BIBLE STUDY: PART 5
V1. A conflict is a fight or battle, especially one of long duration, according to Mr. Webster. It is also a mental struggle arising from opposing demands or impulses. The conflict Paul was in was spiritual, but against human foes. What could have been causing Paul so much trouble even for the Christians who had never met him? Why did he mention Laodicea?
Apparently Paul had nothing to do with building the churches in Collosae and Laodicea. If he had, the people would know his face. He was, however, their apostolic overseer. Remember, Paul was headed for Collosae and Laodicea during his second missionary journey, but the Spirit forbade him to preach in Asia (Acts 16:6,7). He knew of the troubles in the area churches because of reports he had received from Epaphras. That trouble, or conflict, was that Gnostics were trying to steal the sheep from the churches. Paul was in constant prayer for the congregations so they would not be deceived by the Gnostics.
Paul was the ultimate prayer warrior doing battle in the spiritual realm. He took his responsibility for the people God gave to his care very seriously and knew that prayer was his best defense in their behalf. Any good pastor spends time seeking the Lord's face for his flock. He knows that by prayer and supplication, many hazards can be avoided and many difficulties overcome. If your pastor doesn't pray for you, he's failing you.
Paul wrote this letter to both churches, Collosae and Laodicea, and told the church at Collosae to exchange letters with Laodicea (Colossians 4:16) because he was concerned that both congregations would fall away into Gnosticism.
V2. When you knit something together, you bring stitches up against each surrounding stitch, making a tight union, or bond. The stitches are not so tight they can't move independently, but they are tight enough to support each other. So, the image we get here is that Paul is struggling in prayer for the people in these churches so that their hearts can be knit together, united, able to support each other as they work their own ministries. This knitting, or bonding, allowed the people to develop a loving relationship of spiritual support for each other. This is the "body" concept spoken of in Romans 12:5, "So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another."
To support each other in love allows us to attain (arrive at, reach) a unity that leads to the riches in Glory which is the guarantee that we can now know and understand the mystery Paul mentioned in Colossians 1:26,27, and here. It is now possible to know the reality of who Christ is. That is, He is the Savior of the world, God's people creation.
Sin alienated us from God. To bring us back to relationship with God, Jesus was born on earth, did several years of ministry in preaching, teaching, healing, casting out demons, and building a network of stitches. His stitches were the twelve apostles, the 70 (after Jesus described the cost of discipleship in Luke 9:57-62, He appointed 70 others and sent them out to be missionaries in places He would not visit Himself), and others like Mary, Martha, Priscilla, and so on. As the apostles came to know Jesus better and were knit to Him and to each other, they finally were able to realize the full scope of who Jesus was, (Matthew 16:13-17).
Can't you just hear Peter now! "Wow! you are the Christ! the son of the Living God!" What an exciting revelation to receive from the Holy Spirit.
V3. We all know what treasure is. Often treasure is placed in a box, or chest and can be many items, or just one. This is true of Jesus. He is a treasure for us to uncover.
Please read Isaiah 11:2.
A. We know that the Spirit rested on Jesus. It is written in Matthew3:16.
B. We know He became wisdom for us. It is written in I Corinthians 1:30.
C. We know that He is our counsel. It is written in Isaiah 28:29.
The fear of the Lord mentioned in Isaiah is not the type of fear that makes one dread. Do you remember how you felt when you were little and misbehaved, and your mother said, "Wait till I tell your father about this one!" The dread of his arrival and the thought of his displeasure made your heart thump a funny beat. The fear Isaiah speak of here is the reverence of God. It's the kind that makes you tremble as you consider His unlimited power. God is able to raise up and to destroy. He has the power of life and death in His hands. And His judgments are swift and sure.
We are not scared of God as we are of man, we are in awe of him. II Timothy 1:7, says, "God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, of love and of a sound mind." We need not fear that God will strike us every time we do something wrong. We just need to be aware of the fact that He has the power to do so and honor Him for His strength. This should also give us a deeper respect for the Father who withholds the punishment we often deserve as He waits for us to repent and turn from the things we are involved in.
Paul wrote this letter because he wanted the hearts of the Colossians and Laodiceans to be encouraged. Fear does not bring encouragement. When you fear someone long enough, you begin to hate him. God wanted Paul to tell these people to shun the Gnostics and to revere Him. It was God who wanted the congregations of these churches to draw close to each other, to knit their hearts together in love, to teach the unvarnished Word of God to each other so they could all reach the knowledge of who Christ is, thereby revealing the mystery and reaching all understanding.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 6
V4. The Colossians were to be careful not to be deceived - tricked or fooled - with persuasive words. That is, words that have the ability to make you believe something you would not ordinarily believe. It was persuasive words that cause people to believe that if they committed mass suicide one night, a space ship would come and take them home. Where was this home? supposedly heaven. Individually these people would have believed something so foolish, but add a bewitching leader to the picture and many people can be led down the wide path to destruction.
