The Church in Colossae
The city of Colossae (sometimes written as Colosse) was famous for its textile industry. Shepherds filled the surrounding area with their grazing sheep. Thus, wool was Colossae’s greatest commodity.
The citizens mastered the use of colored dyes as well, creating rich tapestries for trade. At the peak of its economy, a main trade route ran through the heart of this city. With time, however, the Romans built a newer road that bypassed Colossae, which led to its economic demise.
By the time Paul wrote to the Colossians, the city had passed its former glory. Colossae had become a small-town afterthought. But the Colossians still took pride in their textiles.
So Paul used language the Colossian believers were most familiar with. After affirming the full deity of Christ, he discussed the removal of the old sinful self the same way a person would remove one’s clothing.
Some members in the church at Colossae participated in strict rules of self-denial as a form of “cleansing themselves” from sin, so Paul wanted to reiterate that Christ’s work on the cross had already paid the price.
To be spiritually clean and whole was now a matter of accepting Christ’s grace.
In [Christ] you were also circumcised with a circumcision not performed by human hands. Your whole self ruled by the flesh was put off when you were circumcised by Christ. ~ Colossians 2:11 (NIV)
In other words, their old sinful self was “put off” when they received the grace of Christ. Therefore, the bodily asceticism they were subjecting themselves to was not necessary. Their “old self” had already been “put off” like the removal of an old coat.
Christ’s sacrifice was sufficient – once and for all.
Then Paul exhorted the believers in Colossae to “put on” compassion and kindness and humility the same way they would put on a new robe.
Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. ~ Colossians 3:12 (NIV)
Then notice Paul’s following imperatives: Forgive one another. Put on love. Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts. Let the Word of Christ dwell in you. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs. Give thanks.
When we gather with our HelloMornings groups, we’re delving into the Word together. So let’s review Paul’s list of imperatives and ask the Lord if there’s one additional thing we could do today.
Perhaps we could play worship music in the car.
Perhaps we could write a list of the blessings we’re thankful for.
Perhaps there’s someone we need to forgive?
As we read through Paul’s instructions to the Colossian believers, let’s ask the Lord to reveal to us what that “next step” for each of us might be.
- Today, we’ll focus on Paul’s encouragement to know the truth of God’s Word (Colossians 2:6-23).
- Tomorrow, we’ll follow Paul’s exhortation to put on the new self in Christ (Colossians 3:1-25).
- Then on Friday, we’ll meet back here, on the HelloMornings blog, to discuss the concluding remarks of Paul’s letter.
Do you have a favorite worship song you like to sing along with? What did you learn in your reading of Colossians today?
Share with us in the comments.
This post is part of a mini-challenge to study the book of Colossians. The first post of the series can be read here. A free downloadable study guide is available for all blog subscribers. You can find the study at the bottom of this post in your email or RSS feed. If you are not yet a subscriber go here and follow the instructions. An email with the download link to the study will be sent to you after you confirm your subscription. Enjoy!