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Peggy Clark is the author of So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome, available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.
This verse by verse reader-friendly study of The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians makes the Scripture meaningful and relevant to the modern-day.
The cultural responsibilities of man have been dictated by God.
In Genesis 1, God blessed mankind and gave commandments concerning His creation.
“Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Mankind was given the garden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2).
Man was given the responsibility of dressing and keeping the garden in which he was placed. The same word dress is also found in Deuteronomy 28:39.
“Thou shalt plant vineyards, and dress them.”
Dress has to do with tilling or preparing the earth to be fruitful. Mankind was given the responsibility to care for the earth in which he was placed.
After man sinned, his responsibility to till the earth was suddenly met with the corruption of sin that confronted him daily.
“Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Genesis 3:18).
“Therefore the LORD God sent him forth from the garden of Eden, to till the ground from whence he was taken” (Genesis 3:23).
Man’s responsibility of tilling the earth remained. He still faced the responsibility of making the earth fruitful even though he would be confronted with the thorns and thistles that the earth brought forth.
Dress also has to do with service. The ground that the man was to dressbelongs to God. As a steward of God’s property, mankind is to “[b]e fruitful and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion.”
Man was given a “helpmeet” to help him fulfill his responsibility.
In order for man (Adam) to be fruitful and multiply, God gave him a helpmeet, a woman.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh” (Genesis 2:24).
Thus marriage and the fruitfulness thereof was instituted by God. Soon after this first marriage, however, man rebelled against God’s authority and thus began the conflict that continues unto this day.
Man within himself continues to struggle against the forces of darkness that wish to lead him in rebellion against God’s authority and in rebellion against the responsibility that God has placed upon mankind.
Man in his natural state wishes to be his own authority. He does not wish to submit to the governing ruler of this universe.
God set the rules for man’s stewardship.
However, as Creator, God has the power and authority to dictate the rules concerning the universe and all that dwell therein.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Colossians 1:16-17).
God set in motion the rules of nature and mankind’s stewardship of the same at the moment of creation.
“[W]hatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap” (Galatians 6:7).
As man continued in his rebellion against God, the sowing brought forth fruit that led to destruction by a great flood. Only Noah and his family remained to once again “be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it.”
As the great conflict continued, God Himself came in flesh to this earth to break the stronghold of sin that held men captive.
“And, having made peace through the blood of [Jesus’] cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled.
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight” (Colossians 1:20-22).
Man’s obedience brings prosperity.
As man submits to God’s authority, accepts His redemptive plan for his life, and follows in obedience to God’s commands, mankind will prosper in his stewardship of that which God has given him.
“And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season” (Psalm 1:3).
Mankind’s obedience dictates the culture.
Man’s submission to God or lack thereof is the basis for the culture in which he lives.
The culture in which man disobeys God’s authority is filled with “fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5).
This culture is in stark contrast to the one in which man obeys God’s directives. The culture that submits to God’s authority lacks anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, cursing, swearing, and racism. (See Colossians 3:8, 11.)
It is filled with mercy, kindness, humility, self-control, longsuffering, forgiveness, and love toward others. (See Colossians 3:12-14.)
In other words, the culture that dressesand serves the Lord is a culture that is filled with righteousness and peace and is exalted by God.
However, the culture that rebels and turns from following God is one that is filled with chaos and reproach.
As mankind submits or rejects God’s authority, he is in effect setting the standards for the culture.
Will those standards be built upon the unchanging “rock” of God’s Word, or will they be set on the “shifting sands” of man’s opinions?
What will be the basis upon which law and order is established?
How will man determine what is truth and justice?
What provision will be made for the “orphan and the widows” of society?
Man’s obedience will be judged.
The outcome of these two differing cultures is fully explained in Deuteronomy 28. It is a must-read for those who wish to understand why societies rise and fall.
However a man decides to follow or reject the responsibility that God has placed upon him, he will be called into question at the Day of Judgment.
