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Colossians (!)

By Charles H. Welch

The epistle to the Colossians is one of a group of epistles which were written by Paul from prison (see PRISON MINISTRY) and forms one of a pair with Ephesians leaving Philippians to form one of a pair with 2 Timothy. The relationship of the Prison Epistles can be seen by the following structural correspondence.


The Prison Epistles

A Ephesians. The Dispensation of the Mystery.
                        The Church which is His Body.
                        The Fulness. Christ the Head.
                        Principalities and Powers.

B Philippians. Try the things that differ.
                         Strive. Press towards the mark.
                         Prize. Depart. Offered.

C Philemon. A private and affectionate letter.

A Colossians. The Dispensation of the Mystery.
                         The Church which is His Body.
                         Fulness. Christ the Head.
                         Principalities and Powers.

B 2 Timothy. Rightly dividing the word of Truth.
                        Strive. Course finished.
                        Crown. Depart. Offered.

Colossians supplements Ephesians, gives the same teaching in somewhat more condensed form, and adds a large central section in the nature of a warning. The warning has to do with ‘the prize’ of Philippians, the words, ‘let no man beguile you of your reward’ being a translation of katabrabeuo (Col. 2:18). ‘The prize’ of Philippians 3:14 being brabeion. At the close of this article we give a chart, setting forth the general idea of the epistle, but we will here give the structural outline of the epistle as a whole and exhibit the arrangement of some of its parts, and follow this with a few notes upon some outstanding features of the epistle.



A 1:1,2. Salutation.

B 1:3-8. Faithful ministry Epaphras. Word of truth heard.

C  a 1:9-12. Prayer for spiritual walk.
        b 1:13-23. Christ before all. In Him all consist.

D 1:23-27. The MYSTERY manifested by God.

E 1:28 to 2:1. Preaching to present PERFECT.

F 2:2,3. HID. Treasures of wisdom and knowledge.

G 2:4-23. BEWARE. Fivefold warning.

F 3:1-4. HID. Your life, with Christ.

C     b 3:5-15. Christ is all and in all.
    a 3:16 to 4:1. Indwelling word, spiritual walk.

D 4:2-11. The MYSTERY manifested by Paul.

E 4:12,13. Prayer to stand PERFECT.

B 4:14-17. Public ministry. Archippus. Epistle to be read.

A 4:18. Salutation.

We follow this outline of the epistle as a whole, with one or two outlines of the larger correspondencies.


Colossians 1:9-12 with 3:16 to 4:1

Meet for, and the Reward of the INHERITANCE.

C 1:9-12.

A 1:9. Prayer for all wisdom.

B 1:9. Spiritual understanding.

C 1:10. Every good work.

D 1:12. Giving thanks unto the Father.

E 1:10. All pleasing.

F 1:12. Meet for Inheritance.

BEWARE - Col. 2:4-23

C 3:16 to 4:1.

A 3:16. Word of Christ, all wisdom.

B 3:16. Spiritual songs.

C 3:17. Word or deed.

D 3:17. Giving thanks to the Father.

E 3:20. Well pleasing.

F 3:24. Reward of the Inheritance.


Colossians 1:13-23 with 3:5-15

THE IMAGE. Christ is all.

C 1:13-23.

G 1:15,16. Creator. The IMAGE.

H 1:20. Reconciliation. Heaven and Earth.

I 1:17,18. Christ pre-eminent. All in Him.

J 1:20. Peace and forgiveness of sins.

K 1:22. Holy, blameless, unreproveable.

BEWARE - Col. 2:4-23

C 3:5-15.

G 3:10. Created after the IMAGE.

H 3:11. Reconciliation of Jew and Greek.

I 3:11. Christ is all and in all.

J 3:13,15. Peace. Forgive quarrel.

K 3:9,12. Put off, put on, holy and beloved.

For the corresponding structure of Colossians 1:23 to 2:1 with 4:2-13, see the article entitled MYSTERY. For structure of the prayer of Colossians 1:9-12 and its association with the prayers of Ephesians and Philippians, see the article THE PRAYERS OF THE APOSTLE PAUL. For the structure of Colossians 1:13-23 see article entitled RECONCILIATION. For the word fullness, see article entitled PLEROMA.

We must leave these several articles to supply the necessary information regarding the passages indicated, and turn our attention to the outline of the great distinctive central portion. It will be seen that there are five correctives, and we have had them set up in distinctive type so that they may be seen together.

The key-words of Colossians and others, such as ‘above’, ‘the hope’, epiphaneia, ‘manifestation’, etc., are dealt with in articles bearing similar words in their titles. For a fuller exposition of the whole epistle, the reader is directed to the series of articles on Colossians in The Berean Expositor, Vols. 20 to 25, and the section of The Testimony of the Lord’s Prisoner devoted to that epistle. The chart on page 183 may help the reader to envisage the teaching of this great epistle.


Colossians 2:4-23

R a 4-8. Plausible speech. Philosophy (sophos).
       b 8. Traditions of men.
          c 8. Rudiments of the world.
                  CORRECTIVE 8. Not after Christ.
                                          9,10. Ye are filled full in Him.

S d 11,12. Body of the flesh. The energy of God.
       e 11. Made without hands.
           f 11,12. IN Whom. Circumcised and baptized.
                          CORRECTIVE 12. Dead and buried with Christ.
                                                  10. Head of principality and power.

T g 14. Handwriting of ordinances. Blotted out.
       h 14. Nailed to cross. Taken out of the way.
       h 15. Principalities spoiled. Triumph in the cross.
   g 16. Observances. Let no man judge you.
             CORRECTIVE 17. These are shadows.
                                     17. The body is of Christ.

S d 18,19. Mind of the flesh. Increase of God.
       e 18. Voluntary humility. Vainly puffed up.
           f 18,19. OUT of Whom. Religion of angels.
                         CORRECTIVE 19. Hold Christ the Head.
                                                 20. Ye died with Christ.

R c 20-22. Rudiments of the world.
      b 22. Teaching of men.
          a 23. Wordy show of wisdom (sophos).
                    CORRECTIVE 23. Not in any honour.
                                            23. Filling the flesh.