“But now he has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation—if you continue in your faith, established and firm, and do not move from the hope held out in the gospel.” Colossians 1:22-23a (emphasis added)
It is finally here! For the next eight weeks, Mondays on the Central Blog will be the home of the Girlfriends Online Study on the book of Colossians. Women from all campuses will be logging in each week to read, learn, and interact with each other from the comfort of their own homes!
Join us! All you need is your Bible, journal, and pen. Each week we will study a passage of Scripture, read the lesson, and answer the discussion questions in the comment section.
Our team of writers has been working hard getting the lessons ready. This week Cherie Wagner brings us an introduction to the book of Colossians. Are you ready? Here we go!
Welcome to Bible study, friends!
I hope you don’t find it strange that I address you as friends, even though many of us don’t know one another. I do this simply because you and I both have come to the table for a season to study God’s Word, and whatever your motive or reason for coming, the fact is that you came. And in my book, that makes us friends. I hope you’re as ready as I am to jump right in.
Before you and I dive head-first into Colossians 1:1 (and believe me when I say that I cannot wait to go there with you), let’s go on a short journey together in order to lay a firm foundation for the material we will spend the next eight weeks studying together, shall we?
Over the past ten years in my involvement in women’s Bible studies, I’ve come across countless women who struggle to understand God’s Word. They really want to be able to read it, understand it, and apply it to their lives, but when they open it, they often feel like they hit a roadblock and get frustrated in the process. To help us avoid that same discouragement, I’d like to present you with what I’m going to call “Colossians 101”, or an introduction to the book of Colossians. In my own study of the Bible, I’ve found it incredibly vital to dig a bit deeper in order to gain better understanding. We’re about to engage in eight weeks of studying the book of Colossians together, but first, let’s go to the classroom!
The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, is the inspired author of the book of Colossians. Similar to a few of the other New Testament books that he penned, this book was a personal letter that Paul addressed to the church in Colossae, an ancient city located in what is now modern-day Turkey. A smaller and less prominent city than others, the church in Colossae is believed to have been an evangelistic result of Paul’s missionary work in Ephesus, its neighboring city about 100 miles to the west.
Another significant detail to consider is that Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians while chained in prison in Rome between the years A.D. 60-62, only about 30 years after the death, burial, resurrection, and ascension of Jesus Christ. Despite the severe persecution that Paul faced in his life for the sake of the Gospel, nothing was able to seal his bold mouth in proclaiming the Truth to those who had not yet heard it. Not even imprisonment could silence him. Despite his chains, much of Paul’s tone throughout this letter is that of encouragement, love, and truth. Even unto his martyrs’ death, Paul boldly proclaimed the mystery of the Gospel. Paul wasn’t perfect, but he was certain of this:
He would never allow his circumstances to alter his understanding of God’s character nor his ability to spread the Gospel.
The book of Colossians could easily be split into two parts: the first half of the book being doctrinal in nature and the second half addressing practical application. In other words, Paul is essentially saying, “Hey Church! If you are going to call yourself Christ followers, this is what you are to believe, and then this is how you are to live.” This very charge is extended to us today, to know what we believe and to live what we believe.
Finally, some of the major themes of the book of Colossians are reconciliation, redemption, election, forgiveness, and the nature of the church, but the two that Paul emphasizes the most are the deity of Christ and the false teaching that threatened the church at Colossae. Because this city consisted of a mix of Jews and Gentiles, there were prominent elements of both Jewish legalism and pagan mysticism that were posing a very real threat to this new group of believers. This harmful mix of beliefs led to the Gnosticism that Colossae was eventually known for—a belief system that essentially stripped Jesus Christ of His divinity and devalued Scripture. Paul, caring much for this small church, wrote a strongly worded letter filled with warnings against false teaching as well as clear teaching on the deity of Christ.
Translation? Jesus Christ IS God, and all others are merely poor substitutes. Just as the Colossians, we face a myriad of temptation daily—things that seek our highest affections and much of our focus; things that promise us will satisfy the longings of our hearts, things that make sense according to human standards. However, there is only one true God, and that is Jesus Christ. The tone of Paul’s letter to the Colossians was intended to open up their eyes, as well as ours, to this truth:
The most important thing about you will always be who you say Jesus Christ is.
Many major world religions today will say that Jesus was a good person, or even a prophet of God. Others will paint Him as merely a moral, fictional character who provides us with good principles on how to live our lives. Still, others will go so far as to say that He was the Son of God. However, every false religion falls short in this one claim: they all will say that Jesus is not equal to God.
So, who do you say Jesus is? Is He God? Is He Lord of your life? As we get ready to jump into Colossians, I pray that you are willing to answer this question alongside of those found faithful in this ancient city that doesn’t differ much from our own cities today. Let us become women who are found among the faithful, even in a world that often appears faithless.