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Colossians 3:1-17

  • Describe your home:

    • Who lives there?

    • What regularly happens there?

    • What does your home mean to you emotionally and/or spiritually? Why?

  • If you want to, share one way your relationship with Jesus is lived out at your home.

Read Colossians 3:1-4

  • What is Paul's vision for his readers? How should we see ourselves, our past and our present and our future?

  • What do you think the practical out-workings of this vision might be?

Read Colossians 3:5-9

  • Why do you think people have a propensity to act this way? Consider:

    • What is the contribution of our human impulses?

    • What is the contribution of world-views, philosophies or common beliefs in our society?

Read Colossians 3:9b-17

  • How does Christ make us 'new'? And how do we 'put on' His newness?

  • How does the new self make us equal with one another, i.e. what does Paul mean by "Christ is all, and is in all" (v11b) [1]

  • Consider each of the virtues listed in these verses:

Compassionate hearts





Bearing with one another

Forgiving one another


Let peace rule in your hearts

Be thankful

Let the message of Christ dwell among you richly

Do everything in the name of Jesus

  • What would happen in a relationship where one person began acting in these ways (generosity)?

  • What would happen in a relationship where both people began acting in these ways (reciprocity)?

  • Describe how you imagine each of these attributes working themselves out in your home-life (consider how it would look for those you live with, but also for those you might invite into your home). Dream big!

  • How much more of this do we need?! How do we go about growing in these things as God's people? Where might more of this come from for you? [2]

Spend some time praying for each other, and for each 'household' represented in your Connect Group. Pray for the way of Jesus to overflow into our homes, and from our homes into our wider circles.

[1] N.T. Wright discusses the significance of Paul's words in verse 11:

These intermingled distinctions of race, ancestral religion, class and caste provide the best soil for that mutual suspicion and distrust which turn into the vices listed in verse 3:8. These divisions were of great importance in the ancient world. The spread of Greek civilization after the conquests of Alexander the Great meant that the ‘Greek’, whether from Greece itself, Egypt, Asia Minor or anywhere else, could regard himself as a member of a privileged group, somewhat like those who speak a major European language in much of the modern world. He would look down on the circumscribed nationalism of the Jew who insisted on preserving and clinging to his old culture, just as the Jew, fiercely conscious of God’s election of Israel and of the shallowness and moral darkness of Greek polytheism, would despise him. These differences were accentuated by the physical mark of the male Jew: circumcision was prized in Israel and mocked by her enemies. ‘Barbarians’ is a contemptuous word used by Greeks for anyone who did not speak their language: the Scythians (from the then little-known northern reaches of Asia) were the extreme examples of barbarians, little better than savages. The distinction between slave and free, of course, ran through ancient society just as obviously as a colour bar still does in some areas today (whether or not officially sanctioned), and with just as damaging an effect on human relations and self-esteem. The ancient world, just like the modern, was an elaborate network of prejudice, suspicion and arrogance, so ingrained as to be thought natural and normal.

These distinctions, Paul declares with a breath-taking challenge, have become irrelevant in Christ. The ‘powers of the world’ did indeed hold the human race in their grip, as men and women allowed their habits of thought and action to be dominated by them. Paul’s counter-claim, set before the church as a still unfinished agenda, is that these barriers and habits are, in terms of God’s proper will for his human creatures, neither natural nor normal. They are, ultimately, a denial of the creation of humankind in the image of God. That is not to say that differences cease to exist (any more than the male-female distinction ceases to exist, in the similar list of Gal. 3:28). It is to say that differences of background, nationality, colour, language, social standing and so forth must be regarded as irrelevant to the question of the love, honour and respect that are to be shown to individuals and groups.

Instead, Christ is all, and in all. In another echo of 1:15–20 Paul grounds his challenge in this double statement of the universal significance of Christ. On the one hand, he is ‘all things’ (or ‘the totality’): in other words, he, the pre-existent image of God, is the one whose being underlies all human nature of whatever category (Jew or Greek, civilized or uncivilized, high or low born). Only a Christology as fully insistent as Paul’s on both the divinity and the humanity of Jesus Christ can undergird this claim, that in him there can be no barriers between human beings. On the other hand, he is ‘in all’ – probably, ‘in all people’ (taking en pasin as masculine: a second neuter might seem redundant, and the context refers more specifically to people). Wherever one looks, one sees Christ. When an elderly person is ignored, Christ is ignored; where a lively teenager is snubbed, he is snubbed; where a poor or coloured person (or, for that matter, a rich or white one) is treated with contempt, the reproach falls on him. There must therefore be mutual welcome and respect within the people of God. Nobody must allow prejudices from their pre-Christian days to distort the new humanity which God has created in and through the New Man.

N.T. Wright, Colossians, Philemon, Tyndale Commentary, pp. 144-5

[2] N.T. Wright answers this question very well:

In particular, notice how Paul draws the picture together, again and again, with reference to the Lord, the king, to Jesus himself. Jesus forgave you, so you must forgive; that’s what gives you the energy to use love as the belt, or perhaps the outer garment, which holds together and in place all the new clothes that you must put on (verse 14). King Jesus is to be the decider in all your deliberations, and his desire for peace among his people is the key factor (verse 15). His word is to be alive within the Christian community; there is always more about the gospel, and also about the written gospels, to explore and discover, and different gifts are needed in the community to draw out the meaning and apply it to the church’s life (verse 16). And, finally, whatever you do or say must be able to stand having these words written above it: ‘In the name of the Lord Jesus’. Settle that in your hearts and minds and a great deal else will fall into place.

N.T. Wright, Prison Letters for Everyone, p 183


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