Paul wanted the Colossians and Laodiceans to know he was in conflict on their behalf. He was contending for them against the power of the prince of darkness in order that their spirits, souls, and hearts would remain in the light.He wanted them to be "... filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding... The Bible tells us to go out into all the earth making disciples of all the nations.
Today missionaries use that as their sending out verse. But in reality this verse has deeper meaning. "All the earth" encompasses our family, our friends, and our neighbors, as well as the world.
Once we understand the concept of making disciples, we realize it doesn't necessarily mean packing up and leaving the comfort of home to move to a foreign country.(Colossians 1:9). He wanted them to come to know completely the, "The mystery that has been hidden from ages and generations" (Colossians 1:26,27). The Mystery, of course, being Jesus Christ.
V5 A. Here's an interesting statement. Paul had never met these people - and he was still far from them physically - yet they were joined spiritually. What did Paul mean by, "I am with you in the Spirit?" He meant that all belonged to one faith, and by that agreement, they were united by the Spirit of God. Paul spirit was joined to their spirit by the Holy Ghost.
This is like my relationship with all of you on the Internet. I've never met most of you, or your families in person, and yet, we have formed a deep friendship, a spiritual connection. The reason this is possible is because we are all indwelled by the omnipresent Holy Spirit of God. Since we have the same mind and heart and we agree on the reality of salvation through Christ, we are able to be filled and knit together, by the same uniting Spirit Paul and the congregations of Colossae and Laodicea were connected by. 1Corinthians 12:13, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit."
V5 B. Paul is rejoicing for the Colossians. The word rejoicing is sugchairo (soongkhaheero). This means that Paul was sympathizing with them in gladness. He was congratulating them on their ability to keep the church running in proper order. That would mean they were employing the gifts of the Spirit (I Corinthians 12: 1-11). I'm sure they were also feeding the hungry and caring for the widows and orphans. The congregation of Colossae was following Christ in steadfastness - a sure and continuing faith. Although they were being tempted to follow the Gnostic clique, they remained true to the Lord.
V6. To receive Christ is to accept Him into our hearts as our Savior and Lord of our lives. But what does it mean to "walk in Him?" I believe Paul used the word walk instead of study because walk is an action verb they knew a lot about. To walk denotes action, movement, a constant moving from one place to another, a continual change of direction. Some would say this walking is getting out and doing the ministry, and that's true, as far as it goes. It also means that as they trained themselves in the Word, they studied to show themselves approved by God (II Timothy 2:15). They also received the Word from those chosen to preach it for edification, and as they matured and went forth later and taught the Word, they were on a continuous journey, an endless walk.
Another "walk" they took was in their minds as they learned new truths of the Word. We know that often as we read the same portion of the Word it comes to mean something different which takes us into an entirely new direction. this comes with maturity. Let me give you an example of what I mean.
The Bible tells us to go out into all the earth making disciples of all the nations.
Today missionaries use that a their sending out verse.
But in reality this verse has deeper meaning. "All the earth" encompasses our family, our friends, and our neighbors, as well as the world.
Once we understand the concept of making disciples, we realize it doesn't necessarily mean packing up and leaving the comfort of home to move to a foreign country.
Walking is something you have to get up to accomplish. So is learning the word. The first is a physical lifting up of the body. The other is a spiritual lifting of the heart and mind. We are called to constantly raise ourselves up to new levels of wisdom and knowledge, from glory to glory, "But we all, with open face beholding as in a glass the glory of the Lord, are changed into the same image from glory to glory, even as by the Spirit of the Lord" (2 Corinthians 3:18).
V7 brings us to a conundrum. If they were to keep walking in Christ, to keep moving, how could they become rooted? To become rooted means to grow downward. A plant becomes rooted into the soil to receive nourishment. It's very much like what Paul meant here. The rooted he was talking about means they were to continue walking in Christ and as they did, they would become rooted in Him, that way, no matter where they went in the world, they were rooted. They were to become established in the faith, deeply rooted and grounded so that even the harshest winds of adversity would not uproot them. They were to be set firmly in the faith.
We are also to become rooted in Christ as a tree becomes rooted in the ground, out tap root going into the heart of Jesus to receive nourishment. We are to establish our faith in Him. But who is it who taught the Colossians, and who now teaches us? Those whom God has anointed to preach and/or teach the Word. Those whom the Holy spirit has gifted to teach. In Colossae, the primary teacher would have been Epaphras. His teacher would have been Paul. His teachers would have been Priscilla and Aquilla, and so on.
