What would happen if you gave your entire life to Jesus Christ? What extraordinary things would God do in you and through you? Evangelist Dwight Moody (1837–1899) said, “The world has yet to see what God would do through a man who was completely surrendered to Him.” What if that person was you?
The book of Colossians teaches Christians why we should give our entire lives to Jesus Christ and what our lives would look like when we do. Paul, writing under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, teaches us in only four short chapters how we can give Christ His rightful place in our lives. Only four chapters, but four chapters that could change your life forever!
In the first lesson Paul affirms his love for the Colossian believers and expresses his desire for their spiritual growth. He emphasizes the fact that the gospel—the truth that changed their lives—continues to change lives throughout the world. His point? The gospel of Jesus Christ is enough for all believers, for all the world, for all time. Adding to God’s Word doesn’t strengthen it. It distorts the truth and leads believers into error. Now ask God to reveal Himself to you through His Word and conform you into the image of Jesus Christ.
1. Paul introduced himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God (Colossians 1:1). He included Timothy, missionary companion and spiritual brother, in his initial greeting to the church. What words are used to describe the Colossian Christians (Colossians 1:2)?
2. When the word saint is applied to the New Testament believer, it signifies our dual calling to salvation and sanctification (1 Corinthians 1:2). Alexander MacLean, a famous Scottish preacher, said, “Saints are not an eminent sort of Christian, but all Christians are saints, and he who is not a saint is not a Christian.” What are some other words the Bible uses to describe the believer’s relationship to God (John 1:12; Galatians 4:5, 7; 1 Peter 2:9)?
3. a. Paul often expressed thankfulness for other believers (Romans 1:8; 1 Corinthians1:4; Philippians 1:3). What specific spiritual qualities was he particularly thankful for in the lives of the Colossian believers?
b. Name two things Paul did to express his gratitude for the Colossians.
c. In what ways have you recently expressed your appreciation and gratitude for another Christian?
4. a. The Colossian church had a love for all the saints (Colossians 1:4). The remarkable frequency of the word all (28 times in only 95 verses) is more than coincidence. It emphasizes an important truth. Please list the remaining phrases that include the word all and their corresponding verse references in Colossians 1.
b. What important spiritual truth do you think is being taught by the frequent use of the word all when it is linked together with the other terms?
5. The Christian traits of faith, love, and hope form a familiar triad (trio) in Scripture (Romans 5:2–5; 1 Corinthians 13:13; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8). In these passages, hope is coordinated with faith and love, but in Colossians 1:4–5 hope represents the source from which faith and love spring. What do you think is meant by the phrase the hope which is laid up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:5)?
6. a. What was Paul referring to in Colossians 1:6 when he said, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit?
b. The phrase, which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, has profound theological implications, especially in the area of world missions. What do you think this important phrase teaches about the spread of the gospel (the good news of salvation by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone) throughout the world?
7. a. Bible scholars believe God used Epaphras to start the church at Colossae (Colossians 1:7; note: Epaphras is a shortened form of Epaphroditus, but this man should not be identified with the man by the same name in Philippians 2:25 and 4:18). Paul was obviously impressed with Epaphras’s spiritual character. How did Paul describe this man (Colossians 1:7)?
b. Sometimes we view the biblical characters as otherworldly—people we read about, but whose lives could never be replicated. The truth is, however, that they were ordinary people who simply surrendered their lives to Christ and allowed Him to work through them for God’s glory. What aspects of your life would you need to surrender more fully to Christ to become a dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ?
8. Paul thanked God for the Colossian Christians (Colossians 1:3) and then offered a specific request on their behalf. What was it (Colossians 1:9)?
9. Some Christians are uncertain what God wants from their lives (God’s will). They appear to wander aimlessly in their Christian lives, unsure how they can serve God. List four specific things God desires every Christian to do to fulfill His will (Colossians 1:10–12).