​​​Lesson for Sunday 

JUNE 23, 2019

HEARTS UNITED IN LOVE

SUNDAY SCHOOL LESSON

Restoration & Praise

Christian Fellowship Center

​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​​Devotional Reading: I Corinthians 3:10-17

Background Scripture: Colossians 2:1-15
LESSON SCRIPTURES: Colossians 2:1-15
Exerted from: Standard Lesson Commentary KJV (2018-2019).


1. For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
2. That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
5. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
6. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him:
7. Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
8. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
9. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.
10. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power:
11. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ:
12. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
13. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses;
14. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross;
15. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.

Lesson Aims
After participating in this lesson, each learner will be able to:
1. List three things that believers have in Christ.
2. Compare and contrast the meaning and significance of circumcision and baptism.
3. Identify one area to grow or mature in his or her walk with Christ and make a plan to do so.

Introduction

Pursuit of Completeness

For many today, the promise of everlasting romantic love is the height of personal wellness. Tom Cruise’s oft-parodied line “You complete me” from the film Jerry Maguire points to humanity’s constant pursuit of completeness and our sense that we do not possess it on our own. Others do not seek wholeness through romance but instead through other relationships, through work, or even through hobbies. Where can we look to find true completeness?

LESSON CONTEXT
Members of the Colossian church came from backgrounds featuring a myriad of religious and philosophical options. On this buffet were Judaism and pagan religions from across the Roman Empire. There were mystery religions that promised spiritual enlightenment through secret knowledge. There were sophisticated systems of philosophical thought and groups that practiced black magic. Each group made its own claims about truth. Some believers at Colosse attempted to augment the gospel with a mixture of elements from this religious-philosophical buffet. The temptation to trust in humanity’s knowledge rather than in faith through Christ and knowledge of Him was irresistible to some.

LESSON

1. For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.
Paul desires that his readers know of his ministry of prayer on their behalf (see Colossians 1:9–12). The word translated conflict is a form of the same word translated “striving” in 1:29 (speaking of Paul’s own labor) and “fervently” in 4:12 (speaking of Epaphras’s laboring for them in prayer).

Paul greets Archippus by name in Colossians 4:17 and knows other Christians in Colosse (Philemon and Apphia; compare Philemon 1, 2 with Colossians 4:10–17). Even so, the phrase for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh is widely accepted to mean that Paul has not actually been to Colosse. Laodicea is another city in the Lycus River valley, approximately 10 miles from Colosse. Although many within this letter’s audience are strangers to Paul, they are still objects of Paul’s concern that arises from the unity believers have in Christ (Ephesians 4:4; 1 Corinthians 1:2).

What Do You Think?
What plan can you create for expressing concerns for people in ways they will receive and appreciate?
Digging Deeper
Consider nonverbal expressions of concern in addition to verbal, and when it might be best to use one type over the other.

 
2a. That their hearts might be comforted.
Scripture often uses the term heart to designate the person, especially one’s center of moral and ethical deliberation, will, and attitudes (Genesis 6:5; Exodus 4:21; Matthew 9:4; 12:34; etc.). The verb translated comforted communicates more than offering solace; one is encouraged and strengthened in this comfort. The same root word yields a title for the Holy Spirit: Comforter (see John 14:16, 26; 15:26; 16:7); this gives depth and nuance to the ways he ministers to believers.

2b. Being knit together in love.
This suggests a unity of purpose and thought. The same term appears in Ephesians 4:15, 16 and Colossians 2:19 to speak of a unity derived from the church’s attachment to its head, Christ. The love that unites believers has its source in their devotion to Christ, who empowers them to love each other (Ephesians 3:19; 4:1, 2; 1 John 4:11). Only a love built on the knowledge of what Christ has done and a desire to serve others can unite the church (John 13:34, 35).

What Do You Think?
In what ways can your church promote a stronger sense of unity and common purpose?
Digging Deeper
Consider how this might be done corporately (through the church’s formal communication and programming channels) as well as by individual believers.

