EPISTLES OF THE NEW TESTAMENT

Prison Epistles:  III & IV

 

COLOSSIANS

Creeds

 

1:9           spiritual wisdom and understanding

1:12         The Father who has qualified you

1:23         continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved

2:2-3        complete understanding...wisdom and knowledge

2:4           deceive you by fine-sounding arguments

2:7           rooted and built up in him

2:8           captive through hollow and deceptive philosophy...human tradition...principles of this world

2:14         canceled the written code with its regulations

2:16         eat, drink...religious festival

2:18         false humility and the worship of angels disqualify you...unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions

2:19         lost connection with the Head

2:21-22  Do not handle...taste...touch....based on human commands and teachings

2:23         regulations...appearance of wisdom...self-imposed worship...false humility

4:12         firm in all the will of God, mature

Whereas the people to the north in Galatia were aggressive and led by warriors, the people in the county of Phrygia within the province of Asia were passive and often taken as slaves to other nations.  They had originally lived in Assyria and migrated here when the Hittites weakened.  Around 730 BC they were ruled by King Midas who, according to Greek legend, turned everything to gold by just his touch.  Through the centuries this area alternated between control by the Assyrians, the Galatians, and the Bithynians until the Romans finally turned it into the province of Phrygia.  The area was famous for its black wool carpets and embroidery work.

 

Their oldest religion centered around the Great Mother of the gods.  Her presence issued from bare cliffs beside fresh water, and sanctuaries to her carved from such cliffs were always built at such places in this mountainous area.  They sought omens from birds.  Since the people of Phrygia were relatively passive, they may have tended more strongly to adopt worship of protective angels.  Some thoughts regarding the angel worship to which Paul refers: 

 

(1) Since the area was, in ancient times, settled by people from Assyria, it may have been their influence that created angel worship.  Assyrian architecture shows winged animals guarding palaces and cities.  (2) The Assyrians were in turn influenced by the Hindu and Buddhist religions, both of which believed their highest god - Brahma or Nirvana - created gods and they in turn created angels.  (3) The counterpart of angels of God was demons of Satan.  The Bible sometimes calls idol worship demon worship (Deuteronomy 32:17; Psalm 106:36-37).  A couple centuries later, the biblical archangel Michael began to be worshipped in this area.  In modern times, people are more likely to accredit heavenly care of them to angels than to God himself, just one step away from worshiping angels.

 

The Scythians mentioned in Colossians 3:11 in relation with barbarians lived in southern Russia on the northern border of Galatia.  They were the earliest people to ride horses into battle (rather than by chariot or on foot).  Their armies seemed to appear suddenly out of nowhere.  In battle they wore armor, double-curved bows, Persian-type swords, and curved-shaped daggers.  They scalped the enemy, formed them into cups, and attached them to their belts.  They had neither alphabet nor coinage though they were successful hunters, farmers, and traders.  Although seldom very religious, they did worship the elements and never had temples.  Their greatest devotion went to the Great Goddess, patroness of fire and beasts.  They had no priests, but did have magicians who spoke in high-pitched voices and dressed as women, possibly eunuchs. 

 

The city of Colossae was never very important to the area politically or religiously, but did have wealthy citizens due to trade of its fine wools.  It seemed to have been a twin city to Laodicea which was quite wealthy, and of which we will learn more in John's epistle called Revelation.

 

Paul traveled through Galatia on his second missionary trip, and parts of Phrygia wherein was Colossae.  But, since Phrygia was a "county" within the province of Asia, and the Holy Spirit kept them from preaching in Asia, he seems not to have been here long enough to do much, if any, good (Acts 16:6).  In fact, the church was established later when they "learned [the gospel] by Epaphras" (Col. 1:7).  Paul had met daily for two years in the lecture hall of Tyrannus to teach the Bible where students from all the province of Asia heard.  It may have been in Ephesus that Epaphras was converted.

 

Epaphras was a fellow prisoner with Paul (Philemon 23).  At the time Paul wrote the church in Colossia, Epaphras "who is one of you...[was] always wrestling in prayer" for them.  So, even though he had never met them (Col. 2:1), Paul wrote them as a personal favour to Epaphras who undoubtedly had told Paul much about the church in his home town.

 

1:6       The gospel was bearing fruit all over the _____________________________.

 

1:9       Paul encouraged them to have spiritual _______________________________ and _______________________________, not that which comes from popular opinion.

 

1:12-13  After all, it was God, not religious leaders, who _____________________________ them to share in the inheritance in heaven.  And it was God, not religious leaders, who had ____________________________ them from the dominion of __________________________.

 

1:15-22  Here are listed ten traits regarding Jesus' supremacy:

 

            v. 15:    Image of the _____________________________________________________

                        F_____________________________ over all creation

            v. 16    By him all things were ____________________________________

            v. 17    In him all things hold ____________________________________

            v. 18    He is the head of the body, the ___________________________ (also 1:24)

                        First[re]born among the ___________________________________

            v. 19    God's __________________________________ dwells in him

            v. 20    Through him God ________________________________ to himself all things

            v. 22    He presents us _________________________ in his sight, free from _________________________ [by Satan the accuser - Rev. 12:10] 

 

1:23     The gospel had been preached to ________________________________ creature under heaven.

 

1:27     The responsibility of the church (v. 24) is to make known to the Gentiles Christ, the ____________________ and glory.

 

1:29     Whose energy was in Paul as he labored and struggled for the gospel?  __________________________

 

2:4       Don't let anyone deceive you by _________________________________________________ arguments.

 

2:7       We are to be strengthened in the faith as we WERE ___________________________________, not by creeds.

