Colossians Bible Study

Colossians: Lesson 7

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6

Colossians 4:7-18

Tychicus will tell you all about my activities. He is a beloved brother and faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord. I have sent him to you for this very purpose, that you may know how we are and that he may encourage your hearts, and with him Onesimus, our faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They will tell you of everything that has taken place here.

10 Aristarchus my fellow prisoner greets you, and Mark the cousin of Barnabas (concerning whom you have received instructions—if he comes to you, welcome him), 11 and Jesus who is called Justus. These are the only men of the circumcision among my fellow workers for the kingdom of God, and they have been a comfort to me. 12 Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you, always struggling on your behalf in his prayers, that you may stand mature and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him witness that he has worked hard for you and for those in Laodicea and in Hierapolis. 14 Luke the beloved physician greets you, as does Demas. 15 Give my greetings to the brothers at Laodicea, and to Nympha and the church in her house. 16 And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea. 17 And say to Archippus, “See that you fulfill the ministry that you have received in the Lord.”

18 I, Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. What is the theme or purpose of this passage? With what sort of tone (rebuking, emphatic, compassionate, etc.) does Paul close out this epistle? Thinking back over the previous lessons, give a 3-5 sentence synopsis of Colossians in your own words.

2. List the people Paul mentions by name in this passage, noting the words of praise he has for each. Paul did not take those who served with him in ministry for granted. Are you thankful for those who serve in the various ministries of your church? What are some ways you can show appreciation to others who serve in ministry alongside you (and over you) at your church?

3. What else do we know about Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Mark, Barnabas, Epaphras, Luke, Demas, and Archippus? How can cross-referencing give us a fuller picture and better understanding of a passage we’re studying?

4. Examine and describe the ministry roles each person in this passage fulfilled in the Body of Christ in light of 1 Corinthians 12:4-7. How does Colossians 4:7-18 demonstrate the need for various people to carry out various “services and activities”? How does this passage show value for a variety of servanthood roles and ministries, even those we might consider small or unimportant? Think about your church and Christianity at large. Do we place a greater value on those who serve in “spotlight” (“important”) roles compared to those who serve in obscure (“unimportant”) roles? How does 1 Corinthians 12:12-31 speak to this?

5. Note the words “encourage your hearts” (8), “they have been a comfort to me” (11), “struggling on your behalf in his prayers” (12), and “the church in her house” (15). How were encouragement, comfort, prayer, and hospitality crucial to the early church? Are they just as crucial to the church today? Is your church particularly strong or weak in any of these areas? How could your church improve in these areas?


How can you serve your church in the areas of encouragement, comfort, prayer, and hospitality? Think of one specific thing you can do for your church or a particular person in your church in each of these four areas, and do them over the next week. For example:

Monday: Write an e-mail encouraging my pastor.
Tuesday: Visit one of my church’s members who is hospitalized or a shut-in.
Wednesday: Pray through my church’s prayer list.
Thursday: Invite the lady who visited my church on Sunday for coffee.

Colossians Bible Study

Colossians: Lesson 6

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5

Colossians 3:18-4:6

Wives, submit to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19 Husbands, love your wives, and do not be harsh with them. 20 Children, obey your parents in everything, for this pleases the Lord. 21 Fathers, do not provoke your children, lest they become discouraged. 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ. 25 For the wrongdoer will be paid back for the wrong he has done, and there is no partiality.

4:1 Masters, treat your bondservants justly and fairly, knowing that you also have a Master in heaven.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving. At the same time, pray also for us, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison— that I may make it clear, which is how I ought to speak.

Walk in wisdom toward outsiders, making the best use of the time. Let your speech always be gracious,seasoned with salt, so that you may know how you ought to answer each person.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. Refresh your memory on the main themes of Colossians so far, noticing how they build on one another:

  • Chapters 1-2- Here’s a correct Christology (who Christ is, what He did, and why)
  • Chapters 2-3- Now that you believe a correct Christology, you’ve died to the world and live to Christ.

Finish the theme of today’s passage:

  • 3:18-4:6- Now that you’ve died to the world and live to Christ, here’s how to__________

2. Notice the structure of verses 3:18-4:1. Do you see a pairing, relationship-wise in verses 18-19, 20-21, 22 & 1? List the relationships (first word of each verse) in each of these pairs of verses. Whom does Paul address first in each of these pairings, the subordinate person or the person in authority? How might this emphasize the responsibility of the subordinate person to act in a godly way in the relationship?

