Podcast: Colossians with Terry Feix
Paul wrote this letter to the church in Colossae to address certain theological issues that had arisen in the young church plant. The main takeaway from this book is that Christ is enough. He is enough to be reconciled to God, to grow in holiness, and to be restored in our relationships with others.
Colossae was largely a Gentile city that may have had a small population of Jews. Although Paul had never visited the church, he wrote this letter along with Ephesians and possibly Philemon from prison. He sent them out with Epaphras (one of Paul’s converts in Ephesus) and Tychicus.
Some central themes throughout Colossians:
A high view of Christ and seeing Jesus as the supreme authority over the world and the church (Col. 1:15-20, 2:6, 3:1-4).
The reconciliation of Jews and Gentiles. In the gospel message, we see and understand the culmination of God’s promise to Abraham. Gentiles will be glorified along with Jews in the family of God (Col. 1:27, 3:12-17).
The Colossian heresy was two-fold. While Gentiles argued for a mystical experience to prove one’s faith, Jews thought true faith meant following certain rules (see Col. 2:8, 2:16-23).
However, in contradiction to both, Paul’s main argument throughout this letter is, “Since you are in Christ, walk in Him.”
There is nothing needed besides faith in Christ. There are no “second-level” Christians. All operate on the same level in the kingdom of God. Unfortunately, the modern church can too easily fall into the same trap of placing certain Christians above others because of good deeds or “spiritual” experiences. Because of this, the book of Colossians is extraordinarily relevant to the church today.
In addition to refuting the Colossian heresy, Paul’s goal was to present everyone mature in Christ (Col. 1:28). This reveals Paul’s pastoral heart for the church at Colossae and his desire for growth. His focus was not merely on people coming to know Christ but also on those converts becoming mature in their faith and teaching others.
Concerning maturity in Christ, all of Paul’s commands in this letter are drawn from the supremacy of Christ. Maturity comes from seeing Christ as supreme in how Christians live their lives in their homes, in public, and in the house of God. This is seen in Paul’s exhortation to households and slave/master relationships (Col. 3:1-4:6).
As with other books in the Bible, Colossians presents a couple of troubling passages. One of those is Colossians 1:24, which reads, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church.”
What could possibly be lacking in the sufferings of Christ? Was the cross not enough? In response, we observe that Paul’s suffering was on behalf of the church. Paul was being granted the privilege of suffering as Christ suffered (Phil. 1:29).
A second set of passages deal with the divinity of Christ. Colossians 1:19 says, “For in him all the fullness of God was pleased to dwell” and 2:9 reads, “For in him the whole fullness of deity dwells bodily.”
What do these passages “not mean”? In context, note that these two passages are written in the context of Jesus being supreme and of Paul refuting the thoughts of the Gnostics and Judaizers.
Jesus was fully God and fully man (known as the Hypostatic Union). He had to be fully human and fully God to be the perfect sacrifice for sin. This refutes the Gnostics who said that Jesus was not fully God and fully man as well as the “adaptationists” who say that Jesus became God. The Father and the Son are one and the same, yet they are distinct. “If you have seen me, you have seen the Father” (John 14:9).
Jesus alone is sufficient.
Nothing external is needed for salvation. Nothing needs to “happen to you,” such as a spiritual experience like speaking in tongues. You do not have to keep laws, rules, and regulations. There are no second-tier, third-tier, or fourth-tier Christians. Beware of those who try to enforce certain experiences or rules to be saved. Nothing is needed except Jesus. Only Jesus.
Brittany Proffitt lives in Dallas, TX, holds a BA in Religion, and is a student at the Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary. She is passionate about Scripture and how God’s Word impacts individuals’ hearts and lives.