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Bible Commentaries

Derickson's Notes on Selected Books

Colossians

- Colossians

by Stanley L. Derickson

Mr. D’s Notes on Colossians

Rev. Stanley L. Derickson Ph.D.

Copyright 2004

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopy, recording or otherwise, without the prior permission of the author, except as provided by U.S.A. copyright laws. Do feel free to make copies for friends that might be interested as long as you do not make profit from the copies. This is God’s work and I don’t want anyone to profit from it in a material way.

INTRODUCTION

1. CHRIST OUR SAVIOR

Christ our Savior prepares us to serve (vss. 9-10).

Colossians 1:1-23

2. CHRIST OUR PERFECTER

Christ our Perfecter perfects our service (vs. 28).

Colossians 1:24-29

3. CHRIST OUR FOUNDATION

Christ our Foundation narrows our work to His Standard of service (vs. 7).

Colossians 2:1-8

4. CHRIST OUR COMPLETER

Christ our Completer prepares us for perfect service (vss. 9-14).

Colossians 2:9-23

5. CHRIST OUR LIFE

Christ our Life is our purpose in service (vs. 4-17)

Colossians 3:1-17

6. CHRIST OUR MOTIVATOR

Christ our Motivator brings us to proper service (vs. 23).

Colossians 3:18-25; Colossians 4:1

7. CHRIST OUR MESSAGE

Christ our Message directs our verbal service (vs. 3, 6).

Colossians 4:2-6

8. CHRIST OUR MASTER

Christ our Master builds us through prayer to service (vs. 12b).

Colossians 4:7-18; Colossians 1:7-8

APPENDIX ONE

A review of the book

APPENDIX TWO

A study of Epaphrus

INTRODUCTION:

Many years ago, before computers, I studied the book of Colossians via hand written notes and a printed Bible - oh the pain that image brings to mind!

In going through my files I ran across these notes and remembered fondly the long trips to the two churches where I taught this series. One was in a little town south of Portland OR, and the other in an even littler town in Northern Nebraska.

Both congregations were hungry to just listen to the Word being taught and to interact with the truths being set forth.

I trust that some might find some joy in looking through these thoughts.

Stanley L. Derickson 2002

Bibliography

1. The Epistles of Paul to the Colossians and Philemon; Herbert M. Carson, B.A., B.D.; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Grand Rapids; 1976

2. Colossians Christ all sufficient; Everett F. Harrison; Moody Press; Chicago; 1971

3. The interpretation of saint Paul’s Epistles to the Colossians to the Thessalonians, to Timothy, to Titus and to Philemon; R.C.H. Lenski; Augsburg Publishing House; Minneapolis; 1937

4. How To Be A Christian In An Unchristian World; Fritz Ridenour; Regal Books; Glendale; 1971

5. Learning/Discussion Guide for How To Be A Christian In an Unchristian World; Ed. Donald E. Pugh; Gospel Light Publications; Glendale; 1973

6. Wuest’s Word Studies; Ephesians and Colossians; Kenneth S. Wuest; Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co.; Grand Rapids; 1953

7. Loved And Forgiven; Lloyd John Ogilvie; Regal Books; Glendale, CA; 1977

8. Systematic Theology; Augustus Strong; The Judson Press; Valley Forge, PA; 1907

COLOSSIANS

INTRODUCTION

I. Comments Shared 1:1-14

A. Greeting to the Colossians (1-2)

B. Thanksgiving for the Colossians (3-8)

C. Prayer for the Colossians (9-14)

II. Christ Presented 1:15-29

A. Christ the Creator (15-17)

B. Christ the Head (18-19)

C. Christ the Reconciler (20-23)

D. Christ the Hope (24-29)

III. Concern Stated 2:1-7

A. Strength in Unity (1-5)

B. Permanence in Walk (6-7)

IIII. Caution Advised 2:8-23

A. Christ is our security (8-15)

B. Christ is our freedom (16-23)

1. Warning against legalism (16-17)

2. Warning against mysticism (18-19)

3. Warning against asceticism (20-23)

V. Criteria Given 3:1-4:6

A. Our position (1-4)

B. Our living (3:5-4:6)

1. Everyday relationships (5-17)

2. Family relationships (18-21)

3. Servant relationships (3:22-4:1)

4. Prayer relationships (2-4)

5. Witnessing relationships (5-6)

VI. Conclusion 4:7-18

A. Messengers (7-9)

B. Greetings (10-14)

C. Instructions (15-17)

D. Closings (18)

Colossians Overview:

Paul begins to show Christ’s preeminence by showing his pre-existence. Christ not only created everything but he is above everything. Kind of like - FIRST, if you catch my drift.

Christ has reconciled all things unto himself and this should be the impetus to living a Godly life.

In light of these things Paul admonishes several types of people to live properly before their God (individuals, wives, husbands, children, fathers, servants, and masters). All of us fit in somewhere in that list.

Paul closes by asking for prayer concerning his captivity. This was quite a letter considering he is captive! One must wonder if his time in prison was bearable only because of his thoughts of others and his Lord.

Probably the key verse would be: Colossians 1:18 "And he is the head of the body, the church; who has a beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in all things he might have the preeminence."

The book was written in 61 A. D. by the apostle Paul while he was in prison in Rome. (along with Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. Colossians 4:3; Colossians 4:10; Colossians 4:18 speak of his imprisonment) The years of 60-62 seem to cover the suggested time of writing.

To set the stage in history we might read a short portion from the writings of a Roman named Tacitus. He describes the persecution under Nero in 64 which is a little later, but most likely gives us an idea of some of the persecutions that were already in progress.

"But all the endeavors of men, all the emperors’ largesse [liberal giving] and the propitiations of the gods, did not suffice to allay the scandal or banish the belief that the fire [burning of Rome] had been ordered. And so to get rid of this rumor, Nero set up as the culprits and punished with the utmost refinement of cruelty a class hated for their abominations, who are commonly called Christians. Christus, from whom their name is derived, was executed at the hands of the procurator Pontius Pilate in the reign of Tiberius. Checked for the moment, this pernicious superstition again broke out, not only in Judaea, the source of the evil, but even in Rome, that receptacle for everything that is sordid and degrading from every quarter of the globe, which there finds a following. Accordingly, arrest was first made of those who confessed; then, on their evidence an immense multitude was convicted, not so much on the charge of arson as because of hatred of the human race. Besides being put to death they were made to serve as objects of amusement; they were clad in the hides of beasts and torn to death by dogs; others were crucified, others set on fire [after being dipped in oil]to serve to illuminate the night when daylight failed. Nero had thrown open his grounds for the display, and was putting on a show in the circus, where he mingled with the people in the dress of charioteer or drove about in his chariot. All this gave rise to a feeling of pity, even towards men whose guilt merited the most exemplary punishment; for it was felt that they were being destroyed not for the public good but to gratify the cruelty of an individual" DOCUMENTS OF THE CHRISTIAN CHURCH; edited by Henry Bettenson; 1947; Oxford University Press; New York; p 3, 4.

The book of Colossians carries the name of the church at Colossae, but was also read by the church in Laodicea and quite probably others in the area.

Some believe that Paul may have taken the gospel to this area while he was at Ephesus (Acts 19:10) but Epaphras seems to be the main personage in the church (2:1) and seems to have been in prison with Paul at some point in time (Philemon 1:23).

Colosse was built along the Lycus River. It is about one hundred miles east of Ephesus on what was called the royal road from Ephesus to Persia. Colosse was in a valley along with Laodicea and Hieropolous. Their main export was deep blue colored woolens. One of the fabrics was a purple called colloesinus.

Just some stray thoughts for your further study: 1. A very good "pre-existence of Christ" text is seen in 1:15-19; 2. The letter was meant for the church at Laodicea as well (2:1); 3. A proof text for Luke being a doctor is found in 4:17

I think as we progress with this study that we will see that salvation makes us different, salvation makes us see differently, salvation makes us react differently, and that salvation should put us under a new standard and outlook!

Is the world today Christian? No - there are billions of people that have never heard the name Jesus Christ.

Is the United States Christian today? No - in the 1980’s some suggested that the nation was close to 50% evangelical, but most feel that figure was quite high. The nation is not Christian today even though it was founded by Christian/religious men.

Why is the world non-Christian? Why is the United States non-Christian? The answer to both of these questions is lack of truth.

Lack of truth comes from the world rejecting the Bible as truth. Most today reject the possibility of absolute truth and replace truth with variable truth. This line of thought views all truth as coming from the individual - each individual makes their own truth - another person’s truth may or may not be my truth.

This philosophy comes to us from the teaching of humanism around the world.

A man named Hegel suggested that thesis/antithesis makes truth. Before this, mankind normally considered there was only truth and non-truth. Hegel taught that thesis/antitheses made a new truth thus there is no real truth or false.

Without the absolute truth of the bible there is no truth for man to follow. This is why Europe and the United States, the show pieces of modern missions are non-Christian today.

Please take a moment and define RELATIVE to yourself or look it up in a dictionary.

Webster hints at it - "comparatively" What something is in relationship to something else. If it is 110 degrees in the shade and you enter a 32-degree room the room is cold. If it is 40 degrees below zero outside and you enter the room it is warm. The room temperature is relative to the outside temperature. It can be warm or cold.

TRUTH is definitely this way in America today. Relative.

According to this thinking, for me to open a bottle of beer this morning and drink it during class would be wrong. For me to open a bottle of beer this afternoon in the kitchen and drink it in the privacy of my own home would be okay in the minds of many Christians.

