We have now reached the group of letters known as the Prison Epistles. They are as follows: Philippians, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philemon.

Colossians 2:1 would convey to us that Paul had never visited Colosse, but indirectly this church probably owed its existence to him. See Acts 19:10, which says “all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus.” It is believed that Epaphras and Archipus heard Paul preach at Ephesus and carried the message to their hometown of Colosse. The result was the establishment of an assembly of Christians. The Colossian believers met together and held their meetings in Philemon’s house (see Philemon 2). 

Why did Paul write this letter? 

Introduction to Colossians

Colossians is one of the four prison epistles; the other three were Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon.

Paul had never visited Colossae. Ch. 1:7, 2:1

There are some who believe that the church at Colosse was founded by Epaphras. Ch. 1:7, 4:12

Colosse was one of the tri-cities of the Lycus Valley, situated one hundred miles inland from Ephesus. The other cities are Laodicea and Hierapolis.

The church assembled in the house of Philemon, who apparently was one of its active members.

Tychicus was the messenger who took the epistle to the various churches and also to Philemon.

Occasion for Writing

There was heresy or heresies presented in the church.

These heresies were being propagated by false teachers.

Among these heresies were:

1. Judaistic legalism – circumcision 2:11; 3:11.

2. Ordinances – food, holy days 2:14.

3. Severe asceticism 2:16, 20-23.

4. Worship of angels 2:18. Gnosticism

5. Glorification of human knowledge 2:8.

These heresies were a direct attack on the deity of Christ. They also rejected the completeness of Christ’s atoning work.

For all these errors Paul had one remedy, a full knowledge of the fullness of God in Jesus Christ.

His devastating answer to the Gnostics was that in Christ the fullness of the Godhead was pleased to dwell. Ch 1:19, 2:9.

Also, the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are embodied in Him. Ch. 2:3.

New Testament (Acts-Revelation)

Lesson 221: The Ascension Of Christ
Acts 1:1-11
Golden Text: Acts 1:11

I. The Great Commission. Matthew 28:18-20; Mark 16:15, 10.

1. The Person Who gave it. He had the right by virtue of His Person and His work.

2. The power for it—“Himself;” v. 18. Note the “power” as seen in (1) His birth; Luke 1:35. (2) Ministry; Luke 4:32. (3) Miracles; Luke 4:36. (4) Forgiveness; Matthew 9:6. (5) Death; John 10:18. (6) Resurrection. Romans 1:4; Colossians 2:13-15. (7) Ascension; Ephesians 1:20. (8) Coming; Matthew 24:30.

3. The plan of it. (1) The command “go ye.” (2) The scope, “world.” (3) The theme, “the Gospel.” (4) The persons, “every creature.”

4. The persons to whom given—His disciples. (1) Chosen. Mark 3:14; John 15:16. (2) Saved; Matthew 16:16. (3) Taught. (4) Commissioned. (5) Equipped.

5. The privilege of it. Ambassadors, co-workers, witnesses, trustees, servants of the Lord Jesus Christ.

6. The price of it. “Go” means leave. Cp. Luke 14:26.

7. The promise with it. “I am with you.” Cp Hebrews 13:5.

II. The Promise. Acts 1:4, 5.

1. Promised in O. T. Isaiah 32:15; Jeremiah 31:33; Ezek 11:19; Joel 228.

2. Promised in N. T. John 15:26—16:14.

III. The Questioning Disciples. Vs. 6-8.

1. The question; v. 6. (1) An earthly kingdom expected; Isaiah 2:2-4. (2) The King being rejected, the kingdom is in obeyance. Luke 19:14; Acts 3:14. (3) He will yet be King over the Earth; Psalm 2.

Chapter 3 Paul's Player, and Thanksgiving

Colossians 1:9-14

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins. (vv. 9-14)

This section reminds us of the prayers of the apostle for the Ephesians, as recorded in chapters 1 and 3 of that epistle. There is something very precious and exceedingly instructive in being thus permitted to share the thoughts of, and notice the petitions offered up by, the apostle Paul for the Lord’s people in various circumstances. His deep concern for their growth in grace, their enlightenment in divine things, their apprehension of the purpose of God, and the manifestation of spiritual power in the life—all these come out very strikingly as he bows his knees before the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. He was not content to know people were justified and hence safe for eternity.

