Introduction to Colossians
I want to share with you tonight that we’re going to begin the study together of the book of Colossians.
So if you would take your NT and turn to the book of Colossians...
I want to share with you the introduction to this great book.
I don’t know of a book that is more needed in our day than the book of Colossians.
Probably next to the book of Hebrews it is the most Christ exalting book in all of the NT.
And you and I live in a day when Jesus needs to be exalted.
I like singing that little phrase, “I will glorify his name”...
Because the name of Jesus needs to be lifted up.
And you know Jesus made a promise.
He said, “When I am lifted up, I’ll draw all men unto me.”
Men are not going to be attracted to denominations.
Men are not going to be attracted to philosophers.
But when Jesus is exalted he really does draw people unto himself.
And so I want to share with you tonight the introduction to the book of Colossians...
And then we’ll just go straight through until we come to the end of it.
>I’m not going to give you a lot of historical background...
Because I’ve discovered that hardly anybody is ever interested in that.
I could tell you that the city of
And that would let you know that I read a paragraph out of a book...
But you probably have never seen and never will see the Lycus River Valley of Asia Minor.
Most of us never even get to Asia Major much.
But the book of Colossians is just as current as tomorrow’s newspaper.
>Paul had never been to Colosse, and yet two of his companions had.
Timothy was one.
We know a lot about Timothy.
And another on was a man by the name of Epaphras.
Timothy and Epaphras had gone to Colosse.
They had also gone to
We read about the Laodicean church in the book of Revelation.
And Epaphras and Timothy started the three churches in those three towns...
They had all three at one time been great commercial centers, but now Colosse was on the decline.
But a church had been started there.
The gospel had been preached there.
And when Timothy left to go back to rejoin Paul to continue missionary work...
Epaphras stayed in Colosse and became their spiritual leader, their pastor.
>Now as these words are written Paul is in prison.
Paul always wanted to go to
He had a great desire to go to
There were some who said Paul was afraid to go to
Paul would preach in other places they said...
But Paul wouldn’t go to
Not refined enough, not polished enough to go to
Paul wrote to the church in
To preach the gospel there; for I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ...
For it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth...
To the Jew first and also to the Greek.”
Paul had a desire to go to
He went there as a prisoner.
Paul had been falsely accused and he was going to be sentenced to death...
But he said, “I’m a Roman citizen”...
And no Jewish court could deal with a Roman citizen.
And so when Paul said, “I’m a Roman citizen”, they
backed off and sent him to
But they sent him in shackles and irons and in stocks on his feet.
So he finally comes to
He doesn’t have any audience with the Pope.
There wasn’t any Pope.
Paul did not go to
And when he got there he was not placed in the
Holiday Inn or even the
But rather he was in prison.
This is a prison epistle of Paul.
He writes from the Roman prison, the most fierce prison known to man at that time.
I suppose you’d have to think of
And from the depths of the Roman prison in a dungeon with jailers chained on either side of him to him...
With many stripes having been beaten, separated from family and friends...
In a place he’d never really been before Paul writes to the church at Colosse.
While Paul is in prison Epaphras, the pastor of the Colossian church, comes to visit him.
I suppose if I were in a strange prison I would want a familiar face to come to see me.
>So Epaphras goes to
And he goes in and he says, “Paul, I want to tell you two things about the church at Colosse.
First of all I want to tell you that we’re making some progress.
God is doing some good things.
Paul, there are some lives being changed...there are people being saved.
Paul, the gospel is advancing...there are some homes being strengthened.
There are a lot of good things, Paul...we’re making progress in the church.
But Paul, I want to tell you something else.
Not only is there progress in the church, there’s a problem in the church.
And I have to tell you what the problem is, Paul.
The problem is that there has come into the church at Colosse...
A group of people who are teaching false doctrine.
They are teaching that which is just not true.”
>And let me tell you about false doctrine, friends...
And I’ve studied false doctrine and those who teach it.
