Early in 2022, we began a study on the epistle of Colossians but were unable to complete it at that time due to my schedule. Over the next month or so, we will finish that study: Jesus Over All!
Rather than diving in right where we left off, it is important that we refresh our memories – definitely necessary for me – so that we keep our study in context. We will revisit Colossians 1 today, Colossians 2 next week, and then revisit each of the two sections of Colossians 3 after that. This will poise us to be able to finish the study and to grow by God’s Spirit in the study of His Word as He intended when Colossians was written – to the church then, now, and until the return of Christ. Furthermore, I will be including the biblical cross references in the footnotes so that those who are interested can see what the Bible says about itself.
Colossians 1 is important for understanding Paul’s letter to the church at Colossae not only because it is the first chapter but because it contains the beautiful Christological hymn (vv. 1:15-20) which illustrates Jesus’ preeminent position over everything that is – over all creation, and especially over us. God has graciously revealed this to us so that we can see Jesus appropriately – high above us and worthy of all worship. Yet, despite our own sinfulness and unworthiness, He offers us “redemption” (v. 1:14) and the opportunity to be delivered “from the domain of darkness” and to be transferred to His Kingdom (v. 1:13). What a beautiful opportunity to recognize Jesus is Lord and above all else and to move our hearts to believe in Him (Romans 10:9-10)!
Refresh & Restore Bible Study — May 18, 2023: When the Loving Kindness of God Our Savior Appears – Refresh & Restore | A JustKeithHarris.com Podcast
- Refresh & Restore Bible Study — May 18, 2023: When the Loving Kindness of God Our Savior Appears
- Refresh & Restore Bible Study — May 11, 2023: Sufficient Grace
- Refresh & Restore — December 29, 2022 (Behold the King)
- Advent 2022 — The Story of Christmas
- Advent 2022 — December 24 (Christmas Eve Reading for Our Kiddos)
Introduction (vv. 1:1-2)
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,Colossians 1:1-2
2 To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
The book of Colossians is an epistle written by the apostle Paul to the church in Colossae, which was established by their pastor, Epaphras. It highlights the importance of everyday individuals like Epaphras in spreading the gospel and emphasizes the significance of Jesus in our lives and churches.
One of the main themes in Colossians is the preeminence of Jesus Christ over everything. Paul teaches the Colossians deeper truths about Jesus to build upon the gospel they received from Epaphras. The whole epistle highlights various aspects of Jesus and warns against false teachings that damage His church.
False teachers and distractions continue to challenge the Church today, but the good news is that Jesus is our shepherd who offers abundant life and eternal security. His grace and love – the opposite of what we deserve – provide us with peace. The goal of studying Colossians is to recognize Jesus’ supremacy, deepen our faith, and display Him as sufficient in the face of all difficulties, those that come from within and from without.
Throughout this epistle, Paul urges us to focus on Jesus, trust in His work, and guard ourselves against false teachings. Jesus is the center of our faith, offering hope and salvation to all who believe.
For more, check out the original Bible studies from this section:
Thankfulness and Prayer for the Church at Colossae (vv. 1:3-14)
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.Colossians 1:3-14
9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. 13 He has delivered us from the domain of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
In this section, Paul offers a prayer of thanksgiving to God for the church at Colossae. He expresses gratitude for their faith in Christ, their love for one another, and the hope they have that comes from Christ. Despite facing false teachings, Paul prays for their continued growth in knowing God and walking with Him. He highlights the significance of faith, love, and hope within the church, emphasizing that faith in Christ is the foundation, love for fellow believers comes from God’s Spirit, and their hope is centered on Jesus and their eternal inheritance.
Paul also celebrates the effectiveness of the gospel, the Word of Truth, which is bearing fruit and growing. He emphasizes the importance of continually embracing and sharing the gospel message, which centers on Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection. Despite his own circumstances, Paul finds encouragement in knowing that the gospel is still being preached and producing faith, love, and hope. He recognizes that the gospel’s power lies in Jesus, who is living and active.
