“Without a father, there is no loving.
Without a way, there is no going.
Without the truth, there is no knowing.
Without life, there is no living.
Follow Me because I am the way, the truth, the
life, and the bridge to our heavenly Father.”
Someone else made this accurate observation: “To
tie Jesus Christ to the very best human system is to tie
a star, light years distant, to a dead horse here on
Neither the star nor the Messiah will be bound” (Bayly).
But some false teachers would soon be trying to
depreciate Christ and tie the Christians of Colosse to
their own human system.
Let's get some quick background to the letter that Paul
wrote to the members at Colosse.
Colosse was not a very big city, and it was sort
of off the beaten path.
When Paul was preaching in Ephesus, he switched from
using the synagogue as a base of operation to using a
school, and with good results said Dr. Luke in Acts
19:10: “And this continued for two years, so that all
who dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both
Jews and Greeks.”
One of Paul's disciples at this time was a man
named Epaphras, and Paul gives him credit in 1:7 for the
founding of the congregation in Colosse.
In fact, Paul says that the members of the church
in Colosse have never met him (2:1), but he prays for
them and writes to them to encourage them to remain true
to what they have been taught and to warn them against
If Paul was teaching in Ephesus around 53 AD and
if he wrote this letter around 62 AD while a prisoner in
Rome, we see that the church in Colosse was not even a
decade old; its converts from paganism certainly needed
to be grounded in their faith and urged to continue as
followers of Christ towards maturity.
In fact, this is exactly what Paul does.
Paul begins the
letter in 1:9-12 by praying for this group's spiritual
growth. Then notice what he says in 1:28: “Him we
preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all
wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ
For the goal of the future glory mentioned in verse
27, Paul says that he warns and teaches all that we
might present every person perfect, or mature, or
complete in Christ Jesus!
And Paul notes also at the close of the book that
Epaphras is seeking the same thing for this group in
4:12: “Epaphras, who is one of you, a bond-servant of
Christ, greets you, always laboring fervently in
prayers, that you may stand perfect and complete in all
the will of God.”
We have seen how the theme of Revelation was “Be
And the theme of Mark was “Be evangelistic!”
In Colossians, the theme is “Be mature!”
With that background, let's move now to another passage,
which will introduce for us the topic of today's sermon.
Let's go to 2:4: “Now this I say lest anyone
should deceive you with persuasive words.
For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am
with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and
the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.”
Paul doesn't want these steadfast members at
Colosse to be deceived and led astray.
“As you therefore have received Christ Jesus
the Lord, so walk in Him, rooted and built up in Him and
established in the faith, as you have been taught,
abounding in it with thanksgiving.”
When you were converted and made Jesus the Lord
of your lives, continue to follow and to walk in His
commands; remain rooted in Him and strengthened by Him.
Keep to what you have been taught, and continue
to be thankful for God's grace.
“Beware lest anyone cheat you through
philosophy and empty deceit, according to the traditions
of men, according to the basic principles of the world,
and NOT ACCORDING TO CHRIST!” Don't let anyone lead
you astray with their human system and tie you to
worldly wisdom based on men's traditions or the world's
They are depreciating, dethroning, and
downplaying Christ when they do this!
“For in Him [Jesus] dwells all the fullness of
the Godhead bodily; and you are complete in Him, who is
the head of all principality and power.”
Jesus is divine—all the fullness—doesn't sound
like anything is lacking—of God and the Spirit can be
seen in His earthly life.
And you can be complete or mature in Him; you
don't need anyone or anything else.
The all-sufficient Christ is a major theme in
One scholar states: “... you will not be able to miss
Paul's primary emphasis on the absolute supremacy of
Christ over all things. ... Paul argues that Christ is
the key to everything they need.
All that God is ever going to do in and for the
world has happened in and through Him” (Fee 361).
Another writer said it like this: “The answer to
the heresy lay not in extended argument, but in a
positive presentation of the person of Christ.
