Today’s Scripture Focus: Colossians 1:1-14
God must really love small churches; there surely are a lot of them. Most churches that have ever existed would be considered small (fewer than 200 people). Even today in the age of the multi-thousand member “mega church”, there are 177,000 churches with fewer than 100 members in America, while there only 40 with over 10,000 members (Hartford Institute for Religious Research). The Church of the Nazarene is a denomination of small churches. Most of those who have served as General Superintendents were called in small, country churches. Our own church here in Denison has seen over 30 pastors and church leaders come from her altars.
The church at Colossae (koh LAW see) was a small church in small city. From the letter to the Colossians, we learn that it was likely founded by a man named Epaphras (Ee PAF rus), probably a Greek converted under Paul’s ministry in Ephesus, a nearby larger city. Epaphras traveled home to Colossae and preached the truth of the gospel (1:5), and a church was founded. Colossians, like Philippians, is written while Paul is under house arrest. Epaphras visited the imprisoned Paul and updated him on the condition of the Colossian church. Upon hearing about some doctrinal trouble they were having, Paul wrote them this letter.
Colossians begins as most all Pauline letters, with a greeting, a thanksgiving, and a prayer. The author begins by thanking God for what has already been done. Remember, Paul was not the founder of the Colossian church, but its pastor, Epaphrus had been saved under Paul’s preaching. Paul was the Colossians spiritual “grandfather”! Even though Paul had not personally preached to the Colossians, his ministry had resulted in their faith in God, their love for the saints (other believers), and their hope of Heaven. Faith, love, and hope—three elements necessary for a true church—were present and active in Colossae.
The author then turns his prayer to what he wants God to continue to do for the Colossians. As always, Paul prays that they continue to grow in Christ, live holy lives, and remain strong in the face of difficulty. Colossians is the “in Christ” epistle—variations of this phrase are used a dozen or so times in the letter. The Colossian believers were once in pagan darkness, but in Christ they have been redeemed. To be redeemed means to be rescued from slavery, have your inheritance restored, and be given your place of honor again. The message of Colossians is one of salvation—full redemption is available in Christ, only in Christ, and in all of Christ.
- Go around the table and share prayer requests. Have someone lead in prayer.
- Let everyone who would like to share anything exciting from their week.
- Ask these three questions. Let as many answer each one as they would like.
Take a look at phrases containing the word “in” in today’s scripture focus (“in Christ”, “in him”, “in whom”, etc.) What does it mean to be “in” Christ?
Have you ever had someone unexpectedly pay off a debt or obligation on your behalf—even something as simple as picking up your lunch tab? Have you been able to “pay it forward”?
We will be focusing on salvation as we study Colossians. As a class, thank God for being saved today!