My favorite way of teaching from the Bible is “verse by verse.” After leaving atheism for Christianity I came across a variety of preaching/teaching styles. I didn’t know what they were called in my early months as a believer, but verse-by-verse ended up being the one that made the most sense to me. I knew what something meant not only because of the definition of words, but because of its “context.”

Expository preaching or teaching is the process of blending the best hermeneutics (Bible study method) to the best homiletics (preaching/teaching method) to present a sermon or lesson that is accurate to the text and context in a way that communicates the truth clearly and powerfully and can be understood and applied by the hearer. As one author has explained expository preaching: “expository preaching is preaching in which the content, intent, and structure of the passage determines the content, intent, and structure of the message.” (Matthew Harmon, Expository Preaching)

Once the preacher/teacher has carefully studied a Book of the Bible verse by verse, they can teach from it verse by verse or topically. The danger of topical preaching/teaching is when the preacher/teacher is not familiar with what the text means in its context. Many errors rise from that kind of topical preaching/teaching. To someone experienced in proper Bible study, it becomes fairly easy (and often painful) to tell when someone is preaching/teaching out of context. Teaching out of context leads to error and misuse of God’s Word. Teaching in context leads to truth and correct use of God’s Word. The extra time it takes to study a Book in context seems well worth the end result.

“That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive.” Ephesians 4:14

This next series of Teaching Notes is from a sermon series taught more than 40 years ago. We studied Paul’s Letter to the  Colossians carefully verse-by-verse, then presented our discoveries in a series of topical studies that came naturally from this great Letter. Our prayer is that it will be clear and powerful and you will understand it and want to apply the principles to your life. As with other Teaching Notes, we invite you to use this study in any way God leads.

[These notes are from a Bible study taught more than 40 years ago. The notes are in outline form.]

I. The Report (1:1-8)

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colossae: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”

A. The People

  1. Paul the Apostle
  2. Timothy the Disciple
  3. Epaphras the Evangelist

B. The Place – Colossae

  1. In the Lycus Valley
  2. Near Laodicea and Hierapolis
  3. 100 miles east of Ephesus

C. The Passage – Epaphras goes to Rome to see Paul

D. The Purpose

  1. To help and serve Paul while he (Paul) is in prison
  2. To make known the progress of the Colossian Christians and their problems

II. The Problem (2:1-23)

For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh; That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words. For though I be absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily. And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power: In whom also ye are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ: Buried with him in baptism, wherein also ye are risen with him through the faith of the operation of God, who hath raised him from the dead. And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, hath he quickened together with him, having forgiven you all trespasses; Blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and took it out of the way, nailing it to his cross; And having spoiled principalities and powers, he made a shew of them openly, triumphing over them in it. Let no man therefore judge you in meat, or in drink, or in respect of an holyday, or of the new moon, or of the sabbath days: Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ. Let no man beguile you of your reward in a voluntary humility and worshipping of angels, intruding into those things which he hath not seen, vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God. Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances, (Touch not; taste not; handle not; Which all are to perish with the using;) after the commandments and doctrines of men? Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglect.”

A. The People Deluded (4)

The word “delude” literally means to reason falsely.

It speaks here of being led to accept untruth through false reasoning and persuasive arguing.

B. The People Deceived (8)

The words “empty deception” speak of a deceit that has no profit to it. Not only is it deceitful, but it is also unprofitable. “Elementary principles of the world’ were the delusive speculations of Gentile cults and Jewish theories that were presented as superior to Christ.

C. The People Judged (16)

A judge is someone who would decide whether something was right or wrong, good or evil. No one is to do that to a Christian because only God and His Word are our judge.

D. The People Defrauded (18) (20-22)

To defraud someone is to rob them of something. Paul is saying here, “Don’t let anyone rob you of your prize.” (The word prize means reward.) Was Paul speaking of Christ as the prize? Can a Christian be robbed of Christ? (ask audience) Was Paul speaking of salvation as the prize? Can a Christian be robbed of his or her salvation? (ask audience) What then was the prize that these Christians could be robbed of? (ask audience) That’s right! It is the reward that will be ours at the Bema Seat (Judgment Seat) of Christ.

III. The Solution (1:15-23, 28; 4:12)

Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: And he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fulness dwell; And, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled In the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister.”

“Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.”

“Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.”

A. Doctrine — Exalting Christ as Creator Lord

B. Practice — Maturing Saints

IV. The Application

A. Don’t allow yourself to be deluded, deceived, judged or defrauded by anyone. Know the doctrine of God’s Word and stand on it with full assurance.

B. Continually evaluate your walk with God to see if there is a process of maturity.

V. The Commitment

Please bow your heads and quietly evaluate your walk with God:

  1. Have you allowed yourself to be deluded, deceived, judge or defrauded by anyone in or outside of the Christian church?
  2. Are you now in a growing process of maturity in your walk with the Lord?

Please let us know how we can help you.

[Thank you for reading these teaching notes from more than 40 years ago. My prayer is they will be a blessing to you, your family and your ministry.]