The Book of Colossians – part 2, Dr. Alan Bandy (PowerPoint)

Theological Themes
Contribution to the Canon
Theological Themes
• The Supremacy of Christ
– The theology of Colossians is Christ-centered in that Paul especially focused on
both the person and work of Christ.
– The supremacy of Christ especially comes to the forefront in 1:15–20, which
contains one of the most exalted depictions of Christ in the NT.
– The structure of the hymn is still heavily debated.
• The best analysis suggest that the hymn breaks into two major strophes beginning with
the words “who is” (hos estin; translated “He is” in the HCSB in vv. 15, 18) and containing
the word “firstborn” (prōtotokos) in the second line.
• These two major strophes also parallel one another in the phrases “because in Him” and
“For … in Him” (hoti en autō; vv. 16, 19); and “all things … through Him” and “through
Him … everything” (ta panta di’ autou; vv. 16, 20).
• Thus the hymn probably has two major sections, portraying Christ as Lord in creation and
Lord in the new creation.
Theological Themes
• The Work of Christ in Salvation
– Christ’s work is sufficient.
– He is the one who provides redemption, that is, the forgiveness of
sins (1:14).
– Jesus is the one who provides reconciliation through the blood of
his cross (1:20, 22).
– The flow of thought in 2:8–10 gloriously conveys the believer’s
completeness in Christ.
– Christ’s sufficient work allows believers to stand complete even
against evil forces (2:15).
Theological Themes
• Proper Christian Conduct (Ethics)
– The indicative explanations in Colossians 1–2 of who Christ is and what
he has done leads to the imperative proclamation in chaps. 3–4 of who
believers are and what they are to do.
– The complete scope of Christ’s sufficient work and believers’ spiritual
union with him means that they can keep pursuing the things above
where Christ dwells (3:1–2).
– Union with Christ means that the believer is a new creature and acts
– The cosmic scope of Christ’s lordship has staggering implications for his
lordship over every aspect of the believer’s life, which is especially
emphasized in the household code in 3:18–4:1.
The Preeminence of Christ
A. Opening (1:1–2)
B. Thanksgiving (1:3–8)
Thanksgiving (1:3–8)
• We give thanks (3a)
When we pray (3b)
because we have heard . . . .faith . . . love (4)
on account of the hope (5)
about which you have heard previously (5b)
through . . . the gospel that has come to you
(5b, 6a)
just as worldwide (6a)
just as among you (6b)
just as . . . from Epaphras (7a)
who informed us (8a)
Thanksgiving (1:3–8)
• 1: 4 - The reason for Paul’s thanksgiving began
when he heard:
– Faith in Christ Jesus
– The love you have for all the saints.
– Faith in Christ and love for all believers represent the hallmarks
of genuine Christianity.
• 1:5-6 - The basis of their faith and love is because
they have a hope reserved for them in heaven.
– Faith, Hope, Love: The triad of faith, love, and hope recurs as a familiar
Pauline formula (1 Th 1:3; 2Th 1:3; Rm 5:1-5; Gl 5:5-6; Eph 1:15, 4:2-5;
Phm 5).
Thanksgiving (1:3–8)
• 1:5b-6 - This hope was the result of having heard and received the
message of truth or more specifically the gospel
– The “gospel” is set in apposition to “the message of truth” therefore
indicating that they are one and the same.
– Paul emphasizes the power and effectiveness of the gospel by tracking
its expansion that just as it has spread in Colossae it continues bearing
fruit and growing all over the world.
– Twice Paul mentions how the Colossians accepted the truth of the
gospel contrasting the original message they heard with the false
teaching now being propagated.
Thanksgiving (1:3–8)
• Epaphras (Epaphras is a shortened
form of Epaphroditus)
As a native of Colossae (4:12) was
converted through Paul’s preaching during
his long stay in Ephesus (Acts 19:8–10),
some 120 miles distant on the coast and
directly accessible by road down the Lycus
and Meander valleys.
Epaphras evangelized Colossae and
devoting himself to laboring for the gospel
there and in the nearby cities of Laodicea
and Hierapolis (4:13).
James D. G. Dunn, The Epistles to the Colossians and to Philemon, 63.
Thanksgiving (1:3–8)
• Paul co-writes this letter with Timothy, whom
he calls a brother.
