Main Text: the epistle to the Colossians, chapters 1 and 2
Colossians 1:1 “Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus” — It is Jesus Christ who gave (and still gives) apostles and the other fivefold ministries. Ephesians 4:11 says that “Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers.” These 5 ministry gifts are given by the Lord “to equip God’s people to do his work and build up the church, the body of Christ” (Ephesians 4:12, NLT).
1:3 “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” — Hebrews 1:8 shows God the Father speaking of His Son Jesus likewise as Deity: “But about the Son he says, ‘Your throne, O God, will last for ever and ever’.” [more on Christ’s deity in verse 2:9]
1:3 “Our Lord Jesus Christ” — Jesus came to earth, was born of a virgin, lived and ministered, then died on a cross for our sins. On the third day he rose from the dead and has returned to His original place in heaven, where God the Father made Him “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36, KJV). The apostle Peter said of the risen, ascended Son of God: “Jesus Christ (He is Lord of all)” (Acts 10:36, KJV). And multiple times in the New Testament Jesus is identified as the heaven-sent Christ, the promised Messiah or Anointed One.
1:4 “your faith in Christ Jesus” — We lost sinners are saved by grace through faith in Jesus Christ (Ephesians 2:8), who shed His blood on the cross for our sins and was raised again to eternal life (1 Corinthians 15:2-4). The apostle Paul’s great evangelistic message to both Jews and Gentiles (that’s all of us!) is that “they must turn to God in repentance and have faith in our Lord Jesus” (Acts 20:21). Above all secondary interests, keep your primary focus on Jesus Christ.
1:13 “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves…” — All of us, prior to salvation, were under Satan’s dominion of darkness (see John 8:42-44). But by the merits of Christ’s death, burial, and resurrection, God has liberated all who receive Jesus as Lord and Savior from the devil’s dominion and has instead placed us firmly in the kingdom of His Son, Jesus Christ.
1:14 “…in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins” — The Scripture says that it is our sins, our iniquities, that have separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2). No human remedy could possibly fix that. So the divine Son Himself came to earth to “die for our sins” (1 Corinthians 15:3) and thereby to make a way for us to be reconciled, through Christ alone, to God the Father (John 14:6). Part of Jesus’ Great Commission to His Church is that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).
1:15 “The Son is the image of the invisible God” — Although God the Son is a distinct Person of the Trinity from God the Father, yet the “Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of his being” (Hebrews 1:3). Jesus never said that He was the Father. But He was and is the image of God and the exact representation of the Father’s being. So He could accurately say, for example, to Philip, “Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father” (John 14:9). Read the Gospels, get a revelation of Jesus, and you will thereby get a revelation of what the Father is like.
1:15 “The Son is … the firstborn over all creation” — “Firstborn” was a term used frequently by the ancient Hebrews and in Scripture. It was sometimes used, as in this context, to speak of supremacy of rank. This is made clear by the next verse (16), which credits the Son with having been involved in the very creation itself. Jesus is the “firstborn” over the creation, having after His death and resurrection been granted by the Father “all authority in heaven and on earth” (Matthew 28:18).
1:16 “For in him [the Son] all things were created: things in heaven and on earth … all things have been created through him and for him” — In His preincarnate state in heaven Jesus was known as “the Word” of God: “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God … The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us” (John 1:1,14). As the preincarnate Word of God, Jesus was an active participant in the creation: “…God, who created all things by Jesus Christ” (Ephesians 3:9, KJV).
1:17 “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together” — We’ve seen that Jesus is the supreme “firstborn” (1:15) and was the co-Creator (1:16). He continues to use His supreme authority and unlimited power to “hold all things together.” Hebrews 1:3 echoes this idea in similar words: “The Son is … sustaining all things by his powerful word.”
1:18 “He is the head of the body, the church” — Always remember, the Christian Church worldwide is His Church: “I will build my church” (Matthew 16:18). Jesus loves His Church so much that He “gave Himself” up to death on the cross to redeem her from her sins (Ephesians 5:25ff). He must be always recognized as the absolutely sovereign head of the church, and we His people are members of His “body, the church” (see Ephesians 3:6; 4:25; 5:30).
1:18 “He is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead” — Many great religious heroes have died for their faith. But Jesus uniquely “died and rose again” (1 Thessalonians 4:14). And that is another wonderful sense in which He is the firstborn, in this case chronologically being the first resurrected by God from death to life eternal. And we can be thankful to Jesus for His promise to believers that “Because I live, you also will live”! (John 14:19).
