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Introducing Colossians

Introducing Colossians

Key Concepts

  • False teaching stressing human speculation and legalistic works for salvation, which devalued the person and work of Christ, was being taught in the church at Colossae.
  • Jesus is the “image” of the invisible God; the fullness of deity dwells in him.
  • Jesus is head of his body, the church.
  • Christ’s death and resurrection allows reconciliation between God and humanity.
  • Any human wisdom or philosophy pales in comparison to Christ’s divine glory.”

Excerpted From: Zondervan. “NIV, Essentials Study Bible, eBook.”

 

Key Verses

  • Colossians 1:22: He [God] has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation.
  • Colossians 2:8: See to it that no one takes you captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy, which depends on human tradition and the elemental spiritual forces of this world rather than on Christ.
  • Colossians 3:13: Bear with each other and forgive one another . . . Forgive as the Lord forgave you.

Excerpted From: Zondervan. “NIV, Essentials Study Bible, eBook.”

 

 

So, what’s the point?

Paul writes Colossians as both a Christology and a guide to how to live out that Christology.  He takes us to the heights of Heave to see the Divine Christ, the God-man joined together forever and ever.

 

What was the Colossian Heresy?

The Colossian Heresy seems to be a syncretism of Gnosticism and Judaism. It is a blending of an absurd false teaching and works righteousness.

A Definition of Gnosticism

a prominent heretical movement of the 2nd-century Christian Church, partly of pre-Christian origin. Gnostic doctrine taught that the world was created and ruled by a lesser divinity, the demiurge, and that Christ was an emissary of the remote supreme divine being, esoteric knowledge (gnosis) of whom enabled the redemption of the human spirit

Gnosticism reached its prominence in the 2nd century but was determined to be heresy by the Apostles Paul, John and Jude and was fully and finally condemned by several of the Church Councils, most notably the Council at Chalcedon.

Even today we have to deal with elements of Gnosticism as almost every cult has some form of Gnosticism at its root. Other heresies you will run into are Arianism, Sabellianism etc. For the most part though, Gnosticism is the heresy that just does not die.

Let us turn to Dr. Richards for some insight as to specifics of the Colossian Heresy…

THE COLOSSIAN HERESY AND PAUL’S RESPONSE (RED)

The material world is evil; God is spiritual. God can have nothing to do with the material universe.

  “For by Him [Jesus] all things were created; things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible” (1:16).

 

If Jesus created the world, He could not be God.

  “God was pleased to have all His fullness dwell in Him” (1:19).

Well, nothing that happens in the material world can really make a difference spiritually.

  “You … were [God’s] enemies in your minds because of your evil behavior. But now He has reconciled you by Christ’s physical body through death” (1:21–22).

But we don’t need to be reconciled. Our bodies are evil because they are material. Our minds aren’t material and so we are good.

  “You were dead in your sins and in the uncircumcision of your sinful nature. [Then] God made you alive with Christ. He forgave us all our sins” (2:13).

Well, real spirituality is still a matter of one’s inner life. We approach God mentally and what we do here is irrelevant to Him.

  “As God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility … do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus” (2:12, 17).

Lawrence O. Richards, The Bible Reader’s Companion, electronic ed. (Wheaton: Victor Books, 1991), 810.

 

How should we deal with these heresies?

 

  1. Know your Bible

Matthew 22:29. Jesus tells the people that they err because they do not know the Scripture.

 

2 Timothy 3:16

All scripture [is] given by inspiration of God, and [is] profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.

  1. Test the teaching against the Bible

Acts 17:11  The Berean Christians set the example for us. It appears that Paul may have been unknown or perhaps they questioned his conversion knowing that he once persecuted Chrisstians. In either case, they examined the Scriptures.

  1. Know your Creeds.

Both the Apostles Creed and the Definition of Chalcedon lay out Christian Orthodoxy

 

The Apostles Creed as Recited Today

I believe in God, the Father almighty,
creator of heaven and earth.

I believe in Jesus Christ, his only Son, our Lord,
who was conceived by the Holy Spirit
and born of the virgin Mary.
He suffered under Pontius Pilate,
was crucified, died, and was buried;
he descended to hell.
The third day he rose again from the dead.
He ascended to heaven
and is seated at the right hand of God the Father almighty.
From there he will come to judge the living and the dead.

I believe in the Holy Spirit,
the holy catholic* church,
the communion of saints,
the forgiveness of sins,
the resurrection of the body,
and the life everlasting. Amen.

*that is, the true Christian church of all times and all places

 

The Chalcedonian Definition

Therefore, following the holy fathers, we all with one accord teach men to acknowledge one and the same Son, our Lord Jesus Christ, at once complete in Godhead and complete in manhood, truly God and truly man, consisting also of a reasonable soul and body; of one substance with the Father as regards his Godhead, and at the same time of one substance with us as regards his manhood; like us in all respects, apart from sin; as regards his Godhead, begotten of the Father before the ages, but yet as regards his manhood begotten, for us men and for our salvation, of Mary the Virgin, the God-bearer; one and the same Christ, Son, Lord, Only-begotten, recognized in two natures, without confusion, without change, without division, without separation; the distinction of natures being in no way annulled by the union, but rather the characteristics of each nature being preserved and coming together to form one person and subsistence, not as parted or separated into two persons, but one and the same Son and Only-begotten God the Word, Lord Jesus Christ; even as the prophets from earliest times spoke of him, and our Lord Jesus Christ himself taught us, and the creed of the fathers has handed down to us.

  1. Know your Redeemer.

Spend time in the Scripture and time in prayer. How will you discern the God you do not know. We see in the early verses of Colossians that Paul had a rich and fulfilling prayer life.

  1. Know your theology and live it

All of Paul’s letters were written to correct aberrant theology up to and including heresies that were infecting the young church.

 

Matthew 7:28

And it came to pass, when Jesus had ended these sayings, the people were astonished at his doctrine:

Matthew 16:12

Then understood they how that he bade [them] not beware of the leaven of bread, but of the doctrine of the Pharisees and of the Sadducees.

 

Romans 16:17

Now I beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them.

 

6 Teach others sound doctrine

The Lord commands, in Matthew 28, that we make disciples. To do that we must teach the new Disciples proper doctrine.

 

Titus 1:9

Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.

Titus 2:1

But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine:

Titus 2:7

In all things showing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine [showing] uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

What do we do with those that bring in heresies?

Option 1: Do not receive them

John-2 1:9

Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.

John-2 1:10

If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into [your] house, neither bid him God speed

Option 2: Let them be accursed

Galatians 1:8

But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.

 

 

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