Colossians Overview

Colossians Overview

Jesus is the center of Scripture, the one in whom “all the promises of God” are “Yes” and “Amen, to God for his glory” (2 Cor. 1:20). Colossians emphasizes the supremacy of the Christ so clearly that there can be no denying the central place Jesus holds in Christian orthodoxy.

Colossians was probably the first letter written in the group of writings commonly known as Paul’s “Prison Epistles.” This grouping also includes Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon, all of which were penned while the apostle was serving time in prison for the gospel. Although Paul was clearly behind bars when he wrote to the church at Colossae (4:3, 10, 18), it is impossible at the present time to determine whether he was chained in Rome, Ephesus, or some other city. Knowing the locale of his imprisonment, however, is of almost no consequence to interpreting the epistle. Colossians was probably written around AD 60, before some of Paul’s other extant — existing — correspondence, including his letters to Timothy and Titus.

Today, many critics deny that Paul wrote Colossians, attributing it to a later Christian who wrote under Paul’s name. This is largely due to the letter’s emphasis on the “cosmic Christ,” which, they argue, was not an early Christian doctrine. In Colossians, the Son is deemed co-equal and co-eternal with the Father as well as the creative agent of God. We also see the church thought of in terms of the universal body of Christ rather than merely a collection of loosely-affiliated congregations. Such emphases, the deniers of Pauline authorship assert, are inconsistent with Paul’s other letters. Yet this position reflects inconsistency. Paul elsewhere proclaims the “cosmic Christ” and depicts the worldwide church with Christ as its head (see Phil. 2:10; 1 Cor. 12). Add to this the fact that no second-century church father doubted Pauline authorship, and we have no good reason to question his writing of this epistle.

The letter emphasizes the preeminence of Christ, largely due to the false teachings gaining ground in the Colossian church. Take some time today to read through the book of Colossians. Consider selecting one passage from the book and meditating on it to see how it fits within the overall argument of Paul’s epistle.


Acts 27:1

Acts 27:1…”When it was decided that we would sail for Italy, Paul and some other prisoners were handed over to a centurion named Julius, who belonged to the Imperial Regiment.” It was determined by the counsel of God, before it was determined by the counsel of Festus, that Paul should go to Rome, because God had work for him to do there. A helpful exercise to build our trust in the Lord, is to trace all of the twists and turns in our life, and look at how the Lord has used them to grow us. Similarly, if we consider the circumstances surrounding our salvation in particular, it should give us reason to never complain. We were lost and in a very desperate place, and if the Lord had not revealed our absolute need for Him, we would still be there (Colossians 2:13). God’s history for each of His children is particular, and was planned before He even spoke creation into existence.

Ephesians 1:4
For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight.

Colossians 4:17

Colossians 4:17…”See to it that you complete the ministry you have received in the Lord.” Christians are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do (Ephesians 2:10). So, the people in your life, especially your fellow church members, have been placed with you by the Lord for their spiritual good, your spiritual good, and ultimately God’s glory. The New Testament does not have any instructions for the Lone Ranger Christian, because living as a believer always includes deep commitment to others in our church. There are 54 “one anothers” in the New Testament that teach us how to treat each other, meaning those in our church. Below is a listing of verse references to the Greek word ALLELOUS, translated as “one another or each other”

Mk. 9:50 “….Have salt in yourselves, and be at peace with each other.”

Jn. 13:14 “Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet.”

Jn. 13:34 “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another.”

Jn. 15:12 “My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you.”

Jn. 15:17 “This is my command: Love each other.”

Rom. 12:10 Be devoted to one another with mutual affection. Honor one another above yourselves.

Rom. 12:16 Live in harmony with one another.

Rom. 13:8 Let no debt remain outstanding, except the continuing debt to love one another, for whoever loves others has fulfilled the law.

Rom. 14:13 Therefore let us stop passing judgment on one another….