How has man stewarded the gifts that God has given him?
Has he sown those gifts in God’s fields and brought forth a harvest for the Lord?
Or has he hidden those gifts in the earth and remained idle with no harvest?
“And he went out about the third hour, and saw others standing idle in the marketplace,
And said unto them; Go ye also into the vineyard, and whatsoever is right I will give you, And they went their way.
And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing idle, and saith unto them, Why stand ye here all the day idle?” (Matthew 20:3-4,6)
Man’s obedience will better society or bring its downfall.
Culture is developed by what mankind sows into it. That culture affects all mankind for his betterment or for his curse.
Every man must accept his own responsibility in the course of that culture. After all, that culture is what he and others around him have sown into it.
Can you have the peace of God and not have peace with God?
Peace: a settled mind, an untroubled heart toward another, not being anxious in the presence of another, safety, feeling secure, to be at one
For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your minds by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister. Colossians 1:19-23
Peace of God
God the Father sent Jesus Christ His Son in the flesh to die on an old rugged cross so that you and I might be reconciled to Him. That reconciliation is possible only because of Christ’s death at Calvary. When we received His gift of reconciliation, we were given the peace of God.
Peace with God
But to maintain peace with God after salvation, we must continue in the faith grounded and settled. We have been given the peace of God, but we must remain in a right relationship with God to have peace with Him.
When a man and woman join themselves in holy matrimony (a covenantal relationship), they are given the blessing of the law in that they are married and are considered as one. They have the peace of that legal relationship as they build a house, make purchases, and enter into business contracts, etc.
However, just because they are married does not mean that they will always be at peace with one another. They must maintain the relationship.
They must work at keeping a right relationship with each other. They must walk together, talk together, dream together, and share in each other’s wishes and desires.
When one spouse grows cold in the relationship, it unsettles the other. Insecure feelings creep into the relationship. Hearts become troubled. They are still married, but they are not at peace.
However, when the two renew the relationship with each other, peace ensues. Insecurity leaves and their hearts are at peace.
It is the same in our relationship with God, our hearts grow cold at times. We move away from our relationship with Him. Our hearts soon become insecure and weary.
God woos us back into a right relationship with Him.
When we allow Him to draw ourselves back to Him, our relationship is renewed. We are at peace once again with Him.
Our conscience does not bother us when we feel His presence. We enjoy hearing His voice. We long to feel Him tug at our hearts. We have communion with Him daily. That is when we have peace with God.
Is your heart troubled?
Do you have the peace of God in a covenantal relationship (salvation)? If He came for you today, would you be ready to go with Him to heaven?
Do you have peace with God?
Is it okay if He interrupts your day with His presence?
Does the preaching of the Word of God bother you about any area in your life?
Is there anything that is hindering your relationship with Him? Confess those areas to Him and allow Him to cleanse you and to renew your fellowship with Him.
Yes, you can have the peace of God and not have peace with God.
But wouldn’t you rather have the peace of Godand enjoy peace with God?
Have you received Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior? If not, you can experience the peace of God when you call upon His name and receive Him into your heart.
Seek Him while He may be found.
Call upon Him while He is near.
Receive Him and be forgiven of all your sin.
Enjoy your relationship with Him.
If you have any questions, feel free to leave a comment below.
In Paul’s letter to the Colossians, he mentions three positions: servant, prisoner, and worker.
He attaches fellow to the beginning of each of these three positions to show that he and those whom he fellows with are under the same master.
Please notice that these fellow terms are used in the King James Version as compound words. You will also see that usage in the following.
The fellowservants Paul mentions in particular are Epaphras and Tychicus.
These men were used as messengers of the Lord declaring the news that was relayed between Paul and the Colossian brethren. They were both described by Paul as faithful ministers to those whom they served. (Col. 1:7, 4:7)
The term fellowservant is also used in Revelation 19:10 and in Revelation 22:9 indicating messengers who were also serving Christ.
