- Lesson 1 in the BaptistWay Press Connect 360 unit “The Fullness of Christ” focuses on Colossians 1:1-8.
Colossae, an ancient city that was a leading commercial center for more than 500 years, lost its preeminence to neighboring Laodicea. Like our multicultural municipal and commercial centers of today, it was a city with many competing and blended religions.
There was even a growing heresy within the early Christian community. Its adherents taught that Jesus was not God in human flesh, but instead, a spiritual emanation that appeared as a human to reveal how one could overcome mental ignorance and the confines of the human body. To that heretical group, knowledge was the key to release from the physical world. The Greek word for knowledge, gnosis, would later give this group its name—the Gnostics.
Paul took the Gnostics on directly throughout this letter to the Colossians, while also giving practical guidance about how to experience and live out fullness in Christ. Although mainstream Christianity has long forgotten Gnosticism, its vestiges have held on and even crept back into the contemporary worldview through philosophies and theologies found in New Age thinking and Hinduism and Buddhism, among others. Paul wrote to affirm the coming of Jesus as divine in human flesh (Colossians 1:19; 2:9) and that we are redeemed entirely, including our physical bodies.
Walking the Christian journey
Paul also wrote about our fullness in Christ and the completion of the spiritual journey—that we are to live worthy lives, bear fruit, grow in the knowledge of God (Col. 1:10), and that we can be brought into fullness in Christ (Col. 2:10). As in his other letters, Paul stated his doctrinal principles in the first half of the letter; then he described how to practically live out Christian lives in the latter half of the Book of Colossians. Though Colossians showcases many theological truths (Jesus: the all-sufficient, supreme, wholly man/entirely God Savior who is the creator, redeemer and sustainer of all things), it offers encouragement and practical steps for us to become completely devoted disciples of Christ.
This beautiful epistle should be read as a challenge and a guide to walk the Christian journey. In other words, Paul told us what to believe and how to behave. In direct opposition, Paul took a swipe at the Gnostics, who focused solely on knowledge, and challenged believers to go beyond mere knowledge and follow the living truth provided by Jesus, who is indeed truth in human flesh (John 1:14 and 14:6).
Compiled by Stan Granberry, marketing coordinator for BaptistWay Press.
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