Summary: A reminder that our faith and love for others is not based on the circumstance of the day, but on the hope stored in heaven!
1. Background to Colossians
Paul, while a prisoner in Rome, meets a runaway slave named “Onesimus”, who belonged to “Philemon”, one of the leaders of a church in the town of Colosse. Paul had led Philemon to Christ back when he started the church at Ephesus.
Paul also leads Onesimus to Christ and writes a letter to Philemon asking him to forgive Onesimus and receive him back as a brother in Christ.
About the same time, another man by the name of Epaphras also showed up needing Paul’s help. Again, going back to the Church in Ephesus, Paul had also led Epaphras to Christ. What’s impressive about Epaphras is that upon leaving Ephesus, he goes to Colossae and begins a church that meets in a house.
2.The Crisis – So what was Epaphras’ crisis needing Paul help?
There was a special heresy that was invading the church that seemed to be the beginning of what the second century called Gnosticism. Without going into a long 3 page synopsis…
A.It contained several characteristics:
(1) It was Jewish, stressing the need for observing Old Testament laws and ceremonies. )i.e restrictions of certain diets, meats, sexual relations etc.)
(2) It was philosophical, laying emphasis on some special or deeper knowledge (gnosis).
(3) It involved the worship of angels as mediators to God.
(4) It was exclusive, stressing that this special “privilege” and “perfection” was for those select few who belonged to this elite group ‘in the know’.
(5) It was also Christological. However, this group denied the deity of Christ, our basis for faith.
B.Obviously these items needed to be addressed. But what about churches today?.
DO NOT MANY CHURCHES …
1.Jewish … stress the need for certain requirements and actions for membership?
2.philosophical … teach that spiritual perfection comes from certain actions rather than one’s relationship with Christ?
3.worship of angels … how many Christians live by astrology? (there are 1750 daily newspapers of which 1220 of them carry astrological data)
4.exclusive … have “spiritual cliques” – a house of judgment rather than a hospital?
5.(about the only one in the evangelical church that is not a part of today’s church)
You would agree that WE ALSO NEED TO HEAR AND LEARN from Paul’s advice to those in Colosse!
3.The Church And The City Of Colosse
“holy” – “saints” – ‘those set apart for God’ &“faithful brothers” – “faithful brethren” - ‘believing brothers’ (church)
This is an impressive greeting considering Paul did not start or visit the church! In fact, from what we know, Paul had never even been to Colosse.
“Colosse” is One of 3 cities located about 100 miles inland from Ephesus in Asia.
The other two cities were Laodicea and Hierapolis. All 3 were originally strong & attractive because of the important trade routes running through them. Laodicea & Hierapolis remained strong, while Colossae seemed to slip into a 2nd rate position.
ILLUSTRATION: Santee SC
Santee was a town about 25 miles N of my hometown in Orangeburg, SC and was located right in the middle of a very important State Hwy. 301. It was at one time a very active, important, alive tourist town because of fishing, a state park other water sports, and a top rated Golf Course. Small tourists businesses could do well here because of the traffic coming through on Hwy 301.
When the construction of I-95 got close to SC, officials fought hard trying to make lawmakers combine I-95 with hwy 301 (as they had in other cities who depended on traffic for their livelihood). Arguments were that failure to do so would eventually kill the city and that prediction was ultimately true.
Recently while visiting my Mother who lives in SC, we went to one of her favorite restaurants in Santee. What I remembered was NOT what I found.
The fishing attraction was still there for those who know of it, but the tourist trade, golf course, and businesses were run down - many had closed.
This is what I thought of in reading the background to “Colossians”. I point this out because I think it is awesome that in a run down, almost dying city, there is still a strong vibrant church that is making a difference – a church with a REPUTATION of being a “holy, set apart for God, group of believing brothers”.
What a LESSON for CHURCHES TODAY!
APPLICATION: In reading the ‘background’ and ‘circumstances’ surrounding this great book, ONE SUBJECT seemed to keep coming up that I want to turn into a QUESTION FOR US TO CONSIDER:
“IS CHRIST MAKING A DIFFERENCE IN YOUR LIFE?” – TEXT: COLOSSIANS 1.1-5
I.IS JESUS THE CENTER OF YOUR FAITH (4)
1.READ VERSES 3-4
“because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus” - 4
A.Their faith was centered on Jesus. Their faith in the Lord Jesus made such an impact on the lives of those in the church that they had gained a reputation for their faith.