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Colossians: Christ in You, The Hope of Glory

Lesson 1: Introduction & Thanksgiving

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 1:1-8
  1. Look for the Genre, Author, Audience and other details we can glean about the book of Colossians. What can we learn from just the text of the book (you can also add info from Col. 4:3)? What more might we want to know?
  2. How does Paul begin the body of his letter (v.3 and following)? For what is he thankful?
  3. From whom did the Colossians learn the gospel? What else did he do for the Colossians? What does this tell us about the possible circumstances of the writing of the book?
  4. If the introduction to a letter is a clue to its main themes, what might we guess are going to be some themes of Colossians?

You can also watch the Tuesday class here.

Key Verse: “We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel that has come to you.” Colossians 1:3-6a, NIV

Lesson 2: Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 1:9-14
  1. What genre is Colossians & what does that mean for our understanding of the book? What struck you as meaningful in the introduction to Colossians and in Paul’s opening thanksgiving?
  2. What is Paul telling the Colossians in verses 9 and following? Why does he give them a report on his prayers—why not just pray on his own?
  3. What things does Paul ask God for on behalf of the Colossians? Which one(s) stands out to you? Do these apply to us? What would you most like to have?
  4. What kind of language is used in verse 12-14, with the words “share,” “inheritance,” “dominion,” and “kingdom”? What event in Israel’s history is being alluded to? Why?

You can also watch the Lesson 2 Tuesday class here.

Key Verse: “For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” Colossians 1:13-14, NIV

Lesson 3: The Supremacy of Christ

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 1:15-23
  1. What was meaningful to you from Paul’s prayer of intercession in Col. 1:9-14? What analogy was Paul drawing in verses 12b-14? What does that mean for us?
  2. Consider the “Messiah Poem” in Col. 1:15-20. Can you see how this could be an ancient hymn? If you are familiar with the New Testament, what other passages does this remind you of? What are some similarities?
  3. Think about some of the significant points made in this hymn/poem about Jesus’ nature. What is the main point of vs. 15-16? What does verse 17 add to it? What is the main point of vs. 18-20?
  4. How does the author apply the theological lessons of the hymn to his audience in vs. 21-23? How do you think these points apply to us?

You can also watch the Lesson 3 Tuesday class here.

Download the Lesson 3 Handout – the Christ Hymn in verse form

Key Verse: “He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation. For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him.” Colossians 1:15-16

Lesson 4: The Mystery of Christ in You

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 1:24-2:5
  1. What were some important points from the Christ Hymn in Col. 1:15-20? What was most meaningful to you? How did Paul make the ideas personal in vs. 21-23?
  2. What subject does Paul transition to in Col. 1:24-2:5? Why does he need to address this subject?
  3. What is the “mystery” in 1:26, 1:27, and 2:3? What does Paul equate to the mystery? What else can we learn about it in these verses?
  4. What is the goal of Paul’s ministry? How does he state it in 1:28? In 2:5?

You can also watch the Lesson 4 Tuesday class here.

Key Verse: “I have become its servant by the commission God gave me to present to you the word of God in its fullness—the mystery that has been kept hidden for ages and generations, but is now disclosed to the Lord’s people. To them God has chosen to make known among the Gentiles the glorious riches of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” Colossians 1:25-27, NIV

Lesson 5: Alive in Christ

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 2:6-15
  1. What is Paul discussing in the two parallel paragraphs in 1:24-2:5? How would you put into your own words what the “mystery” is? What did you find meaningful out of this passage?
  2. What is Paul warning against in 2:6-15? Which passages contain direct warnings? To what might they refer?What references back to the Christ Hymn can you spot? Look at v. 9 and 10. How do they seem to relate to Paul’s argument?
  3. What is the “circumcision done by Christ” (v.11)? What is Paul’s point about this circumcision? To what is Paul referring when he mentions the “written code, with its regulations” (v.14)? What people group would these two elements (circumcision and the written code) reference?

You can also watch the Lesson 5 Tuesday class here, however there were connection problems that affected the recording.

Key Verse: “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and in Christ you have been brought to fullness. He is the head over every power and authority.” Colossians 2:9-10, NIV

Lesson 6: Freedom in Christ

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 2:16-3:4
  1. What was meaningful to you from last week’s lesson over 2:6-15 about our lives in Jesus and how we walk in Him? What parallels could you think of regarding ways that “hollow and deceptive philosophies” might try to pull us away from having Jesus at the center of our lives?
  2. What is Paul referring to as a shadow of things to come (v.17)? In what way do you think they are a “shadow”—what does that mean?
  3. How can someone “lose connection with the head” in v.19? How can it be prevented?
  4. What are “things above” (3:1)? What does it mean to set you mind on things above? What does it look like in action?

You can also watch the Lesson 6 Tuesday class here.

Key Verse: “Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory.” Colossians 3:1-4, NASB

Lesson 7: Clothed in Christ

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 3:5-17
  1. What was meaningful to you from last week’s lesson over 2:16-3:4? Why do you think Paul was so concerned to convince the Colossians not to let anyone judge them? Why was he focused on their avoiding human rules?
  2. What behaviors does Paul say to put to death in 3:5 and following? How are these different from the rules they were not to follow in last week’s passage?
  3. What does it mean the the “new self” is “being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator” (v.10, NIV)? How does this relate back to 1:15? Forward to 3:11?
  4. What behaviors does Paul say to clothe yourself with in 3:12 and following? What will these actions do for the community? How is this kind of change supposed to be accomplished?

