ImmerseMessiah NLT - Page 219

“Why do you keep on following the rules of the world, such
as ‘Don’t handle! Don’t taste! Don’t touch!’? Such rules are
mere human teachings about things that deteriorate as we
use them.”
Like the believers in Galatia, those in the city of Colosse were being
pressured to keep certain parts of the Jewish law—such as circumcision, Sabbath observance, and various festivals—and to adhere to instructions based on certain visionary experiences. These things require
“strong devotion, pious self-denial, and severe bodily discipline” but
don’t help believers actually conquer evil desires.
Paul heard this news about the church from his co-worker Epaphras,
who had just come from Colosse (see “Immersed in Philemon,” p. 203).
Paul was in prison, but even from afar he continued to teach and guide
the young churches around the Roman Empire. Paul wrote a letter to
the Colossians and asked his friends Tychicus and Onesimus to deliver
it, along with the letters we know as Philemon and Ephesians.
Colosse was located in the Roman province of Asia (modern-day Turkey). It was a place where people tended to mix practices and beliefs
from various religious traditions and where new spiritual practices were
constantly developing, like worshiping angels. Paul warns the believers not to let these empty philosophies capture their thinking. Instead,
they are to continue in the truth of the Good News they heard in the
The result is a letter giving us one of the strongest statements about
the person and work of Jesus the Messiah in the New Testament. Paul
combats the alternative philosophies in Colosse by emphasizing the
grandeur of Jesus. He writes that following rules and seeking mystical
experiences won’t strengthen a person’s faith in Jesus or bring about
spiritual transformation. Rather, Paul insists that the Colossians are
made complete only through their union with Christ.
After his opening thanksgiving and prayer for the Colossian believers,
Paul presents a striking poem showing how Jesus is supreme in all things.
The fullness of God the Father dwells in the Son, who is the maker of

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