Rom. 15:7 Accept one another, then, just as Christ accepted you, in order to bring praise to God.

Rom. 16:16 Greet one another with a holy kiss….

1 Cor. 1:10 I appeal to you, brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that all of you agree with one another so that there may be no divisions among you and that you may be perfectly united in mind and thought.

1 Cor. 11:33 So then, my brothers and sisters, when you come together to eat, wait for each other.

1 Cor. 12:24-25 ….But God has combined the members of the body and has given greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other.

1 Cor. 16:20 ….Greet one another with a holy kiss.

2 Cor. 13:12 Greet one another with a holy kiss.

Gal. 5:13 ….But do not use your freedom to indulge the sinful nature; rather, serve one another in love.

Gal. 5:26 Let us not become conceited, provoking and envying each other.

Gal. 6:2 Carry each other’s burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ.<>

Eph. 4:2 Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love.

Eph.4:32 Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.

Eph. 5:19 Speak to one another with psalms, hymns and spiritual songs….

Eph. 5:21 Submit to one another out of reverence for Christ.

Col. 3:9 Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices

Col. 3:13 Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another….

Col. 3:16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.

1 Thes. 4:9 Now about your mutual love we do not need to write to you, for you yourselves have been taught by God to love each other.

1 Thes. 4:18 Therefore encourage each other with these words.

1 Thes. 5:11 Therefore encourage one another and build each other up, just as in fact you are doing.

1 Thes. 5:13 ….Live in peace with each other.

1 Thes. 5:15 Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else.

Heb. 3:13 But encourage one another daily, as long as it is called Today, so that none of you may be hardened by sin’s deceitfulness.

Heb. 10:24-25 And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds. Let us not give up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but let us encourage one another and all the more as you see the Day approaching.

Heb. 13:1 Keep on loving each other as brothers and sisters.

Jam. 4:11 Brothers and sisters, do not slander one another….

Jam. 5:9 Don’t grumble against each other, brothers and sisters, or you will be judged….

Jam. 5:16 Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed….

1 Jn. 3:11 This is the message you heard from the beginning: We should love one another.

1 Jn. 3:23 And this is his command: to believe in the name of his Son, Jesus Christ, and to love one another as he commanded us.

1Jn. 4:7 Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God….

1 Jn. 4:11 Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.

2 Jn. 1:5 ….I ask that we love one another.

1 Pet. 1:22 Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere mutual affection, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Pet. 3:8 Finally, all of you, live in harmony with one another; be sympathetic, love one another, be compassionate and humble.

1 Pet. 4:8 Above all, love each other deeply, because love covers over a multitude of sins.

1 Pet. 4:9 Offer hospitality to one another without grumbling.

1 Pet. 5:5 ….All of you, clothe yourselves with humility toward one another, because, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.”

1 Pet. 5:14 Greet one another with a kiss of love….

Colossians 4:6

Colossians 4:6…”Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.” Christians should be the most engaging people on the planet. Paul’s instruction on Christian speech to the outside world in this passage is one of many texts that allows us to draw this conclusion. The Greek words that are behind “speech,” “gracious,” and “salt” (logos, charis, and halas, respectively) are used together in first-century literature to refer to speech that is gracious and attractive — winsome, even witty words that are also spoken in a humble manner. In other words, the apostle wants the presentation of the gospel to the outside world done in a manner that captures the gospel’s excitement and that is able to answer the unbeliever’s legitimate questions. The idea is similar to that found in 1 Peter 3:15, which commends gentle speech that respectfully presents and defends the gospel of Jesus Christ:

“Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have.”

Colossians 4:4

Colossians 4:4…”Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.” ‘It’ being the mystery of Christ, which is the gospel. This was a secret, which was hid in God from everlasting, and, during the Old Testament, was wrapped up in types, and shadows, and sacrifices, and is still hidden from the unbeliever. Only God, by his Spirit, makes it manifest in a spiritual and saving way. So we need to proclaim the gospel clearly, and pray that others in our church, especially pastors/elders would do the same. The gospel should be clear in evangelism, and from the pulpit in preaching, and in our church services. Evangelism without the gospel is not biblical evangelism. Sermons without the gospel are not biblical sermons. Churches which are not gospel-centered are not biblical churches.

