Colossians 1-2 Pleasing God

Colossians 1-2 Pleasing God

TMS Isaiah 41:10 Where is Your God?
Isaiah 41:10 Fear not, for I am with you;
Be not dismayed, for I am your God.
I will strengthen you,
Yes, I will help you,
I will uphold you with My righteous right hand.
11 Behold, all those who were incensed against you shall be ashamed and disgraced;
They shall be as nothing, and those who strive with you shall perish.”

Observations: 41:10 Those who have chosen to follow God will frequently have more than the normal share of difficulties, because they are swimming upstream against the flow of their world. They will also have added adversaries in the spiritual realm. But God gives promises to His servants (note context) so that there is no need to fear nor be dismayed. The word for dismay is to look anxiously about, seeking a way of escape or a source of deliverance. The servant of God need not look any further than the all-sufficient God who is next to them, within them, over, under, around, in front of, and behind them. God promises to be with them. (See "The God of Peace" in Philippians 4). He has revealed Himself to be our Helper, to uphold us when we slip or stumble, and pick us up when we fall. His objective is not to harm us, but to bless us. He upholds us with His righteous right hand, attached to His mighty arm. With that kind of help next to us, what is there to fear?

Application: When tempted to fear or flee, remember who your God is and where He is; express your dependence upon Him and look to do His will.

Prayer: “I arise today, through God's strength to pilot me, God's might to uphold me, God's wisdom to guide me, God's eye to look before me, God's ear to hear me, God's word to speak for me, God's hand to guard me, God's shield to protect me, God's host to save me   From snares of devils, From temptation of vices, From everyone who shall wish me ill,
afar and near.
Christ with me, Christ before me, Christ behind me, Christ in me, Christ beneath me, Christ above me, Christ on my right, Christ on my left, Christ when I lie down, Christ when I sit down, Christ when I arise...” Amen.
From St. Patrick's breastplate.

Colossians 1-2 In his letter to the Church at Colosse, which parallels much of the content of Ephesians, Paul emphasizes what forgiven, faith-exercising believers need to do to please Christ. Only those will reap the reward/inheritance promised in the hope held out in the gospel (which is not forgiveness of sins – that's a done deal). He warns Christians of following Jewish ritual (which will disqualify them from their inheritance) rather than following Christ by faith (which ensures their temporal and eternal victory). In their union with Christ, believers have all they need to receive the grace and peace God offers. See link under Digging Deeper for a sermon on Living the Christian Life After the Cross.

Colossians 1 Pleasing God

Colossians 1:1 "Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people/saints 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of His will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives, 10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please Him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, 12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of His holy people in the kingdom of light. 13 For He has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son He loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
15 The Son is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. 16 For in/by Him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 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 and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything He might have the supremacy. 19 For God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile to Himself all things, whether things on earth or things in heaven, by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross.

21 Once you were alienated from God and were enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. 22 But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in His sight, without blemish and free from accusation — 23 if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel. This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven, and of which I, Paul, have become a servant.

24 Now I rejoice in what I am suffering for you, and I fill up in my flesh what is still lacking in regard to Christ’s afflictions, for the sake of His body, which is the church. 25 I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness — 26 the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. 27 To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature/complete in Christ. 29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me."

