Finally, we have finished studying the book of Colossians today as a group. This is the second time in the past three years that we have done a study on this epistle, and yet these words have never ceased to amaze. Personally, Colossians and Ephesians are my favourite epistles, although my favourite verses are actually to be found in Galatians and Philippians (Gal 2:20 and Phil 2:8).
To summarise a few points that encourage:
- We have a hope laid up in heaven (1:5); the Christ in us individually and corporately is the hope of glory (1:27)
By the way I think it is one thing to know the indwelling Christ in us is our hope of glory, and yet it is another thing to actually have experienced it.
- The recurring theme of prayers and thanksgiving for the advance of gospel: we are to pray unceasingly first and foremost for God’s kingdom, for the church and one another , for open doors and opprotunties ( 4:2-3) : from chapter one bearing fruit (1:6) in the whole world to chapter four
- We are now citizens of another kingdom, for we have been transferred from the domain to darkness to kingdom of His beloved Son (1:12-13).
- We should set our mind on things above. (How does it affect our daily living though? Does it mean we become passive or we are active participants of His mission?)
- Not only should we ask for wisdom to discern empty philosophies or teaching, we are also be aware of carving self-made religion or asceticism ourselves. This reminds of Eugene Peterson’s quotes from Eat This Book, “Sometimes we read and take the text to graduate ourselves into a superior class of Christians.” and “Pretentious language is just a violation of sacred text. We use them to keep others out of our neighbourhood.”
- Similar to Galatians 3:28, in Christ, all our earthly status are only temporary. Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman… Christ is all, and in all. The brothers and sisters who have less education or income are of the same worth in God’s eyes and in the ministry.
- Christ has disarmed all worldly rulers and authorities. We partake of the same victory.
- It is God who opens door and it is God who helps us to proclaim clearly (4:3-4)
- We are to walk in wisdom, not just to speak in wisdom (4:3)
- We are to redeem our time and to make the most out of every opportunity
- Our speech ought to be gracious and seasoned with salt
- The brotherhood Paul and his brothers share shows the real “we live together; we die together; and we shall rise together” in humility and trust.
- “Remember my chains. Grace be with you” – what a way to end the letter. Remember my chains!
Nevertheless, the two truths that I cherish the most are the cosmic lordship of Jesus Christ, and our union with Christ.
The cosmic lordship of Jesus Christ: Governing all the above principles is the grand idea of the cosmic lordship of Jesus Christ. The Lord is the Lord of all creation. He is before all things and in him all things hold together. That’s why fullness can only be found in Him. In the epistle, Paul lays out step by step how Jesus Christ is the lord over all creation, and the lord over the church (especially in the first half of Chapter 3: putting off our old self and putting on our new self), and the lord over a household (in the second half of Chapter 3)
Our union with Christ: We are united in Christ with a new identity that can only be rooted in Him. We have died with christ and been raised with Christ (just as symbolised by baptism). Only by understanding this can we truly also experience the union of saints in Christ. Paul’s oneness with his co-labour testifies about this.
Also, the fullness of God dwelling in Christ in human form (Col 1:19; Col 2:9) is a crucial theme of Colossians. However, what does it actually mean? I have mentioned just now that I believe it is one way to know the scripture with your mind yet another thing to experience it in the spirit. I have continued on this here.