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Overview Outline of Colossians

Completeness in Christ Guards Against the Counterfeits of Mysticism, Legalism, and Traditionalism

  1. Introduction: Greetings of grace and peace to those complete in Christ (Col 1:1-2)
    1. The writer (Col 1:1)
      1. The human author
      2. The Divine author
    2. The recipients (Col 1:2a)
      1. The original recipients
      2. The current recipient (cf. 2Ti 3:16-17; 2Pe 3:15-16)
    3. The reasons
      1. Confirmation: Paul confirmed his care for the Colossian believers, and assured them of their standing in Christ (Col 1:2-12, 24-29; Col 2:1-5)
      2. Refutation: Paul refuted the error of integrating human wisdom/philosophy with Christianity (Col 2:2-4, 8-23)
      3. Exhortation: Paul exhorted the Colossians to live in light of the supremacy and sufficiency in Christ (Col 2:6-7; Col 3:1-25; Col 4:1-6)
      4. Information: Paul sent information concerning himself, his fellow-workers, and even another epistle (Col 4:7-18)
      5. Summation/Theme: Paul’s theme in Colossians is the sufficiency and supremacy of Christ/Complete in Christ (Col 1:13-23, 28-29; Col 2:2-3, 8-10; Col 3:3-4, 11c)
    4. The requisite greeting (Col 2:2b)
  2. Intercession/Edification: Encouragement through thanksgiving and prayer for those in Christ (Col 1:3-14)
    1. Paul thanked God for the Colossians’ faith: Completeness in Christ begins with true conversion (Col 1:3-8)
    2. Paul prayed for the Colossians growth: Completeness in Christ is experienced through living in light of God’s revealed will (Col 1:9-14)
  3. Instruction: Completeness in Christ starts with understanding the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ (Col 1:15-29; Col 2:1-5)
    1. The supremacy and sufficiency of Christ’s Person and work (Col 1:15-23)
    2. The supremacy and sufficiency of Christ in Paul’s ministry (Col 1:23c-29; Col 2:1-5)
  4. Refutation: Completeness in Christ cannot be obtained by human wisdom, religious tradition, mystical experience, or human effort—it is a gift of grace received by faith (Col 2:6-23)
    1. You are complete in Christ—do not be taken captive by philosophical deception (Col 2:6-15)
    2. You are complete in Christ—do not be subject to ritualism [religious traditionalism] (Col 2:16-17)
    3. You are complete in Christ—do not be defrauded by mysticism (Col 2:18-19)
    4. You are complete in Christ—do not be subject to asceticism/self-made religion [rule-keeping religion] (Col 2:20-23)
  5. Exhortation: Completeness in Christ is a gift of God that should shape all of life (Col 3; Col 4:1-6)
    1. The root of your life: Your thinking and desires should reflect your completeness in Christ (Col 3:1-4)
    2. The fruit of your life in general character: Your character should reflect your completeness in Christ (Col 3:5-17)
    3. The fruit of your life in specific social relationships: Your relationships should reflect your completeness in Christ (Col 3:18-25; Col 4:1)
    4. The fruit of your life in prayer and evangelism: Your prayer life and witness should reflect your completeness in Christ (Col 4:2-6)
  6. Information/Participation: Completeness in Christ brings fellowship, love and concern for the brethren (Col 4:7-18) 1
    1. Paul sent two representatives to both inform and encourage the Colossians because of his fellowship, love and concern for them—and they for him (Col 4:7-9)
    2. Paul sent greetings from other believers of note to the Colossians because of their mutual fellowship, love and concern (Col 4:10-14)
    3. Paul sent his final instructions, and personal greetings to promote mutual fellowship, love and concern (Col 4:15-18)

1These weren’t superficial closing remarks, but were meant to foster fellowship, love and mutual care for those complete in Christ—between both Jewish and Gentile believers.

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