• Epharphas is called a “faithful servant” and
“fellow slave.” (v. 7)
• Paul also emphasizes the relationship between
the Father and his son – Jesus.
• David Pao writes: “The use of this household
language may reflect the reality of early
Christian communities that centered on
Christian households (cf. 4:15). For Paul,
however, this household setting also provides
a new identification for its members, where
they are no longer to be related by race or
class (3:11); they have become parts of a new
humanity related to one another only through
relationship with Christ, who is ‘all . . . in all’
(3:11).” (ZECNT, 59)
A. Opening (1:1–2)
B. Thanksgiving (1:3–8)
A. The Centrality of Christ and the Colossian Heresy (1:9–2:23)
1. Opening Prayer (1:9–14)
2. The Supremacy of Christ (1:15–20)
3. The Reconciliation of Believers to God through Christ (1:21–23)
4. Paul as a Minister of the Mystery of Reconciliation (1:24–2:5)
5. Warning against Succumbing to the Colossian Heresy (2:6–23)
1. Opening Prayer (1:9–14)
Asking. . .
that you may be filled
with the knowledge of his will
by means of having
all spiritual wisdom and
spiritual knowledge
1. Opening Prayer (1:9–14)
Asking. . .
For the purpose to walk worthy of the Lord
in all ways pleasing
in all good work
bearing fruit and growing
into the knowledge of God
in all power being strengthened
by his might
according to his glory
For all endurance and patience
with joy.
1. Opening Prayer (1:9–14)
• 1:9 - Paul specifically asks that they may be filled with
– knowledge of his will
– Spiritual wisdom,
– Spiritual understanding (cf. Ex 31:3; 35:31, 35; Dt 34:9; Is 29:14).
• The word filled (passive verb indicates God as agent) typically conveys the
sense of “completeness” in Colossians (verb Col 1:9, 25; 2:10; 4:17; noun
form Col 1:19; 2:9).
• Paul asks that they receive full knowledge of His will. The word
knowledge occurs three additional times with varying objects (Col 1:10 “of
God”; 2:2 “of God’s mystery”; 3:10 “new man . . . renewed in knowledge).
• The phrase, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, expresses the
means or manner through which this knowledge comes. This wisdom (cf.
Col. 1:28; 2:3, 23; 3:16; 4:5) and understanding is spiritual in nature.
1. Opening Prayer (1:9–14)
• 1:10, 11, 12 - The purpose for Paul’s prayer (1:9) is so that
they might walk worthy of the Lord in such a way that all
their conduct will please Him.
• Paul expands what worthy and pleasing conduct consists of
through a series of four participle clauses.
Bearing fruit in every good work;
growing in the knowledge of God;
strengthened with all power;
giving thanks to the Father.
• Thus, Christian behavior that pleases the Lord involves
productive good deeds; continuous spiritual growth;
dependence on His power resulting in endurance, patience
and joy; and expressing gratitude for all things because He
enabled them to share in the saint’s inheritance.
1. Opening Prayer (1:9–14)
• 1:13, 14 These verses continue the reason for giving thanks to the Father
(v. 12 cf. Col 1:3, 3:17) by explaining how they were enabled to share in
the saint’s inheritance.
– The language of being rescued and transferred evokes OT imagery of God
delivering His people from the grip of hostile oppressors (cf. Ex 6:6; 14:30; Jdg
6:9; 8:34; Pss 18:19; 79:9; 86:14).
– The terms “share” (meris) and “inhertiance” (kleros) points to the
apportioned land of Canaan (Deut. 32:9; Josh. 19:9).
– The concept of “deliverance” and “transfer” also allude to the Exodus events.
– The Exodus event is evoked with the eschatological act of God where with the
terms “light/glory, deliverance, inheritance, and holiness (cf. Isaiah 63:15-19).
1. Opening Prayer (1:9–14)
– They have been rescued from the realm of
Satan’s oppression (domain of darkness) by
transferring them to the realm of Christ which is
a kingdom in the light (v. 12b).
• cf. Eph. 5:8–20
– The means of this deliverance or exodus was
accomplished in their redemption through the
forgiveness of sins because of Christ’s atoning
work (Col 1:15-22).
Questions for Reflection
• What are some key themes that you
observed in this prayer?
• What should we learn from how Paul
prayed for the churches?
• How should we pray for our people in
our churches?

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