There’s one truth that I’ve come to understand out of it.
Just about all false teachers and false doctrines do basically two things.
It belittles the person of Jesus and exalts the religion of man.
Now you think about what you think of as false doctrine.
Today in our world there are those who say that in order to be a Christian...
It is not enough to repent of sin and put your faith in Jesus Christ.
In order to be a Christian you must take the Lord’s Supper.
Or in order to be a Christian you must be baptized.
Or in order to be a Christian you must join this particular church.
Or in order to be a Christian you must have this kind of experience.
Now if you’ll think about that closely and long enough you’ll discover that what they are really saying is this:
Jesus is insufficient to save on his own.
It is Jesus plus the Lord’s Supper...or Jesus plus baptism...
Or Jesus plus church membership...or Jesus plus this other experience.
So in reality what they are doing is they are belittling the person of Christ...
And they are exalting the religion of man.
You think about even some of the neo-Pentecostal movement today.
And I’m not down on those folks.
I have a lot of them that are my friends, and if I weren’t a Baptist I’d probably be right there in the middle of them.
But in some, not all, but in some of the neo-Pentecostal movement today...
If you’ll listen carefully enough here’s what they will say:
“Oh, I’m very happy for you as a Baptist...I’m very happy for you that you’ve been saved...
But oh there is something so much better than just being saved.
Now it’s good to be saved, but that’s just sort of first kindergarten stuff.
But if you want to have a real Christian walk, you must have this experience and this experience...”
And if you listen carefully, not all of them...I want you to know, not all of them...
But if you listen carefully enough to some of them, what they are doing whether they are conscious of it or not...
Is belittling Jesus.
In other words, Jesus alone is not enough to give you fullness of joy.
Jesus alone is not enough to give you victory in your life.
Jesus alone is not enough to meet the needs that you are going to face.
It’s very subtle...it has a lot of sparkle to it...
It even has some attraction to the spiritual nature of a man.
But if you listen to it closely you’ll find that what it really does is belittle the person of Christ.
And it doesn’t make any difference whether you are examining the cults like Mormonism...
And Jehovah’s Witness and Christian Science, which is neither Christian nor scientific.
You can examine all of the cults or you can examine the other great so-called religions of our world...
Buddhism and Mohammedism and Islam...
You can look them all over and you’ll find that essentially what false doctrine is...
Is not an attack on what I believe...
It’s not an attack on what you believe...
But essentially it is belittling the person of Jesus Christ.
The devil could care less what you and I think.
But if the devil can belittle Jesus to the point that we as Christians no longer believe that he is enough...
Then Satan has scored a major victory.
I mean the world doesn’t have much regard for Christ anyway...
And if saved people have a belittled opinion of the Son of God then God help us.
Now that’s what was going on in Colosse.
Epaphras said, “Paul, I see you here in this dungeon. I see you here in chains and stocks...
I see you here with all these whelps on your body, and I want you to know...
There are churches in some areas making real progress...
But Paul, I want to tell you that there’s a real problem that has gripped our church...
And that is the presence of false doctrine.”
And so you and I as we go through the book of Colossians, Paul is going to make much of Jesus...
Because I am convinced that is the cure of false doctrine.
You and I don’t have to spend a lot of time studying the false if we will be familiar with the true.
If we can know the real Jesus and love him...
Paul had been saved a long, long time when he wrote
to the church at
Paul knew the Lord, but he said in Philippians 3:
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death.
Paul said, “I want to know him and to know him and to know him.”
Paul never chased after this doctrine or that doctrine.
Paul never chased after this experience or that experience.
The pursuit of Paul’s life was to know Jesus more and more.
And so as we read the book of Colossians we’re going to find that emphasis.
>Now back to the first two verses of the book...(verse 1)
We’re introduced first of all in the book to the one who wrote it.
In our day and our culture when we write a letter we don’t put our name until the very end...
And we have to read the whole letter before we find out who it’s from.