Training up pastors and teachers is an important thing for Christian leadership to do. We need to bring people up in the Word and encourage them to undertake their own study and search. We must teach them to stand up strong, rooted in the Word to walk with Christ. As they mature, they must take on the anointing, the authority of the church. this is not to say the authority to boss people around, but the authority to submit to each other and preach the Word.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 7
V8. To beware is to be aware. Here Paul is warning he people to "be aware" lest. This means to be aware with caution. He was warning them that they needed to guard their hearts and minds against the philosophies of the Gnostics and other false teachers, and to also guard against empty (devoid, vacant, foolish) deceit. The philosophy of the Gnostics was void of any truth. They were hearing how to worship everything but God. The Gnostics were teaching the congregations at Colossae, Laodicea, and other churches to worship wisdom and knowledge in order to attain godliness by their own intelligence.
Not all philosophies are wrong or against Christ, but here the Gnostics were teaching a vain religion (James1:26) devoid of any likeness to what Jesus taught. Their tongues were far from what God wanted His body to know. The difference between the Gnostic philosophy and that of the church was, the Gnostics believed the love of wisdom led to a better understanding of who Jesus was. The philosophy of those in the church was that real wisdom was to know and love Jesus better. The church had a pure understanding of truth not a deceptive or vain philosophy that led people astray. Please read Colossians 2:3. Wisdom and knowledge are in Jesus.
If we don't bring every thought into captivity (II Corinthians 10:3-6), we will find ourselves to be one of the elect spoken of in Matthew 24:24. False teachers present the world's philosophy. True teachers present Christ.
V9. "All the fullness of the Godhead bodily." Jesus is God! (John 1:1) He was flesh (John 1:4). He was, and remains, truth (John 14:6).
It is made clear for our understanding that apart from Christ, we can do nothing (John 15:5). We can't breathe, eat, walk, work, or even see each other if it were not God's will for us. Jesus is the Vine, God is the Vine dresser, and we are the branches. Unless we are rooted in Jesus, grafted into Him bysalvation, we can do nothing of any lasting value. Conversely, when we are living accoding to the will of the fullness of the Godhead - we accomplisg plenty.
The philosophy of the Gnostics was teaching that the deity and humanity of Jesus were not real. They taught that Jesus was an angel living in what looked like a human body, but, according to them, his body wasn't real. In his phrasing of this verse (9), Paul makes it completely clear to the Colossians that Jesus is God manifest in human form, therefore, it has become possible to, "...do all things through Christ who strengthens us" (Philippians 4:13).
V10. Jesus is the fullness of God and we are the fullness of Jesus. One cofession I make over myself is, "Christ is in God, I am in Christ, therefore, I am in God." The congregations of those days, and we now, are joint heirs with Jesus in the kingdom (Romans 8:12-17). We are sons and daughters of the only Living God through salvation in Jesus the Chirst. We have basically become blood brothers and sisters with Jesus. He shed His blood from the cross and it poured down into our broken hearts. Only after we allowed the blood to wash over us, fill us, and cleanse us, could our hearts begin to heal. Because we accepted this and Jesus received us, He is now preparing a mansion of rooms for all of us in Heaven. In Jesus we need never fear our present or future again if we "Walk by faith and not by sight" (II Corinthians 5:7).
V11. Mr. Websters describes to circumcise as removing the prepuce (foreskin) from a male as part of a religious rite. He says it is also a way to achieve spiritual purification. Strong's Concordance says that it is a cutting away, or cutting away in one stroke. Jesus was born a Jew. Was He was circumcized? Luke 2:21-24 and 39 make it clear He was.
Verse 11 is separating the Law of Moses from the Grace of God. Does this mean man still has to undergo circumcision? Yes. How? By the cutting away, in one storke, the sins we have committed. It's now no longer a body part that's required to be removed, it's our sin nature. The Brith knife is now the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. It is because of the salvation provided by the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus that Jesus is able to "circumcize" the sin nature from our flesh as we put off the body of sin and take on the nature of Jesus.
V12. Once we are circumcized, spirtually speaking, we are symbolically buried with Jesus in baptism. There is a controversy even within Evangelical denominations about emmersion versus sprinkling for baptism. If I had a doubt, this verse 12 would clear it up. We are buried with Jesus in baptism. He was buried in a cold damp tomb, we are buried in water to simulate His burial. Jesus was physically dead. We are spiratually dead. He arose in the flesh. We arise in the Spirit.
