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Living in Christ

The apostle Paul faced many setbacks in ministry. In 2 Corinthians, he describes some of the difficulties he endured: flogging, imprisonment, stoning, beatings, and shipwrecks, just to name a few (2 Cor. 11:23–28). At the climax of this list, he says he is daily concerned for all the churches (v. 28). When he heard about the false teaching at the church in Colossae, he was deeply alarmed by it. In some ways, we should be thankful for this false teaching because it prompted Paul to write this letter.

False teachers had infiltrated Colossae. They claimed that to be saved you needed more than simply Jesus. They propagated their own “special knowledge,” which included things like dietary laws, special rites, and the veneration of angels (Col. 2:16–20). To counter this, Paul set forth bold and profound teaching about the nature of Jesus.

Paul reminded the Colossians that Jesus is our Creator and Redeemer (1:15–23). There is no need to worship angels, because they too were created by Him (1:16). There is no reason to look to special rites, knowledge, or dietary laws to achieve redemption because it has been achieved by Him (1:21–23). In Jesus, “all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” (2:9). When you have seen Jesus, you have seen God. He is the only one who could make peace between us and God (2:13–15).

This truth about Jesus changes everything for us. Because He defeated the power of sin and death, we are called to “put to death” our sinful nature (3:5–11). Because of what Christ accomplished, Jews and Gentiles, slave and free, all people can be a part of the body of Christ. We now have the freedom to forgive and reconcile with one another (3:12–15). It’s a powerful witness to unbelievers (4:5–6).

Apply the Word

Although written almost 2,000 years ago, Colossians is just as relevant and profound today. The gospel has the power to transform our lives and our communities. Let’s take Paul’s admonition to heart that “just as you received Christ Jesus as Lord, continue to live your lives in him” (2:6).

BY Ryan Cook

Dr. Ryan Cook has taught at Moody Bible Institute since 2012. He earned his Bachelor of Arts in Bible and Theology from Moody and his master of arts in Old Testament from Grand Rapids Theological Seminary. He has worked in Christian education and served as a pastor in Michigan for seven years. During his time as a professor at Moody, he earned his doctorate from Asbury Theological Seminary. He now lives with his wife Ashley and their child in the Chicagoland area.

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