Devotional Reading: John 1: 1-18
Lesson Scripture: Colossians 1: 15-20
Lesson Aims: To explain Jesus’ supremacy, to accept that the Good News doesn’t need any additions, and to appreciate our redemption through Jesus alone.
Background: At one time in history, Colosse (Colossae) was an important city along the east-west trade route from the east to the Aegean Sea. By the first century AD, its importance had diminished to simply a market town. Paul on his third missionary journey spent three years in Ephesus, converting a few Jews and many Gentiles. This was significant because many of those converts went to other places to share the Word. Epaphras (EP uh frass) was one of them who journeyed to Colosse and started the church there (1:7-8). This early church, like the others, faced the rise of false doctrines. When these false teachings bombarded this church, Epaphras sought Paul’s help. He visited the apostle (still under house arrest) in Rome. That visit was the catalyst for the epistle.
The false teachings were a mixture of Legalism and Gnosticism. Both teachings “added other tenets” to the Good News. Jews spread the idea that certain laws from the Mosaic Law had to be followed or the believers couldn’t have a solid relationship with God. The Gnostics’ ideology was a little more complex. Their premise was some “secret knowledge” was needed along with the notion that the spirit was good while the physical was evil. Simply put, God was spirit and Jesus was human, therefore Jesus could not be the son of God because He was human. This doctrine became more organized during the second century. Paul’s letter refutes both claims!
Lesson: The traditional greeting is given as Paul declares their (his and Timothy’s) blessings for understanding and wisdom from God. Growth in knowledge is understanding God’s will for them. Wisdom, the practical application of knowledge, is seen in a believer’s daily life. Paul’s discourse can be divided into three parts. Paul asserts that Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. Humans have this need “to see.” There are many instances in Scripture where people ask “to see.” They believe seeing is believing. Read John 14: 8-9. Jesus is divine and human at the same time! Because God is Spirit, Jesus gives humanity the opportunity to see the invisible God and believe. Jesus is the firstborn over all creation. This is not order but rank. This means that He was present at creation not that He was created first.
The creation cannot be greater than the Creator. “He made the universe and maintains its order through grace and mercy” (David C. Cook’s Echoes Adult Teacher Commentary). Jesus alone is superior to creation! Secondly, Paul declares that Jesus is the Head of His Body, the church. He alone reconciled humanity to God. Obeying the Law and having secret knowledge couldn’t do it. The Gnostics’ notion that the physical is evil is crushed by the apostle. Jesus died a physical death to redeem. How then could that be evil? While there were others who were raised from the dead, Jesus is the only one to die once. There is no need to add anything to the Gospel; it is complete! Therefore, Jesus is superior in the church. Finally, Paul reminds the church of their Redemption.
Knowing something special and obedience to the Law did not and will not save. The God-man whose blood was shed for the remission of sins is the only Salvation needed! The Gnostic ideology is a fluke because Jesus died in the flesh! That can’t be evil, no matter how you twist it.
Application: Before getting caught up in the “new,” examine it first! That implies that the believer needs to know what the Scripture says. Studying alone is OK but hearing how God reveals Himself to others actually helps you grow too. Don’t follow the crowd! Have you thought they could be wrong? If you are searching for completeness, wholeness, and/or peace; Jesus is the answer, Jesus alone. False doctrine may appear inspiring at first, but it will lose its shine! Be rooted in Jesus who is the real thing. He is supreme over creation, in the church and for redemption. Praise HIM with your life, not just your lips!