Part 1 Verses 1-13
Part 2 Verses 14-18
Part 3 Verses 19-23
Part 1 Verses 1-5
Part 2 Verses 6-15
Part 3 Verses 16-17
Part 4 Verses 18-23
Part 1 Verses 1-11
Part 2 Verses 12-17
Part 3 Verses 18-25, and 4:1
Part 1 Verses 2-6
Part 2 Verses 7-18
Paul is the author of Colossians, which is one of the letters he wrote during his first Roman imprisonment in approximately A.D. 60-63. Paul was writing to the Colossian Church, which was located in the city of Colossi, about 100 miles east of Ephesus, and 12 miles south of Laodicea. It was founded by Epaphras, who was a friend and fellow servant of Paul. The purpose of Paul’s letter was mainly to refute the Colossian heresies, which were three-fold.
1. First was the error of pagan origin, which was the vain philosophy of Gnosticism. Gnosticism (which root word “gnosis” means knowledge) was a “system of religious mysticism and philosophical doctrines that stressed ‘gnosis’ or knowledge as essential to salvation.” (Webster). This knowledge was humanistic and mystic in origin, and not the spiritual knowledge of the Word of God. We want to notice a few of the teachings of Gnosticism that ill-affected the Colossian Church, and other early churches.
Gnosticism held that matter is inherently evil and the spirit is inherently good (commonly known as dualism). Because of this doctrine of dualism, Gnostics believed that God could not be known by men or approached by men, because men are made of matter, which is evil. Gnosticism, therefore, denied the deity of Christ because Christ had a material, corporal body. [Gnostics either denied the physical, corporal body of Christ altogether, as it would seem in John’s epistles, or they believed that an angel indwelt the body of Jesus at His birth and not God, and then left Him at His death. In either case they denied the humanity and/or the deity of Jesus Christ, and thereby denied all of His person and work.] Gnostics believed that Jesus was born of Mary and His earthly father Joseph, thereby denying the virgin birth and incarnation of the Son of God.
Gnosticism also denies the divine creation of the material universe, because according to their logic, if matter is evil, then God, who is Spirit, could not create evil. Instead of divine creation, Gnostics supposed that angels created the material universe. It is not hard to see why they worshipped angels! Gnostics also believed in a hierarchy of angels, ranking from the highest and mightiest angels, down to the low, insignificant angels, and every rank in between. The lowest ranks of angels they supposed had contact with men and even would assume human bodies. It was of this rank of angel that they thought indwelt Christ.
Because Gnostics regarded matter as evil, they also practiced asceticism, which was a form of works for salvation through rigorous self-denial, and self-affliction. Note the following quote from B.H. Carroll:
“They said that evil resided in matter; that matter was evil and spirit good, and therefore they had what is called ascetic doctrines, the denial of appetite, just as far as one could and hold soul and body together; for instance, they would take a drink of water and a crust of bread, have just one simple garment of clothing, would not marry, lived in caves, and withdrew from the world just as much as possible. That was the ascetic part of it, and by doing this, as the body was matter, they triumphed over sin. Roman Catholics incorporate a great part of this in their beliefs. Abstinences, fastings, refusal to eat certain things, penance, scourging, etc., are examples.”
Although Gnosticism as a cult philosophy is not widespread today, the same fundamental teachings are found in the modern cults such as the Jehovah false witnesses, Mormons, etc. There are also people today who claim to be Gnostics, or agnostics (which means no knowledge), who don’t believe that God can be known by mankind.
2. Secondly there was the errors of the Jews and there false religious notions. Judaism, which took the form of legalism; keeping the Mosaic Law; i.e. circumcision, dietary restrictions, calendar “holiday” observances, sabbath observances, and so on. This is the “touch not, taste not, and handle not” crowd. They forbid the eating of any animal that was unclean according to the Mosaic Law. They maintained the observance of ordinances and of calendar days, which were only shadows of things to come, that were all fulfilled and done away by the first advent of Christ. They also required circumcision as a means of procuring salvation. All of these things were fulfilled by Christ and are now obsolete, and have no place in salvation or New Testament worship.
3. Thirdly there were the false Christian views, which denied the deity of Christ, His Creatorship, and His saving work on the cross, among others.
The theme of Colossians is the supremacy of Christ. In the course of exposing their many errors, Paul pointed the Colossian saints to the truth of Christ. Christ is Creator, He is preeminent over all things, He is the Head of His Church, He is the head of all principality and power, in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily, we are complete in Him, He is all and in all, and Christ in you is the hope of glory. Paul emphasized all of these magnificent virtues of Christ in this book.
1. Salutation (verses 1-2).
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”
Paul greets the Colossian saints in his usual manner of greeting the churches and brethren in Christ. Lets notice three things here:
1) Paul was an apostle by the will of God.
Paul often expressed the sovereign providence of God in describing his calling both to salvation and to the Apostolic ministry.
2) The letter was written to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ.
The letter was written to the saints. If saints are all dead people, as the Catholics believe, then why was Paul writing to dead people? The truth is, saints are all those who have been sanctified by the Holy Spirit in regeneration and belief in the truth of the gospel. In other words, saints are saved people, living and dead.
We also notice that this book was written to saved people, and not the lost Heathen world. This is true of most of the Bible, although the Bible certainly has numerous evangelistic passages, and many encouragements to the lost the repent and believe in the person and work of Jesus Christ for salvation.
Contrary to the teaching of the Roman Catholics, all of God’s people who are saved by His grace can read and understand the spiritual truth in the Bible. All saved people have the Holy Spirit within, and God intended for all saved people to read and understand His Word.
3) Grace and peace are two things that believers cannot live without.
We are saved by grace, we stand and we live in grace; thus we need daily grace. We have peace with God through the blood of Christ that He shed on the cross for our sins, and we need the peace of God for living the Christian life.
2. The conversion of the Colossians (verses 3-8).
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, 5 For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; 6 Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: 7 As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; 8 Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”
1) Paul was thankful for their conversion (v. 3).
We should also be thankful for souls that God saves by His grace. He also heard of their faith and their love for all the saints. The evidence of their faith was their manifestation of love to other saints.
2) Salvation comes through hearing the gospel of the grace of God in truth (vs. 5-6).
The grace of God accompanies the truth of the gospel; error won’t save a soul. Error will give a false sense of security, and a false hope of salvation. But only the true gospel will bring salvation and a sure hope of Heaven.
3) The gospel brings forth fruit (v. 6).
Souls will be saved through the preaching of the gospel. And there will be fruit in the lives of souls that are saved.
4) The Colossian saints heard the truth of the gospel from Epaphras (vs. 7-8).
As we saw throughout the book of Philippians, God uses means to save His elect. He uses His faithful ministers and saints who witness the gospel to the lost. As we say over and over, this is God’s designed way. “It pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Cor. 1:21
So we see that their conversion was owing to the gospel of the grace of God, and faith in the gospel. It certainly was not owing to any of their pagan beliefs, or their Jewish fables, or their false beliefs about Christ and Christianity, but to the truth of the gospel.
3. Spiritual growth (verses 9-13).
“For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; 10 That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; 12 Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: 13 Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:”
Paul prayed for the Colossian saints, like he did many other saints and churches. He must have had quite a prayer list. What did he pray for? Lets notice three things:
1) He prayed for their knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.
This is accomplished thru the Word of God, part of which Paul was writing here. Beloved, we have it so good and easy today. These saints of the early churches didn’t even have the completed canon of Scripture. But each one of us has at least one complete Bible, with cross-references and definitions, and many other helps. Do we make good use of our privilege?
The Bible is the revealed will of God. Our wisdom, and spiritual understanding, and knowledge of His will, is proportionate to how well we know and understand God’s Word. So many professed believers today go around groping in the dark. They seem lost and confused. They don’t seem to know where they are going. Their lives don’t seem to have purpose or meaning. One of the problems is, they are not in the Word of God! We can’t neglect the Lord’s house and His Word and expect to stay on our spiritual course, no more than a mariner, who neglects His chart and compass, can stay on course in the sea. Paul prayed for these believers. Pastors pray the same for their church members. But it is the responsibility of the saints to come, and drink of the water of life, and feast on the milk and honey, and eat the meat of the Word of God, and thereby grow in wisdom and all spiritual understanding.
2) Paul also prayed for their spiritual walk and spiritual works as Christians (v. 10).
“Walking worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing”, that is, pleasing to God. Are we walking and living in such a way that we are pleasing to God? Our Christian walk is also proportionate to how well we know His Word. We can’t walk pleasing to God if we don’t walk according to His Word.
“…being fruitful in every good work…”. There is that word fruitful again. Believers are to be spiritual fruit bearers. Our lives are to produce and manifest the fruit of the Spirit. But they will only bear fruit if we cultivate and nourish our souls in the sunlight and refreshing waters of the Word of God.
Paul then added “…increasing in the knowledge of God.” Are we increasing in the knowledge of God? But preacher, we’re Baptists, we already know everything! Beloved, I’ve not met a Baptist yet who has arrived at perfect knowledge. I may have met some who think they have. No, growth in the knowledge of God is a never ending process in this life. None of us have reached the depths, or the breadth, nor the height of the wisdom and knowledge of God. Those extents are past finding out! Paul said in Philippians, “…that I might know Him…”; that is, he wanted to know Him better and better until he went home to be with Jesus.
3) Finally, Paul prayed that they might be strengthened by the power of God (vs. 11-13).
The spiritual strength that we need comes from His glorious power, not our own. Its that resurrection power that Paul spoke of in Philippians 3 and Ephesians 1 that we are needing today. The same power that raised Jesus from the dead will strengthen us to walk the Christian walk, and to do His will and His works in the world. It is the same power that made us fit to be partakers of the inheritance with the saints in light in the new birth. It is the same power whereby God delivered us out of the kingdom of Satan and translated us into the kingdom of His own dear Son (that was easy to say).
Beloved, that was a display of God’s mighty power when He saved our souls. I sometimes wonder if we realize what power God demonstrated in our salvation! We spoke about the sun standing still; salvation was a greater miracle yet! And the same power that saved us from Satan’s kingdom and placed us in our Lord’s kingdom, will also strengthen us to live and grow as believers.
Are you a saint? That is, have you been converted to Christ through faith in the gospel? If not, repent and believe that Jesus died, was buried, and rose again for you.
As believers, are we growing in the knowledge of His will, and in wisdom, and all spiritual understanding? Paul wrote a lot about Christian growth in His letters, because our continued growth is so vital to our Christian lives and our fruitfulness. God help us to get into His Word and devote our time to learning and re-learning the Scriptures.
Part 2; verses 14-18
As we go through our study we want to keep in our minds that the doctrines of Christ were under attack at the Colossian Church. Every aspect of His Person and work were being refuted and undermined. Because of this, Paul devoted a large portion of this epistle to teaching and emphasizing the supremacy, the power, the deity, the preeminence, and of course the exclusive redemptive work of Christ on the cross.
Beloved, Christ is everything. He is all in all, and He is all we need for salvation complete, and for our growth in grace, and for service. There is nothing or no one that can be added to Christ. We are complete in Him. We will see all of these things expressed over and over in various ways as we go through our study in Colossians.
The verses that we are about to study are extremely important to the Christian faith. The truths that are taught in these verses alone destroy most of the major errors of the cults and many of the so-called Christian Denominations today. You see, beloved, most errors are rooted in erroneous beliefs about Christ, including His Person and His work of redemption on the cross. That is why it is so important when talking to people to take them straight to Jesus and His cross. If people are mistaken about Jesus and His cross, nothing else really matters.
Believers have redemption through His blood, even the forgiveness of sins. What a grand price that was paid for our salvation! What can wash away my sins? Nothing but the blood of Jesus. No Jewish fables or traditions of men, or keeping the law of Moses, or the “foolosophies” of the heathen could pay the price of our redemption. No beloved, only the blood of Jesus has the power and the worth to pay the enormous price that God required in payment of our sins.
Redemption means to purchase or to buy back. It means to purchase one who was sold as a slave. In the Old Testament (in Leviticus 25) an Israelite who was purchased by a stranger to be his slave, could be redeemed out of bondage by a near kinsman. This, beloved, is what Jesus did for His people on the cross of Calvary. We were sold under sin to a stranger who is Satan, and Jesus our near kinsman redeemed us, and purchased us out of our bondage to sin and Satan. Our redemption price wasn’t silver or gold, beloved, but it was the precious blood of Jesus!
Redemption not only bought one’s freedom from bondage, but also the forgiveness of whatever debt that the slave owed. In the case of lost sinners, the debt was our sins against God. Thus, Jesus paid the redemption price for our sins, and we are forgiven of all of our sin debt to God by His work on the cross and His shed blood, and we are set free from the power of sin and Satan.
Beloved, Christ is the only Saviour and Redeemer of sinners, and the price for our redemption was His own precious blood and nothing else would do.
Jesus is the image of the invisible God. Jesus is equal with God the Father in all of His attributes and perfections. Jesus is all-powerful, all-knowing, and everywhere present. He is Holy, He is righteous, He is love, He is light, He is everything that God is. Jesus is a perfect replica of everything the Bible teaches that God is. Notice Hebrews 1:1-3:
“God, who at sundry times and in divers manners spake in time past unto the fathers by the prophets, 2 Hath in these last days spoken unto us by his Son, whom he hath appointed heir of all things, by whom also he made the worlds; 3 Who being the brightness of his glory, and the express image of his person, and upholding all things by the word of his power, when he had by himself purged our sins, sat down on the right hand of the Majesty on high;”
Here again we see a similar description of Christ and His express image of God, and His power in the creation of the worlds, and how he upholds all things by the Word of His power. The phrase “express image” means the exact expression or perfect reproduction. In human words this is probably the strongest way to express the perfect likeness of Jesus Christ the Son of God to God His Heavenly Father.
Therefore, Jesus is very God, and as such He must be esteemed as God, and highly honored, and reverenced, and feared as God. Jesus is not a “little god” as the Mormons and Jehovah false witnesses, and many so-called Christian organizations consider Him to be. No, Jesus is God with a capital “G”, and He is Jehovah with a capital “J”. Anything less than absolute, full equality with the Father, and you have another Jesus!
“…the firstborn of every creature” By this Paul does not mean that Jesus was a created being as some believe and teach. Such a misinterpretation directly contradicts the entire context of this chapter, especially verses 16-17 that we will see next. Paul means that Jesus is pre-existent to every creature, and as Creator He is the first parent of every creature that He ever created. This will become more evident as we go along.
The reason why Paul used the word firstborn here, was probably to emphasize the inherent “firstborn” rights and privileges of Christ as the firstborn over His creation.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:”
The word “for” at the beginning of this verse, links it to the previous verse. Jesus is the “firstborn of every creature” in verse 15, because all things were created by Him. So we can see that by “firstborn” in verse 15 Paul meant the preexistence and Creatorship of Christ.
Again, as we said in the beginning of our lesson, these verses are extremely important to the Christian faith. These truths alone will destroy most of the major errors of all of the cults, and even many of the so-called Christian Denominations today.
Jesus Christ, we are taught here in verse 16, is the Creator of all things. All the cults and so-called Christian religions which deny the preexistence, the eternality, the deity, the sovereign power and authority, and the equality of Christ with the Father, are hereby dealt their eternal death blow. In essence, every one of these glorious attributes of Christ’s deity are taught in the words “For by Him were all things created…”.
But not only were all things created by Christ, but Paul elaborates and refines this statement to include things in Heaven and things in earth, visible and invisible. Yes, Jesus created the heavenly bodies; the sun, moon, and the stars. He created and fashioned the earth, and the seas and rivers, and all the mountains, and deserts and plains. He created all the plant life after their kinds. He created all of the millions of species of animals after their kinds, including the foul of the air, and the fish of the sea, and all the land animals, and all of the microscopic organisms. And then He created man in the image of God.
Not only did he create the visible things, but He also created the invisible things, speaking of the mighty host of angels. Concerning the angels Paul added “whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers”. These thrones and dominions and principalities and powers all speak of the various ranks of angels, which rule in their various orders and dominions. As I said in a message recently, I believe that if we could see that host of created angelic and demonic spirit beings in our world, we would probably be literally scared to death.