Just as God raised Jesus from the dead, so does He raise us. Just as Jesus was transformed from human body to spiritual body, so are we transformed from human beings to spiritual beings. Rest assured that the moment you accept Jesus as Savior you undergo circumcision of the heart. So why the need for emersion baptism? I believe it accomplishes two things:
1. It grounds the truth of 2 Corinthians 5:17 into our spirits and souls. "Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new."
2. It is a public demonstration of our spiritual rebirth for the benefit of others.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 8
V13. This verse begs us to read Romans 2:25-29; 3:27-31, and certainly 10:4. If you have a doubt about circumcision, please study these passages and thank the Lord that it's no longer a requirement. We who are uncircumcised in the flesh according to the rituals of the Law, but are circumcised by the cleansing of our hearts will have it counted to us as righteousness. We are, through this, in right standing with God. Dead, uncircumcised flesh is unacceptable to God. Everyone born was created in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:26). The difference is - those who remain unsaved are separated from Him through their unrighteousness.
The simple prayer we who are saved have said has allowed us to become alive together with Christ. The Colossians and Laodiceans were saved. Those were the people Paul was absent from in the flesh, but with in the spirit. It was those people Paul was rejoicing to see in steadfastness in their faith in Christ. Those were the people whose sins had all been forgiven, and whose hearts had been circumcised by the blood of Jesus.
Paul wanted to let everyone know that the human flesh of man being removed did not save him from sin and death. It was the circumcision of the heart that cause them to be righteous (Joel 2:13).
V14. What Paul was revealing to them is that the Law no longer had any hold on them, nor does it have a hold on us. The Law was oppressive, faith is freeing. Jesus fulfilled the Law (Matthew 5:17). That's what makes legalism of any kind so wrong. If we have been forgiven by God through Jesus, Jesus has fulfilled the Law, and we are of the circumcision of faith, no one has the right or authority to oppress us with their man-made rules. Jesus did not abolish (render inactive) the Law, He made it full and holy. When Jesus came and filled the Law, He became the Law to follow.
Try to imagine a man putting on a coat and fills it and taking a walk. When we see the man coming down the street in the coat, we don't see the coat as the thing alive, but the person within the coat. The coat can accomplish nothing on it's own. It needs the man to give it body and carry it around. Life is not in the coat, but in the man.
Now imagine that Jesus put on the Law as a coat and filled it. The Law was lifeless, rigid, uncompromising. It never accomplished any good or lasting thing on its own. It needed Jesus to put it on and give it life. It is Jesus who saves, restores, heals and delivers. It's the Lord Jesus who is in command. It is He who does the work of salvation, healing, and restoration. It's His righteousness we walk in.
V15. Jesus disarmed powers and principalities, which were the demonic forces of legalism. He overcame them in sight of everyone present. We no longer have to be concerned about the foods we eat (Romans 14:1-3; I Timothy 4:1-5), we no longer have to abide by the man-made rules appended to the Law of Moses, and we don't have to celebrate feasts as prescribed by the Law. Jesus has become our Passover. As the angel of death passed over the Israelites when they painted blood on their door posts and lintels, so the angel of death passes over those of us who have been painted (anointed) with the blood of the sacrificial Lamb, Jesus.
We know that Jesus won the victory over sin and evil powers because it is documented in the Word of God. Let's look at John 16:33; Romans 8:2; I Corinthians 15:55-57.
V16. Now - because Jesus has fulfilled the law, we have liberty to eat and drink as we wish. Christians are not to be judged on what they eat or drink, especially not by other Christians who have also been set free from the Law. When Jesus died on the cross, He fulfilled the Law. The New King James, Spirit-filled Bible says that Jesus "wiped out" the handwriting of requirements. The King James version says that He "He blotted out the handwriting of ordinances". The Amplified version says that Jesus "cancelled and blotted out and wiped away the handwriting of the note (or bond) with its legal decrees and demands, which was in force and stood against us - hostile to us. This (note with its regulations, dcrees, and demands) He set aside and cleared completely out of the way by nailing it to [His] cross". So, no matter which translation you use, it tells us Jesus freed us from the requirements, ordinances, or codes that were the Law.
We still must follow the portion of the Law that God wrote with His holy finger which is the Ten Commandments. These steps are our guidline to right living. We also know these are valid for us now as Jesus combined all ten into two. Both are based on love, not judgment or legalism.
We can celebrate Christmas with turkey, and Easter with ham. There are no legal limitations to what we consume. There is, however, state enforced legal limitations to drinking and driving. I'm not talking from that perspective. I'm talking from a religious standpoint. Everything God made is now clean for us to receive. Let's read this in I Timothy 4:4,5, "For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer."
