Colossians Sermon Series 2024

Back to all Events

  • Date: Every Sunday until April 28, 2024
  • Time: 10:30am – 12:00pm
  • Coordinator: Ron Haygood
  • Email:

Colossians Outline

I. Theme
The letter’s theme, seen in the light of the rising heresy, is the sufficiency of Christ.

II. Argument
The apostle Paul, with Timothy, begins the letter with a greeting to the saints at Colossae (1:1-2).

The body of the letter begins at 1:3.27 Paul begins on a positive note in which he outlines the sufficiency of Christ (1:3–2:7). He follows this with a negative statement in which he argues against the views of the heretics at Colossae, who especially imbibe in Christological heresy (2:3–3:4). The body is concluded with a call to live the Christian life in light of Christ’s sufficiency (3:5–4:6).

The first major section, on the positive presentation of the sufficiency of Christ, involves four parts. (1) Paul’s thanksgiving for the Colossians because of their positive response to the gospel (1:3-8), coupled with a prayer for them to grow in knowledge and productivity (1:9-14). This prayer deals, though very subtly, with the heart of the epistle: the heretics claim to have a superior knowledge, yet their very philosophy chokes out any productivity for God (cf. 2:20-23). (2) Without so much as an “Amen” to the prayer, Paul continues with a recital of an early Christian hymn in which Christ is magnified as Deity in the flesh, the Creator incarnate (1:15-20). (3) The hymn, which ends with a note on Christ as reconciler of “all things,” serves as a bridge to Paul’s next theme: Christ has reconciled the Colossians to God—a ministry of reconciliation which Paul has proclaimed (1:21-23). (4) Finally, Paul addresses his own ministry in greater detail: (a) he has been commissioned with proclaiming “the mystery” (again, borrowing terms of his opponents)—“Christ in you, the hope of glory” (1:27)—so that “we may present everyone perfect in Christ” (1:24-29); (b) he is presently concerned about the believers in the Lycus Valley, especially that they might not be “deceived by fine-sounding arguments” (2:4) which deny the sufficiency of Christ (2:1-7).

After having established both the sufficiency of Christ and Paul’s commission and concern, he now must turn, in this major section, to the heart of the matter: Heretics in Colossae have denied the sufficiency of Christ and this heresy has already affected the believers in the church (2:8–3:4). In essence, Paul’s argument is not to make an exclusively frontal attack, but to intertwine this attack with a subtle table-turning technique. That is, he uses the language of the heretics to affirm his gospel, showing that their view is insufficient, and that Christ is sufficient. Paul develops three primary points: (1) He restates the sufficiency of Christ (2:8-15)—in the light of the heretics’ wrong views (2:8), addressing three issues: (a) as the theanthropic person (“in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form” [2:9]), he has ultimate authority (2:9-10); (b) the power which raised Christ from the dead is available to believers (2:11-12); and (c) the death of Christ is not defeat, but triumph—over our heart (2:13), over the law (2:14), and over “powers and authorities” (2:15).

He now turns to the influence that the heretics have had on the Colossians (2:16–3:4). This can be viewed in two ways (hence, our second and third points). (2) The heretics’ combination of Jewish legalism and mysticism (2:16-19) is a denial of the sufficiency of Christ, for such a heretic “has lost connection with the Head” (2:19). (3) Since believers have died (2:20-23) and risen with Christ (3:1-4), their return to human regulations (2:20-23) and lack of real appreciation for the true mystery, Christ himself (3:1-4), are a contradiction of their corporate life in Christ.

In the third and last major section, Paul addresses paragenetic concerns (3:5–4:6). But these are not to be disconnected with the preceding discussion in any way. Rather, Paul’s concern now is to show that Christ is sufficient not only for salvation, but also for sanctification. This third section, in effect, becomes a preemptive handling of the heretics’ charges concerning the pragmatics of Paul’s gospel. For although these heretics emphasized the inadequacy of Christ coupled with the adequacy of knowledge, they also put a premium on living a holy life (cf. 2:20-23, etc.). This syncretistic Jewish-Greek heresy needed response then at both levels: philosophically and pragmatically.

Paul outlines three areas in which Christ’s sufficiency does enable and should motivate believers to grow in grace. Although Paul packages this entire section with imperatives, beneath the surface is the fact of Christ’s sufficiency for sanctification (or else the commands would be irrelevant). (1) His sufficiency enables believers to grow individually—that is, in relation to the flesh (3:5-17). This is because believers have already put off the old man (3:5-11; cf. 3:9) and have put on the new man (3:12-17; cf. 3:10). Thus, their battle against sin is rooted in their changed nature—a direct result of the sufficiency of Christ applied. (2) Christ’s sufficiency enables believers to act responsibly in the extended home (3:18–4:1). Wives should submit to their husbands (3:18) and husbands should love their wives (3:19); children should obey their parents (3:20) and fathers must not embitter their children (3:21); slaves should obey their masters (3:22-25) and masters should take care of their slaves properly (4:1). (3) Christ’s sufficiency enables believers to focus on the needs of others (4:2-6). Thus, they are required to be devoted to prayer for Paul and his companions—especially that they might gain opportunity in their evangelistic efforts (4:2-4); and believers should themselves make the most of their opportunities in sharing their faith (4:5-6).

The epistle closes with final greetings in which the letter-bearer, Tychicus, is commended (4:7-9), and Paul’s co-laborers (4:10-14) and Paul himself (4:15-18) send their greetings.

III. Outline

I. Salutation (1:1-2)

II. Orthodoxy: The Sufficiency of Christ Explained (1:3–2:7)

A. Thanksgiving and Prayer for the Colossians (1:3-14)
1. Thanksgiving for the Colossians’ Faith (1:3-8)
2. Prayer for the Colossians’ Knowledge and Growth (1:9-14)
B. Hymn to Christ the Lord (1:15-20)
C. Affirmation of Christ the Reconciler (1:21-23)
D. Paul’s Commission concerning the Mystery of Christ (1:24–2:7)
1. Paul’s Past Labors Aimed at Perfection in Christ (1:24-29)
2. Paul’s Present Concern regarding Defection from Christ (2:1-7)

III. Heterodoxy: The Sufficiency of Christ Denied (2:8–3:4)

A. The Sufficiency of Christ Restated (2:8-15)
1. Statement against Heretics (2:8)
2. Restatement of Christ’s Sufficiency (2:9-15)
a. Christ our Authority (2:9-10)
b. Christ our Power (2:11-12)
c. Christ our Victor (2:13-15)
B. The Colossians’ Practices as a Denial of the Sufficiency of Christ (2:16-19)
C. The Colossians’ Practices as a Contradiction of their Corporate Life in Christ (2:20–3:4)
1. Death with Christ Means Death to Human Regulations (2:20-23)
2. Resurrection with Christ Means New Perspective (3:1-4)

IV. Orthopraxy: The Sufficiency of Christ Experienced (3:5–4:6)

A. Experienced Individually (3:5-17)
1. Negative: Putting off the Old Man (3:5-11)
2. Positive: Putting on the New Man (3:12-17)
B. Experienced in the Home (3:18–4:1)
1. Wives and Husbands (3:18-19)
2. Children and Parents (3:20-21)
3. Slaves and Masters (3:22–4:1)
C. Experienced in Relation to Others (4:2-6)
1. In Relation to Paul (4:2-4)
2. In Relation to Unbelievers (4:5-6)

V. Final Greetings (4:7-18)

A. Commendation of Tychicus (4:7-9)
B. Greetings from Paul’s Co-Workers (4:10-14)
C. Greetings from Paul (4:15-18)