: 1:1-2 Paul and his faithful sidekick Timothy write to the believers at Colosse. Note how Paul validates and boosts Timothy's status in the eyes of his audience so that they would accept him as a teacher of the truth.
1:3-8 It’s really important to know and understand why the saints at Colosse had noteworthy faith and love. It was because of (sprung from/based upon) their hope. Hope is expectation of reward, which they heard about in the good news of the Kingdom promised in the OT (see the Matthew Introduction). Those who understand the gospel know that the message of God's grace is not just about the grace that forgives our sins, nor just God's empowering grace, but the grace that faithful believers will receive as a reward in the Messianic Kingdom  (see Survey of Grace and 1 Peter 1 if you haven't studied the Biblical use of grace). The expectation of reward bears fruit in the lives of faithful believers as they change their values and behaviors to be in a blessable position. The fruit of the Spirit of grace is love manifested toward other believers in sacrificial service (Galatians 5:22). Epaphras not only taught them and told Paul about the love they had based upon the dynamic of the Spirit, but he also manifested it himself (Colossians 4:12; Philemon 1:23).
1:9-14 Paul wants more for the believers than just to demonstrate faith and love. He prays that knowledge of God's will would fill and control them, so they would please the Lord in every way and be worthy of their inheritance. If you don't know what He wants, it's difficult to do what He wants. Remember that OT righteousness involves both knowing and doing what is right in His sight. The Holy Spirit gives wisdom (choosing the right objectives and means of obtaining them) as well as understanding. The Wisdom Literature teaches that the fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding (Job 28:28; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 9:10). The Holy Spirit gives both wisdom and understanding through His revelation. But Paul's prayer is not just that they would know, but would be filled or controlled by that knowledge. Those who please God not only know and do His will; but they also
  • bear fruit in every good work (so He looks good as a result of their lives);
  • grow in the knowledge of God;
  • draw upon His power so that they would endure the difficulties of following Christ;
  • and are excited about their future inheritance.
Believers are qualified to share in the inheritance as a result of being born again. Qualifying for something is different from actually getting or wining it. Those who are on track to receive an inheritance greatly rejoice in it (not forgiveness; cf. 1 Peter 1:6). Those who are not worthy to receive God's reward don't care much about it, and definitely don't rejoice in the prospect of their inheritance. Those who trust Christ as God's provision for their sin have been transferred/moved from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light. In union with Christ, we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins. Note that the basis of our redemption is forgiveness, granted by justifying grace. The basis of reward is our worthy, grace-empowered  fruitfulness and works, which please Christ.
1:15-20 Paul now provides the basis for why the kingdom is Christ's, and God has transferred us to His kingdom. He is the visible expression of the invisible God. He is the Creator of all, and holds all things together, from orbiting electrons to spinning galaxies. He is also the Head of His Body, the church, so that in all things He might be the Supreme Lord of All. This is similar to Paul's exposition of God's purpose for saving us in Ephesians 1 (see comments there). God purposed to have all His fullness (deity) dwell in Christ, and through Him reconcile to Himself all things through the peace secured by the propitiatory payment of the blood sacrifice of the cross.
1:21-23 The need for reconciliation is occasioned by our evil behavior, which resulted in alienation from God. Note the mental state which results in physical sin. Those who were once separated, God justified, on the basis of Christ's death. But it doesn't end there. God wants us to be presented holy and blameless in His sight, but that is clearly conditional. Our forgiveness and escape from the lake of fire is assured, based upon belief in the Father's acceptance of Christ's death. Our holiness and blamelessness is dependent upon belief in the hope or reward held out in the gospel (as referenced in verses 3-8). If we don't believe that God rewards those who diligently seek Him (faith as in Hebrews 11:6), we will seek things that please ourselves rather than what pleases Him. If we are transformed by the renewing of our minds and values, we will be pleased if we know we are pleasing to God, which is the basis of a great self-image. This is the gospel that Paul proclaimed to every creature (obviously a figure of speech - hyperbole).
1:24-29 Paul rejoices in suffering to further benefit the Body of believers. Christ's death constituted them, and then Christ commissioned Paul to further sanctify them through the teaching of the truth about the mystery. The mystery was previously hidden in the OT, that the Gentiles would be blessed as full heirs, equal in inheritance with the Jews.
Acts 26:17 "I will deliver you from the Jewish people, as well as from the Gentiles, to whom I now send you, 18 to open their eyes, in order to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me."
Therefore Paul proclaims the Messiah/Christ, warning and teaching so that all may be fully mature in Christ. Maturity doesn't happen automatically. Those who don't respond to the teaching of truth remain babes. The major mark of maturity is the ability to reproduce. Infants don't reproduce physically nor spiritually. Mature believers engender life in others through evangelism, and nurture that life until it can sustain itself and reproduce that life in others. To this end Paul labors, drawing upon all the grace and power of God. Those who don't respond to God's truth, especially the truth emphasized in this chapter (hope of reward), will not mature nor reap the hope of reward held out in the gospel.

Application: How many of the things that please God are you currently doing on a regular basis? Is God pleased with you?

Prayer: God, thanks that You have forgiven me and have plans to bless me; may I be careful to do what is pleasing in Your sight and reap the hope You have stored up for me. Amen.

Colossians 2 Victory in Jesus
Colossians 2:1 "For I desire to have you know how greatly I struggle for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, they being knit together in love, and gaining all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may experience/know the mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ, 3 in whom are all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge hidden. 4 Now this I say that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, rejoicing and seeing your order, and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus, the Lord, walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, even as you were taught, abounding in it in/with thanksgiving. 8 Be careful that you don’t let anyone rob/deceive you through his philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elements of the world, and not after Christ. 9 For in Him all the fullness of the Godhead dwells bodily,10 and in Him you have been liberally furnished/supplied, who is the head of all principality and power; 11 in whom you were also circumcised with a circumcision not made with hands, in the putting off of the body of the sins of the flesh, in the circumcision of Christ; 12 having been buried with Him in baptism, in which you were also raised with Him through faith in the working of God, who raised Him from the dead. 13 You were dead through/en your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh. He made you alive together with Him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 wiping out the charge of legal indebtedness (NIV) which was against us; and He has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross; 15 having stripped the principalities and the powers, He made a show of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
16 Let no one therefore judge/condemn you in eating, or in drinking, or with respect to a feast day or a new moon or a Sabbath day, 17 which are a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s. 18 Let no one rob/disqualify you of your reward by a delight in false humility and worshiping of the angels, dwelling in the things which he has not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding firmly to the Head, from whom all the body, being supplied and knit together through the joints and ligaments, grows with God’s growth. 20 If you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, do you subject yourselves to ordinances, 21 “Don’t handle, nor taste, nor touch” 22 (all of which perish with use), according to the precepts and doctrines of men? 23 Which things indeed appear like wisdom in self-imposed worship, and humility, and severity to the body; but aren’t of any value against the indulgence of the flesh."

