How this series will be different
For the past few months, we’ve been spending a great deal of time talking, and I’ve spent my efforts preaching through topics or through ideas. We spend time talking through, and jumping around different books, different chapters or different verses. There are so many truths in the Bible, that it is a valid way to look and preach from the Bible.
But, like any book that you read, there is something special, something important about also taking time to talk and walk through an entire book of the Bible. Like any book a person would write, the author of these books in the Bible are trying to convey, over the course of the book, a particular message, and they are trying to convey important truths. So, when you take the time to move through them, you can come away with truths that are valuable and important to our daily lives.
Some pastors will choose to do only topical, or others might only do book studies (what we’ll be doing for the next few weeks).
However, I believe there is validity in both, and so we’ll be alternating between both styles as we move through the years to come.
Colossians: A Background
Every book of the Bible has its own unique fingerprint. They are part of a larger whole, but they are also each communicating something specific, something relevant to that particular church/people of that particular time. The book of Colossians is no exception.
The book of Colossians was written to the church in a town named “Colossae” around the time of 60AD. Colossae was a small valley town, situated on a river, in the country of Turkey. It was a once proud, large city that had begun to decay. It was a town living in its twilight years.
However, while the town was decaying, the early group of believers there were actually thriving. They were predominantly gentiles (non-jews…or, you and me). They had a great spirit, and they had much to be commended for.
However, like so many early churches, they had begun to find themselves under the teaching and preaching of false teachers. This was not so uncommon. The early church had no written, canonized record at that point. They had the Torah (which is much of what we would call the Old Testament), but the new testament…mostly historical accounts and letters to early churches, were still being written.
So it was up to teachers and preachers to train, equip and send pastors to teach the truth that we hold on to now; the truth that Christ was King, he died on the Cross, and he rose again. The truth that we are called to follow him, and to model our lives after him.
But, while there were those teaching that truth, there were also those who taught other ideas or other belief systems. They tried to discredit, create disorder, or usurp what Christ had taught. Many of these teachers were persuasive, and created a great deal of confusion in the early church.
It is out of these moments, that great theologians like Paul, would create teaching moments and bring clarity to our beliefs. These teaching moments often came in the form of letters, and these letters were maintained, and how contribute a large portion of what we read today in the New Testament.
So, what was the Colossian heresy? While Paul never officially names the false teaching that is being spread, you can deduce from what he’s teaching the falsities being spread.
The early church in Colossae was the recipients from early teaching of, what’s called Gnosticism. A teaching that includes many things, but it’s major belief was that, while a very good, and wise man, Jesus was not the Son of God.
Gnosticism doesn’t try to remove Christ from the picture. They just try to show him inadequate as a savior.
While this book was written nearly 2000 years ago, it still holds a new truth for us as a church.
Let’s take some time reading together. With the understanding that Paul is writing a letter, he spends the first portion of this letter offering greetings, and warm remarks. I encourage you to spend some time reading the first part on your own, however, we’re going to begin today with verse 15.
The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him. He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy. For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him, and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through his blood, shed on the cross.
So, what’s going on here?
The church in Colossae is wrestling with an issue that has been something the church, and people in general have wrestled with for centuries…
Who do we believe Christ is?
Many lords many kings
In that day, just like today, if a person wanted to be religious if they wanted to have a belief system in which to place their trust, they could find a cafeteria line full of options. They had gods they could summon, and they had words they could believe in. They had rules to follow, too.
I mean, everyone has a creation story, and everyone has a sacred text. What makes Christianity so different?
That’s where this book begins to build a case. A case for Christ. A case for his deity. A case for his supremacy. A case for his Kingship.
Colossians is a book about a King who is Supreme.
So, who is this Christ whom we worship?