Biblical Places Spiritual Spaces Colossae, Hierapolis and Laodicea

 

Letters to Three Churches

Colossae- at the base of the mountains where the cool waters flow

Hierapolis- the warm healing spring coming out of the mountains on the opposite side of the valley

Laodicea- the rich city in the plain in between Colossae and Hierapolis where the water was lukewarm and disagreeable

1  Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ  by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To the  saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.                  Colossians 1:1-2

Epaphras, who is one of your number, a bondslave of Jesus Christ, sends you his greetings, always laboring earnestly for you in his prayers, that you may stand  perfect and fully assured in all the will of God. 13 For I testify for him that he has a deep concern for you and for those who are in Laodicea and Hierapolis. 14  Luke, the beloved physician, sends you his greetings, and also Demas. 15 Greet the brethren who are in Laodicea and also Nympha and the church that is in her house. 16  When this letter is read among you, have it also read in the church of the Laodiceans; and you, for your part read my letter that is coming from Laodicea.                                          Colossians 4:12-16

1) Let the Scriptures guide you.

Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so  walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. 8  See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.  Colossians 2:6-8

2) Don’t get caught up in religion and mysticism.

Therefore no one is to  act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day17 things which are a mere shadow of what is to come; but the substance belongs to Christ. 18 Let no one keep  defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen,  inflated without cause by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding fast to the head, from whom the entire body, being supplied and held together by the joints and ligaments, grows with a growth which is from God.                                                                     Colossians 2:16-19

3) Keep the Eternal Perspective

Therefore if you have been raised up with Christ, keep seeking the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2   Set your mind on the things above, not on the things that are on earth. For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.                             Colossians 3:1-3

4) Allow Yourself to be transformed.

Don’t let your carnal nature take control of you soul, your personality & your lifestyle

5  Therefore consider the members of your earthly body as dead to  immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and greed, which amounts to idolatry. 6 For it is because of these things that the wrath of God will come upon the sons of disobedience, 7 and in them you also once walked, when you were living in them.  Col 3:5-6

 

5) Treat others with respect, care, and kindness

 8 But now you also, put them all aside: anger, wrath, malice, slander, and abusive speech from your mouth. 9   Do not lie to one another, since you laid aside the old self with its evil practices, 10 and have put on the new self who is being  renewed to a true knowledge according to the image of the One who created him11 a renewal in which there is no distinction between Greek and Jew, circumcised and uncircumcised,  barbarian, Scythian, slave and freeman, but Christ is all, and in all. 12 So, as those who have been chosen of God, holy and beloved, put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and  patience; 13  bearing with one another, and forgiving each other, whoever has a complaint against anyone; just as the Lord forgave you, so also should you. 14 Beyond all these things put on love, which is  the perfect bond of unity.                           Colossians 3:8-14

6) Cultivate your intimate relationship with Christ

Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in one body; and be thankful. 16 Let the word of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. 17Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.     Colossians 3:15-17

7) Let your familial relationships reflect God’s order and love

Wives, be subject to your husbands, as is fitting in the Lord. 19Husbands, love your wives and do not be embittered against them. 20  Children, be obedient to your parents in all things, for this is well-pleasing to the Lord. 21Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.                               Colossians 3:18-21

8) Let Christ into your workplace

Slaves (employees) , in all things obey those who are your masters (managers/bosses) on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 23 Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, 24  knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve. 25 For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and  that without partiality. 1 Masters (bosses/managers), grant to your slaves (workers) justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master (Boss) in heaven.                                            Colossians 3:22 - 4:1

9) Focus your day on prayer to God, especially toward the needs of others

2  Devote yourselves to prayer, keeping alert in it with an attitude of thanksgiving; 3 praying at the same time for us as well, that God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ, for which I have also been imprisoned; 4 that I may make it clear in the way I ought to speak.                      Colossians 4:2-4

10) Remember our mission to reach those who do not know Christ.

Conduct yourselves with wisdom toward outsiders,  making the most of the opportunity. 6  Let your speech always be with grace, as though seasoned with salt, so that you will know how you should respond to each person.   Col 4:5-6

11) Be known as loyal, faithful, serving friends

“You are the salt of the earth; but if the salt has become tasteless, how can it be made salty again? It is no longer good for anything, except to be thrown out and trampled under foot by men.
14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden; 15 nor does anyone light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on the lampstand, and it gives light to all who are in the house. 16 Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.                                                                   Matthew 5:13-16

 

“To the angel of the church in Laodicea write:

The Amen, the faithful and true Witness, the Beginning of the creation of God, says this:
15 ‘I know your deeds, that you are neither cold nor hot; I wish that you were cold or hot. 16 So because you are lukewarm, and neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of My mouth.

