Aug 27, 2017

Mature in Christ: Life Group Study 1

BACKGROUND:

Colossae was a town which would today be located in Turkey. The Colossian Church was started by a man named Epaphras. Paul never visited the town, but he preached in the towns nearby. Epaphras probably heard Paul in Ephesus since Paul preached there for three years.

Paul, however, wrote this letter because there were some false teachers and teachings infiltrating the Church. Though the exact nature of the false teachings isn’t known, a survey of the religious culture of the city is helpful. The non-Jewish population practiced a religion that was a hybrid of Greco-Roman paganism and Middle Eastern magic. Spells were sold by pagan temples to ward off evil spirits.

The Jewish population, though still focused on the need to keep the Jewish law and festivals, began to take on elements of this mysticism. They began to wear magic amulets that called upon the Hebrew angels (Michael, Gabriel, etc.) to protect them from evil spirits.

So, the false teaching infecting the Church was the hybrid of traditional Jewish theology and practice with the use of “magic” that called upon angels for protection. Both of these positions strayed from the Gospel. The result of this incorrect teaching was that the church’s members were not loving each other as Christ loved them, and new members were not saved because they had not been taught the true Gospel.

LITERARY CONTEXT:

This passage (1:1-14) is the introduction of Paul’s letter to the Church in Colossae (and neighboring Laodicea; see 4:16).  Paul always began his letters by introducing himself, assuring the addressee of his love and prayers, and a brief statement of his main message. He then uses the rest of the letter to develop his message and give practical applications.


Scripture | Colossians 1:1-14

  1. Why do you think Paul introduces himself in this way? Why do you think Paul calls the Colossians ""saints and faithful brothers"? — Verses 1-2
  2. What three spiritual attributes of the Colossians does Paul highlight in these verses? Why? — Verses 3-5a
  3. What evidence does Paul give here that the Gospel teaching the Colossians received is the true and complete truth about Jesus? — Verses 5b-8 These verses (along with 2:6) are considered the "thesis statement" of Colossians
  4. What do you think Paul is trying to tell the Colossians here? Why? How might this be good news to them?  — Verses 9-10
  5. What does Paul pray the Colossians will be "strengthened" with? Why do you think he prays this for them? — Verse 11
  6. What does Paul instruct to Colossians to "give thanks" for? Why do you think he brings these things they should be thankful for to their attention? — Verses 12-14
  7. How is your situation like that of the Colossians?
  8. What parts of this passage comfort and encourage you? Why?
  9. What parts of this passage challenge and instruct you? Why?
  10. How can this passage help a you love a Christian brother or sister?
  11. How can this passage help a non Christian you live, work, play, or learn with?