has roots that go deep and are watered by the River of Life.

Our foundation is built by God’s Word
(Mat 7:24-27 NKJV)  "Therefore whoever hears these sayings of Mine, and does them, I will liken him to a wise man who built his house on the rock: {25} "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it did not fall, for it was founded on the rock. {26} "But everyone who hears these sayings of Mine, and does not do them, will be like a foolish man who built his house on the sand: {27} "and the rain descended, the floods came, and the winds blew and beat on that house; and it fell. And great was its fall."

The storms are coming.  Though I appreciate that our president referred to this parable in a speech this week, the foundation we need to build upon is not his economic plan.  The foundation Jesus talked about is His Word.

We need to build our lives by doing what Jesus says.

:7 abounding in it with thanksgiving.

aboundingperisseuo – to exceed a fixed number of measure, to be left over and above a certain number or measure; to abound, overflow; “Abounding” is used of a flower going from a bud to full bloom.

thanksgivingeucharistia (“well” + “grace”) – thankfulness; the giving of thanks; eucaristia is thanksgiving, the grateful acknowledgment of God’s mercies, chiefly in prayer.


Attitude is everything.

I can choose to survive by complaining or thrive with thanksgiving.
Harvey Mackay was waiting in line for a taxi at the airport. When a cab pulled up, the first thing Harvey noticed was that the taxi was polished to a bright shine. Smartly dressed in a white shirt, black tie and freshly pressed black slacks, Wally the cab driver jumped out and rounded the car to open the back door. Harvey noticed that the inside of the cab matched the outside — spotlessly clean. As Wally slid behind the wheel, he said, “Would you like a cup of coffee? I have a thermos of regular and one of decaf.” Jokingly, Harvey said, “No, I’d prefer a soft drink.” Wally smiled and said, “No problem. I have a cooler up front with regular and Diet Coke, water and orange juice.” Almost stuttering, Harvey said, “I’ll take a Diet Coke.” Handing Harvey his drink, Wally said, “If you’d like something to read, I have The Wall Street Journal, Time, Sports Illustrated and USA Today.” As the taxi pulled away from the curb, Wally handed Harvey a laminated card and said, “These are the stations I get and the music they play if you’d like to listen to the radio.” As if that weren’t enough, Wally told Harvey the air conditioning was on and asked if the temperature was comfortable. The driver then advised Harvey of the best route to his destination for that time of day. Wally also let Harvey know that he’d be happy to chat and tell him about some of the sights or, if Harvey preferred, to leave him with his own thoughts. “Tell me, Wally,” the amazed passenger asked, “have you always served customers like this?” Wally smiled and looked in the rear view mirror. “No, not always. In fact, it’s only been in the last two years. My first five years driving, I spent most of my time complaining like all the rest of the cabbies do. Then I heard a guy on the radio saying that if you get up in the morning expecting to have a bad day, you’ll rarely disappoint yourself. He said, ‘Stop complaining. Differentiate yourself from your competition. Don’t be a duck. Be an eagle. Ducks quack and complain. Eagles soar above the crowd.” “So I decided to change my attitude and become an eagle. I looked at the other cabs and their drivers. The cabs were dirty, the drivers unfriendly and the customers were unhappy. So I decided to make some changes. I put in a few at a time. When my customers responded well, I did more.” “I take it that has paid off for you,” Harvey said. “It sure has,” Wally replied. “My first year as an eagle, I doubled my income from the previous year. This year, I’ll probably quadruple it.” Wally the cab driver made a different choice. He decided to stop quacking like a duck and to start soaring like an eagle.
Reprinted with permission from nationally syndicated columnist Harvey Mackay, author of the New York Times #1 bestseller "Swim With The Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive."
I know that this might sound like a lot of “self-help” nonsense, but it’s true.  I think the self-help gurus just ripped it off from Scripture.  Duck or eagle?  It’s your choice.