Challenge Colossians October-November 2018
A Full-Length Portrait of Christ by Paul
(Christ as Head of the Church)

Introduction

Someone has estimated that “Three Fifths of Colossians is reflected in Ephesians”. Why should we bother studying Colossians, especially after looking at Ephesians recently in our Prison Epistles Challenge Series? Whilst there are many similarities there are contrasts that help make Paul’s meaning clearer. It’s like having a key to understand an obscure Egyptian language. Archaeologists found such a key in 1799 when a French soldier digging defences in Egypt with Napoleon’s army noticed what later was named The Rosetta Stone. This stone had a message in hieroglyphics which was repeated in Ancient Greek. The scholars of the time could read Ancient Greek and could cross reference to crack the hieroglyphic code and unlock the language of the pharaohs. Colossians is The Rosetta Stone of the New Testament. It helps us to understand what Paul was truly thinking when he wrote his letters.

Both Epistles are concerned with the Lordship of Christ and the unity of his body the church. However, in Ephesians the stress is on the church as the body of Christ; whilst in Colossians the emphasis is on Christ as the head of the church.  There is also a difference in style. Colossians is terse and abrupt and specific, whilst Ephesians is more flowing and general. Colossians gives us a full-length portrait of Christ. What is its take home value for the believer? You could say Ephesians teaches us about being new on the inside and Philippians about being joyful on the inside, whilst Colossians teaches us to be strong on the inside.

Paul wrote Colossians during the same period he wrote Ephesians while he was under house arrest about 60 A.D. in Rome. They share, not surprisingly some common themes. We are told in each that Tychicus was the postman for both letters (Ephesians 6:21; Colossians 4:7). They also have the same structure and some chapters seem very similar. However, watching Paul express the same gospel message to two different churches helps us grasp what he means more easily. It’s gives a key to greater understanding, like the Rosetta Stone unlocking an obscure Egyptian language.

Week 1 (8th-12th October) Colossians 1:1-3

Week 2 (15th-19th October) Colossians 1:3-14

Week 3 (15th-19th October) Colossians 1:15-23

Week 4 (29th October-2nd November) Colossians 1:24-29

Week 5 (5th-9th November) Colossians 2:1-15

Week 6 (12th-15th November) Colossians 2:16-23

Week 7 (19th-23rd November) Colossians 3:1-4:1

Week 8 (26th-30th November) Colossians 4:2-18

© 2018 St John the Evangelist, Carlisle
steve@st-johns-carlisle.co.uk