Lesson 126: Colossians

New Testament Seminary Teacher Manual, 2016


Introduction

Paul taught of Jesus Christ’s preeminence (superiority, greatness, or excellence) and warned against false doctrine. He encouraged the Colossian Saints to set their affections on heavenly things and develop the characteristics of Christ. Paul also instructed them to be gracious and wise in their interactions with others.

Suggestions for Teaching

Colossians 1–2

Paul teaches of Jesus Christ’s preeminence and warns against false doctrine

Draw the following picture on the board.

drawing, trees and whirlwind
  • If a severe windstorm came, which of these trees would be more likely to fall? Why?

Invite a student to read aloud the following statement by Elder Neil L. Andersen of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles. Ask the class to listen for the whirlwinds we need to beware of.

Elder Neil L. Andersen

“More concerning than the prophesied earthquakes and wars [of the last days] are the spiritual whirlwinds that can uproot you from your spiritual foundations and land your spirit in places you never imagined possible, sometimes with your barely noticing that you have been moved” (“Spiritual Whirlwinds,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2014, 18).

  • What are some examples of spiritual whirlwinds that can uproot or separate us from our faith in Jesus Christ? (You may want to invite students to list their answers on the board near the drawing of the whirlwind.)

  • Why can these spiritual whirlwinds be more troubling than physical challenges, such as earthquakes or wars?

Invite students to ponder what spiritual whirlwinds might be affecting them.

Explain that Paul wrote an epistle to the Church members in Colossae (referred to as Colossians) after learning about influences and false teachings there that threatened to uproot them from their faith in Jesus Christ. (You may want to invite students to locate Laodicea, which is a short distance west of Colossae, on Bible Maps, no. 13, “The Missionary Journeys of the Apostle Paul.”) Invite students to look as they study Colossians for how Paul sought to strengthen the Church members’ faith in Christ and for the blessings of having deeply rooted faith in Christ.

Summarize Colossians 1:1–11 by explaining that after greeting the Saints in Colossae, Paul acknowledged their faithfulness and explained that the gospel brings forth fruit, or blessings, in the lives of those who accept and live it. Paul then taught them about Jesus Christ.

Invite several students to take turns reading aloud from Colossians 1:12–19. Ask the class to follow along, looking for truths Paul taught about Jesus Christ. (You may want to explain that the word “invisible” in verse 15 is translated from the Greek word aoratos, which can also mean “unseen.” Note that Hebrews 11:27 indicates that Moses saw “him who is invisible,” meaning usually unseen [see also D&C 67:11].)

  • What did Paul teach about Jesus Christ? (Using students’ words, write the following truth on the board under the tree with deep roots: Jesus Christ is the Redeemer, the firstborn of Heavenly Father’s spirit children, the Creator of all things, the head of the Church, and the first to be resurrected.)

  • Why do you think it is important for us to know and believe these truths about Jesus Christ? How can knowing and believing these truths strengthen our faith in Him?

Refer to the word Redeemer in the statement on the board, and explain that Paul reminded the Colossian Saints why they needed a Redeemer.

Invite a student to read Colossians 1:20–22 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what Paul taught the Colossian Saints about their need for a Redeemer.

  • According to verse 21, how does someone become alienated or separated from God?

  • What is the meaning of the word reconcile in verse 20? (To bring into agreement or harmony.)

  • According to verses 20 and 22, how did Jesus Christ reconcile us to God? (Explain that the phrase “made peace through the blood of his cross” refers to the Atonement of Jesus Christ.)

Explain that the blessing of being reconciled to God is conditional. Write the following phrase on the board: We can be reconciled to God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ if …

Invite a student to read Colossians 1:23 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for what is required to be reconciled to God.

  • What is required on our part to be reconciled to God?

  • What does it mean for us to “continue in the faith grounded and settled”? (To remain steadfast in our faith in Jesus Christ.)

  • Based on what we learn from verse 23, how would you complete the statement on the board? (Using students’ words, complete the principle on the board as follows: We can be reconciled to God through the Atonement of Jesus Christ if we continue to be grounded and settled in our faith.)

Direct students’ attention to the drawing on the board, and ask:

  • Whom do you know who is like the tree with deep roots—grounded and settled in his or her faith in Christ?

  • How is his or her example a blessing to you?

Invite students to read Colossians 2:4, 8 silently, looking for the spiritual whirlwinds that were threatening to uproot the Colossian Saints.

  • What were the spiritual whirlwinds that threatened to uproot the Colossian Saints? (Explain that there were several philosophies and traditions being taught by some who were trying to diminish the importance of Jesus Christ.)

  • Why would believing false teachings, including teachings that diminish the importance of Jesus Christ, make it easy for someone to be spiritually uprooted?

Invite a student to read Colossians 2:5–7 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for counsel Paul gave to help the Saints avoid being led astray by worldly philosophies and traditions.

  • What does Colossians 2:5–7 teach that can help us avoid being led astray by false worldly philosophies, religious teachings, or traditions? (Students may use their own words to identify a principle similar to the following: By being rooted and built up in Jesus Christ, we can avoid being led astray by worldly philosophies and traditions.)

Write the following questions on the board:

What do you believe is one of the most important things we can do to be rooted and built up in Jesus Christ? Why do you believe that one thing is so important?

Divide students into groups of three or four. Invite each student to explain his or her answers to the questions on the board to group members. After sufficient time, ask a few students to report what they learned from group members.

