Summary: Christians in Colossae were losing sight of the supremacy of Christ as they listened to popular world opinion. Paul’s letter restores their confidence, and ours.
THE UNIQUENESS, SUPREMACY AND SUFFICIENCY OF CHRIST Colossians 1:15-23
Have you ever considered how much an adventure is the Christian life? It could be likened in some ways to a good marriage. Whereas once we were on our own, after making covenant vows we begin a life together that becomes an adventure.
But our ‘partnership’ with Christ is in a different league. We are by no means equals with Christ. Nevertheless through Christ we have fellowship with God who leads us in the way.
That journey is not always like an exotic holiday. We often find ourselves on a mission – in training on the job – with the objectives of advancing God’s Kingdom, gaining territory for God and making disciples of Christ. And who knows where that may lead us?
The Apostle Paul refers in his letters to all manner of experiences including that of being imprisoned on account of his faith in Christ.
If you or I were imprisoned on account of our faith what would our letters from prison read like? What Paul writes is both surprising and revealing.
READING Colossians 1:15-23
Paul writes from his prison cell in Rome to a church in the town of Colossae (modern day Turkey) about the uniqueness, supremacy and sufficiency of Christ.
Far from being taken up with his confinement and circumstances, Paul’s focus is on Christ. It is Paul’s appreciation of who Jesus is that keeps him going,
and he is anxious that the Christians in Colossae appreciate just who Jesus is also.
How do we tackle the difficult situations of life?
When we appreciate just who Jesus is it helps
COLLOSAE - A ’small town’. A former centre of the woolen industry, now in industrial decline. (Motherwell)
Cosmopolitan = Jewish and Greek population.
A former trading centre.
The church was probably founded by Epaphrus who became a church planter after listening to the teaching of Paul in Ephesus.
A people who came under the influence of a variety of religious ideas.
Paul knew of the greatest danger to the welfare of the Christians in Colossae. It was the danger of their understanding of who Jesus is being corrupted by ideas and philosophies that were just not true.
The Christians in Colossae faced the twin dangers of being influenced by Eastern speculation and Jewish legalism.
e.g. They were being led to believe by others that evil lay in created matter and that only ‘spirit’ was good.
The outcome of this was that:
• Some would consider the body something to be treated harshly (like those who wore hair shirts or those who beat themselves.
• Others would consider that their spirit had been made pure by God and therefore they could do what they liked with their body (and be gluttons, drunkards and adulterers) without harming their spirit.
• Worse than this was the way their view of Jesus was affected. Since Jesus had a body he could be thought of as less than God – an inferior Jesus who had more of the status of an angel than the Son of God.
Our beliefs about who Jesus has a direct effect on how we go about living the Christian life.
e.g. If we do not recognize that Jesus’ atoning death for our sin was a sufficient sacrifice to save us, we will forever be trying to save ourselves from sin.
As Dick Lucas said: ’If no objective work was done by Christ’s death the gospel is not "good news"; - it is simply an appeal!"
So Paul was eager to make it clear to the Church at Colossae that Jesus is:
v. 15 “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation”.
The word Paul uses for "image" is a unique word that occurs only six times in the Greek New Testament. The word expresses two different ideas. One is "likeness" and the other is "manifestation."
What Paul is trying to teach the Colossians is that God, who is invisible, is made visible by Jesus.
‘The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being, sustaining all things by his powerful word. After he had provided purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty in heaven. (Heb 1:3 NIV)
i.e. Everything we see in Jesus we learn about God.
• Looking at the love of Jesus (on the cross) we see the love of God
• Looking at the justice of Jesus (on the cross) we see the justice of God.
• Looking at the power of Jesus we seek the power of God.
• Or, as we read in Romans 5:1 “Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ”