This study uses the inductive study process of observation, interpretation, and application. It’s divided into 35 daily lessons that should take you 20-30 minutes per day. Bookmark this page in your browser on your computer, or save a link to your home screen on your device for easy reference. Follow along each day in the table of contents below.
Along with these study questions, you will need your Bible and a notebook or binder with loose-lined paper to take your notes.
If you are not familiar with the inductive Bible study process, be sure to read How to Use the Inductive Bible Study Method to familiarize yourself with this method.
If you would like a printable version of this study guide in a pdf, sign up for the email list and I’ll send it to your inbox!
Begin your study today, and every day, in prayer. Ask the Holy Spirit to be your tour guide through the scriptures as you study Paul’s epistle to the Colossians. Thank Him ahead of time for all that He is going to reveal to you.
For your first assignment, read through the entire book of Colossians in one sitting. This will give you a general idea of the flow of this book.
Today, read through the first two chapters of Colossians looking for every reference to the author (Paul) and the recipients. When you find these verses, ask the 5 w’s and an h questions (who, what, when, where, why, and how) about each of them. Make two separate lists of everything the scriptures tell you about Paul and about the Colossians. If you aren’t sure how to complete this step, make sure to watch the video tutorial linked above “How to Use the Inductive Method of Bible Study”.
Today, you will add to the lists you started yesterday. See what you can learn about the author and recipients in chapter 3-4. Follow the same pattern you used yesterday and add any more details to your lists.
Take out your lists that you made over the past couple of days. As you review what you have learned prayerfully consider the following:
- How did the gospel come to the Colossians? (look closely at chapter 1:6-7)
- Why do you think Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians? (consider chapter 2:4-8)
This book gives great insight into the doctrine of Christ and the gospel message. On a separate sheet of paper, draw two lines to make three columns. Then, turn your page over and do the same thing on the other side, giving you six columns. Write the following phrases at the top of each column.
- By Him
- Through Him
- For Him
- In Him
- With Him
- He is
Your assignment for today is to go through the first two chapters in Colossians and write what you learn about each of these phrases. Take your time with this. Optional – You may want to go through and mark the scriptures first. Circle every reference to Jesus (including pronouns), then go back through and make your lists.
- For today, finish making the lists you started yesterday. Go through chapters 3 and 4 and finish writing out what you learn about Jesus.
- After you have completed your list, spend some time prayerfully evaluating your beliefs. Are you believing anything about the Lord Jesus that does not align with what you have written down?
Ask the Holy Spirit to search and reveal what’s in your heart.
As you continue in this study, you will discover that what you believe directly affects how you act and behave. Let’s be diligent to assure that our beliefs are in alignment with the Truth found in God’s Word.
Today, you will begin your study of chapter 1.
- Read through the full chapter and see if you can come up with a one-sentence summary.
- Once you have a summary for the full chapter, go through the scriptures again and write a summary for each section.
- V. 1-12
- V. 13-20
- V. 21-23
- V. 24-29
Don’t stress too much about getting this ‘right’.These are just your initial thoughts. You can come back and adjust your summaries later.
Take a closer look at verses 1-12. Did you notice the word ‘gospel’ is repeated multiple times in this section?
- Go through these verses and list what these scriptures say about the words “knowledge” and “gospel”.
- Finish today by doing a word study of “knowledge” in verses 9 and 10. Write out what you learn in your notes.
- Notice the phrase, “for this reason”(NASB) in verse 9. Read the verses leading up to this statement and notice the reason why Paul prays the way he does.
- What, specifically does Paul pray for the Colossians? Write it out in your notes.
- What does Paul hope to be the result of his prayers for them? Notice the phrase “so that…” in verse 10 through verse 12.
- These first few verses reveal how powerful the gospel message is and how it continues to work in our lives. Read Romans 1:14-17. What more insight do you gain about the power of the gospel?
- Finish your time today by thanking God for the work He has done in your life through the gospel. You could even use Paul’s prayer for the Colossians to pray over yourself or for another.
The gospel message is centered around the person and work of Jesus Christ. You have already taken an in-depth look at verses 13-20 when you made your list of Jesus, but read through them again and ask the Lord to show you any new insights you may have missed.
- Note the different mentions of the word “all”.
- This passage shows us how God has given Christ first place in all things (v.18). If God has given Him first place, doesn’t Christ also deserve to have first place in all areas of our lives?
- Take some time today to prayerfully consider any area of your life that you have not fully surrendered to the Lord. Will you give Him first place in those areas? He is worthy, my friend!
Today you will move into the next section of the chapter, v. 21-23.
- What does verse 21 tell us about our former condition?
- According to verse 22, what did Christ do? How did He do it? For what purpose?
- Verse 23 begins with an ‘if’.. What is this verse saying exactly?
- Do a word study of “continue”. Write the definition in your notes. (see video tutorial above for how to do a word study)
- Look up the following cross-references and note how they relate to Colossians 1:23
- Hebrews 3:12-191
- Peter 1:3-5
- Ephesians 1:13-14
- Philippians 2:12-14
Considering all you learned in v. 23 and the cross-references, what does it mean to continue in faith? Why is it important to continue in faith?
Today, you come to the last section of chapter 1. Way to go!
There’s a lot of good stuff in this last section, so let’s unpack it one verse at a time.
Read verse 24.
- Why does Paul rejoice?
- Paul says that he is filling up in his body what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions. What does this mean? Back up to verse 22. What did Christ do in His body? What was Christ’s purpose in doing this? (read the rest of verse 22).
- Now, read verses 22-29. In verse 28, what does Paul say about the purpose of proclaiming Christ (look at the phrase “so that”).
- Do a word study of “complete” in verse 28 (NASB).
- How did Paul “fill up what was lacking in Christ’s afflictions”? Why would this cause him to rejoice? Look up 2 Corinthians 5:11-21 for more insight. Write out your thoughts in your notes.
The one thing that the sufferings of Christ did not do was take His message into all the world so that all men might hear and believe.
Paul had experienced beatings, hunger, loneliness, and much more physical suffering all for the sake of the gospel and building up the body of Christ (the church). Yet, he rejoiced in knowing that he was joining with Christ in the work to reconcile others to God and present all men holy, blameless, and complete/perfect in Him.
Are you willing, like Paul, to join Christ in this work? Are you willing to lay aside your own comforts and preferences in order to follow after Christ?
- Finish today by reading Matthew 10:38-39
In verse 26, Paul talks about a mystery that has been hidden.
- What do you learn about this mystery in verses 26-29?
- Look up Ephesians 3:1-7 to see what else you can learn about this mystery. Write out your thoughts and observations in your notes.
What an amazing time of history for us to live in! We can now comprehend and take hold of what the patriarchs, prophets, and people of the Old Testament looked forward to – salvation for all through Christ!
Feel free to consult your commentaries on Colossians chapter 1. Please do not move beyond chapter one. Wait until after you have done your own diligent study before you consult the thoughts of others. Allow the Holy Spirit to teach you first!
Now, you will begin your study of chapter 2. Paul begins this chapter by announcing that he has greatly struggled on behalf of the churches in Laodicea.
Read through the entirety of chapter 2 to see if you can discover the what and why behind Paul’s struggle for the Colossians.
- Based on what you read, what can you discern was happening among these believers? Write out your thoughts in your notes.
- How does chapter 2 relate to chapter 1? Read chapter 1:24-2:4.
End your study today by writing out a one-sentence summary of chapter 2.
- Start today by summarizing each of the sections in chapter 2 as follows:
- V. 1-3
- V. 4-15
- V. 16-23
Read Chapter 2:1-3
- What is the result of having a true knowledge of God’s mystery?
- Why do you think Paul began this letter to the Colossians with the foundational doctrine of Christ and the gospel message? Write out your thoughts in your notes.
Take a moment to review your list of the Colossians that you made on Day 2. In chapter 1 you learned that the Colossians:
- Had faith in Christ and love for the saints (1:4)
- The gospel was bearing fruit and increasing among them (1:6)
- Paul prays they would be filled with the knowledge of His will through spiritual wisdom and understanding (1:9)
Keep all this in mind as you continue on in your study of Chapter 2. You are going to jump around a little bit.
- Paul begins verse 4 with, “I say this so no one will delude you with persuasive argument.” What is the “this” that Paul had just said to them? Go back and read 2:3. Where do true spiritual wisdom and knowledge come from?
- What was Paul’s warning to the Colossians in 2:8? Look up Ephesians 5:6-16 and note how it relates to Colossians 2:8
- What was Paul’s command in 2:6-7
- What were the Colossians in danger of? Do these same kinds of dangers exist in our culture today? Do you see any application for your own life? Write out your thoughts in your notes.
Colossae was located along a main trade route in the southern part of ancient Phrygia. This brought an interesting mixture of backgrounds and beliefs to this area. Lots of different ideas and doctrines were discussed among the Colossian church.
While we don’t know for certain the specific arguments circling society in this region, the text does give us some clues as to what they may have been.
- Read through 2:9-15 and see if you can identify the different theological ideas that were being challenged. Number them in the text as you go (ex: put a 1 by the word “Diety”, a 2 by the word “made complete”, 3 next to “head over”, and so on).
Let’s take a deeper look at each of the doctrines mentioned in this chapter. Along with Christ and the gospel message, these precepts are important for keeping us firmly rooted in what we believe.
Here are the doctrines you will be studying:
- Christ’s Deity
- Our completeness in Christ
- Resurrection of Christ
- Christ’s Authority
Deity (Col 2:9): Read the following references and note what you learn about the deity of Christ – Philippians 2:5-11; John 1:1, 14; John 8:58; Exodus 3:14-15; John 8:24; John 10:30-31; Hebrews 1:3-4; Colossians 1:15-17; John 17:4-5; Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:21-22; Isaiah 9:6, Isaiah 43:10-11; Micah 5:2, Luke 2:4-7; Isaiah 44:6; Revelation 1:7-8, 17-18
You looked at a lot of references today! Well done. I hope and pray these scriptures establish your belief in Christ’s one-ness with God the Father.
That’s all for today, you will pick this assignment up tomorrow.
For the next few days, you will continue walking through the different ideas discussed in chapter 2:4-15.
- Made complete (Col 2:10)
You have already studied Colossians 1, but go back and read through verses 15-23 again. This time, read these scriptures while looking for how we are complete in Him.Now, read the following references and note what they say about our completeness in Christ – Ephesians 1:3-14; Ephesians 2:1-5
- True Circumcision (Col 2:11)
Circumcision in the Old Testament was the physical removal of flesh. It was a sign that a person belonged to the Lord. Read Genesis 17 for more on this.
Read Romans 2:28-29, Philippians 3:2-3
These verses make it clear that circumcision is of no value if the person’s heart is far from God. God has always been after the hearts of His people. The Jews were circumcised physically, but they had put their glory and confidence in themselves. A person circumcised by the Spirit puts their glory and confidence in Christ.
Buried in Baptism (Col 2:12)
- Do a word study of “baptism”
- The submersion into the water is a sign of death to our old life, then the rising out of the water is a sign of our new life in Christ. This is the physical act of baptism. It is a step of obedience to the Lord and a sign of our new life in Christ.
- However, true spiritual baptism occurs when we place our faith in Christ and receive the seal of the Holy Spirit, becoming one with Him.
- Look up the following references and note what they say about baptism. – 1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27; 1 Peter 3:21; Mark 16:16; Matthew 3:7-11
Raised through Faith (Col 2:12) – Don’t miss this part. The resurrection of Christ is the foundation of our faith!
- Do a word study of “raised”
- Look up the following references about what it means to be raised with Christ.
John 11:25-26; Mark 16:6; Ephesians 2:4-9; Romans 6:1-8, 1 Corinthians 15:1-20
- Here are some more references about the resurrection of the dead. Write down your observations and thoughts in your notes.
1 Thessalonians 4:13-18 (the word “sleep” refers to those who have died); 1 Corinthians 15:20-58
The Authority of Christ
- Begin today by reading Colossians 2:9-15
- What was the “certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us” in v. 14?
Look at Romans 7:1-13 for more insight. Then answer this question in your notes.
- Do word studies for the words “head” (v. 10), “disarmed” (v. 15)
- What does it mean that the rulers and authorities were disarmed? Why is this important? Read Hebrews 2:14-15 write your thoughts in your notes.
The cross of Christ has released us from the law.
Make sure to not misunderstand what these verses are saying. The law itself is righteous and good. It is God’s holy standard. The problem is our sin. Now that Christ has put an end to our sin, we are no longer bound by the law. We have died to sin and have been made alive by grace through faith in Christ. Thank You, Lord!
Up to this point in your study, you have been evaluating your beliefs regarding some of the foundational doctrines of the Chrisitan faith. Starting in chapter 2:16, we see Paul making a shift in the focus of his message. He now moves into discussing how their beliefs should affect their actions and behaviors.
- Look at chapter 2:16. What is the command that Paul gives the church?
Do a word study for the word “judge” in Col 2:16. Write the definition in your notes.
- Notice the contrast in verse 17 (look for the word “but”). Do word studies of “shadow” and “substance”.
- Finish today by reading all of Romans 14 and Galatians 3:23-25. How do these verses relate to Colossians 2:16-17? Write out your thoughts in your notes.
I love the phrasing in the Berean Study Bible for Colossians 2:17 – “These are a shadow of the things to come, but the body that casts it belongs to Christ.”
- What is Paul’s warning in chapter 2:18-19?
- Do a word study for “defrauding you of your prize” (NASB). Write what you learn in your notes.
- Look up the following cross-references and note how they relate to Colossians 2:18-19
- 1 John 4:1-2
- 2 John 1:7-11
- How do Colossians 2:20-22 relate to verses 2:18-19?
- Read verse 20 again, then go back and read chapter 2:8. What phrase is mentioned in both of these verses? Do a word study for “elementary principles”. Record what you learn in your notes.
- If you are in Christ, what is your relationship to the “elementary principles of the world”?
- Feel free to consult your commentaries on chapter 2.
- Start today by reading through chapter 3 and writing a one-sentence summary of the chapter.
- Now, see if you can quickly summarize each section in this chapter.
- v. 1-4
- v. 5-11
- v. 12-17
- v. 18-25
Time to dig into chapter 3! Start by reading Colossians 3:1-4. What commands does Paul give? Why does he give these commands? (look at v. 3-4)
- Do a word study of “seek (seeking)”.
- How does this passage relate to what you read in chapter 2:12-14?
- Look up Romans 6:4-9 and Galatians 2:20. What does it mean that our lives are hidden in Christ?
Begin today by reading Colossians 3:5-11.
In verses 1-5 Paul gave the command to seek and think about heavenly things. Now, in this section he gives some practical ways that we do this. We must put to death the ways of our old nature. The term ‘put off’ or ‘put them aside’ pictures a Pauline metaphor that means a change in clothing. It represents a change in behavior – that which is fitting for a child of God.
- In your notes, make a list of everything the text tells you to ‘put off’.
- Look up Romans 13:12, Galatians 3:27, Ephesians 4:24. What do these verses teach you about putting on the new man?
Yesterday, you looked at the behaviors that we, as children of God, need to put off. Today, you will look at the things we must put on. Read Colossians 3:12-17.
- List the things the scripture says to put on.
- For what purpose are we to put on these things? Look at the first part of verse 12.
This new self is to replace the old self, but it is also a renewal that continues until we are conformed into the image of Christ. (v. 10)
- Look at Acts 2:43-47 and note how it relates to Colossians 3:12-17.
- Take a moment to assess your own “attire”. Are you clothing yourself in the behaviors that are fitting for a child of God? Ask the Lord to show you if there is anything you need to put off.
At this point in chapter 3, Paul shifts his focus from discussing how believers are to conduct themselves as individuals and as a body, to discussing how they are to relate to each other within different family relationships.
Read Colossians 3:18-25
- What are the different groups of people Paul is speaking to in this passage? What are his commands to each? Write it out in your notes.
- I want to focus on the command to wives. Unfortunately, our culture has taken the word ‘submission’ and turned it into something God never intended it to be. Before going any further, what initial thoughts come to mind when you hear this word?
- Look up the word “submission” in your word study tools.
- Now, look up the word “obey/obedient” in verse 20 (Paul’s command to children). How does the definition of this word differ from the definition of the word “submit”?
- How does Colossians 3:18-25 relate to what you read in Colossians 3:5-17?
- What is the command in v. 23? Why does Paul give this command? (look at v. 24-25)
- Feel free to consult your commentaries on chapter 3.
This last chapter of Colossians may appear short and sweet, but there is much we call pull from this passage to apply to our lives. For today, read through chapter 4 and write a one-sentence summary of the chapter.
Today, read Colossians 4:2-6. I love Paul’s exhortation in this passage about the practice of prayer.
- Start with some word studies. Look up the words “devote” and “alert”. Write the definitions in your notes.
- Write out v.2 in your own words.
- Jump down to verse 12. How does it relate to verses 2-4?
- Why is thankfulness so important in a Christians’s life?
You’ve come to the final day of your study! Well done, my friend!
- What is Paul’s final command in verse 5?
- In advancing the gospel, what role is played by prayer? By watchfulness? By thankfulness?
- Feel free to consult your commentaries on chapter 4 at this time.