Colossians - Lesson 1

By Stafford North

Who Christ Is

Colossians 1:15-19

Background Information for the Teacher


  1. The student can describe Christ by using three terms used in Col. 1:15-19.
  2. The student can tell why this teaching was important for the Colossians.
  3. The student can tell why this teaching is important today.


  1. Have a chalkboard or marker board ready to highlight key points.
  2. Have the worksheets ready for the class.
  3. Each student should have a Bible.


Because Christ is God, creator, and head, we should worship Him, serve Him, and obey him.

Lesson Plan for Teaching the Class

Introduction: (about 15 minutes)

  1. Introduce the visitors, take the roll, and make announcements.
  2. Sing a song about Christ- "Christ We Do All Adore Thee" or "Jesus is Lord."
  3. Introduce the study of Colossians:
    1. Paul was in prison in Rome about 62 AD. See Acts 28:30. While in Rome he had the time and the occasion to write four letters: Galatians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon. Since Philemon lived in Colossae, two of the four prison epistles are directed to those in the church there.
    2. When Paul wrote this epistle, Epaphras was with him in Rome (4:12) and, since Epaphras was the one who likely founded the church in Colossae (1:7), he probably had brought Paul information about what was happening in the church there.
    3. Colossae was located about 100 miles east of Ephesus and the church there was probably planted while Paul was in Ephesus for three years teaching in the school of Tyranus. We might speculate that Epaphras learned from Paul and then went back to his home area to spread the message.
    4. Most commentaries on Colossians speak of the "Colossian heresy." They "read between the lines" from comments in the book that some Christians were beginning to modify the original plan to take Christians to "a higher level of spirituality" which may have taught that Christ was not actually "God in the flesh." Others detect elements of paganism or a revised type of Judaism in their speculation about the heresy.
    5. This study will focus on what the book of Colossians teaches to help us meet our needs today. We will, however, occasionally reference why Paul may have thought it necessary to include certain teachings in writing to the church in Colossae. Whatever the problem then was, what Paul said to them is a very important message for us today.
    6. Our study will not go through the book from first to last, chapter by chapter. Rather, we will study topics raised in the book to draw applications for our own Christian living. These topics would have applied to the needs of the Colossian Christians and apply equally to our needs today.

Learning Experiences (about 25 minutes)

