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 2:1-10 Inductive Bible Study
I. Growing in knowledge in Christ (1-3)
II. Standing firm against deception (4-10)
I. Growing in knowledge in Christ (1-3)
- What kind of struggle was Paul referring to in verse 1?
- What goals did Paul have for them?
- What wealth is he referring to?
- What is God’s mystery?
- How can we have a true knowledge of God’s mystery since it is a mystery?
- What does that teach us about how we can even begin to know the incomprehensible God and His plans?
- What is one treasure of wisdom and knowledge you have learned from Christ?
1. Paul’s concern for the Colossians was genuine. They were not an afterthought to him. In addition to the Colossians, there were now many other new believers and churches scattered throughout Europe and the Middle East who had never met Paul. The church at Laodicea was a nearby example. Paul recognized that the battle for the souls of these individuals was a spiritual battle. While he was not physically on the battle front in Colossae, he was on the front lines of the spiritual battle (Ephesians 6:12) and continued fighting this battle on their behalf through prayer firstly, but also through sending people or letters to instruct them. Are you a prayer warrior?
2. Verse 2 –
A. That their hearts may be encouraged – All of the believers at that time faced struggles in their walk with the Lord. Each believer was a first generation believer who did not grow up in a Christian family. They were the pioneers, the trailblazers in communities where there had never been a Christian just decades before. Pressure would have mounted on them to abandon their faith from every direction: society, government, friends, family, and even spouse. Because there weren’t many believers at that time, those there were may have felt isolated and alone in their faith. Paul sought to encourage them. They may have felt alone, but they were not alone.
B. Having been knit together in love – Paul goes even further in telling them they are not alone. The believers needed to rally around each other to encourage and support each other. The key ingredient in their relationship had to be love (1 Corinthians 16:14, 1 John 4:7-9). In 1 Peter 4:8 we learn that love covers a multitude of sins. Many believers then and now find that their families or friends have turned against them because of their faith. During difficult times brothers and sisters need support from other believers. If those believers instead ignore them, judge them, complain about them, etc. they will feel even more discouraged and hopeless. Through love become a source of joy and encouragement to others, not a source of discouragement.
C. Attaining to the wealth that comes from assurance of understanding, resulting in true knowledge of God’s mystery –
Proverbs 16:16 – How much better to get wisdom than gold, to get insight rather than silver!
This wealth does not refer to physical wealth such as gold or coins. Instead it refers to the wealth of spiritual blessings. We can live abundant and full lives in Christ.
2 Corinthians 8:9 – For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that you through his poverty might become rich.
James 2:5 – Listen, my dear brothers and sisters: Has not God chosen those who are poor in the eyes of the world to be rich in faith and to inherit the kingdom he promised those who love him?
Most people pursue riches because they believe that through material wealth they can obtain happiness and security. We can achieve happiness and security not through physical riches, but through a vibrant relationship with Christ. So a true understanding of Christ combined with faith in Him will bring us true wealth, which is true happiness and security found only in Christ.
3. In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge –
Proverbs 1:7 – The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
True wisdom and knowledge is found in Christ. There are many very intelligent people in this world who have a high IQ. They can solve difficult problems and ace exams. Yet for all of their astounding intellect, they have no wisdom in God’s eyes. One example of a man like this is Richard Dawkins, the leading atheist in the world. He makes many contemptuous remarks about the Bible, God, and Christianity. But claiming to be wise, he is in fact exhibiting his own foolishness and blindness to the truth. (1 Corinthians 1:18-31.) When pressed on the unlikely statistical chance of random processes creating life, he said that it was possible aliens had seeded life. Intelligent design in the form of aliens is possible to him, but not a creator God.
Application: Christ is worth sacrificing everything we have for. Are you willing to do this? It may be easy to say “I will sacrifice everything.” It can be harder to choose one thing we like to sacrifice for God. What is one thing you should give up for the sake of serving God?
II. Standing firm against deception (4-9)
- What is the main theme of this passage?
- What does the term “delude” mean?
- In what two areas did Paul commend the Colossians?
- How can you be disciplined?
- How can you be stable in the faith?
- How can you understand verse 6?
- In what way have you received Him?
- How can a believer be firmly rooted in the faith?
- Are you firmly rooted?
- What comes next after being firmly rooted?
- How to continue being built up in Him?
- What does it mean in verse 8 to be taken captive?
- Is philosophy bad?
- Why or why not?
- What is the key idea in verse 8?
- What types of philosophies or beliefs may negatively influence the church today?
- How can we stand firm against this ideological warfare?
- Should we isolate ourselves from these ideas? Or is there another better way?
- Why might Paul repeat the same truth about Jesus here in verse 9 from back in 1:19?
1. That no one will delude you with persuasive argument – Here we learn two key things. Firstly, we learn that there are those who want to delude people in general and believers specifically. Secondly, we learn that we don’t need to be deluded by them. We can defend ourselves (and others) against these attacks. What defense do we have?
Paul already mentioned it in verse 2, true knowledge of Christ. If we study the Word for ourselves and become familiar with it inside and out we will not be deceived by false teachings.
