Colossians: Outlines and Notes
Compiled by Bob Young


--Paul had never been to Colossae, 2:1-5, 1:7
--Much of the background of Colossians can be used in a study of Philemon. Why?
--Who were the recipients? Jews? Gentiles?
--The general scheme of the book
--Introductory overview of 1:1-14
--Everything has to do with Jesus (for example, he is our peace, Creator, Redeemer, Reconciler, hope, treasure, life, all in all)

Greek letter form: salutation, laudation, prayer, theme, body
--Thema thematis
--Corpus corporis

Theme of the letter
--He made us qualified
--He freed us
--He transferred us
--We have redemption Tenemos redención [He gave us....]

Outline of the letter
--1:1-14, Introductory
--1:15-23, Christ is the focus
--1:24-2:5, Paul's ministry is focused on Christ
--2:6-19, "Colossian heresy"
--2:20-3:17, If then.... [Compare 2:20 and 3:1)
--3:18-4:1, Regarding groups in Christian households, section about slaves is longer (Philemon, Onesimus)
--4:2-6, final instructions: prayer, advancing the message
--4:7-18, personal notes are extensive and detailed given that Paul has not been to Colossae

"Colossian heresy:" what was it?
--Early Gnosticism?
--Judaism gone awry, excessive?
--Important question is recipients: written to Gentiles, Jews?

Textual observations relevant to the question
--Reflects Hellenized Judaism
--How to harmonize Judaism and Greek philosophy
--Attempts to build an understanding of Christ on the OT and on Greek philosophy

Parallelisms from 2:6-19
--6, Look out that no one deceive you
--16, that no one criticize you
--18, that no one deprive you, take away from you

Based on internal references, we can say at least the following about the "new teachers"
--They offered "spiritual fullness" that had not been experienced previously, a new type of spirituality, a new way of bringing the believers to maturity; the original reception of the gospel had left them as second class citizens without this new experience of fullness.
--They spoke of a new spiritual "liberty." Paul described this as a new form of "slavery."
--They alleged that they had had a personal vision of the invisible powers of evil, with privileges reserved only for a select spiritual elite.
--They had an impressive asceticism (fasting, etc.); but really they had an ineffective history in the battle against self-indulgence.
--They offered an initiation into a deeper "knowledge" and a greater experience of his power.
--They thought of themselves as superior, even critical of, "ordinary Christians."
--They were divisive in their influence on the church; Paul combats this with a call to Christian unity.

Paul combats the heresy in Col. 2:9-19. If the passage reflects the problem, we can assume the following concerning the heretical teachings.
1. It denied that the fullness of the Godhead dwelt bodily in Christ (2:9).
2. It denied that the Christian was complete in Christ (verse 10).
3. It tried to supplement the freedom in Christ by introducing ways of heightening Christian spirituality. Some of the spiritual "add-ons" were circumcision (verses 11-14), defunct principalities and powers (verse 15), eating, drinking, new moons, sabbaths, etc. (verses 16-17), voluntary humility and the worship of angels (verse 18), and various ascetic restrictions (touch not, taste not, etc., culminating in a neglect of the body).


Colossians 1: Notes and Outlines

God and Christ in the creation
--Three causes: primary, instrumental, final
--Creation: timeless, transcendent, Creator

With relation to creation--he reflects or is representation of God, Maker, over all (cf. 3:10-11)
--With relation to cosmos--he reigns, Ruler, over all
--With relation to church--he redeems, head of church, over all
--With relation to cross--he reconciles, in context of the world/cosmos, over all

How we see Christ depends on our view of God.

Description of Jesus in 1:15-18
--This may be an early Christian hymn
--Context is faith, hope and love (1:5); the gospel bearing fruit everywhere (1:5,23)
--Paul's prayer for the Colossian church is for knowledge, wisdom and understanding/insight (1:9-11), leading to four aspects of worthy living (bearing fruit, growing, becoming strong, giving thanks)
--Two spheres are compared: dominion and reign (1:13)
--Jesus delivers, transfers, redeems
--The bookends in 1:14 and 1:20 mention redemption and peace


Colossians 2: Notes and Outlines

--The problem of add-ons--many today want to enhance the Christian experience.
--some (D. Kristoferson) have seen several series of "fives" in Colossians 2, e.g. five sins.
--Seek to worship Christ without the add-ons.
--Remember the significance of Christ--the death, burial, resurrection.
--Single focused commitment is to Jesus Christ.

Through Christian history, there have been many new directions. Paul's instructions to Colossae in 2:19 is "hold fast to the head."
--The whole body depends on the head
--The body is held together from within
--Therefore it grows for God

2:8--these things can easily draw us away
--Empty deceit
--Human tradition (conventional wisdom)
--Elemental spirits (ta stoicheia)
--Anything not according to Christ

2:9-10--How do we know Christ is the answer?
--The other power are "princes"
--The body [of Christ] is/was where the fulness dwells, 1:19
--Also we are fulness bodily [not a Platonic/Cerinthus division], 1:19, 2:9
--Christians come to God's fulness
--Christ is over all else

2:11-12--Following the example of Christ--becoming like Him
--Put off the physical with the spiritual
--Through faith
--Not subject to the body of flesh
--In Christ, sins stripped away in crucifixion

--The believer's flesh is put aside
--The believer is now alive sharing Christ's resurrection
--Christ erases accusing record (OT? other records of wrongs? any kind of record of wrong, every record of wrong)
--Christ nails our indictment to the cross
--Christ defuses the other powers

--Christ nailed the any/every indictment to the cross
--The other powers can no longer accuse
--No need to appease others
--Celebrate God's victory
--The powers have no hold--chemicals, games, computers, pornography, consider any other power and Christ wins!

False requirements
Food, Drink, Festivals, New moons, Sabbaths

--Do not prize the freeing value of regulations
--Rules do not help with resisting powers
--Christ gives freedom
--Regulations do not touch the heart of the matter
--Christ is the solution

False Solutions
--Self-abasement, fasting (see angels through fasting?)
--Worship of angels
--Puff up by human thinking, pride in experience
--Not holding Christ

Five principles
--Christ Jesus crucified controls life
--Excitement detracts from our Christian experience
--Such elements pull the church apart
--In headship the church grows
--Focus on the real power and center

Overview/Outline of Chapter 2
Do not be led astray by distractions...
special gifts....uplifting worship....experience....story preaching....aesthetics....self-improvement, e.g. $, family, regimens, self-help


Colossians 3: Notes and Outlines

Compare 2:20 and 3:1: if you crucified with Christ....if you are risen with Christ
--If you are crucified with Christ, why are still trying to please with these earthly things
--If you are risen with Christ, why are you hanging onto earthly things
--Put off, put on
--Newness has come in Jesus Christ, new creation, new being, new focus
--Jesus Christ is all in all, everything

When Christ is Our Everything.... (Col. 3:1-17)


Colossians 4: Notes and Outlines

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Last updated April 29, 2016