Colossians is a deeply encouraging book! The Apostle Paul writes to a young church so “that their hearts may be encouraged” (2:2). Though Paul had never met them, the letter is full of thankfulness and joy for the faith and love the Colossians have for Christ and his body, the church. But even more, Paul is thankful for the treasures that are theirs in Christ. Paul’s key reason for writing to them is to assure them of these treasures so that they will grow deeper in Christ.
“In Christ”: no phrase better sums up the message of this lovely letter. Paul is keen that all of the Colossians understand the fullness and freedom of life in Christ; “for in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, and you have been filled in him.” At the center of this book is a glorious vision of the greatness of Jesus. He is the reason for and ruler of all creation, and of the church, his new creation. In him we are saved, and in him we are transformed. The reason why Paul is so concerned to keep them rooted in Christ, is because he has heard from his friend Epaphras that there are people in the Colossian church who are deluding believers with clever arguments. In their desire to grow deeper in spiritual experience and wisdom, and to put off sinful ways, they are under threat of being taken captive all over again by observing empty practices that undercut what has already been accomplished in Christ.
The encouraging news is that true transformation comes only from our connection to Christ, and this way of growing is not apart from Christ by some new trick or practice, but by going deeper in him. This is the key to ongoing transformation and is true for ALL Christians, for Christ “is all and in all” (3:11). The writing team of these studies has been praying that you will be deeply encouraged and that “you will be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him and growing in the knowledge of God” (1:9-10). God bless you as you study this marvelous letter!
THEMES TO WATCH FOR:
Encouragement. This is a letter written to new Christians spurring them on towards continuing in a faith that is rooted in Christ, and firm in it’s trust of his grace.
Warning. This church is feeling the allure of special religious practices which contradict the person and work of Christ.
Supremacy. The absolute supremacy and all-sufficiency of Christ is both the main source of Paul’s encouragement and also the argument for the Colossians to remain faithful and disregard the new teachings.