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)


Homework:

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.

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Colossians 2

col 2 4

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. What “plausible arguments” was Paul afraid the Colossian Christians would be “deluded” (4) by? (see 8, 11, 13, 16) How could the things Paul said in verses 2-3 prevent this? Had they already been led astray by false teaching? (5)

2. One of the major false teachings of Paul’s day was gnosticism. Which words/phrases in verse 8 might be speaking of gnosticism? Of the Judaizers? How does Paul refute the major tenets of gnosticism in verses 9-10? How can Christians apply verse 8 today?

3. In verses 11-13, which New Testament rite does Paul compare with the Old Testament rite of circumcision? How are these two rites similar? How are they different? Do these verses mean that Christians should not circumcise their baby boys? Did Paul think baptism was important?

4. What does verse 16 mean in light of the agenda the Judaizers were pushing? What does verse 17 tell us about the Old Testament feasts, ceremonies, sacrifices, etc.? How did they point to Christ, and how did Christ fulfill them? What does this tell us about the Hebrew Roots Movement and other “Christian” pastors or churches who say we must observe Old Testament ceremonies, calendars, or holidays?

5. What is the overall point Paul is trying to make in this chapter about Christianity versus false teachings such as gnosticism and the teachings of the Judaizers? (4, 10, 13-15, 19, 23) How can we apply this point today?

Wednesday's Word

Wednesday’s Word ~ Philippians 3

phil 3 18

 

Philippians 3

Finally, my brothers, rejoice in the Lord. To write the same things to you is no trouble to me and is safe for you.

Look out for the dogs, look out for the evildoers, look out for those who mutilate the flesh. For we are the circumcision, who worship by the Spirit of God and glory in Christ Jesus and put no confidence in the flesh— though I myself have reason for confidence in the flesh also. If anyone else thinks he has reason for confidence in the flesh, I have more: circumcised on the eighth day, of the people of Israel, of the tribe of Benjamin, a Hebrew of Hebrews; as to the law, a Pharisee; as to zeal, a persecutor of the church; as to righteousness under the law, blameless. But whatever gain I had, I counted as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord. For his sake I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish, in order that I may gain Christ and be found in him, not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith— 10 that I may know him and the power of his resurrection, and may share his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, 11 that by any means possible I may attain the resurrection from the dead.

12 Not that I have already obtained this or am already perfect, but I press on to make it my own, because Christ Jesus has made me his own. 13 Brothers, I do not consider that I have made it my own. But one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and straining forward to what lies ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus. 15 Let those of us who are mature think this way, and if in anything you think otherwise, God will reveal that also to you. 16 Only let us hold true to what we have attained.

17 Brothers, join in imitating me, and keep your eyes on those who walk according to the example you have in us. 18 For many, of whom I have often told you and now tell you even with tears, walk as enemies of the cross of Christ. 19 Their end is destruction, their god is their belly, and they glory in their shame, with minds set on earthly things. 20 But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, 21 who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.


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


 

Questions to Consider:

1. What does Paul mean by “to write the same things to you…” in verse 1?

2. Who are “those who mutilate the flesh”? (2-3) How do verse 3, Deuteronomy 30:6 and Romans 2:29 work together? What does it mean to circumcise your heart? For the Jews, circumcision was an outward sign of belonging to God. What is an outward sign that Christians belong to Christ?

3. In verses 3-11 is Paul bragging about what a holy guy he is? What point is he trying to make about salvation and sanctification in light of the comments he has made about circumcision? How does this compare with what Jesus said about exterior holiness and good works in Matthew 7:22-23? Ephesians 2:8-9? Romans 3:27-28?

4. In verses 12-16, how does Paul describe his main goal for the remainder of his life? What does it mean to “hold true to what we have attained”? (16)

5. Why does Paul tell the Philippians to imitate himself and other godly Christians? (17) Whom is he trying to warn them away from imitating? (18-19) On whom and what does Paul tell us to focus? (20-21)