But in that day they were much more sensible about it.
They put their name, whoever wrote it, first.
So if you opened it up the first name you saw, that’s who wrote it.
If you liked him you read it...
If you didn’t you discarded it.
Paul, he’s the writer.
>The first thing we know about him is his name...Paul.
That wasn’t the name he was born with.
You know the name he was born with?
The name he was born with was Saul.
We first read about him in the book of Acts as Saul of Tarsus, and he was anything but a Christian.
He was a Jesus hater.
He despised Christ.
He despised Christianity.
He looked at Christians as a false way...
And he did everything he could to eliminate the name of Jesus from the face of the earth.
Why he was even on his way to
To destroy another church and throw other Christians in prison when God saved him.
In that day people named their children after people just like we name children today after folks.
Maybe you are named after an uncle...maybe an aunt...
Maybe you’re named after your daddy.
A lot of us carry names that we’re named for somebody.
My name is Joe Renwick.
That’s if I ?
Thompson...that’s for my dad.
We all, many of us are named for somebody.
Well, Saul when he was born to his mom and dad of
He was a “Hebrew of the Hebrews” he said in Philippians 3.
His mother and dad were both Jews.
And so they thought about their ancestry in Judaism they thought about the first king, King Saul.
We’ve been studying him some in the book of I Samuel.
And yet the very name, “Saul” it just reeks of pride and conceit and arrogance...
And self-confidence and self-reliance.
And when Saul of Tarsus became a Christian, he said, “I don’t want to be known as that...
I don’t want anybody to hear my name and think of someone who’s conceited and arrogant.”
And so he changed his name from Saul to Paulus, Paul.
It means “the little one, the insignificant one, the one who is nothing.”
And so his very name gives testimony to the power of that wonderful change we sang about a moment ago in a person’s life.
There was a day when he was like Saul of the OT.
There was a day when as Saul of Tarsus he was full of arrogance and pride.
But when Jesus comes into your life, friends, he lets you know right off the bat...
That without him you are just nothing.
I mean we’re just not anything without him.
Bill Stafford says he knows some folks that can strut while they’re sitting down.
I’ve met a few myself.
But there’s not anyplace for that in the
We’re all little ones.
>But not only do we see his name, we see his office.
“Paul, an apostle...”
The word “apostle” literally means “one sent” or “one sent forth.”
But it’s not ever used in the NT sense of an office as a general term.
In the book of Hebrews, Jesus himself is identified as the apostle...
But you and I know that there were 12 apostles and one of them was Judas and he fizzled.
And the disciples, in Acts 1, they replaced him with a man by the name of Matthias.
So Paul would really be the 13th apostle.
And there were some in Paul’s day that challenged his apostleship.
They said, “Why Paul, you never journeyed with Christ while he was on the earth in his earthly pilgrimage.
You never journeyed with him, and you did not see him after his resurrection.”
And Paul said, “I may not have journeyed with him, but I want to tell you, I’ve seen him.
Because on the road to
And I saw that glorious heavenly vision, and I’ve never been the same since.”
He said, “I’m not an apostle by choice...I’m an apostle because I chose to be, it’s somebody else’s authority.”
He said, “I am an apostle of the will of God...
God has called me to be an apostle.”
Somebody said, “Bro. Joe, do we have apostles today?”
No we don’t.
The apostolic age came to an end when the Bible was completed.
We don’t need apostles today.
We have the full word of God.
The Bible tells us that there is a curse upon anyone who adds anything to or takes anything from this book.
This is the faith once for all delivered according to the book of Jude.
The Bible is the perfect word of God, complete, infallible and inerrant.
And there is no reason for an apostle today.
Because you see, an apostle was not just one sent.
He was one sent forth with the full authority of Jesus Christ.
And the words that an apostle spoke were just as inspired as the words that Jesus spoke.
That’s why all of the writing of the NT is inspired.
>I heard a preacher not long ago that said, “Well just read the red.”
