I’m studying through the book of Colossians because I plan to teach through the book during the month of March (and the first Sunday in April). So far, I’ve written these posts in the series:
The beginning of the study
Salutation (author, recipients, greeting)
Prayer Part 1
Prayer Part 2
Jesus’ preeminence over creation
Jesus’ preeminence over the church
Paul’s service for the gospel
Contrasting Christ with human wisdom Part 1
Contrasting Christ with human wisdom Part 2
Contrasting Christ with human wisdom Part 3
Contrasting Christ with human wisdom Part 4
Exhortation to put off an earthly way of life
Exhortation to put on Christ as a new way of life
Exhortations about family relationships
Exhortations about prayer and outsiders
Travel plans, greetings, and final exhortations
Updating the Outline
Now that I studied the book of Colossians in detail, and now that I’ve worked through the outline again, I can decide how to divide the book for teaching. Originally, I had planned to teach through the book in four weeks, but I’ve decided to stretch it to five weeks. I talked with the other people who are planning to teach, and we worked out the schedule adjustment.
Each Sunday, for five Sundays, we will read through the entire book of Colossians, then we will focus on a specific passage. By reading the entire book, and by studying larger passages at a time, it will be easier to keep the entire letter in view while we’re discussing each passage.
There are ninety-five verses in Colossians. (That would be an average of about 19 per week.) While it is not necessary to divide the book into even numbers of verses, it is good to keep that in mind. Plus, I must keep the outline in mind. If at all possible, I do not want to split a section between weeks.
It seems like the most obvious way to divide the book for teaching and community study is to follow the outline:
- Week 1: Sender, Recipients, Greeting, and Prayer (Colossians 1:1-14) (14 verses)
- Week 2: Preeminence of Christ and Paul’s Service (Colossians 1:15-2:5) (20 verses)
- Week 3: Exhortations to trust Christ instead of human wisdom (Colossians 2:6-3:4) (22 verses)
- Week 4: Exhortations to live the new life in Christ (Colossians 3:5-4:6) (27 verses)
- Week 5: Travel plans, greetings, and closing (Colossians 4:7-4:18) (12 verses)
I like this schedule for a few reasons:
There is less Scripture to cover in the first week, which gives us more time to introduce the book, and there is less Scripture to cover in the last week, which gives us more time to review and summarize.
I’m glad that the prayer is included in the first week. Paul’s prayer are often introductions to the concepts covered in the remainder of the letter, and that’s true in Colossians as well.
I’m also glad that we will be discussing the preeminence of Christ at the same time that we discuss Paul’s example of service for Christ. Why? Because Paul’s service (and the new way of life for the Colossians) flows from Christ’s supremacy over all things (even Paul’s life and the Colossians’ lives).
While I would probably like to have more time to discuss the passages in Week 4 (Colossians 3:5-4:6), I’m also glad that we’re not splitting this passage up. It’s dangerous to take individual exhortations out of context when you take smaller sections of Scripture. Plus, we don’t limit our discussion to 30-45 minutes like most sermons.
So, what do you think about my teaching plan?