A Serious Threat
When I was a kid, there was this thing that people did, where they would get connected to someone far away, maybe even across the world, and they would send letters to each other, sometimes along with pictures or other things, and it would be a way to make a long-distance friend. They were called pen pals.
It was because they used these things called a pen and paper, with this thing called an envelope, and this little teeny square called a stamp, and they’d put it in a box, and this place called the post office would deliver it. Of course, today you’d just go to the app store and download the app, “Pen Pals.” (yup, there’s an app for that)
Anyway, this idea is pretty ancient. People were sending letters to other people they didn’t even know, who were far away, over 2,000 years ago. The letter we are about to study in our Bibles right now is an example of that. It is being sent from Paul, to a group of people in a city called Collosae (in today’s world: southwest Turkey), and it is being delivered by a dude named Epaphras. Let’s take a look at part of the introduction (and the introduction goes from 1:1 to 2:5, about 1/3 of the letter).
Colossians 1:1-8, ESV
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brothers [and sisters] in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the [good news], 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
So here’s what we know.
Epaphras had learned the good news of the kingdom of God in the person and work of Jesus from Paul. He had become a follower of Jesus as a result, and had ministered with Paul. And then Epaphras had headed back to his hometown of Colossae. And of course, being a good disciple of Jesus, he had shared what he had learned from Paul with people in his hometown. He was helping other people take a step to the right, getting one step closer to Jesus. And people were getting saved, and following Jesus, and a church had formed.
And as is always the case, that was not the end of the story. Because Satan doesn’t like when people get transferred out of his domain, the domain of darkness, into the kingdom of the Son (1:13). He doesn’t like when people experience redemption, the forgiveness of their sins. He doesn’t like it one little bit. So he brings all his power, and the world, and people in the world, against—especially, but not only—new, baby followers of Jesus.
You see, Satan and the domain of darkness is an ever-present, serious threat. And one of the key things he likes to do is deceive people. He likes to take Jesus followers captive through other systems of belief that are opposed to the good news, or even better, seem really close to the good news, but are not quite the good news.
And that is what is happening in Colossae. We don’t know exactly what it was, but we know that Paul was warning them about a serious threat, which would lead to two other things he wanted to address. So I’d like to suggest we look at Colossians in this way:
A Serious Threat
The Great Struggle
and The Path To Victory
I invite you now to watch or listen to my sermon from Paul’s letter to the Colossians. And if you’d like some additional resources on this book, head on over to the Bible Project page for this part of the Whole Story.
May God use his Word to inspire you to help just one other person move one step closer to Jesus.
In the book of James, we meet a follower of Jesus who is going to sit us down for a little chat. And fair warning here: James isn’t really too concerned about your feelings, or how comfortable you are with someone you don’t know nor have ever met getting pretty personal with you.
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Just a brief reminder that a great way to prepare for the service this coming Sunday is to read the text we will be studying together.
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This last Sunday, I preached the first of two sermons on Paul’s letters to the Thessalonians. Here was the sentence I began unpacking, which is my summary of both letters:
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First, it is Palm Sunday. Which means it is the beginning of a week of remembering the most important events in the history of the world: the entry of Jesus into Jerusalem, his last meal with his disciples, his death at the hands of sinful men as the result of a sham sentence in a kangaroo court, his burial by those who loved him, and his resurrection from the dead just three days later. All of it for the salvation and rescue of the world.