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Summary: A common faith based upon the teaching of the apostles unites us into a spiritual family, even among those believers we have never met.

Strangers Who Are Brothers

(Colossians 1:1-2)

1. I knew a man, who, after he retired, found out that his father wasn’t his father.

2. He then met his actual father and family in another state, and began going to family functions there, building relationships with a family he did not know he had.

3. We, too, have an extended family, most of whom we have never met; a spiritual family — all those who have turned from their sin and embraced Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior, who have been brought to spiritual life by the Spirit of God.

4. Sometimes you can sense that a stranger is a believer; sometimes you discover this in conversation, and you can feel the family-like unity.

Main Idea: A common faith based upon the teaching of the apostles unites us into a spiritual family, even among those believers we have never met.

I. Who Was PAUL?

Common way to write a letter, as, for example, Daniel 4:1

King Nebuchadnezzar to all peoples, nations, and languages, that dwell in all the earth: Peace be multiplied to you!

A. Sha’ul the RABBI (named after Sha’ul, Saul — tribe of Benjamin)

1. Studied under Gamaliel, grandson of Hillel

2. Raised in Tarsus (Turkey), thus familiar with Greek culture

3. Studied in Israel, fluent in Hebrew

B. The Zealous PERSECUTOR

I Timothy 1:12-13, “I thank him who has given me strength, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he judged me faithful, appointing me to his service, though formerly I was a blasphemer, persecutor, and insolent opponent. But I received mercy because I had acted ignorantly in unbelief…”

C. Called as an APOSTLE

Galatians 1:15-16, “But when he who had set me apart before I was born, and who called me by his grace, was pleased to reveal his Son to me, in order that I might preach him among the Gentiles, I did not immediately consult with anyone…”

• Mentioning apostleship made his letter official and authoritative (red letter)

• The importance of recognizing the authority of the apostles

• From a human perspective, no Paul, no Christianity

D. Now Under House ARREST

• Many people want you to listen to them, but they are unwilling to suffer for what they believe; want you to bear the brunt, not them; Paul was opposite.

• A lot of church conflicts arise in the easy chair, not the battle for discipleship

E. A STRANGER but a legend to the Colossians

It is natural to favor and only be concerned about people you know. You have family in a hurricane zone, a hundred die; you are relieved that your family is okay. It takes a while to remember that others were not so fortunate… it is natural to favor believers you know from those you do not… but we need to give that second thought

II. Who Were the Colossian BELIEVERS?

A. SAINTS

God’s called out ones stand in contrast to the world, and thus can never completely fit into mainstream society; values, behavior, beliefs, ethics, even language is different. Evangelicalism has tried to make Christianity acceptable, compromised…

B. FAITHFUL brothers and sisters

Faithful thus far but unsure about some important doctrine, which is why Paul wrote. Syncretism, the combining of elements from various religions and philosophies

Syncretism is like a big spiritual melting pot…

Syncretism is always there; the issue is how serious, how detrimental. Collective vs. individual, masculine vs. feminine, social class, language, pre-existing beliefs…

Syncretism eventually diluted the church into something other than a pure church. The idea of getting back to the Bible is our attempt to remedy this.

C. Evangelized by EPAPHRAS (7)

D. In a DECLINING city, Colossae

E. They were not TERRITORIAL

Some churches are introverted, not concerned about the greater kingdom, but their church is a museum for their memories. Could you imagine how different our churches would be if only people who witnessed that year could vote?

III. What Can We Tell from Paul’s GREETING?

A. They understood GRACE

Acts 14:26, “…and from there they sailed to Antioch, where they had been commended to the grace of God for the work that they had fulfilled.”

Acts 20:32, “… And now I commend you to God and to the word of his grace, which is able to build you up and to give you the inheritance among all those who are sanctified.”

What does grace mean?

1. Favor (undeserved)

2. Acceptance

3. Strength and enablement (Grace is sufficient)

4. Blessing (from a God who is favorably disposed)

5. Nurture

6. Space to err

B. They understood SHALOM

1. Well-being

2. Non-hostile and on friendly terms

3. Peace is to stress what baking soda is to vinegar, an antacid for the soul (we all have spiritual acid reflux)

C. Common faith in Jesus brought them into RELATIONSHIP

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