BibleProject New Testament Series - Lesson 18

Colossians - BibleProject

In this lesson on Colossians, we will explore the background and context of the letter, as well as its authorship, occasion, and purpose. We will then analyze the literary structure and theological themes of the letter, including Christology, spiritual maturity, and the new humanity in Christ. Finally, we will discuss the practical implications of Colossians for the church and daily life.

Taught by a Team
Taught by a Team
BibleProject New Testament Series
Lesson 18
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Colossians - BibleProject

I. Introduction to Colossians

A. Authorship

B. Background and Context

C. Occasion and Purpose

II. Analysis of Colossians

A. Literary Structure and Style

B. Theological Themes and Key Passages

1. Christology

2. Spiritual Maturity

3. The New Humanity in Christ

III. Application of Colossians

A. Practical Implications for the Church

B. Living out the Gospel in Daily Life

  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the literary design, purpose, themes, and messages of each book in the New Testament, including the four Gospels, Acts of the Apostles, epistles of Paul, general epistles, and the book of Revelation.
  • You will gain a comprehensive understanding of the book of Matthew 1-13 through this lesson, including the literary design of the book, the flow of thought in each chapter, and the key themes and events. The lesson highlights the importance of Jesus' role in bringing God's kingdom to earth and inviting his disciples into a new way of life.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the Gospel book of Matthew through an overview of the first 13 chapters. You will learn how Matthew presents Jesus as the king who brings God's kingdom to earth, and how his disciples are invited to participate in this new way of life through his death and resurrection. You will also discover the central theme of the kingdom of God in Matthew, its relationship with the Church, and the call to discipleship and obedience.
  • Gain insight into the book of Mark's literary design and flow of thought, as well as Jesus' role as Israel's Messiah, inaugurating God's kingdom through his suffering, death, and resurrection.
  • By studying the Gospel of Luke, you will gain knowledge of the authorship, purpose, themes, and literary features of the Gospel, as well as a deep understanding of Luke 1-2, which narrates the miraculous births of John the Baptist and Jesus and provides models of faith and obedience. You will discover how Luke emphasizes the universality of God's love and the role of the Holy Spirit in empowering Jesus and his followers.
  • Luke's Gospel portrays Jesus as the fulfillment of God's promises told in the Old Testament, bringing the good news of God's kingdom to the poor, teaching his disciples about prayer, trust, and generosity, continuing his mission to the poor and social outsiders, celebrating God's mercy for the lost and the tragic resistance of Israel's leaders, and ultimately dying on the cross as an embodiment of God's love and mercy.
  • In the Gospel of John, the first half of the book tells stories of Jesus performing miraculous signs that lead to controversy, culminating in the raising of Lazarus and his rejection by Israel's leaders, all of which prepare us to understand Jesus as the Messiah, teacher of Israel, and Son of God who offers a new quality of life through belief in Him.
  • You will gain insights into Jesus' ministry and teachings, including the seven signs of Jesus' public ministry and his private ministry, which include the washing of the disciples' feet, farewell discourse, and high priestly prayer.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insight into the introduction and context of the book of Acts, the early church in Jerusalem, and the gospel going to the Gentiles.
  • You will learn about the book of Acts, covering chapters 13-28, which includes Paul's missionary journeys, the Jerusalem Council, and his journey to Rome, and learn about the debates and decisions made by the apostles and elders, as well as gain insights into Paul's ministry and travels.
  • In Paul's Letter to the Romans, he explains how the gospel reveals God's righteousness, creates a new humanity fulfilling God's promise to Israel, and unifies the church, with chapters one through four laying the foundation for understanding the rest of the letter, which emphasizes that all humanity is hopelessly trapped in sin and needs to be rescued through faith in Jesus.
  • In Paul's letter to the Romans, he explores the idea that all humanity is trapped in sin and needs to be rescued through Jesus' death and resurrection, and that being in the family of Abraham means being a part of a new humanity that God is creating through Jesus and the Spirit, with the purpose of rescuing and renewing all of creation.
  • Explore 1 Corinthians to gain insights into complex problems faced by the church and how Paul responds through the gospel. Learn about unity, sexual integrity, love, worship order, and the resurrection as the foundation of hope in the future. Understand the gospel's application to all aspects of life.