The fellowprisoner Paul mentions in particular is a man named Aristarchus. This would signify that even though Aristarchus and Paul were both prisoners of Christ, they were also prisoners of Rome and held within the same structure. (Col. 4:10)
Epaphras, who is not mentioned in this particular letter as a fellowprisoner, was noted by Paul to be a fellowprisoner in Christ Jesus in Paul’s letter to Philemon.
Although not mentioned in his letter to the Colossians, Paul does mention two other men as fellowprisoners in his letter to the Romans (16:7).
These men’s names are Andronicus and Junia. They were Jewish men who were saved before Paul and were noted as being greatly loved by the apostles.
The fellowworkers that are mentioned in particular are Tychicus, Onesimus, Aristarchus, Marcus, and Jesus (called Justus). Marcus is elseward called John Mark. These men were commended for having been a comfort to Paul. (Col. 4:7-11)
Luke the physician and Demas are mentioned in verse 14. Although not included in the above verses, these men are mentioned as fellowlaborers in Paul’s letter to Philemon (vs. 24). The terms fellowworker and fellowlaborer are both derived from the same Greek word meaning co-laborers.
These men were possibly the only men that were engaged with Paul in the labor of the gospel at the time of his writing the last chapter of this letter.
I hope that each of these posts are a help to you as you study The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians.
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You will also find my reader-friendly commentary on The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians to be helpful in your study of this amazing letter. So, What's the Latest News? Messages from a Prisoner in Rome is available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan; Amazon; Barnes & Noble, as well as other online retailers.
Your reviews and comments are welcome.
True liberty cannot be enjoyed by a people who do not recognize the sovereignty of Almighty God.
It is God and God alone who has absolute authority over the affairs of men.
The Institutions of Home, Church, and Government
It is God who rules in the Heavens and the Earth, who has created the Laws of Nature, and who has instituted the home, Church, and government as societal institutions under His authority.
“For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him.” Colossians 1:16
To protect these institutions, God gave laws governing the conduct of each.
“Therefore shall a man leave his father and mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh.” Genesis 2:24
“And you, be ye fruitful, and multiply; bring forth abundantly in the earth, and multiply therein.” Genesis 9:7
Mankind was to exercise dominion over the earth.
The responsibility of the institution of family is one of reproduction. The display of government in the home is also a reflection of God and His glory.
The rejection of God’s laws concerning the home is a rejection of not only God’s sovereignty but a rejection of God Himself.
“And they said, Moses suffered to write a bill of divorcement, and to put her away. And Jesus answered and said unto them, For the hardness of your heart he wrote you this precept. But from the beginning of the creation God made them male and female. And they twain shall be one flesh: so then they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.” Mark 10:5-6, 8-9
The Church (local body of Christ) as instituted by God has also been given an important role in society.
Under God’s direction, the Church is to provide moral and spiritual guidance.
It is also to give instruction and provision for worship and fellowship.
“And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence.” Colossians 1:18
In rejecting God’ssovereignty over the church, man is declaring himself to be sovereign.
The deception of a man’s heart will lead him to follow vain philosophies and traditions.
His unrealistic view of life will cause him to blame his environment, government, or other factors as the cause for the complications and consequences of his uncontrolled desires. He will not see himself as a sinner in need of a Saviour.
“Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.” Romans 13:1-2
Not only did God institute the home and the Church, He also instituted civil government.
“For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil.” Romans 13:4
Civil governments were instituted by God to restrain evil.
The law is a schoolmaster to show us clearly our sinful natures. That law is based on God’s natural laws and the laws or principles as given in His Word, the Scriptures.
God’s laws do not change according to man’s desires. They remain the same.
When man rejects God’s sovereignty in this area, he will create his own laws. Those laws will change as his desires change. He, therefore, will lose respect for present law and for those whose duty it is to implement that law.
Refusing to adhere to God’s laws, society will continue in a downward spiral. The continued lack of respect for godly authority will give way to ungodly authority and that society’s eventual downfall.
