Bible Study Guides

Colossians

Put on your new nature and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator

and become like Him.

Colossians 3:10

Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians while he was in prison. The church at Colosse was founded by Epaphras, who had become a convert through the preaching of Paul.  In this letter, Paul considers the unique work of Christ and the resulting Good News which inspires believers to a new way of life. 

We have provided some resources for a small group discussion. There are questions for four sessions and we encourage everyone in the group to read the book before the first session.  You can download these questions in an A5 booklet or A4 format or you can view them online by clicking on the links below. 

 
Colossians A5 Booklet.png
Colossians - Bible Study Guide - A4 form

Resources provided by Bibleworld Museum & Discovery Centre, Rotorua, New Zealand

Introduction to 

the Book of Colossians

The city of Colosse was located about 140 km east of Ephesus in the fertile Lycus valley (in modern day Turkey). The city had a mixed population of locals (Phrygians), Greeks and Jews. The city’s mixed population embraced many religious ideas. The people held to beliefs in animism, astrology, mystery religions, Judaism and the worship of Greek and Roman gods.  There were many tourists visiting the region to enjoy the hot springs at Pamukkale.

 

The church at Colosse was founded by Epaphras, who had become a convert through the preaching of Paul. When Paul wrote his letter to the Colossians, he had never visited the city himself.

  

The letter to the Colossians was written while Paul was in prison. It is generally believed that this imprisonment refers to his time in prison in Rome and therefore dates to c. 60 – 61 AD. Paul wrote the letters known as Ephesians and Philemon at the same time, and Tychicus was given the responsibility to deliver all three letters.

 
 

Discussion Questions for the Book of Colossians

Session One: The Gospel is Good News!

The word ‘Gospel’ simply means Good News. Paul believes the message about Christ is good news for those who hear and accept it. Can you summarise Paul’s message of ‘good news’ in one sentence? What does Paul mention in Colossians as the positive benefits of the gospel?

 

Do you know of anyone whose life has been radically changed for the better, as a result of accepting Christ? In what ways have you benefitted most from being a follower of Jesus?

 

Many of us know people who claim to be Christians but who don’t seem to enjoy the benefits outlined by Paul. What do you think can hinder people from experiencing the Christian life as good news?

 

Because Paul believes the message about Christ is Good News, he is strongly motivated to share this message with those who have not heard it. In Colossians 4:3-6, Paul provides guidelines of how to pray and how to be prepared to share the gospel. What can we learn from his example? Who do you know who could most benefit from the Good News about Christ?

 

Take a few moments as a group to thank God for the many ways in which we benefit from being believers in Christ.

Discussion Questions for the Book of Colossians

Session Two:  The Uniqueness of Christ

Using a whiteboard or a large sheet of paper, as a group write down everything that Paul teaches about Christ in this letter.  Is there anything that particularly surprised or puzzled you?

 

Paul states that Jesus is the Creator of all things. How can this truth shape our view of ourselves? How can it shape our view of our world? How can this truth affect the way we pray?

 

Paul affirms that Jesus is the Head of the body, the Church. How can this affect the way we view ourselves? How can this shape the way we view other congregations and denominations?

 

Christ is the visible image of the invisible God. Colossians 1:15 (NLT)

In what ways does Jesus show us what God is like? What can we learn about God’s character from the life of Jesus? What does Jesus reveal about God’s priorities and values?

 

Discussion Questions for the Book of Colossians

Session Three: Staying Faithful to the Message

Paul expressed concern about some of the teaching that had crept into the Colossian church. Some issues that had arisen include teaching from philosophy, an obligation towards circumcision, the need to observe dietary regulations, feast days and ritual occasions, the worship of angels and a focus on mystical experiences.  What do you think are some of the dangerous teachings facing people today?

 

Don’t let anyone capture you with empty philosophies and high-sounding nonsense that come from human thinking and from the spiritual powers of this world, rather than from Christ. Colossians 2:8 (NLT)

We are surrounded by all sorts of human thinking, communicated in books, TV, movies, magazines, social media, and every possible sort of website or podcast. What principles do you use to assess what messages to accept? What are the danger signs to look out for?

 

 You must continue to believe this truth and stand firmly in it. Don’t drift away from the assurance you received when you heard the Good News.  Colossians 1:23a (NLT)

What can we implement in our lives to help us stand firm in our faith? Have you ever had the sense of drifting away? What are the warning signs that you can look out for that indicate you might be drifting away?

 

In him [Christ] lie hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Colossians 2:3 (NLT)

What can we do to plunder these treasures? 