But all of these great and powerful angelic beings were all created by Jesus Christ. Now, can you just imagine with me how great and powerful that Jesus Christ is, that by the Word of His power He spoke these mighty angelic beings into existence? People, such as the Gnostics and the Catholics who worship angels and other created beings are so foolish. These created angelic beings are but mere servants, who stand at the beck and call of Jesus Christ their Lord and Master.
Do you know what the angels say to men who worship them? “See thou do it not”! Rev. 19:10; 22:9).
“…all things were created by him, and for him:” Not only did Jesus create all things, both visible and invisible, but He created them for Himself. This is anther strong argument for the sovereignty of Christ. Beloved, people today have too low opinion and appraisal of the greatest and sovereignty of Christ. Jesus is God! And as God He is equal with the Father, and therefore He has a sovereign will and purpose that is equal with the Father’s.
Jesus created all things to serve Him and to fulfill His sovereign purpose, and to accomplish His will. And when Jesus died on that old rugged cross, He wasn’t dying haphazardly, or with uncertainty about the outcome of His death, but He died on purpose, and for a purpose, with a definitive, predetermined outcome of His death, burial, and resurrection. He personally knew everyone for whom He died on the cross. We were engraved in His hands and on His heart in eternity past. And everything He did on this earth was done exactly according to the predetermined will of the Godhead.
“And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.”
Here Paul clearly states that Jesus is before all things, and therefore He is eternal and preexistent to all His creation.
Not only is Jesus before all things, but all things of His creation consist by His power. The word consist means “held together”. Because the context of the passage is speaking about the literal creation, I must take this word “consist” to mean that Jesus holds together all of the various components of His creation, from the submicroscopic atom, and the vast macrocosm of the universe.
Every physical law that governs the universe, is controlled and operates by the power of Christ. The apple falls down from the tree because Christ made the law of gravity. The laws of kinetics, and genetics, and thermodynamics, and electricity, and chemical reactivity, and chemical bonding, and wave dynamics, and hydrology, and all the other laws that govern this world, were all created by Christ and operate by His will and power.
The same is true of all governments and dominions, whether earthly or angelic, Jesus controls them all, and He holds them all together, and He sets their bounds of habitation and control. He puts one king down and raises another up as it pleases Him. All things in every realm of creation are held together by Him, and are subject to Him to fulfill His sovereign will.
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.”
In addition to all these things, Jesus is the Head of His Church. It only makes since that the sovereign Creator of all the universe, Who holds it all together by His mighty power, would logically be the Head of His Church, which he built during His earthly ministry, and shed His blood for on the cross of Calvary.
It would be a downright insult for any man or deity to pretend to usurp His sovereign authority as Head of His Church. There are a lot of men who may be the head of their churches that they built, but Jesus is the only Founder and Head of His Church.
So let every man take care how we behave ourselves in the House of God, and how we take upon ourselves authority over the house of God that belongs to Christ alone, and to His divine order of headship, and government of His Church.
Our only rule of faith and practice as believers is the Word of God. And our only rule for church government is the Word of God.
“…who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead;” Like all of the Creation, Jesus is also the Creator and beginning of His Church. Not only that, but He is the first man to be resurrected from the grave to live forevermore. This glorious truth gives Jesus the unprecedented right to be the Head and final authority over His Church.
“…that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Preeminence means to be first or to hold first place. It also designs to be chief and ruler over all things. Christ is preeminent among all the angelic host as well as the demonic host. They all know Him and pay Him due homage because they fear Him. Jesus has the preeminence among the saints that are presently in heaven. He shall have preeminence among all men during the millennial kingdom.
But what about in our lives in the here and now? Does Jesus have the preeminence in our lives? Does Jesus hold first place in our lives, or does something or someone else occupy that place in our hearts? Is Jesus the chief and ruler upon the throne of our hearts, and our affections, and our decisions that we make day to day in our lives?
God the Father has given Jesus the preeminence over all things. It is His sovereign right to be number one, and to hold first place, and to rule our lives. Not only did His Father give Him this right, but as we’ll see in our next study, Jesus earned that right to be preeminent in the lives of His people.
But beloved, I believe that Jesus wants voluntary submission and obedience to His preeminence. Considering all that He has done for us, I believe He more than deserves our voluntary obedience. If He is not preeminent in our lives, what does that say for us?
Is Jesus your blessed redeemer? Did He die on the cross to set you free from the bondage of your sins and the bondage of Satan’s kingdom? Do you know that the blood of Jesus paid the price for your spiritual freedom and the forgiveness of your sins?
If not, then I beseech you to repent, and humble yourself at the feet of Jesus. And believe that He died on that old cross for you, and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day for the forgiveness of your sins.
And then surrender you life to His preeminence in His Church, by voluntarily and joyfully following Jesus in Scriptural baptism and service in His Church.
Part 3; verses 19-23
We want to begin our study by imagining that we were members of the Church of Colossi. We don’t have our own personal Bibles. The printing press wasn’t invented yet. Besides that, most of the New Testament wasn’t written yet, and the Old Testament wasn’t readily available for everyone to have a copy, and it would be too bulky to carry around if we were so privileged to have one. Perhaps the church or the pastor might have a copy of the Old Testament and a copy of any New Testament writings that were available, such as the early letters of Paul.
The key thing to note here is that no one had a complete New Testament. The pastor had to rely on the knowledge he received from the Apostle Paul and the other Apostles and evangelists, or that he received directly from the Holy Spirit. There were prophets in the churches in those days, which were able to provide some light of truth. But beloved, by and large they didn’t have “book chapter and verse,” for all of their beliefs about God and about Christ.
It is not difficult for us to see how easy it would be for false Brethren to slip into the churches unawares, and claim to have a message from the Lord. The pastor had a difficult job detecting the subtle errors of the false prophets and teachers, without having “book, chapter, and verse” to depend on for their defense of the truth. Anyone could say “I have a prophecy from the Lord”, and if they were convincing enough, the people would assume that they were sent from the Lord.
This was especially difficult if these false prophets and teachers were established members of the church, and well known and respected members of the community. It would be difficult to question their honesty and sincerity, and to discern all of their errors, especially when there were already such a variety of false teachings in the world. A pastor in that day and time had a difficult job discerning who was a true man of God, and sorting out if what men taught was right or wrong, and then dealing with those who taught falsehoods.
This was a common problem in those early churches. Paul, Peter, James, Jude, and John in their epistles all addressed the issue of false prophets and teachers, and their false doctrines. Paul was constantly concerned about this problem. He more or less said so in 2 Corinthians 11:28 where he said: “Beside those things that are without, that which cometh upon me daily, the care of all the churches.” In addition to all of the persecutions, which Paul suffered, he had the care of all the churches upon his shoulders.
When we consider how many churches there were, and all the error in the world at that time that was infiltrating the churches, and how little of the revealed Word of God that the churches had back then, it is no wonder that Paul and the other spiritual leaders had such a great care and concern over the state of the churches.
In his great epistle to the Colossians, Paul presented Jesus Christ as all in all. Jesus is everything that we need for salvation complete. There is nothing that men can add to His work. All other religions and philosophies are heretical, and none of them have anything to add to Christ and true Christianity, and they all must be thrown into the dung heap.
Last time we studied the preeminence of Christ. Preeminence we said means to be first or to hold first place. It means to be chief and ruler over all things. Christ is preeminent over all the angelic and demonic host. They all know Him and pay Him due homage because they fear Him. Jesus has the preeminence over the saints in heaven and over all men during the future millennial kingdom.
And Jesus is to have the preeminence in our lives now. He is to hold first place in our lives, and be the chief and ruler upon the throne of our hearts, and our affections, and our decisions that we make day to day in our lives?
“For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; 20 And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. 21 And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
In these verses we see two reasons why Jesus is to have the preeminence.
In addition to the fact that He is the Creator of all things, which we saw last time, Jesus has the preeminence because God the Father determined that all the fullness of God would be given to Jesus. We already saw previously that Jesus is very God and equal to the Father in all of His person and attributes. But preeminence means more than that. In God’s purpose and plan He put all things under the power and authority of His Son.
Do you remember in our study on Joseph? Remember that Pharaoh gave all the authority of his kingdom to Joseph? And remember that everyone in the kingdom had to bow the knee to Joseph, and answer to, and give an account to Joseph. That is sort of what God did with His Son. Everything and everyone must answer to, and give an account to Christ for all things. He is second in the throne only to His Father, so to speak.
It doesn’t really matter what anyone thinks about it, whether man or angel, God has made Jesus both Lord and Christ, and all things will submit to his authority, and power, and rule. If they will not submit to His preeminence now, rest assured, they will in the future.
There is another reason why Jesus has the preeminence, and that is because of His work on the cross. We want to notice six thoughts from verses 20-22.
“And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.”
1) First, Jesus made peace between God and sinful men through the blood of His cross.
What Jesus did on that cross for His people, He did all alone. Even His heavenly Father forsook Him in that hour of suffering and darkness. “Eli, Eli, Lama Sabachthani!!!”, which is to say “My God, My God, Why hast thou forsaken Me?” God forsook His Son on that cross so that Jesus, all alone, through the things which He suffered, would make peace between God and His people. There are infinite sermons in that very thought!
How did Jesus make peace between a Holy God and sinful man? He did it by reconciling God with wicked sinners, by suffering the eternal torments of hell for them on that cross. To reconcile means to bring together at one. Sin has separated sinful man from God. On the cross Jesus paid the eternal debt for our sins against God that we could never repay. We were doomed to eternal separation from God in the lake of fire because of our sins, but Jesus reconciled us! He brought us back together at one with God, by suffering the punishment for our sins on the cross.
2) Secondly, because of His work on the cross Jesus also has preeminence over all things.
He will reconcile all things in heaven and earth. That is not to say that “all things”, or all men or angels will be saved, for they most certainly will not. In fact, not one fallen angel will ever be saved. But it means that Christ will set all things in there proper place and order at the end of the age.
Because of His work on the cross all the redeemed ones will take their rightful place with Him in glory. And because of His work on the cross all unregenerate men will take their rightful place in the eternal lake of fire.
Because of His work on the cross all the holy angels of God will be eternally vindicated. Never forget that the unseen holy angels of God have done their part in this battle for truth, and against the powers of darkness in high places. Just read the book of Daniel.
Because of His work on the cross Satan and all the fallen angels will be forever damned. On the cross Jesus spoiled principalities and powers, and made a show of them openly. On the cross Jesus crushed the head of that old serpent as promised in Genesis 3:15. On the cross Jesus dealt Satan his eternal death blow, and destroyed him who had the power of death, that is, the devil.
Beloved, because of His work on the cross, Jesus will reconcile all things. He will see to it that all things of His creation will take their assigned eternal places in the eternal age, whether that place be eternal glory or eternal judgment and punishment in the lake of fire.
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
3) We were all aliens and enemies of God in our minds by wicked works before we were saved.
WE WERE ALL ENEMIES of God. Lost sinners who deny that they are enemies of God only prove that they are, by calling God a liar. They don’t repent of their sins and sinful ways! They don’t come to Him by faith in Jesus. They won’t hear and obey His Holy Word. They continue in their life of sinning, yet they say they are not enemies of God! But when the Lord saves you, you will readily confess that you were His enemy. This fact of the depraved human nature is clear to see once the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus shines in our hearts. Thank God that Jesus reconciled His enemies!!!
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled”
4) Fourthly, we see how Jesus reconciled His people.
He reconciled us “In the body of His flesh through death,” which of course comprehends His precious blood. All the agnostics in the world, who deny that Christ had a real, physical body, also deny the only means of reconciliation to God. That was the whole purpose why Jesus must be born of a virgin, and take upon Himself our likeness, that in the body that God had prepared for Him, He would become the suffering sacrifice for the sins of His people. How important was the virgin birth of Christ?! It was absolutely essential to our reconciliation with God, and our peace with God, and the eternal salvation of our souls.
5) Fifthly, we notice the perfection of Christ’s reconciliation.
Notice the difference in our state and standing before God through Christ’s reconciliation. Before we were aliens and enemies in our minds by wicked works. Now, after reconciliation we are holy, unblamable, and unreprovable in God’s sight. This means a complete change in our standing before God, a change in our nature now, and a complete change in glorification.
6) Sixthly and finally, Christ is preeminent in salvation.
All of the glorious things that we have in salvation, are the result of His work and not ours. Jesus made peace for us by the blood of His cross. Jesus reconciled us to God. We were alienated and estranged from God from our birth. We were enemies in our minds by wicked works, yet now He has reconciled us! We were enemies and sinners but in the body of His flesh through death, He will present us holy, unblamable, and unreprovable in God’s sight. Beloved, it is Jesus Who saves us from start to finish!
Paul said in Romans 3:17 “Where is the boasting then? It is excluded….”. In Romans 4:2 Paul said “For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory (or to boast); but not before God.” And in Galatians 6:14 Paul said “But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.”
Yes beloved, God forbid that we should glory in anything other than the cross of Jesus!
“If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister;”
We could try to explain away the first part of this verse which says “If ye continue in the faith…etc.”, by saying it means “…since you will persevere in the faith…etc.”. That is what the notes in my study Bible say. Now, I appreciate their zeal for eternal security, but I’d rather let the Scriptures speak for themselves.
As the old saying goes, “the proof is in the puddin’!” All of these glorious truths concerning reconciliation through the body and blood of Christ only apply to you and I – if, and only if we “…continue in the faith…”.
If we do not continue in the faith, rooted and steadfast; and we are moved away from the hope of the gospel, then evidently we were not truly reconciled to God through faith in the gospel of Christ.
Paul was not an advocate of easy-believism. He didn’t believe or teach that a mere profession of faith in Christ was all there is to salvation and the Christian life. No beloved, Paul preached that all who are in Christ are new creatures. He taught that true believers will continue steadfast in the faith and in the hope of the gospel. These things don’t eternally save a person – no, not even in the very least! But if we are saved then these things will be true of us.
What a glorious, preeminent Saviour we have! What a wonderful Saviour! What amazing grace that saves rebel, enemy sinners like you and me!
Part 4; verses 24-29
Christ in you, the hope of glory!
“Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:”
Paul rejoiced in his sufferings for the Colossian saints, although he had never personally been to Colossi or preached unto them. As the Apostle to the Gentiles, Paul felt a personal obligation and concern for them, whether he was directly or only indirectly involved in their conversion to Christ.
To “fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ” refers to the suffering of the Lord’s body, which is His Church. Jesus appointed His Church a measure of afflictions. How bitter has been the persecution which His Church has suffered these last 2000 years. We all have a measure of afflictions that the Lord has given us to “fill up”, as it were.
We can also understand from this verse that when His body suffers, Jesus also suffers. That is why they are called the afflictions of Christ. When any part of the body suffers the head suffers with it. So then Christ, who is the Head of His Church, suffers when His Church suffers. It is comforting and encouraging to know that Jesus is concerned about our sufferings. He is so concerned that He claims our afflictions as His very own.
Paul had a great measure of afflictions that he had to “fill up” for Christ. Immediately after he was saved on that Damascus road, Jesus told Paul what great things he must suffer for His sake. None of us can begin to appreciate all that Paul suffered for Jesus’ sake, and for His body’s sake, which is His Church.
But Paul stated in Philippians 1:29 and 2 Timothy 3:12 that it was given to all of God’s people who would live godly in Christ Jesus, to suffer for His sake. Jesus Himself taught in the Gospels that we should expect persecution and suffering for His Name’s sake. So then, the afflictions of the body of Christ have been “filling up” ever since Jesus left His Church in the world.
“Whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God;”
Paul was made a minister. That is, his calling to the apostleship and ministry of the gospel was the divine work of the sovereign grace of God. It certainly wasn’t Paul’s will to either be saved by Jesus Christ, much less to serve Him in the ministry of the gospel.
Paul’s case is one of the clearest examples of God’s sovereign grace in salvation and in the call to service. We can use Paul as an example and a pattern of God’s sovereign grace in salvation and service. In fact, God intended for Paul to be used as our example. Notice the following verses:
1 Timothy 1:15-16 This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. 16 Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.
