Maturity In Colossians
By Shawn Leach
Why did Paul write his letter to the Colossians?
Epaphras, the pastor in Colosse (also spelled as Colossae), came to Paul for help after false
teachers began confusing the church regarding doctrine. The Colossians, described as faithful
believers (1:2), were nonetheless in danger of being persuaded by false doctrine (2:8) and
legalism (2:16-23). The church even struggled with immoral behavior (3:5), ungodliness (3:7-10)
and other problems (3:18-4:1).
What did both Epaphras and Paul want from the Colossians?
Both men knew that the only hope for the Colossians was for the church to understand God’s
Word and stand strong in it (1:9, 23; 2:2; 4:2). Paul knew that this was how the Colossians would
be able to change their behavior (1:10-12, 23; 2:6, 18).
Aren’t all Christians holy?
While every believer is sacred or holy (hagios) in their position or standing in Christ (Col
3:12; 1 Cor 3:17), we may not be in our condition (anastrophe) or behavior (1 Cor 7:34; 1 Peter
1:15-16; 2 Peter 3:11; Rev 22:11). This was Paul’s concern, that the Colossians’ behavior be
consistent with their new position in Christ.
If we are saved by faith, then why do our lifestyles matter?
By simply believing in Jesus Christ for Eternal Life, He forgives us of all of our sins (Col
1:14). But we should never take advantage of God’s grace by living like an unbeliever (Rom 6:1-
2). In fact, we all will answer to God personally for how we’ve lived (Rom 14:10). This place of
judgment (bema) is called the Judgment Seat of Christ or Bema Seat (2 Cor 5:10). Since our
sins have already been judged at the cross, the Bema Seat judges only our works, displaying
them as either good or bad (i.e. worthless) (1 Cor 3:13-15). Each person will receive
compensation for how they’ve lived (2 Cor 5:10).
What is Paul’s goal for the Colossians?
Paul writes that his chief aim in life is to help every person become complete (telios) in
Christ (Col 1:28). This word can be translated as perfect or mature (see Eph 4:13 and James 1:4)
and signifies stable, Christlike behavior. The idea is not simply salvation from hell but also a life
of growth and maturity. God desires maturity for every person and is the reason why He saved us
(Col 1:22; Eph 1:4; 2:10).
Paul is convinced that the key for the Colossians to live a lifestyle characterized as holy,
blameless and above reproach is for them to stand firm in the faith and to not lose hope (Col
1:23), a danger very real to this community due to the false teachers in the area (2:8, 18; 3:2).
While a holy lifestyle is expected for all believers (Acts 24:16; 1 Cor 1:8; 2 Cor 1:12; Phil 1:10;
2:15; 1 Tim 5:7; 1 Peter 1:16-17; Rev 14:5) and not just the leaders in the church (1 Tim 3:2;
Titus 1:6-7), it shouldn’t be confused with the idea of 100% sinless perfection. Because we still
have the sin nature, sinlessness is impossible (Rom 7:14-25; 1 John 1:8).
What should I learn from Paul’s letter to the Colossians?
Paul was confident that if the Colossians understood and continued belie ving God’s Word
(1:23) they would then understand His will and be able to please Him through their behavior
(1:9-12). This was Paul’s goal for them, that their behavior would be holy, blameless and above
reproach (1:22). This is the goal for us as well, and by following Paul’s instructions concerning
God’s Word we can learn how to live in a way that is holy and pleasing to God (Eph 5:7-10).