He was talking about get you a red letter NT and just read the red.
I tell you that’s heresy.
The red letters are not the only things inspired in the NT.
All of it is inspired by the Holy Spirit of God because Paul and the others who wrote were men of authority.
They were apostles sent by the Lord Jesus with his full authority.
And no, we don’t have apostles anymore.
>Paul was an apostle.
He was the last of the apostles.
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God”, and he says, “Timothy our brother.”
Now Timothy is not a co-author of the book.
He is simply there with Paul, and because Timothy had a part in the beginning of this church...
Paul acknowledges his presence out of respect.
Now Paul loved Timothy and Timothy was a wonderful young missionary.
Timothy had a wonderful heritage.
He had a godly grandmother by the name of Lois and a godly mother by the name of Eunice.
And his mother and grandmother taught him the word of God.
Thank God for mamas and grand mamas who will teach their children and grandchildren the word of God.
>In verse 2, we’re introduced to the readers:
He’s writing to Christians.
He’s not writing to the City Council of Colosse.
He’s not writing to the unregenerated people of Colosse.
He’s writing to saints.
One of the greatest tragedies of Christendom is that word “saint”...
Has come to be a term that is applied to only a few elite super Christians.
But that’s not what the New Testament teaches.
The New Testament teaches that all Christians are saints.
Now we don’t go around calling
You know...we don’t do that...but in all honesty every one who is a Christian is a saint.
>The word “saint”, it means to set apart, to restrict, to reserve.
If you ever go to the mall you’ll find that the best parking places are reserved for handicapped people.
Now I don’t begrudge them that except handicapped people don’t ever get out.
Have you ever noticed that the handicapped parking places are always empty?
They don’t ever go anywhere I guess...I don’t know.
Pouring down rain and not one single car in the handicapped places.
They just stay home.
But you know that if you park in that handicapped place...
Most likely you are going to be ticketed because those are reserved for somebody else.
>When you became a Christian God put a “reserved” sign on your life.
Friends, we are reserved for him.
>Sometimes in the New Testament we find Paul saying he has all things.
Other times in the New Testament Paul says, “I don’t have anything.”
You can give the devil a fit with that.
The devil comes and says to you, “Now if you don’t do this I’ll take that away from you.”
You can’t take anything.
I don’t have anything.
“Well if you’ll do this and this and this I’ll give you this.”
You can’t give me anything...I’ve already got everything, amen?
What’s the devil gonna do with that?
I have all things and yet I have nothing.
I know how to about and yet I know how to be abased.
God has it all worked out and all you and I have to do is get in on it.
And then he says, “Holy and faithful brothers.”
That speaks of my relationship with God.
“Brothers” speaks of my relationship with other believers.
That’s what we are.
We’re a family.
Did you always get along with everybody in your family? Did you?
I always got along with all my brothers ‘cause I never had any.
But I had some cousins that gave me fits.
Everybody in a family doesn’t always agree on things.
Brenda and I don’t always agree...hardly ever.
But we love each other and we still get along...most of the time.
>Folks in church don’t always see eye to eye...big deal.
That’s why some churches have red carpet and some blue carpet and some don’t have carpet at all.
What’s the use of fighting over that? See?
That’s not anything to fight about.
Now there are some hills to die on, but most things that we die on are not a hill to die on.
Do we always agree? No.
We’re not gonna always agree.
But who in the world cares?
100 years from now it’s not gonna matter, amen?
But we’re brothers and sisters in Christ and he identifies them as faithful.
>What does that mean?
Well I think it means that I may not always agree with you, but I’m gonna be faithful to be your brother regardless.
You don’t have to agree with me for us to love one another.
I mean if two people had to agree all the time to be married, we’d be divorced a long time ago.
You don’t have to agree on everything.
That’s why about everybody has got two cars because we can’t ever decide to go to the same place at the same time.
That’s why when you go out to a restaurant you and your wife hardly ever order the same thing.