2c. And unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.
Paul desires the saints to have the confidence and power that comes from an ability to distinguish between true and false teaching (see Acts 9:22). The focus of this understanding is to be the acknowledgement of the mystery of God. Paul uses mystery, a term found earlier in Colossians 1:26, 27, to refer to formerly hidden things now revealed by God to His people through apostolic preaching and writing concerning the gospel (see Romans 11:25). The identification of the mystery as being of God, both of the Father and of Christ, exalts Christ by pointing to the unity and equality of the Father and Son in the Trinity together with the Spirit.

3. In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The false teachers in Colosse claim they possess hidden truth to which only the spiritual elite have access. In contrast with them, the verse before us identifies Christ as the one in whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Though related, wisdom and knowledge are not the same. Knowledge is the mental apprehension of truth; wisdom is the ability to use knowledge appropriately. Believers can access the hidden wisdom and knowledge revealed now in Christ and can possess full understanding through the mystery of God.

Buried Treasure

In 1934, Theodore Jones and Henry Grob made a discovery most children only dream about. Jones and Grob had started a secret club and were burying the box that would hold the club’s treasury and secrets. Digging in the dirt floor of Jones’s cellar, the teens discovered the Holy Grail of childhood fantasy—real buried treasure! They first came across a shiny $20 gold coin. When their excavation was complete, the boys had unearthed 3,558 century-old gold coins, a fortune that would be worth more than $10 million today.

After months of legal proceedings, the coins were sold at auction. The money was then placed in two trusts that the boys could access after they turned 21.

For the most part, finding hidden treasure is a childhood fantasy. But for Jesus’ followers, it is a spiritual reality. What treasures have you discovered through your friendship with Jesus? —J. E.


4. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
Paul knows Christ is the full repository of wisdom and knowledge (Colossians 1:9, 10; 2:2). False teachers could dazzle and impress an audience, especially if they were not already convinced of the truth they found in Christ.

5. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.
Though Paul is in prison in Rome (Acts 28:16–31; Colossians 4:10, 18), through his letter he expresses intimate knowledge of the church in Colosse and great love for them (see also 1 Corinthians 5:3). He expresses the delight he has known from hearing positive reports about the Colossian believers from Epaphras (Colossians 1:7, 8; 4:12, 13). Order and steadfastness result from faith in Christ. Biblical faith is more than intellectual assent to truth claims; it is a commitment to action resulting from one’s trust in Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 1:3; James 2:14–22). A fundamental defense against deceptive and crippling doctrine is a deepened commitment to Christ.

What Do You Think?
In what situations could you provide encouragement by expressing your pride in someone else’s accomplishments?
Digging Deeper
Think especially of situations and people where encouragement would not normally be expected.


6. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him.
Paul calls his audience back to what was originally preached and taught among them in contrast to the error that has arisen in their midst. He also summons them back to the exalted Savior he describes earlier in Colossians 1:15–20. By using the full title Christ Jesus the Lord, Paul reminds his readers that Jesus, the one who walked humbly among humanity as a man, is also the Messiah (Greek “Christ” = Hebrew “Messiah”), the anointed king, and the Lord God in flesh. He is the exalted one who is above all (Philippians 2:9–11; Colossians 1:15–20; 2:3, 9, 10).

So walk ye in him essentially summarizes the specific commands and warnings that follow: believers are to act out the lordship of Jesus Christ in their thought and deeds (James 2:14–26). Walking, a frequent biblical image for life (Genesis 48:15; Psalm 86:11; 2 Corinthians 5:7; etc.), evokes notions of being on the way toward a destination. Moreover, believers are to walk in Christ, not simply withChrist (Colossians 1:28; 2:20; 3:1–3). He is not a travel companion we call alongside us as we travel where we have already determined we want to go. As our Lord, Jesus determines our path and empowers us to walk the path to which we are called (Matthew 11:28–30; Luke 9:23).

7. Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.
Paul uses a horticultural metaphor (see Colossians 1:10–12) and a reference to thanksgiving to expound on a command to walk in Christ. Having been rooted … in him, believers are to grow as a plant grows out of the soil in which it is planted (compare 1 Corinthians 3:10–14; Ephesians 2:20).