You see, God saved the chief of sinners by His mighty sovereign grace, to be a pattern for all who would thereafter believe on Jesus unto life everlasting. From Paul’s example we see that God is able to save the worst, vile, wretched sinners that Adam’s sinful race has to offer! God saved Paul, who hated Jesus and persecuted Jesus and His people. If the Lord was able to save Paul, He can save anyone! The Lord called Paul by his grace, and gave him a new heart in regeneration, and gave him repentance and faith in Jesus Christ.
If ever there was a man who knew without a shadow of a doubt that salvation was all of God’s sovereign, amazing grace, it was Paul. And he is our example and pattern.
Paul said that his ministry was given to him of God on their behalf, especially the Gentile believers, to whom Paul was called to be an Apostle, or messenger of the gospel. Paul’s ministry was given to him according to the dispensation of God. God planned in eternity past not only the way of salvation by faith in Christ, and the means of salvation through preaching the gospel of Christ, but even the very ministers that He would use to preach His Word. Preachers don’t call themselves into the ministry, but God calls them.
I dare say that even when God’s preachers preach out of constraint, still a necessity is laid upon us to preach the gospel. This is hard to understand unless you’ve experienced it yourself. Notice the doleful words of Paul in 1 Corinthians 9:16:
“For though I preach the gospel, I have nothing to glory of: for necessity is laid upon me; yea, woe is unto me, if I preach not the gospel!”
Paul was called “to fulfill the Word of God,” which means to fully preach the Word of God. This means to preach the whole council of God in its purity and entirety, especially the gospel of the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ alone for salvation, and to preach to all men everywhere without exception or distinction, especially to the Gentiles.
“Even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: 27 To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:”
Now we come to a most precious Bible “mystery”. A mystery is simply a hidden truth. Paul was called to fully preach this mystery, which he said was “hidden from the ages and from generations”. The Old Testament prophesied of this mystery, but it was only vaguely comprehended by the Jewish people, and the Gentile world was in total darkness concerning this mystery.
What is the mystery in our text? If we compared this passage with Ephesians 2:11-3:6, and if we concluded that both books were speaking about the same mystery, then we would understand our text here in Colossians to be speaking about the salvation of the Gentiles through the preaching of the gospel.
Again, the future salvation of the Gentiles by means of a world-wide gospel preaching campaign, was unclear to the Old Testament saints, and oblivious to the Gentile nations. The Scriptures prophesied of the Gentile’s salvation, but the time, and the means, and the mechanics of their salvation was very unclear, even to the prophets themselves.
The “riches of the glory of this mystery” spoken of in verse 27 is “Christ in you”. That is, through faith in the gospel, Christ spiritually indwells each and every believer. This interpretation of verse 27 best fits the theme of Colossians, and it is supported by numerous Scriptures. I will quote 3 of these to make the point:
Galatians 2:20 I am crucified with Christ: nevertheless I live; yet not I, but Christ liveth in me: and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by the faith of the Son of God, who loved me, and gave himself for me.
Ephesians 3:17a That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith…
1 Corinthians 6:19 What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?
The theme of Colossians is the completeness, the perfection, and the sufficiency of Christ. Therefore, because Christ dwells in the believer, we have all that we need within us. We don’t need to look outside to other resources for spiritual completion and perfection, it is all found in Christ who resides in our very hearts and souls. Again I repeat, everything we need is found in Christ!
Because Christ permanently dwells inside all believers, and He promised that He will never leave us nor forsake us, we have a sure hope of future glory with Him. Verse 27 is another powerful argument for eternal security. Christ in us is our hope of glory! When, I ask, will Jesus leave or forsake us? The answer is, never! When will a true believer lose their salvation? Again, the answer is, never!
Paul said that “Christ in you” is “the riches of the glory of this mystery”. Yes, beloved, how rich and glorious is the thought that Christ, the glorious Second Person of the Godhead, lives in us! And because He lives in us we have a sure hope of future glory.
Please listen to me carefully. We don’t have time to preach on the Christian hope at this time. But let me just say that the Christian hope is not just a hope-so hope, but it is a know-so hope. It isn’t the kind of hope that the world calls hope. It isn’t one of those “I hope it doesn’t rain tomorrow” kind of hopes. The definition of the Christian hope is not the American Standard, or Webster Dictionary’s definition of hope.
The Christian’s hope is not just a strong desire to have something, or a desire for something to happen. Beloved, the Christian hope is a sure hope that is founded on Christ, who is the object of our hope. The Christian hope is a “know-so” hope. It is a sure hope that is based on the sure foundation of the gospel, and all of the works of Christ on the cross for His people, and all of the promises of God in His Word to His people.
The Christian hope is based on the very Person and attributes of God, which include His truthfulness and faithfulness, His power and wisdom, His holiness and righteousness, His mercy, love, and grace. All these and many, many other glorious aspects of God’s Person and attributes, make the Christian hope a sure hope. And to all these things Paul adds one more -“Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Now, if our hope isn’t a sure hope, then I don’t know what could be more sure.
“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: 29 Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.”
Verse 28 is a sermon in itself: “Warn every man; teach every man; present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”
God’s faithful preachers warn every man. We warn sinners of their imminent danger of God’s judgment upon them because of their sins. We warn them to flee from the wrath to come. We warn them to flee to Christ, the city of refuge, and find refuge and salvation for their souls.
We also warn the saints of God to flee youthful lusts (2 Timothy 2:22); to flee fornication (1 Corinthians 6:18); to flee from the love of money (1 Timothy 6:10-11); and to flee from idolatry (1 Corinthians 10:14). Faithful pastors will warn them that are unruly (1 Thessalonians 5:14), and warn “every one night and day with tears” (Acts 20:31), against the religious errors that are being promulgated in the world.
Faithful pastor’s also teach every man. They teach everyone under their ministry the many precious truths of God’s Word. They endeavor with Paul to preach the whole council of God. That is why we devote as much of our allotted time as we can to expounding the Word of God the best way we know how, with as much understanding as God gives us.
I know that we all will forget most of the sermons that we here, but I hope the Holy Spirit burns the understanding of God’s Word indelibly upon our hearts! We might forget just where we heard or learned a particular truth, but what is important is that we learned it.
Beloved, many of the truths that I have learned over the years was through hearing God’s men preach the Word. For eighteen years before I ever pastured a church, I listened carefully to God’s preachers to learn as much as I could learn from their sermons.
And I learned a lot from those men of God over the years. I can’t tell you what I learned from who in most cases, but the important thing is that God taught it to me through His preachers.
Beloved, I don’t mind getting a little emotional, and getting excited in the services, but the most important thing for God’s children is to learn the truth about our God. The emotions and the excitement will wear off before tomorrow, but the truth will live on in our souls forever!
Do you want to know God better? Would you like to be closer to the Lord? Do you want to grow in your Christian life? Then listen intently to the Word of God as the preacher preaches, and as the teachers teach. Get everything you can out of the sermons. I’m sure there is something that everyone can learn or re-learn from every sermon.
I’ve heard church members say “I can’t get anything out of that preacher’s sermons”. Now, no one has said that about me, at least not to my face, and I hope that isn’t the case with you and this preacher. But beloved, that same preacher that those folks couldn’t get anything out of, taught me much of what I know today from the Word of God.
I don’t care how shallow, or how disorganized, or how difficult a preacher may be to follow, if he is preaching the truth from God’s Word, and you listen as carefully to him as you can, I guarantee that you will learn and grow in the Lord.
Now don’t misunderstand me, I believe that preachers should strive to make their messages clear and plain, however difficult or deep the subject may be. Some preachers are better at this than others, but give the man of God the benefit of the doubt.
Not only is it the preacher’s job to warn and to teach every man, but it is his desire to present every man perfect in Christ Jesus. Every true pastor wants every one of his sheep to grow up and mature in the faith, and to receive a full reward at the judgment seat of Christ. Believe me, I want this for every member of our church!
Finally, how was Paul able to warn and teach, so that he could present every man perfect, in Jesus Christ? Paul said he did it by “…striving according to his working”, which some interpret to mean “striving or agonizing” with God in prayer, as Jacob wrestled with the Lord in prayer; or striving as an athlete strives to win the prize.
Thus a pastor or Christian worker must agonize in prayer, and strive in our labors to win the prize of presenting souls perfect to the Lord. Paul taught by word and example, that to be affective in the work of the Lord, we must agonize in our prayers and in our labors for the Lord. Maybe this is why many churches don’t see the results that we hope to see. Perhaps we are not agonizing and striving enough in the work of the Lord.
Paul also acknowledged that his success was owing to the power of God that worked in him mightily. As we studied in Philippians 2:13, it is God that works in us both to will and to do of His good pleasure. Paul said in 1 Corinthians 3:9 that we are laborers together with God.
We strive and labor in the work of the Lord, and the Lord works with our works to bring forth the increase. That is how the work of the Lord is effectual in our church, by every part striving and laboring to do the work that God gave us to do, and God giving the body increase according to the working of His mighty power.
In conclusion, what is your hope? Is it the sure hope of Christ in you, who is the hope of glory?
Does Christ dwell in you by faith?
Have you repented and believed the gospel of Jesus; that He died on the cross, was buried in the tomb, and rose again the third day for you?
Jesus saved Paul, the chief of sinners, and therefore I know that He can save you, too!
Finally, as believers are we growing in the grace and in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ?
Part 1; verses 1-5
Colossians 2 is another VERY important chapter of Scripture. It is vital that we understand the several teachings found in this chapter. This chapter refutes many errors some of which are still common today, while at the same time it explains some important truths about Christ, especially salvation through faith in His work on the cross.
“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
As we said before, Paul had never seen either and Colossian or the Laodician saints face to face. He only knew of them through Epaphras, who was Paul’s friend in the faith, and a missionary to this region of Asia Minor.
As we saw last time, Paul labored and agonized for the saints of God that he might present them complete in Christ.
Paul was in prison at this time, so the conflict he spoke of here was not a physical conflict, but a mental and spiritual conflict of anguish and agonizing in prayer to God in their behalf. Beloved, we can do as much good for others through our spiritual agonizing to God in their behalf, as we can do for them in person. God is not only a God at hand, but He is also a God afar off! (Jeremiah 23:23).
Paul wanted these believers to know that he was concerned about them. There is nothing wrong with telling people that you care about them, and that you are agonizing in prayer for them; that is of course, if we truly are. Such knowledge will bring them comfort.
“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;”
Paul wanted these saints to be comforted through understanding the many glorious truths about Christ, and the “mystery” of the gospel to the Gentiles. We notice the words “all riches of the full assurance of understanding”. How rich is the understanding of Christ to our souls! The understanding of Christ and salvation complete in Him, is like a gold mine of spiritual wealth to the believer.
Not only that, but the understanding of Christ and all about His redemptive work, gives us assurance of salvation. It is no wonder that people who don’t read and study to understand their Bibles don’t have much assurance of their salvation. The two work together. Faith cometh by hearing the Word of God, and with faith comes assurance.
The Greek word for “acknowledgement” in verse 2, means “a full and accurate knowledge of,” or, “a complete and thorough knowledge”. Paul is saying that there is great comfort and assurance in having a full, complete, thorough, and accurate knowledge of Jesus Christ and the mystery of the gospel.
Beloved, I cannot repeat this too much, that knowledge and understanding of the truth of God’s Word is vital to our spiritual health.
Emotionalism and all teachings of men are like sugar. We love to eat sweets, but they don’t help our physical health very much. They don’t provide much nourishment to our bodies, but sometimes they do us more harm than good.
What we need is meat and vegetables, and milk products to make our bodies strong and healthy. And sometimes, beloved, those things that taste the worst are the best for us!
So it is with the Word of God. A little sugar is OK, but what we really need is a good balanced diet of the milk and meat of the Word. Good sound Bible doctrine will make believers spiritually strong and healthy. Lets notice just a few of these spiritual foods that we find in the Word of God:
The milk of the Word. These are the ABCs of the faith, including all the teachings about God and the Holy Trinity, about Jesus and His life and works on the earth, about creation, about the ten commandments, about repentance and simple faith in Christ for salvation, about baptism and the Lord’s Supper, and the teachings of the local church. These are so important to get a good footing in the faith.
The carbohydrates of Christian zeal. These include those high energy exhortations that encourage us to witness the gospel to the lost. We just can’t seem to get enough of these.
The carrots of eschatology. These give us good spiritual eyesight for the second coming of Christ, so that we might be about doing the will of God as we wait for His coming.
The spinach and asparagus of self-examination and confession of sin. These may not taste good going down (or coming up), but they sure are good for us.
The fiber of warnings and exhortations. These high fiber foods keep our spiritual systems clean from poisonous heresies and sinful passions, and the cholesterol of spiritual laziness. These foods include warnings against false teachers and false doctrine, against unhealthy worldly activities, against unfaithfulness to God’s house and doing His work, and inducements to read our Bibles and to pray. We need a lot of fiber in our diet!
The strong meat of the doctrines of grace. This spiritual meat will strengthen our faith and trust in the sovereign God of Heaven, and keep us from being tossed “to and fro” by every wind of doctrine, and by the cunning craftiness of men who lie in wait to deceive.
Finally, not enough can be said for the home cookin’ of the local church. We shouldn’t eat too much of that fast food radio and television preachin’, most of it isn’t good for our heart or soul. We shouldn’t eat too much sit down foreign church cookin’ either. It might look good, but its hard to tell who or what prepared it. No beloved, you just can’t beat good old, down home sovereign grace Baptist Church cookin’!
Back in our text, Paul added one more important ingredient for understanding of the truth. He said the church needs to be knit together in love. There is no better environment for receiving the truth, than a church that is full of the love of God, and brotherly love.
Some of the best times that families have together, is gathered around the table for a big thanksgiving dinner. We can really put away the food with joy can’t we Brethren? We might think of gathering in the Lord’s house in that way. We come to church full of joy, we shake one another’s hands, and fellowship with our brothers and sisters. The dinner bell rings and we all take our seats at the table for some serious feasting on the Word of God! We give thanks to the Lord, and have a few hymns and spiritual songs for appetizers, and then we’re all ready for the main course from the Word of God.
After about a half hour or so of feasting on the Word, you here the preacher finally say “In conclusion,” and you say “Oh good - its time for desert”. But then the preacher says “I’ve still got another half pan of notes here, do you think you-all can eat em?” And you say “no thanks preacher, I can’t eat another bite.” And the preacher says, “Well,… How bout’ some cake and ice cream then?” “Oh boy,” you say, “cake and ice cream!”
So after the closing prayer and the last amen has sounded, we stretch and hold our bellies and say “yeah, its been good to be in the house of the Lord!”
Now, lets move on to verse 3…Ah, Ha, you thought I was going to close didn’t you? Sorry, but I have another half pan of notes!
“In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
How many of you would like to search for hidden treasure? Just think of a big chest full of solid gold coins, and gold and silver jewelry with big diamonds, and all kinds of precious stones. And the women all say, Amen! A treasure like that would be worth millions of dollars! With a treasure like that, a person would be set for a life of luxury!
I hate to break the news to you, but even if you had all the equipment that you needed, your chance of finding such a treasure today is probably less than 1 in a million; about the same odds as winning the lottery, and just about as foolish of a thing to try.
But beloved, Paul described the hidden wisdom of Christ as “treasures”. Not one treasure, but treasures plural. We don’t need the vain philosophy of man’s secular humanistic wisdom and knowledge so-called. We don’t need the false teachings of Judaism, or the false teachings of so-called Christian creeds and cults.
Beloved, all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge that we need for salvation complete is found in Christ. And all of the treasures of wisdom and knowledge of Christ, the incarnate Word, are revealed to us by the Holy Spirit through the written Word. We need look no further than the written Word of God for all wisdom and knowledge.
The treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden in Christ. They are hidden in the Word of God, as it were, just waiting to be revealed. And as we search and study His Word, the Holy Spirit reveals the treasures of truth about Christ to our understandings.
