Lesson for August 19, 2018: Christ Is Preeminent (Colossians 1:9-23)
Lesson for August 19, 2018: Christ Is Preeminent (Colossians 1:9-23)

Dr. Mark Scott wrote this treatment of the International Sunday School Lesson. Scott teaches preaching and New Testament at Ozark Christian College, Joplin, Missouri. This lesson treatment is published in issue no. 9 (weeks 33–36; August 19—September 9, 2018) of The Lookout magazine, and is also available online at www.lookoutmag.com.

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Beginning this week, the weekly Bible lessons are based on a scope and sequence prepared by Christian Standard Media. For more information, click here.

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By Mark Scott 

Our oldest son had a T-shirt that read, “There are two things you can be sure of: (1) There is a God. (2) You are not him.” The Colossians needed an 18-wheeler full of those T-shirts. After Epaphras had planted the church in Colossae (Colossians 1:7) the church experienced a heresy that threatened to undo the good work of the gospel. False teachers were bent on a “Jesus plus” or “Jesus minus” faith. We may not know all the nuances of the heresy at Colossae, but we do know the remedy. That remedy is Jesus, with nothing added or deleted.

You would be hard-pressed to find a more Christ-centered epistle than Colossians. Paul wrote it while serving time in Roman house arrest in AD 62 (Acts 28:30, 31). Similar to how Paul wrote the twin prison epistle of Ephesians, the sentences were long and involved. Once he mentioned the supremacy of Jesus, he seemed to have difficulty knowing where to put the period. Verses 9-20 of our text is one sentence in the original language.

 

Paul Is Prayerful Colossians 1:9-14

In rather typical Pauline fashion, the epistle begins with thanksgiving and prayer. He thanked God for their triad of virtues (faith, hope, and love). He acknowledged that they had borne fruit from the gospel, as had other churches throughout the world. Because they had experienced some success in gospel productivity, Paul prayed for their ongoing growth and maturity all the more.

Paul prayed continually (see 1 Thessalonians 5:17) that the Colossians would be filled with the spiritual knowledge that only the Holy Spirit could give. Paul prayed that the Colossians would have an informed faith. Three words that highlight cognition were used; knowledge, wisdom, and understanding. But this knowledge was not intended to give anyone a big head. It was intended so that the believers would live a life worthy (walk worthily) of the Lord. Spiritual knowledge has to serve a purpose. Otherwise, it turns to the worst kind of pride (1 Corinthians 8:1).

When head connects with feet good things happen. Believers bear fruit, grow in additional knowledge, and are strengthened (literally “powered in all power”) for endurance, longsuffering, and the giving of thanks to God. And speaking of God, Paul asserted two things about God in his prayer. First, God qualified (made sufficient or authorized) the believers. Second, he rescued them from the “authority of darkness” to the “loving reign” of Jesus. God used Jesus to “redeem” them, and key in that redemption is the forgiveness of sins.

 

But Christ Is PreeminentColossians 1:15-23

Without pausing for breath, Paul wrote one of the loftiest paragraphs in the New Testament about Jesus in these verses. To ensure that no one had a less-than-stellar view of Jesus, Paul marked out the preeminence of Jesus in four ways. First, Jesus is preeminent in creation (vv. 15-17). Jesus is the image of God and the firstborn of creation. He is not created. Jesus is the image of the invisible God in that he makes the invisible God visible. Jesus is the firstborn (first place) of creation because he was there in the beginning (John 1:1-5). His preeminence extends to Heaven and earth, to the seen and the unseen, and to the spiritual and the physical. He holds it all together because he is Creator.

Second, Jesus is preeminent over the church (v. 18). He is the head (the fountain from which everything flows and the authority) of the church. He is the founder of the church (Hebrews 12:2) and the first member of the church because he conquered death (the meaning of firstborn). This gives him supremacy (first place).

Third, Jesus is preeminent by virtue of the cross (vv. 19, 20). God’s fullness (Colossians 2:9) dwelt in him so that his reconciling death on Calvary was effectual. His death ensured that the universe was reunited with its Creator. This was most evident in people experiencing peace with God by the blood of Jesus. Paul was intentional to use the red button words and phrases of the heretics (knowledge, qualified, redemption, image, fullness, blood, and physical body) so there could be no misunderstanding of Jesus’ supremacy.

Fourth, Jesus is preeminent for his creatures (vv. 21-23). Those alienated and those enemies due to evil behavior became the very ones that were reconciled to God through Christ. Now they stand before God in holiness. All the Lord asked of them is that they continue (remain under) in their faith and not be disheveled by the false teachers.

Some of the things we admire in God we despise in people. If we claim to be something great, we are proud. If God claims to be preeminent, well, he can, because he is.

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Lesson study ©2018, Christian Standard Media. Print and digital subscribers are permitted to make one print copy per week of lesson material for personal use. Lesson based on the scope and sequence, ©2018 by Christian Standard Media. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version, ©2011, unless otherwise indicated.

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6 Comments

  1. Janet Rasp
    August 13, 2018 at 8:30 am

    Your posted commentary for the August 19 lesson does not match the lesson in the text book for August 19.

    The lesson in the book is for Romans 12:9-21, and your commentary is for Colossians 1:9-23.

    This is the first time that I am aware of that the two lessons do not go together.

    I faithfully use this resource in planning my lesson for each Sunday.

  2. Administrator Author
    August 13, 2018 at 11:21 am

    Christian Standard previously announced that The Lookout had adopted a new scope and sequence lesson plan that would begin with the August 19 lesson. The Lookout, which creates the lesson treatments, has been announcing the change since June.

    We realize some may have not have read the articles we’ve published. The article “The Lookout’s New Scope and Sequence: A Systematic Plan for Studying Through the Bible” from the August issue of Christian Standard will help explain the change and the motivations behind it.

  3. Janet Rasp
    August 13, 2018 at 3:49 pm

    I read the article. My class has been satisfied with the “Standard Lesson Commentary” and are purchasing these text books again for the 2018-2019 year. It looks as if your site will no longer be helpful to planning and preparation for teaching Sunday School to my class.
    Unless, you have some other suggestion.

  4. August 13, 2018 at 10:40 pm

    I have read the information pertaining to “The Lookout’s New Scope and Sequence” however, I did not understand that to mean that the “Sunday School Lesson” would not coincide with the Standard Lesson Commentary. Do you have an online publication that gives a synopsis of the weekly Lessons printed in the Standard Lesson Commentary please?

    Thank you.

  5. George Vann
    August 18, 2018 at 12:04 am

    This is not helpful at all for those of us who have to go through and prepare our Sunday School lessons for Sunday using the Standard Lesson Commentary. I get a lot from the way that it was previously done. It helps my understanding of the lesson after having gone through the Teacher’s manual and also the student book. I also use other resources but this goes along with the way the lesson is being presented for each week. One of the reasons why I got a subscriptions was to get the additional commentary and if it changes I will not continue my subscription because this is not helping me.
    Thanks

  6. Marvin L Brown Sr
    August 24, 2018 at 4:17 pm

    So surprised and sorry to see lessons no longer coinciding with ISSLs…. was great resource and helpful in personal development and ministry education… I will also not renew my subscription since this plan of study does not currently fit our lesson plans… blessings to you all… was a tremendous resource while it lasted… like Elijah, when the river dried, the Lord commanded other provisions…
    Until next time…

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