Paul pointed out that all philosophies, spiritual
powers, ceremonial observances, and worldly restrictions
were secondary to the preeminence of Christ” (Tenney
is it that makes Christ all-sufficient, supreme, and
The apostle Paul goes to great lengths to spell this out
in this letter because he wants these brethren to
understand without the shadow of a doubt that Christ
should be the supreme focal point of their lives.
Let's look quickly this morning at 8 descriptions
that Paul gives concerning Him.
First of all, let's go to 1:15-16 where we see a
description of Christ as Creator: “He is the image of
the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
For by Him all things were created that are in
heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible,
whether thrones or dominions or principalities or
things were created through Him and for Him.”
teachers were going to try “to remove Jesus Christ from
the topmost niche and to despoil him of His uniqueness”
(Barclay 57), but Paul takes the approach of showing
Christ in all His splendor!
“... to call Jesus the image of God is to say
that Jesus is the perfect portrait of God.
If you wish to see what God looks like, look at
“... when Jesus Christ is called the firstborn of
all creation, it does not mean that he was the first
created person to be born; [it means] that to Him God
has assigned the first place, the lordship, the
sovereignty of all creation” (Barclay 59).
“... Christ [was] God's agent in creating all
that [exists]” (Weed 48).
“[Paul] first uses the Jewish concept of the
heavens and the earth and then uses the Greek concept of
the visible and invisible ... [to show] that everything
[was] created [by] Christ” (Weed 49).
“For Paul, the [dominions, principalities and]
'powers' were unseen [evil] forces working in the world
through pagan religion, or astrology, or magic, or ...
oppressive systems [to tyrannize] human beings” (Wright
72), and his point was that “Christ [created] the very
beings which the [false teachers would be trying to get
the Christians at Colosse to worship]” (Weed 49).
“Fair is the sunshine, fairer still the moonlight
and all the twinkling starry hosts. Jesus shines
brighter, Jesus shine purer than all the angels heaven
can boast (Willis)!” Christ—the Creator!
Now let's read the next verse: “And He is before all
things, and in Him all things consist.” Six hundred
years before Christ, there was a Grecian philosopher in
Ephesus named Heraclitus who saw that the world was in a
continual state of flux.
He taught that you could never step into the same
river twice because things were constantly changing.
Yet, he also observed that nature had a reliability
about it—the four seasons followed a predictable
sequence, the sun always rises in the east, every
species gives birth to the same species.
So besides the principle of flux, there was also
the principle of stability, which he called the Logos,
signifying divinity, or a Divine Mind.
Paul affirmed: “Yes, Jesus is that mind of God!”
Jesus did not set the world going and then leave it to
its own devices (Barclay 62).
“In effect, Paul designates Christ as the
principle of cohesion which presently upholds the
universe and gives it order and design.
The universe is continually being sustained by
Christ as the One who causes it to be '[a] cosmos and
not [a] chaos'” (Weed 51).
This truth also shows us that behind the
universe, there is not a cynical power that mocks men,
but a benevolent power that often mourns for men.
It also shows us that “No creature is autonomous.
All are [Christ's] dependents” (Wright 73)!
“Lord of all being throned afar, Thy glory flames
from sun and star.
Center and soul of every sphere, yet to each
loving heart how near” (Holmes)!
Now let's read verse 18: “And He is the head of the
body, the church, who is the beginning, the firstborn
from the dead, that in all things He may have the
Having shown Christ's relationship to the old
creation—the world, [Paul] then shows His relationship
to the new creation—the church (Weed 51).
The pronoun “He” is in an emphatic position.
Precisely, HE who is over the cosmos also rules
over the church (Weed 51)!
Jesus not only unites the universe but also
people as well because the church is the only place
where [people] of all classes and conditions [can] meet
together (Barclay 64).
The word “head” indicates rule and authority over
all others; “Paul continues to destroy any possible
understanding of Christ's role in God's plan which would
allow room for other mediators” (Weed 53).
“To be in Christ is to be at the same time
incorporated into His body, the church,” and this also
shows Christ's strength to empower His followers [with]
new life” (Weed 52).
This new life is based on His resurrection; both
a new age and new hope has dawned (Wright 74)!
The word “firstborn” guarantees us that more
children will be raised from the dead one day!