We might ask “why didn’t God just install all the understanding of His Word in our heads when we were saved?”…like installing a CD on your hard-drive. Could God have done that? Sure He could have! Why didn’t He? First, because it wasn’t His will to do so. Secondly, the Lord wants His people to search for those hidden treasures. We should take pleasure in searching, and God takes pleasure in revealing.
But the point is, all that we need for salvation complete is found in Christ through the truth of His Word.
“And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”
Paul reminded us that the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are found in Christ, because there are many out there who would beguile, and entice us away from Christ.
By “enticing words” Paul means false persuasion of human wisdom and philosophy. Beloved, in case you haven’t discovered yet, the wise men and philosophers, and the doctors of false religion, are very persuasive and convincing. In some respects, they are wiser than the children of the kingdom. In that context Jesus said “be wise as serpents, and harmless as doves.” Don’t be fooled by their smooth talk and power of persuasion. Be careful what you hear, little ears!!! And be careful what you see on TV, little sheep!!!
Beloved, your pastor stutters worse than Moses, and he is far less eloquent than Paul, but by the grace of God I hope that I will always tell you the truth of the Scriptures, and lead you in the way everlasting. You will find much better speakers than I am. You may find “better preachers” than any of our Baptist preachers for eloquence and delivery, but “if they speak not according to this Word, it is because there is no light in them”! (Isaiah 8:20).
“For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.”
By “being absent in the flesh, but with you in the spirit,” Paul most likely means that through his knowledge of their affairs that he learned from Epaphras, and through his thoughts and his agonizing for them, it was as if he were present with them.
Of course Paul could have been with them in Spirit, being a man with special Apostolic powers. In 1 Corinthians 5 Paul said that he was with the Church of Corinth in spirit, when he judged that man who was guilty of incest.
But if you miss church Sunday morning, please don’t tell me you were with us in spirit, unless you mean that you were thinking and praying about the services! When I was a member of Bethany Baptist Church, their was a group in Ohio called the River Boat Brothers, who would canoe down the Scioto River, which flowed by not far from the church. They told us that sometimes they visited our church in spirit as they paddled down the river. The pastor told them that he would appreciate it if they would bring their bodies to church with them the next time. Needless to say, they never showed up.
Paul said in verse 5 that he beheld there order with joy. Order here is speaking of church order in their services. Their church order was still pretty good. They had lost some members to the enemy, so it would seem, yet the majority of the body was still in tact.
So then, although these churches were being perverted somewhat by false teachers, yet in the main they were still in tact, and their order was basically sound. Churches can get pretty far off sometimes, and yet still be considered Scriptural churches.
Paul not only rejoiced in their order, which is the external part of worship, but he also rejoiced in their steadfastness of faith. The word “steadfastness” here means “a solid foundation”. The foundation of the faith and of the church is Jesus Christ. They still had Jesus Christ as the solid foundation of their faith. They were still established upon Christ. Again, churches can get pretty far away from the truth, and yet still be true churches.
Lest we appear to be minimizing their error, don’t forget that Paul was writing this letter to warn and admonish these churches to abandon all their false notions of philosophy and Judaism, and return to Christ alone for all their spiritual wisdom, knowledge and understanding. If they would not have taken Paul’s advice they no doubt would have been in trouble, and in danger of losing their candle stick!
In conclusion, do we agonize in prayer for other believers in the church? We can do much good for one another in this way.
Do we have full assurance of faith through a thorough understanding and knowledge of God’s Word?
Are you getting a well rounded diet of the Word of God? Do you get plenty of milk, and meat and vegetables?
Do we feast on the Word of God in the House of God? Do we get the most out of every meal?
Are we searching for all of the hidden treasures of spiritual wisdom that are hid in Christ? There is a lot of enjoyment in searching for God’s treasures!
Are we careful about what false teachers and preachers we listen to? Remember, they may sound very good, and be very persuasive, but they may not be preaching the truth as it is in Jesus!
Finally, I trust that our church is grounded on the good foundation of Jesus Christ. I trust that our order and our doctrine as a church, are pleasing to the Lord.
Beloved, that is what matters. It matters not if we please the status quo of religious worshipers in the land, but rather that we please our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ, the Head and Founder of our church!
Part 2; verses 6-15
“As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:”
We receive Jesus in two ways. First we receive Him as our Lord, and secondly we receive Him as our redeemer, and the sacrifice for our sins.
This is how all of God’s elect receive Christ for salvation. And salvation, beloved, is an instantaneous work of God’s sovereign grace, through faith in Christ. Salvation does not develop or evolve over the process of time. There is no such thing as spiritual evolution.
On the other hand, our spiritual awareness and spiritual depth increases as we grow in grace. For example, our sense of sinfulness and unworthiness increases as we grow up in the Lord. As a result, our understanding and appreciation for salvation through faith in Jesus increases as we grow in grace. We are no more saved today than we were when we were first saved, but we understand our salvation better.
We receive Christ as our Lord and Saviour through faith in His work on the cross. Furthermore, we receive Him as our Lord when we receive Him as Saviour, and not some time later. There are some who teach that you can receive Jesus as your Saviour and then later as your Lord. That is unscriptural and just plain untrue. Every sinner who is ever saved comes to know Jesus as their Lord before they receive Him as their Saviour.
The phrase “So walk ye in him” means that we continue living in Christ the way we started. We started by grace alone through faith alone in Jesus our Lord and Saviour, and that is the way we must continue. We never leave the way of salvation through faith in Christ alone. We don’t need to add any vain religious traditions, or vain philosophies of men. We are complete in Him.
“Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.”
This is how we are to live and grow as Christians. Rather than leaving the way of faith in Christ, we need to grow our roots down deeper and deeper into the depths of this grace, in the soil of a good heart received in regeneration, while at the same time we are to grow our lives upward as a great tree full of fruit to the glory of God and for the good of others.
This is accomplished “as we have been taught”. That is, we grow by the teaching of the Word of God, coupled with our practical experiences in the Christian life, and within the atmosphere and environment of thanksgiving to God. As we taught in our message on thanksgiving recently, the best environment for Christian growth is an environment of thanksgiving and praise to God, especially as we come together in the House of God.
“Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.”
Beware! Be on guard! Be alert! Be careful! Be wise as serpents! Don’t let any man beguile or fool you! There are plenty of deceivers out there. They are lurking around every corner, and under every shadow. They appear as angels of light, but watch out; as sneaky snakes they lie in wait for your soul!
They desire to “spoil you”. They desire to take you as a prisoner into their dark dungeons that are full of religious rats, infested with the diseases of false doctrines. They bind you with the fetters of humanistic philosophy, and the chains of manmade religious traditions.
They will promise you liberty, but in reality they will take away your liberty in Christ. Instead of liberty, they bind you with chords of worldly philosophy, and religious traditions and rituals, and doctrines that are not after Christ, nor taught in the Scriptures.
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
We don’t need the rudimentary teachings of human philosophy and religious traditions, because “in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily”. Everything that God is, and everything that we can know, or that we need to know about God is found in Christ. Beloved, look no further than Jesus Christ! We cannot find God through philosophy, or through types and shadows of religious rudiments, but we will find the fulness of God in the Person of Jesus Christ.
Again, to refute the Gnostics, Paul added the Word “bodily”. “And without controversy Great is the mystery of Godliness: God was manifest in the flesh…” 1 Timothy 3:16. “Behold, a virgin shall be with child, and shall bring forth a son, and they shall call his name Emmanuel, which being interpreted is, God with us.” Matthew 1:23
Yes beloved, God was manifested in the flesh! I cannot fully comprehend the truth of the incarnation of Christ, but Jesus told Philip in John 14:9 “…he that hath seen me hath seen the Father…”. Paul said in 2 Corinthians 5:19 “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.”
These deep things of God cannot be understood with the carnal mind, but must be received by simple childlike faith. Without simple faith, carnal men resort to the philosophy of Gnosticism, and other rudimentary, man-made religious teachings to try and explain away the truth about Christ.
What about obtaining grace and blessings through the numerous ranks of angels, or through the “Blessed Virgin Mary”, or through “St. Peter”, or “St. Luke”, or “St. Claus”? What about obtaining saving merit through doing penance, or purchasing indulgencies? What about obtaining favor with God through keeping religious rights and observances? What about obtaining perfection through asceticism, by starving our carnal appetites, or beating our flesh, or forbidding to marry?
No beloved, salvation complete is found in Christ! We don’t need these other things. We don’t need man-made philosophy or religious rudiments. All we need is found in Him!
We don’t need angels to obtain saving grace, or grace to live the Christian life. All we need is found in Christ, who is the Head and Creator of all the angels. Angels do help the “heirs of salvation” in this life, but we receive the help of angels through Christ, and not the help of Christ through angels. He is the Head of all powers and principalities, and we go to Him directly, and not through angels or any other means.
We certainly don’t need Mary, nor any other “Saint” (including Santa Claus), to help us obtain saving grace, or to help us in this life. Not Mary, nor any other saint in Heaven has ever done anything to help one saint on this earth. Paul said in Philippians that it was needful for him to stay here in the flesh so that he could help other believers, because he knew that when he went to be with Jesus, that he could do no more earthly good for them.
People who worship saints and angels, and pray to God through them, are idolaters plain and simple. Instead of obtaining God’s favor, they shall receive His wrath and vengeance.
The words “we are complete in Him” also mean that we are filled by Him, that is, by Christ. In verse 9 we saw that all the fulness of God dwells in Christ, and here in verse 10 we see that all the fulness of Christ dwells in us. WOW! This is deep teaching, beloved!
“In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:”
The Judaizers advocated the outward sign of circumcision in order to obtain salvation. They failed to understand the true meaning of the ordinance. Circumcision pictured the cutting off of the “body of sins of the flesh”, through the work of Christ on the cross for our sins. Circumcision pictured the operation of God upon the heart in regeneration and conversion, through faith in the gospel.
Circumcision pictured cutting off the power of the old sinful heart, and the old sinful nature, setting us free to serve Christ in the Spirit, and not after the flesh.
This truth about circumcision serves to confirm and to elaborate on verse 10, where Paul said “we are complete in him”. All carnal notions of meriting salvation through human means are also cut off. All saving grace, and serving grace is found in Christ alone!
“Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;”
Please listen to me closely. Paul is referring to water baptism in this passage. He is not referring to “Spirit baptism”. There is no such thing as “Spirit baptism” today. Don’t believe any Bible notes (such as the notes in my Nelson Study Bible), or commentaries, or preachers, or anyone, or anything else that teaches “Spirit Baptism” upon individual believers.
The church as a collective body was baptized with the Holy Spirit on Pentecost. That was a one time event. The benefits and blessings of that one time event have been passed down to all true churches over the centuries through church succession.
The Tabernacle in the wilderness and Solomon’s Temple were dedicated one time with the Shechinah glory of God. In like manner, the Lord’s kind of church was dedicated and empowered with the baptism of the Holy Spirit one time on the day of Pentecost.
The Tabernacle in the wilderness was the “House of God” in its day. The Temple was the “House of God” in its day, and the church is the “House of God” in our day. Each of these three earthly houses of God were dedicated and “baptized” one time, as it were, with God’s presence and His Holy Spirit.
There never was such a thing as “Spirit baptism” upon individual believers. You will search the Bible in vain to find one instance of “Spirit baptism” upon an individual. Ephesians 4:5 tells us that there is “One Lord, one faith, one baptism”. That “one baptism” has always been water baptism, and never let anyone convince you otherwise.
People who teach “Spirit baptism” make regeneration and conversion to be “Spirit baptism”. Now, beloved, salvation truly is the work of the Holy Spirit, but it is a gross misnomer to call the work of the Holy Spirit in salvation “Spirit baptism”.
The teaching of “Spirit baptism” was necessitated by the Protestant teaching of the “universal invisible church”, which there is no such thing. Their reasoning is, if the true church is the “universal invisible church”, then true baptism must be “Spirit baptism”. All this was done to justify their dissension from the Catholic Church, which the Protestants (and some Baptists), falsely assumed was the true church that fell into error.
What is Paul teaching here? Paul is using the spiritual meaning of water baptism to illustrate salvation complete in the work of Christ. Practically all the older commentaries, including Protestant commentaries, interpret these verses as referring to water baptism.
Water baptism pictures the death, burial, and resurrection of Christ for our sins. Water baptism also pictures our death to sin and resurrection to walk in newness of life through faith in the gospel, we are taught in Romans 6. In addition to this, according to verse 13 of our text, water baptism also pictures that we were dead in our sins, but that we were raised to eternal life with Christ, through the operation of God.
In verse 13, and in the rest of the context of this passage, Paul brilliantly interweaves the teachings of circumcision and baptism, to teach believers that it is the work of Christ on the cross that gives dead sinners spiritual life, and the forgiveness of their sins.
Both circumcision and baptism teach this truth of salvation through faith in Christ. Circumcision prefigured it, baptism plainly declares it, but neither of these ordinances can impart it! Ordinances only symbolize and picture salvation, but salvation is received through faith in Christ, who is the substance of our salvation.
The fact that Paul used these ordinances to symbolically illustrate salvation through the work of Christ, clearly precludes any saving merit in the ordinances themselves. In essence, Paul lumps baptism with circumcision to show that neither outward ordinance can impart saving merit, but they only attest to the saving merit found in Christ alone.
Baptism, which is the clearer picture of salvation, replaced circumcision, and was instituted by Christ as a New Testament Church ordinance. But baptism, like circumcision, is still only a picture of salvation, and cannot impart any saving virtue, any more than circumcision could in Old Testament times.
“Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; 15 And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.”
Some say that the “handwriting of ordinances” in verse 14 is speaking about an “I owe you”, or a certificate of debt.
The law of God declares that all sinners owe a debt to God for the penalty of their sins. Romans 6:23 tells us that “The wages of sin is death…”. Every sinner owes God an enormous debt, for which they have nothing to pay. The only destiny for sinners with nothing to pay, is to spend eternity in the prison of damnation for their sins!
But verse 14 tells us that Christ has blotted out the “I owe you” of the believer’s sin debt. It was “nailed to His cross”, and thereby He took it out of the way forever. What beautiful, and explicit imagery this is.
Just envision that old rugged cross with me for a moment, with the disfigured body of Jesus nailed thereon, with His mutilated face hanging down limp in death. And over His heart you see nailed, as it were, the ordinance of God’s holy law written in blood; “Chris Burke owes God eternal hell for all his sins” - just put your name there!
His body is then taken down from the cross and placed in a borrowed tomb. Your “I owe you” is still visible upon His body, as the stone is placed over the mouth of the tomb.
Finally, in three days you see Jesus come forth out of the grave. He looks so different. He is not wearing grave clothes any longer, but fresh new resurrection garments. He is no longer a lifeless, bloody figure of a man, but the risen Lord of glory.
And then you get a good look at Him. Alas, to your pleasant surprise, your “I owe you” is no longer upon His person! It is gone! It was removed, and taken out of the way! Jesus left it in the tomb, where it is buried and blotted out from God’s sight forevermore!
At last He looks at you with a warm, loving smile and says “peace be unto you my child, your sins are blotted out. I have made peace with my Father for you, by the blood of my cross.”
Around about the empty tomb you see Satan and all the demons of hell disarmed, with all of their weapons against the Lord laying on the ground. Bound with the chains of God’s sovereign power, they stand trembling in fear before the Lord of lords and King of kings.
Then you see the host of heavenly angels that are come to scorn Satan and the demon spirits, and to praise the Son of God for His glorious triumph over all His enemies, having “made a show of them openly”.
In conclusion, how foolish it would be to seek some humanistic, rudimentary means to approach unto God, and to merit His saving grace, when we have Jesus Christ the Lord!
How foolish it would be to try and approach God through saints or angels, when we can approach Him through Jesus Christ, who is the only mediator between God and men.
How foolish it would be to try and merit salvation through some mere outward ordinance, and not the very substance of salvation, which is Jesus Christ and His work on the cross.
Have you come to Jesus by faith in His death, burial, and resurrection for your sins? Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved!
Part 3; verses 16-17
“Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: 17 Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.”
