Summary: First of 11 messages in Colossians. Paul says three things in this overview: The Savior is Supreme; Your Salvation is Simple; You are Saved for Service
Today I want to begin a new series of messages based on the Book of Colossians. Colossians is a letter written by Paul to Christians in Colosse. It is the 7th letter of Paul placed in the middle of his 14 letters to churches and church leaders. Colosse was located in Asia minor which would be in modern day Turkey. It was an area that Paul, the Missionary, would travel heavily through. Most of his ministry in the region was based out of Ephesus, 100 miles west of Colosse. Paul ministered there for more than 3 years and had tremendous impact:
10 And this continued for two years, so that all who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks.
Colosse was not mentioned in the Book of Acts. So far as we know Paul never traveled there. The same is true of two other neighboring cities: Laodicea and Hierapolis. Churches were planted and grew strong in these places. Laodicea is mentioned in Revelation, chapter two as a church that had become rich but lukewarm. Jesus would write, “Because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of my mouth.” And, later, “Behold I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him and he with Me.” (Rev.3:16,20)
If Paul never traveled there, how did the church at Colosse get started? Good question. Read 1:4,7-8. It seems that one of Paul’s Gentile converts, Epaphras (4:12), was the one who planted the church at Colosse.
Another key leader in the church at Colosse was Philemon. The church at Colosse may have been started in his house (Phil.2). Look at Col. 4:8-9 and note the name of Onesimus, “who is one of you.” Onesimus was a slave in the house of Philemon.
The letter to the Colossians was written about AD 60 while Paul was a prisoner in Rome. It was probably requested by Epaphras to help with some problems that had cropped up in the church. This might surprise you – every church has problems! Why? Because every church has people. One pastor said, “This would be a great church if it wasn’t for the people!” The people probably are saying, “This would be a great church if it wasn’t for the pastor!”
Wouldn’t it be great if life came with a manual? I mean, when a problem came up you could open the manual to page so-and-so and wow, there’s the solution! Well, that’s what the Bible is, a manual for living. That’s why so much of the New Testament was recorded, to help us with our problems. Paul was one of God’s great problem solvers and he wrote down solutions for the churches to follow.
Colossians breaks down the problems apparent in their church and gives solutions. That it was preserved and placed in the Bible means that God recognized we would experience problems like these and could benefit from these words of Paul, too.
We will spend several weeks studying Colossians. Please read it carefully each week. Other excellent sources I will draw from are Warren Wiersbe’s book, Be Complete and Charles Trentham’s book, The Shepherd of the Stars. I recommend reading these if you can find them.