A "Christian" man’s teenage daughter stole alcohol from her father’s stock - kids became intoxicated - wreck - no serious injuries - whole town knew - pastor went to talk to the man - man threw pastor out and told him what he did in his own home was none of the pastors business.

A continuation of the thought - if I feel it is okay to drink the beer in church then it is okay - even if someone here thinks it is wrong - you see right is what I see as right.

IS TRUTH REALLY RELATIVE? NO! TRUTH IS TRUTH NO MATTER THE SITUATION OR AGE IN WHICH WE LIVE.

Let’s list some things that are true and false and see what we have. Is there really truth?

TRUTH (THESIS) FALSE (AN TITHES)

fetus not alive till birth

peace war

holiness sin

marriage no marriage

pride in work no pride

truth false

Biblical truth no truth

Heaven heaven is a lie

saved all are god’s children

law no law

obedience disobedience

honesty dishonesty

God devil

Jesus - deity Jesus - man

capital punishment no capital punishment

love brethren no love for brethren

don’t forsake assembly forsake the assembly

husbands love wife don’t love wife

children obey don’t obey

accept Christ reject Christ - hell

morality immorality

good evil

no lying lying

fidelity adultery

witness no witness

serve God no serve God

subjection to God’s will rebellion

subjection to husband doing her own thing

love your neighbor no love for your neighbor

prayer no prayer

bible study no Bible study

inerrancy of Scripture Scripture full of mistakes

accept Christ’s work work like mad

hell a loving God wouldn’t send me to hell

discipline no discipline

Let us look for a moment to Hegel and others to see what has been done to truth, indeed this is where America is today!

The idea of "There is no absolute truths" comes to us from two places in our past.

In America, Charles Sanders Pierce and William James worked on what is called Pragmatism. Slogans from their line of truth are "truth, is what works" and "the true is the expedient" - later John Dewey popularized this and brought it into our educational system - from top to bottom.

In Europe Hegel was playing with truth and decided that he would take thesis and antithesis and mix the two together to form "NEW TRUTH" or as he called it "SYNTHESIS."

Francis A. Schaeffer mentioned, and most would agree with him, that Christianity is based on thesis-antithesis -- truth versus error. Without this concept there is no basis of right or wrong.

Does this help you understand our present society here in America?

In most situations today, if viewed in this manner you will see society and Christians are following a synthesis type philosophy -- no absolute truth or false.

There was a man on television recently that they were interviewing just after the great northeast black out. They were in a room that he had filled with stolen property when the lights were out.

Reporter: "Doesn’t it bother your conscience to have ripped off all of this property?"

Man: "I had such an incredible opportunity to get things I never would have been able to get - God must have been in it! I’m just sorry I didn’t have a chance to get a color television." (from Daily Bread Dec 19, 1978)

Do you see a synthesis of true Christianity and man’s unregenerate thinking in this man?

We have absolutes!

The unsaved may choose to live with no absolutes but WE DARE NOT LIVE WITHOUT THEM! WE ARE BOUND TO THE ABSOLUTES OF THE SCRIPTURES! IT IS OUR PLACE TO OBEY THOSE ABSOLUTES!

The Bible is based on absolute truth - anything short of this is wrong in the framework of God’s Word.

Another big term that is used is Presuppositions. It means principles of life - Things by which you live. Things that you presume to be true.

We have some presuppositions which we should be living by.

1. We exist to glorify God.

2. God is the most important thing in our lives.

3. His Word is the guide for our lives. It gives us the absolute truth.

4. We will obey that Word in all situations - even when it hurts.

5. We should desire to do His will for our lives.

6. There is nothing We shouldn’t do for Him - as He gives us the grace to do it.

Paul in the book of Colossians is trying to straighten out some misconceptions that the believers were struggling under. Someone at Colosse was trying to mix Christianity with what appears to be early forms of Gnosticism, a philosophy of the day.

Gnosticism:

Ryrie in his study Bible introduction says of the heresy at Colosse, "...we can discern some of the features of the false teaching at Colosse. It was a syncretistic, fusing of Jewish legalism, Greek philosophic speculation, and Oriental mysticism. Specifics included dietary and Sabbath observances and circumcision rites, the worship of angels, and the practice of asceticism, which stemmed from the belief that the body was inherently evil. In combating this heresy, Paul emphasizes the cosmic significance of Christ as Lord of creation and Head of the Church. Any teaching, practice, or intermediary that detracts from the uniqueness and centrality of Christ, is against the faith." Ryrie Study Bible. p. 359

It seems that the Gnostics were mixing Christ into their caldron of doctrine. They felt that Christ was a spook - a lower God that could occupy a human body.

One author mentioned that they called him a "demi-urge" - a lower god - maybe 13th or 14th down from Mr. Big and Mr. Big was not a shining example of a god - he was created by another that was created but the top god. Christ was a created being - the spook that did not leave footprints in the dust. He left the body of Jesus just before his death.

Encarta Online (2002):

"a pre-Christian and early Christian religious movement teaching that salvation comes by learning esoteric spiritual truths that free humanity from the material world, believed in this movement to be evil"

Years ago while planting a church in Nebraska I stayed up late to study. I often listened to the radio to stay awake. One of the programs was a very excited, emphatic woman preacher from California. Her main philosophy was that God had revealed to her a new language whereby she and she alone could truly interpret the Scriptures. She would go verse by verse through the Bible telling her listeners that the word that was in the verse really didn’t mean what we think it means, but that it means something completely different according to her personal revelation and training from God.

I think this portrays the modern day Gnostic philosophy. I don’t know if she actually taught the Gnostic line, but she certainly had the foundation to do so. She and she alone could speak for God, and she and she alone had the knowledge that man needs to be saved from whatever she might think they needed saving from.

The Gnostics have their own website: http://www.gnosis.org

They have churches, the one in Los Angeles, CA is called Ecclesia Gnostica. They have bishops, liturgical calendars and all the trappings of other churches. They even have one in Portland, OR.

They seem to have a close affinity to C. G. Jung a heavy hitter in the psychological field of our day. Just a tad of info about him:

Jung seems to teach that our purpose - our need is to become conscious of who we are - become conscious of the world and through this consciousness we can achieve whatever there is to be achieved - each individual has a microcosm of the world within and we need to uncover it. My dumb question is this - if the world is evil and we have a microcosm of it within and we discover what we are, won’t we have a bit of a problem with the evil within?

In a nutshell, God is within the person waiting to be revealed. Everything external is evil. Revealing God within is done by exercising your mind and/or feelings. There is nothing external that can guide you in right and wrong - only that which you perceive to be right and wrong from within is right or wrong. Sounds like modern day humanism to me, but that is only my opinion - I would guess they would deny such a comparison.

The idea that they are receiving new revelation from God lends itself to the Charismatic movement and those that have revelations directly from God and the obvious aspect that they feel they are above the normal believer that does not experience all there is to have of the Spirit.

http://www.carm.org/heresy/gnosticism.htm states: "A more detailed Gnostic theology is as follows. The unknowable God was far too pure and perfect to have anything to do with the material universe which was considered evil. Therefore, God generated lesser divinities, or emenations. One of these emanations, Wisdom desired to know the unknowable God. Out of this erring desire the demiurge an evil god was formed and it was this evil god that created the universe. He along with archons kept the mortals in bondage in material matter and tried to prevent the pure spirit souls from ascending back to god after the death of the physical bodies. Since, according to the Gnostics, matter is evil, deliverance from material form was attainable only through special knowledge revealed by special Gnostic teachers. Christ was the divine redeemer who descended from the spiritual realm to reveal the knowledge necessary for this redemption. In conclusion, Gnosticism is dualistic. That is, it teaches there is a good and evil, spirit and matter, light and dark, etc. dualism in the universe."

They felt they had a secret knowledge about God, humanity and the rest of the creation - knowledge which no one else is entrusted with. They were tolerant of other religions outside of themselves and did not discriminate against women - it is surmised - as opposed to Christianity.

In Christianity the person is saved by faith and salvation signified by works, but to the Gnostic - people that know - they are saved by simply knowing what God has revealed to them. Is this not America to a point? The people know what they know no matter what that might be and if there is a God He will let them into heaven.

Those in the know list a number of major modern groups as based on the Gnostic foundation, Mormons, Unification Church (Moonies), Christian Science, Jehovah’s Witnesses and some add the New Age movement - an obvious choice in my mind - and Buddhism, Hinduism and most other Eastern religions.

Some suggest that they were one of the three main Christian groups in the first century. They list also the "remnants of the Jewish Christian sect which was created by Jesus’ disciples, and the churches started by St. Paul, that were eventually to grow and develop into "mainline" Christianity by the end of the third century." From religioustolerance.org/gnostic.htm 11-9-02 It is of interest that they see Christianity coming from Paul and not the apostles.

They describe themselves as not fitting into theological or philosophical parameters, but rather in the area of myth - not myth as in stories that are untrue, but stories that have a truth within.

They feel that their role today is to help others understand the message of Christ which mainline Christianity has misinterpreted. They felt that Christ brought information to them to bring them back to their spiritual plain with God from the evil world.

There was some spiritual spark or light within that they sought to discover - this spark would allow them to escape the world when they died. The world was not evil due to the sin of Adam and Eve, but rather due to it having been created evil by a less than perfect god.

They hold the snake as a religious symbol, not as a tempter but as a liberator. The serpent brought them knowledge from the fruit they ate and thus completed their humanness.

Gnostic texts varied and were usually New Testament times authors that were not included in the Scriptures. Many of their texts were destroyed by those that sought to stamp out this heresy. It is of note that many have tried to destroy Christianity’s Bible with little success.