Let no man judge you! Don’t let people outside the Baptist faith be your judges in religious or spiritual matters. Christ and His Word are our only judges of faith and practice in this life.
Jesus took all the legitimate judgments that were against us (verse 14), and nailed them to His cross. He triumphed over all of His (and our) adversaries and false accusers (verse 15). Therefore Christ Himself and the written Word are our only judges in religious matters.
Don’t let men compel, and constrain us to observe their religious customs and laws. If any religious custom or practice is not in accordance with the whole counsel of God, then we are not obligated to observe it, and don’t let any man convince you otherwise.
There are two categories of religious laws and observances in verse 16, in which believers are not to allow ourselves to be judged by men outside of the true faith.
The first of these categories is religious dietary restrictions. Oh boy, were going to talk about food – a favorite subject of Baptists! Now, concerning what believers may or may not eat, we want to notice two other passages of Scripture.
“For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; 29 That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well.”
Here in Acts 15 we have the decrees that resulted from the Counsel held at the Church of Jerusalem.
This counsel was held because of the Judaizers who attempted to lay heavy legalistic burdens upon the gentile churches; burdens such as “you must be circumcised to be saved”, and “you must observe all the ceremonial laws of Moses to be saved.” In the book of Colossians, Paul was dealing with this same legalistic crowd.
The counsel held at the Church of Jerusalem determined that New Testament believers were not bound or obligated to any Old Testament Jewish ordinances of the Mosaic law, such as circumcision, and the keeping of any other religious observances associated with Jewish ceremonial law. The only decrees made by this counsel concerned dietary restrictions, and sexual purity.
Please bear in mind that the New Testament contains many other guidelines and standards for godly and holy living, but the counsel at Jerusalem dealt a final death blow to all of the Old Testament ceremonial observances!
The decrees of this counsel, along with the books of Colossians, Galatians, and Hebrews, which contain extensive clarification of the ceremonial law, declare once and for all that all these ceremonial laws and observances are obsolete and forever abrogated.
1) The first of these decrees was to abstain from meats offered in sacrifice to idols.
This is not speaking about the kind of food or animal that we are not to eat, but about the known use of this meat. In other words, if someone offers us any food that was known to be offered to idols, we should not eat it. (1 Corinthians 8; 10:14-33; Revelation 2:14, 20).
In addition to this, we shouldn’t go to the places where this food is offered unto idols, and partake of their abominations. What fellowship has the temple of God with the temple idols?
Believers are to have no part with the worship of false gods, or with false religious worship of any kind. What do they have to offer those of us who know and love the truth? An exhortation here is: Be careful little feet where you go, and consider the little lambs of Jesus that you will lead astray when you go to the idol temple! (2 Corinthians 6:14-18).
2) Secondly, we are not to eat or drink blood of animals that still contain the blood.
This includes animals that were strangled or otherwise died of themselves and the blood was not properly drained, but coagulated in their veins. Why not eat and drink blood? I hear that it is pretty tasty stuff!
First, drinking blood was an ancient, idolatrous, heathen practice. Drinking blood is still a practice of devil worshippers today. Beloved, all idolatry is a form of devil worship, and we certainly do not want to be associated with devil worship or devil worshippers.
Secondly, blood represents life when it is flowing in the veins, but it represents death when it stops flowing, or when it pours out of the body. Example: A field of blood is a field of death. So then, to drink blood is to portray drinking death, which is also Satanic.
Thirdly, drinking blood is blasphemous to Christ. In the Lord’s Supper we symbolically drink the blood of Christ, which is pictured by the fermented wine. In this way we picture our union and fellowship with Christ and His body, which is the local church.
When we symbolically drink His blood, we also testify of the eternal life that we have in Him, because He ever liveth for us. Yes, His blood was shed in His death, but now He is alive evermore. Jesus’ blood, therefore, not only symbolizes His death for our sins, but also His eternal life that He gave us in salvation! Drinking of the wine pictures Christ in us, which is our hope of glory, and life eternal.
Certainly drinking the blood of animals would be a mockery of Christ’s blood, and of our spiritual union with Him, and of our eternal life that we have through His blood.
Fourthly, blood contains all manner of impurities and body wastes, and potential diseases. For health purposes it is advisable not to drink blood. This has been shown medically to be true.
We also read in verse 29 that we are to abstain from fornication. Fornication is a general term meaning all manner of sexual sins. Fornication was common among the Greeks and Romans in New Testament times, and was especially associated with idol worship.
Fornication is also common in our day, and sometimes it is even associated with religion, and so-called Christianity, and even among some Baptists. But beloved, the Bible says to abstain from it, and from all the temptations that lead to it. I’m I being too hard! I’m probably not hard enough!
“Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; 2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; 3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. 4 For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: 5 For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.”
Every creature that God created is good for food. The Old Testament dietary laws have officially been abrogated. We are not under those dietary constraints today.
Men like Lester Roloff (who died in a tragic airplane crash some years back), try to impose dietary restraints on their followers, but they are wrong in doing so. Mr. Roloff did some good things in helping wayward children, but he did wrong in teaching Mosaic dietary laws for believers today.
The Catholics have historically tried to impose dietary restraints, such as “fish Friday”, but they are wrong, as they are in most other teachings. We Baptists believe in fish Friday, but we also believe in cow, pig, and chicken Friday.
The rule is, according to 1 Timothy 4 and Acts 15, eat anything you want so long as it is not used in idol worship, and it doesn’t contain the blood. Personally, as your pastor, I really don’t care what you eat, or what you don’t eat, so long as you invite me over to dinner on occasion!
There are two other Biblical dietary considerations, and they are feasting and fasting. When is that last time you heard a sermon on gluttony or on fasting? I’ve always wanted to preach a sermon entitled “feasting when we should be fasting.” Someday maybe I will!
But both of these dietary considerations are for New Testament saints. I believe that habitual gluttony is a sin against our own bodies. Proverbs speaks about gluttony and overindulgence in food and drink. These are said to cause laziness and sleepiness, and result in poverty.
I said habitual gluttony because occasional indulgence seems to be acceptable in the Scriptures. Even Jesus was accused of being gluttonous and a winebibber (Mat. 11:19).
Fasting is a New Testament practice. In Matthew 6:16 in the sermon on the mount, Jesus told His disciples “…when you fast”. He did not say “if you fast.”
Fasting should attend our prayers when we seek God’s will for our lives, and His blessings, and His revival upon our churches. By fasting, we show that we are really serious about wanting the Lord’s blessings and His answers to our prayers.
The last time I fasted for more than 3 days, the Lord sent me away to pastor in Florida. I’m almost afraid to fast that long again! The Lord might send me to Hawaii!
Jesus said that when the bridegroom is taken away from them, then will His disciples fast. He has been away for 2000 years, and since then His disciples have fasted. How about us? Well…enough about that subject; right men?
But beloved, whatever we eat, may we not eat, or eat not for legalistic reasons. We are no holier, nor pleasing to God if we eat, or if we don’t eat certain foods.
Paul also said in 1 Timothy 4:5 that our food is sanctified by the Word of God and prayer. It is sanctified by the Word of God, because the Word of God says it is good and lawful for us to eat it! Therefore it is sanctified to our bodies and should be received as such.
It is also sanctified by thanksgiving to God in prayer. This passage adds credence to giving thanks before all meals. By giving thanks we are “sanctifying” our food to the good nourishment of our bodies for the glory of God.
Paul went on to say in verse 6 that if God’s preachers put the brethren in remembrance of these things, then we are good ministers of Jesus Christ. In other words, we are supposed to teach these things in the church. They are a part of the whole counsel of God.
The second category in Colossians 2:16 is religious observances (We hate to leave the subject of food, but we need to get through this verse!):
The second issue in our text, that we are not to let any one outside the faith judge us in, is the observance of “holydays, new moons, and sabbath days”. These include all of the Old Testament feast days (oh boy, food again!), and the monthly sacrifices, and all of the various sabbaths that were associated with these “holydays”.
These observances, according to our text in verse 17, were only shadows of things to come. All of the Old Testament ceremonial observances merely pictured the salvation and manifold blessings that were fulfilled by the first advent of Christ.
In verse 17, the word body means substance. All of those Old Testament observances were merely shadows, but today beloved, we have the very substance, who is Jesus Christ. Therefore, like circumcision, all of these “holydays” and other observances are all obsolete, and were done away with in the New Testament Scriptures.
In the New Testament Church age, we only have one official day given that we are to observe, and that is the Lord’s Day, the first day of the week. The Old Testament seventh day sabbath rest, was replaced by the Lord’s day, which is symbolic of the spiritual rest that we have in Christ because of His death, burial, and resurrection for us.
It is still a Sabbath day, but the first day sabbath rest takes on a new meaning, and that is spiritual rest in Christ. Hebrews chapters 3 and 4 speak of this rest we have in Christ. I for one, still believe that we should not do servile work on the Lord’s day. I believe that the Lord’s Day is to be hallowed unto the Lord, and devoted to worshipping Him.
We will all give account to the Lord for our use of His Day, and I will give account for what I preach about sanctifying His Day. But I ask, which of the other 10 commandments are we permitted to break today? If none then why do we make an exception for this one?
Beloved, the Lord’s day is the only day that believers are obligated to observe today. We are not obligated to observe any religious day, whether they be the “Holydays” of the Old Testament, or those “Holidays” that were fabricated by men in recent years. We do not have a precedent from Christ or His Holy Word to observe any of these days.
In conclusion, we need to be careful what we eat, and where we go, that we be not partakers with idols, and with the false religions of this world, including those that claim to be Christian.
We need to be careful that we are not a stumbling block to younger and weaker believers in those things that we do and allow in our lives. Is it so important that we do these things that might destroy the faith of our weaker brother? Can we not abstain from these things? Are these more important than the faith of our little brother? Paul said that he would rather not eat another bite of meat, than to be a stumbling block to his brother.
We also need to be careful about what days we observe, because we might also be found of the Lord to be partakers with idol worship in the “holidays” that we celebrate as Christians.
If what I am saying is not in accordance to the whole counsel of God, then throw it out. But if it is, then we all need to take heed to the Word of God.
“Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind,”
Don’t let anyone rob you of your reward! There are rewards for the Lord’s faithful servants, and especially those who serve Him in His Church. Not only that, but we can lose our rewards, and be robbed of our rewards by thieving religious heretics.
The admonition of Paul is, don’t let them rob you. This implies that we can only be robbed of our rewards if we allow men to rob us. If we get robbed, its our own fault for allowing ourselves to be robbed. If we follow after false prophets, it is our own fault.
But at the same time, let us be warned that there are those out there who will try to rob us. There are plenty of religious crooks and thieves out there. They are all over the radio and TV. They will gladly swindle you out of your rightful rewards.
False churches have always tried to rob the Lord’s Church of its rightful inheritance, and of those promises and blessings that belong unto our peace. But let’s not let them rob us. Let us stand strong in the faith once delivered, and let us hold a strong claim on those possessions and blessings that Jesus promised only to His Church.
The “voluntary humility” spoken of here, is a false humility that is rooted in human pride. Beloved, a lot of what is labeled humility, is really the worst form of pride. And in their false humility they attempted going to God intermediately through angels, instead of directly through Christ. This practice of angelic intermediates was taught in ancient Greek philosophy, and also was practiced by the Jews from before the Babylonian captivity, according to Gill.
Beloved, this kind of man-made approach to God was a precursor to the Catholics, who still employ manifold intermediates to approach God, including Mary and other saints, and angels, and even objects such as rosary beads, and statues, and images. They actually pretend that they can find favor with God, and access God through these carnal means.
Beloved, the Scriptures declare that there is only One Mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus. There is no other way or access to the Father, but by and through Jesus Christ the Son.
“Intruding into those things which he has not seen”, is speaking of these false teachers who pretend to have special dreams or revelations, or other sources of knowledge concerning angels and their work as intermediates.
Beloved, doesn’t the Bible give us light on these things? Yes, the Bible says that Christ is the only mediator between God and men (1 Timothy 2:5). The angel told John “Don’t worship me, I am just your fellow servant; Worship God.” In the Bible, angels never assumed or usurped Christ’s office as mediator between God and His people.
But all such false teachers are puffed up in their carnal minds. They are swelled up with their so-called knowledge and pride, and their carnal human wisdom, which did not come from the Holy Spirit of God, but from their old Adamic hearts.
“And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.”
All such people who try to by-pass Christ in their attempt to approach God, are not connected to Christ, who is the Head of the body. Again beloved, as we have seen throughout this study, all that we are, and all that we have, and all that we need is supplied by Christ, and all things must be received through Him.
Just as Joseph was the only authority who could supply the physical needs of the nations, so Jesus is the only authority who can supply the needs of His people.
All those who do not come to God through Christ, are not a part of His body, and are not attached to Him. Therefore, they are not truly saved. This is serious business. Never think for one moment that we can approach God through any means other than Jesus Christ. And that is exactly what these false teachers were attempting to do, and to teach others to do.
“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances,”
What Paul is saying is, “seeing that you died with Christ to the world and all of its man-made religious beliefs, whether pagan or Jewish, why do you live like you are still in bondage to the world, and like you are subject to their man-made rules and ordinances.”
“(Touch not; taste not; handle not; 22 Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men?”
All the temporal things that are regulated by these rules and ordinances of “touch not, taste not, handle not”, cannot affect the eternal, spiritual matters of the soul. These things all perish with the using, therefore are just temporal, and cannot affect spiritual affairs.
Mankind is so prone to resorting to physical means of obtaining spiritual grace. That is the natural understanding of the carnal mind. That is all it knows. That is all it can understand. That is all it can relate to. You might as well talk to a rock as to try and explain salvation by grace through faith in Christ to lost sinners. We do this all the time, but until the Holy Spirit takes away that stony heart, in puts within the sinner a heart of flesh, they just can’t understand what you’re saying.
Beloved, by abstaining from certain foods, or abstaining from handling or touching certain things, doesn’t make our soul any holier or any more fit for heaven. These things at very most affect the body, but can never do the soul any good or evil.
What then is wrong with observing these man-made rules and ordinances? The problem is, they take our faith and confidence off of Christ, who is our only mediator of saving grace, and puts them on man-made means of meriting grace, which is a contradiction of terms. You can’t merit grace because grace means “unmerited favor”.
We are called to liberty in Christ, but these false teachers would bring us into bondage again. They would rob us of our rewards, and hinder our spiritual growth, and take us captive into their prison of carnal rules and ordinances and make us serve with rigor.
Thus, Paul asked them why they were falling back into these beggarly elements, when in Christ they were dead to all these things, and in Christ they had all things they needed for salvation complete, and in Christ they were free.
“Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body; not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh.”
“…a shew of wisdom…” means an outward appearance of wisdom. The elaborate form of man-made religions can be very impressive, and portray a great show of wisdom. But don’t let the appearance fool you, it is only a show of wisdom, and not the true wisdom that comes from above.
“Will worship” is worship of man’s design, which is devised by man’s freewill and not God’s will, and is always contrary to true Biblical worship.
God is so jealous and angry with human will-worship, that He struck Nadab and Abihu dead for burning strange incense (Leviticus 10:1-3). Likewise, Uzziah was stricken with leprosy for usurping the office of priest (2 Chronicles 26:16-21). And because of will-worship, King Saul was doomed to lose his throne (1 Samuel 13:8-14).
Beloved, there is a lot of will worship going on today. There is a lot of strange fire being offered today, and I feel quite sure that God is not pleased with will-worship today, anymore than He was pleased with it in days of old.
This "voluntary will-worship" was seemingly done in humility, but it was really done out of pride and false humility, while it totally rejected communion with Christ the Head, by worshipping angels. Therefore, this voluntary will-worship, though performed under the pretense of humility, is actually proud rebellion against the revealed will of God.
“…neglecting of the body…” means "not sparing of the body." This is talking about asceticism, which denies and deprives the body of its physical needs, and even inflicts self-punishment on the body by means of beating or whipping. This of course is reminiscent of the Catholic monks who for centuries practiced asceticism in their secluded monasteries.