 17 Because you say, “I am rich, and have become wealthy, and have need of nothing,” and you do not know that you are wretched and miserable and poor and blind and naked, 18 I advise you to buy from Me gold refined by fire so that you may become rich, and white garments so that you may clothe yourself, and that the shame of your nakedness will not be revealed; and eye salve to anoint your eyes so that you may see.

19 Those whom I love, I reprove and discipline; therefore be zealous and repent.

 20 Behold, I stand at the door and knock; if anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and will dine with him, and he with Me. 21 He who overcomes, I will grant to him to sit down with Me on My throne, as I also overcame and sat down with My Father on His throne. 22 He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.’”                                                            Revelation 3:14-22

12) Let your relationships have the effect of healing and refreshment to those around you.

 These are all good guidelines for Christian living, but what is the motivation for walking in these steps?

Paul tells us some incredible truths that go to the heart of our worldview, which is the fountain of all we do in this life.

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4  since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as  in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.                  Col 1:1-8

The followers of Jesus in Colossae, Hierapolis and Laodicea were known for their:

  1. Faith in Christ Jesus and
  2. Love which you have for all the saints
  3. Hope laid up for you in heaven,
  4. Constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you.

 

 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the  knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11  strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.  Col 1:9-12

Paul’s Prayer for Maturity:   We have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that:

  1. You may be filled with the  knowledge (epignōsis) of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10
  2. So that you will walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,  
  3. To please Him in all respects,
  4. Bearing fruit in every good work and
  5. Increasing in the knowledge of God;  
  6. Strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might,
  7. For the attaining of all steadfastness and patience;
  8. Joyously giving thanks to the Father,

Knowledge: epígnōsis; to recognize. It is more intens. than gnṓsis (G1108), knowledge, because it expresses a more thorough participation in the acquiring of knowledge on the part of the learner. In the NT, it often refers to knowledge which very powerfully influences the form of religious life, a knowledge laying claim to personal involvement. Experiential, Personal, Life Changing

Power: dúnamai; To be able, have power, whether by virtue of one's own ability and resources (Rom. 15:14), through a state of mind or favorable circumstances (1 Thess. 2:6), by permission of law or custom (Acts 24:8, 11), or simply to be able, powerful. Power, especially achieving power. All the words derived from the stem dúna- have the meaning of being able, capable.

Steadfastness: hupomonḗ; to persevere, remain under. A bearing up under, patience, endurance as to things or circumstances. This is in contrast to makrothumía (G3115), long-suffering or endurance toward people. Hupomonḗ is associated with hope (1 Thess. 1:3) and refers to that quality of character which does not allow one to surrender to circumstances or succumb under trial.

Patience: makrothumía; to be long-suffering. Forbearance, long-suffering, self-restraint before proceeding to action. The quality of a person who is able to avenge himself yet refrains from doing so.

Joyously: chará; to rejoice. Joy, rejoicing, gladness.


13  For He rescued us from the  domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of  His beloved Son, 14  in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.  Col 1:13-14

Who is Jesus of Nazareth? Why does he deserve our devotion?

  1. He (God, Yahweh) rescued us from the  domain of darkness,
  2. He transferred us to the kingdom of  His beloved Son
  3. We have redemption.
  4. We are forgiven of our sins.

 

15  He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. 16 For  by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him. 17 He  is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. 18 He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything. 19 For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him, 20 and through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross; through Him, I say, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
21 And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds, 22 yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a  minister.  Col 1:15-23

Jesus is:

1. the image of the invisible God

Image: eikṓn; A representation, an image, resemblance, Eikṓn sometimes may be used as syn. with homoíōma (G3667), and both may refer to earthly copies and resemblances of the archetypal things in the heavens. However, there is a distinction in that eikṓn, image, always assumes a prototype, that which it not merely resembles but from which it is drawn. Thus, the reflection of the sun on the water is eikṓn. More importantly, the child is émpsuchos (possessed of a soul) eikṓn, image of his parents. Jesus has a prototype- the invisible God in Heaven.

 

2.  the firstborn of all creation.