Due to their acceptance of women as equal to men within their assembly, many of their writings were said to have been by women.

Ancient Gnostic Leaders taught magic, reincarnation, against marriage, free sexuality, celibacy and that the death of Christ was a hallucination because Jesus didn’t have a true body.

A possible overlay for your use.

G O D L E S S In essence they are a godless religion in that they reject totally the deity of Christ. If you deny Christ you deny God altogether.

N E W They believe in new revelation from God on an ongoing basis. Each person receives that which he can to come close to salvation.

O L D Most people say that it predates Christianity. Personally I suspect it wwwaayy predates Christianity. It smacks of some of the creation accounts from pagan nations. At any rate, it became popular along with Christianity.

S U P E R I O R Those that find salvation are unique and special in that they alone have found their salvation - they are better than and much more knowledgeable than all those that have not achieved salvation.

T E R M I N A L Since they reject the Christ of the Bible as God they also reject any work on the cross that He had done for them. If Christ is not God then they worship foolishly, and are bound for hell.

I N N E R Their salvation is found within, on their own. They have no real need of outside intervention - they basically must save themselves.

C O N F U S E D Today there are many types of Gnosticism. There is no real standard for them to follow. This confusion has followed them through the centuries. This can be seen in the fact that almost every author I read said it is hard to determine just what they believed in any given age. There seems to be different beliefs depending on the group you follow/followed.

This is to be expected. If each person is to find their own way how can you not have multiple methods and doctrines?

PAUL IS SETTING FORTH SOME ABSOLUTES FOR THE COLOSSIANS TO LIVE BY SO THAT THEY COULD SET ASIDE THE SYSNTHESIS THAT THEY WERE STRUGGLING UNDER.

Let’s apply the synthesis thinking to our list of thesis - antithesis.

TRUTH (THESIS) SYNTHESIS FALSE (ANTITHESIS)

fetus abortion not alive till birth

peace let’s get along war

holiness feel good - do it sin

marriage live together no marriage

pride in work do your own thingno pride

truth gray areas false

Biblical truth humanism no truth

Heaven new age heaven is a lie

saved US church today all are god’s children

God maybe a god no God

law I do what I want no law

obedience don’t have to obey disobedience

honesty anything goes dishonesty

Jesus - deity he may have lived Jesus - man

capital punishment we need to love them no capital punishment

love brethren greeting times no love for brethren

don’t forsake assembly attend when it’s easy forsake the assembly

husbands love wife I can love two don’t love wife

children obey 1 - 2 - 3 don’t obey

accept Christ live a good life reject Christ - hell

morality everything is okay immorality

good its okay evil

no lying half truths lying

fidelity if they don’t know adultery

witness lifestyle evangelism no witness

serve God I need to be fed no serve God

subjection to God’s will when I get time rebellion

subjection to husband women’s lib doing her own thing

prayer Christian meditation no prayer

bible study listen to tapes no Bible study

inerrancy of Scripture Don’t matter Scripture full of mistakes

Christ’s work on cross Love is enough work like mad

discipline let’s talk no discipline

How does this affect the church?

I filled out a Senior pastor application years ago. At the close of the application was the following paragraph with a place for me to sign.

"I understand that the ________ church may conduct examinations into my background, including my employment history. I understand that by affixing my signature below that I consent to such examinations, and I understand that my signature certifies that all information in this application and any attachments included are correct and complete, that my employment as Pastor is contingent upon its accuracy, and that false statements on this application may result in termination of employment."

My response:

I must admit I struggled with this last paragraph. I was very disturbed that you have such a low regard for brothers in Christ. I understand there are people that you must guard against, but they won’t care if they lie to you and sign it.

I am not seeking employment - I am seeking God’s will as it relates to my life and how my life may, or may not, relate to your church and its ministry. I read 1 Corinthians 9:16 in my devotions today and the paragraph did not compute! (1 Corinthians 9:16 "Woe is unto me, if I preach not the Gospel")

Their response to my response was no response.

I would like to take this a little further and consider this specifically with the church and some of the ramifications.

THESIS - LIFE OF A ANTITHESIS - LIFE SYNTHESIS

SUPERNATURALIST OF A NATURALIST TRUTH OF TODAY

-------------------------------------------------------------------

GOD IS THERE WE ARE ALONE I HOPE GOD IS THERE

AND IN TROUBLE

CHURCH NO CHURCH TAKE THE KIDS, ITS

GOOD FOR THEM

SHARING WITH ALL IS MINE GIVE A BUCK IF AND

GOD/OTHERS WHEN YOU GO

ASSURANCE OF NO HOPE OF AFTERLIFE I HOPE THERE IS

ETERNAL LIFE SOMETHING AFTER DEATH

LIVE FOR GOD LIVE FOR SELF DO SOME GOOD AS YOU

GO ALONG

GOALS ARE SET GOALS ARE MATERIAL GOALS ARE IN LIGHT OF

ON GOD MAYBE GAIN THERE

PURPOSE IS NO PURPOSE YOU MAKE YOUR PURPOSE

SERVING GOD

MORAL LAW NO MORAL LAW IF IT DOESN’T HURT

DO IT

GOD’S PLAN DO WHAT YOU WANT IF IT IS OK FOR

YOU - ITS OK

GOD’S WILL NO DIRECTION IN LIFE ASTROLOGY TO FIND

YOUR WAY

CREATION BY GOD EVOLUTION PROCESS EVOLUTION

JESUS IS GOD A GREAT MAN I HOPE HE LIVED

BECOME MAN

Paul seems, in Colossians, to stick a sword into Gnosticism and then turns it for a little effect.

LOOK - CHRIST WAS GOD.

LOOK - WE HAVE TRUTH - THE BIBLE.

LOOK - WE CAN KNOW GOD.

New Truth is no truth in my mind, and I trust this is true for you as well.

I would like to quote from the Barna Research website http://www.barna.org and I think it will tend to back up the thought that the church today in America is in Synthesis mode.

"American’s Beliefs

[first % is agree and second % is disagree]

"the Bible can only be correctly interpreted by people who have years of intense training in theology 19% 76%

"praying to deceased saints can have a positive effect in a person’s life 51 39

"a being can be under the control or the influence of spiritual forces such as demons 54 38

"God is one being in three separate and equal persons - God the Father, Jesus Christ the Son and the Holy Spirit 79 13

"every person has a soul that will live forever, either in God’s presence or absence 79 12

"the Bible, the Koran and the Book of Mormon are all different expressions of the same spiritual truths 44 38

"truth can be discovered only through logic, human reasoning and personal experience 54 43

"the Bible does not specifically condemn homosexuality 27 53

"it is possible to communicate with others after they die 35 55

"a human being can be under the control or the influence of spiritual forces such as demons 54 38

"when He lived on earth, Jesus Christ sinned, like other people 42 50

"the devil, or Satan, is not a living being but is a symbol of evil 59 34

In case you haven’t caught it, synthesis is humanism - there is no right and wrong, there is no black and white, there is only something in the middle - ME.

Two illustrations of synthesis: In the 1970’s I was given a tour as part of a class in graduate school of a large Assembly of God church. In the center of the building was a large garden and the assistant pastor mentioned that they had desired to have a large barbecue there for the church folks but decided on a statue of Mary for their Catholic folks. The fact that I suggested to the professor that they could have set a statue of Molech there as well did not sit well with the tour guide.

Secondly in 2002 I was channel surfing and stopped for a moment on a "love" group that thought world peace would come by respect for one another’s religion. In their facility they had four sanctuaries for the four major religions, one Christian/Jewish, another for Zen/Veda (I think it was), one for Buddhist and the final for Muslim.

If this isn’t synthesis in the organized church I don’t think I would know synthesis if I saw it.

How does this affect the church’s stance in the world of American society? Barna reported that the things most influential in American society were "movies, television, the Internet, books, music, public policy and law, and family." (from an internet report 11-02) The report went on to mention that the church is not even in the top twelve influences in America.

To illustrate how this thinking affects our youth consider the following:

Barna research of evangelical youth. Barna Research Group, "Third Millennium Teens" (Ventura, Calif.: The Barna Research Group, Ltd., 1999) Quoted in pamphlet by Josh McDowell "Beyond Belief to Convictions" - based on his book by the same name.

Do all religions pray to the same god? 63% believe this to be true.

70% say there is no absolute moral truth.

72% determine right from wrong based on "if it works in my life."

51% don’t believe in the resurrection of Christ.

65% don’t think the devil is real.

68% don’t believe the Holy Spirit is a living entity.

81% believe that "truth is relative to the individual and his/her circumstances."

The same study stated that kids without a solid Biblical belief system are:

225% more likely to be angry with life

216% more likely to be resentful

210% more likely to lack purpose in life

200% more likely to be disappointed in life

We as believers need to get our acts together!

Some Historical Background

The Jewish religion was acceptable to the Romans - a licensed religion. Christianity had grown out of Judaism and was seen by the Romans as a splinter group. Because of communion they were seen as pagans - cannibals. Rome was on decline - Roman citizens thought the Roman and other pagan Gods were mad at Rome for letting Christians continue on.

There was division between Jewish leaders and the Christians. This caused a splitting away even further and soon Christians were seen as a religious group themselves, only they were unlicensed. Thus they were being persecuted at the time Paul was writing to them. After Rome burned the persecution became more intense.

This introduces us to Nero.