 

THIS IS THE THEME OF HIS LETTER:

 

2:8       We are to make sure we are not taken __________________________________ through hollow and ____________________ philosophy which depends on human _______________________________ and the basic ____________________________ of this world rather than on Christ.

 

2:10     Christ is the head over every ____________________________________ and __________________________________, not potentates in the church.

 

2:12     Christ cuts our sinful nature away when we are ____________________________ with him in _______________________.

 

CEREMONIALISM:

 

2:13-14  God cancelled the written code with its _____________________________ and __________________________ it to the cross.

 

2:16     With each below, write in an example of modern religious practices that apply to each.

            Don't let others condemn you over:

 

            * Eat or _____________________________  ________________________________________________________________

            * Religious __________________________  ________________________________________________________________

            * New Moon [monthly] _____________________________________  ____________________________________________

            * A Sabbath __________________________  ________________________________________________________________

 

MYSTICISM:

 

2:18     We are not to have false _________________________________________ or worship ______________________________.

            If we do, we are _______________________________ for the prize.

 

            Such people go into great detail about what they have _________________________________ [visions, revelations].

            Their minds are not spiritual, but are actually ___________________________________________.  It all ______________ them up with ____________________________ notions.

 

2:19     Such people have lost all __________________________________ with the Head, Jesus.

 

AESCETISISM:

 

2:21     Basic principles of the world include "Do not __________________________!  Do not _____________________________!  Do not _______________________________!"

 

2:22     These principles are based on _________________________________________ commands and _______________________.

 

2:23     They have the _______________________________________ of wisdom.  But this is self-____________________________ worship (KJV calls it will-worship).

 

            They display false ___________________________________________ and harsh _________________________________ of their body.  But with God, all this lacks any _______________________________ in restraining ______________________ indulgence. 

 

            Can you think of any regulation toward clergy regarding abstinence that does not really restrain sensualness?  __________________________________

 

GODLY LIVING IS:

 

3:5,8f   List below the traits we must put to death retroactively with our baptism:

 

            * S_______________________________________________________

            * I_______________________________________________________

            * L_______________________________________________________

            * E_______________________________________________________

            * G________________________ which is __________________________________

 

            * A_______________________________________________________

            * R_______________________________________________________

            * M_______________________________________________________

            * S_______________________________________________________

            * F_______________________________________________________

            * L_______________________________________________________

 

3:12-15  Colossae was known for its woolen cloth, out of which they must have made very warm winter garments for this mountainous area.  But Paul urged them to clothe themselves in good traits.

 

3:17;23            "Whatever you do, whether in _____________________ or ____________________, do it all in the _____________________ of the Lord Jesus."

 

            "Whatever you do, work at it with all your ____________________________, as working for the Lord and not for men.

 

3:19,21            Husbands are not to be _______________________________ with their wives, or to _______________________________ their children which results in ________________________________________

 

4:3       Paul prayed that God would _______________________________________________________ for their message, for which Paul was in ________________________________.

 

4:7,9    Tychicus was going to Colossea with ______________________________________________.  This second man is the subject of Paul's letter to Philemon who lived at Colossea.

 

4:18     As usual, Paul wrote some at the end in his own handwriting to authenticate the letter.  He said, "Remember by _______________________________."

 

 

 

PHILEMON

Freedom

 

v.8,9        I could...order you...yet I appeal to you

v.9           a prisoner...in chains

v.11         Formerly...useless...now...useful

v.12         who is my heart

v.13         in chains

v.14         your consent

v.14         favor...spontaneous and not forced

v.16         better than a slave

v.19         you owe me your [soul]

v.21         even more than I ask

The church in Colossae met in Philemon's home.  Apphia must have been his wife.  Possibly Archippus was a relative.  When Paul wrote the church in general at Colossae, he encouraged Archippus to "complete the work you have received in the Lord" (Col. 4:17).

 

Philemon was the owner of onesimus, his runaway slave.  While in Rome, Paul had converted him and now was sending him back to his master accompanied by Tychicus (Col. 4:9).  The name Onesimum means Useful.  Paul plays on this meaning in verse 11, "Formerly he was useless to you, but now he has become useful both to you and to me."  He called Onesimum "my very heart" (verse 12).  Paul also offered to repay Philemon for anything Onesimus may have stolen (v. 18-19).

 

Paul was on the brink of being released from prison.  In verse 10 he indicated he was no longer in chains.  But in verse 9 he said he was still a prisoner.  In verse 22 he asked Philemon to "prepare a guest room for me, because I hope to be restored to you in answer to your prayers."

 

Not once did Paul - worse than a slave, but as a prisoner - complain about his situation and tell Onesimus he ought to consider himself lucky. 

 

1:1       Paul was a _______________________ of Christ.

 

1:5       Paul heard about Philemon's faith from whom?  (See verses 10 and 23)?  ___________________________ and _____________________________.

 

1:8,9    Although he could have ordered him as an apostle, a master, Paul appealed to him in his weakness as an __________________ man and a ___________________________________.

 

1:10     Onesimus had become Paul's spiritual son while he was in ______________________________.

 

1:11     Had Onesimus been a good slave or a bad slave?  _____________________________

 

1:13     But Paul had changed his attitude and wanted to keep Onesimus with him so he could ____________________ him.

 

1:14     Though Onesimus was now out of the territory of Asia and possibly Philemon's jurisdiction, and though Philemon would not have known where Onesimus was if Paul hadn't told him, Paul didn't want to do anything without his _____________________.

 

1:15     This verse indicates Onesimus might have run away before.

 

1:16     Paul asked Philemon to welcome Onesimus back, not just as a slave, but also as a dear _____________________________.

 

1:18     Paul said he would pay back what Onesimus owed, even though Philemon could never pay back what he owed Paul - his very _____________________________.