The Setting (Fullness in Christ)

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Fullness in Christ
Study 1 - The Setting - Colossians 1.1-14

Welcome

Think of a time when you felt complete, satisfied, or full-up…

The letter’s theme is that in Christ there is the fullness of God. Begin to wrestle with your understanding of the meaning of ‘fullness’ in everyday language and experience

Worship

Read aloud the words about Jesus: Colossians 1.15-20.

This is an early Christian hymn declaring the heart of our faith.
Be still together, 5 minutes, and ponder these words before entering the study.
Offer prayers of praise based on your reading of this hymn.

Word – Background and themes of the letter - for all

The church in Colossae (in Asia Minor, present-day Turkey) was not founded by Paul but grew from the preaching of the gospel by Epaphras, who had been converted during Paul’s three year ministry in Ephesus (Col 1.7-8; Col 2.1; Philemon v 23; Acts 19.10). Paul is writing, probably from prison in Rome, to God’s dedicated men and women and children who are ‘in Christ’. He is challenging the potential negative influence of gnostic teaching, ‘secret’ knowledge and worship of angels, obsession with spiritual powers, and an unhealthy ceremonialism. One gnostic idea was that the material world is evil, the spiritual world is good. Paul contrasts these philosophies with the role of Jesus Christ in the creation and sustaining of all things.

The key to the letter is in the description of Jesus Christ in Chapter 1. Our Christian faith is in Christ, the image of God, the creator of the world, the one in whom all things hold together. Our faith and hope are in him. He is the head of the Church. The gospel is good news because of Christ and what he has done and is doing. The theme of fullness in Christ is simply that in Christ we have everything we need. He is completely adequate. Other philosophies have no power to restrain the old human sinful nature.

Paul also describes the quality of the transformed lives of the Colossian Christians as evidence of their true spiritual experience. He outlines patterns for holy living, in families, workplaces, churches. He offers passionate prayer for them all.

Word – Study 1– Lighter Bite – use some of the Bible cross-references

 

Main Meal – tackle the whole study in depth

 

 

1. Who are the writers of the letter? What do you know about them?

Paul Acts 9.1-6, 15-16; 2 Corinthians 5.18-21.
Timothy Acts 16.1; 2 Timothy 1.3-7
Epaphras Col 1.7-8; Col 2.1; Philemon v 23
Apostle means? Mark 3.14; Ephesians 4.11; Rom 1.1; 2 Corinthians 12.12

2. How would you describe the church of Colossae

Chapter 1 verses 1-8?

List the wonderful characteristics of this community.
Holy means? Exodus 19.5-6; 2 Timothy 2.21
Hope in this context means? Titus 1.2; 1 Peter 1.3-4
Word of truth? John 17.17; Hebrews 1.1-2; John 1.14
God’s grace? Deuteronomy 7.7-9; Ephesians 2.4-9

3.  What do Paul and Timothy pray for this church?

Chapter 1 verses 9-12

Filled with the knowledge of God’s will? Proverbs 1.7; 2.1-6
Spiritual wisdom? 1 Corinthians 1.22-24; 2.6-12
A life worthy of the Lord? Deuteronomy 6.5; Rom 12.1-2
Please the Lord in every way? Endurance? Patience? Joy? … discuss

How would you describe these qualities in our lives in the 21st Century?

 

4. Thanksgiving for the benefits of new life through Christ.

Colossians 1.12-14.

Inheritance of the saints? Phil 3.14; Matt 25.19-21, 34-40
The Kingdom of light? Acts 26.18;
Rescued us from the dominion of darkness? 2 Corinthians 4.4-6
Redemption, means? Ephesians 1.7; Hebrews 9.12
How can we invite people to make the journey from dark to light?

Witness

Talk about your own experience of transformation – through the life of the church, through the personal work of Christ. What does ‘fullness in Christ’ mean to you?

Possibly in pairs, or in the whole group. Be prepared to share your story with neighbour or friend as the Lord leads you in the week ahead.

Final Prayer

Pray Colossians 1.9-11 for one another and give thanks for one another. Be specific!

Marion de Quidt, July 2016