Welcome to Colossians, a letter of the Apostle Paul. Some background is helpful to understanding. The church in Colossae was started by Epaphas (1:7), who apparently is originally from that city. Epaphras possibly heard the gospel while Paul was in Ephesus. Since we are in a college city, it is interesting to speculate he learned the gospel while Paul was teaching in the school of Tyrannus (Acts 19:8-10). He apparently returned to his home city and a church resulted from his sharing the gospel message and discipling the believers. There were false teachers who are beginning to influence the people in the church. Epaphras travels to Rome, where Paul is imprisoned, to get his advice. From the letter and historical studies, the false teaching was a mixture of Judaism, the local religions and Gnosticism. Gnosticism, taken from the Greek word for “knowledge,” taught that creation is a duality: all things spiritual was good and all material is evil. To escape from the material world at the end of life, one had to know the “special knowledge” of the Gnostics. They taught that Jesus was not God and could not have a body since that would mix the spiritual with the material; he was a spirit being with some lesser rank among the angelic-like beings.
Paul’s letter is a tightly woven statement answering these false teachers and an exhortation to believe and live out what they learned from Epaphras. Paul’s strong description of the Lord Jesus Christ in 1:15-23 is his answer to the Gnostics concerning the Person of Christ. Jesus is the revealer, Creator and Sustainer of everything, Head of the church and fully God. He provided for reconciliation (restoring friendship between us and God) through his shedding of blood and death on the cross. Jesus was not some nebulous spirit being but God in a human body.
In June, 2012, at CrossRoad, we had a prayer conference. We were taught to pray through passages of Scripture. Let me encourage you to pray through 1:9-14. If you planned to be a civil engineer and you are going to be building bridges, highways or large structures, your professors at ISU would want you filled with the knowledge they are teaching you in the various classes so you would apply the truths of civil engineering in your job in the future. Properly constructed bridges, highways and structures are important for the safety of people and the proper expenditure of tax dollars. We, as believers in Christ, are to be constructing our lives in the image of Christ and exhibiting him. I need to be “fill(ed) with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,” so that I may live a life worthy of Lord who died for me and that I may please him in every way, bearing fruit in every good work prepared in advance for me, continually growing in the experiential knowledge of walking with God, being enabled by God’s resurrection power so that I, today, can endure all circumstances that may come my way and I will be patience, with even difficult people. And, then, may I recognize God’s hand in my life, giving him thanks, for he has chosen me and given me faith to believe on Christ and I have the hope of heaven. He has moved me from Satan’s kingdom and put me in the kingdom of his Son, who redeemed me and has forgiven my sins. To You be the glory. For Christ’s sake. Amen.