  • In 2 Corinthians, you will learn about Paul's efforts to reconcile with the Corinthians, address their forgotten generosity, and confront the "super apostles" who undermine his authority, revealing the paradox of the cross and its implications for a transformed life.
  • You will gain an understanding of the background, context, and content of Galatians, including the false teaching that prompted Paul's letter, his defense of his gospel and authority, the role of the law in God's promise to Abraham, and the importance of living by the Spirit and bearing the fruit of the Spirit.
  • Gain insights into the book of Ephesians, which emphasizes the creation of unified, ethnically diverse communities through devotion to Jesus and each other.
  • This lesson on Philippians will provide you with a comprehensive understanding of its background, authorship, themes, literary features, detailed analysis of each chapter, and significance in Christian theology and impact on the church.
  • By studying Colossians, you will gain understanding of the book's authorship, background, and theological themes such as Christology, spiritual maturity, and the new humanity in Christ and how to practically apply the teachings of Colossians to the church and daily life.
  • By studying this lesson on the book of 1 Thessalonians, you will gain understanding of its background, themes, purpose, literary features, and application. You will learn about the historical and cultural relevance of the book and its personal and spiritual significance for us today.
  • You will gain an understanding of the background, purpose, and themes of 2 Thessalonians, as well as an in-depth exegesis of the text. The application of the book to historical and cultural contexts, as well as its relevance for today, is also explored.
  • This lesson provides comprehensive insights into the book of 1 Timothy, including its background, themes, and significance in the New Testament, such as its contribution to understanding church leadership and worship, the historical context of the early church, and its application for modern church life.
  • In 2 Timothy, Paul writes to Timothy from prison, urging him to stay strong in the face of persecution and to confront corrupt teachers who are causing problems in the church in Ephesus.
  • This lesson on the book of Titus provides a comprehensive understanding of its background, authorship, purpose, structure, themes, and significance, enabling you to appreciate its contributions to the New Testament, its impact on the original audience, and its relevance to the Church today.
  • Gain insights into Paul's letter to Philemon about forgiveness and reconciliation with his runaway slave, challenging assumptions about social justice and inequality, and highlighting Paul's commitment to pastoral care and reconciliation.
  • This lesson on Hebrews covers the authorship, purpose, literary genre, Christology, eschatology, and theology of the book, providing insights into Jesus as the Son of God, High Priest, and Perfect Sacrifice, the concept of Rest, Warning Passages, and the Superiority of Christ and the New Covenant, the Importance of Faith and Obedience, and the Perseverance of the Saints.
  • In the Book of James, you will explore the wisdom of Jesus' teachings and the Book of Proverbs, examining themes such as faith and works, the power of words, wealth, poverty, and wisdom, ultimately learning to live according to the "Perfect Torah of Freedom."
  • Through participating in this lesson, you will learn about 1 Peter, including information on its authorship and date, recipients and purpose, theological themes, literary features, and application. The lesson covers the book's historical and cultural context, as well as its contemporary relevance, and provides insights into how it speaks to topics such as suffering and glory, holiness and ethics, and Christology and salvation.
  • You will gain understanding of the book of 2 Peter, including its authorship, date, and literary context, as well as its theological themes, interpretation, and application. By studying 2 Peter, you will learn about false teachers and their destruction, the day of the Lord, the second coming of Christ, the certainty of God's promises, and the importance of godly living in contemporary Christian life.
  • You will gain knowledge and insight into the letters of John, including their historical and cultural context, authorship, purpose, literary features, themes, and messages, as well as their significance in the New Testament.
  • The book of Jude emphasizes the importance of contending for the Christian faith and exposes corrupt teachers, using both biblical and non-biblical Jewish texts as examples, ultimately highlighting that obedience to Jesus is the true indicator of genuine belief.
  • You will gain a deeper understanding of the book of Revelation, including its historical and literary context, authorship, purpose, and genre, as well as its structure, themes, and images. Additionally, you will be introduced to different interpretive approaches and learn how to apply the book to your personal life, the church, and culture.
  • This lesson provides an understanding of the book of Revelation, including its structure, content, symbolism, interpretive approaches, message, and relevance, helping you to gain insight into the nature of God, the victory of Christ, the role of the church, and the end of history.