“…not in any honour to the satisfying of the flesh…” Another interpretation is “…but are of no value against the indulgence of the flesh…”. In other words, depriving and inflicting the flesh does not suppress the carnal appetites and lusts of the flesh.
This has been proven true by numerous records of Catholic priests and their monstrous acts of homosexuality with other clergy, and even with the male children of their perishes, and also their acts of fornication with nuns.
In conclusion, don’t let anyone rob you of your reward by attempting to approach God any other way than through Christ and Christ alone!
And never suppose that God will accept human “will worship”, or worship that is according to man’s human understanding and man’s freewill, and man’s false pretense of humility and devotion to God, which is clearly contrary to the Word of God.
And beloved, whatever we do, let us never return to those rudimentary false teachings, and false religious notions and religious practices that we were in bondage to before we were saved by grace.
Part 1; verses 1-11
Where spiritual and practical truth meet.
The first two chapters of Colossians are mostly theological. We have seen in our studies that Jesus Christ is everything. He is the very image of God. Jesus is salvation complete to all of God’s elect. In Him are all things, and everything we need comes from Him. Jesus is the Creator of all things, and thus He is Lord of all. As Lord of all He is preeminent over all things, and He is the Head over His Church. Jesus is the only Mediator between God and man, and we approach God directly through Jesus Christ, and not through saints or angels.
In chapter 3 we begin to see a transition from the theological doctrines of Christ, to the practical doctrines of godly Christian living. We see the inseparable connection between the two in verse 4, when Paul said “therefore,” because of these blessed spiritual truths, this is how we ought to live as spiritually resurrected saints of God.
It is imperative that Christians see the importance of both theological doctrine and practical doctrine. Both are essential to proper Christian growth and development. To be strong in one and weak in the other is to be an unbalanced believer.
“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God. 2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”
Or “since, you have experienced a spiritual resurrection through faith in Christ.”
“…seek those things which are above, where Jesus is at the right hand of God.”
Again, the focus of all spiritual inquiry is through Jesus in His Heavenly office at the right hand of the throne of the Majesty on High! For all our needs, go to Jesus, not through saints or angels, but go directly to Jesus where he sits at the right hand of God.
What are those things that we need to seek after? There are several possibilities here. We need to seek after a deeper knowledge of God. To know Jesus and the Father better. Like David, we need to be men and women after God’s own heart.
We need to experience a closer fellowship, and a greater sense of His presence in our hearts and lives. We need to experience a greater power of His resurrection in our lives in order to serve Him better. We need to seek after greater power with God in prayer. We need to experience greater victory over sin. We need to develop a higher degree of godly virtues and qualities that will recommend us to greater and more successful Christian service.
We’ve probably all heard the saying “some people are so heavenly minded that they are no earthly good.” Well, although I know what they mean, the saying is just a plain contradiction of terms. Jesus was the most heavenly minded of all men by far, but He was, and still is, more earthly good than all men and angels put together!
Therefore, the more heavenly minded we become, the more earthly good we will be. Don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
In essence the “things” we are to seek from Jesus are spiritual Christian growth and maturity.
“Set your affection (or your mind) on things above...”
Cast our thoughts upon Heaven and heavenly things, especially the Word of God. Let’s get our thoughts upon the Lord and upon spiritual things, and good things. Our interests need to be set on the things of the Lord. We need to get interested in the Bible. Our love and fondest affections should be set on the Lord above. We need to fall in love with Jesus again like when we were first saved, and the precious truths of His Word. Our enthusiasm should be set on the work of the Lord. We need to get excited about heavenly things, and about the church, and the work of the Lord here in our community.
Conversely, let us get our minds, and thoughts, and interests, and love, and enthusiasm off of this old rotten sinful world that’s about to perish in the fires of God’s wrath! This old world, and all of its money, and all of its pleasures with all of its lusts, is going to be dissolved in the fire of God’s wrath, and no one is going to take anything with them that they labored for in this world. We’ve heard the saying “only what’s done for Christ will last.” Well, nothing could be more true.
“For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. 4 When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.”
We are dead to the old man and his deeds. We are dead to sin, and all the lusts thereof. We are dead to the rudiments of manmade, freewill religion that could do us no good. Not only are we dead but…
Our life “…is hid with Christ in God.”
Our life is safe and secure. Our life is with Christ in Heaven where God is! This speaks of our eternal security. Our life is with Christ in Heaven, and Christ is in God. How much more secure could we be. Not only that, but Christ is our life. This is even more security. How could any one take away our eternal life when Jesus is that very life?
Christ is bringing us with Him when He returns. We are in Heaven in Christ right now at the right hand of God. Wow! That is deep theology, beloved. In Ephesians 2:6, Paul said that we are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus. Therefore, when He comes again, He is bringing us back with Him. That is, He is bringing our glorified body, and our perfect spirit, heart, and mind. Thus when He comes again, we will appear with Him in glory, or that is, we will be glorified.
“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry:”
“Therefore,” because of our perfect future destiny with Christ, “mortify (put to death) your members…”. Kill your members! Not church members! Jim Jones must have misinterpreted this passage when he poisoned all his followers! No, not our church members, but the members of our old Adamic sinful natures that are upon the earth, or that are concerned with the things of this earth, as opposed to things of Heaven. These include the following:
Fornication, or all manner of sexual sins. Uncleanness, or all manner of impure and unnatural behavior that dishonors our bodies, such as homosexuality. Inordinate affections, which are passions or lusts, such as unnatural effeminate desires. Evil concupiscence, or evil desires. Covetousness, which Paul said, is idolatry.
Why is covetousness idolatry? Idols basically are used to get what men want. They have their rain god, their sun god, and their fertility god. They have their milk cow god. You know, that’s the god who gives men everything they want, whenever they want it. Some men think the true God of Heaven is the milk cow god, who is just waiting up there to give them their every desire. Of course they only call on Him when they want something. Well, I have bad news for them. The God of Heaven is not the milk cow god.
But man has a god for about everything he wants, and gods to ward off everything he doesn’t want, such as those things that could bring him personal injury, or take away his precious earthly possessions.
For these kinds of sins that are described in verse 5, the wrath of God cometh on wicked lost sinners at Jesus’ second coming. But someone will say “I thought God was only going to judge the sin of unbelief?” No! God is going to judge and punish every sin that was not punished in Christ, which is a strong argument for limited atonement. If sinners will be punished for their sins, which they clearly shall be, then Christ must not have suffered for their sins. God is just, and He will not punish the same sins twice.
“In the which ye also walked some time, when ye lived in them.”
I am thankful for verses like this one! What is the difference between the saved and the lost? Only the grace of God! Save for the grace of God there go I!
And may we not be lifted up in pride as Baptists because we believe in the doctrines of grace, and the doctrines of the local church, and so on. Save for the grace of God, we would all be universal church Armenians. Never think more highly of ourselves than we ought to think.
Never under estimate our old flesh and its potential to do evil. Remember David, that man who was after God’s own heart, who sinned most grievously in committing adultery with Bathsheba, and murdering Uriah her husband. Perhaps we don’t think that we could do such things. Don’t kid ourselves; “He that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall!”
In verse 7 Paul said that we also walked and lived in those vile and sinful lusts. Let us not forget where we came from, lest we get lifted up in our Baptist pride and think that we are better than everyone else.
“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.”
Paul added some other heinous traits of the flesh that we are to kill, or in this case, that we are to put off.
Anger is the first step in this evil digression of passion’s lust and the malignity of sin. Man’s wrath is the result of his anger and is very destructive to everyone in its path. Malice is evil scheming and premeditated revenge, and looking for an occasion to cause malicious harm to others. Blasphemy is reviling or evil speaking, especially with respect to God and His Name. This could include taking God’s Name in vain, murmuring against God, cursing God or His Name, and speaking evil of God or His Word. This also includes speaking evil against our fellow man, especially the saints of God. When we say evil things against the Lord’s people, we speak evil against the Lord! Be careful beloved!
“Evil communications out of our mouths” would include foul and filthy language, and abusive language directed at others. This would include all forms of evil speaking such as spreading malicious gossip about others, or defaming other believers or even God Himself, in order to make ourselves look better.
Maybe we should have a “tongue chopping” service to cure our evil communications. Jesus said that if your hand or your eye offend thee, cut it off or pluck it out! Well, how about the tongue? If we thought we might lose our tongues for evil speaking, we would all probably be more careful about the things we say!
I won’t comment about what this means, as I think it is pretty self-explanatory.
“And have put on the new man, which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him:”
We have a new man, a new spirit, and a new mind that are all created after the image of Christ. Christ is the image of God, and we are the image of Christ.
Therefore we should bear some resemblance to our heavenly Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ in the way we behave, and in what we think, and in what we say.
“Where there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythian, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in all.”
The new man wasn’t made in the likeness of carnal earthly distinctions, but after Christ, who is all and in all. Christ is the substance of all spiritual things. We are created out of the substance of Christ’s own Person. Our spiritual man is made of the Spirit of Jesus, if you will. Therefore, He is in us, because our new man is Christ formed in us! It is in this new man that Jesus communes, and fellowships, and lives within the believer. Yes, Christ is all, and in all.
Therefore, Jesus is everything to believers. Let us look no further than Jesus for all things that we need for this life, or the life to come.
We cannot separate spiritual or doctrinal truth, from practical truth. The two are intertwined. The two coexist and should grow and develop together.
We cannot say “I am strong in doctrinal theology, but don’t care much for practical Christian living. No! The one exists and develops with the other. Belief in doctrine without practical godliness is useless! It is useless to ourselves, and it is useless to others.
On the other hand, believing in practical godly living, without a strong understanding of Bible doctrine, especially the doctrines of salvation by grace through faith in Christ and Christ alone, is usually nothing more than empty legalism, or as Paul put it, “touch not, taste not, handle not”.
We need a balance of spiritual meat of the doctrines of God’s Word, along with the teachings of practical godly living, in order to know what we believe, and also to live what we believe.
Is Christ in you? If not, repent and believe in Jesus, and be saved right now.
Part 2; verses 12-17
Last time we studied practical Christianity from the negative perspective. We saw some things that we are to mortify, or put the death, and also some things that we are to put off.
In this message we will study practical Christianity from the positive perspective. We will see some of the things that we need to “put on” as believers, and some of the things that we need to “let” into our lives that will help us to live god glorifying lives, and then we will see how we are to “do” what we do as Christians.
“Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;”
Paul is not telling us to be “put-on’s”. There are professing believers who are “put-on’s”. Their Christianity is nothing but a show. They play act the part of a Christian, but inside they are still dead men’s bones, as it were. No beloved, we are not called to be actors, or hypocrites. That is what a hypocrite is, a play actor. Someone who pretends to be something they are not.
Paul means that we should “put on” the good Christian virtues and qualities like a garment, that is becoming of our Saviour, and our Christian testimony. We should adorn ourselves with fine linen garments, which are the righteous works of the saints (Rev. 19:8).
Paul said we should put on these things “As the elect of God, holy and beloved”.
What greater incentive do we need to show forth Christian virtue in our lives, than the fact that we were chosen unto salvation in Christ before the foundation of the world? Beloved, when we consider that God chose to save rebel sinners who were worthy of eternal hell, we ought to willingly put on His garments of righteousness.
Not only are we the elect of God, but we are holy. Not in and of ourselves, but He has made us holy through the precious blood of Christ, which was shed for our sins to make us holy and righteous in His sight.
And Paul also said that we are the beloved of God. When we think how that God loved us so much that He sent His Son to die on the cross for us, how we ought to gladly live for Him, and show forth His praises in our lives!
1) First we want to notice “bowels of mercy”. This is Christian sympathy and compassion. We should be touched with the infirmities of others, and suffer with those who are suffering. This means to reach out and help the needy and afflicted, and to try and lift them up. This means to make a difference in the lives of others who are suffering.
2) “kindness”. This means to be kind, and courteous, and gentile to others. A person who is kind will do good unto all men, especially to the household of faith.
3) “humbleness of mind”. This means not thinking more highly of ourselves than we ought to think. It means not forgetting what we were before God found us, and what He has made us by His free and sovereign grace. We should think of ourselves as less than the least of all saints, and think of others as better than ourselves.
4) “meekness”. Meekness won’t envy others, but will rejoice in their happiness and blessings. Meekness is humbly submitting to the will of God. Meekness will quietly and humbly submit to the revealed will of God for our lives, and the providence of God in our lives, especially in times of trials and adversity.
5) “long suffering”. Long suffering is patiently bearing the cruel words and deeds of others. The long suffering saint is not easily provoked, but will put up with injuries that are caused by others. How we need to be long suffering toward one another.
“Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”
6) “Forbearing one another”. A person who is forbearing will not only bear one another’s burdens, but they will bear with the weaknesses, and shortcomings, and ill temperaments of others. A person who is forbearing will be slow to pass judgment and to criticize others for their infirmities, and they will not render evil for evil.
7) “forgiving one another”. A forgiving person will not hold a grudge, but will be quick to reconcile their differences with others. Beloved, there are going to be differences and offences between the Lord’s people. As this verse implies, there are going to be quarrels between us at times. But may God help us to be forgiving people!
“even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” Beloved, that’s a tall order, but it is an order! When we consider how Christ forgave us of our horrendous offences, by His suffering for us on the cross, we should be ashamed of ourselves if we can’t forgive our brothers and sisters for their petty offences against us.
“And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.”
“And above all these things put on charity (or that is, brotherly love)”. As we have seen in other studies, love is the number one thing. Love is the most important of all Christian virtues. Love will cover a multitude of sins. Love certainly covered a multitude of our sins, when God so loved us that He sent Jesus to die for us!
“which is the bond of perfectness.” Love is the cement or the glue that holds churches together. Without love, churches will fall apart. That is why many churches are falling apart today, because they are lacking the bond of love. Their love has waxed cold because iniquity is abounding both in the world, and sad to say, in our churches.
The “bond of perfectness” here, is speaking of the bond of unity. Their cannot be true spiritual unity in a church, without the love of God and brotherly love between the members. May we keep this always in our minds and hearts, in all that we say and all that we do in the Lord’s Church. Beloved, love will bond us together, but the lack of it will tear us to pieces.
“And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.”
Here we see some things that we are to “let” in our lives and in our church. First, we are to “let” peace rule in our hearts. The government of our lives is to be a government of peace. We need inner peace in our hearts, and minds, and souls. The reason why people are not at peace with each other, is because they don’t have peace within their own hearts.
Peace should also rule in our church. This almost sounds like a contradiction of terms, but the Lord’s thoughts are not our thoughts, and His ways are not our ways. Men look for someone to rule with an iron fist; one who demands respect and submission to his authority and government; but the Lord seeks those who will rule in peace and in love.
Beloved, we were called to peace. Jesus made peace with God for us through the blood of His cross. His Church is to be an institution of peace. We are called to be peacemakers. Peace is a trademark of the Christian faith. The symbol of the dove, which is a symbol of peace, is often used to portray Christianity. The way some churches fight and quarrel, I wonder if they shouldn’t use a crow or a cat bird as their symbol, instead of a dove.
“and be ye thankful.” One of the ways we can keep the peace in the church, is to be thankful to the Lord. Thankfulness breeds peace, and makes for an atmosphere of peace. It is impossible to fight and war among ourselves when we are in the spirit of thanksgiving to God. The two just cannot coexist!
“Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”
We are also to let the Word of Christ, or the written Word of God, dwell in us richly. We not only need to read the Word, and study the Word, but the Word of God must find a permanent lodging place in our hearts and minds.
The Word of God is our statute book for judgment, our law and standard for righteousness, our light for guidance and spiritual direction, our knowledge and understanding of God and His will for our lives.
It is the discerner and critic of the thoughts and intents of our hearts. It is our manual and instruction book for practical living in this present evil world. It is a filter to clean out all the impurities that enter the doors of our eyes and ears, and of our minds and hearts. You might say it is our spiritual anti-virus software that keeps us from the corruption of false religions, and erroneous religious viruses.
It is the spiritual food for our souls, whereby believers grow in the grace and knowledge of the Lord. It is the honeycomb of Christian joy, and the delight of the spirit of Christ that dwells in our hearts.
