Lesson 16

Paul's Letter to the Colossians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

2:4 Now this I say that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech. 2:5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, rejoicing and seeing your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 2:6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in him, 2:7 rooted and built up in him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it in thanksgiving.

Today's Lesson 

In Lesson 15, we remarked that those verses were a transition. Today's Scripture begins a new section in this epistle. Paul has greeted the Colossians and laid the groundwork with a basic theological groundwork concerning the preeminence of Jesus Christ. We have just completed the section where he gives the Colossians some additional information about himself and his ministry. Now he begins to speak to the Colossians about what he feels that God wants them to hear at the present time.


When we first read these three verses we get the impression that Paul is beginning his instruction with positive words for the Colossians. However, this may not be the best interpretation of these verses. These verses are really a profound compliment to Epaphras. Epaphras' name is never mentioned, but let us remember what we have read about him so far. Paul had never been to Colossae. The gospel had come to them through Epaphras, who had learned from Paul and whom Paul called a "our beloved fellow servant." Now, with these basic facts in mind, let us see what Paul writes here about what Epaphras taught them.


Paul praises the Colossians for their order and the steadfastness of their faith in Christ. Then he tells them to walk by the faith that Epaphras taught them. He tells them that this faith will root them and build them up in Christ. This faith will cause them to be abounding in thanksgiving towards God. This faith, which they received from Epaphras, was the beginning of everything that they would need because this faith was firmly centered on the Lord Jesus Christ who is sufficient to meet all of our needs.


This is high praise considering Paul had not directly overseen the Colossian evangelism. Paul has complete faith that Epaphras taught them as he should. Paul has every reason to believe this as well. From everything that we know of the situation in Colossae, the assembly in this city had every indication of a Spirit-led church. There was a growth and vibrancy present at Colossae that marked all of the early church centers. The letters of Paul and the history written in the book of the Acts of the Apostles indicates that there was a profound excitement that was generated when the disciples brought the gospel to the fertile mission fields in Asia Minor. People were ready to hear the gospel message.


There was even some indication in this letter that some group or some teachers had begun to try to lead some of the believers in Colossae in a way contrary to this teaching that Epaphras had brought them. An active church that is growing will attract heretics and false teachers. When God is working in a given area, so are those who would oppose God's will. Dead churches don't come under spiritual attack. Or, at least, not any attack other than what is common to man.


There must have been a tangible excitement when Epaphras came to Paul to solicit this letter. Certainly there were some concerns, but Paul was always one to see the challenge that lay before him and not the failures that might occur. He must have been very pleased that the church was growing in a place that he had pointed the way but had never been able to go himself. The church of Colossae would have been some ray of hope even toward the end of his life when his freedom was restricted in jail. This church represented the next generation that would come to Christ through the efforts of the disciples of the original apostles.


If Paul were to write about your life or your church, would his comments be this glowing? Would he tell you to continue to walk in your faith just as you had received it? Has what you have learned thus far, rooted you firmly in the Lord Jesus Christ?


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