Invite students to review the personal spiritual whirlwinds they pondered at the beginning of class. Invite them to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they will do to remain rooted and built up in Jesus Christ and to avoid being uprooted by spiritual whirlwinds.

Colossians 3–4

Paul encourages the Colossians to set their affections on heavenly things and be wise

Summarize Colossians 3–4 by explaining that Paul exhorted the Colossian Saints to cease from unrighteousness and develop the characteristics of Jesus Christ. He also encouraged them to be prayerful and wise, especially in their interactions with non-Christians. He then relayed the greetings of several of his fellow servants, including Luke.

Share your testimony of the truths discussed in this lesson.

Commentary and Background Information

Colossians 1:15, 18. Jesus Christ is the Firstborn

The phrase “the firstborn of every creature” (Colossians 1:15) testifies that Jesus Christ is the firstborn of all our Heavenly Father’s spirit children. The First Presidency affirmed:

“Among the spirit children of Elohim [God the Father] the firstborn was and is Jehovah or Jesus Christ to whom all others are juniors” (“The Father and the Son: A Doctrinal Exposition by the First Presidency and the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles,” Ensign, Apr. 2002, 18).

The phrase “the firstborn from the dead” in verse 18 means that Jesus Christ was the first person on this earth to be resurrected. He is also called “the firstfruits of them that slept” (1 Corinthians 15:20).

Colossians 1:16–17. Through Jesus Christ “were all things created”

Elder Dallin H. Oaks of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles explained that Jesus Christ is the Creator and has governing power over all His creations:

“Under the direction and according to the plan of God the Father, Jesus Christ is the Creator, the source of the light and life of all things. Through modern revelation we have the testimony of John, who bore record that Jesus Christ is ‘the light and the Redeemer of the world, the Spirit of truth, who came into the world, because the world was made by him, and in him was the life of men and the light of men.

“‘The worlds were made by him; men were made by him; all things were made by him, and through him, and of him’ (D&C 93:9–10)” (“The Light and Life of the World,” Ensign, Nov. 1987, 63; see also John 1:1–3; Hebrews 1:2; D&C 76:24; Moses 1:33).

Colossians 2:9. “The fulness of the Godhead bodily”

Speaking of Jesus Christ, Paul testified, “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” This phrase indicates Jesus Christ is fully divine and possesses the full power of godhood (see also Matthew 28:18).

Supplemental Teaching Ideas

Colossians 3. Paul encourages the Colossians to set their affections on heavenly things

Draw the following illustration on the board, large enough so that students can write inside each drawing. Write Put off above one drawing, and write Put on above the other drawing.

drawing, 2 person outlines

Explain that as recorded in Colossians 3:1–4, Paul exhorted the Saints to focus their attention on heavenly things rather than earthly things and taught that Jesus Christ would appear in glory at His Second Coming.

  • If you were present when the Savior appeared in glory, what clothing would you want to wear?

  • What do you think would be more important than the clothing you would wear?

Explain that in Colossians 3:5–15, Paul taught the Saints in Colossae what they should “put off” (verse 8) and what they should “put on” (verse 10) as Jesus Christ’s disciples. Divide the class in half, and invite one half of the class to read Colossians 3:5–9, looking for what Paul taught we should put off. Invite the other half of the class to read Colossians 3:10–15, looking for what Paul taught we should put on. (You may need to define the following: fornication [sexual immorality], inordinate affection [lust], and evil concupiscence [evil desires].)

After sufficient time, invite several students to write on the board within the appropriate drawings what Paul said should be put off or put on.

Direct students’ attention to the drawing labeled “Put off,” and ask:

  • What do you think it means to put off these things?

  • How might someone who had committed these sins and had not repented of them feel in the Savior’s presence? (See also Mormon 9:3–4.)

Direct students’ attention to the drawing labeled “Put on,” and ask:

  • How might someone who has put on these characteristics feel in the Savior’s presence?

  • As a person puts on these characteristics, who are they becoming like? (Jesus Christ [see Colossians 3:10]. Write the following principle on the board: As we put off unrighteousness and strive to put on the characteristics of Jesus Christ, we become new individuals who are like Him.)

  • How can we develop these characteristics of Jesus Christ?

Ask students to think of someone they know who is striving to put on the characteristics of Jesus Christ. Consider asking a few students to share how this person has developed those characteristics.

Invite students to ponder what sins they may need to put off and what characteristics of Jesus Christ they need to put on. Ask students to make a goal to put off specific sins and put on certain characteristics of Christ. Invite students to write their goals in their scripture study journals or on a piece of paper.

Explain that as recorded in Colossians 3:16–25, Paul gave the Colossian Saints instructions that would help them be more Christlike and have greater peace in their lives.

Colossians 4:16. Paul instructs the Colossian Saints to read an epistle from Laodicea

Explain that in Paul’s day, the branches of the Church read Paul’s letters aloud in their congregations. Letters to one branch were sometimes passed along to another so that more members could hear Paul’s teachings and counsel. Invite a student to read Colossians 4:16 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for two different letters that Paul wrote. Ask students to report what they find.

Explain that the Bible contains the epistle Paul wrote to the Colossians, but the epistle from Laodicea that Paul mentioned is now lost and not found in the Bible today, along with other epistles of Paul (see 1 Corinthians 5:9; Ephesians 3:3). This indicates that the Bible today does not contain all scripture that the Lord’s prophets and apostles have written.