NERO is mentioned in Acts 25:11 and was around from 37-68 AD. He was born in Antium and was adopted by his mother’s latest husband Claudius. He married a daughter of Claudius and later was made emperor. He liked getting rid of people and shortly had eliminated a son of Claudius, his mother, his wife and some conspirators that tried to kill him. He also eliminated several prominent Romans. He was very ruff on wives and girlfriends some of which died. When he was dethroned he did himself in as well.

KING HEROD AGRIPPA was educated in Nero’s court and was loyal to Rome. Agrippa was eaten by worms in Acts 12:21-23. There is a description of eating by worms in the Apocrypha in 2 Maccabees 9:5-14 in a description of how Antiocus died.

"But the all-seeing Lord, the God of Israel, struck him a fatal and invisible blow. As soon as he had said the words, he was seized with incurable pain in his bowels and with sharp internal torments - a punishment entirely fitting for one who had inflicted many unheard-of torments on the bowels of others. Still he did not in the least abate his insolence, more arrogant than ever, he breathed fiery threats against the Jews. After he had given orders to speed up the journey, it happened that he fell out of his chariot as it hurtled along, and so violent was his fall that every joint in his body was dislocated." "Worms swarmed even from the eyes of this godless man and, while he was still alive and in agony, his flesh rotted off, and the whole army was disgusted by the stench of his decay. It was so unbearably offensive that nobody could escort the man who only a short time before had seemed to touch the stars in the sky." 2 Maccabees 9:1-12

APPLICATION DRAWN FROM HISTORICAL BACKGROUND

1. What do we know of suffering for Christ’s sake here in America?

NOT MUCH!

2. Knowing the suffering and trials which the early Christians and some Christians since - the torture - the scattering from homes - the death of loved ones by cruel Romans, Dare we call such things as being too busy or "my car broke down" or "I don’t have enough money to pay the bills" or "my boss doesn’t like me" TRIALS AND SUFFERING FOR CHRIST? We don’t know what suffering is.

My wife told a prospective employer she didn’t want to work Sundays because of church. The woman started hollering at her. Faith left and as she walked down the hall the woman was still hollering. In comparison to this time period this wouldn’t be classed much more that a minor trial.

Christians today are suffering persecution much worse than ours today. In recent years in Romania the witnessing Christian could have his work permit stamped "mentally incompetent" which means that they will never work again. They have their church buildings torn down by the government. They are very poor. That is persecution!

Many are being killed and others are being sold into slavery because they are Christians - this is in 2002!

Some peculiarities of the book of Colossians:

1. The entire book is polemic or is an argument against Gnosticism in its earlier stages.

2. The book deals with Christ the Head of the Church.

3. It is the only epistle except Romans which was written to a church not visited or established by Paul.

4. There are many parallel passages between the book of Ephesians and Colossians. This could be a very interesting study in and of itself.

5. The term "fullness" occurs ten times in the book.

6. The book lists great characteristics of Christ. Redeemer, Creator, Preserver, Head of the Church, Reconciler, Sanctifier, knowable, wise, worthy of our faith, Lord Companion, Our Roots, Builder, Deity, Head over Creation, sitting with God, Rewarder and Master - and most likely others.

7. This book has the only reference to angel worship (2:18)

8. The recipients are told to exchange the epistle with the Laodocians (4:16).

9. The book mentions Luke as a physician (4:14).

As we look into this book may be think about the following points with a new seriousness.

Salvation makes us different!

Salvation makes us see differently!

Salvation makes us react differently

Salvation should put us under a new standard and outlook!

Appendix 1

A REVIEW OF THE BOOK OF COLOSSIANS

The book was written in 61 A. D. by the apostle Paul while he was in prison in Rome. (along with Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon. Colossians 4:3; Colossians 4:10; Colossians 4:18 speak of his imprisonment)

The years of 60-62 seem to cover the suggested time of writing.

The book seems to be a refutation of the Gnostic line of thought that Christ was a created being and that we have to save ourselves through inner thought and reasoning.

Paul begins to show Christ’s preeminence by showing his pre-existence. Christ not only created everything but he is above everything. Kind of like - FIRST, if you catch my drift.

Christ has reconciled all things unto himself and this should be the impetus to living a Godly life.

In light of these things Paul admonishes several types of people to live properly before their God (individuals, wives, husbands, children, fathers, servants, and masters). All of us fit in somewhere in that list.

Paul closes by asking for prayer concerning his captivity. This was quite a letter considering he is captive! One must wonder if his time in prison was bearable only because of his thoughts of others and his Lord.

Probably the key verse would be: Colossians 1:18 "And he is the head of the body, the church; who has a beginning, the first-born from the dead, that in all things he might have the pre-eminence."

I. CHRIST FORSHADOWED (in peoples lives) 1:1-14

Paul introduces himself as an apostle of Christ thus setting his authority to speak to them of the truth that he wanted to share with them.

He mentions a coworker, Timothy - a man we know from Paul’s letters to him - I and II Timothy.

