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Summary: In this passage Paul asks the questions: 1. What is the origin of life? 2. What is the meaning of life? 3. What is the value of life?

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TSL 09-02-2015

I’d like to look this morning at the passage appointed as the Epistle today from Colossians 1:1-14.

In it, as Rodney Buchanan has said Paul answers three basic questions:

1. What is the origin of life?

2. What is the meaning of life?

3. What is the value of life?

But let me first set the scene by telling you a bit about Colossae and background to the letter

1. Colossae

Colossae is a town in modern-day Turkey on the banks of the river Lycus, not all that far from Ephesus.

In Paul’s day it was neither large nor important.

It had been overshadowed by neighbouring towns of Laodicea and Hierapolis (the two towns mentioned in Col. 4:13).

However centuries earlier it had been large and prosperous. Herodotus described it as " a great city of Phrygia" (Histories vii.30).

Colossae was probably quite cosmopolitan - made up of native Phrygians, Greek settlers and Jews.

And it is likely that Colossae had its fair share of pagan temples - as Paul alludes to their pagan past in several places.

Many think the Colossian Church was actually founded by one of Paul’s co-workers Epaphras, who was described in Col. 4:13 as a native of Colossae.

This is because Paul concentrated his work in major centres like Ephesus,

The letter to the Colossians is a great encouragement for those in small churches in rural Norfolk.

Because it reminds us that God is interested in little things

For in Zechariah 4;6, the prophet reminds us not to “despise the day of little things”

2. Why did Paul write the letter to the Colossians?

F.F. Bruce, the famous 20th Century Evangelical scholar has suggested that Paul wrote Colossians as

"Paul’s vigorous reaction to news of the strange teaching which was (permeating) in Colossae." (F.F. Bruce Commentary p.165).

We can only surmise what this strange teaching was, but it seems to have been false teaching about the divinity and humanity of Christ. What we call nowadays Gnosticism

As one Bible Commentator put it

“It would appear that there were those in Colossae that did not see Jesus as a triumphant Saviour to whom all authority on earth and heaven had been given.

At best he was only one of many spirit beings who

bridged the space between God and man.”(taken from the Expositor’s Bible Vol 11 p. 180-1)

Paul writes the letter to the Colossians to state clearly who Christ is.

The passage we read today as our first reading was probably one of the first creeds of the Early Church.

3. Let us look at Colossians 1: 15-20

What is its value today?

Many people today are asking these three fundamental questions

3.1. What is the origin of life?

3.2. What is the meaning of life?

3.3. What is the value of life?

And Paul in this passage gives us a clear answer to all three. For it is in Jesus Christ alone that we find the answer

3.1 What is the origin of life

Carl Sagan, opens his book Cosmos by saying: “The Cosmos is all that is or ever was or ever will be.”

“We are not children of God,” Sagan tells us but “children of the Cosmos.”


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