But we still love each other.
We’re a family.
I’m a saint...that relates me to Jesus.
I’m a brother...that relates me to you, and I’m to be a faithful brother.
I’m to be as faithful to you as a brother as I am to Jesus as a saint.
I’m not to let anybody belittle the Lord Jesus, and I’m not going to let anybody belittle you in my presence.
Just can’t do it...that’s being a faithful brother.
>But not only does he identify them as saints and faithful brethren, he locates them.
Did you know that as Christians we live in two spheres?
He says, “to the holy and faithful brothers in Christ.”
Now that’s where we live...we’re in Christ.
That was Paul’s favorite description of being a Christian...in Christ.
He uses it over 130 times in the New Testament.
In Christ...in Jesus...in the Lord...in Him.
And not only are we in him, he’s in us.
What a divine transaction.
One day I gave my life to Jesus Christ and all of a sudden I found myself filled with him.
That’s what it means to be a Christian.
It means I live in a spiritual world.
I’m in Christ....this world is no my house....
I’m just passing through.
Isn’t that what we sing about?
>But also, I have to also realize that I do live in a physical world.
“To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse”.
If he were writing to us, he’d say to the “holy and
faithful brothers who are in Christ at
We live in a spiritual dimension, a spiritual world.
We’re in Christ.
But we live in a physical world.
This is where we live, where we work.
And what are we to be doing while we’re here?
We’re to be getting others on board to go to heaven.
That’s what we are to be doing.
I mean we’re not supposed to be spending all our time thinking about retirement.
“Man, I can’t wait. When I retire I’m gonna hunt every day.”
I’m telling you, that will get old real quick.
Or, “I’m gonna retire and I’m just gonna fish all day.”
That will get old quick.
You see, friends, God has so ordained us as born again people...
That we cannot be content doing nothing for the
Jeremiah got on a tear and said, “I’m not preaching anymore...
Just not gonna say another word about it...gonna shut my mouth...
Nobody listens anyway...so I don’t care what they do...
I’m not preaching one more time...I’m not gonna say nothing.”
And he lays down on his back right there in the street and just shuts up.
People pass by, “What’s that idiot doing?”
“Don’t say nothing.”
And God set him on fire from the inside out.
I mean anybody can burn from the outside in, but when you get it on the inside you’re in trouble.
He said, “I’ve just got to preach...there’s a fire in my bones.”
You can’t just be content to do nothing.
If you can, you need to check up on yourself.
>Well, we’ve seen the writer.
We’ve seen the readers.
Now I’ll close with the greeting.
“Grace be unto you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
So many commentaries say this is the standard greeting of the Greek concept...
Grace and peace...
I don’t believe that.
I don’t believe Paul ever used the word “grace” like that.
You think of the words we use to describe grace.
Marvelous grace...infinite grace...matchless grace...amazing grace.
No one who has ever been saved by grace can ever speak of grace lightly.
There is something overwhelming about it.
The older I get the more I am thankful to God for grace.
I’m 45...I’ve been preaching in February for 7 years.
And I do more every day to go to hell for than you’d be surprised at.
If you and I really got what we deserve we’d just split hell wide open.
I mean we’ll just be right there grilling right now.
But thank God for his grace.
Grace, greater than all our sin.
Grace and peace – and you’ll never find that order reversed in the New Testament.
It’s never peace and grace...it’s always grace and peace...
Because you can’t ever know peace until you experience grace.
Peace...peace with God...peace of God...
Peace that passes all understanding.
Read verses 1-2.
Friends, everything you and I have from God comes to us from the father through the person of the son.
We don’t have anything apart from Jesus.
It’s all in him.
>That little chorus says, “Complete, complete, complete in him...
I am complete in him.”
Tonight I ask you, “Are you one of those who are in
Do you have a church home?
If not, we invite you to come.
If you need to be saved, you can come today and be saved.
If you need a church home, you can come today and move your membership.