This Sunday we launch our Fall long series in Paul’s Letter to the Colossians. Due to the insignficance of Colossae and its peripheral location in the Roman empire, Biblical commentator J.B. Lightfoot remarked that “Colossae was the least important church to which any epistle of St. Paul was addressed.” It is curious that Colossae would be percieved as the lowest of the churches when its letter contains some of the highest Christology of the New Testament! Why would Paul present such a creative, compelling theology of the resurrected Christ to a such an unimportant church?
Missionary Priority. Paul includes robust christology precisely because Colossae was “out there,” philosophically and geographically. Colossae’s remote location from the Western trajectory of Paul’s missionary activity placed the church on the edge of the early church planting movement. Though the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis both had churches, Colossae was less significant and further east. We should give our best theological efforts to frontier churches, whether in Austin or Burma.
Multiply Theological Influence. The letter to the church at Colossae was to be circulated: “And when this letter has been read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and see that you also read the letter from Laodicea” (4:16). The robust theology set out in this letter was intended for chruches not a church. Paul intended the Colossian hymn in chapter one to be sung by many saints, for the ethics of chapter three to shape many communities, for the gospel-centered counsel of chapter two to change many hearts. We should strive to multiply our theological influence through many mediums, provided that we spend more time developing and articulating our theology than we do creating websites, podcasts, videos, and so on.
Jesus Christ the Lord. Nothing is more central to the Christian faith that the supremacy of Jesus Christ. The great task of the follower of Jesus is to grow in comprehending and integrating the lordship of God in Christ in every facet of life. The Colossians were no exception. In fact, given the diverse philosophies and religions in that part of the Roman empire, an authoritative Christology was critical. Paul responds to their needs with some of the most exalted Christology in the NT. When engaging cultural issues we must be careful not to exalt culture over Christ, but rather, to demonstrate how Christ can be both exalted and distorted by culture.