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"Amillennialism 101" -- Audio and On-Line Resources
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"To the Saints in Christ at Colossae" -- Colossians 1:1-14

The First in a Series of Sermons on Paul's Letter to the Colossians

If Paul’s letter to the Colossians has a single theme, it is the Lordship of Jesus over all of creation.  In this letter Paul makes his case that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God, and secures salvation for all of his people through his work of new creation which even now Jesus is ushering in through his death, resurrection, and ascension, and the outpouring of the Holy Spirit.  Paul’s focus upon the person and work of Jesus throughout this epistle will help us (hopefully) prepare for the Advent season and Christmas when we celebrate the birth of that Savior about whom Paul so eloquently writes in Colossians.  Christmas (I mean the biblical and Christian celebration of the birth of Jesus–which should not be confused with the secular holiday celebrated by our contemporaries at the exact same time)–is a wonderful time for Christians and gives us a great opportunity to reflect upon who Jesus is and what he has done for us when he secured our peace with God through the blood of the cross.

Whenever we begin a new study of any book of the Bible it is important to consider three questions: 1). Who wrote this book? 2). When it was written? and 3). Why was it written?  If we do not take the time to do this, we risk missing the main point(s) of the book and open ourselves to error by looking at things out of context or without regard to what this book meant to those to whom it was originally sent.  The reason why this exercise in what is known as New Testament Introduction is so important is that letters like Colossians were written by the Apostle Paul to first century churches facing a number of trials and difficulties.  Sometimes these trials virtually mirror situations we face today.  But sometimes they do not (at least specifically).  The goal in taking the time to ask and answer these three questions is to present the material covered in each book in such a way as to understand the original historical situation and so that we can then draw appropriate application to our situation in light of our unique circumstances.  But we cannot do this properly without answers to the “who,” “when,” and “why” questions–so we will spend our time answering these three questions before turning to the opening verses.

We start with “who wrote Colossians?  The Apostle Paul.  In this case, the “when” question is closely connected to the “who” question, so we will tackle them together.  Colossians is one of the so-called “prison epistles,” which was likely written while the apostle was under house arrest in Rome.  We spent a significant amount of time discussing the impact of Paul’s imprisonment in our just completed series on Philippians, so I will not repeat that discussion here.  The so-called “prison epistles” of Paul also include Paul’s letters to Ephesians (which we covered back in 2009) and the short letter of Philemon.  These four epistles all come from the same point in Paul’s ministry (during his imprisonment in Rome after his third missionary journey) and can be dated about the same time–the early 60's of the first century.  

It is impossible to tell which of these letters was written first (Philippians, or Colossians, Ephesians, and Philemon), but Paul’s mention of Epaphroditus and the gift he brought from the Philippian church is a good indication that Philippians was written on a separate occasion in close proximity to the time he composed the other three prison letters.  The specific situation for Paul’s writing and sending Philippians is Epaphroditus’ return to Philippi after he recovered his health.

To read the rest of this sermon:  Click Here

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