Summary: The church was flourishing until some false teachers came and disrupted the growth and confused their theology. The letter was written to encourage the believers to combat errors in the church, the most dangerous being the deprecation of Christ
COLOSSIANS 1: 1-2
CHRIST ABOVE ALL
AN INTRODUCTION & BACKGROUND TO COLOSSIANS
[Acts 19:10, 20]
For the next 16 weeks, we’re going to focus on one of God’s love letters to us. For some of us, it will be like going back to look at something we’ve read before and maybe forgotten. For others of us, it will be like reading it for the first time. Please turn in your copy of the Scriptures to the New Testament book of Colossians. This morning’s message will introduce the book and get us ready to begin an in-depth study of the 95 verses of Colossians. Colossians weaves together God’s uncompromising truth with His wonderfully warm love.
The church, which was in present-day Turkey, was flourishing until some false teachers came and disrupted the growth and confused their theology. The letter needed to be written to encourage the believers to combat errors in the church.
This false teaching was partly pagan and partly legalistic Judaism. This amalgamation of philosophies, beliefs, and errors is called “syncretism.” They believed they had a kind of special knowledge and a better understanding because of some mystical wisdom they possessed. [Like those who use the book of Mormon, Watch Tower, Koran, astrology, or new age teachings do today.]
The most dangerous part of their belief system [-heresy] was the deprecation of Christ, which subtly denied the supremacy of Jesus. In fact, Colossians is the most Christ-centered book in the entire Bible. That’s one of the reasons we’re studying it right now. In the midst of our cultural confusion about Christ, we must come back to His absolute superiority and preeminence.
We live in a world - much like that of the Colossian Christians. There’s a lot of mixing of views today, isn’t there? People borrow a little from this and a little from that. I call it “pop theology.” It comes from movies, MTV, books and philosophies that have their root in the same beliefs that surfaced in Colossae.
It is a world where a lot of people and groups - though they aren’t necessarily against Jesus - they don’t feel that Jesus is sufficient enough to guide their life. Jesus is important, but not central. Jesus is prestigious, but not preeminent.
Paul under the direct inspiration of the Holy Spirit - wrote this letter to let the Colossian Christians know, and to let every generation and culture since the first century, know, in no uncertain terms - that Jesus Christ is supreme. He is the center of creation and of life! Jesus is all we truly need. The sufficiency of Christ is the theme of the Book of Colossians.
Let’s initiate our study of the Book of Colossians by looking at:
I. THE AUTHOR, 1.
II. THE CITY COLOSSAE, 2b.
III. THE CHURCH AT COLOSSAE, 2a.
IV. THE BLESSING/GREETING, 2c.
For practicality in writing a scroll, Paul identifies himself as he does all his letters in his greeting. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
Following the practice of correspondence in the ancient world, Paul begins the letter with his name. Paul was the most important and influential person in christian history since our Lord Jesus Christ. His personality was the remarkable combination of a brilliant mind, an impressive will, and a tenderized heart. Jewish ancestry emerized him in Old Testament Scripture, made him, a “Hebrew of Hebrews” (Phil. 3:5), and a Pharisee (Phil. 3:5). Paul was educated under Gamaliel (Acts 22:3), one of the leading rabbis of that time. He was also by birth a Roman citizen (Acts 22:28) and exposed to Greek culture in his home city of Tarsus. Such a background rendered him uniquely qualified to communicate the gospel in the Greco-Roman world. It was largely his efforts that transformed Christianity from a small Palestinian sect to a religion with adherents throughout the Roman Empire. The church would be blessed to have record of even one letter from such a man, let alone the thirteen found in the New Testament.
So that his authority in the Church would be recognized, Paul presents himself as one being officially sent out by the Anointed Savior or an apostle of Jesus Christ. His appointment and authority came directly from Jesus Christ. Apostolos means “sent one” and in the New Testament is used as an official title of the men God uniquely chose to establish His church and the receivers, teachers, and writers of God’s final revelation—the New Testament. He is not simply a messenger, but an official representative, an authorized spokesman for the One who sent him. What he writes in this letter is not merely his opinion, but God’s authoritative Word.
We do not call people apostles today. Probably the closest we might have would perhaps be a missionary church planter, but even then they are not apostles for they have not received the gift of apostleship personally from Jesus Christ Himself.