Take for example one of the first math problems you ever learned, two plus two. What is two plus two? Imagine if I spent the next thirty minutes showing you all kinds of formulas and proofs that two plus two in fact equals three. Would you believe me? No. It doesn’t matter how many persuasive arguments I throw at you, you know the truth. Because you know the truth you will see right through the lies and deception. I can try persuading you until I am blue in the face, but you will not fall for it.
On the same line if I tried persuading you that Jesus was merely a good person and not the Son of God, I would hope you would not fall for it. But how about a myriad of other biblical issues such as: six day creation, the work of the Holy Spirit, spiritual gifts, baptism and salvation, male and female roles in the church and the home, etc? Do you know what the Bible says on these issues?
You may hear debates from time to time on some of these issues and more. What do you do when you hear these debates? You should go back to the source, the Bible. Stand firm on the Word so that you will not be deluded.
2. Paul’s support – Paul was not physically present with them, but he often thought about them and prayed for them. It was encouraging for them to know other believers cared about their spiritual welfare. Do you tell other believes that you are praying for them? Do you send encouraging notes to them expressing this care and encouragement?
3. Your good discipline and the stability of your faith – In this entire passage Paul is encouraging the Colossians to remain firm and steadfast in their faith, to hold to Christ without wavering. This requires discipline. What discipline? Take for example a person who wants to remain fit and healthy. They don’t want their weight to wildly fluctuate. What do they need to do? It’s not complicated. To remain fit, a person should have a nutritious and healthy diet and get plenty of exercise. Do this and nine times out of ten they will remain fit and stable physically. Spiritually it is the same. A popular children’s song goes like this, “Read your Bible, pray every day, pray every day, pray every day. Read your Bible pray every day and you’ll grow, grow, grow.” “Don’t read your Bible, forget to pray and you’ll shrink, shrink, shrink.” While this song is simple, it is true. If you want to remain stable in your faith read your Bible and pray every day. It really is that simple.
4. As you have received the Lord so walk in Him – The Christian life is not a sprint. It is a marathon. A famous Chinese idiom says that a journey of a thousand miles begins with the first step. So it is in our relationship with Christ. Believers receive the gospel with great enthusiasm. We are excited to place our faith in the Lord and ask Him to forgive our sins. Many of us walked around with a glow on our faces telling everyone around us about our new faith. Where along the way did we lose our excitement? Where did we become discouraged and complacent and silent? Paul wants them to continue on the same way they started. This requires a life of obedience. Every day put one foot in front of the other and then do it again and again. Be persistent and faithful.
5. Verse 7 – (See Psalm 1:1-3.) Here is the same concept as in the last several verses. We have seen we are to be stable and disciplined. Here he says we are to be firmly rooted. Throughout the Bible we see this concept. Believers are often compared to trees or healthy crops. Why? How can we be firmly rooted? The way to be rooted is to have a firm grasp of the Bible. And there are five ways (fingers) to grasp onto the Bible (Hear, Read, Study, Memorize, Meditate).
We should have a deep root in the Word, but the tree is not complete without the foliage and the fruit. Take for example the dedicated monk. He finds a cave in a mountain far away from civilization. He dedicates himself to studying the Word and praying day and night. He is so zealous that he gives up all earthly pleasures. No more steak, hamburgers, pizza, or Peking Duck. He chooses to remain single and live on the absolute bare necessities.
But in his isolation he is not obeying the commands to spread the gospel and love his neighbor, nor can the people around him see his witness and testimony for the Lord.
We must be firmly rooted in the Word or we will be carried away by false doctrine or the latest cultural fads. Not everything that sounds good and spiritual is. But we must also be built up. Our gratitude should overflow so everyone around us can see it and give glory to God in heaven. A tree with only roots doesn’t do anybody any good and a tree without roots will die.
6. Verse 8 – In this verse Paul repeats his warnings about being misled by the false teachings in the world. We are bombarded with these lies and propaganda all around us. Schools teach us there is no God and we evolved from monkeys. Universities teach students to believe in themselves and to pursue material wealth. Governments spread propaganda across a wide range from allowing men to beat their wives in the Middle East to pushing homosexual agendas in the West. Media and Hollywood spread many lies such as “sex outside of marriage is innocuous and fun” and “homosexuality is normal” and “cursing and crudity are funny.”
Cult members seek to infiltrate churches and draw away believers. Society as a whole turns its nose at and mocks believers for our foolishness. For example to show their disdain for Christianity a group of students has taken a quote by Richard Dawkins comparing belief in God to belief in a flying spaghetti monster and has started a “church” to worship this flying spaghetti monster. These lies are empty deceit. They follow the traditions of men, not God. They fall in line with the lusts and desires of the world rather than true knowledge of God. Nonetheless, these ideas bombard us wherever we go. How can we remain steadfast in the midst of such ideological warfare?
Application: Spend some time considering how to raise your children for the Lord in this day and age. Discuss with your spouse the following questions.
What approach should we take with our children? Isolation? Immersion? Something in between? How can we prepare both ourselves and our children for facing and standing up successfully to these worldly ideas all around us?
7. Verse 9 – Paul here repeats Colossians 1:19. It is an apt reminder that Jesus is Lord. We are not alone. We are not hopeless. We need not face these temptations and these battles by ourselves. We can depend on Christ. He will be the banner we raise over our heads as we go into to battle by the power of the Holy Spirit.
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