1:18 “so that in everything he might have the supremacy” — In this Church Age we live in, as we saw above, all authority in heaven and on earth has been given to our Lord Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18). In everything His followers are to hold Him as absolutely supreme. Our continual reverential cry to Him should echo the words of the apostle Thomas: “My Lord and my God!” (John 20:28).
1:19 “For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in him” — Recall our comments on verse 3 above. God has made Jesus both “Lord and Christ” (Acts 2:36). Peter reminded us that the resurrected, glorified Jesus is “Lord of all” (Acts 10:36). God the Father’s conferral of “all authority in heaven and on earth” to Jesus (Matthew 28:18) was pleasing to God, as verse 19 states.
1:20 “… and through him [Jesus] to reconcile to himself all things…by making peace through His blood, shed on the cross” — Our sins had separated us from God (Isaiah 59:2). No mere human being, no matter how great, was capable of bridging that divide between a perfect God and sinful mankind. So Jesus the Son of God came to earth and shed His blood on the cross as the one and only perfect sacrifice to “reconcile us to [God] through Christ” (2 Corinthians 5:18f).
1:22 “to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation” — Jesus died and rose again not just to forgive us and open the pathway to eternal life. But contrary to the looseness in some Christian circles today, Jesus also consistently taught “Go now and leave your life of sin” (John 8:11) and “Stop sinning!” (John 5:14). Without the Lord this is impossible. But with Him we can do it! Part of the reason He died for us is “that He might sanctify the people with His own blood” (Hebrews 13:12). For “sanctify” a number of translations render that “to make the people holy” by His blood.
1:27 “Christ in you” — the Bible does not go into detail on exactly how Christ is “in” the believer. A similar phrase, “in Christ,” is often used in the New Testament to refer to the close relationship of Christian believers with their Savior. Suffice it to say that all who enter into salvation by repentance for sin and faith in Jesus (Acts 20:21) enter into a spiritual union with the Lord that can accurately be called “Christ in you” and you “in Christ.” The believer’s intimate relationship with the triune God is further revealed by “His [Holy] Spirit who lives in you” (Romans 8:11).
1:27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory” — If you’re a born-again believer, a committed follower of the Lord Jesus, then you have a thrilling hope of eternal glory. Romans 5:1-2 tells us that, having come to God through our Lord Jesus Christ (vs. 1), we now live in “the hope of the glory of God” (vs. 2). How glorious? — “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him” (1 Corinthians 2:9, NKJV). The believer will experience a glory from God in eternity that far surpasses what we can imagine.
1:28 “He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone” — The apostle Paul declared, “We preach Christ crucified” (1 Corinthians 1:23) and “What we preach is not ourselves, but Jesus Christ as Lord” (2 Corinthians 4:5). The late German evangelist Reinhard Bonnke has said, “I preach Jesus Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit.” During his lifetime and ministry, mostly in Africa, he recorded 78 million(!) decisions for Jesus Christ as Savior! Preach and teach the Lord Jesus Christ in all the world. He will confirm His Word powerfully, and souls will be saved.
1:29 “To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me” — The NLT translation speaks of working and ministering for the Lord “…depending on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.” While on earth Jesus gave His disciples supernatural power to heal the sick, cast out demons, and more (Matthew 10:8). He still does! All believers can appropriate Christ’s great promise: “…you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit …  You will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” Then, like the apostle Paul, we too can humbly and thankfully say, “Our gospel came to you not simply with words but also with power, with the Holy Spirit” (1 Thessalonians 1:5).
Colossians 2:2-3 “…Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” — Paul spoke of Him as “Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God … [Christ] who has become for us wisdom from God” (1 Corinthians 1:24, 30). Remember from Col. 1:19 that in Jesus Christ God is pleased to have all His fullness dwell. Our Lord and Savior is the fullness of wisdom, of knowledge, of power, of love, of mercy, of justice, and much more. Jesus did not merely say of Himself, “I teach the truth,” but rather “I AM the truth” (John 14:6). His very words, proceeding from His all-wise being, “are spirit, and they are life” (John 6:63, NKJV).
2:6 “So then, just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him” — Have you received Jesus personally as your Lord and Savior? Good! But the wise apostle reminds us not to stop there. Continue to live for Jesus, close to Him, serving and obeying Him and His Word, every hour of every day that He grants us to live here before we pass on to His presence in heaven. The Christian walk is not a sprint; it’s a long-haul race to a glorious finish line.
