Sunday, April 14, 2013

Too Good to Be True?

A study of the epistle to the Colossians.

Good News, but Too Good to Be True?

The epistle to the Colossians has strongly contested and defended authorship. Arguments in favor of Paul’s authorship include the author saying – in no uncertain terms – that he is Paul. If it is Paul, he wrote it in prison (like Ephesians, Colossians, Philippians, and Philemon); Tychicus is named as the letter carrier, just like Ephesians and Philemon. News of the happenings in Colossae (which still exists in western Turkey) were probably brought by Epaphras, mentioned in the letter to be visiting Paul. (Epaphras is mentioned later in Philemon described as being in prison with him.) 

Col 1:13-18 Paul’s addressing problems in the church at Colossae. Why start with Christ? Why these ideas about Christ? Are there any big ideas he left out?

Not that Paul isn’t always capable of powerful, dense writing, but this is especially packed. Slowing way down:
Col 1:19 What does it mean?

Col 1:20 What does this mean? Especially “everything on earth and in heaven”?

Col 1:21-22 Why emphasize “physical body”?

Col 1:23 “On the condition…”? How do you make sense of this?

Col 1:24-25 Are we all called to be happy (in the serving sense) in our suffering? What does “whatever remains of Christ’s sufferings” mean?

Col 2:8-15 Circumcision again. What made this such a tough issue for the early church? Is there anything like that for us now?

Col 2:16-19  What do you imagine is going on in Colossae? Is there any parallel to it in our day?

Col 2:20-23 Can you put this in your own words? Are you free in this way? How do you know? or What holds you back?

The Prescription
Col 3:1-11 “Therefore, put to death whatever is worldly in you.” How do you do that?

“You’ve gotten rid of the person you used to be and the life you used to live, and you’ve become a new person. This new person is continually renewed in knowledge to be like its Creator.”
Is salvation one and done or is it ongoing?

Col 3:12-17 What do you notice? How do you do this?

Col 4:2-6 Good advice… so what should we do?

Uh oh. 
Col 3:18-4:1 What do these three examples have in common? How would you generalize Paul’s point here?

Some describe this as Paul approving of slavery. Fair or not? In particular, people are arguing that if you want to be literal with same-sex language in the bible you need to be literal with this.

News and Notes
Col 4:7-18 Sometimes people will skip over these specific notes about specific people. What do you notice about them? What’s important about Paul including them in the letter or the church including them in the Bible?

Col 1:3-11 Let’s pray this for each other:
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, in our prayers for you. 4 We thank God because we have heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people. 5 You have these because of the hope which is kept safe for you in heaven. Some time ago you heard about this hope in the Good News which is the message of truth. 6 This Good News is present with you now. It is producing results and spreading all over the world as it did among you from the first day you heard it. At that time you came to know what God’s kindness truly means. 7 You learned about this Good News from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant. He is taking your place here as a trustworthy deacon for Christ 8 and has told us about the love that the Spirit has given you.

9 For this reason we have not stopped praying for you since the day we heard about you. We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through every kind of spiritual wisdom and insight. 10 We ask this so that you will live the kind of lives that prove you belong to the Lord. Then you will want to please him in every way as you grow in producing every kind of good work by this knowledge about God. 11 We ask him to strengthen you by his glorious might with all the power you need to patiently endure everything with joy. 12 You will also thank the Father, who has made you able to share the light, which is what God’s people inherit.

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