Paul's Prison Epistles: Paul And The Colossians


Loyalty to Christ: Colossians 1:22-23

In the Colossian church, the believers were being encouraged to mix their worship of Christ with the worship of other spiritual powers. Although these other spiritual powers were not presented as demons, we have seen that any power they actually had, and any benefits that actually came to their worshipers, were demonic. But whether these powers were demons or elements or angels, the Colossians should not have worshiped them. Sadly, the social climate of the first century made it hard for the Colossians to see the truth of this matter.

During the first century the dominant religious ideas in the Roman Empire were polytheistic. That is, most people believed that there were multiple gods and spiritual powers. And most societies within the Empire not only acknowledged the existence of many gods, but also worshiped many gods. For most people with the Roman Empire at this time, it was normal to worship the dominant gods of the civic cult such as Zeus as well as local gods and even household gods. So, although Christ demanded that believers worship him exclusively, there was great social pressure encouraging the early Christians to worship other gods as well.

In fact, when the Roman Empire began to persecute Christians during the first century, it was largely because the Christians refused to acknowledge and to worship the gods of the civic cult. It was argued that the Christians had angered the gods by refusing to worship them and that the gods would punish the whole of Roman society if the Christians were not called to account. The Romans did not demand that Christians stop worshiping Christ, but only that they also worship the Roman gods.

From the first-century Roman perspective, one could worship many gods and without any sense of conflicting allegiance. But Christ demands exclusive worship. If we worship Christ we cannot worship anything else. This is why Paul insisted that the Colossians remain steadfast in their faith. As he wrote in Colossians 1:22-23:

[God] has reconciled you by Christ's physical body through death to present you holy in his sight, without blemish and free from accusation — if you continue in your faith, established and firm, not moved from the hope held out in the gospel (Colossians 1:22-23).

If we do not remain faithful to Christ, then we prove that we have not been truly reconciled to God. And if we are not reconciled to God, then we do not share in the hope held out in the gospel. Simply put, if we do not remain faithful to Christ, we are not saved. Loyalty to Christ is of utmost importance.