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Bible Commentaries

Bell's Commentary on the Bible

Colossians 1

Verses 1-14

  1. INTRO:
    1. Financial crisis: Now is the time for the Church to do as it has always done in difficult times:
      1. To reach out to those who are hurting
      2. To give hope to those who fear.
      3. To point to the God who owns "the cattle on a thousand hills”
  2. Book INTRO:
    1. In Leonardo Da Vinci’s famous painting of The Last Supper, our Lord’s hands are empty. And therein lies an inspiring story.
      1. Da Vinci dedicated 3 years to this painting, determined that it would be his crowning work. Before the unveiling, he decided to show it to a friend for whose opinion he had the utmost respect. The friend’s praise was unbounded. “The cup in Jesus’ hand,” he said, “is especially beautiful.” Disappointed at once Da Vinci began to paint out the cup. Astonished, the distinguished friend asked for an explanation. “Nothing,” Da Vinci explained, “must distract from the figure of Christ.” Da Vinci focused attention solely on Christ by removing the distraction of the cup. Having removed the cup, he had to do something with the hand. The left hand was already outstretched just above the table, lifting, as if to bless and command. Now the right hand, also empty, was also outstretched invitingly.
      2. This seems to have been Paul’s purpose in this postcard to the church of Colosse.
    2. This was written during Paul’s imprisonment in Rome - Acts 28:30. [4 prison epistles]
    3. Where the book of Romans tells us how to enter into fellowship w/christ; Ephesians & Colossians tell us how to abide therein! (Griffith Thomas; Colossians; pg.7)
      1. 1st we come out of bondage, then we are brought into the banqueting house!
      2. Ephesians & Colossians represent the highest, fullest, richest presentation of Christianity!
    4. Relationship to Ephesus - As one writer puts it, “Out of 95 verses in Colossians, 78 have a marked resemblance to Ephesians.”
      1. Difference: In Ephesus the primary subject is the Church; while in Colosse the primary subject is Christ!
    5. Epaphras was one of Paul’s converts while he was in Ephesus (3 yrs) founded the church.
    6. Chapters 1, 2 are doctrinal & present Jesus as the preeminent Creator, Savior, & Lord. Chapters 3 & 4 are practical & show how the believer works out the preeminence of Christ in daily living.
  3. FAITH, LOVE, HOPE!
    1. GREETING! (1,2)
    2. (2) Destination of letter - Colosse, & Laodicea(see 2:1, & 4:16).
    3. 3 cities were near each other: Laodicea, Colosse, & Hierapolis.
      1. Like the 3 holes on a bowling ball, these 3 cities lie in Asia Minor (Turkey).
      2. Laodicea - very rich & thus very independent.
        1. Notorious for its earthquakes. It was destroyed a number of times, each time it rebuilt itself w/o the help of Rome.
        2. That’s why John wrote to them in Rev. 3:17 Because you say, ‘I am rich, have become wealthy, and have need of nothing’ - and do not know that you are wretched, miserable, poor, blind, and naked.
        3. In Hierapolis there was famous Hot-springs, & Colosse was known for its pure Cold water. So Jesus uses the analogy w/Laodicea, situated between the 2, because you are lukewarm, & neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth. (3:17)
    4. All 3 cities started out with equal importance then: Laodicea became the political center; Hierapolis became the trade center; but Colosse was only a small struggling town...that never made it.
      1. Lightfoot said, “Colosse was the most unimportant town to which Paul ever wrote a letter.”
        1. An unimportant town maybe, but surely not an unimportant people!
    5. THANKSGIVING! (3-8)
    6. (3) Here’s one of Paul’s run-on sentences! (vs.3-8)
    7. Thanks - With the exception of Galatians, Paul’s letters always commenced with thanksgiving.
    8. With thanksgiving came prayer. Like the 2 wings of a bird which are required to enable it to soar into the sky.
    9. 3 reasons are given for his thanksgiving & prayer: Faith in Christ Jesus; Love for all the saints; & Hope laid up in heaven.
      1. Paul’s Trusty Triad constitute the true Christian Life.
      2. Let’s first see how he used these in his other writings:
        1. 1 Thes.1:3 Paul wrote about their “work of faith, labor of love, & patience of hope”
        2. 1 Cor.13:13 now abide faith, hope, love, these 3; but the greatest of these is love.
          1. Love is greatest because God is Love!
          2. Faith is trust that rests upon evidence, & leads to action.
          3. Hope is confidence in the future.
          4. Faith w/o love is cold, & hope w/o love is grim. Love is the fire which kindles faith & it is the light which turns hope into certainty.” William Barclay
          5. Faith will be replaced by sight, & hope replaced by possession.
    10. [1] Faith toward the Lord - The 1st element of the Christian life, because it brings the soul in contact w/the Lord.
