Col 1:21-23 How does Paul describe the former state of the Christians to whom he was writing? Do you think he is writing to predominantly Jewish or Gentile believers? See Col 1:27, 2:16-17, and note that the NASB “alienated” in Col 1:21 is the same word translated as “excluded” in Eph 2:12 and 4:18, the only three occurrences of this word in the NT. What two prepositional phrases does Paul use to describe what reconciled them to God? How does each address the false teachings confronting the Colossians? Note: recall that the common belief of the developing philosophy of Gnosticism is that matter, including the flesh is inherently evil; see also 1 Cor 1:23 where the notion that victory could ever come through death was foolishness to Gentiles. For what purpose did Christ reconcile us? See Col 1:22b. What does it mean to be blameless and above reproach? Contrast Rev 2:2-4, 13-15, 19-20. Are we holy, blameless, and above reproach? If the Lord wrote a letter to us acknowledging our virtues, would He yet have something against us? What does it mean to continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast? Are we firmly established in the faith? What is the implication of Paul’s words in these verses if our gospel hope should wane? How would these words have been a warning to the Colossians in light of the false teachings confronting them? What do his words in Col 1:23b teach us about the spread of the gospel within a generation of Christ’s death, and how serious the early disciples took the Great Commission? See also Acts 2:5.
Col 1:24-29 In what sense was Paul suffering for the sake of the Colossians, a church he didn’t found and had never visited? Was he suffering for the churches in Judea in the same way? If he had not taken a stand on behalf of the Gentile Christians would he have been awaiting trial in Rome as he was? What does he mean that there is a lack in regard to Christ’s afflictions for the Church; wasn’t Christ’s suffering sufficient for the redemption of His body? See Mat 10:25, John 15:20, 2 Tim 3:12. What is it that allows one to rejoice in the midst of sufferings as Paul did? See James 1:2-4, 1 Pet 4:1-2. In Col 1:25, for whose benefit in particular was Paul made a minister? What was the mystery that had been hidden but was now manifested through his ministry? See Col 1:27, Eph 3:4-9. To whom was this mystery manifested? See Col 1:26. Is it surprising that those who are not true saints fail to perceive the mysteries of God? See also Rev 1:1. What is the significance of “every man”, which Paul uses three times in Col 1:28? The false teachers confronting the Colossians were claiming that Christ alone was not sufficient to perfect one’s salvation, and to be complete one also had need of additional knowledge and to submit oneself to various aspects of the Jewish law. In what way was this claim similar to those made today by various groups? How does Paul begin to address this claim in Col 1:28? See also Col 2:9-10, 4:12. How does Col 1:28 summarize the various aspects of Paul’s ministry, and provide a perfect job description of any true servant of God? What does Col 1:29 teach us about the hard work of true ministry, the true minister’s source of energy for such labor, and how we should value the labor of true ministers? Note: NASB “labor” refers to burdensome toil, and “striving” comes from the Greek word from which we get our word “agonizing”.