“But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.” Colossians 3:25
True liberty comes as we subject ourselves to the commandments of God concerning the three areas He has instituted for society.
As families follow God’s principles for the home, families will be blessed. Wives and children will be protected.
As local churches follow God’s instructions for evangelism, worship, fellowship, and guidance, families and communities will grow stronger.
As civil governments and civil servants follow God’s mandate for the implementation and obedience to God’s unchanging standard concerning good and evil, society will be safer.
“He that followeth after righteousness and mercy findeth life, righteousness, and honour.” Proverbs 21:21
“And he is before all things, and by him all things consist.” Colossians 1:17
True liberty can be experienced by all men as they submit themselves to God’s sovereignty and divine will.
For further study in Colossians, a great resource is So, What's the Latest News: Messages from a Prisoner in Rome. This title is available from WestBow Press, a division of Thomas Nelson & Zondervan.
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Use the discovery method to engage your students in Bible study class.
Asking questions can stimulate discussion which encourages participation.
Below are some sample questions to stimulate discussion as you cover the following verses found in Colossians.
Be prepared to share other applicable Scripture references to aid students in discovering the truths of God’s word.
And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled
In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight.
According to the above verses, what was the condition of your past relationship with God?
Where did your battle with God originate?
According to the above verses, what is your present standing with God?
How is reconciliation made possible?
According to the above verses, if you have received reconciliation, what will be your future condition as you stand before God?
Where did reconciliation take place? through what process?
Are you reconciled to God? How do you know?
Do wicked works cause battles in the mind?
Do wicked works cause separation in relationships?
How do wicked works cause people to be enemies of each other?
How did wicked works cause enemity with God?
Creating a list of sample questions on a particular section of scriptures and preparing a list of reference verses to aid in the understanding of those verses will help you facilitate a learning environment where students can feel comfortable in sharing their ideas and questions.
Allowing the students to find the answers themselves will increase their learning and retention of Biblical truths. Using this discovery method will aid in facilitating that learning.
After hearing of the establishment of the church at Colosse, Paul’s response, as recorded in The Epistle of Paul the Apostle to the Colossians, was not to immediately begin making preparations for a series of sermons to be delivered; but rather his focus was on the spiritual needs of the body of Christ in order to further stabilize them and increase their knowledge and discernment of the things of God.
Paul’s First Response
Paul’s first response was to get a “word” from God.
In Colossians 1, we see that the “word” Paul received began with a message of grace and peace. His response in seeking God continued as he did not cease to pray.
Paul’s prayers revealed his desire for the Colossians — that they might be filled with the knowledge of [God’s] will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; and [t]hat [they] might walk worthy of the Lord.
Paul obviously saw his main duty toward men as instructional.
He followed Christ’s example in that Christ set about training and developing disciples who would then take the gospel message to the world.
Paul was seeking to build saintly men who would further seek to train saintly men who would continue the pattern.
Paul’s letter to the Colossians is filled with instruction born not from Paul’s mind but from the mind of God. It was Paul’s prayer life that brought forth God’s Word that was revealed to the saints at Colosse.
Man of Prayer
The preacher is first and foremost called to be a man of prayer.
The preacher’s communication with God brings forth the “word” from God that is needful for his congregation for it is God and God alone who knows what is in the heart of men and what message is needed to facilitate change desired by God. The preacher relies on God as the only One that can give the wisdom and discernment needed to deliver that message.
Revealed By Prayer
When the preacher mounts the pulpit, his message conveys whether or not he has been in communication with God. In other words, a strong prayer life reveals the true preacher.
Revealed By His Message
The message given from the pulpit must be doctrinally accurate. Much time must be given to study God’s Word so that truth will be conveyed both by the preacher’s manner of life and manner of speech.
Paul’s example as a great man of prayer and as a man of the Word is the example of the “preacher” that is desperately needed today.
Whereunto I also labour, striving according to his working, which worketh in me mightily.