No one tops Jesus
Hello from Paul and Timothy1From: Paul, a God-approved apostle of Jesus the Messiah, and from our brother Timothy.
To: Everyone in Colossae who is part of our spiritual family, which is devoted to the Messiah.
2May you experience the kindness and peace that come from God our Father.
I thank God for you3I’m so thankful for you. Whenever I pray for you, that’s exactly what I tell God the Father of our leader, Jesus the Messiah. 4I’ve heard about you folks. You have a reputation. I’ve heard that you not only believe the stories about Jesus the Messiah, but that you’ve put your faith in him. I’ve also heard that you love the people devoted to God. 5This comes from the hope of what’s waiting for you in heaven. You have that hope because you heard the truth, the Good News.
6The same Good News is spreading everywhere, all over the world, changing people for the better—just like it changed you after you heard its true message about God’s kindness. 7You heard the message from Epaphras, one of our dearly loved associates. He’s a minister deeply devoted to the Messiah as he serves you. 8He’s also the one who told me about the love the Spirit gave you.
9That’s why ever since the day we heard about you, we haven’t stopped praying for you. Our prayer is that you’ll fill up on spiritual knowledge so you’ll understand what God wants you to do. 10We want you to live in a way that makes God proud of you. Produce spiritual fruit by doing good and by learning about God. 11We’re praying that God will make you spiritually stronger. He can do that because he’s got plenty of power to draw from. This strength comes with benefits: all the patience and endurance you’ll need to deal with whatever comes your way. 12You’ll do it with joy. And you’ll thank the Father who is giving you a share of the inheritance reserved for all souls who live in the light.
13We lived in the darkness long enough. God rescued us from the terror of darkness. Then he moved us to a brighter place: the kingdom of his dearly loved Son. 14God’s Son bought our freedom. And God forgave us for everything hurtful that we did.
Paul’s song about Jesus15
Christ is the very image of the invisible God we’ve never seen.
When it comes to everything in Creation, he comes first.
He created everything. Everything belongs to him.
17Before there was anything, there was Christ.
Without him, everything falls apart. He holds everything together.
18He is the leader of our community, the church.
He is the first one raised from the dead.
So, he comes first in everything.
19God was delighted to pour himself completely into Jesus, and to live there.
20This was God’s peace plan.
He would reconcile with everyone in heaven and on earth.
He would do it through the blood of Christ on the cross.
God made peace with us21There was a time when you didn’t want anything to do with God. You thought hostile thoughts and did bad things. 22But now you stand before God with nothing to be ashamed of and with no one to blame you. That’s because God reconciled with you. He did it through the death of Christ’s physical body. 23Hang onto that faith of yours. Keep it stable and steady. Don’t stray off course, away from the hope you’ve heard in the Good News. I’m talking about the same Good News that everyone is hearing about and that I, Paul, am preaching wherever I can.
I’m okay with suffering24Today I’m celebrating. It’s because I get to suffer for you. You should know that Christ isn’t done suffering. There’s suffering ahead for his body, the church. I’ve got skin in the game here; I’m doing my share of the suffering. 25I’m a minister of that church. God gave me the job of helping you and of passing along the full message of God to everyone I can.
26The message I’m talking about has been hidden for generations. Now it’s revealed to God’s people. 27That includes non-Jews. God chose you, too. He’s letting you in on the secret: Christ lives in you. Treasure Christ because he’s the reason for your hope of heaven. 28I preach Christ. He’s the one I tell people about, passing along his teachings, warnings, and wisdom. I’m doing this to help people grow spiritually and to understand Christ better. 29That’s what I do and why I do it. The power to do it comes from him, from his incredible strength at work in me.
Apostle means “official messenger,” such as a delegate or an ambassador sent to deliver a message. The title “apostle” came to mean disciples hand-picked by Jesus to tell his story and spread his teachings. The title usually referred to the 12 original disciples of Jesus and to Paul, who met Jesus in a miraculous encounter while Paul was traveling to Damascus to arrest Christians (Acts 9:5).
Timothy was an associate who often traveled with Paul and helped him in his ministry. Paul wrote the books of 1, 2 Timothy to him, revealing that Paul thought of him as a son.
The Greek word, charis, is often translated “grace.” It also means “loving-kindness,” “good will.” And it often refers to the merciful kindness of God.
The Greek word for “Good News” is euangelion, from which we get words such as evangelize and evangelical.
More literally, “grace.”
Some old copies of the letter quote Paul as saying that Epaphras is ministering on Paul’s behalf as his representative.
The Greek word is often translated “redemption.” It refers to someone who has been saved, delivered, or freed, often by means of another person who paid a ransom.
The ambiguous original phrase more literally describes Jesus as “the firstborn over all creation.” Many scholars say that can mean he’s in charge, an idea they say fits the context of what Paul wrote. But it can also mean he was the first one created. That understanding produced some of the first Christian teachings branded as heresy, Arianism, for example. Many early Christians said God created Jesus. That’s not the prevailing view today.
Paul says he has heard good things about this congregation in what is now Turkey. “I’ve heard that you not only believe the stories about Jesus the Messiah, but that you’ve put your faith in him. I’ve also heard that you love the people devoted to God” (1:4). How do you think the church built that reputation? What might it have looked like back then? What would it take for a church today to build a good reputation?
The Casual English Bible often paraphrases “God’s grace” as “God’s kindness” (1:6). What do you think about that? How would you describe the grace Paul is talking about in this verse?
Paul seems to say that someone named Epaphras started the church at Colossae. Then he adds that Epaphras is “one of our dearly loved associates” (1:7). Does that sound like Paul is laying claim to a leadership role over this church, perhaps a bit like bishops or district superintendents who supervise local pastors or priests? If so, why do you think he did it?
Paul told the Christians in Colossae “Produce spiritual fruit by doing good and by learning about God” (1:10). What fruit do you think he had in mind?
The Casual English Bible paraphrased the idea of God forgiving us for “our sins” into forgiving us for “everything hurtful that we did” (1:14). How do you react to that?
There’s a vague and confusing phrase in Colossians 1:15. Paul says about Christ, “When it comes to everything in Creation, he comes first.” Take a look at the related footnote: “The ambiguous original phrase more literally describes Jesus as ‘the firstborn over all creation.’ Many scholars say that can mean he’s in charge, an idea they say fits the context of what Paul wrote. But it can also mean he was the first one created. That understanding helped produce some of the first Christian teachings branded as heresy, Arianism, for example, which said God created Jesus and that Jesus was subordinate to God. Many early Christians said they agreed with that. Yet that’s not the prevailing view today. What difference do you think it would make if God admitted to the world that he did create Jesus at some point in time? Also, what in the context of the song seems relevant to the question?
What do you think Paul meant when he said that without Jesus, “everything falls apart. He holds everything together” (1:17)?
Paul said, “This was God’s peace plan. He would reconcile with everyone in heaven and on earth. He would do it through the blood of Christ on the cross” (1:20). How do you react to Christians who say that based on verses like this, they believe that in the end everyone will be saved?
LIFE APPLICATION. Paul said that God reconciled the relationship between him and human beings. In a sense, God threw blame out the window. He no longer holds people accountable for the bad things they did. “You stand before God with nothing to be ashamed of and with no one to blame you” (1:22). Have you ever seen anyone treat another person like God treats us, completely forgiving the debt and throwing blame away?