Chapter 2 The Salutation and Introduction

Colossians 1:1-8 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ, (vv. 1-2) Thirteen epistles in the New Testament begin with the name Paul. A fourteenth letter, concerning the authorship of which there is considerable dispute, is nevertheless generally accepted as from the same pen, namely, the epistle to the He...

Chapter 1 General Considerations and Analysis

No one familiar with the Pauline Letters can fail to see how intimately linked are those to the Ephesians and the Colossians. It is very likely that the letter from Laodicea, referred to in the last chapter of the epistle we are considering, is really our epistle to the Ephesians, and therefore we can understand why the apostle was anxious that both should be read by the same people. My reasons for saying this will come out later. Some, in fact, who do not accept the inspiration of the New T...


Expositions of Colossians abound, many of them of great value, yet each generation seems to call for fresh and new applications of divine truth. Hence this volume. These lectures have been delivered at many Bible conferences throughout the United States and Canada, and are issued in book form in response to the earnest requests of many who heard them. If read with the open Bible beside them, and thus used not as a substitute for, but as an aid to, the study of the Word itself, it is hoped...

Author Biography

Henry Allan Ironside, one of the twentieth century’s greatest preachers, was born in Toronto, Canada, on October 14,1876. He lived his life by faith; his needs at crucial moments were met in the most remarkable ways. Though his classes stopped with grammar school, his fondness for reading and an incredibly retentive memory put learning to use. His scholarship was well recognized in academic circles with Wheaton College awarding an honorary Litt.D. in 1930 and Bob Jones University an hon...

Chapter Four Christ, The Believer's Example

Marvelous Principles (Colossians 4:1)

It is unfortunate that the break between chapters 3 and 4 comes just where it does. It would seem far more suitable to include 4:1 in chapter 3 and let the next chapter begin with 4:2.

Colossians 4:1, which concludes the passage begun in 3:18, is a message to those in authority: “Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” Paul was speaking to believers; ungodly masters could not have been expected to heed such an admonition. It was addressed to those who held the position of master in relation to their servants, but were themselves servants to their Master in Heaven. Such a master was urged to treat his servants as he would have the Lord treat him.

A Christian in a position of authority is to be characterized by fairness, giving to those beneath him that which is just. He should remember that his heavenly Master is observing him at all times and that when he is called to account for his actions, his relationship to his servants will be carefully reviewed and everything will be brought to light.

The rules that Paul stated so simply in Colossians 3:18-4:1 are marvelous principles. Only one who knows something of the conditions prevailing in the Roman empire at the time this Epistle was written can realize how revolutionary Paul’s thoughts were. In those days wives, children, and slaves had practically no standing in the eyes of the law, unless their husbands, fathers, or masters desired to grant them recognition. But the glorious truth of the new man, the blessed unfolding of the revelation of the new creation, tinged with glory every earthly relationship in which the Christian was found.

Chapter Three Christ, The Believer's Life

Power for Holiness (Colossians 3:1-4)

After the somewhat lengthy digression in Colossians 2:13-23, the apostle turned his attention to applying the truth taught in 2:12. I think we can see the connection better if we read 2:12 and 3:1 without anything intervening: “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…If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” The digression in 2:13-23 was a warning against false systems that try to rob the believer of the great truth of unity with Christ in death and resurrection.

It is all-important that we realize that we do not stand before God on the ground of responsibility. The responsible man failed utterly to keep his obligations and thus there was nothing for him but condemnation. But our Lord Jesus Christ has borne that condemnation; in infinite grace He voluntarily took the place of the sinner and bore his punishment on the cross. Now in resurrection the believer is not only presented by Him as perfect before the throne of God; he is also found to be “in Christ” by virtue of being a partaker of His life. Once he was “in Adam,” having been born of his race, but now he is “in Christ.” The contrast clearly indicates that he has received a new life from Him and therefore he is not to think of himself in any sense as on probation. All legalism was ended on the cross of Christ.

Jesus died and we died with Him,
Buried in His grace we lay,
One in Him in resurrection,
Soon with Him in Heaven’s bright day.

Death and judgment are behind us,
Grace and glory are before;
All the billows rolled o’er Jesus,
There exhausted all their power.

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