And to “let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly” means to let it dwell in you abundantly. We can’t get too much of God’s Word. We can take too much medicine, and we can eat too much food, but we can’t get too much of God’s Word!
“in all wisdom” means “unto all wisdom,” or in order to obtain spiritual wisdom. A truly wise man is a man who spends much time in the Word of God, and meditating therein, and hiding it in his heart that he might not sin against God.
This is done through “teaching and admonishing one another”. That is what we do at church through the teaching and preaching of the Word.
But Paul brings out another form of teaching and admonishing one another, and that is through psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs. Truly the spiritual music of the church is a form of teaching and admonishing of the Word, as well as worship and praise.
Paul was no doubt referring to the Book of Psalms, but also too other hymns and spiritual songs that are used to convey the truth of the Word of God. Beloved, music is a powerful form of teaching. It causes teen-agers to commit vile sexual acts, to destroy their brains with drugs, to worship Satan, to kill themselves, or their parents, or other authorities. Music is a powerful tool of evil, but it can also be a powerful tool for good.
That is why it is so important that all songs that are sung in God’s house be Scriptural, and edifying to the new man. True spiritual music will not be directed at stimulating the old flesh, but at edifying the new man. We need to be just as careful about what we sing in God’s house, as about what we preach!!! And we also need to be careful about the kind of music that we use and play in the Lord’s Church.
But music can be a great form of spiritual encouragement, and of learning the great truths of the Word of God. Therefore, good spiritual hymns and songs must be based on the Word of God. They should have spiritual depth and meaning. They should convey Biblical truth. They should honor, glorify, and praise God in agreement with His Word. Too much of so-called Christian music today is Armenian, man centered, and plays on human emotions, rather than being centered around God and His sovereign grace, and moving the spiritual emotions and affections of the new man closer to the Lord.
“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.”
“And whatsoever ye do…do all in the name of the Lord Jesus”. Whether singing, praising, preaching, praying- whatever we do and wherever we are; whether in the Lord’s house, at home, at work, at school; do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. Again, as we have seen throughout this study, Jesus is to be preeminent in all things to His people.
“in the Name of the Lord Jesus” means with His authority and His approval. Whatever we do we should ask ourselves “does this meet with the Lord’s approval?” “Would He be pleased with it?” If not, then we can’t do it in the Name of the Lord Jesus!
And, can we give “thanks to God and the Father by him” for everything that we do. We can only give thanks to God if what we do is righteous and God honoring.
But when we can give thanks to God in all things, and for all things, then do our lives bring Him honor and glory, and also they will bring His blessings upon our lives.
In conclusion, have we put on bowels of mercy, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, long suffering, forbearance, forgiveness, and brotherly love.
Do we let the peace of God rule in our hearts and in our church, and do we let the Word of Christ dwell in our hearts richly?
And do we do what we do in the Name of the Lord Jesus? Does He approve of all that we do, and is He pleased with what we do?
May God help us to “put on”, “let”, and “do” those things that are pleasing to Him.
This section deals with practical relations between wives and husbands, children and parents, fathers and children, and with servants and masters.
“Wives, submit yourselves unto your own husbands, as it is fit in the Lord.”
The Biblical teaching of subjection is a voluntary obedience and compliance to God given authority. Men are not to beat their wives into subjection, but we are to love our wives. Wives, therefore, are to voluntarily submit to their husbands because it is God’s design, not because the husband is necessarily a better or more qualified leader.
Women are not lesser creatures than men. Women are not less intelligent than men. And, although women are declared to be the weaker vessel in the Scriptures, I have known many women who were strong in faith, and strong in bearing up under tremendous trials, and heartaches, and burdens that perhaps most of us men would have fallen beneath.
It is true, however, that Eve was in the transgression, and because of her sin she was given a place of submission to the man (Read Genesis 3:16, 2 Timothy 2:11-15). So we see that man did not put woman in her position of subjection, but God is the one who established the order of headship.
I don’t believe that a woman’s place of submission means that she cannot offer her wisdom, and knowledge, and help in church and family matters, or that she cannot be used in the service of the Lord. Churches that don’t allow their women to serve the Lord, hurt their own churches, and families, and the cause of Christ. Wisdom in leadership will utilize everyone’s God given talents, within Biblical guidelines.
However, it is true that God has made a difference between men and women in their roles and positions in the home and the church. God has placed the men in the place of leadership, and the women in a place of submission to the men’s leadership.
This is God’s order of headship, which is also taught in 1 Corinthians 11:3 (Read). In that chapter, the woman is also taught to wear an artificial head covering as a sign of her submission to her husband, and to the male leadership and authority in the Lord’s Church.
A final thought concerning wives, you are to submit to your husbands in the Lord. If your husbands require things of you that are against the Lord and His Word, then you don’t have to obey them in those things. Always remember that we are to obey God before men, even your husbands.
“Husbands, love your wives, and be not bitter against them.”
I believe the reason why God gave these admonitions to wives and husbands, is because we are both inclined by our own human natures, and by our culture and society, to rebel against our God given places and duties to one another.
The woman’s liberation movement certainly has influenced Christian women to rebel against their God given place of subjection to their husbands. On the other hand, the male chauvinistic, authoritarian attitude that has prevailed in most cultures from antiquity, has influenced Christian men to not love and care for their wives like we should, and to be harsh and bitter towards them.
All of these ungodly customs are often characteristic of worldly marriages, but they should not be true of Christian marriages. Yet as sinners, we are still prone to these.
According to Paul in Ephesians, husbands are to love their wives even as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for it. Now men, that is a tall order to fulfill. Who can live up to such an expectation? Nevertheless, that is the Word of God to us husbands. Like it or not, that is what the Lord expects of us.
We are to love our wives as Christ loved the church, not as the church loves Christ. The churches love may fail at times, but Christ’s love never fails His Church. His love is a sacrificial love. He gave Himself for His Church. His love is an unconditional love. Jesus loves His Church regardless of her outward beauty. He loves her when she is not the kind of wife that she should be. He loves her when she gets sick and afflicted. In all these things, Jesus still loves His Church with an everlasting love.
So likewise we men ought to love our wives, and not be bitter against them. We mustn’t let our love for our wives turn into hatred. As we grow older we change. Our bodies obviously change. Our dispositions and feelings change. Our interests change. Our likes and dislikes change. We go through chemical, hormone, and other physiological changes in our lives that we can’t even explain ourselves, and that we don’t even understand.
Our wives are not always going to be that same sweet little thing that we married. But, on the other hand, have we taken a good look in the mirror lately? And have we listened to ourselves, to the way we talk to our wives, to the things we say, and to the way we say them? This is not to say that wives don’t need to be understanding too, but the primary duty to love is laid on us husbands. Sorry men!
We should take time to talk to our wives, and to listen to them. That’s pretty hard to do, isn’t it men? We should take time for our wives, and do things with them. We should spend a little money on them every great once and a while, and surprise them with something special, and out of the ordinary upon occasion. We might even tell them their pretty and that we love them upon occasion. Just don’t spoil them!
We should also help our wives to be good managers of our households. We should trust them to manage the affairs of the house to the extent they are able. Don’t forget the virtuous woman of Proverbs. She managed her household well. She wasn’t ruled over with an iron fist, but she had liberty to exercise her gifts, and to serve her household, and her community, as well as her Lord.
We should help our wives to be the best they can be, and assist them in fulfilling their lives, and their ambitions, and things that make them happy. That’s what the Lord does for His Church!
Well, I suppose I’ve beat on husbands and wives enough, now it’s the children’s turn!
“Children, obey your parents in all things: for this is well pleasing unto the Lord.”
This is one of the best known verses by children. Two others are Ephesians 6:1-2, which say:
“Children, obey your parents in the Lord: for this is right. 2 Honour thy father and mother; (which is the first commandment with promise;)”
I wonder why these verses are so popular among children? I suppose it’s because children are so naturally inclined to obey their parents, they just have an affinity for these verses.
Or, it could be because children are naturally inclined not to obey their parents, and therefore parents feel it necessary to drill these verses into our children’s heads! Yeah!
Obey your parents in all things. More often than not, your parents have your good in mind when they tell you to do something, or when they expect something of you; especially if you have godly parents who love the Lord and are faithful to His service.
I want to warn all of you children to be very careful in deciding that your parent’s authority is not the best thing for you. God takes disobedience and rebellion to His delegated authority very seriously. God is the one who gave your parents their authority over you! If you rebel against them, you rebel against God!
Now, Ephesians said to obey your parents “in the Lord”. There are times when parents may instruct their children against the plain, revealed will of God; especially parents who don’t know the Lord, and even sometimes we parents who do know the Lord.
If parents command you to do something that is clearly sinful and wrong, you have God given authority not to obey them. Remember, it is better to obey God than men, even our parents. Some parents have been known to abuse their children in sinful ways, or to cause them to be abused by others. In all such cases you have God’s approval not to obey them.
But generally speaking, most parents with any God given sense at all, want what is best for their children, and you are commanded to obey them. If children have unsaved parents, who try to lead them into ungodly, or perverse activities, they should consult a Christian friend or pastor, or the authorities for help and advice.
To you children, there is a promise for honoring and obeying your parents in the Lord. If you will do this, God promised that it will be well with thee, and that your days will be long upon the earth. In other words, your lives will be blessed and filled with good days, and you will live to a full age.
I don’t know all about how God fulfills this promise, but I believe that a lot of suffering that goes on among the human race, is because of disobedience and rebellion by children against their parents.
“Fathers, provoke not your children to anger, lest they be discouraged.”
Oh boy, its father’s turn again. Don’t provoke your children to anger. Do we ever do this? Yes, that’s another wonderful attribute of our old Adamic nature!
Husbands and fathers commonly treat everyone else in the world like royalty, but they treat their wives like peasants and their children like vermin! Fathers, don’t forget that our children are human. I know, sometimes we wonder, but they really are!
As humans they have real emotions, and real feelings just like we have. They are not immune to our constant criticism and scolding. They get hurt and discouraged when we brow beat them all the time. Remember dads, our children are just sinners like us!
Ephesians 6:4 tells us to raise our children up God’s way, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord. God’s way provides for both the discipline and correction they need, as well as for the positive instruction and encouragement that they also need.
“Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: 23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”
All of us who are servants to our earthly employers, are to obey them in all things. Of course, we don’t have to obey them if they require us to do things that are ungodly. Remember, we should always obey God and His Word above men and their words.
Now, sometimes our earthly bosses might act like slave drivers, and we might feel like slaves, which our text is speaking of. But, even if this is the case, we are to obey them. And if we can’t, we better find another job. That’s one advantage of our free society, Amen?
Don’t obey with just eye service, that is, putting on a good show when the boss is around, and then disobeying them when they leave. No, we are to serve them from a true heart, in the fear of the Lord, as if we are serving the Lord Himself, and not men. Faithful service to our earthly masters, even the evil ones, will result in God’s glory, and possibly the salvation of souls.
“Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.”
If we will serve our earthly masters in this way, we will receive an inheritance of the Lord. You see, servants, or bond slaves, don’t normally receive any inheritance of their earthly masters. But we who serve our earthly masters as unto the Lord Christ, will receive an eternal inheritance.
Not only are we Jesus’ servants, but we are also joint heirs with Him of all things. We are more than just slaves, but we are also the children of God, and the friends of Christ, if we do whatsoever He commands us!
“But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”
Of course, if we disobey our earthly masters, and don’t serve them faithfully, then we will suffer their earthly punishment and disciplinary measures. God is no respecter of persons. Just because we are children and servants of the King, doesn’t mean the King will let us get by with our disobedience. He most certainly won’t!
What is worse, we bring a reproach upon the name of the Lord and His cause. May God help us to be like Joseph and Daniel, and use wisdom and prudence toward our earthly masters, so that they might see God working through us for their good!
“Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.”
For those of us who are earthly masters, which some of us are, may we be fare to our employees. This is speaking of pay, but it also would include the way we treat them.
Ephesians 6:9 tells us that we are to treat our servants as we expect them to treat us, and to forbear threatening and abusive treatment, remembering that we too, have a Master in heaven. And again, there is no respecter of persons with Him.
If we abuse and mistreat our servants, we can expect our heavenly Master to chastise us also!
In conclusion, are you wives in subjection to your own husbands in the Lord? And in general, are you ladies in submission to the male leadership of the church. Remember, God made the rules and not man!
Husbands, do we love our wives as Jesus loves His Church and gave Himself for it? Are we concerned about their personal fulfillment and happiness?
Children, do you obey your parents in the Lord. Remember, this is right in God’s eyes. And remember, there is a promise attached to this commandment.
Fathers, are we raising our children God’s way, in the nurture and admonition of the Lord? We need to treat our children with love and encouragement, while at the same time we give them the discipline and correction they need.
Servants, do we obey our earthly masters, and serve them as unto the Lord?
And masters, do we treat our servants as we want them to treat us. Remember, we also have a Master in heaven, who is no respecter of persons.
Are you a servant of Jesus? Do you know Him as your Lord and Saviour?
If not, repent, and believe that Jesus died on the cross for your sins, that He was buried, and that He rose again from the dead the third day, and He will save you right now!
Part 1; verses 2-6
Continuance in prayer means regular prayer, and not neglecting prayer in our daily lives. Now, no one prays all the time, nor are we always in the right frame of heart, mind, and soul to pray. Notwithstanding, we need to be regular and faithful in prayer. We need to have a habit of prayer.
We should never neglect to pray, seeing that we are needy creatures who are totally dependant on God’s grace and help for all things. We should never go a day without prayer, but we should have regular times set aside for prayer, and we should be instant in prayer when special needs arise for prayer.
We are to persevere in prayer. That is, we must continue in prayer and not faint. Sometimes there are long seasons when it seems God does not hear or answer our prayers, but we are to continue and persevere in prayer during these times also, and not faint.
To “watch in the same with thanksgiving” means to be careful how we pray and what we pray for, and what attitude and disposition of heart and soul we are in when we pray.
We need to be alert and conscious as we pray, remembering who we are praying to. We don’t want to utter idol words, or ramble on with our words, or with our hearts disengaged from our tongues. Do not think we will be heard for our multitude of words.
We need to pray as if we are standing before the very throne of the Majesty on high, seeing that we are standing in the presence of the sovereign Lord of heaven and earth.
We need to come boldly, yet humbly before the throne of grace to “obtain mercy, and find grace to help in time of need.” (Hebrews 4:16).
We need to pray consciously, and conscientiously, and meaningfully. We need to pray with God’s will, and purpose, and glory in view, and not to fulfill our selfish, or sensual desires.
And we need to come with thanksgiving. I can think of no other words that God would rather hear us frame, than words of thanksgiving to His Name, for all His blessings and provisions in the same.
What God detests more than anything from His children is murmuring and complaining, and prayers of thanksgiving are the exact opposite of murmuring and complaining.
Thanksgiving that comes forth from the true and sincere heart of His children, is what gives Him the most pleasure, and glory from His children.
“Withal praying also for us, that God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in bonds:”
Specifically, Paul desired prayer for himself and for Timothy, and other laborers in the gospel. This is a good work for the saints to do, to pray especially for the ministers of the gospel.
Paul did not desire prayer for his earthly comforts and earthly wants, but rather for a door of utterance, or that is, a door for the Word of God to be preached by them. This is praying according to the will of God.
How much prayer do we offer for the furtherance of the gospel? How about for your pastor in preparing messages to preach in our church services. Do we pray for the services, that the Holy Spirit will make the messages real and effectual to all in attendance. Do we pray for the extended evangelistic work of the pastor in the community?
Do we pray for the other ministries of the church in our community, that God would use these to the salvation of souls, and for the instruction of saints into the truth? And for missionaries and their fruits in the gospel? As well as for all of us, as we all have a part in the gospel ministry.
We need to pray that God would give us a door of utterance to preach the “mystery of Christ”, which of course is summed up in the gospel.
“That I may make it manifest, as I ought to speak.”