Stablished has the notion of confirmation or strengthening (Romans 15:8; 1 Corinthians 1:6, 8). By sticking to their roots and being built up, the saints in Colosse will be established in faith. The passive verbs rooted, built up, and stablished reveal that it is God who grounds them in faith. Abounding therein with thanksgiving is the believers’ main task throughout this process (Philippians 4:6; Colossians 4:2). Thanksgiving will abound in the saints’ lives as they (we) are attentive to what God has done in Christ and to what He is currently doing.

8. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Philosophy refers to systems of thought characterized by human origin. The word rudiments translates a Greek word that has two meanings. Though the word can refer to astrological concepts, in this verse it refers to an organized series of things, such as the letters of the alphabet. The word came to connote the basic elements necessary for a rudimentary knowledge of a subject (compare Hebrews 5:12).

World refers to the transitory systems of humanity that can and/or do stand between a person and God. World in this sense combined with the word rudiments thus refers to human ideas considered necessary to supplement or even to replace the work of Christ (Galatians 4:3, 9).

To understand more clearly the significance of philosophy and worldly rudiments, one must observe their contrast with things of Christ. In his address to the men of Athens, Paul repeatedly alludes to ideas discussed among Greek philosophers (Acts 17:22–31). Such thought, which depends on human tradition, is deceptive in comparison with the fullness of understanding and life available in Christ (Colossians 1:9; 2:2, 3).

Then and now, the rudiments of the world are ultimately powerless. They are the “-isms” of human tradition, culture, and pagan religion that seek or profess understanding through natural human insight alone. They do not seek to understand Christ in the light of Scripture nor do they exalt God and Christ to their proper place.

Power of Truth
In the novel 1984, George Orwell envisioned a society in which truth was determined by the government for its own ends. In Oceania, the populace knew that “war is peace,” “freedom is slavery,” and “ignorance is strength.” This knowledge was made possible through “doublethink,” the ability to accept two mutually exclusive concepts as true. The government ruled in paradox: The Ministry of Love inflicted torture. The Ministry of Peace waged perpetual war. The Ministry of Plenty rationed resources.

Orwell understood that saying something is true does not make it so. In this, he would have found agreement with the apostle Paul. Paul did not see truth as relative or infinitely flexible. In fact, Paul believed truth has an author who offers us a firm foundation when we trust Him. What “truths” do you need to reevaluate in light of the truth that Christ reveals? —J. E.

9, 10. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power.
Paul emphasizes the magnitude of the incarnation of Jesus Christ by speaking of all the fulness. His use of the present tense verb dwelleth highlights that the incarnation is not simply a historical event but also a present reality with contemporary significance. The power and completeness of Christ exhibited in His incarnation is available to all believers.

Visual for Lesson 4. Have this visual on display as you pose the discussion question that is associated with Colossians 2:2.

Colossians 1:16 earlier asserts that Christ created all things, including all principality and power, and that they exist for His purposes. This tandem often refers to evil powers, whether terrestrial or celestial, real or imagined. Christ thus is preeminent above them all (Philippians 2:9–11).

Sandwiched between this section’s two central claims about Christ is the affirmation that believers are complete in him. The repetition of the concepts filling, fullness, and completeness in this letter (Colossians 1:9, 19, 24; 2:2, 9; 4:12) suggests that false teachers in the Colossian church asserted that Christians need something in addition to Christ to be complete. Paul, however, affirms that because Christ supersedes the powers, believers need not fear them as a barrier to all that is available in Christ. Neither do they possess any power to provide the fullness God offers in Christ. To seek fullness in any other person or power than Jesus Christ is futile and foolhardy.

11. In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ.
Paul evokes the imagery of circumcision to describe the believer’s incorporation into God’s new covenant community (see Genesis 17). The Old Testament Scriptures also intimated that physical circumcision alone did not validate one’s covenant relationship with God (Deuteronomy 10:16; 30:6; Jeremiah 4:4). A greater circumcision, one of the heart, was needed (Romans 2:28, 29).

