April 11, 2021 | John Nix
Here are some questions that we hope you'll take a few minutes to think through and answer.
- What does it mean for the Word of Christ to dwell in the Church richly (v. 16)? What about you personally
- What does the language of "dwelling richly" teach us about the Word of Christ itself? (Hint: Read Hebrews 4:12–13 and Isaiah 55:10–11 for background.
- What specific activities does Paul instruct the Colossians to let the Word of Christ dwell in them richly (v. 16)
- Based on Paul's teaching in verse 16, what are the purposes for which Christians should gather? What should we aim to do when we come together as a church?
- What are some examples of things that may occur in a church's worship service that, rather than build up the Church through the Word, actually distract the Church from that goal?
- What will you do this week to let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly?
Colossae sat on the main East-West road about one hundred miles east of Ephesus. If you were to visit Colossae today, there is not much to see. At one time, it was a thriving city in a region that included Laodicea, the capital of the municipal district (twelve miles to the west), and Hierapolis, a spa town renowned for its multitude of temples and healing waters that were dedicated to heathen gods (fifteen miles northwest). Still, now all that remains is a large hill with the odd block of masonry jutting out on one side. The city was destroyed by a devastating earthquake that struck the valley in around AD 60.
Colossae was a place where many different religious and philosophical viewpoints thrived and probably mixed together. This diversity helps explain the syncretistic religious movement that affected the Colossian Christians.
The Church at Colossae most likely began during Paul's third missionary journey while he taught in the school of Tyrannus in Ephesus. Luke recorded that all of Asia heard the Word during that time (Acts 19:9–10). Epaphras met Paul in Ephesus, became a disciple, evangelist, and minister, taking the Word to his own people (1:7) and still carrying a burden for them (4:12).
The letter to the Colossians is shockingly, dangerously politically incorrect. To the best of our knowledge, Paul never actually went to Colossae. However, despite having never met the Colossians and languishing in prison, Paul warns of how subversive and dangerous false teaching is to the Church.
Paul sees the world in black and white (with everyone split between the dominion of darkness and the kingdom of light), and towering over all stands Jesus Christ. Whatever Christ has said or achieved is automatically true for every person at every time in every place. There are no exceptions. He is the universal king.
Similar issues may exist in the relationships between Christianity and philosophy, psychology, natural science, and the behavioral sciences. Many want to get on the right side of history and reformulate Christian truth in their image. The worldly temptation confuses beliefs with emotions, suggesting that all that matters is feelings and fulfillment. Still, the Church must be vigilant because many give priority to feelings or reason over revelation. We cannot accept a view of Jesus Christ that is in opposition to the Scriptures, nor can we accept that there is another Christ who is different from the one that the New Testament describes.