Paul expresses admiration for Epaphras, who has shared about the Colossian church and its faith, love, and understanding of God’s grace. Both Paul and Epaphras celebrate what God is accomplishing through the gospel and the Holy Spirit’s power. They demonstrate humility and joy, desiring Christ to be exalted above themselves. Paul refers to Epaphras as a fellow servant and faithful minister of Christ.
This section concludes with a call to reflection and prayer. Readers are encouraged to reflect on their relationship with Christ and to offer prayers of thanksgiving for hearing the gospel, having faith in Christ, and the hope of eternity. They are also urged to express gratitude for their faith community, the impact of the gospel, and the opportunity to be part of God’s work. Additionally, there is a call to thank God for the privilege of sharing the good news and to pray for those who have not yet heard and need the opportunity to embrace faith in Christ. Paul’s prayer for the Colossian believers encompasses their faith, love, and hope, and he prays for their growth, endurance, and thankfulness for their salvation and inheritance in Christ.
For more, check out the original Bible studies from this section:
- Refresh & Restore — February 10, 2022
- Refresh & Restore — February 17, 2022
- Refresh & Restore — February 24, 2022
- Refresh & Restore — March 3, 2022
The Preeminence of Christ (vv. 1:15-20)
15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
This section is a hymn that exalts and explains the identity of Jesus Christ. Throughout these six verses, the importance of understanding the true nature of Jesus in response to false teachings that had infiltrated the early church is clearly emphasized. Jesus, God in flesh and the Truth, is the only way to salvation and surpasses any distorted versions of the gospel presented by false teachers. This section points to the historical context of heresies and the recurring need to affirm the biblical understanding of Jesus throughout church history.
This passage presents scriptural evidence for Jesus being fully God and fully man, emphasizing his divine nature and his humanity. Jesus is described as the “image of the invisible God,” representing the visible representation of God and embodying His glory and nature. It needs to be clarified that the term “firstborn of all creation” does not imply that Jesus is a created being, but rather emphasizes His authority and position as the King of kings.
The passage further establishes Jesus as the creator of all things, both visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth. Jesus is credited with the power to bring everything into being and sustain the universe. He is described as being before all things and encompasses the entirety of existence. These verses highlight the divinity, authority, and creative power of Jesus, establishing Him as the preeminent and sovereign ruler over all creation.
The significance of Jesus and the beliefs surrounding Him for believers and non-believers is consistently emphasized here. This stresses the importance of recognizing Jesus as the ultimate authority and helps one not be swayed by false teachings or idolatry. Jesus is clearly shown to be the head of the Church, guiding and leading believers through His Word and Spirit. Furthermore, there is also an emphasis on Jesus’ role in reconciliation. Jesus is referred to as “the firstborn from the dead,” signifying His role as the origin of everything and the one who has conquered death. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus made a way for humanity to be reconciled with God. His sacrifice on the cross and subsequent reconciliation of all things to God demonstrate God’s grace, mercy, and love.
The significance of understanding the true nature of Jesus Christ and the importance of holding onto the biblical depiction of Him cannot be emphasized enough – His divinity, authority, and creative power, as well as His role in reconciliation between God and humanity. Let us reflect on the magnitude of Jesus’ sacrifice and the love of God in reconciling humanity to Himself and worship Him!
For more, check out the original Bible studies from this section:
- Refresh & Restore — March 10, 2022
- Refresh & Restore — March 24, 2022
- Refresh & Restore — March 31, 2022
- Refresh & Restore — April 28, 2022
Wrapping Up (vv. 1:21-23)
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.Colossians 1:21-23
The way Colossians 1 wraps up gives an invitation from God to the readers and hearers of the epistle – the original audience and even today – to respond to His Word and Spirit. Throughout the Bible, there are invitations extended by God to humanity. Examples include God inviting Noah and his family into the ark, inviting Israel through His prophets, and Jesus inviting all who labor and are heavy laden to find rest in Him. Through the work of His Spirit through the reading, hearing, and preaching of His Word, God offers the same to us today.
Reconciliation is offered by God through Jesus, an offer that acknowledges that humanity, due to sin, was alienated and hostile toward God, described as being dead in trespasses and sins. This challenges the notion that all people are inherently good and highlights the need for Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. God, in His love and mercy, reconciled humanity through Jesus’ death, offering salvation and presenting believers as holy and blameless.