Christ followers of both genders from among all people groups have now received this greater circumcision, here called the circumcision of Christ. Old covenant circumcision was a physical act, but Christ performs the new circumcision in the spiritual realm; it is made without hands. Old covenant circumcision was performed on male Israelite infants. Christ’s circumcision is performed on men and women who exercise faith. Circumcision under the law involved the removal of a piece of skin; new covenant circumcision involves the removal of a whole way of life, the body of the sins of the flesh.

12. Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead.
As in Romans 6:1–14, baptism is linked with burial, and that burial imagery illustrates the completeness of death to sin. The rising out of water then pantomimes our resurrection. Paul describes the believer’s resurrection life as having already begun. Believers can now access a full life through the transforming power God manifested in raising Jesus from the dead.

No power to destroy the old life and to raise the Christ follower to new life resides in the water itself. Rather, baptism is made effective by its connection with the faith of the operation of God (see also Acts 2:38; Titus 3:5; and 1 Peter 3:21).

What Do You Think?
Which Scripture passages or biblical themes have you personally found helpful in connecting faith, baptism, and daily Christian experience?
Digging Deeper
In what ways can you help others make the same connection?

13. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses.
The Colossians had been dead in [their] sins (see Ephesians 2:1). The Greek word first translated sinsand then trespasses emphasizes deliberate disobedience and unfaithfulness to God. The phrase uncircumcision of your flesh then points to the hearers’ identity as Gentiles outside the old covenant (Ephesians 2:11–13) and describes a continuing state of spiritual rebellion (Ezekiel 44:7, 9).

They are now alive with Christ (Colossians 2:12; Ephesians 2:5). All their trespasses have been forgiven. God’s act of pardoning sins demonstrates the grace of God’s forgiveness. God’s forgiving all trespasses shows the extent of God’s grace that completely removes sin.

What Do You Think?
What are some ways to help fellow believers overcome the burden of guilt associated with past sins?
Digging Deeper
How might your answer differ depending on the specific type of sin with which a person feels burdened?

 
14. Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross.
In Matthew 5:17, Jesus said that He had come to fulfill the law, not eliminate it. The text before us provides a vital clue regarding how that has now happened. The phrase handwriting of ordinancesportrays the Old Testament law as an invoice or IOU indicating we owed something to God. Elsewhere, Paul affirms that the law is “holy” and “good” (Romans 7:12). It was a righteous standard that accused the ancient Israelites and against which they could not argue.

However, Christ has blotted out this debt. By sending His own Son to suffer the penalty for our sin, God both upheld the holiness of His own law and rescued us from its accusation. Just as Pilate literally nailed words of accusation (“The King of the Jews”) to the cross (John 19:19), God figuratively nailed the law and its penalty there as well.

15. And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it.
Victorious imperial armies displayed their captives and their spoils of war as they marched through the streets of Rome. Christ is the conquering king who has triumphed over Satan, demonic forces, and all the powers of evil. In His death, Jesus stripped them of their power, atoned for our sins, and won a decisive victory over evil, a victory that His resurrection confirms. The open show made of them harkens back to the language of mystery (Colossians 2:2) and reminds the audience that no additional knowledge or wisdom is needed because God has accomplished His plan fully in Jesus Christ (see 2 Corinthians 2:2–5).

We are freed to live a resurrection kind of life now in Christ (Colossians 2:13). Christ’s death canceled and made irrelevant all the old things that once cluttered life and opposed us (v. 14). Believers are united with Him and with each other.


Conclusion

Possession of Completeness
Because Christ is supreme above all and we are complete in Him, we have all we need. Rather than being led astray by other teachings, we trustingly keep our feet on the path Jesus sets for us to walk.

Prayer
Our Father, grant that we may be rooted and built up in Christ and strengthened in our faith. We pray in Jesus’ name. Amen.


Thought to Remember
Mine the treasures hidden in Christ; look nowhere else.