Colossians – an Introduction by Revd Rebecca Fardell

Here are my notes from my talk on 10th July which began our look at Paul’s letter to the Colossians. Rebecca

Introduction

  • next few weeks be looking at Paul’s letter to the Colossians in our services
    amazing letter
    prob most Christ-centred book in Bible
  • encourage you to read it all the way through in the next day of so
    It will make more sense if you see Paul’s argument
    only 3 pages long in my Bible
    In NT – about 2/3rds through
    look it up in the index or I will put it on church website later today if you find that easier
    how you choose to do it doesn’t matter but do try to find the 15mins max to read the whole thing.
    encourage you to read it in a modern translation – it will make more sense – promise!
  • some background facts
    Paul wrote letter from prison in Rome prob cAD62
    wrote it to saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae
  • Col =
    large and busy city in modern day Turkey
    declined in sig by time Paul wrote to them because trade route moved and a giant earthquake
    still an import trading centre
    diverse population of native Phrygians, Greek settlers and Jewish families
    church mainly made up of Gentiles
  • Paul
    not been to Col – church in Col established by Epaphras who converted by Paul in Ephesus and took message home
    concerned that church threatened by dangerous teaching by those trying to incorporate local folk beliefs into Christianity
    writes to encourage the Cols to remain faithful to the gospel and to continue growing as disciples of Christ.
  • today – opening section of the letter
    insight into Paul’s prayers
    think about what his prayer teaches us as seek to be faithful followers of Christ
  1. Paul thanks God for the Colossians
  • Paul writing not to Colossians in general but to saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ living there
    Paul giving thanks to God for the dedicated followers of Christ in the city
    their commitment
    heard about their commitment from Epaphras who in Rome (poss in jail with Paul)
    commitment strong enough that people are talking about it
    double commitment – to Jesus – to each other
  • ‘for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints’ (v4)
    Parable of Good Samaritan (Gospel reading)
    Law contains double commitment – to love God and love our neighbour
    cp Judaism, Christianity has two sets of relationships at its heart
    vertical one – called to love God with all our heart and soul and strength and mind – Paul giving thanks that believers in Col have put their trust in Jesus – they believe he is the Son of God and Saviour of the World – they are seeking to follow him which means first and foremost loving God
    horizontal dimension – because we love God we should love our neighbour – Paul give thanks that the believers in Col are loving each other – loving each other not because trying to earn their salvation – can’t – that is a gift from God that cannot be earned – loving each other because they have understood that God loves them and has given them hope of a future life – loving each other is a by-product of their new life in Christ – a fruit of their relationship with Christ and the Holy Spirit
  1. Paul prays for the Colossians
  • because of what he has heard, Paul’s constant prayer for the Cols is

‘that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding’ (v9)

  • Paul wants them to grow as Christians and lead fruitful lives that will please God so prays that they
    will know God’s will
    that God will give them the strength the live it out
    as followers of Christ our desire should be to do his will
    Lord’s prayer – thy will be done
    too often our prayers are more along lines of God please do our will
  • need to discover what God’s will is if we are to do it
    prayer
    Bible study
    help us get to know God better
    help us get to know how God wants us to live our lives
    Gospel reading Good Samaritan shows us who our neighbour is and that loving them is going to be practical and costly having discovered what his will is – need the strength to do it
  • HS will give us the understanding of what God’s will means in our lives and strength to follow through with it
    loving our neighbour is not always easy – need HS to help us to love them patiently and joyfully and keep on loving them even when we don’t feel like it
    Good Samaritan not stop with binding the man’s wounds and taking him to inn on his donkey – effectively gave innkeeper blank cheque for man’s care and promised to return to pay his bill. His love for the injured man inconvenienced him and was a longer term commitment than he might initially have thought.
  1. Paul prays that the Colossians would be thankful for what God done for them
  • having prayed that they will know God’s will and do it Paul returns to thankfulness
    Paul’s prayer is full of thankfulness – for faith and witness of the believers in Col – for what Christ has done by rescuing us from sin and enabling us to be children of God again
  • Paul writing to saints in Col because they are hearing some teaching that faith in Christ is not enough for them
    writes to counter this dangerous idea
    reminds them that Christ is Lord of all creation and therefore our lives must be centred around him
    reminds them that they are saved through the blood of Christ and not anything they have done
    reminds them not to accept substitutes or additions – Christ is sufficient for them – Christ is sufficient for us
    so he prays that they will be faithful to Christ and give thanks for all he has done for them
    so he reminds us that we too should be faithful and thankful that we have received God’s Amazing Grace.

Conclusion

Opening of Paul’s letter to the Cols reminds us that our faith is not just a set of things we believe. It is an active thing and like the Cols, we need to grow in our knowledge of God’s will for our lives and ask the Holy Spirit to enable us to live lives that glorify our heavenly Father. We have received so much from God and we have so much to be thankful for. Above all, he has given us the priceless gift of salvation in Christ. He has said that we can be free from our sins and have the hope of eternal life with him. So let’s give thanks to God and pray ‘thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth – in the Itchen Valley – in our lives – as it is in heaven’. Amen.

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