PAUL’S SERVICE AND ENCOURAGEMENT
Welcome and Prayer
Leader: The Lord be with you.
People: And also with you.
Leader: Let us pray.
Lord, there may be times when life and its anxieties seem overpowering to us. During these times we keep in mind your gracious words, “I will be with you, even to the end of the age.” Help us to remember that you have called us to take up our cross and follow you. As you make yourself present with us through your Holy Spirit, bring we pray your healing touch where needed; your cup of joy where sorrow overflows; your steady love when we waver and your great strength when we are weak. You have told us to be bold before God so it is in your name that we make our requests. Amen.
Overview of the Session
Epaphras has arrived in Rome to visit Paul in prison. Things back home in Colosse were going well, but there were questions being thrown at the new Christians in the Lycus Valley. One of the issues that we will touch on in this session is the suffering or persecuted Christian. Maybe a question being asked was, “If Paul is such an important leader and Apostle, why is he sitting in prison?” It’s the old adage that bad things don’t happen to good people. Paul reminds them that Christ suffered and that part of “serving his church” is to stand in Jesus’ place. Sometimes, that involves suffering within his will. For your benefit, Paul says, I’m glad for the witness I can bring even through suffering.
LIFE SHARING Sharing our storiesHave you ever felt you were being persecuted or suffering for your faith? Because of your experience, was there an occasion when you were able to encourage someone else who was going through a similar situation?
Reflection from personal studyThe Apostle Paul concludes this passage by calling on the Christians in the Lycus Valley to “live in obedience to Christ Jesus.” Although he uses himself as an example, the focus is on Jesus, the strength is from Jesus and the goal to be like Jesus. Picking up from the last session, Paul is showing how Christ becomes first in our lives through our life experiences.
The churches at Colosse and Laodicea were almost all Gentiles. Gentiles were coming into a “Jewish based” faith that had lots of history and tradition that was new to them. They were considered outsiders. In this section, Paul puts out the welcome mat for them to enter into relationship with God. This was, he says, God’s plan from the beginning—to have all believers in one body.
For our reflection, how can we encourage people to be at home with us as Christians? What can we do to put out “the welcome mat” for those not of our faith? How does our living show the winsomeness of Jesus? Do others see in us the joy of believing in Jesus Christ
| Colossians 1:24 – 2:7|
1 24 I am glad when I suffer for you in my body, for I am completing what remains of Christ’s sufferings for his body. 25 God has given me the responsibility of serving his church by proclaiming his message in all its fullness to you Gentiles. 26 This message was kept secret for centuries and generations past, but now it has been revealed to his own holy people. 27 For it has pleased God to tell the people that the riches and glory of Christ are for you Gentiles, too. For this is the secret: Christ lives in you, and this is your assurance that you will share in his glory.
28 So everywhere we go, we tell everyone about Christ. We warn them and teach them with all wisdom God has given us, for we want to present them to God, perfect in their relationship to Christ. 29 I work very hard at this, as I depend on Christ’s mighty power that works within me.
2:1 I want you to know how much I have ago-nized for you and for the church at Laodicea, and for many other friends who have never known me personally. 2 My goal is that they will be en-couraged and knit together by strong ties of love. I want them to have full confidence because they have complete understanding of God’s secret plan, which is Christ himself. 3 In him lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
4 I am telling this so that no one will be able to deceive you with persuasive arguments. 5 For though I am far away from you, my heart is with you. And I am very happy because you are living as you should and because of your strong faith in Christ.
6 And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to live in obedi-ence to him. 7 Let your roots grow down into him, so you will grow in faith, strong and vigor-ous in the truth you were taught. Let your lives overflow with thanksgiving for all he has done.
|1. We know Paul is writing from prison in Rome and that he was beaten in Philippi (Acts 16:22-24). How was this suffering a benefit to the Gentile church at Colosse? (See Ephesians 3:13).
2. What link do you see between Paul’s service of suffering (vr. 24) and proclaiming (vr. 25)?
(See Luke 21:12, 13).
3. These are Gentile Christians Paul is address-ing. How are verses 26, 27 vital to them? (See Ephesians 3:5, 6).
4. Paul begins this section with the words “I am glad . . .” What does verse 28 reveal as to the source of his joy?
5. Paul wants to share the Good News with others. Where does his motivation and energy to share come from and is that energy still available today? If so, what does that mean for us?
6. Paul is overseeing a number of churches in a wide variety of situations. What benefits do you see from their being “knit together by strong ties of love”?
7. Paul has presented his message “in all its fullness” (vr. 25); wants to present them “perfect in their relationship to Christ” (vr. 28); and says in Christ “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and know-ledge.” (vr. 2:3). What do you think is going on back in Colosse that brings the concern of verse 2:4?
8. Paul says in 2:4 that he doesn’t want them to be “deceived through persuasive arguments.” Is that still possible today? How?
9. The message that Paul has been faithful in declaring has resulted in changes and actions in their lives. From vrs. 2:5-7, what new activities can you identify in their lives?
10. Taking one or two items from the list above, #9, how can you incorporate them into your life?
The opening verses of this section returns to that concept—he himself has been beaten and is in prison because of his witness for Christ. He realizes that his suffering, while not a joyous event, is reaping a harvest. Not only his message, but his life is a presentation of Jesus to all who see and hear him. Remember that it was the persecuted church of the early centuries that drove the growth and the expansion of Christian faith. Even today, we are beneficiaries of Paul’s suffering.
In the opening verses of this book Paul highlighted that he was praying for them regularly. In the closing chap- ter he requests that those in the Lycus Valley pray forhim. He wanted them to see we are in this together and that we should support each other through prayer. Tohelp us do this, those who would like, share any requestfor prayer you have. Others in the group will write yourrequest in the space to the right. It is our intention thatwe will pray for each other during the coming week.
Study Group Prayer Partners
Ephesians. 6:18 “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.”
My Prayer Partners: They’ve Asked Prayer for: