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Summary of Paul's Letter to the Colossians

By H. A. "Buster" Dobbs

I.  Introduction.
    A.  The primary purpose of this letter was to guard the church 
        against the false teachers of false philosophy.
        1.  The first half of the letter is doctrinal (1:12 to 2:23).
        2.  The second half of the letter is practical (3:1 to 4:18).
    B.  Greeting and gratefulness for their faith (1:1-2).
        1.  The letter was from Paul, an apostle of Jesus, and Timothy, 
             the brother (1:1).
        2.  To the saved and the faithful in the city of Colossae, a city of 
             Asia Minor near the town of Laodicea (1:2).
        3.  He wishes for them grace and peace from Jehovah and from 
             Jesus (1:2).
    C.  Paul's prayer for them (1:3-11).
        1.  Thanksgiving for their faith and love for the saints (1:3-4).
        2.  Thankful for the hope of an eternal reward (1:5).
        3.  The gospel was the foundation of the hope of future reward 
        4.  The gospel had come to Colosae and to all the world (1:6).
        5.  The gospel brings forth the fruit of the knowledge of the 
            grace (gifts) of God (1:6).
            a.  Their faithful preacher was Epaphras (1:7).
            b.  Paul had learned about the church in Colosae from 
                Epaphras (1:8).
        6.  Paul prayed they might:
            a.  Be filled with knowledge, spiritual wisdom, and 
                understanding (1:9).
            b.  Walk worthily of the Lord (1:10).
            c.  Bear fruit in every good work (1:10).
            d.  Be strengthened with all power (1:11).
            e.  Be patient and longsuffering with joy (1:11).
II.  Doctrinal Part of the Letter (1:12 to 2:23).
     A.  Exhortation to be thankful for salvation (1:12-29).
         1.  The Father made us sufficient to partake of heaven (1:12).
         2.  The Father translated the saved out of the world of sin, and 
             into the kingdom of his dear Son (1:13).
         3.  In Christ is forgiveness of sins (1:14).
         4.  Jesus is: (1:15-19).
             a.  The image of the invisible God (1:15).
             b.  The firstborn of all creation (1:15).
             c.  Creator of all things (created through and unto him) 
             d.  Before all things (eternal) and by him all things stand 
                 together (1:17).
             e.  Head of the church (1:18).
             f.  Preeminent--to be first (1:18).
             g.  God in the completeness of his being (1:19).
     B.  The great blessing of reconciliation in Jesus is made known 
         through the gospel (1:20-23).
         1.  Through Jesus, the Father changes the sinner from enemy 
             to friend (reconciles the lost). Men are invited to be 
             reconciled to Jehovah--to change their attitude, and accept 
             the provision God had made (1:20).
             a.  The reconciliation is by the blood of the cross (1:20).
             b.  The result of reconciliation is peace (1:20).
         2.  The lost are corrupt in mind and evil in works (1:21).
         3.  The sinner may come back to God and be made holy, 
             without blemish and unreprovable by Jesus' death on the 
             cross (1:22).
         4.  It is necessary to continue in the faith (1:23).
             a.  Grounded in the hope of the exciting news of salvation 
             b.  The gospel was preached throughout the world (1:23).
     C.  The service and persecution of Paul (1:24-29).
         1.  Paul rejoiced in his suffering because it served the highest 
             interest of the church, which is Jesus' body, for which Paul 
             gladly faced afflicted (1:24).
         2.  Paul served sinners because of the stewardship given to him 
             according to the will of God (1:25).
         3.  The revealed mystery is that God is willing to save all the 
             nations--not just the Jews (1:26-29).
             a.  Christ is also in the Gentiles as the hope of glory (1:27).
             b.  Paul preached Jesus to all men that all might be made 
                 complete in Christ (1:28).
             c.  Paul labored--toiled to the point of weariness--to teach 
                 the whole world the truth of the gospel (1:29).
     D.  Exhortation to steadfastness (2:1-10).
         1.  The importance of the subject (2:1-7).
             a.  The apostle loved the lost and sought their salvation--
                 even those he had never met (2:1).
             b.  Paul wanted them to have comfort, love, and the full 
                 assurance that the gospel is for all (2:2).
             c.  In Christ all spiritual wisdom and knowledge is deposited 
             d.  Do not let false teachers fool you with their fair speech 
             e.  Though I cannot be with you physically, I think of you 
                 and am happy because you have a clear-headed 
                 understanding, and therefore, have a strong foundation 
             f.  Stay with the truth you received (2:6-7).
         2.  Warning against false teachers (2:8-10).
             a.  There is an ever-present danger of being spoiled by those 
                 who claim to love truth, but follow empty words, the 
                 teaching of men, and all that is opposed to God (2:8).
             b.  In Christ is the fullness of perfection and the government 
                 of deity. If you have Christ--the gospel--you do not need 
                 any other teaching.  The fullness of the divine is in Jesus 
             c.  In Christ you have full perfection (2:10).
     E.  You have everything you need in Christ (2:11-15).
         1.  In Christ you have a circumcision not made with hands 
             a.  This circumcision is the putting off of the sinful body of 
                 the flesh (2:11).
             b.  It is the work of Christ (not the work of man--not made 
                 with hands) (2:11).
         2.  The circumcision not made with hands--putting off the body 
             of flesh--occurred in baptism (2:12).
             a.  It is a co-burial and a co-ressurrection--you are buried 
                 with Christ and you are raised with Christ (2:12).
             b.  This is accomplished because of your faith in the work 
                 God does in your burial and resurrection (2:12).
         3.  You were dead in sin, but are now alive in Christ (2:13).
         4.  Gentiles are saved without submitting to the Jewish law 
             a.  The bond written in ordinances that opposed Gentiles and 
                 preferred Jews, is removed (2:14).
             b.  Jesus nailed that Old Covenant to his cross (2:14)
         5.  Jesus gives both Jew and Gentile victory over the devil and 
             his angels in the triumph of calvary (2:15).
     F.  Evils to be avoided (2:16-23).
         1.  Do not be bound by the requirement of the Jewish law 
             a.  The Jewish law was a shadow (2:16).
             b.  The substance is Christ--the new covenant (2:17.
         2.  Salvation does not come by: (2:18)
             a.  Your own suffering--crawling over broken glass or lying 
                 on beds of nails (2:18).
             b.  Worshipping angels (2:18).
             c.  The worthlessness of human wisdom (2:18).
             d.  Salvation comes by holding fast to Christ (2:19).
         3.  If you died and were buried with Christ in baptism and 
             raised with him to a new life, do not follow worthless things 
             a.  Human ordinances (2:20).
             b.  Austerities (2:21).
             c.  Things which may appear to be clever, but have no value 
                 in warring against the enemies of the soul (2:22-23).
III.  Practical Part of the Letter (3:1 to 4:18).
      A.  You died and were buried and were raised with Christ to be a 
          new creature (3:1-4)
          1.  Think about heaven, not earth (3:2).
          2.  You are dead to sin and alive to God (3:3).
          3.  When Jesus comes again he shall appear a second time 
              apart from sin unto salvation, and worldly things will perish 
      B.  Stay away from evil (3:5-11).
          1.  Avoid sexual impurity of every kind, filth (keep your house 
              clean), intemperate affection, evil thoughts, and greed--love 
              of money which is worship of mammon, or idolatry (3:5).
          2.  God will punish every vile thing (3:6).
          3.  You once lived by the rule of moral decadence (3:7).
          4.  But now, put all wrong away (3:8-9).
              a.  This includes anger, wrath, malice, railing and vulgar talk 
              b.  The old man of sin has bean crucified with Christ, 
                   therefore, tell the truth (3:9).
          5.  Follow Christ as your generous creator and do not be 
              biased against other humans (3:10-11).
      C.  Things children of God must do (3:12-25).
          1.  Follow what is true and right (3:12-15).
          2.  Let the word of Christ live in you, and teach and admonish 
              one another to love and good works (3:16-16).
          3.  Do only those things Christ approves (3:17).
          5.  Wives obey your husbands (3:18).
          6.  Husbands love you wives (3:19).
          7.  Children obey your parents (3:20).
          8.  Fathers, do not provoke and discourage your children 
          9.  Slaves, offer sincere obedience to your masters (3:22-24).
              a.  Do not chaff and be resentful (3:23).
              b.  Christ will come and reward you (3:24).
              c.  Christ will punish evil doers (3:25).
         10.  Masters, be fair to your slaves knowing you have a master 
               in heaven to whom you must give an answer (4:1).
      D.  Various admonitions (4:2-6)
          1.  Continue in prayer (4:2-4).
          2.  Walk in wisdom toward those outside of Christ (4:5).
          3.  Buy back the opportunities (4:5).
          4.  Let your speech be with grace (4:6).
          5.  Know how to answer each one (4:6).
      E.  Tychicus and Onesimus would come to them and bring 
          additional information about Paul's condition (4:7-9).
      F.  Closing remarks and blessing (4:10-18).

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