Because of His obedience to endure the cross,
Christ now sits at God's right hand with a name above
all names (Phil. 2:9)!
He is the preeminent One reigning over all
“Crown Him the Lord of life, who triumphed o'er the
grave, who rose victorious in the strife for those He
came to save” (Trhing)! Christ—the Ruler.
Now let's read verses 19-23: “For it pleased the
Father that in Him all the fullness should dwell, and by
Him to reconcile all things to Himself, by Him whether
things on earth or things in heaven, having made peace
through the blood of His cross. And you, who once were
alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet
now He has reconciled in the body of His flesh through
death, to present you holy, and blameless, and above
reproach in His sight—if indeed you continue in the
faith, grounded and steadfast, and are not moved away
from the hope of the gospel which you heard, which was
preached to every creature under heaven, of which I,
Paul, became a minister.”
Behind the resurrection stands a divine
purpose, and that purpose is then explained as
reconciliation (Wright 75).
The fullness of divinity dwells in Christ, but so
does the fullness of humanity.
Thus, He is the perfect reconciler and mediator
between God and man.
Christ, as God's perfect sacrificial lamb, shed
His blood in order to bring peace once again between God
Notice how Paul describes the members of Colosse before
their conversions in verse 21: alienated, enemies, full
of wicked works.
Then we have those two great words—YET NOW—which
shows that God's new covenant went into effect at Jesus'
death, and through the body of His flesh (not the body
of His church), the members at Colosse were reconciled
God's friendship with people was renewed because their
sins no longer separated them from Him!
In fact, notice how Jesus' reconciliation caused
the members at Colosse to be seen by God as holy,
blameless, and above reproach!
The Colossian brethren enjoyed that righteousness
when Paul wrote!
Paul was not talking about some future
They were already acceptable to God if they would
be steadfast in the faith and not be moved away by false
Paul then continues that it is through the Gospel's
message preached to all that God continues to reconcile
the world to Himself!
“Have your affections been nailed to the cross?
Do you count all things for Jesus but loss?
Is your heart right with God, washed in the
crimson flood, cleansed and made holy, humble and lowly,
right in the sight of God” (Hoffman)?
Now let's read 2:11-13: “In Him you were also
circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, by
putting off the body of the sins of the flesh, by the
circumcision of Christ, buried with Him in baptism, in
which you were also raised with Him through faith in the
working of God, who raised Him from the dead.
And you, being dead in your trespasses and the
uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together
with Him, having forgiven all your trespasses.”
The word “circumcision” may make us feel somewhat
uncomfortable since it is so graphic, but Paul is
affirming something very important.
The brethren at Colosse had not experienced
physical circumcision, but a spiritual circumcision.
Their foreskins had not been cut off, but Christ
had cut off the sins of their flesh! You see, when a
person becomes a Christian, some radical surgery takes
place, and all of one's old sins are forever separated
Well, when does that occur?
Paul says at baptism.
Christ was buried and resurrected, and the same
thing happens to us at baptism.
We are dead in our trespasses, but then we are
buried with Jesus, and we are made alive together with
Him by God's power, and our trespasses are forgiven!
That word “forgiven” means that the debt that we
owed God has been cancelled or remitted.
Jesus not only performs surgery but also pays our
debts! That's the ultimate bail out!
One commentator correctly notes the following
about baptism: “The man [to be baptized] had made a
tremendous and momentous decision.
He had stepped out of paganism into Christianity.
... to enter the church was the biggest decision a man
could make” (Barclay 90).
“... it was a thrilling moment.
He descended into the water; it closed over him;
it was like a symbolic burial.
He emerged from the water; he saw the light
again; it was like a new life. ... he felt that he had
shared the very death and resurrection of his Lord”
“He took my burdens all away up to a brighter
gave me a song to sing about; He lifted me from sin and
praise His name; He is our King!
A wonderful song He is to me! Christ—the
Creator, Sustainer, Ruler Reconciler, Savior!
Now let's read 2:14: “Having wiped out the
handwriting of requirements that was against us, which
was contrary to us.
And He has taken it out of the way, having nailed
it to the cross.”