It is my prayer that all of us recognize our need reconciliation with God, and that if any have not that they respond by repenting of their sins and believe in Jesus. Remember, this invitation emphasizes that salvation is by grace through faith, not based on deserving it. It is also an invitation for those who believe to continue in the faith, remaining stable, steadfast, and rooted in the hope of the gospel. Re-reading Colossians 1 has led me to examine my own life. I pray it does you, too.
 All Scripture references unless otherwise noted are from the English Standard Version (Wheaton, IL: Crossway Bibles, 2016), Col 1:1–2.
 Cross references show what the Bible says about a particular verse, section, or word. I use the cross references heavily in my study of the Word, especially when preaching and/or teaching the Word. Cross references that parallel the verse, section, or word but do not directly reference it are marked by brackets, for example [1 Peter 2:9-12]. Cross references of similar themes will be designated by the word “See”.
 See 2 Corinthians 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to the church of God that is at Corinth, with all the saints who are in the whole of Achaia….
 See 1 Corinthians 1:1 – Paul, called by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and our brother Sosthenes….
 See 1 Thessalonians 3:2 – …and we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s coworker in the gospel of Christ, to establish and exhort you in your faith….
 Ephesians 1:1 – Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, To the saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus…. | See Philippians 1:1 – Paul and Timothy, servants of Christ Jesus, To all the saints in Christ Jesus who are at Philippi, with the overseers and deacons…..
 Romans 1:7 – To all those in Rome who are loved by God and called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. | 1 Corinthians 1:3 – Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
 Ephesians 1:15-16 – For this reason, because I have heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers…. | Philemon 4 – I thank my God always when I remember you in my prayers….
 See 1 Thessalonians 1:3 – …remembering before our God and Father your work of faith and labor of love and steadfastness of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.
 v. 23 | See Acts 23:6 – Now when Paul perceived that one part were Sadducees and the other Pharisees, he cried out in the council, “Brothers, I am a Pharisee, a son of Pharisees. It is with respect to the hope and the resurrection of the dead that I am on trial.” | Titus 1:2 – …in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began…. | Hebrews 3:6 – …but Christ is faithful over God’s house as a son. And we are his house, if indeed we hold fast our confidence and our boasting in our hope.
 2 Timothy 4:8 – Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing. | 1 Peter 1:4 – …to an inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled, and unfading, kept in heaven for you….
 See Ephesians 1:13 – In him you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit….
 [v. 23] | [Psalm 98:3] – He has remembered his steadfast love and faithfulness to the house of Israel. All the ends of the earth have seen the salvation of our God. | See Matthew 24:14 – And this gospel of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.
 John 15:5 – I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing. | John 15:16 – You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you. | [Philippians 1:11] – …filled with the fruit of righteousness that comes through Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God.
 [Romans 16:26] – …but has now been disclosed and through the prophetic writings has been made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith…. | [Ephesians 4:21] – …assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus….
 See Acts 11:23 – When he came and saw the grace of God, he was glad, and he exhorted them all to remain faithful to the Lord with steadfast purpose….
 ch. 4:12 – Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. | Philemon 23 – Epaphras, my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus, sends greetings to you….
 ch. 4:7 – Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord.
 [Romans 15:30] – I appeal to you, brothers, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf….
 v. 4
 2 Thessalonians 1:11 – To this end we always pray for you, that our God may make you worthy of his calling and may fulfill every resolve for good and every work of faith by his power….
 [Ephesians 1:17] – …that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of glory, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and of revelation in the knowledge of him….
 ch. 4:5 – Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. | Ephesians 1:8 – …which he lavished upon us, in all wisdom and insight…. | [1 Corinthians 12:8] – For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit….
 [Psalm 1:1-3] – Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners nor sits in the seat of scoffers; but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit in its season, and its leaf does not wither. In all that he does, he prospers. | See Ephesians 4:1 – I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called….