      1. When John G. Paton was translating the Bible in the Outer Hebrides, he searched for the exact word to translate believe. Finally he found it: the word meant “lean your whole weight upon.”
      2. Most people will say, “you need to have faith” but we must ask, faith in what!
        1. It’s not faith in faith, but faith in Christ Jesus...only!
    11. [2] Love toward each other - Gal.5:6 For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision nor uncircumcision has any value. The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.
      1. Loving God is seen in how one loves his neighbor!
      2. What Is Love? It is silence when your words would hurt. It is patience when your neighbors curt.It is deafness when a scandal flows. It is thoughtfulness for other’s woes. It is promptness when stern duty calls. It is courage when misfortune falls.
    12. [3] Hope toward the future - Paul places hope last, because he saw faith & love springing from it.
      1. How does the hope of heaven cause faith & love to come forth?
        1. As pagans, the colossians had been “w/o hope and w/o God in the world” Eph 2:12
        2. Then came the gospel from Epaphras!
    13. Hope is “laid up”(stored away, put away for one’s use)
      1. This referred to a Royal Persian custom. Hellenistic rulers would lay up in store goods for faithful servants. [LKGNT]
      2. Spurgeon reminds us, “we can labor w/o ever a present reward for we look for a reward in the world to come.”
    14. Faith rests on the past; love works in the present; & hope looks towards the future.
    15. PRAYER! (9-14)
    16. Here’s one of the greatest passages on Prayer Requests!
      1. ​​​​​​​C.F.D.Moule writes, “Prayer makes 2 great requests: It asks for the discernment of God’s will & then for the power to perform that will.”
      2. Often we seek God’s will, but when we find it...do we do it?
    17. Knowing God’s will! (9,10)
    18. His first request: that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will.
      1. ​​​​​​​In prayer we’re not trying to make God listen, but making ourselves to listen to Him!
      2. In prayer we are not trying persuade God to do something, but to find out what He wants us to do!
      3. Often we pray to God, “Thy will be changed” instead of “Thy will be done.”
      4. So, the 1st object of prayer is to listen not speak.
    19. And thus knowing His will we’ll be able to, “walk worthy, please Him, & bear fruit.”
    20. To do this we need the power to do so!
    21. Doing God’s will! (11)
    22. Life’s greatest problem is not to know what to do, but doing it (putting it into action).
      1. We need Power & it comes by Prayer!
      2. If God only told us what to do, this would be frustrating! But He not only tells us His will, He also empowers us to do it.
    23. Through Prayer then, we obtain Knowing God’s will & we receive the power to be able to accomplish it!
    24. (12) The rest of this section speaks of the Father(12,13) & the Son(14-20).
    25. The Father Qualified us - to make sufficient, to authorize (due solely to God’s grace!)
    26. Conveyed us - Transferred, brought us over.
      1. A word used in the ancient world when one empire took over another. They would transfer it lock, stock, & barrel to the conquerors land.
      2. So we’re transferred from what, to what? 4 ways:
    27. TRANSFERRED FROM DARKNESS TO LIGHT!
    28. (13) Delivered us from the power of darkness - (contrast from light in previous verse)
    29. Without God you’re groping around in the dark!
    30. Lk.1:78,79 Through the tender mercy of our God, With which the Dayspring from on high has visited us; To give light to those who sit in darkness and the shadow of death, To guide our feet into the way of peace.”
    31. Jn 3:19 And this is the condemnation, that the light has come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.
    32. TRANSFERRED FROM ENEMIES KINGDOM TO KINGDOM OF THE SON! (13)
    33. TRANSFERRED FROM INCARCERATION TO REDEMPTION! (14a)
      1. Redemption = complete release, based on the payment of a price.
    34. TRANSFERRED FROM CONDEMNATION TO FORGIVENESS! (14b)
    35. Forgiveness - No longer a condemned criminal, but a lost son that has come home!
      1. Sir Walter Scott had difficulty with the idea of "turning the other cheek." But Jesus' words took on special meaning one day when Scott threw a rock at a stray dog to chase it away. His aim was straighter and his delivery stronger than he had intended, for he hit the animal and broke its leg. Instead of running off, the dog limped over to him and licked his hand. Sir Walter never forgot that touching response. He said, "That dog preached the Sermon on the Mount to me as few ministers have ever presented it." Scott said he had not found human beings so ready to forgive their enemies.
      2. Jesus has taken every pebble, rock, stone, & boulder you’ve thrown at Him, & still says “I love you” & desires to forgive you. Isn’t it time to stop today?