2:7 “rooted and built up in him” — Jesus puts it into perspective: “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing” (John 15:5f). Cut off a branch from a grape vine and quickly that branch will shrivel into dry barrenness. But keep that branch vitally connected to the vine and there will be a harvest of fruit. So it is with us and Jesus Christ the Vine. Stay rooted closely and resolutely in Him. You’ll be personally built up, and you’ll bear fruit for Him and His kingdom (John 15:8).
2:8, NLT “Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ” — Bad stuff? — “empty philosophies … high-sounding nonsense … human thinking … spiritual powers of this world…” Perfect wisdom and knowledge for life and eternity? — that which is “from Christ.” Always keep in mind the apostle’s sound advice: “The wisdom of this world is foolishness with God” (1 Corinthians 3:19).
2:9 “In Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” — Jesus the fully divine Son of God became man (John 1:14), died for our sins, and rose again. He is and ever shall be the co-equal, co-eternal second person of the Holy Trinity — historically defined as One God, eternally existent in 3 persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit. For more Scriptural detail about Jesus’ divinity, please see my Deity of Jesus Christ.
2:10 “And in Christ you have been brought to fullness” — The Bible says that we are heirs of God and joint-heirs with Christ (Romans 8:17). Paul tells us that the Church is Christ’s “body, the fullness of Him…” (Ephesians 1:22f). Jesus equips His Church fully to do His kingdom work. We are saved and made children of God by Christ’s shed blood, are baptized with/filled with His Holy Spirit to empower us, are granted the needed spiritual gifts to do His work, and much more.
2:10 “He is the head over every power and authority” - No human power or authority — not politics, not the media, not dictatorships, not spiritual forces, nothing! — can successfully rival the unlimited headship of the Lord Jesus Christ. And in time soon to come God has decreed that “at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (Philippians 2:10-11, NASB).
2:12 “…having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through your faith in the working of God” - Our Lord Jesus died on the cross for our sins, was buried, and rose again to eternal life. When we come to Jesus in faith and repentance for sin (Acts 20:21), the Scripture says that we have been “crucified with Christ and [we] no longer live, but Christ lives in [us]” (Galatians 2:20). Then, as vs. 2:12 and Romans together say, “We were therefore buried with Him through baptism into death that, just as Christ was raised from the dead through the glory of the Father, we too may live a new life” (Romans 6:4).
2:13 “When you were dead in your sins…God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” - The Scripture (Acts 20:21) tells lost sinners to turn to God in repentance and have faith in the Lord Jesus Christ. When we do that, we are born again, our sins are forgiven, and we become sons or daughters of God Almighty (2 Corinthians 6:18), saved unto eternal life with the Lord. Among the final commands of our risen Savior to His followers was that “repentance for the forgiveness of sins will be preached in his name to all nations” (Luke 24:47).
2:15 “…having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” - Theologians differ on the precise identity of the “powers and authorities.” But the context makes it clear that, whoever/whatever they are, they are evil opponents of the Lord and His work. In every case, by His redeeming death on the cross, Jesus has triumphed! It’s good to be walking with Jesus in this life, because no evil can resist Him successfully and the very “gates of hell shall not prevail against” the Lord’s Church (Matthew 16:18).
2:17 “These are a shadow of the things that were to come; the reality, however, is found in Christ” - For example, the sacrificial Passover lambs under the Law pictured the once-for-all redeeming sacrifice of “Christ our Passover” lamb on the cross (1 Corinthians 5:7). The young lambs were “a shadow” of the reality in Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world (John 1:29). The mysterious ancient priest Melchizedek (Genesis 14:18) typified Christ, and is believed by many to have been an Old Testament appearance of Christ (a Christology). He was a king/priest and as such was a shadow of the reality in Jesus Christ, our High Priest (Hebrews 7:26-28) and King of Kings (Revelation 17:14). Many other examples could be given of Jesus being “the reality” of the Old Covenant shadows. This realization makes the reading of the Old Testament even more exciting, since it will give us numerous Scriptural foreshadowings of the Lord Jesus Christ (John 5:39).
If you are already a son or daughter of God through repentance and faith in Jesus Christ, I hope that the Scripture thoughts above have deepened your knowledge of and love for your Savior. If you have not yet embraced Jesus as your Lord and Savior, what better time than right now! It will be the greatest decision of your life, and the Lord will receive you with warmth and love. I encourage you to click the blue link and allow the late, respected evangelist Billy Graham’s helpful webpage lead you in a prayer of salvation. You’ll be eternally grateful to the Lord!
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©2020, James H. Feeney.
Pentecostal Sermons & Bible Studies
by Pastor Jim Feeney, Ph.D.