 [2 Corinthians 5:9] – So whether we are at home or away, we make it our aim to please him. | [Ephesians 5:10] – …and try to discern what is pleasing to the Lord. | [1 Thessalonians 4:1] – Finally, then, brothers, we ask and urge you in the Lord Jesus, that as you received from us how you ought to walk and to please God, just as you are doing, that you do so more and more.
 v. 6
 See Ephesians 3:16 – …that according to the riches of his glory he may grant you to be strengthened with power through his Spirit in your inner being….
 Ephesians 4:2 – …with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love….
 See Matthew 5:12 – Rejoice and be glad, for your reward is great in heaven, for so they persecuted the prophets who were before you.
 ch. 3:15 – And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. | Ephesians 5:20 – …giving thanks always and for everything to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ….
 See Acts 26:18 – …to open their eyes, so that they may turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in me.”
 1 Thessalonians 1:10 – …and to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, Jesus who delivers us from the wrath to come.
 Luke 22:53 – When I was with you day after day in the temple, you did not lay hands on me. But this is your hour, and the power of darkness.” | Ephesians 6:12 – For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.
 2 Peter 1:11 – For in this way there will be richly provided for you an entrance into the eternal kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.
 [Ephesians 1:6] – …to the praise of his glorious grace, with which he has blessed us in the Beloved.
 See Ephesians 1:7 – In him we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace….
 See 2 Corinthians 4:4 – In their case the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel for the glory of Christ, who is the image of God.
 See 1 Timothy 1:17 – To the King of the ages, immortal, invisible, the only God, be honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
 [Psalm 89:27] – And I will make him the firstborn, the highest of the kings of the earth. | See Romans 8:29 – For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers.
 Ephesians 1:10 – …as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
 [Ezekiel 10:1] – Then I looked, and behold, on the expanse that was over the heads of the cherubim there appeared above them something like a sapphire, in appearance like a throne.
 Ephesians 1:21 – …far above all rule and authority and power and dominion, and above every name that is named, not only in this age but also in the one to come.
 Romans 11:36 – For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be glory forever. Amen. | 1 Corinthians 8:6 – …yet for us there is one God, the Father, from whom are all things and for whom we exist, and one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom are all things and through whom we exist.
 [John 8:58] – Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” | See John 1:1 – In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.
 [Hebrews 1:3] – He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power.
 See Ephesians 1:22-23 – And he put all things under his feet and gave him as head over all things to the church, which is his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.
 Revelation 3:14 – “And to the angel of the church in Laodicea write, ‘The words of the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of God’s creation.
 Acts 26:23 – …that the Christ must suffer and that, by being the first to rise from the dead, he would proclaim light both to our people and to the Gentiles.” | 1 Corinthians 15:20 – But in fact Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. | Revelation 1:5 – …and from Jesus Christ the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of kings on earth. To him who loves us and has freed us from our sins by his blood….
 ch. 2:9 – For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily….
 See John 1:16 – For from his fullness we have all received, grace upon grace.
 See 2 Corinthians 5:18 – All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation…. | See Ephesians 1:10 – …as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth.
 See Ephesians 2:14 – For he himself is our peace, who has made us both one and has broken down in his flesh the dividing wall of hostility….
 [Ephesians 2:13] – But now in Christ Jesus you who once were far off have been brought near by the blood of Christ.
 See Ephesians 2:1-2 – And you were dead in the trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience…. | See Ephesians 2:12 – …remember that you were at that time separated from Christ, alienated from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers to the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world.
 [Titus 1:16] – They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
 [Romans 7:4] – Likewise, my brothers, you also have died to the law through the body of Christ, so that you may belong to another, to him who has been raised from the dead, in order that we may bear fruit for God.
 Jude 24 – Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy…. | See Ephesians 1:4 – …even as he chose us in him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him. | See Ephesians 5:27 – …so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish.
 1 Corinthians 1:8 – …who will sustain you to the end, guiltless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ.
 See John 15:4 – Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.
 ch. 2:7 – …rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving. | Ephesians 3:17 – …so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith – that you, being rooted and grounded in love….
 vv. 5-6
 Mark 16:15 – And he said to them, “Go into all the world and proclaim the gospel to the whole creation. | [Acts 2:5]
 See 2 Corinthians 3:6 – …who has made us sufficient to be ministers of a new covenant, not of the letter but of the Spirit. For the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life.