Series: Best Book In the BibleEvery Christian knows the importance of reading their Bible, but many are overwhelmed with the task of devouring such a monstrous book! Often times, when Christians lose steam in their yearly reading plans, they can become frustrated and feel defeated. It is for this reason that individual book studies can be a lifesaver. In the Best Book in the Bible series, we will provide entry points into faithful study through “selling” you on why you should fall in love with the various books of the Bible.
As Christians, we often struggle to keep things in perspective. We know that Jesus Christ should be the center of our lives, as well as the object of our highest praise and worship. However, when we wander off the path, and allow ourselves to operate according to our flesh, we take our eyes off Christ and begin to exalt other things in His place. But the way forward is up—elevating our eyes to the Lord Jesus and seeing Him high and exalted! For those who would see Him magnified, Colossians is the best book in the Bible.
Main Themes: Exalted Life in Christ
“And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created by Him and for Him.” (Col. 1:15-16)
“And we proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, that we may present every man complete in Christ.” (Col. 1:28)
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Col. 2:6-7)
Writing from prison, the apostle Paul penned this short letter to the church at Colossae because they were facing a barrage of false teaching. The culture in this pagan region was increasingly syncretistic—meaning that people were trying to blend elements of spirituality together to form their own “designer religion”. To combat these errors, Paul sets out to exalt Jesus Christ, declaring Him to be the Lord of creation and the Head of the Church.
(1:1-14). In the opening section, Paul greets the Colossian church and impresses on them his love for them, including his distinct prayer for them. Instead of being carried away into the shifting sands of false religion, his desire is that they would “Be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (1:9). In the end, a strong grasp of doctrine is supposed to bear fruit in the lives of believers; our walk must be impacted (1:10).
(1:15-29). After addressing the church, Paul then launches into a beautiful discourse on the exaltation of the Lord Jesus, which includes a passage known as “The Hymn of the Incarnation” (1:15-18). At the end of chapter 1, Paul impresses on them that his charge as a pastor is to lead them into a strong and mature relationship with Jesus Christ (1:28-29).
(2:1-23). In this next section, Paul methodically dismantles every false religious system in Colossae. Masterfully, he makes his case that Christ is exalted over philosophy (2:1-10), over legalism (2:11-17), over mysticism (2:18-19), and over asceticism (2:20-23). In every case, it is the work of Christ that marks out the Christian life, not the vain strivings of sinful people.
(3:1-4:6). The second half of the letter mirrors much of the content from Ephesians, as Paul exhorts the church to live righteously before God and others. He encourages them in their behavior (3:5-17) and even in their interactions with family members (3:18-4:1). Every aspect of life is considered.
(4:7-18). In the closing section, Paul addresses some of his friends and co-laborers: Tychicus, Onesimus (see Philemon), Aristarchus, Justus, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, and Archippus.
What Makes This Book So Great:
While it is a relatively short letter, Colossians is full of some of the most breathtaking passages in the New Testament! For example, 1:15-18, 2:9-14, and 3:15-17. While many apologists endeavor to weave a tapestry of philosophical arguments in order to win debates, Paul models a simple yet powerful method: preach Christ! In the end, Jesus Christ can never be lifted up high enough. The more we seek Him and glory in His majesty, the more we are raised with Him into heavenly realms.
This letter can easily be read in one sitting, and I would suggest repeated readings. Challenge yourself to memorize key verses and passages (1:15-18; 1:28; 2:6-7; 3:2; 3:15-17; 4:2; etc.). Pay close attention to Paul’s encouragement in 1:9-10, that the church would become devoted to all aspects of spiritual understanding. If you’re not already doing it, perhaps this might be a good season to begin studying theology!
- John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Colossians & Philemon. Chicago: Moody, 1992.
- David W. Pao, The Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Colossians & Philemon. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012.
- Douglas J. Moo, The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 2008.