He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. 17 And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together. 18 And he is the head of the body, the church. He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, that in everything he might be preeminent. 19 For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell, 20 and through him to reconcile to himself all things, whether on earth or in heaven, making peace by the blood of his cross.
21 And you, who once were alienated and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, 22 he has now reconciled in his body of flesh by his death, in order to present you holy and blameless and above reproach before him, 23 if indeed you continue in the faith, stable and steadfast, not shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, became a minister.
24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church, 25 of which I became a minister according to the stewardship from God that was given to me for you, to make the word of God fully known, 26 the mystery hidden for ages and generations but now revealed to his saints. 27 To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you,the hope of glory. 28 Him we proclaim, warning everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom, that we may present everyone mature in Christ. 29 For this I toil, struggling with all his energy that he powerfully works within me.
The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.
Questions to Consider:
1. At the end of lesson 2 (link above), we saw that Paul gave a brief recap of the gospel (13-14). How was that a good introduction to the passage we’re looking at today? What is the overall theme of today’s passage?
2. Jehovah’s Witnesses use verse 15 to support their idea that Christ was a created (non-eternal) being. Is that what this verse means? What sort of ideas would the term “firstborn” have brought to the minds of first century Jews (and even gentiles)? Verse 15 says that Christ is the firstborn of all creation. Verse 18 says that He is the firstborn from the dead. How do these two positions of Christ “bookend” His supremacy over every aspect of the universe?
3. List the specific roles Christ plays in creation in verses 15-17. Why would it have been important for Paul to emphasize Christ’s role in creation? What did this (as well as verse 19) indicate to his audience about Christ’s deity and His relationship with God the Father?
4. As previous verses emphasized Christ’s deity, what are the references to His humanity in verses 19 and 22? Part of the heresy that was creeping into the Colossian church was elements of mysticism that would later morph into gnosticism. How would the proper Christology Paul was trying to teach them – including Christ being 100% God and 100% man simultaneously (the hypostatic union) – combat that heresy? Why is it important that we, as Christians, believe that Christ was both fully God and fully man? How would it affect Christ’s work on the cross if he had been less than God or less than human? How might understanding the hypostatic union better help you to love Christ more?
5. What do verses 24-29 tell us about Paul’s relationship with and care fo the Colossian church? What was his goal for this church? (28-29) Is this the goal of the leadership at your church? How can verse 28 guide us as we seek to make disciples today? Do we put the same effort and energy into discipleship that Paul did? (29)
Read back through the tenets of gnosticism (link in #4). Are there any sort of gnostic beliefs in the church today? Write down some ways biblical Christology (the study of who Christ is, what He did, and why) could combat these false beliefs.