3. Examine the instructions to the subordinates (wives, children, bondservants) in verses 18, 20, 22-24. How does Paul connect submission and obedience to earthly authority with the wife’s, child’s, and bondservant’s relationship to the Lord? Who are we truly serving and obeying when we submit to the authorities God has placed over us? What are the blessings of submission to authority? Examine the instructions to the authorities (husbands, fathers, masters) in verses 19, 21, 1. Does God reassure the authorities in the same way He reassured the subordinates? Is 4:1b (“knowing that you…”) a reassurance or a warning/example to follow? What does this say about the weight of responsibility those in authority have to act in a godly way? Compare this passage to Ephesians 6:1-9 to get a fuller picture of what God is saying here.

4. What does it mean to “continue steadfastly” and “be watchful” in prayer? (2) Paul again mentions “thanksgiving” in verse 2 (See question 5 in lesson 5, link above). Do you make thanksgiving a regular part of your daily prayer life? Why is thanksgiving such an integral part of the Christian’s life? What prayer request does Paul make to the Colossian church? (3-4) Think of all the other things Paul, in prison, could have asked them to pray for him. What does this tell us about his priorities? How could you pray verses 3-4 for yourself, loved ones, your pastor, missionaries, etc.?

5. Recalling that this is an epistle to the church, who are the “outsiders” Paul refers to in verse 5? How would you explain Paul’s instructions in verses 5-6 to another Christian? How do these instructions apply to the church? To individual Christians? Think of an “outsider” in your life who needs to hear the gospel. Give one specific way each that you could a) walk in wisdom toward this person, b) make the best use of your time with this person, c) use gracious, “salty” speech with this person, and d) answer this person.


This passage and the Ephesians 6 passage I linked to above are (among others) often used by critics of the Bible to support their accusation that God is in favor of slavery. Is this true? Do some further study on the Bible’s stance on slavery:

The Apostle Paul and Slavery

Doesn’t the Bible Support Slavery?

Does the Bible Condone Slavery?

Colossians Bible Study

Colossians: Lesson 5

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3, 4

Colossians 3:1-17

If then you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life appears, then you also will appear with him in glory.

Put to death therefore what is earthly in you: sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and covetousness, which is idolatry. On account of these the wrath of God is coming. In these you too once walked, when you were living in them. But now you must put them all away: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth. Do not lie to one another, seeing that you have put off the old self with its practices 10 and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator. 11 Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave, free; but Christ is all, and in all.

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience, 13 bearing with one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. 14 And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony. 15 And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body. And be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17 And whatever you do, in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. Remember the “therefore” rule we learned in lesson 4 (link above)? “If, then…” in verse 1 serves the same function as “therefore” and should be treated the same way. Go back and quickly refresh your memory of chapter 2 (especially verses 13-14, 20-23). Because of what Paul said in chapter 2, what is he now saying the church should do? (1-2)

2. How do verses 1-4 echo what Paul taught in chapter 2 with regard to a) focusing on temporal, earthly things (2:16, 21-22) versus focusing on Christ and eternal things, and b) what we die to and live to? What are the “things that are above” (1-2) and why are we to set our minds on them (3)? Does verse 2 support or refute the old cliché, “You’re too heavenly minded to be any earthly good.”? How does being heavenly minded make us better at earthly things?

3. Paul has talked a lot in chapters 2 and 3 about what Christians are to live to and die to. Which phrases in verses 5,8, and 9 reinforce the idea of dying to something? Which phrases in verses 7,10,12, and 14 reinforce the idea of living to something? List the things we are to die to, or put off, and the things we are to live to, or put on. Examine the dichotomies of live to/die to, put on/put off, earthly things/heavenly things, and compare these to 2 Corinthians 5:17. How would you sum up this whole general concept in one or two sentences? How does your life before and after salvation measure up to this biblical principle that Jesus is the dividing line between the old life and the new?

4. Compare verse 11 to Galatians 3:28. What do these verses mean? How does the idea expressed in verse 11 serve as the reason (notice the word “then” in verse 12) for what Paul goes on to say in verses 12-17? What can we learn about Christian unity from this passage?