In this section Paul recognizes the people for what he has heard about them via reports from Epaphrus. He continues by encouraging them by telling them of their good qualities and reminding them that he is praying for them.

He does not mess around with small talk, he gets right to the heavy teaching:

sainthood

brotherhood

Fatherhood of God

Son-ship of Christ

gospel

fruitful/good walk

good works

God’s strengthening

inheritance

redemption

forgiveness

He moves into the next section with slippers on his feet so he won’t startle anyone - actually he begins immediately to blast the Gnostic concept of Christ, which that He was a created being or a spook that didn’t leave footprints in the dust as they called him.

II. CHRIST PRESENTED 1:15-29

Paul presents Christ as preeminent to the believer. He was before creation, he created all there is, he sustains all there is, and He provided for all there is through His blood.

He is not only the moving force of all creation, but he is also the head of the body - His church.

Paul asserts that all his efforts in life are aimed toward the goal of warning all of the effects of rejecting this Christ, and to teach those that accept Christ so that they might be presented perfect before Christ.

III. CHRIST THE FOUNDATION 2:1-7

Paul expresses his concern that false teaching might lead the folks astray, but tells them that they are grounded in Christ and all that He is. He is wisdom and knowledge, not the Gnostic inner light that they had been hearing about.

He encourages the folks to walk and continue to be rooted in Christ and His teaching.

IIII. CHRIST NOT THOUGHT 2:8-23

There is further warning of philosophy and false hood to be avoided - it is all counter to Christ and truth.

He gives three areas of warning.

1. Warning against legalism (16-17)

2. Warning against mysticism (18-19)

3. Warning against asceticism (20-23)

V. CHRIST OUR LIFE 3:1-4

We are His, we are in His kingdom, we are as good as in heaven, so we should live like it. We are totally Christ’s in fact, and we should be in living.

"Christ who is our life" is the key phrase of the book. All centers around Christ and we are in Him.

VI. CHRIST OUR GUIDE 3:5-4:6

Now that we know who we are in Christ there is practical application to how we should live our life before the world.

Paul goes to some extent to give clear statement of do’s and don’ts of the Christian life. These are to be followed, not to bring salvation, but because of salvation we ought to live circumspectly.

The instructions are broken into five areas of relationship.

A. Everyday relationships (5-17)

Live as if you are the child of the King that you are.

B. Family relationships (18-21)

The family is in Christ, and should reflect the love of God for His children.

C. Servant relationships (3:22-4:1)

Servants and masters are in Christ, and should reflect that relationship that the child of God has to the Lord as a bond-slave of his master.

D. Prayer relationships (2-4)

Paul puts the believer’s prayer life, in part, on the plain of intercession for the lost. Paul desires open doors for the sharing of the Gospel. This is a worthy endeavor of any prayer meeting.

E. Witnessing relationships (5-6)

The purpose of all these relationships is that we might have a witnessing relationship with the lost around us. A clear statement that the individual Christian is to be a witnessing Christian. It is not the church’s responsibility to win the lost, it is the individuals.

VII. Conclusion 4:7-18

Paul closes his epistle with personal greetings and encouragement. He further requests that they deliver the letter to be read to the Laodiceans, and that they should read his letter that he had sent to Laodicea.

Since he wanted both to read each others, it might be assumed that both contained information important to both. It is quite possible that the Gnostics were stirring in both assemblies and that he wanted to be sure to cover all bases with his comments.

Today we would just photocopy or email a copy, but back then it was quill and papyrus and very slow going, not to mention hard work.

In light of the following list, I believe it is clear that Christ is the center of attention in this short book of Paul’s.

CHRIST

1:1 He calls to ministry

1:2 He is the peace giver

1:3 He is the Son

1:4 He is the object of our faith

1:7 He is worthy of service

1:10 He is worthy of our good walk

1:13 He will be king

1:14 He is the provider of redemption

He is the forgiver of sin

1:15 He is the image of the living God

He is the first born of all creation

1:16 He is the creator

1:17 He was before creation

He is the sustainer of creation

1:18 He is head of the body

He is the beginning and first born of the dead

1:19 He is the fullness of God within

1:20 He is the reconciler of everything

He is provider of the price - His blood

1:21 He is the reconciler

1:22 He gave his flesh to provide

1:24 He was afflicted

1:27 He indwells

1:29 He will judge

2:3 He is wisdom and knowledge

2:6 He is Lord

2:8 He is truth

2:9 He is fullness of the Godhead is in Him

2:10 He completes believers

He is over all powers

2:11 He is the spiritual circumciser

2:13 He quickens the believer

2:14 He takes care of sin

2:15 He spoiled of principalities and powers

He is victor over all

3:1 He is risen

He is sitting beside God

3:3 He hides the believer

3:4 He is our life

He will appear

3:11 He is all in all

3:13 He is the forgiver

3:24 He is to be served

4:1 He is master