Paul's Prison Epistles: Paul And The Colossians


Salvation in Christ: Colossians 2:6-23

Paul’s discussion of the supremacy of salvation in Christ divided into two main sections: his praise for life in union with Christ in Colossians 2:6-15, and his condemnation of life lived under subjection to the elements in Colossians 2:16-23. 

In the first section, Paul described several benefits of salvation in union with Christ beginning with the benevolent and invigorating aspects of the Lordship of Christ in Colossians 2:6-10.

In these verses, Paul indicated that because Christ is our Lord, we are rooted, built up and strengthened in him, and we feel great thankfulness toward him as a result. Those who followed the false teachers were captives to the petty spiritual powers they worshiped, but those under Christ’s Lordship were given authority to rule with him. As Paul wrote in Colossians 2:9-10:

For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form, and you have been given fullness in Christ, who is the head over every power and authority (Colossians 2:9-10).

Christ has divine authority over every other power. And because believers are united to Christ, they share in that divine authority.

Second, Paul also mentioned the spiritual vitality that believers have because we are in union with Christ. Paul explained this blessing in Colossians 2:11-13. For example, in Colossians 2:12 he wrote:

[You were] buried with him in baptism and raised with him through your faith in the power of God, who raised him from the dead (Colossians 2:12).

Because we are united to Christ, believers participate not only in Christ’s death, resulting in our forgiveness, but also in Christ’s resurrection and life, resulting in the rebirth of our spirits.

Third, because believers are united to Christ, we obtain forgiveness from sin, and we are freed from having to merit salvation through works of the law. Paul expressed these ideas in Colossians 2:13-15. As he wrote in Colossians 2:13-14:

He forgave us all our sins, having canceled the written code … nailing it to the cross (Colossians 2:13-14).

God’s law condemns fallen mankind to death. But because we are united to Christ in his death, we have already died the death that the law requires. We have served our sentence so that we are now free from all condemnation.

Against the backdrop of these blessings in Christ, Paul condemned the message of the false teachers in Colosse. Life in union with Christ is characterized by the blessings of Christ’s lordship. But life under subjection to the elements places one under the tyrannical lordship of mere creatures. As Paul wrote in Colossians 2:16-18, this results not only in judgment, but also in the loss of the blessings Christ offers.