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Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.

Click here to go to 6 lessons on Colossians (Questions and Answers).



NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Colossians. This study is taken from that book with some modifications. The study is also available online in audio at: Colossians.

DATE A.D. 62. Four men left Rome in A.D. 62 bound for Turkey. These men had four of the most sublime compositions of the Christian faith. When these men bade farewell to the Apostle Paul, each was given an epistle to bear to his particular constituency. These four letters are in the Word of God, and they are designated the “Prison Epistles of Paul,” since he wrote them while he was imprisoned in Rome. He was awaiting a hearing before Caesar Nero. The four men and their respective places of abode were: (1) Epaphroditus from Philippi who had the Epistle to the Philippinans (Philippians 4.18). (2) Tychicus from Ephesus who had the Epistle to the Ephesians (Ephesians 6.21). (3) Epaphras from Colosse who had the Epistile to the Colossians (Colossians 4.12). (4) Onesimus, a runaway slave from Colosse, who had the Epistle to Philemon, his master (Philemon 10).

These epistles present a composite picture of Christ, the church, the Christian life, and the interrelationship and functioning of all. These different facets present the Chritian life on the highest plane.

Colossians directs our attention ot the head of the body who is Christ. The body itself is secondary. Christ is the Theme. He is the center of the circle around which all Christian living revolves. Colossians emphasizes that Christ is the fullness of God.

Ephesians, Philippians, Colossians, and Philemon  have been called the anatomy of the church. They belong together to make a whole.


The church at Colosse met in the home of Philemon. A great civilization and a great population were in that area. East and West meet there. Colosse was more a less a door to the Orient, to the East.

Colosse, Laodicea, Philadelphia, Sardis, Thyatira, and Pergamum were fortress cities. They had all been great cities of defense against invasion from the East. By the time of Paul, the danger had been relieved because the Roman Empire was pretty much in charge of the world by then. Pelple had lapsed into paganism and gross immorality at the time of Paul. Colosse was typical.

Paul never visited Colosse. Nonetheless, he founded the church there. Converts from Paul’s ministry at Ephesus very definitely could have come to Colosse to form the nucleus of that church. Colosse is just 75 to 100 miles east of Ephesus.


Asia Minor was a center for heathenism, paganism, and the mystery religions. There was already abroad the first heresy of the church, Gnosticism. There are many forms of Gnosticism, and in Colosse there were the Essenes. There are 3 points of identification of this group:

  • They had an exclusive spirit. They were the aristocrats in wisdom. They felt that they were the They felt they had a monopoly on knowledge. They thought that they knew more than the apostles. Paul will issue them a warning in the first chapter: Colossians 1:28: “Whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus:” Perfection is not found in any cult or any heresy, but in Christ Jesus. All wisdom is found in Him.
  • They held speculative tenets on creation. They taught that God did not create the universe directly, but created a creature who in turn created another creature, until one finally created the physical universe. Christ was considered a creature in this long series of creations. This was known in pantheistic Greek philosophy as the demiurge. Paul refutes this in Colossians 1.15-19 and 2.18.
  • Ethically, the practiced asceticism and unrestrained licentiousness. They got the asceticism from the influence of Greek Stoicism and the unrestrained licentiousness from the influence of Greek Epicureanism. Paul refutes this in Colossians 2.16, 23 and 3.5-9.


Colossains is the chart and compass which enables the believer to sail between the ever present Scylla and Charybdis. On the one hand there is always the danger of Christianity freezing into a form, into a ritual. It has done that in many areas and in many churches so that Christianity involves nothing more than going through a routine. On the other hand is the danger that Christianity will evaporate into a philosophy. The Word of God is the revelation of God as it says it is. That is not a “theory.” We find people talking about theories of inspiration and theories of atonement—that is the evaporation of Christianity into a philosophy.

So there are two dangers. One is to freeze into form and become nothing but a ritualistic church; the other is to evaporate into steam and be lost in liberalism and false philosophy. The Lord Jesus said that He was the water of life, not the ice of life or the steam of life.

The Water of Life is “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Co. 1.27). Christianity is Christ down where we live, Christ in the nitty-gritty of life, down where the rubber meets the road.

There has always been the danger of adding something to or subtracting something from Christ—the oldest heresy is the newest heresy. Christianity is not a mathematical problem of adding or subtracting. Christianity is Christ. This is what Paul teaches in this epistle: Colossians 2:9 “For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” All you need is to be found in Christ.


William Sunday said: “In the Ephesian epistle, the church is the primary object, and the thought passes upward to Christ as the head of the church. In the Colossian epistle, Christ is the primary object, and the thought passes downward to the church as the body of Christ.”

The dominating thought in the epistle is that Christ is all. He is all I need. He is everything. Charles Wesley said it like this in a hymn: “Thou, O Christ, art all I want; more than all in Thee I find.”

Charles Spurgeon said, “Look on thine own nothingness; be humble, but look at Jesus, thy great representative, and be glad. It will save thee many pangs if thou will learn to think of thyself as being in him”—accepted in the Beloved, finding Him our all in all.

If you are resting in Him, you will find that you don’t need to go through a ritual. You won’t need to do a lot of gyrations and genuflections. You won’t be discussing the theories of inspiration. You either believe the Bible is the Word of God, or you don’t believe the Bible is the Word of God.

The so-called intellectual approach we find in our churches today is no good. Be a genuine you and not an imitation of someone else. Don’t try to imitate intellectual men you admire. We need to get down off our high horses. The Lord Jesus is feeding sheep, not giraffes.

The practical section of Colossians shows us Christ, the fullness of God, poured out in the life of believers. The alabaster box of ointment needs to be broken today. The world not only needs to see something, it needs to smell something. The pollution of this world is giving a very bad odor in these days. We need something of the fragrance and loveliness of Jesus Christ, and only the church is permitted to break that alabaster box of ointment and let out the fragrance.


  1. DOCTRINAL: Christ, the fullness of God; in Christ we are made full, Chapters 1, 2
    A. Introduction, 1.1-8
    B. Paul’s Prayer, 1.9-14
    C. Person of Christ, 1.15-19
    D. Objective Work of Christ for Sinners, 1.20-23
    E. Subjective Work of Christ for Saints, 1.24-29
    F. Christ, the Answer to Philosophy (For the Head), 2.1-15
    G. Christ, the Answer to Ritual (For the Heart), 2.16-23
  2. PRACTICAL: Christ, the fullness of God, poured out in the life through believers, Chapters 3, 4.
    A. Thoughts and Affections of Believers are Heavenly, 3.1-4
    B. Living of Believers is Holy, 3.4-4.6
    C. Fellowship of Believers is Hearty, 4.7-18


Chapter 1


vs1-2 “An apostle of Jesus Christ,” “by the will of God.” Every church member should be functioning, doing what God has called him to do. Our gifts are different and we are each going to function a little differently.

“To the saints and faithful brethren of Christ which are at Colosse.” This saints and faithful brethren are the same. We are not saints because of what we do. We are saints because of our position. The word means to be set apart for God.

Notice that they are “in Christ,” but they are at “Colosse.” We should have an address down here, but also an address up yonder also: in Christ.

“Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” The gnostics relegated God to a place far removed from man and taught that one had to go through emanations to get to God. Paul says here that grace and peace come directly “from God our Father.” We can come directly to Him through Christ.

v3 Anyone who is in Christ Jesus has access to God the Father. “Praying always for you.”

vs4-5 Here Paul links to trinity of graces for believers: (1) faith—past; (2) love—present; and (3) hope—future. Paul talks about the good points of these believers. Faith rests upon historical facts; it is believing God. Romans 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

It is nonsense to boast of our fundamentalism and then to spend our time crucifying our brethren and attempting to find fault with them. There are too many “wonderful saints” looking down on their fellow believers who have not measured up to their high standard and are not separated like they are separated. The world is looking to see whether Christians love each other or not.

In 1 Co. 13.13, Paul lists these 3 graces, but lists them differently. He puts hope in the 2nd position and love is listed last. Why? Because love is the only thing that is going to abide. Love is for present, but it will make it to eternity.

The “hope which is laid up for you in heaven” is the blessed hope. We are to love Christ’s appearing.

The gospel is a simple message which God simply asks you to believe.

v6 Paul says the gospel has come to the Colossians as it has come to “all the world.” The gospel had penetrated into the farthest reaches of the Roman Empire of that day.

“And bringeth forth fruit.” Whereever the gospel is preached, it will bring forth fruit.

v7 Apparently, Epaphras “our dear fellowservant” is the pastor of the church at Colossee.

v8 Paul makes it clear to these Colossian believers that they would not have been able to exhibit this love unless it were by the Holy Spirit. It was to the Galatians that Paul wrote that the fruit of the Spirit is love. In this epistle, Paul dwells on the person of Christ. As he does that, the Spirit of God will take the things of Christ and will show them unto us.

PAUL’S PRAYER (vs. 9-14)

This is one of the most wonderful prayers in Scripture. He will make seven petitions, and then he will thank the Lord for the things He has already done for us.

v9 First, Paul prayed that they might be filled with knowledge “of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding.” Wisdom occurs forty times in this epistle.

v10 He prays that they might be pleasing to God. Third, he prays that they might be “fruitful in every good work.” The Christian is a fruit bearing branch. Christ is the vine, and we should bring froth fruit.

“Increasing in the knowledge of God.” (4th request) A Christian should not be static, but growing in the word of God.

v11 (5th) For strength and power which can only come from God; produced by the Holy Spirit. They are to be strengthened with all might “unto all patience and longsuffering” “with joyfulness.”

v12-14 Here is the list of things for which Paul is thankful.


In Colossians, we come in close on the person of Christ and learn the theology of it. This is a very lofty, very exalted, and very grand section of this epistle. This provides an answer to those who would deny the deity of Jesus Christ. Paul is answering one of the oldest heresies in the church—Gnosticism.

Paul gives here 9 marks of identification of Christ which make Him different from and superior to any other person who has ever lived.

  • The “image of the invisible God.” See John 1.1, 14. Christ was born flesh. That is the way that He became the image of the invisible God. How could that be? Because He is God. If He were not God, He could not have been the image of the invisible God.
  • He is “the firstborn of every creature.” This reveals His relationship to the Father and His position in the Trinity. God is the everlasting Father. Christ is the everlasting Son. “Firstborn” indicates His priority before all creation. Nowhere does Scripture teach that Jesus Christ had his beginning at Bethlehem. In Micah 5.2 we are told that He would be born in Bethlehem, but that he came forth from everlasting. Is. 9.6 tells us that “the child is born” but the “son is given.” He came out of eternity and took on Himself our humanity. Gnosticism taught that Jesus was a creature who came out of a line of created creatures, emanations from God. Paul says Jesus Christ was the firstborn of all creation, that He is back of all creation.

There are several places in Scripture where Christ is called the firstborn. He is called the firstborn of all creation; the firstborn from the dead; and the only begotten.  See Co. 1.18, Ps. 2.7; Ac. 13.32, 33.

When Christ is called the firstborn of all creation, it is not referring to His birth at Bethlehem. It means it has top priority of position. See Ps. 89.27.

Some other verses that speak of the person of Christ. He. 1.3; 1.7, 8.

This says Jesus Christ was God. See Lk. 1.35; Mt. 16.16.

  • “By hi were all things created.” He was the creator. There are two types of creation, visible and invisible. He mentions different gradations of rank in spiritual intelligences: thrones, dominions, principalities, powers. There are gradations in angelic hosts. Other verses te us that there are seraphim and cherubim, and also the archangels. Then there are just the common, everyday, vegetable variety of angels. In Ephesians, we see that our enemy is a spiritual enemy. Satan has a spiritual host that rebelled with him. There are different gradations and ranks of our spiritual enemies too.
  • All things were created “for him.” We are joint heirs of God and joint heirs with the Lord Jesus Christ. We will have a new body free from gravity. We will be able to travel throughout God’s universe. We live in tabernacles, tents. 2 Co. 5.1. 2 Co. 5.8: “willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.” Eternity is the prospect ahead for us.
  • “He is before all things” (v17).
  • “By him all things consist” (v17). He holds everything together. See also He. 1.3.
  • “He is the head of the body, the church” (v18). In Ephesians, the emphasis was on the church as the body of Christ in this world. In Colossians, the emphasis is on Christ, the Head of the body. Ephesians 1:22: “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” Finally, in Philippians we see the church with feet walking through the world—we see the experience of the church, the experience of the believer.

“The firstborn from the dead.” There is only one man who has a glorified body today. He is the firstfruits of them that sleep. When a believer dies, the body is put to sleep, but the individual has gone to be with the Lord. When Christ comes to take His church out of the world, then that body is going to be raised on the basis of His resurrection. It is sown in corruption, but it will be raised in incorruption (1 Co. 15.42). We shall be just as He is (1 Jn. 3.2).

  • “That in all things he might have the preminence” (v18). God’s intention is that the will of Christ must prevail throughout all of God’s creation. Ps. 2.6. God is moving forward today undeviatingly, unhesitatingly, uncompromisingly toward one goal—to put Jesus Christ on the throne of this world which today is in rebellion against God. That is the objective of God.
  • “It pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell” (v19). In Philippians, Christ emptied Himself and became a servant; He emptied Himself of the glory that He had with the Father. He did not empty Himself of His deity—He was God when He came to this earth.

Here we see that the fullness of God dwells in Him. When He was on the earth, He was 100% God.

Another outline of these verses is:

  • Christ’s relationship to the Father—v 15.
  • Christ’s relationship to the creation—vs 16, 17.
  • Christ’s relationship to the church—vs. 18, 19.
  • Christ’s relationship to the cross—v. 10.