5. Paul talks about giving thanks or being thankful in verses 15, 16, and 17. Considering the persecution and problems of the first century church, why would Paul emphasize being thankful? What did the Colossian church have to be thankful for? Why is it important today for us, as individuals and as churches, to be thankful? How does giving thanks to God set our minds “on things that are above, not on things that are on earth”?


Re-read verse 16. During your quiet time this week, sing a “psalm, hymn, or spiritual song with thankfulness in your heart to God” every day.

Colossians Bible Study

Colossians: Lesson 4

Previous Lessons: 1, 2, 3

Colossians 2

For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.

Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.

See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ. For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily, 10 and you have been filled in him, who is the head of all rule and authority. 11 In him also you were circumcised with a circumcision made without hands, by putting off the body of the flesh, by the circumcision of Christ, 12 having been buried with him in baptism, in which you were also raised with him through faith in the powerful working of God, who raised him from the dead. 13 And you, who were dead in your trespasses and the uncircumcision of your flesh, God made alive together with him, having forgiven us all our trespasses, 14 by canceling the record of debt that stood against us with its legal demands. This he set aside, nailing it to the cross. 15 He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.

16 Therefore let no one pass judgment on you in questions of food and drink, or with regard to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath. 17 These are a shadow of the things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, 19 and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body, nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.

20 If with Christ you died to the elemental spirits of the world, why, as if you were still alive in the world, do you submit to regulations— 21 “Do not handle, Do not taste, Do not touch” 22 (referring to things that all perish as they are used)—according to human precepts and teachings? 23 These have indeed an appearance of wisdom in promoting self-made religion and asceticism and severity to the body, but they are of no value in stopping the indulgence of the flesh.

The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers.

Questions to Consider:

1. A great little heremeneutical rule of thumb is that when you see the word “therefore” in the text, you look at the previous verses to find out what it’s “there for”. The same could be said of the word “for” at the beginning of verse 1. Paul is continuing a thought here that started in the last verses of chapter 1. Read back a few verses and summarize his entire thought in your own words. What else do we know about the church at Laodicea? (1)

2. What are some things Paul hopes to accomplish, via this epistle, in the churches at Colossae, Laodicea, and others? (2-7) What is the main goal of Paul’s teaching in this epistle? (4) What is the “therefore” in verse 6 “there for”?

3. Recall that the Colossian church was made up of both Jews and Gentiles, and that the Colossian Heresy Paul was combating with this epistle contained both Jewish and Gentile false doctrine. Examine the terms “philosophy” and “human tradition” (8) Do these seem to describe Jewish or Gentile teachings? What about “circumcision” (11-13), “food and drink,” “festivals,” and “Sabbath”? (16) How can Christians and the church avoid being deceived by false doctrine regardless of its source? (6-7, 19)

4. The Judaizers taught that Christians had to follow the Old Testament Mosaic law. What were some of those laws? (11, 16, 21-22) What did Paul tell the Colossians about the Old Testament law and why Christians are not bound by it? (17, see these verses also) How does Paul describe the “circumcision” Christians now receive? Who performs this new “circumcision” and what is “cut away”? (11) On which “body part” of a Christian is it performed? Compare these verses to Deuteronomy 10:16, 30:6. How do all of these passages show that physical circumcision was only to be an outward sign of circumcision of the heart? What is the New Testament outward sign of circumcision of the heart? (12) How does Paul tell the Colossians to respond to the Judaizers’ pressure? (16)

5. Examine verses 20-22. What do believers die to in Christ? Are we to go back to worldly teachings and beliefs, as though we have not died to them, and continue to follow their unbiblical rules and regulations? If we are to be dead to these things, what are we to live to? Compare this passage to Galatians 3:1-9. How would these passages have demonstrated to Jewish believers that keeping Old Testament law was not required of them or of Gentile believers? Does your own church have any rules or teachings that Scripture does not require of Christians? What does following man made rules accomplish? (23)


Do you see the similarities between the Judaizers’ teachings and the modern day teaching of the Hebrew Roots Movement? Has anyone ever asked you why you don’t keep Old Testament law? List three teachings from the first two chapters of Colossians that you could use to persuade a friend not to follow the Hebrew Roots Movement or to explain why you’re free to eat lobster and wear poly-cotton blends.

Colossians Bible Study

Colossians: Lesson 3

Previous Lessons: 1, 2

Colossians 1:15-29

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.