Colossians 4:2

Colossians 4:2…”Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful.” This verse contains an admonition to diligent, thankful prayer, which at first glance seems to be an instruction on how we are to be as Christians in relation to God. Indeed, it is true that one of the marks of the believer is the resolve to pray at all times (Eph. 6:18), that is, in all circumstances; nevertheless, John Chrysostom notes how even the call to pray operates in relation to those who are not a part of the Lord’s people: “The devil knows, yes he knows, how great a good prayer is” (ACCNT 9, p. 54). We must be diligent in prayer because it is one of the most powerful weapons we have for tearing down the Enemy’s strongholds. How much stronger would the church be when facing its adversaries if it prayed according to the will of God, asking the Lord to show forth His power and grace on the behalf of His people (James 4:2b–3)?

Colossians 3:17

Colossians 3:17…”And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” As Christians, we really have no basis for complaining. We have been given far more than we deserve. In fact, if we got what we deserved, we would be under God’s eternal judgement right now. So, having this biblical perspective, we should be thankful for God’s abundant mercy in Jesus, and know that we don’t need anything else. He is sufficient, and is all we need to be satisfied. Our words and deeds should reflect grateful hearts, and we need to repent from dissatisfaction (i.e. prideful unbelief and selfishness). If we’re honest, we’re really just upset with God when we’re dissatisfied with our circumstances. This is an intellectually inconsistent position for the Christian, who is instructed to believe in a sovereign God who directs our circumstances:

Isaiah 48:17, “I am the Lord your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go.”

Colossians 3:1

Colossians 3:1…”Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God.” Our desires need to be in line with God’s desires. We sin when our desires focus on ourselves and not God, with the root being prideful unbelief and selfishness. We need to look forward to heaven mainly because we’ll finally be with God, in perfect fellowship with him. We are foreigners here, and so our desires need to align with heavenly things because that’s where we’ll be for eternity. Holiness should be something we strongly yearn for in this life, because it will mark our eternal lives. Increasing holiness following salvation is proof we’re one of God’s elect (Romans 8:29-30). Conversely, the bible has a very clear warning for those who accept the gospel message, but bear no Christian fruit: Hebrews 12:14 – “Without holiness no one will see the Lord.”

Colossians 2:13

Colossians 2:13…”When you were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made you alive with Christ.” How does a spiritual corpse save itself? Answer: It cannot, and needs to be brought to life by something or someone externally. This is what salvation looks like. God initiates, as the spiritually dead cannot bring themselves to life. The spiritually dead are brought to life by God setting His affection on them, placing His spirit in them, and sanctifying them. What about those who are not sanctified, but call themselves Christians? They were never saved, and the lack of fruit is evidence that they are still spiritually dead. James 2:26 says, “As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.”

Colossians 1:29

Colossians 1:29…”To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.” Paul is talking specifically about proclaiming Christ, and teaching and admonishing everyone with the end goal of the church body growing in spiritual maturity (sanctification). He says a very similar thing to Timothy (1 Timothy 4:13), and instructs him to devote himself to “the public reading of Scripture, to preaching and to teaching.” Does this correspond with what the pastors and elders in your church are doing? A healthy church will be marked by biblical church leadership, specifically elders and pastors who understand their primary responsibilities as preaching and teaching the flock. This may be public teaching or discipleship or small group leadership, or Sunday School teaching, but in any case the bible is clear regarding their essential role. Take time this week to encourage your pastors and leaders, as they are worthy of double honor (1 Timothy 5:17). Christ’s energy is in them according to this passage, so lovingly remind them of this, and thank them for their work.