We see here the things Christ has done for us.

v20 “Having made peace through the blood of his cross” means that by His paying the penalty on the cross for your sin and my sin, peace has been made between God and the sinner. God is saying, “I have already borne the punishment, I have already paid the penalty for all your sin. I want you to know that you can come to me. Peace has already been made in Christ Jesus, if you will just turn and come to Me.” This is what Paul meant in Romans 5:1 “Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

“By him to reconcile all things unto himself.” Reconciliation is toward man; redemption is toward God. Man must make a decision to be reconciled to God. Paul explains this very clearly in 2 Co. 5.18-20. God is asking man to be reconciled to Him.

“Reconcile all things.” “All things” are those which are appointed to reconciliation. Philippians 3:8 “Yea doubtless, and I count all things but loss for the excellency of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord: for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and do count them but dung, that I may win Christ.” This refers to all things Paul had to lose.

“Whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven.” He does not mention things under the earth.  Ephesians 1:22 “And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church.” What are the “all things that are going to be put nder His feet? Philippians 2:10 “That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth.”

Things in heaven and earth are reconciled to God, but not things under the earth. One needs to be reconciled to him in this place and in this life.

“Things in heaven.” Heaven is being made ready to receive us. John 14:2  “…I go to prepare a place for you.” By the blood of Jesus, man is brought to God. This blood also purifies things in heaven according to He. 9.23-24.

v21 A man is lost because he wants to be lost, because he is in rebellion against God. The reason people are lost is because their minds are alienated from God. There is an open hatred and hostility toward God.

v22 Here is an explicit declaration that Christ suffered in a real body. This directly countered one of the heresies of Gnosticism. Unblamable means without blemish. “Unreproveable” means unaccusable or unchargeable. God justifies the believer. He is the One who has cleared us of all guilt.

v23 The if Paul uses here is the if or argument. It means that something was if something else is true. Paul’s point is that we have been reconciled—it is an accomplished fact. If you are a child of God, you will continue in the faith grounded and settled.


v24 Paul is saying that it was necessary for him to full up in suffering that which was lacking in the suffering of Christ. That is, Paul was suffering in his body for the sake of Christ’s body. It would seem to say that there was something lacking in the suffering of Christ. A second implication is that it is necessary for all believers to make up that which is lacking. Here it would seem that there is still something to be done. Paul had fulfilled Acts 9:15-16 “But the Lord said unto him, Go thy way: for he is a chosen vessel unto me, to bear my name before the Gentiles, and kings, and the children of Israel: For I will shew him how great things he must suffer for my name’s sake.”

The sufferings of Paul were not redemptive. There are two kinds of suffering: ministerial and mediatorial. Christ’s sufferings for us was mediatorial.

  • There are two sufferings of Christ which He endured and in which we cannot share.

He suffered as a man. He endured human suffering. As when He was born, He cried like other babies He was clad in the frail flesh and garment we as humans have. He could get hungry and thirst. He experienced loneliness. He suffered anguish and pain and sorrow. He could go to sleep in the boat because He was weary and tired.

Galatians 6:5 “For every man shall bear his own burden.” We are born alone. We feel pain alone. We each must face certain problems in life, and we face them alone. There is a sorrow that comes that no one can share with us. We become sick, and no one can take our place. Humanly speaking, we will die alone.

The second suffering He could not share was His suffering as the son of God. No mortal has ever had to endure what He went through. We see this suffering in Ps. 69.

And then He suffered as the sacrifice for the sin of the world. None of us can do that. He is the Lamb of God that takes away the sin of the world, and none of us can enter into that suffering at all. He alone went to the cross. He was forsaken by God and forsaken by man. His blood was not the blood of martyrdom; His was the blood of sacrifice.

That is a suffering man cannot bear; He could not share that with anyone else.

  • On the other hand, there are the sufferings Christ endured which we can share. These are the sufferings Paul refers to in v24.

There is the suffering for righteousness’ sake. He suffered for righteousness’ sake. See Jn. 8.40. 1 Peter 3:14 :But and if ye suffer for righteousness’ sake, happy are ye: and be not afraid of their terror, neither be troubled.” 2 Timothy 3:12 “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” In the world today, athletes are lauded, people in entertainment are praised, politicians are praised, and professors are honored; but the man of God is not praised. Romans 8:36 “As it is written, For thy sake we are killed all the day long; we are accounted as sheep for the slaughter.”

Then there is the suffering in the measure we identify ourselves with Christ for the proclamation of the gospel. “Because as he is, so are we in this world” (1 Jn. 4.17; see also, Jn. 15.18-19). If you are not of the world, the world will hate you. If you are popular with the world, you are not popular with Christ and vice versa. When we suffer for Christ, the Lord Jesus is also suffering though us. Jesus asked Saul, “Saul, Saul, why persecutes thou me?”

See 1 Pe. 4.12-13. One thing is certain: If the gospel is to go forward today, someone must suffer. Suffering is not popular.

v25 “Dispensation” means economy. It is a stewardship. God deals with the world on the basis of different economies or stewardships. but they have always been based on the redemption which is in Christ Jesus.

Paul writes to the Gentile people in Colosse. They are a part of this new dispensation. The Gentiles are to be included in the church.

“To fulfil the word of God.” This is something that had been hidden in the Old Testament. Now God has declared that the gospel must go to the Gentiles.

v26 A “mystery” is something that had not been revealed in the OT, but is now revealed. It was known in the OT that the Gentiles would be saved. The mystery, the new thing, was that God would now put Israel on the same basis as the Gentiles. God is taking both Jews and Gentiles and putting them into a new body which is the church.

v27 “Christ in you, the hope of glory”—we are in Christ.

v28 The gospel is not what we preach, but who we preach. Jesus Christ is the gospel. He is eternal life. John wrote that he was going to show us eternal life, that he had seen eternal life (see 1 J. 1.1, 2). He had seen Christ.

“Warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom.” “That we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” Perfect means complete or mature.

v29 “Striving” means to agonize. Paul is strving to do this. “According to his working, which worketh in me mightily.” This should be the desire of everyone who is working for Christ—that He would work in us  mightily to do two things: to get out the gospel that men might be saved and then to build them up in the faith. That is the two things the church should be doing today.

Chapter 2

In vs1-15 we will see that Christ is the answer to philosophy. The remainder of the chapter will show that Christ is the answer to ritual. The answer to philosophy is for the head; the answer to ritual is for the heart.

Christianity has always been in danger of evaporating into philosophy—it becomes nothing but steam; or that it will freeze into a form and become nothing more than a ritual. But Jesus Christ is the water of life. He is neither steam nor ice; neither can sustain life.  Christianity is Christ!

There were 5 errors that endangered the Colossian church which Paul will deal with in this chapter:

  • Enticing words—vs4-7
  • Philosophy—vs8-13
  • Legality—vs14-17
  • Mysticism—vs18-19
  • Asceticism—vs20-23


v1 Laodicea was near Colosse. In Re. Laodicea is described as “luke warm.” “Conflict” is agony. MacPhail calls this a prayer of agony. Paul knew there was a grave danger in Colosse and Laodicea. They were in danger of going off in one of two directions. In Re., the Laodiceans were described as lukewarm. They had lost sight of the person of Christ who is the answer to both man’s head and man’s heart. Dr. McGee believes Paul meant by “For as many as have not seen my face in the flesh” means he had never been there.

v2 “Heart” indicates the entire inner man, the whole propulsive nature of man. He is praying that their hearts, their humanity, their whole persons might be comforted.  “Being knit together in love” means compacted in love. Love will draw them together. The bond that unites believers is love.

Full assurance of understanding means that believers should be moving along spiritually—they should be moving along for God. The “mystery of of God, even Christ” is the church. On the Day of Pentecost God started a new thing. He began to call out a group of people int0 the body of believers, baptized into this body. Christ has a physical body while he was on earth and he has a spiritual body here today, the church, which is made of local autonomous assemblies made up of believers.

v3 All that we need is Christ. He is the reservoir of all knowledge.

Now Paul will discuss the error of enticing words.

v4 Philosophy and psychology have been substituted for the Bible and this is the thing that is enticing to so many young preachers in our seminaries today. Many know all about Bultmann and Kant and Plato, but not much about the Word of God. There was that same danger in Colosse and Laodicea. Paul says, “Don’t let anyone beguile (victimize) you by enticing words (oratory or sweet talk).” These words cause many people to follow a certain individual instead of the Word of God. Like the Pied Piper of Hamin, he starts playing, and they start following.

v5 Paul knew that this church was standing. “Beholding your order.” Order is a  military term. Believers should be standing shoulder to shoulder. Instead, many are trying to undermine or take advantage of another believer.

“Steadfastness” means to have a solid front, to be immovable. 1 Corinthians 15:58: “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

v6 Salvation is a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. We are to walk in Him, to walk in the Spirit. The Christian life is in the home, the office, the schoolroom, on the street. The way you get around in this life is to walk. You are to walk in Christ.

v7 “Rooted” means rooted like a tree, and a tree is a living thing. And we are to be “built up” as a house. “And stablished in the faith.” Faith is the way you and I lay hold on Christ.

Paul now moves on to discuss the danger of philosophy.

“Beware”—Look out! Stop, look, and listen! If you were to follow the history of philosophy beginning with Plato, including many of the church fathers, and coming down to more recent times (Kant, Locke, and Bultmann etc. who seems to be more crazy that some theologians right now), you would find that none of them have a high view of the inspiration of the Word of God. They are looking for answers to the problems of life, but they will not be found in philosophy.

A true philosopher is a seeker of truth, but truth is not found in human wisdom. Christ is the answer, the answer to philosophy (1 Co. 1.30). But false philosophy is like a blind man looking in a dark room for a black cat that isn’t there—there is no hope for its search for truth. Paul warns the Colossians to beware of this.

“After the tradition of men.” The Lord Jesus condemned the religious rulers in His day because they taught the tradition of men rather than the Word of God.

“After the rudiments of the world and not after Christ.” “Rudiments” means that which is basic, the A B C’s. Some try to build their Christian living on a simple worldly system.

Now Paul will speak of Christ.

v9 A clear cut statement of the deity of Christ.

v10 Ye “are complete in him.” You are ready for the voyage of life in Christ, and whatever you need for the voyage of life you will find in Him.

v11 Paul is telling to get rid of that which is outward. the real circumcision is the new birth. See Ga. 6.15). We become a new creature when we come to Christ and trust Him as Savior. We rest in Him; we are identified with Him.

v12 The death and resurrection of Christ is an historical fact. When Christ died, you and I died with Him; He took our place. And when He was raised, we were raised with Him, and we are now joined to a living Christ.

No outward ceremony can bring us to Christ. Salvation is accomplished by the resurrection power of God. It is not some philosophy; it’s not some gimmick; it’s not some little system; it is not the taking of some course that will enable you to live for God.

v13 Salvation is not the improvement of the old nature; it is the impartation of a new nature. Paul had to deal with two Greek philosophies—Stoicism, and Epicureanism. The Stoic taught that man was to live nobly and that death cannot matter. Hold the appetites in check and become indifferent to changing conditions. They believed that man is more than circumstances and that the soul is greater than the universe. It was a brave philosophy. The problem was how to live it.

The Epicurean taught that all is uncertain. We know not whence we came; we know not whither we go. We only know that after a brief life we disappear from this scene, and it is vain to deny ourselves any present joy in view of the possible future ill. Let us eat and drink for tomorrow we die.

Both these systems attempted to deal with the flesh.—the old nature we all have, not the meat on our bones.

If you are joined to Christ, you are going to live as if you are. How close are you to Him? Do you walk with Him? Do you turn to Him in all the emergencies of this life? Is He the center of your life?

The warning against legality (vs14-17).

v14 When Christ died on the Cross, he did not die because He had broken the Ten Commandments. It was because you and I broke them, because everyone is a sinner. If Christ has saved you, you should not go back to a law you could not keep. The law was given to discipline the old nature. The believer has been given a new nature, and the law has been removed as a way of life.

v15 The spiritual victory that Christ won for the believer is of inestimable value.

CHRIST, THE ANSWER TO RITUAL (For the Heart)(vs 16-23)

vs16-17 A believer is not to observe ordinances that are only ritual and liturgical; they have no present value. God did give certain rituals in the OT. But Paul explains they were merely a “shadow of things to come.” The OT rituals were just pictures of Christ.

We come not to the warning against mysticism.

vs18-19 Paul is here condemning the Gnostics who made a pretense of wisdom.

The final warning is against asceticism.

vs 20-21 Since you have died with Christ, do not return to pre-cross living. Paul is talking about the pride that says, “I deny myself, and I don’t do these things. Just look at me. I’m really sprouting wings, and I shine my halo every morning.” “Not in any houour” means it is not of any value. If you are going to walk with Christ, you are going to have a good time.

Chapter 3

Now we come to the practical section, chapters 3 and 4. We have seen the preeminence of Christ in chapters 1 and 2.

Now we come to the place where Paul will insist that He must be made preeminent in our lives. Dedication is Christ preeminent in our lives. If Christ is preeminent in your life, then you are going to live out His life down here on earth. Paul made this clear in Co. 2.9, 10. Christ is the solution to all the problems in life.

Paul has discussed the different things that lead people away from the person of Christ—enticing words, philosophy, legality, mysticism, and asceticism.

The Christian life is to live out the life of Christ.


v1 This is the if  of argument, not the if of condition. The lives of these Colossian Christians evidenced their salvation. The evidence was faith, hope, and love—the fruit of the Spirit was in their lives. They loved the believers (Co. 1.4). Love among the believers was so important. They also had hope (Co. 1.5) which is the coming of the Lord Jesus for His children.

“Seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.” “Seek” means an urgency, desire, and ambition. The “things which are above” are the things of Christ. Paul doesn’t say here to seek out and listen to any preacher or teacher. Don’t make Dr. McGee or any man your idol. Look for a man who is just like you are.

The pastor is to preach the Word of God. Every pastor has fallen flat on his face. The Bible is the one Book which reveals the living Christ, and that should be a pastor’s purpose in teaching it.

When you read the Bible, you are looking at the real, living Christ. We are to seek Him. Real study of the Word of God will get you through to the living Christ.

v2 “Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.”

v3 “For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.” You died more than 1900 years ago when Christ died. I have been taken out of the old Adam by baptism (of the Holy Spirit).

v4 If you have any life it is Christ’s life. Christ is eternal life.


If we are truly risen with Christ this will be evident in two areas of our lives: (1) our personal holiness, and (2) our fellowship with others who are about us. If ‘Christians’ were as afraid of sin and they are of holiness, it would be a wonderful thing.” If you have accepted Christ as your Savoiur, that is going to show in your life down here.

v5 “Mortify” means to put to death, or put in the place of death. Colossians 3:5 “Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth; fornication, uncleanness, inordinate affection, evil concupiscence, and covetousness, which is idolatry.” “Fornication” means sexual immorality. “Uncleanness” includes thoughts, words, looks, gestures and the jokes we tell. “Inordinate affection” means uncontrolled passion or lust. “Evil concupiscence” means evil desires. “Covetousness, which is idolatry” means when we always must have more.

Dr. McGee says that covetousness is the root of most of the problems in our country today. 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.”

v6-7 Men are lost bc they are sinners. God’s wrath comes on “the children of disobedience.”

v8 Believers put off all these things “anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth.” Anger becomes wrath when we develop an unforgiving spirit. Malice is an anger that has been nursed along, and anger that tries to take revenge and get even. There is blasphemy against God (defaming the name of God, misrepresenting Him, hating Him) and blasphemy against man (for example, saying something about another Christian that is not true). “Filthy communication out of your mouth” means foul communication and includes both that which is abusive and that which is filthy.

v9 Christians are not to lie.

v10 “Put on the new man which is renewed in knowledge after the image of him that created him.”

v11 In church, there is neither Greek nor Jew, circumcision nor uncircumcision, Barbarian, Scythina, bond nor free: but Christ is all, and in al” All are brethren. Barbarian, Scythian – the most barbaric the world has known. Some of them had been won to Christ. “Christ is all and in all.”

We are in the practical section of Colossians.

v12 “The elect of God” are those who have been saved. These are clothed in the righteousness of Christ. The garments Paul is talking of are the fruit of the Holy Spirit. We can’t attain this wonderful position that I have in Christ. So you and I find ourselves cast upon Him. As it says in Song of Solomon, “Draw me, draw me.”

“Bowels of mercies” means heart of compassion. “Kindness” means to be helpful to others. “Humbleness” is meekness. “Meekness:” the emphasis here is meekness of spirit. “Longsuffering” means it burns a long time. We should not have a short fuse. We should not make snap judgments.

v13 Quarrel” means complaint. Paul is including situations where there is blame involved and the complaint is justified. What are we to do in such situations? “Even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.”  We are to go to the one we have a complaint against and try to work it out. But there are some with whom y0ou cannot work out things.  When our Lord denounced the Pharisees, there is no mention of forgiveness—He just denounced them. They did not seek His forgiveness, of course. Paul’s thought here is that Christ has forgiven us so much that it won’t hurt us to forgive somebody who has stepped on our toes. We are to forgive others the same way that Christ has forgiven us.

vs14-15 “Charity” is love. We have in these 2 verses two fruits of the Spirit: love and peace. The peace of God should “rule,” govern, our hearts.

v16 “The word of Christ.” John 15:3 “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” “Dwell” means to be at home, to be given the run of the house.

“Let the peace of God rule your hearts”—let it be an umpire. Then “let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom”—let it be at home. Know Him. Be familiar with the Word of Christ; study it and know what He is saying to you. He speaks to you in His Word.

“Teaching and admonishing  one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs.” “Singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.”

v17 Paul here does not say what we should or should not do. He simply says, “Do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” All you do at home, in the workplace, in relationships with others, can you say, “I am doing this in the name of the Lord Jesus.” If so, go ahead and do it.

Now Paul comes to the subject of holiness in the home. Notice he is dealing with the same things he dealt with in Ephesians. Now, he gives instructions for living.

The Word of God is inspired by the Holy Spirit. If the Word of God dwells in you richly, then you are filled with the Spirit of God. You cannot be filled with the Holy Spirit or serve Christ until you are filled with the knowledge of His Word. If God’s Word dwells in you richly, it will work itself out in your life, and it will have an effect on your home.

v18 This is for the purpose of order in the home, not for the purpose of a browbeating husband. A wife should not stay with a drunken husband and maybe beats her. She loses her own personality she loses her own dignity, and she will find herself being brought down to his level is she submits to that. She is to submit “as it is fit in the Lord.”

v19 The husband who loves his wife is the one to whom the wife is to submit.

v20 Children are to obey their parents, to honor their parents all their lives. However, the child needs to grow up. This verse is for children, for minor.

v21 Proverbs reveals that the responsibility to find God’s will for the child has been given to the parents. Proverbs 22:6 “Train up a child in the way he should go: and when he is old, he will not depart from it.”

Now Paul moves to the subject of holiness on the job at the place of employment.

v22 “Don’t keep your eye on the clock. Keep your eye on Christ. He is the one you are serving.” If you are lazy, you are not dedicated to Christ. Paul had one goal: Philippians 3:13-14: “Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before, I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” He had his eye, his mind, his heart, and his total affections fixed upon Jesus Christ.

v23 Work from your soul, with enthusiasm unto the Lord. This applies to everything you do. Even if you cannot go to church with enthusiasm, Dr. McGee recommends that you quit going to that church. Do everything “as to the Lord,” not to men. We are not to be menpleasers.

v24 The Lord sees all that you do. You have to give an account of your life to Him. He is going to ask that His representative be found faithful. There are a lot of humble, little-known people down here that we know nothing about that have been faithful on the job, to their employer, to their church, to their homes. They will receive a reward. “For ye serve the Lord Christ.”

v25 He is going to straighten out everything in your life and in my life that we don’t straighten out down here. It is a privilege to be in God’s service. But don’t ever think that makes you something special. When the Lord judges you, He will judge you on faithfulness.

Only the Holy Spirit working in me can attain this high and holy calling. He wants me to mirror Him in every relationship I have down here.

Chapter 4

Chapter 3 concluded with exhortations to servants or to employees. Chapter 4 will continue with exhortations to masters or to employers.

v1 The master is to do right by the servant. “Knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” The master will stand with Christ someday. Every Christian employer, as well as employee, will stand before God some day. This gets down to where the rubber meets the road.

The next few verses present 3 more areas of Christian conduct which are important: prayer, our public walk, and speech.

v2 Pray and watch. Reminds us of Nehemiah. He prayed, worked and watched. He said, “Nevertheless we made our prayer unto our God, and set a watch against them day and night, because of them” (Ne. 4.9). “With thanksgiving.” Always thank God because He is always going to answer your prayer. Maybe it won’t be the answer you wanted, but He will answer.

vs3-4 Paul says, “Don’t forget to pray for us.” “That God would open unto us a door of utterance, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am in bonds.”

v5 The child of God has a responsibility before the world today to walk in wisdom. “Redeemin the time.”

v6 Speak with grace, “seasoned with salt.”


We come to a remarkable list of names of people Paul knew. This reveals that Paul had led many people to Christ who returned home to cites he was never able to reach directly or personally.

vs7-8 Tychicus was the pastor of the church in Ephesus. He is mentioned in Ep. 6.21, Ac. 20.4, and 2 Ti. 4.12.

v9 Onesimus was a slave of Philemon in Colosse.

v10 Aristarchus was a fellow prisoner with Paul. Marcus is John Mark, the nephew of Barnabas.  He is the writer of the gospel of Mark.

v11 “Jesus which is called Justus” is “of the circumcision.” He is one of the few Israelites in the church in Colosse, which was mostly Gentile.

v12 Epaphras was the pastor in Colosse. Now he is in prison.

v13 v14 “Luke, the beloved physician.” Paul called Demas a fellow workker when he first mentioned him. Here he simply says, “… and Demas.” This may indicate Paul isn’t sure about him. Later, Demas forsakes Paul.

v15 Christians met in homes.

v16 This epistle is to be read also in the church of Laodicea, as the letter to Laodicea is to be read in the church at Colosse.

v17 Archippus. Paul is telling him to use his gift.

v18 This is the 2nd time Paul says, “Remember my bonds.” “Grace be with you Amen.”


Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.



NOTE. For more details see, McGee, Titus. This study is taken from that book with modifications. The study is also available online in audio at: Titus.

DATE A.D. 64-67


Apparently, Paul and Titus had been together in a ministry on the island of Crete (See Titus 1.5). We don’t know how long they had been there. Paul did not think much of the people who lived on Crete, as this epistle makes clear. Paul, after he left the island, wrote Titus giving him instructions about what he was to do as a young preacher in Crete.

Acts does not mention the ministry on Crete. Acts contains a very small record of the early churches, and only the ministries of Peter and Paul are emphasized. We do not have a complete record of these men’s ministries, but we have all the record that the Holy Spirit felt necessary to give us.


In 1 and 2 Thessalonians written earlier in Paul’s ministy, Paul’s great emphasis is on the coming of Christ—it is a bright and beautiful hope for him. Titus was written at the end of the ministry of the Apostle Paul, and he wrote: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ” (Titus 2:13). Paul had not lost the blessed hope that he had earlier in his ministry.


Paul led Timothy and Titus, two young preachers, to the Lord. He calls both sons, his genuine sons.

Paul wrote them both. We have two epistles to Timothy and one to Titus. These epistles are called pastoral epistles  because in them Paul gives instruction to these young preachers concerning the local church. These epistles are very brief, yet they do give the essential modus operandi for a church. They impress upon us that if there is a need in a church, it is a spiritual need.

Titus appears to have been a stronger man, both physically and spiritually. Paul expresses less concern for Titus’ welfare than he did for Timothy’s. Titus was probably more mature, and he possessed a virile personality.

Timothy was a Jew who was circumcised by Paul (Acts 16.1-3), but Titus was a Gentile, and Paul refused to circumcise him (Galatians 2.1-3). What rule can one draw from this: “For in Christ Jesus neither circumcision availeth any thing, nor uncircumcision, but a new creature” (Galatians 6:15).

Paul said that he wanted to be all things to all men that he might win some to Christ—to the Jew he wanted to be a Jew, and to the Gentile he wanted to be as a Gentile. He had Timothy circumcised because they were going into the synagogues. But in that great council of the church in Jerusalem, the gospel was at stake, and Paul would not permit one bit of legalism to slip in (See Acts 15); therefore, he refused to let Titus be circumcised.

It is a dangerous thing to put down a series of little rules that are nothing in the world but a ritual whereby you attempt to live the Christian life. Unless you have a personal relationship with Jesus Christ, all else comes absolutely to nought.


Ti.1.5In the epistle to Titus we have a fine picture of the New Testament church in its full-orbed realization in the community as an organization. Does your church call itself a New Testament church? If so, have you ever had anyone drop dead? In the early church, Ananias and Sapphira dropped dead because they had lied to the Holy Spirit (See Acts 5). Dr. McGee thinks that if this principle were operating today, the average church would need to be turned into a hospital or even a mortuary!

Ti.2.1The ideal church, according to this epistle, (1) has an orderly (spiritual) organization, (2) is sound in doctrine, and (3) is pure in life, ready to every good work. In Timothy, the emphasis was upon the need for sound teaching in the church. In Titus, the emphasis is upon the importance of God’s Order for the conduct of the churches. Titus 1.5 is the key to the epistle: “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”

Ti.3.1In chapter 1, Paul says that a church is to be an orderly organization (Titus 1.5). In chapter 2, he emphasizes that a church is to teach and preach the Word of God. “But speak thou the things which become sound doctrine” (Titus 2:1). He says that a church must be doctrinally sound in the faith. In chapter 3 we see that a church is to perform good works. ”Put them in mind to be subject to principalities and powers, to obey magistrates, to be ready to every good work” (Titus 3:1).  In other words, a church is saved by grace, is to live by grace, and is to demonstrate her faith to the world by her good works.

Dr. McGee says that it would be very difficult today to find a church that is using all three of these prongs, that is stressing all three of these tremendous emphases. Sometimes you don’t find much order in a church because a few officers (or one officer) are or is trying to do everything or micromanage everything. Such a church is in real trouble. New Testament Scriptures teach that a church is a spiritual organism, and that each member is a part of the spiritual body which is the local, autonomous, church (See, e.g., Epheisans 4, and 1 Corinthians 12). Each member has gifts which are to contribute to the functioning of the body. For example:

  • “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: 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; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16 ).

The goal of a church is not the glory of a man or certain men. The goal is the glory of God. Of course, churches are to honor the members:

  • “But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him. And if they were all one member, where were the body? But now are they many members, yet but one body. And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary: And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness. For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked: That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another. And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it. Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.” (1 Corinthians 12.18-27).

Second, in many churches you will find that there is no emphasis at all upon sound doctrine. Thus, Dr. McGee always stressed to young pastors that they should not focus on building a church or building an empire of any kind. He told them just to teach and give out the Word of God. Rather than build an earthly organization—that is a lot of buildings—they should build the spiritual knowledge and lives of the members. Whatever organization they have built in a church may be wrecked by others later on after thy have left. That will be a real heartbreak to a pastor unless he had before him the goal of building into the spiritual lives of men and women. That should be the emphasis of a church.

I would add that it is very important for a church to remain a spiritual entity only, not a worldly organization. Attorney Al Cunningham and Dr. Greg Dixon led the way in showing churches how to do this. Many churches have followed their guidelines, but many more have rejected them:

  • “For every one that doeth evil hateth the light, neither cometh to the light, lest his deeds should be reproved. But he that doeth truth cometh to the light, that his deeds may be made manifest, that they are wrought in God” (John 3:20-21).

Finally, a church should be ready for every good work. A church should be engaged in good works. Many churches are so concerned with getting the money to carry on their programs (or an agenda or agendas which may or may not be consistent with all New Testament Church Docrtrine) that they become more interested in getting people to give than in helping those people grow spiritually for the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, and for the edification of the body. A lot of folk outside the churches need help—not just spiritual, but also physical. Many churches are carrying on a work of helping people, many are not. We can go and sit down and talk with lonely people like this, which is a much needed ministry today.

Liberalism has attempted to emphasize the third chapter of Titus, forgetting the two chapters on order and doctrine. Until a church has all aspects that Paul has outlined, it has no claim to be called “a New Testament church.”


I. A Church is an Organization, Chapter 1
A. Introduction, vv1-4
B. An Orderly Church Must Have Ordained Elders Who Meet Prescribed Requirements, vv5-9
C. The Bad Reputation of the Cretans vv10-16

II. A Church is to Teach and Preach the Word of God, Chapter 2
A. A Church Must Teach Sound Doctrine, vv1-10
B. A Church Must Preach the Grace of God, vv11-15

III. A Church is to Perform Good Works, Chapter 3
A. Good Works are an Evidence of Salvation, vv1-7
B. Good Works are Profitable for the Present and Future, vv8-15


Ti.1.5-9Chapter 1
(A church is an organization)


v1 Paul was a servant, a “bond slave” of God. We know from the Old Testament that a bond slave was one who chose to remain a slave of his master for life. “An apostle of Jesus Christ.” Paul was defending his apostleship because he is going to give instructions to the churches. These instructions come from an apostle, the appointed writer of the Lord Jesus who was now communicating with His church through His apostles. Paul’s epistles are communication from the Lord Jesus through the apostle Paul.

“According to the faith of God’s elect.” Paul does not say “for the faith”–in other words, according to the norm or standard of faith which is set for God’s elect today. Whether you are saved or not does rest on what you believe. Tell me what you think of Jesus Christ; tell me what you believe about His death on the cross and what it means to you; tell me what you believe about His resurrection and what it means to you; tell me whether you believe the Bible to be the Word of God. With this information I think I can deduce whether you are a child of God or not.

“God’s elect”–This is the way Paul speaks of saved people. He is not discussing the doctrine of election at all.

“According to the acknowledging of the truth which is after godliness.” My friend, if the truth that you have does not lead to a godly life, there is something radically wrong with your faith. Truth will lead to godliness, and if it doesn’t lead to godliness, it is not truth, my friend. Paul will dwell on this theme because the people on the island of Crete were abusing the grace of God. They said that if they had been saved by grace, they were free to live in sin if they wanted to. Paul answers that right here in this first verse by saying that when the truth of God is believed it will lead to godliness. Grace saves us, but it also lays down certain disciplines for our lives and calls us to live on a high plane. If you think that you can be saved by grace and live in sin – may I (i.e., Dr. McGee) say this kindly but I must say it – you are not saved by grace; you are not saved at all. Salvation by grace leads to a godly life.

v2 “In hope of eternal life.” In Titus, Paul speaks of grace in 3 time zones. In Titus 2.11-13, we see all three. “For the grace of God that bringeth salvation” – that is past; “teaching us” – that is present; and “looking for that blessed hope” – that is future.

“Which God that cannot lie.” This hope was promised by a God who cannot lie. Romans 3:4: “God forbid: yea, let God be true, but every man a liar….” Sometimes believers almost make God out a liar. We say we believe, but we act like we don’t believe.

Dr. McGee has wanted to preach a sermon on what God cannot do. He cannot lie. He cannot, like you and me, see His equal. Why cannot God lie? Because He must be true to Himself.  His nature is one of holiness and righteousness and He cannot do certain things because of His nature. He is righteous, just, and He never deceives. He is the one you can depend upon.

“Promised before the world began”- this promise was made back in eternity.

v3 “In due times” means in His own seasons. God moves in a very orderly manner. God made the peach tree to bud in the spring, and it won’t bud when the first snow falls.

“Hath in due times manifested His word through preaching.” Through heralding or trumpeting. A trumpet was used to make a proclamation. The trumpet was blown and the proclamation was made. “According to the commandment of God our Savior.” Jesus Christ was God.

v4 Here, Paul makes clear that Titus was his spiritual son. Paul had led Titus to the Lord. “After the common faith.” This is the faith that is shared by all believers, a living faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.

The grace of God has appeared, and therefore, God extends mercy to us today. I am grateful that He doesn’t deal with me according to my orneriness and disobedience. He has simply been good to me. Grace, mercy, and peace are all “from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour.”


I will summarize Dr. McGee’s teaching on this portion of Scripture, with comments from some others.

v5 Paul had left Titus in Crete to organize local churches with elders as spiritual leaders. There was a great deal of mythology and tradition connected with this island, and with all Greek islands. According to their tradition, Minos was the first to give laws to the Cretans. He conquered the Aegean pirates who were there, and he established a navy. After the Trojan War, the principle cities of the island formed themselves into several mostly independent republics. Crete was annexed to the Roman Empire in 67 B.C. There were now churches in the three chief cities of Crete. We have no record of Paul going there. From the information given in this little epistle, we are led to believe that he was there and left Titus to organize the churches which were founded by him and Titus.

Crete was evidently a pretty bad place, and the people were not very good. Paul says that they were liars, and they were noted for being liars in that day. Even one of their own poets wrote, “Crete, which a hundred cities doth maintain, cannot deny this, though to lying given.”

Paul will also have other uncomplimentary things  to say about them, but man of them turned to the Lord, and Paul tells Titus to organize their churches.

“Set in order the things that are wanting and ordain elders in every city.” The gift of an elder is a gift of men to the church. Putting your hand on the head of some men and going through a little ritual will not make them elders. But Dr. McGee believes that it is important to do that with men who do have the gift of elders. There were men so qualified in the churches in Crete, but they had never been ordained. or set aside. They were men who had a gift of supervision of he churches and were exercising that gift without an authority. Titus is to “ordain elders” – appoint them, set them aside – “in every city.”

“As I had appointed thee.” A man who holds the office of elder should have the gift of an elder. Certain men are made officers in the church who have no gift for it at all. That is half of our problem in many churches today, and the other half is that there are good men who have the gift and are not made officers in the church. As a result, some of our churches get in the hands of the wrong folk and all sorts of problems arise.

C.I. Schofield, in footnotes to v5 stated:

  • “It is not at all a question of the presence in the assembly of persons having the qualifications of elders, made overseers by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28); that such persons were in the churches of Crete is assumed; the question is altogether one of the appointment of such persons. These assemblies were not destitute of elders; but were “wanting,” in that they were not duly appointed. There is a progress of doctrine in respect of the appointing of elders. Cf. v. 5, note.”
  • Elder (presbuteros) and bishop (episcopos = “overseer”) designate the same office (cf Titus 1:7; Ac 20:17,28), the former referring to the man, the latter to a function of the office. The eldership in the apostolic local churches was always plural. There is no instance of one elder in a local church. The functions of the elders are: to rule (1 Tim. 3:4-5; 5:17), to guard the body of revealed truth from perversion and error (Tit. 1:9), to “oversee” the church as a shepherd his flock (Acts 20:28; John 21:16; Heb. 13:17; 1 Pet. 5:2). Elders are made or “set” in the churches by the Holy Spirit (Acts 20:28), but great stress is laid upon their due appointment (Acts 14:23; Tit. 1:5). At first they were ordained (Gr. “cheirotoneo,” “to elect,” “to designate with the hand,”) by an apostle; e.g. Acts 14:23, but in Titus and 1 Timothy the qualifications of an elder become part of the Scriptures for the guidance of the churches in such appointment. (1 Tim. 3:1-7).

Albert Barnes:

  • Elders. Gr., Presbyters. See the word explained Cmt. on Acts 14:23. These elders, or presbyters, were also called bishops (comp. Cmt. on 1Ti 3:1), for Paul immediately, in describing their qualifications, calls them bishops– “ordain elders in every city–if any be blameless –FOR a bishop must be blameless,” etc. If the elders and bishops in the times of the apostles were of different ranks, this direction would be wholly unmeaning. It would be the same as if the following directions were given to one who was authorized to appoint officers over an army: “Appoint captains over each company, who shall be of good character, and acquainted with military tactics, for a brigadier-General must be of good character, and acquainted with the rules of war.” –That the same rank is denoted also by the terms presbyter and bishop here, is further apparent because the qualifications which Paul states as requisite for the “bishop” are not those which pertain to a prelate or a diocesan bishop, but to one who was a pastor of a church, or an evangelist. It is clear, from Tit 1:7, that those whom Titus was to appoint were “bishops;” and yet it is absurd to suppose that the apostle meant prelatical bishops, for no one can believe that such bishops were to be appointed in “every city” of the island. According to all modern notions of Episcopacy, one such bishop would have been enough for such an island as Crete, and indeed it has been not unfrequently maintained that Titus himself was in fact the bishop of that diocese. But if these were not prelates who were to be ordained by Titus, then it is clear that the term “bishop” in the New Testament is given to the Presbyters or elders; that is, to all ministers of the gospel. That usage should never have been departed from.
  • In every city. Crete was anciently celebrated for the number of its cities. In one passage, Homer ascribes to the island an hundred cities, (Il ii. 649 😉 in another, ninety (Od. xix. 174.) It may be presumed that many of these cities were towns of no very considerable size, and yet it would seem probable that each one was large enough to have a church, and to maintain the gospel. Paul, doubtless, expected that Titus would travel over the whole island, and endeavour to introduce the gospel in every important place.

William Burkitt:

  • 2. To ordain elders in every city, such as might govern and teach, and administer to God in holy things; wherever a church is planted, there is an absolute necessity of a settled ministry, and a succession of ministers, without which it is impossible that religion should either prosper or long continue: and care must be taken that such ministers be duly qualified, and regularly ordained. I left thee in Crete to ordain elders.
  • Observe, 3. The limitation of these acts, according to the apostle’s prescription, As I had appointed thee. Titus must do nothing but according to commission, and by special direction.
  • Where note, That the ordering and governing of the church was not left arbitrary, no, not to Titus himself; but whatever he did, was done by apostolical direction: For this cause I left thee in Crete, that thou shouldest ordain elders in every city, as I appointed thee.

Adam Clark:

  • Ordain elders in every city – That thou mightest appoint, καταστησης , elders – persons well instructed in Divine things, who should be able to instruct others, and observe and enforce the discipline of the Church. It appears that those who are called elders in this place are the same as those termed bishops in Tit 1:7. We have many proofs that bishops and elders were of the same order in the apostolic Church, though afterwards they became distinct. Lord Peter King, in his view of the primitive Church, has written well on this subject.

[Back to Dr. McGee’s teaching] Now Paul gives some requirements of the men who are to hold this office:

v6 “If any be blameless” does not mean that he must be perfect, without sin. It does mean that any accusation that is brought against him must not be found to be true. His life must be above reproach.

If an officer of a church can accurately be accused of dishonesty, or if someone can say that his speech does not reflect a dedication to Christ, the cause of Christ is hurt and that man should not be an officer of a church.

“The husband of one wife, having faithful children.” “Faithful children” means believing children. If a man cannot lead his children to the Lord, he ought not to be an officer in the church. A man may be a wonderful, godly man who has a wonderful Christian home, but his son or daughter gives no evidence of salvation, but he should not be an officer in the church. As an officer in the church, he might be called upon to make a judgment about someone else. They in turn could point their finger and say, “What about you? What about your son, your daughter? What right do you have to talk to me?” An officer in a church, for the cause of Christ, for the sake of the office, must have believing children.

“Not accused of riot or unruly.” “Of riot” could be translated of profligacy. They are not to be out in a protest movement. They should be concerned with living a life glorifying to the Lord Jesus and with getting out His Word. The apostles and early Christians preached in public, but were not riotous or unruly.

v7 A bishop (or elder) must not be “selfwilled” for he is a steward of God as well as a representative of the people. He is in the church to find and do God’s work. “Not soon angry,” touchy. “Not given to filthy lucre,” not covetous.

Elder and bishop were synonymous terms. “Elder” refers to the individual, and he was to be mature physically and spiritually. A “bishop” was an overseer, he ruled the church. Therefore, the word has reference to the office. But never was a church to have only one man made bishop or presbyter. There were always several.

There has been some disagreements on whether there were elders already in the churches in Crete and Titus was to ordain them, or whether there were none and Titus was to now appoint some. If the latter was the case (which Dr. McGee does not think it was), the Dr. MeGee feels that the churches would have had to agree upon the men Titus appointed. However, that is not the main issue, and it should not be the issue in churches today. Paul’s emphasis is upon a man’s personal requirements to hold such a position in the church.

v8 More requirements given.

v9 An officer should do 2 things: (1) He should be able to exhort, that is, to teach the Word of God. (2) He must be able to confute or refute the heretics. Dr. McGee feels that men who hold office in a church should be Bible-trained men. Paul told Timothy to “lay hands suddenly on no man” (1 Ti. 5.22). You are not to have a man converted one night, ask him to give his testimony the next night, make him an officer of the church on the third night, and evangelist on the fourth, and the pastor on the fifth! We sometimes do things like that today, and it is very unfortunate for the church who does it.


We are all sinners, but these Cretans had a particularly bad reputation. I will include only a few remarks about these verses which are self-explanatory.

v10 Paul is condemning constant chattering with nothing but empty words, and those who are seeking to contradict his teaching.

v11 They were subverting whole houses (whole families), a various serious infraction. Wherever the Word of God is sown, the devil gets in.

v12 “Evil beasts” means rude and cruel. Paul is quoting a Cretan poet, Epimenides, who was born on Crete in 659 B.C.

v13 Titus is goint to have to be a little more strict with the Cretans than he would with others because of their background and their very nature.

v14 “Nor giving heed to Jewish fables.” This refers not just to legalism, but also to a great deal of writing that grew up around the Mosaic law, including the Talmud and much more. There are some pretty wild tales in them.

“Commandments of men that turn from the truth.” The Lord Jesus rebuked the religious leaders for adding traditions to God’s law, and that is what Paul is talking about here. The teaching of legalism is in two phases – one is that you are saved by the law. Both of these teachings are very dangerous. We are saved by the grace of God, and are actually called to live on a higher plane that that of the Ten Commandments. Those who are saved by the grace of God are given instructions for living that is on an even higher plane than that.

v15 This verse is used by folk who say that if we are saved by grace, it does not matter how we live; that is, if we are saved, we are pure and can live in any way we like. Certain cults have developed this teaching, saying they can live in sin (they don’t call it sin – it’s not sin for them) because “unto the pure all things are pure.”

What Paul is talking about has nothing to do with moral issues at all. He is speaking to this issue of legalism and the eating of meats. The teaching of many legalistic cults often includes a very unusual diet. Put Paul says, “Unto the pure all things are pure.” In other words, whether you eat meat or don’t eat meat makes no difference at all. All food is clean. If you want to eat rattlesnake meat, that is your business; it’s my business to keep away from it if I can!

Ti.1.16If you are an unbeliever, any special diet you might concoct will make no difference in your relationship to God – it will not save you. You can eat all the vegetables you want, but if you are not right with God, they will not make you pure. The Lord Jesus said that it is not the thing that goes into a man that defiles him, but what comes out of him (Matthew 15.18-20).

v16 “They profess to know God, but in works they deny him.” Like the man who carried the biggest Bible in the church and everyone believed to be very pious. But outside the church he had the reputation of being dishonest. He really did not believe his Bible, as his life showed! One can deny the Bible and God by the life you live.

“Being abominable, and disobedient, and unto every good work reprobate.” Ceremonies and rituals cannot change the evil heart of a man. Only the Word of God can change the human heart. When the heart is changed, the life will reveal the change. Paul and James were never in disagreement. They both said that faith without works is dead. Saving faith produces a godly life.

Chapter 2
(A church is to preach and teach the Word of God)


A church must teach sound doctrine or it is not a church. Dr. McGee has written a little book entitled The Spiritual Fingerprints of the Visible Church in which he goes back to the Day of Pentecost where we are told that those who were added to the church on that day “continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, and in breaking of bread, and in prayers” (Acts 2.42). These were the identification marks of the early church: the apostles’ doctrine, fellowship, breaking of bread, and prayer. It really doesn’t matter how high the steeple may be or how beautifully the chimes may play, it is the message that is going out from the pulpit which will tell you whether a church is really a church, organized as Paul understood it and as the Word of God declares it.

In the first chapter, we found that the elders whom Titus was to ordain were to be able to do two things: to exhort, and to refute or confute the heretics. Dr. McGee says that it is important not to spend your entire ministry refuting everybody. There are some men who have what Dr. McGee calls a negative ministry – all they do is attack the enemies of the gospel. That is important, but he believes we all need a balanced ministry. An elder should be able to exhort from the Word of God as well as be able to answer a heretic. In this second chapter, Paul’s emphasis will be upon the teaching of the Word of God.

v1  Paul tells Timothy what to teach the aged men and women and slaves in the next few verses. “Sound doctrine” means the apostles’ doctrine. This doctrine is the number 1 thing of importance to a church. What we read in these epistles is part of the apostles’ doctrine.

Paul first has a message for the senior citizen who is male and the senior citizen who is female.

Titus 2:2 “That the aged men be sober, grave, temperate, sound in faith, in charity, in patience.” “Sober” means very vigilant, very serious. They should be men who are respected and who have self-control. I, as a senior citizen, need to work on these things.

v3 deals with the aged women. “In behaviour as becometh holiness.” They are to be reverant. “No false accusers.” Not gossips, and “not given to much wine.” The older women are to teach the younger women. See verses 3-5. “Keepers at home.” The home is not a playpen; it is a serious responsibility to be a wife and to care for children in the home. Paul would obviously not have approved of the women’s lib movement – it is wrong. Women like to be treated like women. The ladies want to get on the elevator first. Gentlement want to let them on first. Women really do not want to be ditch diggers. The most important business in the world is making a home. “Good” means kindly.

“Obedient to their own husbands.” The wife is to respond to her husband. He is the aggressor and she is to respond to him. He is also the leader. The wife will more readily respond to  and follow a husband who will tell her and show her that he loves her.

v6 The preacher, Titus here, is to teach the young men.

v7 Titus, the preacher, is told to be a pattern for the other young men. “In doctrine shewing uncorruptness”that is, in his teaching, he is to show the complete faith in the Word of God and appreciate the seriousness of the matters he is dealing with.

v8 Your conversation should reveal the fact that you are a child of God. Titus 2:8 “Sound speech, that cannot be condemned; that he that is of the contrary part may be ashamed, having no evil thing to say of you.”

v9-10 In the early church, there were many slaves. In fact, 90% of the names on the walls of the catacombs are those of slaves or ex-slaves. The gospel met a great need for this class of people in that day. Titus 2:9-10 “9 Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; 10 Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things.”


Titus2.11-15Paul interrupts these admonitions to put a doctrinal foundation under the lives of these people. He puts it in past, present and future. I believe that the grace of God speaks to all men (v11) about these matters. The grace of God teaches every person that  he/she should deny ungodliness and worldly lusts and live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world (v12). God’s grace puts the believer on a solid foundation. The gospel is good news, it is the power of God unto salvation.

Paul is enjoining Titus, the preacher, to demand of the Cretans that they live lives that adorn the gospel, for it is the power of God.  The grace of God “hath appeared” – it has shined forth. God does not save one by His love and He does not save one by his mercy. One is saved by God’s grace (Ep. 2.8). Mercy is the compassion of God that prompted Him to send a Saviour to mankind. If one man could be saved by the mercy of God, all mankind would be saved. It would not have been necessary for Christ to die; the cross would have been circumvented. Love is the divine motive, but God is not only love. He is righteous, holy, and just. The holy demands of God, His just claims, and His righteous standard had to be met. The immutable law of justice makes love powerless to save. Therefore, Christ, by dying for our sins, met the holy demands of God’s justice, and He can now save by grace. When we were guilty, Christ paid the penalty. Grace is not complicated or implicated with human effort. God does not ask your cooperation. He does not ask for your conduct or your character in order to save you. God only asks men to believe Him, to trust Him, and to accept Christ as their Savior.  Tod’s way is the best way, and it is the only way.

My pastor tells the story of talking to a man who was a sodomite about the Lord. The man knew that, to turn to God meant turning from his sinful behaviors with the other man. He told pastor that without pastor explaining it to him. Likewise it was with me. I did not turn to the Lord for a long time because I did not want to turn from my sin. With time, I began to understand that my sin was a one-way road to destruction. I turned to God and put my faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to save me from my sin. He made a new creature of me at that moment.

I have also talked with lesbians and other sinners who knew that to turn to God they had to turn from their sin. One cannot turn to God without turning his back on his sin. Once one turns to God and puts his faith in the Lord Jesus Christ to save him from his sin, the grace of God saves him.

For the believer, eternal salvation is in the past. After salvation, the grace of God begins to teach us and to empower us, as new creatures, to deny “ungodliness and worldly lusts” and to live “soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world.” That is  the present state of all believers who are still on this earth. They are being saved from the power of sin over them. God saves the believer for eternity (past) and presently (this is the sanctification which occurs in his earthly life after salvation).

God is not trying to reform this world; He is redeeming men who turn to God and trust Christ to save them from their sin. The gospel does not appeal to Christ rejecting men to do better. When a person says, “I am going to try to do better,” I (Dr. McGee) think he is a liar. If you have not turned to God and put your faith in Jesus Christ, you might as well try to get all you can out of this life, because this life is all that you are going to get. You might as well eat, drink, and be merry, for tomorrow you will die. God does not want to reform you, he wants to regenerate you.

Then, there is the future salvation which determines a believer’s  present motivation and course of action.

“Looking for that blessed hope” – this is the next happening in the program of God. In the future believers will be like the Lord Jesus, that is totally without sin (1 Jn 3.2). Titus 2:13-14: “Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.” As we learn in 1 Thessalonians, that hope is an inspiring hope (1 Thes. 1), a working hope (1 Thes. 2), a purifying hope (1 Thes. 3.1-4.12), a comforting hope (1 Thes. 4.13-18), and a rousing hope (1 Thes. 5). That hope is assured for all believers.

Paul clearly says in verse 13,  as in other places in his epistles, that Jesus Christ is God.  He gave Himself for us that He might redeem us “from all iniquity” and “purify unto himself a peculiar people zealous of good works.”

v15 To the young preacher, Titus, and all young preachers called of God, Paul concludes this segment of this epistle: “These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee” (Tit. 2.15).

Chapter 3
(A church is to perform good works)

We learn in this chapter that to be all that God wants for a church, a church is to perform good works.


v1 The first thing he mentions here is the fact that a church must have members who are law abiding. A believer should obey the law of the land unless those laws conflict or contradict his duty and relationship to God.

A believer should, for example, respect the office a police officer represents. He represents the segment of our society that protects our persons and our property. Without them, we would be in a bad way today.

This verse also raises the question of whether a Christian should go into politics. Dr. McGee believes as I do, that the individual Christian is free to go into politics, but does not believe that a church should go into politics.

A good example is the Wesleyan movement in England. Wesley never tried to straighten out the king of England, or the church of England. He just went out and preached the Word of God. Men were converted, and some became great philanthropists and abolitionists. They were men who had been gamblers and drunkards, with no concern for the poor, until they cam to know Christ. These men started the great labor movement associated with the Weslyan revival in England, which was the beginning of the movement against child labor and the protection of workmen on the job. We need individuals who will enter the government and take social action, but a church is not called upon to go into politics.

“To be ready to every good work.” A church is to instruct individuals to be eager, to be anxious, and to learn to perform good works.

v2 Gives a negative side to the exhortation. “To speak evil of no man, to be no brawlers, but gentle, shewing all meekness unto all men.” Not to gossip, not to malign anyone.  However, if a church has solid evidence that a member is doing something evil, that member should be named. Paul named certain men who were evil men: Phygellus and Hermogenes, Hymenaeus and Philetus, and Alexander the coppersmith. Then he also said that Demas ahd forsaken him, having loved this present world.

v3 is a picture of the unsaved today, a picture of you and me before we knew Christ. We were foolish, disobedient, deceived, serving divers lusts and pleasures, living in malice and envy, hateful, and hating one another. This was a picture of the lost world. In some churches, one will see a pretense of loving, but under it there is envying and hating and gossiping. You can find churches divided into little cliques and groups, they they boast about how sound they are in the faith. This is a disgrace to the cause of Christ.

Ti.3.5vv4, 5 “Not by works of righteousness which we have done.” Becoming a Christian does not mean just turning over a new leaf – you will find yourself writing on the new leaf the same things you wrote on the old leaf. Nor are you saved on the basis of works or righteousness, good deeds, which you have done. “But according to his mercy he saved us.” Because Christ died for us and paid the penalty for our sins, God is prepared to extend mercy to us; it is according to His mercy  that He saved us. And He is rich in mercy, which means he has plenty of it.

Titus 3:5: “Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost.”

Regenerate means “to generate or produce anew; to reproduce;” or “to change the heart and affections from natural enmity to the love of God; to implant holy affections.”

“By the washing or regeneration.” “Washing” means laver – it is the laver of regeneration. In the Old Tetament the laver, which stood in the court of the tabernacle and later the temple, represented this. The washing of regeneration is what the Lord was speaking about in the third chapter of John: “Except a man be born of  water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God” (Jn.3.5). The water represents the Word of God – the Bible will wash you. It has a sanctifying power, a cleansing power. We are cleansed by the Word of God. the Holy Spirit uses the Word of God – “born of water and the Spirit.” That is the way we are born again. “And the renewing of the Holy Ghost.” The Holy Ghost (God) regenerates us. He makes of us a new creature. 2 Corinthians 5:17-18: “Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new. And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation.”

v6 In everything God does, there is a surplus.

v7 “The hope of eternal life” is again pointing to the great hope of the believer, the coming of Christ for His church.


v8 Salvation does not excuse a person from performing good works. Paul says that Titus should constantly affirm that church members are to “be careful to maintain good works.” Before salvation, God is not interested in your “good works” because what you call a good work, God calls dirty laundry. Man’s righteousness is filthy rags in God’s sight (Is. 64.6). God wants to save you. Come to Him just as you are, He will save you, because He has done something for you. What could you do for God? Nothing is the answer.

After one is saved, God talks to him about good works. He wants you to get involved in getting the Word of God out to others. God talks to his children about good works. “Be careful to maintain good works.”

v9. We are to defend the faith, but we are not to do it by argument and debate. That does no good; that never led anyone to the Lord. You may whip a man down intellectually by your arguments, but that does not touch his heart and win him for Christ. Stay away from foolish questions and geneologies and contentions.

That is why Dr. McGee does not develop certain subjects that are sensational. For example, he has been urged to do a series on demonism, to write a book about it. Dr. McGee says, “Let’s not get involved in that type of thing.” He says he would much rather tell you about the Holy Spirit which can indwell you. If He is in you, no demon could ever possess you! 1 John 4:4: “Ye are of God, little children, and have overcome them: because greater is he that is in you, than he that is in the world.” It is so easy to get sidetracked.

v10 We (Dr. McGee) have been asked to join in certain prejects in which there are some heretics. He is not interested in being joined with anyone who has views that are in opposition to the Word of God. God tells us here to be separated from heretics. Just let them alone; reject them. v11 An heretic has turned aside from the truth (“is subverted, and sinneth, being condemned of himself).

vv12-14 Paul gives a final admonition about good works. It is something that must be worked at. It is not easy. We need to know what God considers good works and we need to learn how to do them.

v15 Paul concludes this practical letter to Titus with a benediction.


A study of 1 Thessalonians

Click here to go to “Bible Studies on the Doctrine of the Church” from other books of the Bible.

Click here to go to Study of 2 Thessalonians

In 1 Thessalonians, Paul’s 1st epistle, the emphasis is upon the rapture of believers, the coming of Christ to take His church out of the world. The fact that the coming of Christ is a purifying hope should lead to sanctification in our lives. 1 John 3:3: “And every man that hath this hope in him purifieth himself, even as he is pure.”


  • Selected audio teachings on 1 Thessalonians and link to more through audio teachings online.
  • Occasion of the Writing
  • Theme
  • Purpose
  • 11st OUTLINE
  • 2nd OUTLINE
  • Abbreviated notes.

NOTE. For more details see, McGee, 1 Thessalonians. This study is taken directly from that book. The study is also available online in audio at: 1 Thessalonians. 

Selected audio teachings on 1 Thessalonians and link to more through audio teachings online:

The trinity of faith, hope, and love (Click to go to study). “Remembering without ceasing (1) your work of faith, (2) lobour of love, and (3) patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 1.3. This trinity is marvelously explained in this teaching by Dr. J. Vernon McGee. Learn both the abstract and the concrete meanings of this trinity and how they relate together where the rubber meets the road. Paul here gives 3 graces of Christian life. The past is the work of faith. The present is a labour of love. The future is the patience of hope.

Turning to God from idols. 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10: “For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.” The church in 1Thess1.9Thessalonica turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. See v. 3. Work of faith (turned to God from idols), labour of love (to serve the living God), patience of hope (to wait for His Son from heaven). Paul preached Christ and they turned to God from idols (not they turned from idols to God). When they turned to God, that is the work of faith; that is what faith did. John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” When they turned to God, they automatically turned from idols—that is repentance. The turning from something is repentance. You can’t turn to Christ without turning from sin. Jesus Christ saves from sin. When a man turns to Christ, he turns from his sin. The message of repentance needs to be preached to the church, as it was preached to the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3. The Thessalonians were now serving God, the labor of love. You cannot serve Christ unless you love him. See Jn. 14.15. If you do not love Him, forget trying to serve Him. Waiting for His Son from heaven doesn’t mean sit down and relax. It means get busy for the Lord. A believer is to labor in love.

 For excellent and more audio teachings on Thessalonians, click: J. Vernon McGee teaches on 1 Thessalonians.

Occasion of the Writing
(Apparently, it was at Corinth that Timothy and Silas come to him and brought him word concerning the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:6). Timothy also brought some questions to Paul, problems troubling the believers in Thessalonica. Paul wrote this first epistle in response to their questions, to instruct them further and give them needed comfort.)

Thessalonica was located 100 miles west of Philippe and about 50 miles north of Athens. It was right in the center or the heart of the empire and was the chief city of Macedonia. The city is still in existence and is known as Salonika.

The church in Thessalonica, established on Paul’s second missionary journey, was a model church. 1 Thessalonians 1:7: “So that ye were ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia.” This church was a testimony to the whole area that we would call Greece today. Paul speaks of this church as being an example to the Corinthians in 2 Corinthians 8:1-5.

You will recall that Paul and Barnabas separated on the 2nd missionary journey. Paul took Silas with him, and along the route he picked up Timothy and Dr. Luke. He revisited the churches in Galatia and then attempted to make a wider circle in the densely populated area of Asia Minor, known as Turkey today. Dr. McGee thinks he intended to carry on his missionary work there, because in his 3rd missionary journey he did make Ephesus his headquarters and did what was probably his greatest missionary work. But on his 2nd missionary journey, the Spirit of God put up a roadblock and would not let him go south. He attempted to go oup into Bithynia, but again the Spirit of God prevented him. He couldn’t go north, and he couldn’t go south. So he moved to the west and came to Troasa to await orders. He had the vision of the man of Macedonia, so he crossed over to Philippi. He found that the man of Macedonia was instead a woman by the name of Lydia, a seller of purple—she probably ran a department store there. Paul led her to the Lord along with others of the city. Thus, a church was established at Philippi.

Then Paul went to Thessalonica, and we are told in chapter 17 of Acts that he was there for three Sabbaths. So Paul was there a little less than a month, but in that period of time he did a herculean task of mission work. Paul was an effective missionary—he led multitudes to Christ there. And in that brief time he not only organized a local church, but he also taught them the great doctrines of the Christian faith.

Now Paul had to leave Thessalonica posthaste due to the great opposition to the gospel. He was run out of town and went down to Berea. The enemy pursued him to Berea, and again Paul was forced ot leave. Paul left Silas and Timothy at Berea, but he went on to Athens. After some time at Athens, he went on to Corinth. Apparently, it was at Corinth that Timothy and Silas come to him and brought him word concerning the Thessalonians (1 Thessalonians 3:6). Timothy also brought some questions to Paul, problems troubling the believers in Thessalonica. Paul wrote this first epistle in response to their questions, to instruct them further and give them needed comfort.

(Paul presents the second coming of Christ in relationship to believers as a comfort, and this forms the theme of the epistle.)

Although Paul had been in Thessalonica less than a month, he had touched on many of the great doctrines of the church including to second coming of Christ. It is interesting that Paul did not consider this subject to be above the heads of the new converts. Yet there are churches today that have been in existence for more than 100 years whose members have but a vague understanding of the rapture of the church and the coming of Christ to establish His kingdom here on earth. The Thessalonian church was not even a month old, and Paul was teaching them these great doctrines!

The apostle had obviously emphasized the second coming of Christ for believers and had taught that the return of Christ was imminent. For during the period of time since Paul had left, some of the saints who had come to know and believe in Jesus Christ had died, and this had naturally raised the question in the minds of the Thessalonians as to whether these saints would be in the rapture or not. Paul presents the second coming of Christ in relationship to believers as a comfort, and this forms the theme of the epistle. The emphasis is in sharp contrast to Christ’s catastrophic and cataclysmic coming in glory to establish His kingdom by putting down all unrighteousness seen in Revelation 19.11-16.


The epistle has a threefold purpose: (1) to confirm young converts in the elementary truth of the gospel. (2) To condition them to go on unto holy living. (3) To comfort them regarding the return of Christ. Paul’s message offered a marked contrast to the paganism and heathenism which was present in Thessalonica.


  1. The Chritian’s Attitude toward the Return of Christ, Chapter 1 (to serve … to wait vv. 9, 10)
  2. The Christian’s Reward at the Return of Christ, Chapter 2.
  3. The Christian’s Life and the Return of Christ, 3.1-4-12.
  4. The Christian’s Death and the Return of Christ, 4.13-18.
  5. The Christian’s Actions in View of the Return of Christ, Chapter 5 (Note 22 specific commands to Christians beginning at v.11.)


  1. Coming of Christ is an INSPIRING HOPE, Chapter 1
    1. Introduction
    2. Gospel Received in Much Assurance & Much Affliction, vv. 5-7
    3. Gospel Results: Turned from Idols to God; Wait for Coming of Christ, vv. 8-10
  2. Coming of Christ is a WORKING HOPE, Chapter 2
    1. Motive and Method of a True Witness for Christ, vv. 1-6
    2. Mother Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Comfort), vv. 7-9
    3. Father Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Charge), vv. 10-13
    4. Brother Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Challenge), vv. 14-16
    5. Reward of a True Witness of Christ, vv. 17-20
  3. Coming of Christ is a PURIFYING HOPE, 3.1-4.12
    1. Timothy Brings Good Report of Thessalonians, vv. 1-8
    2. Paul Urges Thessalonians to Continue to Grow in Faith, vv. 9-13
    3. How Believers Are to Walk, 4.1-12
  4. Coming of Christ is a COMFORTING HOPE, 4.13-18
    (What Death Means to a Christian;
    What the Rapture Means to the Church)
  5. Coming of Christ is a ROUSING HOPE, Chapter 5

Dead Believers are Asleep in Jesus
Living Believers are Awake for Jesus
Call to be Awake & Alert in View of Christ’s Coming, vv. 1-10
1. Call to be Awake & Alert in View of Christ’s Coming, vv. 1-10
2. Commandments for Christians, vv. 11-28


 Chapter 1
(The Coming of Christ Is an Inspiring Hope)

  1. 1.1: Paul humbly identifies himself with the brethren, Timotheus and Silvanus. He was not aloof, separated and segregated above all the others who were working for Jesus Christ. Remember this. The preacher is to be right down among you. No clergy and laity. There are 2 situations in a church which are dangerous. One is a pastor who tries to exalt himself. The other is a layman who tries to be an authority on the Bible and has not really studied the Bible (the total Word of God from beginning to end, but has gone off on a tangent. Grace comes first, then the peace of God.
  2. 1.2: Paul prayed for all the churches he had founded. He had a tremendous prayer list….
  3. 1.3: Paul associates 3 Christian graces: Faith, hope, and love. Paul takes these 3 words and puts them into shoeleather. See Dr. McGee, 1 Thessalonians for a tremendous study on this. Faith is the response of the soul of man to the Word of God…. When a man responds to the Word of God, he walks by faith, not by sight. (2. Co. 5.7). When one loves the Lord Jesus, serving Him is a “labour of love.” Labor is not labor when it is a labor of love. If serving the Lord is a great burden to you, give it up. The Lord does not want it to be like that. Love to God is expressed in obedience. The patience of hope is waiting for His Son from heaven; that is the “blessed hope.”
  4. 5. It’s the word of God, not weak men, which has power. Weak men giving out the word of God will have an effect. The Spirit of God can cause the Word of God to penetrate hearts and lives and transform people. F=”Faith cometh by hearing and hearing by the word of God” Ro. 10.17.
  5. 6. The word was rec’d in much afflication (ther was suffering, persecution, and heartache). But there was joy in the Holy Spirit also.
  6. 7, 8. The church at Thess. were examples to all other churches. Their reputation had spread.
  7. 9-10. The church in Thessalonica turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God. See v. 3. Work of faith (turned to God from idols), labour of love (to serve the living God), patience of hope (to wait for His Son from heaven). Paul preached Christ and they turned to God from idols (not they turned from idols to God). When they turned to God, that is the work of faith; that is what faith did. John 6:29 “Jesus answered and said unto them, This is the work of God, that ye believe on him whom he hath sent.” When they turned to God, they automatically turned from idols—that is repentance. The turning from something is repentance. You can’t turn to Christ without turning from sin. Jesus Christ saves from sin. When a man turns to Christ, he turns from his sin. The message of repentance needs to be preached to the church, as it was preached to the 7 churches in Revelation 2 and 3. The Thessalonians were now serving God, the labor of love. You cannot serve Christ unless you love him. See Jn. 14.15. If you do not love Him, forget trying to serve Him. Waiting for His Son from heaven doesn’t mean sit down and relax. It means get busy for the Lord. A believer is to labor in love.

Chapter 2
(The Coming of Christ Is a Working Hope)

No matter when you believe Christ is coming, believer, the important question is, “How does your interpretation affect your life?’

v 1. “in vain” means empty, without results.

v 2. “Contention” means conflict or agony.

v 3. “Deceit” means error. “Uncleanness” means sensuality. “Nor in guile”—he did not use wrong methods or lower his standards to accommodate the prejudices and passions of the old nature….

v 4. “Allowed” means tested or approved. God allowed him to be put in trust with the Gospel.

v 5. Paul never used flattering words or a “cloak of covetousness.”

v 6. Paul never sought position or honors.

Mother Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Comfort), vv. 7-9. Paul was as tender as a woman in his dealings with the church at Thessalonica. Like a mother, Paul loved these people. He labored over them night and day because he loved them. When work is motivated by love, it does not seem like work anymore (as with mother who takes care of her husband and baby).

Father Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Charge), vv. 10-13. Paul had a duty to God (“holily) and to man (“justly”). “Unblamably” means that no charge could be maintained against the apostle and his companions. “Exhorted” means Paul came to the side of them, to help, to entreat, and to convict them (v11). “Comforted” in v11 means “to persuade.” Paul “charged” them (v11). This has a note of severity in it—it involves discipline. He was not a Preacherette giving a Sermonette. “Walk worthy” … (v12). Live in light of eternity (v12). the Word should go out and be received as the Word of God—if it does not, it will not work in you (v13).

The Word of God, like salt, stings when it gets into a fresh wound of sin in the life of an individual. The Word is also light—men who do evil love darkness rather than light because their deeds are evil. Paul is teaching in this chapter that the church of God should mirror the family of God down here on earth. A church should be a revelation of God to the community just as a family should be. The relationships of husband, wife, and child in the home should reveal the threefold aspect of the love of God and Christ for the world. A child in a home needs to experience both mother-love and father-love. Father-love disciplines. Children are not to be comforted only.

Brother Side of the Apostle’s Ministry (Challenge), vv. 14-16. The brother-side of the ministry within a church is represented by the child in the family. Suffering draws you together and brings you together. They were brothers in suffering. Suffering is a cement that holds brothers together. If suffering came to the church, it would draw brothers together and bring revival. Why don’t we pray for conditions that bring revival—that is suffering and persecution?

Reward of a True Witness of Christ, vv. 17-20. When one is in Christ, he is a brother to all those who are in Christ (v17). Paul had the spiritual discernment to see that it was Satna’s strategy that kept him from going to Thessalonica (v18). One of the great things Paul anticipates when Christ comes to take His church will be the opportunity to see these people he has led to the Lord (vv19-20)

Chapter 3
(The Coming of Christ Is a Purifying Hope)

The great theme of 1 Thess. is the rapture of the church. The great them of 2 Thess. is the revelation of Christ, that is, His coming to earth to establish His kingdom. Paul is teaching practical doctrines, meaningful to life. The coming of Christ will change your life, affect your life-style.

“Wherefore” ties this chapter to what Paul talked about in the last chapter: the family relationship that exists in the church. He had been a mother, father, and brother to them. Paul is frustrated in not being able to return to them. His is a labour of love. Love seeks the welfare of another.

Because of his love, Paul sent Timotheus back to them (“our brother and minister of God”) v.2. “Our fellowlaborer in the gospel of Christ.” Do-gooder “Christians” want the social gospel. But the Word of God brings more good-doing than any social gospel. Do-good liberals actually encourage immorality and license. They haven’t delivered kids from drugs or lifted up  mankind. A believer’s sphere is to be the gospel of Christ; that will produce a whole lot of good. “To establish you…”: Paul sent Timothy to do this—to hold them up v.2. “To comfort you concerning your faith”; “Comfort” means encourage.

v.3-4: “no man should be moved (disturbed) in the midst of afflictions.  See also, Jn. 16.33. ‘”Tribulation” is trouble that all of us are going to have. Believes are going to suffer—they are not going to escape trouble. We won’t miss the storms, but we will go through them and He will go with us.  See also 2 Ti. 3.12 (“Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.”) and 1 Pe. 4.12-19. If there is no cloud in the sky, no ripple on the sea, and everything is smooth and nice, you might question your salvation.

Paul feared that Satan was giving them a bad time, as Satan was giving him a bad time v.5. Another purpose of afflictions is to test the genuineness of belief. There are true believers and a lot of counterfeit believers.

Timothy gave Paul a good report about the church at Thess. v6. This comforted Paul v7. Even if a believer has trouble, it is going to work out for his good.

Paul urges continuing growth vv10-13. Joy is associated with life v.9. Sorrow is associated with death. But sorrow increases the capacity of the heart for joy. Paul wanted to return to them and teach the Word of God v10.-11. “Abound in love” v12. “Abound means exceed. In this epistle, love is seen in action—“labour of love.” “To the end”—love has a purpose; it is not an end in itself. “He may stablish your hearts unblameable in holiness—the desired end of their love v.12. “At the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ with all his saints” v13.

Chapter 4
(The Coming of Christ is a Purifying (3.1-4.12) and a Comforting Hope (4.13-18))

vv1-12 How believers are to walk.

v2 The Ten Commandments have no part in the sinner’s salvation nor are they the standard of Christian conduct. The purpose of the Commandments is to bring us to the cross. They are like a mirror which lets us see that we are sinners. However, there are commandments for believers. In chapter 5 are 22 commandments for believers.

v3 Three kinds of sanctification in the Bible. Positional: Christ has been made unto us sanctification. We are accepted in the Beloved. Practical: the Holy Spirit working in our lives to produce a holiness in our walk. Total: Will occur in the future when we are conformed to the image of Christ Jesus. Sanctification means “to be set apart for God.”

vv13-18 The coming of Christ is a comforting hope. This section teaches the imminent coming of Christ. “Imminent” does not mean the immediate or soon coming of Christ. Paul never uses an expression like that. He did not want people to assume it would be in their lifetime or shortly afterward. When we say that the coming of Christ is imminent,, we mean that it is the next event on the agenda of God’s program. We don’t know how far away the coming of Christ is. Paul believed the coming of Christ could come in his lifetime. He did not say or believe that  He would come in his lifetime. Paul called the coming of Christ for his church the rapture see v. 17). “Caught up” and “rapture” mean the same thing.

Paul taught the new Thessalonian believers prophecy and other advanced doctrines.

Paul obviously taught Christ’s imminent coming. Paul was answering their questions. One was, “Had the believers in Thessalonica who had already died missed the rapture?” This question would not have been pertinent at all if Paul had not taught them the imminent coming of Christ, if Paul had not taught them that Christ could come at any moment. For Paul’s answer, see vv. 13-18.

v14. There are 3 kinds of death in Scripture. Physical death (separation of the spirit from the body). Spiritual death (separation from God. Adam died spiritually, was separated from God, the day he ate of the forbidden fruit. Ep. 2.1.). Eternal death (eternal separation from God. This is the second death spoken of in Re. 20.14.).

Chapter 5
The Coming of Christ Is a Rousing Hope

In C5, we see the Christian’s actions in view of the coming of Christ.


v1 The believer is looking for a Person, not for times of seasons. The Lord does not come as a thief to the believer. You don’t look for a thief. However, the Lord Jesus does come like a thief to the world.

v3. The day of the Lord will come suddenly. The pronoun here changes to “they.”

One definition of the day of the Lord: a period of time which begins with the [outpouring of the wrath of God] and runs through the millennial reign of Christ here upon the earth. Many passages of Scripture speak of this: (e.g., Isaiah 13:9 “Behold, the day of the LORD cometh, cruel both with wrath and fierce anger, to lay the land desolate: and he shall destroy the sinners thereof out of it.”) It starts out as a day of wrath: Isaiah 13:10 “For the stars of heaven and the constellations thereof shall not give their light: the sun shall be darkened in his going forth, and the moon shall not cause her light to shine.” Joel 1:15 “Alas for the day! for the day of the LORD is at hand, and as a destruction from the Almighty shall it come.” Joel goes on in C2 to describe it as a “day of darkness and of gloominess, a day of clouds and of thick darkness.”

The coming of Christ to take the family of God out of the world is not even mentioned in the OT. It is there by type, of course (as, e.g., the experience of Enoch and Elijah both of whom were taken up alive to be with the Lord.). This glorious, wonderful truth that the Lord Jesus is going to take a company of people out of this earth to be with Himself was revealed the 1st time in the Upper Room when He said, “In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also.” (John 14:2-3). Paul developed it in 1 Thess. 4.

In 1 Thess. 5, Paul is speaking of something that was well known in the OT. “When they say peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them.” It is going to be a big surprise to the world. The big lie in 2 Thess. 2 is the promise of peace and safety. Jesus warned, “Take heed that no man deceive you.”

vv4, 5. The rapture does 2 things. (1) Ends this day of grace in which we are today. (2) It begins the day of the Lord.

v6. Because that blessed hope could take place at any time, we should not be sleeping Christians. Christians are instructed to “Watch and stay sober.” We have a duty to perform.

vv7, 8. We are also to put on the breastplate of faith and love; and the helmet of the hope of salvation. This speaks of the soldier’s duty and is a call to that kind of duty. The breastplate of faith and love is to cover the heart, the vital part of the body. This is the 3rd time faith, love, hope have appeared in this epistle. The faith spoken of is saving faith, and saving faith produces works. Faith is past (for the believer), love is present, and the “hope of salvation” is that blessed hope of the future which is the consummation of our salvation (1 Jn. 3.2: “  Beloved, now are we the sons of God, and it doth not yet appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear, we shall be like him; for we shall see him as he is.” Philippians 1:6: “Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ:”)

v9 “God hath not appointed us to wrath,…” “But to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ.”

v10. Whether we die first or live until His coming, we shall live together with Him.


v11: Wherefore, comfort yourselves together….. The first commandment is to “comfort yourselves together,” which means to encourage one another in the faith. The second commandment is to “edify one another.” The Thessalonians believers were already doing that, Paul says. “Edify” means to build up one another. Believers in a church should be a team, edifying each other with the Word of God.

v12, 13. These 3 commandments seem to belong together. “”Know” or understand those who teach the Word of God. It means we should recognize them. When Paul wrote this, he had been with them (the church at Thessalonica) less than a month. He had won them to Christ and taught them. A church had been started. There were no believers there before Paul arrived (Acts 17.2,3). Certain of them would have been given the gift of teaching, some of preaching, and some of helping. Every believer has gifts or a gift bestowed on him by God, and that gift is to be exercised in the body of believers to build up the body of believers. As is the general case, some believers have the attitude, “Where did he get the idea that he could teach me?” So Paul is telling them that church members should respect those to whom God has given certain gifts and look to them for admonition.

We still have the problem today that very few people in a church pay any attention to the teachers that God has given them. If they believe every word of God, then why cannot they obey it? The problem is many times that believes do not know what is between the covers. It is hypocritical to say you believe it and then be ignorant of what it says.  Therefore, those who are preaching and teaching the Word of God should have the attention of believers.

The fourth commandment is “to esteem them very highly in love for their work’s sake.”

The fifth commandment is “to be at peace among yourselves.” These all come in one package. You can’t have everybody running a church (or any kind of organization). There must be a certain one with authority. There needs to be one who is the leader and who is followed. He should lead to make sure that every member of the body functions fully in the exercise of his gifts. With that arrangement, you can have peace. But when everyone is trying to play his own tune, you have anything but harmony and peace.

v14 gives the sixth through the ninth commandments.

Sixth: “Warn them that are unruly.”  This would naturally follow the fifth commandment. The unruly are those who are out of step.  They are loners who want to do their own little thing rather than suppor the work which God is doing. Warn them.

Seventh: “Comfort the feebleminded.” The feebleminded are those who are afraid to move out for God, not those with mental problems. They need encouraging. Put your arm around such an one and encourage them: “Brother, the Lord is with you and will bring you through, and I am with you and am praying for you.” Sometimes all of us get discouraged and become “feebleminded.”

Eighth: “Support the weak.” These are those who are weak in the faith. They are little babies, not able to march with the rest. So help them, lift them up, and carry them along.

Ninth: “Be patient toward all men.” This means, don’t lose your temper. This is hard with ungodly, unholy, cantankerous, unsaved people who are definitely trying to trip us or to abuse us in some way.

Tenth: “See that none render evil for evil unto any man.”

Eleventh: “But ever follow that which is good, both among yourselves, and to all men.” The pagan does evil in spite of good. You get the other fellow before he gets you. the refined, cultured, educated world does good to those who do good to them. The politician is a good example of this. You take care of your own. Luke 6:33 “And if ye do good to them which do good to you, what thank have ye? for sinners also do even the same.” The Christian standard is higher. We are to do good to those who do evil to us.

[The next three go together]

Twelfth: “Rejoice evermore.” This does not mean to be happy. Paul is  not talking about happy hour. “Happy” is not a New Testament word. This is a joy in the Lord as Paul wrote to the Philippians, “Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice” (Philippians 4:4). The child of God has no right to go around with a sour puss, to be cantankerous. That is a fruit of the Holy Spirit.—love, joy, peace. If you cannot rejoice, begin reading the Word of God and calling on God to put joy in your heart. He will do it.

Thirteenth: “Pray without ceasing.” Have a constant attitude of prayer and pray regularly.

Fourteenth: In every thing give thanks.” This means give thanks in all circumstances and all the time. “For this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.” This is the will of God for you: Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, and give thanks in everything.

Fifteenth: “Quench not the Spirit.” How do you quench a fire, which is one figure used for the Holy Spirit? You dampen it down and don’t let it burn. You refuse to do the will of God. You are not listening to the Holy Spirit and to let Him guide and lead you. You and I quench the Holy Spirit when we take matters into our own hands.”And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). You cannot grieve a thing; you grieve a Person. The Holy Spirit is a person, and He is grieved by our lives. He is quenched when we step out of the will of God.

Sixteenth: “Despise not  prophesyings” (that is, the teaching of the Word of God). Do not look down on Bible study as something that is beneath you. Do not be indifferent to the Word of God. One’s ministry (if it is for God) does not last long without Bible study.

Seventeenth: “ Prove all things.” Don’t be taken in. Don’t be a sucker. Don’t be misled just because somebody sends you a picture of pathetic looking orphans. Don’t contribute to things you know nothing about. Don’t fall for some promotion job. Investigate anything to which you give your support. Christians ought not to be gullible. This also means that we are not to be taken in by flattery. There are many deceivers in this world.

Eighteenth: “Hold fast that which is good” meaning that which is true and genuine.

Nineteenth: “ Abstain from all appearance of evei.” If there is any question in your mind whether something is right or wrong, then it is wrong for you.

Note. Man is a triune being (verse 23: “And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly; and I pray God your whole spirit and soul and body be preserved blameless unto the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.”  “Sanctify you wholly”—not perfectly, but to a place of maturation. We should not continue to be babes in Christ. You can depend upon God: “Faithful is he that calleth you, who also will do it” (Verse 24).

Twentieth: “Brethren, pray for us” (Verse 25). Pray for those who give out the Gospel.

Twenty-first: “Greet all the brethren with an holy kiss” (Verse 26). Just make sure it is a holy kiss. In our culture, a warm handshake will do.

Twenty-second: “I charge you by the Lord that this epistle be read unto all the holy brethren” (Verse 27).

“The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you. Amen” (Verse 28). And to you, my beloved.

Bible Study Guidelines

2ti2-15Jerald Finney
January 2, 2017/1st Edition completed: January 6, 2016

Click here for 5 min. 57 sec. study which teaches why Christian programs for young people have not and do not work.
What is the problem when one cannot understand the Word of God? Is it the Bible? Are there errors in the Bible? Is it head trouble? What is it? Learn the answer and more in this great teaching from Proverbs 8.8-36.
Click here to listen to a great teaching on studying the word of God: Nehemiah 8, Dr. J. Vernon Mcgee. 

Timothy 2:15:  “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”

Bible study is essential for Christian growth. It is not to replace one’s active participation and learning in his local New Testament church, nor the teaching and preaching therein, but to complement it.

To understand God’s truths as revealed in the Bible, keep in mind that you must believe it. To become a disciple of Christ, you must continue, believing, in His word. Remember, that only the King James Bible is the word of God in English (See, King James Bible page).

John 8:31-32  “If ye continue in my word, then are ye my disciples indeed; And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free.”

Bible study includes “analysis,” not just reading and memorization. In fact, analysis is much more important than memorization, for many purposes. Memorization of some Scripture is very helpful, e.g., for street preaching, but memorization without proper understanding and application is not to be desired. Someone may be very good at memorizing, but memorization alone is not sufficient. To enjoy all that God offers you in his word, you must – as you read – believe, study, analyze, and apply. Without application of correct doctrine, study and analysis are useless. Application takes place where the rubber meets the road – where one lives his daily life – regardless of his circumstances.

Proper analysis of the Bible guards against heresy and apostasy. For example, some verses, out of context, can be recited which seem to indicate, with proper contextual analysis, that water baptism saves, or that water baptism is a part of salvation. Other verses can be, and have been, manipulated to seemingly teach that the Church has replaced Israel, that God is finished with Israel, and that the principles for the “theocracy” of Israel are God’s model for all nations. Both heresies have resulted in establishment of religions which have misled untold millions as to certain fundamental Bible doctrines. The latter heresy has also resulted in the murder, in the name of God, of tens of millions who refuse to bow down to the official church/state establishment (See, The Trail of Blood of the Martyrs of Jesus). Test doctrines by a contextual analysis of all Scripture

At salvation, one is a babe in Christ. Christ does not want you to continue in that state.

Hebrews 5:12-14  “For when for the time ye ought to be teachers, ye have need that one teach you again which be the first principles of the oracles of God; and are become such as have need of milk, and not of strong meat. For every one that useth milk is unskilful in the word of righteousness: for he is a babe.  But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.”

God wants his children to go on to perfection. This can happen only within a local New Testament body of believers:

Ephesians 4:11-16  “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:  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; But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:  From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.”

A new believer should be baptized into a church which believes, preaches, practices, and applies the word of God. If one’s studies reveal that the church he is a member of does not honor and glorify God by accurate Bible teaching and practice, he should seek out another church. Some good Bible teachers and teachings can be found online, but most online teachers and ministries are heretical and/or apostate.

In your studies, you must consider both the immediate and the overall context of Scripture. Look at the verse, the surrounding verses and chapters, and all the verses on the subject from Genesis to Revelation. Instead of relying upon any doctrine – e.g., Calvinism, Catholicism, Armenianism, Landmarkism, Pentacostalism, etc.- rely on the word of God. If a doctrine is correct, it will correspond to the teachings in the word of God. Generally speaking, many dogmatists will walk one through a series of verses, out of context, to prove their dogma. That is not the way to find truth.

To effectively learn correct Bible doctrine, the saved student must start with Genesis 1.1 and proceed, in diligent study, to Revelation 22.21. Do not just read. Pick out a doctrine which you wish to understand. Take notes. In your notes, quote each verse, verses, chapters, etc. which develop the doctrine you are studying. With the computer this is easy, especially if you have a good King James Bible software program which allows you to easily copy and paste verses. This author uses SwordSearcher software which has instant access to many commentaries on each verse and many other extremely helpful properties that greatly speed up your studies.

Isaiah 28:9-13  “Whom shall he teach knowledge? and whom shall he make to understand doctrine? them that are weaned from the milk, and drawn from the breasts.  For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little:  For with stammering lips and another tongue will he speak to this people.  To whom he said, This is the rest wherewith ye may cause the weary to rest; and this is the refreshing: yet they would not hear. But the word of the LORD was unto them precept upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line, line upon line; here a little, and there a little; that they might go, and fall backward, and be broken, and snared, and taken.”

Study each verse, as you go through the Bible, word by word. Examine the meaning of each word. If the word is a noun, like “heaven,” do a word search. Go the the first use of the word, then proceed through the Bible to all uses of the word and its derivatives to uncover the meaning of that word. If a word is a noun with an added suffix, the resulting word is usually an adjective. Find the meaning of the the suffix. The suffix “ly” means “like.” For example, “heavenly means “like” heaven. Search out the meaning of the noun, in this case “heaven,” beginning with the first use in the Bible. Sometimes verses that do not explicitly include the word itself will be instructive. Start with each word, then go to phrases, sentences, verses, chapters, books, sections, and finally to the whole Bible. However, get an overall understanding of the whole Bible before getting into deeper study.

For example, to understand the sovereignty of God and the free will of man, do not make the mistake of being directed to selected verses. Start with Genesis 1.1 and go to the end. List and quote every verse you encounter which explains or applies these doctrines.

Keep in mind, during your study, to look for the concept, not just the word. Sometimes, a verse may not, for example, say “free will,” but deal with the matter nonetheless: Luke 18. 9-14, e.g., (only verse 14 quoted here): “14  I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.” Another example is found in John 3, verses 17-20. In those verses, the word “repentance” is not used. However, the verses address “repentance” nonetheless.

Once you have gone through the Bible and written down all the verses you have come across which deal with the word or doctrine you are studying, you can then go back to those verses and analyze them for an understanding of the word or doctrine. Good Bible commentaries are very useful in such an analysis. When one has gone through the Bible a few times using this approach, he will begin to discern when someone else is presenting error on doctrines he has studied. The only way to decide differences is to have open-minded debate. The minute one takes the position that everyone who disagrees with his interpretation is an heretic, honest search for truth is impossible.

To understand any particular part of the Bible, you must first have some understanding of the rest of it. “It is found that the fact that no particular portion of Scripture is to be intelligently comprehended apart from some conception of its place in the whole. For the Bible story and message is like a picture wrought out of mosaics: each book, chapter, verse, and even word forms a necessary part, and has its own appointed place. It is, therefore, indispensable to any interesting and faithful study of the Bible that a general knowledge of it be gained. 

First. The Bible is one book. Seven great marks attest this unity. (1) From Genesis the Bible bears witness to one God. Where ever he speaks or acts he is consistent with himself, and with the total revelation concerning him. (2) The Bible forms one continuous story–the story of humanity in relation to God. (3) The Bible hazards the most unlikely predictions concerning the future, and, when the centuries have brought around the appointed time, records their fulfillment. (4) The Bible is a progressive unfolding of truth. Nothing is told all at once, and once for all. The law is, ‘first the blade, then the ear, after that the full corn.’ Without the possibility of collusion, often with centuries between, one writer of Scripture takes up an earlier revelation, adds to it, lays down the pen, and in due time another man moved by the Holy Spirit, and another, and another, add new details till the whole is complete. (5) From beginning to end the Bible testifies to one redemption. (6) From beginning to end the Bible has one great theme – the person and work of the Christ. (7) And, finally, these writers, some forty-four in number, writing through twenty centuries, have produced a perfect harmony of doctrine in progressive unfolding. This is, to every candid mind, the unanswerable proof of the Divine inspiration of the Bible.”

“Second. The Bible is a book of books. Sixty-six books make up the one Book. Considered with reference to the unity of the one book the separate books may be regarded as chapters. But that is but one side of the truth, for each of the sixty-six books is complete in itself, and has its own theme and analysis. [The sincere student should outline] the entire book and insert the divisions and subdivisions. [Sometimes a good study Bible will be helpful if formulated by one who believes, rather than interprets, the Bible. When one compares the guidelines of others with Scripture, he will be able to spot error, if any.] It is therefore of the utmost moment that the books be studied in the light of their distinctive themes. Genesis, for instance, is the book of beginnings – the seed plot of the whole Bible. Matthew is the book of the King, etc. 

Third. The books of the Bible fall into groups. Speaking broadly there are five great divisions in the Scriptures, and these may be conveniently fixed in the memory by five key words.

“EXPLANATION. The Epistles.
“CONSUMMATION. The Apocalypse.

“In other words, the Old Testament is the preparation for Christ; in the Gospels he is manifested to the world; in the Acts he is preached and his gospel is propagated in the world; in the Epistles his Gospel is explained; and in the Revelation all the purposes of God in and through Christ are consummated. And these groups of books in turn fall into groups. This is especially true of the Old Testament, which is in four well defined Groups. Over these may be written, as memory aids:


Genesis                     Joshua                        Job                          Isaiah        Jonah
Exodus                      Judges                        Psalms                    Jeremiah  Micah
Leviticus                   Ruth                           Proverbs                  Ezekiel  Nahum
Numbers                   I, II Samuel           Ecclesiastes          Daniel Habakkuk
Deuteronomy        I, II Kings         Song of Solomon      Hosea Zephaniah
                                      I, II Chronicles       Lamentations         Joel Haggai
                                      Ezra                                                                   Amos Zechariah
                                      Nehemiah                                                    Obadiah Malachi                                          Esther

“Again care should be taken not to overlook, in these general groupings, the distinctive messages of the several books composing them. Thus, while redemption is the general theme of the Pentateuch, telling as it does the story of the redemption of Israel out of bondage and into ‘a good land and large,’ each of the five books has its own distinctive part in the whole. Genesis is the book of beginnings, and explains the origin of Israel. Exodus tells the story of the deliverance of Israel; Leviticus of the worship of Israel as a delivered people; Numbers the wanderings and failures of the delivered people, and Deuteronomy warns and instructs that people in view of their approaching entrance upon their inheritance.

“The poetical books record the spiritual experiences of the redeemed people in the varied scenes and events through which the providence of God led them. The prophets were inspired preachers, and the prophetical books consist of sermons with brief connecting and explanatory passages. Two prophetical books, Ezekiel and Daniel, have a different character and are apocalyptic, largely.

Fourth. The Bible tells the Human Story. Beginning, logically, with the creation of the earth and of man, the story of the race sprung from the first human pair continues through the first eleven chapters of Genesis. With the twelfth chapter begins the history of Abraham and of the nation of which Abraham was the ancestor. It is that nation, Israel, with which the Bible narrative is thereafter chiefly concerned from the eleventh chapter of Genesis to the second chapter of the Acts of the Apostles. The Gentiles are mentioned, but only in connection with Israel. But it is made increasingly clear that Israel so fills the scene only because entrusted with the accomplishment of great world-side purposes (Deut. 7.7).

“The appointed mission of Israel was (1) to be a witness to the unity of God in the midst of universal idolatry (Deut. 6.4; Isa. 43.10); (2) to illustrate to the nations the greater blessedness of serving the one true God (Deut. 33.26-29; 1 Chron. 17.20, 21; Psa. 102.15); (3) to receive and preserve the Divine revelation (Rom. 3.1, 2); and (4) to produce the Messiah, earth’s Saviour and Lord (Rom. 9.4). The prophets foretell a glorious future for Israel under the reign of Christ.

“The biblical story of Israel, past present, and future, falls into seven distinct periods: (1) From the call of Abram (Gen. 12) to the Exodus (Ex. 1-20); (2) From the Exodus to the death of Joshua (Ex. 21 to Josh. 24); (3) from the death of Joshua to the establishment of the Hebrew monarchy under Saul; (4) the period of the kings from Saul to the Captivities; (5) the period of the Captivities; (6) the restored commonwealth from the end of Babylonian captivity of Judah, to the destruction of Jerusalem, A.D. 70; (7) the present dispersion.

“The Gospels record the appearance in human history and within the Hebrew nation of the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, and tell the wonderful story of his manifestation to Israel, his rejection by that people, his crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension.

“The Acts of the Apostles record the descent of the Holy Spirit, and the beginning of a new thing in human history, the Church. The division of the race now becomes threefold – the Jew, the Gentile, and the Church of God. Just as Israel is in the foreground from the call of Abram to the resurrection of Christ, so now the Church fills the scene from the second chapter of the Acts [forward]. The remaining chapters of [the Revelation] complete the story of humanity and the final triumph of Christ.

Fifth. The Central Theme of the Bible is Christ. It is this manifestation of Jesus Christ, his Person, as “God manifest in the flesh” (1 Tim. 3.16), his sacrificial death, and his resurrection, which constitute the Gospel. Unto this all preceding Scripture leads, from this all following Scripture proceeds. The Gospel is preached in the Acts and explained in the Epistles. Christ, Son of God, Son of man, Son of Abraham, son of David, thus binds the many books into one Book. Seed of the woman (Gen. 3.15) he is the ultimate destroyer of Satan and his works; Seed of Abraham he is the world blesser; Seed of David he is Israel’s King, ‘Desire of which is his body,’ while to Israel and the nations the promise of his return forms the one and only rational expectation that humanity will yet fulfill itself. Meanwhile the Church looks momentarily for the fulfillment of his special promise: ‘I will come again and receive you unto myself’ (John 14.1-3). To him the Holy Spirit throughout this Gospel bears testimony. The last book of all, the Consummation book, is ‘The Revelation of Jesus Christ’ (Rev. 1.1).”

Click here to listen to a great teaching on studying the word of God: Nehemiah 8, Dr. J. Vernon Mcgee.