What could accuse the Jews of their sinfulness?
It was the Law, wasn't it?
But notice what Christ has also done.
“Ancient ink was very black, and it lasted for a
very long time; but in it there was no acid; it
therefore did not at all bite into the paper.
It did not need to be erased, to be rubbed or
scraped off; it could be sponged off; and so part of the
scribe's equipment was a sponge with which he simply
wiped off the paper that which he wished to delete or
This is the word that Paul uses.
The [requirements of the Law] that stood against
us [were] sponged away and obliterated” (Barclay 79).
In the ancient world, “... when a decree became
obsolete and ... was no longer operative [or] cancelled,
it was fixed to a public notice board and a nail was
driven through it to show that it no longer had any
force. ... the accusing record [was] crucified [too with
Christ and] ... its reign and its demands are ended”
That which could accuse the Jews has now been
wonderful Savior is Jesus My Lord; He takes my burden
holds me up and shall not be moved; He gives me strength
as my day” (Crosby)!
Now let's read verse 15: “Having disarmed
principalities and powers, He made a public spectacle of
them, triumphing over them in it.”
What could accuse the Gentiles for their
It was all the evil forces that influenced them, wasn't
notice again what Christ has done.
“When the 'powers' had done their worst,
crucifying the Lord of glory [behind the scene] on the
charge of blasphemy and rebellion, they had overreached
He, neither blasphemer nor rebel, was in fact their
rightful Sovereign. They thereby exposed themselves for
what they were—usurpers of the authority which was
The cross therefore becomes the source of hope
for all who had been held captive under their rule,
enslaved in fear and mutual suspicion.
Christ breaks the last hold that the 'powers' had
over His people by dying on their behalf” (Wright 116),
and He leads these defeated enemies before the world now
as a victorious general (Weed 75)!
That which could have accused the Gentiles has
“Bearing shame and scoffing rude, in my place
condemned He stood, sealed my pardon with His blood!
What a Savior!”
Now let's read 3:1-4: “If then you were raised with
Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ
is sitting at the right hand of God.
Set your mind on the things above, not on things
on the earth.
For you died, and your life is hidden with Christ
in God. When Christ who is our life appears, then you
will appear with Him in glory.”
“Paul has just drawn out the implications of
[having died] with Christ (2:20-23); ... Now he draws
out the implications of also [having] risen with Christ”
This passage shows us that the Christians' lives
are eternal looking, peaceful looking, upward looking,
and forward looking.
Christians view life from an eternal perspective
and know that those things which are truly lasting are
those things associated with heaven; this outlook helps
us to keep our priorities on earth straight.
With the sovereign Jesus now reigning over all
the universe, the Christians look with confidence to the
future because they know that He is in control.
Christians keep their eyes upward and do not focus so
much on this world that their thoughts, ambitions, and
plans become absorbed by it; they seek the heavenly over
the earthly. Jesus' return keeps Christians looking
forward because when He returns their existence will be
changed and become glorified like Christ's existence!
“After pain and anguish, after toil and care,
thru the endless ages joy and blessing share.
We shall see the King some day; we will shout and
sing some day.
Gathered around His throne when He shall call His
own, we shall see the King someday” (Jones)!
Someone tells how a visitor to a great art gallery saw
one of the cleaners at work polishing the floor.
“Good morning,” he said, “there are some very
wonderful pictures in this gallery.”
“I suppose there are,” the cleaner answered, “if
a body had the time to look up.”
Surrounded by beauty, she was so busy with the
floor that she never looked up.
That's a parable for us as well. Surrounded by
business, have we really stopped to contemplate the
beauty of Christ?
Paul did, and he wanted the believers at Colosse
to do the same.
He describes for them the all-sufficient Christ
who is above all rivals—the Creator, the Sustainer, the
Ruler, the Reconciler, the Savior, the Remover, the
Conqueror, the Transformer!
God has given Him the supremacy, but have you?
Is Jesus your Lord?
Have your sins been cut off and forgiven through
your burial and resurrection with Him in baptism?
Has He brought transformation to your life so
that you have that eternal, peaceful, upward, and
forward looking perspective for life?