  1. Q: What would you give as reasons to support the following statement: "Of all the people who have ever lived, Jesus Christ has been the most influential." A: Most impact on world history. Inspired more books, more art, more music. Teachings published most widely. Worshipped by more people.
  2. Q: What are some reasons that Jesus would have been unlikely to have had such an impact? A: Born in poverty in an obscure place. Never wrote a book. Never led an army. Had no money. Never held public office. Died at thirty-three. Crucified in disgrace. Left only a small band of largely uneducated followers who were lacking in position, influence, and money.
  3. Apparently some in Colossae were beginning to doubt Christ's divinity or were saying that He was not human because "flesh" was sinful. Today we hear some say "Christ was a good man but not divine." Others say He was a prophet but not the greatest prophet and certainly not the "Son of God." Still others say they think He died for our sins, but He was a created being and thus is not part of a three-person trinity. So, as Paul tells the Colossians about the nature and position of Christ, he is dealing with current issues as well as those that may have been present in the church of Colossae.
  4. In Col. 1:15-19, Paul speaks to any who might doubt that Christ holds a position of supreme importance. Some have suggested that these verses are part of an early hymn because of the way the words flow. Whatever their style, they make the case for Christ as supreme.
  5. Read Col. 1:15. Q: What does this verse declare Christ to be? A: The image of God. If God were a signet ring, Christ is the impression He would leave. He has the qualities of God. Read Col. 2:9. Q: What does this verse declare about Christ? A: In Him dwells all of the fullness of the godhead bodily. He is God in the flesh. Q: What does it mean that Christ is the "firstborn of all creation?" Was He the first being created? A: No, he was not created at all, as Paul soon states. Rather "firstborn" here means that He holds the position of the "firstborn" in a family. He is "first in rank."
  6. Q: So is Christ more "human" or more "God?" A: He is fully both-fully human and fully God. This was one of the early questions which arose about Christ. Some said He was more one than the other. This passage teaches He is fully both. He has all the qualities of deity. See John 1:14. God became flesh"and dwelt among us."
  7. Q: Since Christ is God, how should we treat Him? A: He deserves all the respect and honor we would give God. Christ is God.
  8. Read Col. 1:16. Q: What does this verse declare about Christ? A: He is creator. Q: Creator of what? A: Of all things-everything in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible. That would include earthly powers and heavenly powers, even angels. Read John 1:1-3. Q: Since Christ is creator of all, what does this suggest about His qualities? A: A spirit-being (before all things physical), who is all knowing, all-powerful, present everywhere, and who is eternal. And this means that He has all the attributes of deity.
  9. Q: What does Christ's being our creator suggest about our relationship with Him? A: He is concerned about us for a creator has natural ties with his creation. He wants to help us. And we should want to glorify and honor Him as our maker. Read Col. 1:17. Q: What does this verse add to what has been said? A: By being "before all things," He is not included in creation. And since "in him all things hold together," He continues to exert power in the universe.
  10. Read Col. 1:18. Q: What does the New Testament mean by the term "church?" A: Acts 2:47 says "the Lord added to them daily those who were being saved. "There were "the saved" and, as others were saved, the Lord added them to those already saved. So the church is the body of all the saved. Eph. 5:25-26 says Christ cleansed the church, thus indicating that "the cleansed" are the church. So all the saved, the cleansed, are in the church, the body of Christ. All the saved are in His body. Read 1 Cor. 12:12-13. Q: How does one does enter the body? A: One is baptized into the body. All properly baptized believers, then, are in Christ's body, and these constitute His church. Q: Are there saved outside the Lord's church? A: Since, by definition, the church is the body of the saved, all the saved are in the church Jesus built. We should not, then, think of the church in denominational terms. When we use "church" as the Bible does, we are speaking of all of the saved, all who have obeyed what the Bible teaches one must do to respond to Christ.
  11. Q: As we think, then, of Christ's church as His body, what important lessons do we learn? A: Christ is the head of the body, and we are to follow His direction. Each member of the body has an important role to fill just as each member of our physical bodies has an important role to fill. The saved together constitute one body. Christ is not head of many bodies but one. See Ephesians 4:4.
  12. Q: According to Col. 1:18, how did Christ attain this exalted position over the church? A: By being the first one raised from the dead to die no more. His resurrection allowed God to accept His sacrifice for the sins of the world and to place Him above all.
  13. Read Col.1:19. Q: From this verse, what statement suggests that Christ was both divine and human? A: All the fullness of God dwelt in Him. He shed His blood, like any other human, when He died on the cross.
  14. Thus far, we have learned that Christ is God, Christ is creator, and Christ is head of the church.


  1. Q: What did the Gnostics say about Christ? A: He was divine but not human for flesh is evil. Paul's response is that Christ is God and that He died on the cross as a human.
  2. Q: What do the Muslims say about Christ? A: He was a prophet but not the greatest prophet and He certainly was not a god.
  3. Q: What do the Jehovah's Witnesses say of Christ? He is Christ and Savior but He is not God. He is the first thing created but not the creator of all.
  4. Q: What should be our response to Christ as God? A: We should be thankful that He loved us enough to die for us. We should be honored to be able to worship at His feet. We should be grateful for His personal interest in each of us.
  5. Q: What should be our response to Christ as creator? A: We should be thankful to have a creator who so loves His creation that He would become one of us and die for our sins so we could have a continuing relationship with Him. What a powerful thought!
  6. Q: What should be our response to Christ as head of the church? A: We should respect His commands and teachings. We should obey Him. We should be honored to be part of His body. We should fulfill our role in His body.


  1. Before the next class meeting, study your worksheet so you will be ready to participate in a review of this lesson and read Colossians 1. 


The teacher will conduct an oral review of Lesson 1 at the beginning of Lesson 2.

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