 

Discussion Questions for the Book of Colossians

Session Four:  Pursuing a New Way of Life

And now, just as you accepted Christ Jesus as your Lord, you must continue to follow him. Let your roots grow down into him, and let your lives be built on him. Then your faith will grow strong in the truth you were taught, and you will overflow with thankfulness. Colossians 3:6-7 (NLT)

 

Paul anticipates that the gospel will affect every area of a person’s life: their speech, thoughts, behaviours, hopes, and relationships. Are their any of his instructions which you find surprising? Which of his instructions do you find most challenging?

 

Put to death the sinful, earthly things lurking within you. Colossians 3:5 (NLT). 

What practical steps can a person take to put to death sinful, earthly things?

 

Put on your new nature, and be renewed as you learn to know your Creator and become like him. Colossians 3:10 (NLT)

Why is it important that we become like Christ? What can we actively do to help us avoid evil? What can we do to help us actively pursue a Christ like life?

 

What has been the most important message of the book of Colossians for you? Is there a particular verse that you would like to memorise?

 

Suggestions for leading a small group Bible study

We believe there is great value in studying a book of the Bible as a whole, within a small group setting. If you are new to this we encourage you to begin with a shorter book such as Colossians, James or Ruth. We have put together these study guides based on the following five guidelines.

 

1. Encourage everyone in the group to read the book repeatedly.

2. Trust God to help you understand and apply his Word.

3. Focus on what the book reveals about God/Jesus.

4. Focus on what it clearly reveals about how God wants us to live.

5. Don't get bogged down on minor, uncertain or controversial issues. 

 

1. Encourage everyone in the group to read the book repeatedly.

We enjoy a Bible study group when everyone has read the Biblical text and comes along ready to discuss it. It makes for a much more interesting evening than a leader providing a monologue about the Bible! For that reason, we also like to hand out questions to everyone ahead of time, so everyone can come prepared to contribute in a thoughtful way. As a leader we encourage you to try and get everyone in the group to participate if they wish to.

 

There can be a temptation to read books or commentaries about the Bible rather than reading the Bible itself. Books about the Bible can be helpful, but we encourage everyone to spend the majority of their time becoming familiar with the Bible text itself. It may sound like a huge commitment to read through a book of the Bible ten times, but for a 15 minute book like James, this only takes about 2 ½ hours in total.

 

We have used the term ‘read the Bible’ however we are increasingly becoming fans of the practice of ‘listening to the Bible’. We highly recommend that everyone tries out an audio Bible to see how they find it. We suggest checking out the Bibleis app. An audio bible on your phone provides the opportunity to listen to the Bible while waiting, doing housework, commuting or while exercising.

 

2. Trust God to help you understand and apply his Word.

We need to trust that God wants to help us understand his Word. We encourage you to pray for wisdom as individuals and to pray when you come together as a group.

 

'If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.' James 1:5.

 

3. Focus on what the book reveals about God/Jesus.

God reveals so much about himself through the Bible. We have tried to come up with questions that focus on God - his abilities, his activity in our world and his character.  How does God work in people’s lives? What is important to God? For New Testament books, we are also interested in what we can learn about Jesus? What mattered to him?

 

4. Focus on what it clearly reveals about how God wants us to live.

Try to focus on how the members of your group can apply the message of the Biblical book to their lives. What does this book clearly reveal about how God wants us to live? What can we specifically do? What are the particular challenges that people are facing? What hope does this book provide?

 

5. Don't get bogged down on minor, uncertain or controversial issues. 

Accept that there are things in the Bible that we don't understand. We can waste a lot of time in a small groups on unhelpful discussion. Paul sums this up well in his letter to Timothy: Don't have anything to do with foolish and stupid arguments because you know they produce quarrels. (2 Timothy 2:23). There is however a difference between a robust healthy discussion and petty quarrelling. We encourage you to aim for the former and seek to avoid the latter.

 

There is a sense in which the Bible is both easy to understand and hard to understand. It covers over 4000 years of history. It is set in locations on three different continents (Africa, Asia and Europe). It is written in a range of literary styles (history, poetry, wisdom, prophecy, letters, gospels and apocalyptic). Some of the customs and practices of the people are quite foreign to us. However despite these difficulties there is a sense it which the Bible is easy to understand. We have a loving God who has sent his son Jesus so that we can enjoy life to the full and spend eternity with him. If you would like some further help with Bible study, we recommend the book ‘How to Read the Bible for all its worth’ by Gordon Fee and Douglas Stuart.