You can also watch the Lesson 7 Tuesday class here.

Key Verse: “Therefore, as God’s chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience. 13 Bear with each other and forgive one another if any of you has a grievance against someone. Forgive as the Lord forgave you.” Colossians 3:12-13 NIV

Lesson 8: Relationships in Christ

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 3:18-4:1
  1. What stood out to you from Colossians’ portrait of virtues and vices in Col. 3:5-17? What felt most relevant or meaningful to you?Several New Testament letters have these sections of “household codes” (Ephesians 5:21-6:9 and 1 Peter 2:11-3:22). How do you feel about these lists? What are your concerns with them? What do you think their main message is?
  2. What “inheritance” is Paul talking about in 3:24? What would the promise of inheritance mean to a slave?
  3. To whom is Paul referring in “he who does wrong” in 3:25? How would this statement relate to the prevailing thought about who matters and what behavior is acceptable?

You can also watch the Lesson 8 Tuesday class here.

Optional additional reading: Household Codes were actually an established subject in Greco-Roman society before the NT. Check out Aristotle’s version (350BC) in his Politics. For a short reading, look at Part III; if you have more time add Parts XII and XIII. What three categories of relationship does he address? What are the key features of his argument?

Key Verse: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Colossians 3:23-24 NIV

Lesson 9: Devotion to Prayer and Personal Greetings

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 4:2-14
  1. What did you learn about Paul’s Household Codes in last week’s lesson over Col, 3:18-4:1? Did you understanding of these passages change? How so?
  2. What are the characteristics of the prayer that Paul urges for the Colossians (v. 2-4)? What are the goals of these prayers?
  3. What does it mean to be wise toward outsiders (v. 5)? What is the “grace” the belongs in our conversations? How about the “salt” (v.6)?
  4. What names do you know in Paul’s personal greetings in v. 7-15? What do we learn about Paul? About the others? Why would these details matter to us, all these years later?

You can also watch the Lesson 9 Tuesday class here.

Key Verse: ““Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to
answer everyone.”
Colossians 4:5-6, NIV

Lesson 10: Final Greetings and Conclusion

Reading Assignment and Study Questions for this lesson: Colossians 4:15-18
  1. What did you learn from last week’s lesson over Prayer and Personal Greetings in Colossians 4:2-14? What would you apply practically in your life?
  2. What does Paul ask the Colossians to do regarding Laodicea? Why would this be important?
  3. Try making a basic outline of the book of Colossians—just six to eight basic subjects. What are the main topics of the letter? What are the most important points?
  4. What are the top three (or any three!) ways that these lessons apply practically to our Christian walk?

You can also watch the Lesson 10 Tuesday class here.

About this in-depth, discussion-based study:

Paul’s Letter to the Colossians

Colossians is a short but mighty book, about who Jesus is and about how being in Christ changes everything about our lives and our future. It contains one of the three great Christological passages (the other two are in John 1 and Philippians 2), which we’ll study in Lesson 3! Colossians is transcendent but also practical, ancient yet relevant, brief and still rich.

The class will provide lots of compelling time focused on Jesus, plus opportunity to hear discussion by thoughtful women!

Sources for this Series:

I’m currently using three commentaries and a book on Paul to prepare this series.

Capes, David B., Reeves, Rodney, and Richards, E. Randolph. (2017). Rediscovering Paul: An Introduction to His World, Letters, and Theology (Second Edition 2017). Downers Grover, IL: IVP Academic.

Patzia, Arthur G. (1990). Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Ephesians, Colossians, Philemon (eBook Edition, 2011 ed.). (W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., Robert K. Johnston, General Editors) Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books.

Pace, R. Scott and Akin, Daniel L. (2021). Christ-Centered Exposition Commentary: Exalting Jesus in Colossians, Philemon. Nashville, Tennessee: B&H Publishing Group.

Wright, N. T. (1986). Tyndale New Testament Commentaries: Colossians and Philemon. (Leon Morris General Editor) Downers Grove, IL: Inter-varsity Press.
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In addition I use several technological tools, which increasingly employ smart / AI functionality. If you are curious or concerned about AI functionality and how it is used, I suggest the resources at www.CreativePenn.com/future (I have no affiliation with this site, I just find it educational).

  • Bible Study by Olive Tree – I use the laptop (Windows) and phone (Apple) versions to access several versions of Scripture, in English, Greek and Hebrew; to access the UBC, cited above, several Greek and Hebrew dictionaries; and to perform cross-referencing. All notes, history, highlights and other content sync between my phone and laptop, even though they are not the same operating system.
  • ChatGPT by Open AI – I use the laptop and phone versions to capture and expand my brainstorming and to organize content. I do not use it to generate finished content.
  • ProWritingAid – I use this software in my editing process. It’s like a spelling and grammar checker, but it does more.

Semester Schedule: Ten Lessons

LessonColossians: Christ in You, the Hope of Glory
1 Introduction and Thanksgiving – Colossians 1:1-8
2Prayer for Spiritual Wisdom – Colossians 1:9-14
3The Supremacy of Christ – Colossians 1:15-23
4The Mystery of Christ in You – Colossians 1:24-2:5
5Alive in Christ – Colossians 2:6-15
6Freedom in Christ – Colossians 2:16-3:4
7Clothed in Christ – Colossians 3:5-17
8Relationships in Christ – Colossians 3:18-4:1
9Devotion to Prayer and Personal Greetings – Colossians 4:2-15
`0Final Greetings and Conclusion – Colossians 4:16-18

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