- Written to the church at Colosse (1:2) by the Paul (1:1) while he was imprisoned at Rome. It is likely Paul never visited Colosse.
- The church was started by Epaphras (1:7) who perhaps heard and believed the gospel during Paul’s preaching ministry in Ephesus (Acts 19:10). He would have then returned back to Colosse sharing the good news of the gospel with a brand new church being started as a result.
- The major theme of Colossians is the preeminence of Jesus Christ. Therefore, Paul’s message to Colosse is clear: Christ is supremely sovereign and He is supremely sufficient (1:18; 2:9-10; 3:11). In the letter Paul exalts the preeminence of Christ, warns the church of the legalism and gnosticism that was skewing their view of Christ’s sufficiency, and he concludes the letter by teaching them how Christ’s preeminence impacts every area of their life.
There are two major divisions in the book and they are laid out clearly.
- Colossians 1-2: The theological understanding of Christ’s preeminence. Paul exalts the theology of Christ’s preeminence and sufficiency in the first two chapters as a means to expose the error of the secular philosophers and religious legalists who attempted to discredit Christ’s sufficiency by emphasizing their extra rules, deeper knowledge, and greater experiences.
- Colossians 3-4: The practical implications of Christ’s preeminence. It’s truly the same message that we see throughout all scripture: our beliefs affect our behaviors. If we believe in Christ’s preeminence (chapters 1-2), then we will live our lives with Christ as preeminent (chapter 3-4).
A Suggested Sermon Map Through Colossians
- A Letter from Paul (1:1-8)
- Praying for the Church (1:9-14)
- The Supreme Christ (1:15-20)
- The Profile of a True Christian (1:21-23)
- A Minister of the Gospel (1:24-29)
- Affection for the Church (2:1-5)
- The Christian Life (2:6-7)
- Complete In Christ (2:8-10)
- From Death to Life (2:11-15)
- Hold Fast to Christ (2:16-23)
- Christ-Centered Living (3:1-4)
- Christ-Centered Holiness (3:5-11)
- Christ-Centered Churches (3:11-17)
- Christ-Centered Homes (3:18-21)
- Christ-Centered Work (3:22-4:1)
- Christ-Centered Influence (4:2-6)
- Christ-Centered Ministry (4:7-9)
- Christ-Centered Friendship (4:10-15)
- Before I Go (4:16-18)
Recommended Books & Commentaries for Colossians
- R. Kent Hughes, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon: The Fellowship of the Gospel and The Supremacy of Christ (Crossway, 2013).
- John MacArthur, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Colossians & Philemon (Moody, 1992).
- John Woodhouse, Colossians & Philemon (Christian Focus, 2011).
- Mark G. Johnston, Let’s Study Colossians and Philemon (Banner of Truth, 2013).
- David Pao, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament: Colossians & Philemon (Zondervan, 2012).