BP150-18 - Colossians

Paul's letter to the Colossians. It was written during one of Paul, the Apostles, many imprisonments for announcing Jesus as the risen Lord. And the letters addressed to a group of people that Paul had never met, who made up a church community, that he didn't start this church and callously was started by a coworker of Paul's named Epirus, who was actually from that city and that Profess had recently visited Paul in prison, and he updated him on how well the Colossians were doing overall. But he also mentioned some of the cultural pressures tempting them to turn away from Jesus. And so Paul wrote this letter to encourage the Colossians to address the issues that Apophis had raised and then to challenge them to a greater devotion to Jesus. The letter design and flow of thought are pretty easy to follow. The opening movement focuses on Jesus as the exalted Messiah. Paul then goes on to show how his suffering in prison is for the exalted Jesus, and then he addresses the pressures tempting the cautions to turn away from Jesus. After this, he explores the new way of life that Jesus resurrection opened up for them. So the letter opens with two prayers. Puffers thinks God that he learned from Apophis that the Colossians have been totally faithful to Jesus, showing love for God and their neighbors, all because of the hope they have in the new creation that Jesus has in store. And so he moves on to pray that they would grow in their wisdom and understanding about Jesus. And then Paul has placed a poem here to help the Colossians and us do exactly that. It's the centerpiece of chapter one, a poem all about the crucified and exalted Messiah. It has two parallel stanzas, and it's crammed with language and imagery from the books of Genesis and Exodus from the Psalms and the Proverbs. The first stanza explores how Jesus is the true image of God in Him, the full character and purpose of God as embodied in a human. He's the first born, an Old Testament phrase about Jesus's royal status over all creation. He shares in the very identity of the one true Creator, God, and by him all reality, all powers and authority, spiritual and human have been created. It's in Jesus the Messiah that we discover the very author and king of creation. And so in the second stanza, we discover he's also the one bringing about a new creation. He's the head of a new body, which refers to Jesus as people who are the new humanity, of which His own resurrection existence is a prototype in him. God's glorious temple presence dwells. And so it's through Jesus death and resurrection that God has reconciled himself to humanity, to all spiritual powers, to all of creation. It's a remarkable poem, and Paul will keep referring back to it as he goes on in the letter. So he first shows how the truth of this poem transforms his own experience of suffering in prison. He's being punished for announcing to the Greek and the Roman world that Jesus is the resurrected Lord and King of all. And so his suffering, he thinks, is not a sign of defeat. It's actually his way of participating in Jesus's own suffering, done as an act of love. And so his hardships are actually a cause for joy. He's imprisoned for the surprising news that Israel's resurrected messiah is creating a new, multiethnic family. And more just as the divine glory dwelt in Jesus. So Jesus dwells in and among his international family. Or, as Paul says, the Messiah is in. You are the hope of glory. Paul then addresses the cultural pressures that are tempting the Colombians to turn away from Jesus. They were confronted by a combination of mystical polytheism, along with a pressure to observe the laws of the Torah. So all these new Christians, they had grown up worshiping the various Greek and Roman gods who governed different arenas of human life, and many simply included Jesus as one more deity that they could worship. There was also great pressure from the Jewish Christian community for these non-Jews to complete their commitment to the Messiah by following all of the laws found in the Torah. Specifically, he mentions eating a kosher diet, observing sacred days and circumcision. It's very similar to the problem he addressed in the letter to the Galatians. For Paul to give in to either of these temptations is compromise. It's a failure to grasp who Jesus really is and what he did on their behalf. The Colossians used to live in fear of spiritual powers and elemental spirits, as Paul calls them. But Jesus triumphed over these through his death and resurrection. He freed the Colossians from any obligation to them in the same way Jesus fulfilled on our behalf all of the laws of the Torah, which never had the power to transform the selfish human heart anyway. And so what Jesus did in his life and death and resurrection, it lacks nothing. It doesn't need to be supplemented by following the laws. He is the reality to which all of the laws of the Torah were. Anyway, instead of the laws, followers of Jesus have the power of his resurrection to change them, which is what He goes on to explore. Following Jesus means joining his new humanity because their lives have now been joined to the risen Jesus life. And this is why Paul challenges the Colossians to set their minds on things above where the Messiah is seated or rules that God's right hand. Now, Paul, doesn't mean here. Think about how you'll one day leave Earth and go to heaven. Rather, the heavens are the transcendent place from which Jesus rules now over all of creation. And from there He will one day return here to transform all things. Or, as Paul says, when the Messiah who is your life is revealed, you too will be revealed with Him in glory. So Paul challenges them to live in the present as the kinds of new humans they will one day become. He uses the image of their old humanity characterized by distorted sexuality and destructive speech. For Christians, that humanity died with Jesus and has been replaced by his own new humanity, which is characterized by mercy and generosity, by forgiveness and love and this humanity. It transcends the ethnic and social boundary lines of our world to create and passwords. A people where there is no one Greek or Jewish, circumcised or uncircumcised, slave or free. But the Messiah is all and is in all people. Paul then gets really practical and he shows the Colossians, what this new humanity might look like in a first century Roman household, which was a highly authoritarian institution where the male patriarch held the power of life and death over his wife and children and slaves. Not so in a Christian household. Here, the risen Jesus is the true Lord, and so in the Lord, the wife allows her husband to become responsible for her. And the husband is subject to Jesus by loving his wife and placing her well-being above his own in a home where Jesus is Lord. Children are not objects, but are called to maturity and to respect, and parents are to raise their children with patience and understanding. Christians who are slaves are to honor their human masters precisely because they're not the real master, Jesus says. And Christians who have slaves are to understand that this slave is not their property, but rather a fellow member of Jesus's body to be honored and embraced in love. And Paul's walking a very fine line here. He is reshaping the most basic Roman institution around Jesus, who rules by his self-giving love. And so while he doesn't abolish the household structure outright, the exalted Messiah demands that it be transformed almost beyond the point of recognition for any Roman living in class. You can see this most clearly in the letters. Conclusion after a request for prayer. Paul applies these instructions about Christians, slaves and masters, and we discover that Tica is the one carrying and reading this letter to the Colossians, and he's accompanied by a certain openness. Amis, who was a former slave to a Colombian Christian named VI Leman. And we discover from another letter addressed to Philemon the uneasiness had escaped from his master. It was a crime worthy of imprisonment. But Paul asks the whole church to greet Odysseus as a faithful and beloved brother in the Lord. And then in the letter to Philemon, Paul says that he should receive Odysseus no longer as a slave, but as a brother. Talk about ending the letter with a punch. So in the letter to the Colossians, Paul is inviting us to see that no part of human existence remains untouched by the loving and liberating rule of the risen Jesus, our suffering, our temptation to compromise, our moral character, the power dynamics in our homes, all of it must be reexamined and transformed. We are invited to live in the present as if the new creation really arrived when Jesus rose from the dead. And that's what the letter to the Colossians is all about.