Mark Hart

How To Read Colossians

The letter of St. Paul to the Colossians is an interesting epistle. Unlike some of the others, St. Paul did not personally found or visit the Church in Colossae (Colossians 2:1). St. Paul had heard about the Colossian Church through a man named Epaphras (Colossians 1:7; 4:12) who informed the apostle about the struggles of this young Christian community.

Apparently some rabble-rousers were attempting to persuade people that the faith of the Gentile Christians was inadequate. The Jews of the time were very critical of the Gentile converts because they were uncircumcised. Again, St. Paul reiterates the fact that circumcision is a sign of the Old Covenant, and it is no longer necessary because of Christ's death and resurrection. He is very pastoral in his tone, and reassures the Gentile Christians that they are full-ÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâ‰Û_edged members of God's covenantal family by way of faith and Baptism (Colossians 1:21-23; 2:11-12).

St. Paul stresses the fact Jesus Christ is at the center of reality and that He should be at the center of our lives. Christ reigns supreme. He is almighty overall and over all. God is sovereign. Nothing escapes His inÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâ‰Û_uence, authority and power. And while there is opposition to Christ and his Church, the battle is as good as won. Christ has triumphed over all opposing forces (Colossians 2:15-23).

Because He is supreme, Christ is sufÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉcient for our every need. Through Baptism we are united to Christ (Colossians 2:12), and in Christ we encounter the fullness of life, love and salvation. Hence, we should strive to conform our lives to the saving Gospel of Jesus Christ. We must be vigilant in our prayer and commitment to the grace of Christ, for in it we ÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉnd our strength and power (Colossians 4:2).

As you read this epistle, meditate on the various passages which refer to the supremacy of Jesus and think of ways you can give glory to Him through your words and actions.

Here are some of the key themes and verses we discover in this letter:

  • Christ is central and supreme: '[Christ] is the image of the invisible God, the ÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâÌÉrst born of all creation; for in him all things were created (Colossians 1:15-20).'
  • Our suffering unites us to Christ and aids the Church: 'I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my ÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâ‰Û_esh I complete what is lacking in Christ's afÌÄåøÌâåÂÌâ‰Û_ictions for the sake of his body, that is, the church (Colossians 1:24-25).'
  • We must be heavenly minded: 'Set your minds on things that are above, not on things which are on earth’Ìâ‰âÂÌâ_your life is hid with Christ in God (Colossians 3:2-4).'
  • Love must be central: 'Above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Colossians 3:12-17).'
  • Whatever we do should be done for the glory of God: 'Whatever your task, work heartily, as serving the Lord and not men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward; you are serving the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:23-24).'

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Mark Hart

About the Author

My childhood plan was to be a jedi. My teenage plan was to be on Saturday Night Live. God's plan was to have me in ministry. God won - and I'm glad He did.