Verses 15-29

  1. INTRO:
    1. Story: Stalin was eating a meal when a someone came up & asked him, “how can you inflict such pain on your people?” He continued to eat then said, “bring me a live chicken.” He stroked it, then started feathering the chicken. It struggled but he denuded the whole bird. Then he set it down, picked up some bread & walked away from it & stood. The chicken hobbled over to find some warmth between his pant legs. He put his hand down & the chicken started pecking away at the food. Stalin said, “There is your answer!” “If you want a chicken to follow you for life you must inflict pain on it, it will follow you for food the rest of its life. People are like that chicken, you inflict pain on them & they will follow you for food the rest of their life.” (Ravi Zacharias; Podcast 9-22-08; Absolute Truth in Relative Terms(Part 2 of 5))
      1. Man sure has come up with some bizarre ideas to get men to follow them.
      2. What system of control did God use? Oh He didn’t use a system of control & manipulation to get something from man. Instead He did something for rather than to mankind!
    2. Let’s read the most Christological statement in the NT. {pick up from vs.13}
    3. Outline: Christ for me (is my substitution & sacrifice); Christ in me (is my sanctification & satisfaction); Christ through me (is my service & sufficiency). (J. Sidlow Baxter; Awake My Heart; pg.173)
  2. CHRIST FOR ME which is my Substitution & Sacrifice!(15-20)
    1. (15) Image - Copy. In Greek thought an image shares in reality what it represents. (Linguistic Key to the Greek N.T.; pg.567)
      1. The word contains the idea of representation & manifestation.
      2. Christ is the perfect likeness of God.
      3. He is the visible image of the invisible God.
      4. Some argue, “if God the Father is the signet ring, then Jesus is the image or imprint of that ring, but not the ring itself.”
        1. But, the bible claims the ring is 3-in-1. So it can imprint itself 3 times, if He choose to reveal Himself 3 ways, but only choose to reveal Himself once.
    2. (15) Firstborn over all creation doesn’t mean Jesus was a created being & not eternal God Firstborn from the dead does not mean He was the 1st one raised from the dead.
      1. Firstborn is a term of honor & means the highest, of first rank & importance
      2. Jesus was prior to all creation; is the highest in creation; & He is the highest of all who were raised from the dead.
    3. (16,17) Notice the prepositions: by Him; through Him; for Him; in Him.
      1. Christ Himself is: the instrument & cause of creation(by); the mediating agent(through); the purpose(for); & the sustaining power(in).
    4. He created all things (16); He sustains all things (17); He will reconcile all things (20)
    5. Creation vs. Created - 2 Box Analogy [__]-[__] (2 squares: in 1 is whoever did the creating; in the other is all of the things created) {no other box? can’t be in both boxes}
    6. (17) In Him all things consist - to hold together, to cohere.
      1. He is the principle of cohesion in the universe. (Lightfoot)
      2. Jesus holds all things together, not only the largest things in the universe, but also the smallest things.
      3. Have you seen Louie Giglio’s You-Tube on Laminin?
        1. Laminin is a protein molecule. It is a cell adhesion molecule. (The rebar of the human body) Google Laminin when you get home & see what it looks like...it’s the shape of the cross.
    7. (18) Preeminence - (Moule) “A Savior not quite God is a bridge broken at the father end”
    8. (20) Peace through the blood of the cross - 1 Cross + 3 nails = 4given
    9. Story of substitution & sacrifice!
      1. During the 17th century, Oliver Cromwell, Lord Protector of England, sentenced a soldier to be shot for his crimes. The execution was to take place at the ringing of the evening curfew bell. However, the bell did not sound. The soldier’s fiancée had climbed into the belfry and clung to the great clapper of the bell to prevent it from striking. When she was summoned by Cromwell to account for her actions, she wept as she showed him her bruised and bleeding hands. Cromwell’s heart was touched and he said, “Your lover shall live because of your sacrifice. Curfew shall not ring tonight!” [Daily Bread]
        1. God the Father told Jesus after the cross “Your lover shall live because of Your sacrifice!”
    10. #1 Christ for me, which is my substitution & sacrifice!
  3. CHRIST IN ME which is my Sanctification & Satisfaction!(21-27)
    1. (22) To present you holy, blameless, above reproach .
      1. John Flavel - It is easier to cry against 1000 sins of others, than to kill one of your own.
      2. Thomas a’ Kempis said, “Be not angry that you cannot make others as you wish them to be, since you cannot make yourself as you wish yourself to be.”
    2. (23) Hope is a foundation on which you stand when all around you is shaking.
      1. The city of Colosse was located on an earthquake area, so Paul’s admonition was especially meaningful to them. Not moved.
      2. False teachers were trying to shift their foundation.
      3. Paul pointed them to Jesus Christ who was: Savior(13,14); Eternal God(15); Creator(16,17); Head of the church(18).
        1. What a perfect foundation for our Hope!
    3. (27) Christ in you = hope of glory.
      1. Heaven is more than a destination; it is a motivation because CHrist lives within us.
      2. It is a living hope(1 Pet.1:3) that affects how we think & act all day long.
      3. Because Christ is within us, we need not fear what is ahead of us!
      4. “The One in whom Deity dwells, dwells in us!” Amazing!
    4. (27) Christ in you = hope of glory.
      1. In the Messianic prophecies of the OT there are many & varied aspects of the coming Christ, but nowhere are we told that He would indwell His people.
        1. The verse right above this reveals this was part of the divine mystery, the sacred secret, hid for ages & generations. But now, the secret is divulged.
    5. We must know Christ in 3 ways: Christ for me (Christ dying on the cross); Christ in me (living in my heart); Christ through me (Christ speaking by my life).
    6. Christ for me (is my substitution & sacrifice); Christ in me (is my sanctification & satisfaction); Christ through me (is my service & sufficiency). (J. Sidlow Baxter; Awake My Heart; pg.173)
    7. Christ for me is my only acceptable standing before God. Christ in me is my only true victory over sin. Christ through me is my only real power for spiritual ministry.
    8. We need to sustain a 3-fold relation to Christ, represented by 3 words: purchased; possessed; permeated.
      1. His dying for me means that I am Christ-purchased!
      2. His living in me means that I am Christ-possessed!
      3. His working through me means that I am Christ-permeated!
    9. He died for me; I am to take Him. He lives in me; I am to prove Him. He moves through me; I am to transmit Him.
    10. #1 Christ for me, which is my substitution & sacrifice!
    11. #2 Christ in me, which is my sanctification & satisfaction!
  4. CHRIST THROUGH ME which is my Service & Sufficiency!(28,29)
    1. Him we preach - I was reading Kelly’s last lesson in 2nd Pet, she says, “We can’t just have the knowledge of what’s in the Bible; we have to know Jesus Christ, the central theme of the Bible. We can’t just know “of” Him, we need to know “Him.”
      1. So its not only what we preach, but truly whom we preach!
      2. The theme of Christianity is not a theory, not a set of rules, not simply a code of morals, not even just a system of truth; but a living Person!
    2. To this end - To what end? Presenting every man perfect!!! (28).
      1. Here is Paul’s specific object, his definite aim. Why he preaches, warns, teaches, strives, labors, works.
    3. Perfect? You mean sinless? No way! Men & women are being perfected! Moses stuttered; David’s armor didn’t fit; John Mark was rejected by Paul; Timothy had ulcers; Hosea’s wife was a prostitute; Amos’ only training was fig-tree pruning; Jacob was a liar; David had an affair; Solomon was too rich; Jesus was too poor; Abraham was too old; David was too young; Peter was afraid of death; Lazarus was dead; John was self-righteous; Naomi was a widow; Paul was a murderer; So was Moses; Jonah ran from God; Miriam was a gossip; Gideon and Thomas both doubted; Jeremiah was depressed and suicidal; Elijah was burned out; John the Baptist was a loudmouth; Martha was a worry-wart; Samson had long hair; Noah got drunk; & Moses had a short fuse.
      1. None of these saints were sinless!
      2. Perfection - never means sinlessness. But instead always refers to maturity, ripeness of character & experience.
      3. From the moment of our conversion we are to make progress until we all arrive at the full ripeness of our position in Christ.
        1. Eph.4:13 (Message) until we’re all moving rhythmically and easily with each other, efficient and graceful in response to God’s Son, fully mature adults, fully developed within and without, fully alive like Christ. :-)
    4. Warning & teaching:
      1. Warning - Especially necessary for those who have not received Christ.
      2. Teaching - The Christian religion is essentially educational. From beginning to end we need road signs of Divine teaching saying This is the way; walk in it!
        1. ​​​​​​​Biblical teaching should inform the mind & guide the soul in everything.
    5. In Christ Jesus - We start with “Christ in us” & end being “in Christ”.
    6. Every man perfect? - notice 3x’s.
      1. Every man/everybody - the doors are flung wide open & all are invited to enter
        1. This universality of the gospel. All nations, all capacities, rich & poor, old & young, respectable & outcast, peer & peasant. Because amid all the differences there is the same sin, same heart, same need, & therefore the same salvation!
    7. #1 Christ for me, which is my substitution & sacrifice!
    8. #2 Christ in me, which is my sanctification & satisfaction!
    9. #3 Christ through me, which is my service & sufficiency!
    10. F. B. Meyer used to say, In all His people Christ is present. In some he is prominent. In a few He is pre-eminent.
      1. Which of these classifications do you & I belong?
Copyright Statement
These files are the property of Brian Bell.
Text Courtesy of Calvary Chapel of Murrieta. Used by Permission.
Bibliographical Information
Bell, Brian. "Commentary on Colossians 1". "Bell's Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/cbb/colossians-1.html. 2017.