Sunday, July 12, 2020

Introduction to Colossians

Overview - Historical setting helps a lot with understanding the meaning of the letter.

The City = in Lycos Valley 10 miles from Laodocia; 100 miles East of Ephasus; 1000 miles east of Rome.  (it had been a major city but no longer a major city in Paul's day)

The church = no record of the origin of the church  (no mention in Acts)  only information = here and in Philemon (Philemon lived just outside of Colosse.  (we don't know if Paul ever visited Colosse, but he (now) knows about the church.  Col 1:1-2

The letter = by Paul during imprisonment 1000 miles away (Col. 4:18) - had his first imprisonment @ approximately AD 62.

The Story = Epaphras arrives in Rome with news of the church at Colosse.  (Col. 1:8)

On one hand good news!  The church is established and growing!
However, bad news = false teachers influencing the church!!

So Paul writes to the churches at Colosse and Ephesus and also a personal letter to the home of Philemon.
(3 letters total)  Col. 4:7-8
The letters delivered by Tychicus and Onesimus (Philemon's runaway slave who has gotten saved)
Col. 4:7-9, Philemon 10 -12, Eph. 6:21-22

The Purpose of the letter =
     A.  Acknowledge the church
     B.  praise and encourage the church
    C.  warn and instruct the church .... concerning.....

(heresy - very misleading and dangerous perversion of the Gospel teaching)
= a religion of syncretism = ie:  a combining or blending of various religious ideas to produce a New religion.
Here = Christ plus a number of other notions so = compromised
A modern day idea of Colossian heresy = New Age movement

Elements of Colossian Heresy included:

(1)  ritual observance - required ceremony, circumcision, observance of festivals & days;;; (from Judaism)

(2)  Asceticism - severe self discipline - deny's self of basic comforts; forbidden food, marriage

(3)  Mysticiasm - "worship of angels" ie:  spirit guides, familiar spirits, intermediaries - from pagan community
Strictly forbidden in Old Testament

(4)  (Salvation through) "Experiential" Knowledge --> example:  Gnostics - ie:  must go beyond head to feeling, experience"

(5)  Elitism = "we are the favored few" - contrast - "all equal at the foot of the cross" - John 3:16 - nothing secret in the gospel

(6)  Exclusivism - ie.  only those who are initiated into this mystical knowledge can find salvation.  Contrast "whosoever will may come"

All of these blended with the person and work of Christ.

Combining (blending) Judaism and Paganism and Christianity

So:  Colossian heresy did not DENY Christ,but it did DE-THRONE Him

In contrast, Paul presents Christ as having:
(1)  Absolute Supremacy  "HE IS LORD" period!!
(2)  Sole Sufficiency  "In Christ Alone - ALL mighty.

Col. 1:13-20, 2:3, 2:9-10

This will become known as Christian Orthodoxy.  (ie:  straight opinion, right thinking)

Thypical of Paul ... doesn't stop with proper doctrine.  He goes on to teach right action, proper behavior!

Col. 3:1
So..... Orthodoxy = right thinking
and ... ORTHOPRAXY = right acting, right lifestyle, right living.
Christianity is not just an intellectual thing.

So... where is your faith?  your confidence?

in THE bridge = designed, constructed, revealed BY GOD!

or in A Bridge - designed, constructed By man!

Colossians = (1) words for salvation  (initial introduction to Christ)
                 = (2)  words for living  (here, now, until)
                 = (3)  words for certainty  (future)

BUT - all that is found in Christ!!!  Col. 2:1-3

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