These small group studies of Colossians contain outlines, cross-references, Bible study discussion questions, and applications. Visit our library of inductive Bible studies for more in depth inductive studies on this and other books of the Bible you can use in your small group.
Colossians 1:1-4 Inductive Bible Study
Title: The Fruit of a Life in Christ
Summary- Paul is writing from a position of authority because God appointed him as an apostle. He’s writing to those called by God in Colossae, wishing them grace and peace. Primarily, when he thinks of them it is with prayer and thanksgiving, because of their faith in Christ, their love for all the saints, and their hope of heaven. The foundation for all of this is the gospel, which was brought to them, as well as the whole world, and is bearing fruit and growing. Epaphras is a faithful example for them of godly living, and speaks encouragingly about them.
Central Teaching– Paul is centered on Christ- as the One who sent him, the One who called and kept the saints, and the One who continues to perfect them.
Key Words– Christ (both “of” and “in”), grace, truth, faith/faithful, saints, love
Key Verse- 1:3
Ten Things this Passage Says–
1. Paul is an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.
2. He is writing to the saints in Colossae.
3. Grace and peace come from God the Father.
4. Paul and Timothy maintain an attitude of prayer and thanksgiving for the Colossians.
5. The Colossians were faithful in Christ Jesus.
6. The Colossians loved all the saints.
7. The Colossians behaved in a biblical manner because of the hope laid up for them in heaven.
8. They heard of this hope before when they heard the gospel (which implies that the hope of heaven is integral to a proper sharing of the gospel).
9. The gospel comes to the whole world, bearing fruit and growing.
10. Hearing the gospel leads to understanding the grace of God in truth.
Ten Things this Passage does NOT Say–
1. Paul chose to be an apostle, or somehow earned it.
2. We can receive true grace or peace from a source outside of God.
3. Paul and Timothy prayed for the Colossians out of an attitude of duty, but without really knowing or caring about them.
4. They had to witness the faith and love of the Colossians for themselves, rather than hearing good reports from other saints about them.
5. The Colossians only loved certain saints, such as the ones who were like them, or who loved them back.
6. The Colossians were naturally faithful and loving out of the goodness of their hearts.
7. The hope the Colossians had was in the earthly benefit they were going to receive for their godly actions.
8. The gospel is fruitless, and does not cause growth.
9. There is fruit and growth outside the gospel.
10. We can never truthfully understand the grace of God.
What does this passage teach me about God?
He gifts us and chooses our occupations according to His will.
He is the giver of grace and peace.
Because He gives all good things, He deserves thanks.
He is the father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
He is the one we should pray to.
He is the one in whom we should have faith.
He has given us a heavenly hope.
His word is truth.
His word bears fruit and causes growth.
God is gracious and truthful.
We can understand Him through His gospel.
He sends us ministers and examples on our behalf.
He causes us to love through His Spirit.
How does this passage apply to my life?
Be aware that, whatever giftings I have, whatever ministry I am called to, it is God’s will that brought me there, and His power that sustains me in it. It is not by my choice or natural ability, so I should take no pride in it.
In my daily life, seek out evidences of God’s grace to me, both in circumstances and in people. He DOES give it, and it will help me to be more positive and thankful if I take not of it.
In the midst of trying situations that would tend to make me worry, meditate on the promises of God and find peace in His truths.
Don’t rely on my memory so much with prayer requests, but refer regularly to prayer lists, so I can be more faithful in prayer. Remember to also make note of answered prayer and praises for people’s growth.
Don’t merely make mental note of the growth in people’s lives, verbalize them. Tell others about the manifestations of God’s grace I see in my brothers and sisters, so they can join me in giving thanks to Him.
Live with an eternal, heavenly focus. When faced with a trial or a stretching situation, no matter how large or small, ask “In 100 years, what will my perspective on this be? Will I even care? If I won’t care, then why let it bother me now? If I WILL care, then what can I do about it?”
Am I the kind of example, like Epaphras, that others can look to and emulate? Evaluate my life in view of others watching me and living like me.
If Paul was in prison, how was Timothy still able to be with him? (V1) He had his own living quarters, so people were able to visit and live with him. Acts 28:16-31
How did Paul become an apostle, since when Jesus walked the earth he was still Saul, a Christ-hater? (V1)
If Paul was an apostle by the will of God, what does that say about each one of us and our positions in the Lord? (V1)
To whom was this letter written? What is a saint? (V2)
What is grace? (V2) Greek- charis (khar’-ece); graciousness (as gratifying), of manner or act (abstract or concrete; literal, figurative or spiritual; especially the divine influence upon the heart, and its reflection in the life; including gratitude): KJV – acceptable, benefit, favour, gift, grace (-ious), joy, liberality, pleasure, thank (-s, -worthy).
1. properly, that which affords joy, pleasure, delight, sweetness, charm, loveliness: grace of speech
2. good-will, loving-kindness, favor: Luke 2:52
3. what is due to grace
a. the spiritual condition of one governed by the power of divine grace,
b. a token or proof of grace, 2 Cor 1:15
4. thanks 1 Cor 10:30
What is peace? (V2) eirene (i-ray’-nay); probably from a primary verb eiro (to join); peace (literally or figuratively); by implication, prosperity: KJV – one, peace, quietness, rest, + set at one again.
1. a state of national tranquility; exemption from the rage and havoc of war: Rev 6:4
2. peace between individuals, i. e. harmony, concord: Matt 10:34
3. after the Hebrew shaalowm, security, safety, prosperity, felicity, Luke 19:42
4. Specifically, the Messiah’s peace: Luke 2:14
5. according to a conception distinctly peculiar to Christianity, the tranquil state of a soul assured of its salvation through Christ, and so fearing nothing from God and content with its earthly lot, of whatsoever sort that is: Rom 8:6
6. of the blessed state of devout and upright men after death Rom 2:10
Who is the giver of grace and peace? Name some other ways we seek grace and peace. (V2)
Who should we thank? Why? (V3)
Why does Paul make a point of calling God “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ”? What does that state theologically? (V3)
How often did Paul and Timothy pray for the Colossians? What are some practical ways we can practice this kind of prayer for our brothers and sisters in Christ? (V3)
Why did Paul and Timothy pray for the Colossians? (V4)
It says that P and T heard of their faith in Christ and love for all the saints…what does that say about their faith and love, and what does that say about the reports the saints were bringing to P and T, since they were in prison? How can our own reports mirror these? (V4)
What was the basis of the Colossians’ faith? (V4)
Who did the Colossians love? What should that indicate to us about how to love our fellow brothers and sisters? (V4)
What connection do faith and love have? (V4) Jn 13:34, Gal 5:22, 1 Jn 2:10, 3:14-16