Paul desired not only opportunities to speak the mystery of Christ, but also he wanted the heart, and mind, and Spirit to make the gospel manifest as he ought to speak it.
No doubt he wanted the spiritual wisdom, and knowledge, and perception that he needed, to speak the right words in due season, according to his audience at the moment.
It is not just what we say that counts, but what we say, and how we say it, and to whom we are saying it. Otherwise, we would only need one gospel sermon for all occasions. But we have more than one sermon, don’t we?
We are not like worldly salesmen, who have one sales pitch and routine that we go through for all potential customers. We are not salesmen at all, yet we try to convince and persuade men of the truth, don’t we? Paul did! He said, “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord we persuade men…” 2 Corinthians 5:11.
But as wisdom would have it, we have different words, and different approaches for different audiences, at different times, even though the truth of the mystery of the gospel we preach is still the same.
This is spiritual wisdom that must come from the Holy Spirit, who not only opens doors of utterance, but also gives the very words to utter, that are fitly framed for the occasion. And with the Spirit’s help, we will be able to speak the gospel as we ought to speak it.
“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time.”
Walk circumspectly and not as fools, but as wise men (Ephesians 5:15).
Walk in perfect and holy conduct, in highest moral character, and in the strictest principles of integrity so that those of the contrary part won’t have whereof to accuse or reproach either us, the gospel, or the Christ of the gospel.
Walk in this practical wisdom toward those that are without, that is, toward the unsaved in the world, wherever they might be, and in whatever circumstances or whatever capacity that we have contact with them.
Walk also in watchfulness for opportunities to glorify Christ by witnessing the gospel to the lost.
“…redeeming the time” means to make the best use of the time that God has given us to witness for Him, and to win souls by the gospel. To redeem the time in this verse, doesn’t mean to “buy back” the time. We cannot “buy back” the time the Lord gives us. Once its gone, its gone forever!
“Let your speech be alway with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.”
The believer’s speech should be with grace, and in the Spirit of grace, and about grace. As opposed to speech that is carnal, and sensual, and worldly, and about the world, our speech should be spiritual and heavenly, and about the gracious things of God, and His truth, and His works, and His marvelous grace toward men.
Our speech should be seasoned with salt. Salt makes food tastier. Our speech likewise needs to be spiritually tasty and savory to regenerated souls. Worldly talk is not tasty to the regenerated soul, but is nauseous and yucky to the spiritual mind and heart. When professed Christians use foul and nasty words, they do not impress other Christians, but rather make them sick to their spiritual stomachs, so to speak.
Gracious words that are seasoned with the salt of grace, have a preserving affect upon their hearers. They are healthy and edifying to the soul. But worldly talk is not only unsavory to the spiritual man, but is also putrefying and corrupting to its hearers. It will make them spiritually nauseous.
Salt could be likened to the truth of God’s Word. When our words are according to God’s Words, then will they be spiritually tasty and preserving to their hearers. Salt could also be likened to holiness and righteousness. If our words are regulated and filtered by holiness and righteousness, they will surely be spiritually palatable and healthy to their hearers. Perhaps salt could be likened to the Holy Spirit, who is the great Edifier and Preserver.
If we always use gracious speech that is seasoned with spiritual salt, then we will always know how we ought to answer every man. We will answer according to right and wholesome words, that the Holy Spirit will use to accomplish His will and purpose in the hearts of the hearers; unto the salvation of sinners through the witness of the gospel, and unto the edification of the saints of God.
In conclusion, may the Lord help us to continue in prayer, and pray especially for the Lord’s work, and the furtherance of the gospel, and for those who minister the Word.
May we seek opportunities to witness the gospel to lost sinners in the way, as Paul did, and that we might be able to manifest the gospel to them as we ought to speak it.
And may the Holy Spirit give us gracious words, seasoned with salt, that will minister grace unto our hearers, that result in the salvation of souls, and the edification of saints, and most importantly, the glory of God.
Part 2; verses 7-18
Beloved, we need to be faithful saints in the work of the Lord in His Church. We need to be loyal, and loving, and devoted friends to others in the ministry.
We want to notice some of the faithful saints and fellow workers of the Apostle Paul, and some of their characteristics and qualities that made them a blessing to the work of the Lord, and to Paul.
Tychicus (verses 7-8)
“All my state shall Tychicus declare unto you, who is a beloved brother, and a faithful minister and fellowservant in the Lord: 8 Whom I have sent unto you for the same purpose, that he might know your estate, and comfort your hearts;”
Tychicus means “fateful” or “chance”. “Fateful” describes the hopeless and meaningless existence of all lost sinners. That is, outside of Christ our lives would seem to be governed and destined by fate, or random chance. Beloved, our lives would have no real meaning or purpose without Christ.
But in the sovereign plan and purpose of God, our lives are predestined to be conformed to the image of His Son, and are to the praise and glory of His grace. In Christ our lives are not governed by fate, but by faith. And faith, beloved, embraces the God of purpose, and the purpose of God. Our God is not the God of chance, but He is a God of will, and of purpose, and design. Therefore He has called us to a life of purpose and design, to be used for His glory and the good of others, according to His good will and pleasure.
Paul said that Tychicus was a beloved brother, a faithful minister, and a fellow servant in the Lord. Paul sent him to the Colossians to know their state. That is, to see how they were doing, especially to see how they were progressing spiritually, in light of all the errors that were being propagated among them. He was also sent to comfort them, and to encourage them in the truth, and to relieve them of any doubts and questions that they might have as a result of all the heresy that managed to infiltrate their church.
No doubt he was also sent to comfort the Colossians regarding Paul’s state. It is always good to know the state of fellow believers, especially when we hear that they are having difficulties, so that we can know how to pray for them.
Onesimus (verse 9):
“With Onesimus, a faithful and beloved brother, who is one of you. They shall make known unto you all things which are done here.”
Onesimus means profitable and useful. He was once the unfaithful slave of Philemon. He escaped from Philemon’s house in Asia Minor, and ran away to Rome where he heard Paul preach the gospel while Paul was in prison. He apparently stole some money or other belongings from his master. Paul said in the book of Philemon that he would repay any debt that Onesimus owed to Philemon.
Beloved, what a difference that Jesus makes in a sinner’s life! As a sinner slave Onesimus was unprofitable to his master, and even less profitable to the Lord’s work. But after his conversion he was profitable and useful to both Paul and to Philemon.
Paul said that Onesimus was profitable both in the flesh and in the Lord. Yes beloved, what a complete turn around in this man’s life because of faith in the gospel! Let’s notice three things about Onesimus:
1) He was now useful: He was useful to Paul. In the book of Philemon Paul said that Onesimus was his minister. That is, he was his servant or helper. He helped him to write the letters to the churches. He helped him by communicating with the saints concerning Paul’s affairs. No doubt he helped him in prison to make sure he had all of his needs provided for. He was useful to Paul in the work of the Lord.
How useful are we to the Lord’s Church? Are we a helper? Are we a contributor to the work, whether monetarily, or with our time and our talents, and our other God given abilities? Do we put more into the work of Christ than we take from it?
Onesimus was useful and profitable! He was an unprofitable sinner slave before, but after his salvation he was profitable to the work of the Lord. He was a valuable contributor. How about you and I? Are we contributors to the Lord’s work?
2) Onesimus was faithful: He was an unfaithful sinner slave before, but after conversion he was a faithful bond-slave of Jesus Christ. Can people change? Yes, people can change and they will change by the power of the Holy Spirit in salvation and sanctification.
Perhaps we were once unfaithful, even to our earthly masters? But are we faithful to Christ our Lord and heavenly Master now? Has there been a marked change in our lives? Are we faithful to Jesus, His Church, and His work?
3) He was a beloved brother: When believers are useful and faithful to the work of the Lord, then it follows that they will be beloved brothers. All saints are “beloved of the Lord”, but truly there is a special bond of brotherly love between the faithful servants of God. That is, to those who faithfully serve the common cause of Christ in His Church.
Aristarchus (verse 10):
“Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)”
Aristarchus means “the best ruler”. I don’t have much to say about this brother, other than the fact that his name means “the best ruler”, but at this time he was a prisoner of Jesus Christ in a Roman prison cell.
Perhaps his parents wanted him to be a ruler of some kind in the Roman government. But apparently, because of faith in the gospel, he found himself a prisoner instead. Once again, how the gospel changes our aspirations, or the aspirations for our children. What are our aspirations for our children? What do we want them to be when they grow up, and leave the nest?
What is most important for our children’s lives, and where do we see the Lord’s work in their futures? So many parents today have high earthly aspirations for their children, but they leave God out of their plans. How foolish, beloved, how foolish this is; to leave God out of our plans for our children’s lives!
But thanks be to the sovereignty and providence of God, this man Aristarchus was made a prisoner of the gospel, and a fellow prisoner and friend of Paul in the service of Jesus Christ.
Marcus (verse 10):
“Aristarchus my fellowprisoner saluteth you, and Marcus, sister’s son to Barnabas, (touching whom ye received commandments: if he come unto you, receive him;)”
We know that Marcus is the same as John Mark, who once abandoned Paul and Barnabas on their first missionary journey. But later he repented of his unfaithfulness, and became a faithful servant of the Lord, as well as a helper to Paul.
The name Marcus means “a defense”. At one time Mark forsook the Lord’s work, but later he truly became a defender of the faith, and a faithful servant of the Lord. Can the Lord restore one of His “run-away-servants”, and make of Him a faithful servant, and a defender of the faith. Yes! John Mark is a real life example of spiritual restoration!
Mark apparently went around to the churches, and delivered to them the commandments of the apostles. He probably told them how they should live and walk, and what they should believe as true and sound doctrines of the faith. In this way Mark lived up to his name, a defender of the faith.
Perhaps some of us have abandoned the work in times past. Don’t despair beloved, the Lord is still able to make us into defenders of the faith, as he did with Mark. And beloved, after Mark was restored to his rightful place in the Lord’s service, we never read again where he quit or failed the Lord’s work. Again, the Lord is able to change His people into faithful servants.
Jesus or Justus (verse 11):
“And Jesus, which is called Justus, who are of the circumcision. These only are my fellowworkers unto the kingdom of God, which have been a comfort unto me.”
The name Justus simply means “just”. If Justus was true to his sir-name, and we assume that he was, then he was a man who was true and upright in his deportment, and in his dealings with his fellowmen, and with God.
If Justus was true to his name then he was honest and fair with others. He was good and upright in his business. If he was a businessman, then he was equitable and honest in his business dealings. Most importantly, he was just in the work of the Lord.
We need to be Justuses. We need to be believers with good testimonies in the community. Justus was worthy to be a fellow worker of the Apostle Paul. How about us?
Epaphras (verses 12-13):
“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God. 13 For I bear him record, that he hath a great zeal for you, and them that are in Laodicea, and them in Hierapolis.”
As we said earlier about Colossians 1:7, Epaphras was probably the evangelist that started the Colossian Church. He was a soul winner, if you will.
Epaphras means “lovely”. That seems peculiar for a man to be named “lovely”. But in the light of the Scriptures, this was an appropriate name for this brother. In Romans 10:15 we are told “How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” Truly Epaphras was a lovely saint because he loved souls and preached the gospel to them.
Not only that, but Epaphras labored in fervent prayer for the Colossian saints, that they would stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.
Furthermore, Paul bear record that Epaphras had a great zeal for them and for the other churches in the area, all of which he probably started through his missionary efforts.
Epaphras was not only concerned with people being saved, and churches being established, but also with the continued growth and spiritual well-being of those saints and churches that he led to the Lord.
May God help us to be “lovely” saints; to be about preaching the gospel to the lost, and in prayer for the saints, and concerned for our fellow believers, and their physical needs, and most importantly, their spiritual progress.
Luke (verse 14):
“Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.”
The name Luke means “light giving”. Truly Luke lived up to His name. He wrote both the Gospel of Luke and the Book of Acts. Luke gave a lot of light in those two precious Bible books.
Luke was also an evangelist. He traveled with Paul on his missionary journeys, and labored in the gospel. In this way he was also a “giver of light”, by sharing the light of the glorious gospel of Jesus with lost sinners.
Luke was also called “the beloved physician”. He was a physician by occupation. There is nothing wrong with good doctors, especially those who know the Lord, and give the glory to the Lord for the healing of men’s bodies. May God give us more Lukes today!!!
May God help us to be spiritual healers. That is, may we be about helping to mend wounded souls, both the lost by the healing power of the gospel, and the saved by ministering the healing power of the Word, and by comforting and loving one another as the Lord has commanded us.
Demas (verse 14):
“Luke, the beloved physician, and Demas, greet you.”
Demas means “governor of the people”. Paul didn’t say anything about Demas here. In the Book of Philemon Demas was listed among Paul’s fellow laborers. Later in 2 Timothy 4:10, Paul said that Demas had forsaken him, having loved this present world.
We don’t really know to what extent that Demas went wrong, but we only know that he loved this present world more than he did Paul and the afflictions that he suffered for the gospel. Perhaps the Lord’s Church and the small circle of friends that it encompassed, was to small of a circle for Demas. Perhaps, as his name implies, that he was a man of the world and of the people.
That’s the way it is for some. They are all excited about the Lord’s Church, and the work, but after a while the excitement wears off. And when trials and persecutions set in, and things don’t go like they thought, or like they hoped, by and by they are offended. By and by they go back to the world, among the people from whence they came out.
We’ve all perhaps have known a Demas or two in our Christian experience, that have left off serving the Lord in His kind of church. Perhaps they went on to serve the Lord in the “big church”. Perhaps they left serving the Lord at all.
Well, all I can say is, don’t let the Demases discourage us. Don’t let fair weather Christians dishearten us from serving the Lord in His prescribed way, and that is in His local, New Testament Baptist Church.
Archippus (verse 17):
“And say to Archippus, Take heed to the ministry which thou hast received in the Lord, that thou fulfil it.”
Archippus means “master of the horse”. Well, he might have been the master of horses, but it seems he was neglecting the mastery of his ministry.
Many people believe that he was either the pastor or at least a teacher at the Church of Colossi, who apparently was neglecting his ministry.
I want to speak a few words of exhortation and encouragement to all of us who are in leadership roles in the church. Let us be careful to fulfill our ministries.
We all can get discouraged and weary from the way. We can lose interest, or get side-tracked by the things of this world. But the Lord tells us to take heed to our ministries, and to be sure to fulfill them.
Now, beloved, we don’t want to quit, but rather, let’s get back into our Bibles and into our studies, and pray the Lord to help us with our lessons, and give us fresh thoughts, and new zeal, and a new love to declare the precious Word of God.
Never think that what you are doing is not important, or that you are not doing any good. That is what the devil wants us to think. The work you do for the Lord is important. It is more important than anything else that we do in this life.
Beloved, let us be encouraged to fulfill our ministries. Let us keep on keeping on in the work of the Lord. Let us renew our zeal and fire for the things of the Lord.
This is so very important to your pastor. Please pray for me that I won’t lose my fire, and my love for Jesus, and for his work. How we need and desire your prayers.
But this is also true for all who have a part in the Lord’s work, which I hope includes all of us in some way.
In conclusion, what kind of saint and church member are we?
May God help us to be like Onesimus. May we be useful and profitable to the work of the church. May we be faithful to the work, and as a result, be a beloved brother or sister in the work.
May we be like Marcus, and be defenders of the faith once delivered to the saints. There are so many falling by the wayside, and going back to the world like Demas. May God help us to stand strong and defend the precious faith that He has given us.
May we be “lovely” like Epaphras, and bear the gospel to lost sinners, and then care for the saints by praying for them, and having a zeal for them in their spiritual progress.
May we be “just” like Justus in our deportment in this world, that we might have a good testimony of our Saviour, and of the gospel that we preach, and of the church where we serve.
May we be like Luke and be givers of light. May we be bright and shining lights of the gospel to the lost world. Like Luke, let us be like physicians to our brothers and sisters in the Lord, by lifting them up and comforting them, and encouraging them along the way.
Yes, beloved, may the Lord help us all, as members of this church, to be faithful, loving, loyal, and devoted friends in the ministry of the Lord.