For further study, read John, 8:33-36 and Romans 8:1-4.
Some say, and I agree with them, that the legalism of the Jewish festivals is something we can celebrate with joy, but it's not something we must celebrate. Jesus is our Passover Lamb, the Lord of the Sabbath, and He has made us free to worship Him in faith, not by the works of the Law.
BIBLE STUDY: PART 9
V17. A shadow is the image of the person or thing that diffuses light rays. So the shadow they are talking about here is that of the Law diffusing the light of Christ on the earth. This shadow was a vague, dark reflection of what was to come, the Christ, the Son of God. He came. Please read Hebrews 8:1- 6.
V18. Now we return our focus to the Gnostics. Paul is warning the Colossians not to allow anyone to defraud them of their reward. Anyone who stands before you to turn you from Christ back to the Law, and succeeds, causes you to lose your rewards. The people who would turn us away from serving Jesus are those with false humility. True humility turns us toward Jesus. "For they that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple" (Romans 16:18).
The Gnostics have no humility. They believe the body of man is only a shell and that what the body does cannot affect the spirit. They believe that the spirit is a perfect god within man. We know this is untrue. There is only one true God.
The Gnostics were definitely false teachers. Let's read verse 18 again. "Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind..." They did just what this verse forbids. They taught the worship of angels. We know absolutely that this is wrong by reading, "Thou shalt have no other gods before me" (Exodus20:3). They were placing angels before God. This doctrine was not advanced by God's loving angels who guard and protect us, but by the fallen angels who inhabit the minds of the false teachers and false prophets who teach false gods. We certainly can apply this verse to them, "O generation of vipers, how can ye, being evil, speak good things? for out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaketh" (Matthew 12:34).
The Gnostics didn't speak good things because their hearts were full of pride. They were puffed up because they began to believe their own press which says that they are the messengers of good news. That's also why psychics think so highly of themselves. Serving gods instead of God causes people to feed their spirits from the dark world, and into their minds flow rivers of self-centerdness, selfishness, pride, egomania, and arrogance. They then operate out of a fleshly mind.
V19. False teachers are not steadfast in their minds. They are deliberately working to draw away from God those who share the mind of Christ. We must cling to the Head of the church which is Christ. Only by grasping the mind of Jesus can the church as a body be fed. The church is then held together by the "joint efforts" of the people, and people are saved, and the body grows. One of the most oft quoted commands of God is, "Go forth and multiply" (read Genesis), and this includes the church.
V20-23. If Jesus came to earth, died, and fulfilled the Law, isn't it foolish for us to continue as the Pharisees living in oppressive legalism? We do not benefit from living a pre-cross life in our post-cross world Yet some denominations and sects continue to rule their people in just such a way. They tell their congregations that women can't wear slacks or jeans, can't cut their hair, or wear make-up, and can't wear jewelry. They forbid men from having long hair and coming to church in any other outfit than a suit. I agree that alcoholics must not drink and that clothes must be conservative in that they cover everything which has no business being exposed in public. I agree that anything which causes you to stumble should be cast out of your presence whether it be your hand, your eye, drinking, or watching TV. But to say absolutely no one can look at beautiful things or touch them, wear pretty clothes and make-up, drink some wine, watch television, or sing and play instruments is judgmental and legalistic. Legalism is wrong. Jesus came to set the captives free. Let's not allow ourselves to be dictated to by religion. Read your Bible and you will know how to present yourselves in public, how to behave at home, and how to act in church. It's all done properly when using common sense.
God gave us the Ten Commandments. The Pharisees changed those ten to over two thousand rules and regulations. God gave the Laws He wanted His children to follow, but man deemed they were incomplete so they filled in the missing parts. That's what Paul called "doctrines of men" in verse 22. Then Jesus came and fulfilled the Law. We are free from having to make sacrifices or abstaining from any foods. Remember what Paul said? "All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient (appropriate, advisable worthwhile); all things are lawful for me, but I will not be brought under the power of any." (I Corinthians 6:12)
No matter how pious you want to appear, rejecting the goodness of God's liberality is not the way to please Him. He made your body and He made all things for the good of that body. Now listen, if you have trouble digesting a certain food, it's foolishness to torment your body by eating it just because you can. Not washing the body, brushing your teeth, wearing make-up, or wearing nice clothes is NOT honoring to God. We honor God by making the best of what He gave us to work with. Some women look great without make-up, I'm not one of those. Some men look better in slacks and a nice shirt than a suit. All foods are for your pleasure, but again, use the same common sense in eating as you do in dressing. And remember your part. "Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Ephesians 5:20).