Firstborn: prōtotokos ; childbirth, offspring; referring to the legal rights of the eldest child in Greco-Roman society.

“What it means here is that Christ holds the same relation to Creation as God the Father- Yahweh, and He is above all creation. It does not mean that He is part of the Creation made by God, but that the relation of the whole creation to Him was determined by the fact that He is the cause of the creation of al things, and without Him there could be no creation. It is not said of Christ that He was ktistheis, ‘created’, from ktizo, ‘to create’, a verb used of the creation of the world used in Col 1:16. We never find this verb ktizo as referring to Jesus Christ as having been created.”  Spiro Zodhiates Key Word Study Bible note p.1579

3.  by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things have been created through Him and for Him.

Create:ktizō- to create, produce from nothing

 

4.  He is before all things, and in Him all things hold

Hold: sunthrúptō; Figuratively, from the trans., meaning to join together parts into a whole, to constitute, create, bring into existence. In the NT, intrans. meaning to be constituted, created, to exist.

 5.  He is also head of the body, the church;

Head: kephalḗ; The head, top, that which is uppermost in relation to something.

6.  He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything;

Beginning: archḗs.  Archḗ denotes an act. cause, as in Col. 1:18. Christ is called "the beginning" because He is the efficient cause of the creation; "the head" because He is before all things, and all things were created by Him and for Him (John 1:1-3; Col. 1:16-17; Heb. 1:10). Archḗ may also mean the pass. beginning of something, as the beginning of a line, road, and so forth; rule, authority, dominion, power;

 7. For it was the Father’s good pleasure for all the fullness to dwell in Him;

Fullness: plḗrōma; noun from plēróō (G4137), to make full, fill, fill up. Fullness.

 

  1. Through Him to reconcile all things to Himself, having made peace through the blood of His cross;

Reconcile: apokatalláttō; indicating the state to be left behind, and katallássō (G2644), to reconcile. Apokatallássō is the stronger term for reconcile, differing from katallássō (G2644), to reconcile, to set up a relationship of peace not existing before, in that apokatallássō is the restoration of a relationship of peace which has been disturbed.

 

  1. He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach— 23 if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard.

Present: paristánō;from pará (G3844), near, and hístēmi (G2476), to place, stand; to cause to stand near or before; to stand near or before, to be present.

 

24  Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I do my share on behalf of His body, which is the church, in filling up what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. 25  Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God, 26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man  complete in Christ. 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me. Colossians 1:24-29

 

The Mystery Revealed

When we received Jesus as our Lord, we are sealed with the Holy Spirit. Paul explained it to his friends in Ephesus in his letter:

13 And now you Gentiles have also heard the truth, the Good News that God saves you. And when you believed in Christ, he identified you as his own by giving you the Holy Spirit, whom he promised long ago. 14 The Spirit is God’s guarantee that he will give us the inheritance he promised and that he has purchased us to be his own people. He did this so we would praise and glorify him.            Ephesians 1:13-14 NLT

The Holy Spirit was given to certain people in the Hebrew Scriptures for specific purposes, but now all followers of Jesus are filled with the Holy Spirit. It is a mystery that the Hebrew prophets often spoke about. Ezekiel saw the day when the Holy Spirit would be given:

25 “Then I will sprinkle clean water on you, and you will be clean. Your filth will be washed away, and you will no longer worship idols. 26 And I will give you a new heart, and I will put a new spirit in you. I will take out your stony, stubborn heart and give you a tender, responsive heart. 27 And I will put my Spirit in you so that you will follow my decrees and be careful to obey my regulations.               Ezekiel 36:25-27 NLT

Paul now reveals a deeper truth: It is actually Jesus Christ that is in you, speaking to you, encouraging you,  empowering you, and giving you a peace that the world does not understand. This is hard to understand, how the Holy Spirit and Jesus are interacting within us, connecting us to the consciousness of God the Father, yet it is a powerful truth for all disciples.

26 that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints, 27 to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.      Col 1:26-27

 

The Role, Responsibility, and Result

 As a result of all these incredible truths that Paul has proclaimed to us, he gives us the normative action of every follower of Jesus:

28 We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man  complete in Christ.

 29 For this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

Colossians 1:25-29

If these things are so, then let us agree with Paul and dedicate our time and other resources to bringing this message to our family, friends and neighbors. Let’s do it through our hospitality, our service, and our friendships that with all that God brings across our paths.