Summary: Colossians lets us know that we have a colossal Lord, a colossal faith, and a colossal baptism (Outline from Alger Fitch's book, Reading Between the Lines", section on Colossians and Philemon). I used as a Bible study on Colossians but can be a sermon)
There's a statue of Christ in Brazil that some of you know about. It's called "Christ the Redeemer" and looks out over the city of Rio de Janeiro. The statue stands 120 ft tall, weighs 700 tons and sits on the peak of a mountain at 2300 feet. It's the tallest statute of its kind in the world. Coloring pages depict this statue.
We could say that this statue is colossal. Colossal= extraordinarily great in size, extent, or degree; gigantic; huge.
The book of Acts closed with Paul in Rome awaiting trial. Luke ended with the news that the Apostle was allowed to be “in his own rented house” and during the two years (AD 61-63) was allowed to tell Christ’s story to all who came to see him. “Boldly and without hindrance he preached the kingdom of God and taught about the Lord Jesus Christ.” Acts 28:31, NIV. What Luke does not tell us is that Paul wrote letters of instruction and encouragement to the churches and to Christian fellow workers.
While in Rome under house arrest, Paul wrote 4 letters. 3 of these were written at about the same time. The other was penned later. In Philippians we find Paul’s optimism that he will soon be released. Colossians, Philemon and Ephesians we date around AD 61 and Philippians AD 62.
Each letter show concern for the newly founded congregations and gives helpful advice to members who share the burden of the Great Commission. Must be reminded that the order of the 27 books of the NT are not based on chronology. Trying to follow in chronology.
When Paul was conducting his ministry on the 3rd missionary journey according to Acts, he based his outreach in Asia Minor from Ephesus. From this outreach in Ephesus some took the gospel 100 miles east to Colossae. Although these new Christians had not met Paul “personally” (2:1), they had, through Paul’s co worker, Epaphras, been informed of Paul’s state.
Colossae is a derivative of the word colossal. The word Colossae is rarely used as a noun… it is generally used as an adjective to describe something as colossal. Colossae, used as a noun, implies something spatial as in a large city or metropolis or a large, densely populated urban center. Ironically, it was not. Colossae was once a busy city in the Lycus River Valley. But not in Paul’s day. The city was dying. When the Romans took over the region they built a new road that bypassed Colossae. Meanwhile, Laodicea, 10 miles north of Colossae, benefitted from the new road and grew rich and prosperous. Colossae suffered. It was only a little while after Paul wrote this letter that the city of Colossae suffered an earthquake that demolished what was left of this city. Today, all that’s left of Colossae is a mound that archaeologists haven’t excavated.
Epaphras sought out Paul in Rome because of some troubling things he met with in his ministry in Colossae. From this Paul takes pen in hand and writes this Christ exalting letter that corrects the false teachings in Colossae and the surrounding area. The Colossian congregation is meeting in the home of Philemon, so it is appropriate that one letter should be written to the congregation and another personal letter to the host. Look at Philemon next week.