Observations: 2:1-5 Paul is concerned that false teaching will derail them from reaching the blessings God desires for them. He wishes he could see them all in person to counteract the persuasiveness of those attempting to lead them astray. He prays that they will be encouraged, unified in love, and gain all the riches God has planned according to the revelation of the mystery. “Know” is epignosis, experiential knowledge. In union with Christ, they will find all the treasure that come from wisdom and knowledge (Proverbs 8:8-21 - not ends in themselves, but means of obtaining treasure). Although absent physically, he was present in spirit as he thought of them. It's unlikely that he was somehow observing them via the Spirit, since he had heard about their state from Epaphras in 1:7. He rejoiced as he heard about their order/unity and steadfast unwavering faith in God's promises.
2:6-15 Paul warns them against a number of things which will disqualify them from the reward offered in the gospel. The elements of this world are defined as Jewish rituals and traditions in 2:16 and Galatians 4:3. So rather than being seduced by Judaizers, they should walk by faith in the revelation of Christ, which is just how they received Him (by faith). They were rooted and established by faith, and thus should bear fruit by faith (belief that God is who He said He is and will do what He said He'll do -reward those who diligently seek Him; cf. Hebrews 11:6). The point of being rooted is to bear fruit. In Christ they have been (perfect tense) liberally supplied with all they need. Many versions translate this word as totally complete, as if there is nothing else to do. “Complete” is a legitimate translation in some instances, and so is “liberally supplied” which far better fits this context. They don't need Judaism, because in Christ they have all they need to do God's will and please Him (and thus realize their hope of blessing). In their union with Christ they have been circumcised by the Spirit. Note the use of this concept in considering who is a Jew from the standpoint of the ones blessed by God in Romans 2.
Romans 2:28 “For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; 29 but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is that of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God.”
The Colossian believers were dead because of their sins, but in union with Christ, God forgave them on the basis of His death, and made them alive in union with Him. In Christ, they share in victory over and spoil (glory/authority/rule) of the powers of this Age. None of that occurs in Judaism, but only in Christ. He is all they need.
2:16-23 The believers should not pay attention to any of the Jewish condemnations for not following their rituals, including the Sabbath, which are a mere shadow of the coming reality which casts the shadow, the Body of Christ. Those who follow ritual rather than reality will lose their reward/inheritance. Those who delight in vanities, speculations, and subjective “revelations” have lost connection with the Head of the Body, Christ. Those who lose connection with Christ are not properly connected to other members either (a sure sign of a carnal Christian). Believers have died to this world by their union with Christ, so they should not subject themselves to the rules of it as if they were still “citizens” of this world. The external rituals emphasized by those without a real relationship with Christ might look pious and religious, but the proof of truth is in the fruit of righteousness. The Biblical measure of teaching is if it is valuable in restraining the indulgence of the desire for temporal things. Those who slosh about in the swamp of sin, living defeated rather than victorious Christian lives, are being robbed of their reward by false teaching. If a person practices external ritual, without an inner renewal, they will wind up seeking the gratification of temporal desires, rather than the pursuit of eternal delights. If a believer only seeks the things the worldings seek, they have not been exposed to, nor have embraced Biblical teaching.

Application: Those who are united with Christ by steadfast faith in all His revelation (which in the gospels was largely about living to be blessed in the Kingdom) will experience victory in this life and the spoils of that victory in the next.

Prayer: God, thanks that You have not only qualified me to share in the inheritance of the saints in the Kingdom of light, but in Christ give all that is necessary for me to live in victory and sure expectation of reward. Amen.

Digging Deeper

God in a nutshell: God offers forgiveness to those who exercise faith, as well grace, peace, victory and reward to those who please Him.

Build-a-Jesus: In Christ are all the treasures that result from wisdom and knowledge. In union with Him, believers have all they need to reap their reward.

Us in a nutshell: Believers motivated by the hope of reward held out in the gospel will live by faith, in union with Christ and other believers, and thus please God.

Where to Go for More:
Colossians: Living the Christian Life after the Cross

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