The Apostle Paul knew that followers of Jesus in the ancient world faced many dangers. He wrote to a young church in Colossae, encouraging them to hold on to the hope which they had, because life was going to be tough at times.

Paul was convinced that these Christians needed wisdom for their journey of faith. He offered pastoral help and practical teaching to this unlikely mix of people now gathered together as the family of God. These exhortations were not simply new rules to follow based on a revised code of legalism or moralism. Professor N.T. Wright clarifies, ‘This is not about what sort of religion have you got—it is about, who is Jesus?’

Wisdom in Colossians

In his latest online course, you can expect to learn more from Prof. Wright about the theme of wisdom in the book of Colossians. As he exegetically teaches through all four chapters and examines specific verses, students will see this message of Paul’s letter woven throughout. Wisdom is not just simply filling our minds with knowledge. Rather, wisdom calls for growing up in our understanding of Jesus Christ (Colossians 1:28), in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (Col 2:3).

‘It is about having the right mental priorities. It is about knowing that in Jesus you already have everything that you need’.
Professor N.T. Wright

Paul exhorted these followers of Jesus to exemplify the wisdom of Christ in practical ways of interaction with each other and the world. This distinctive way of being human often reflects strange new expressions that clothe all manner of life: Compassion to the unruly, kindness to the poorest of the poor, forgiveness as the natural response to wrong-doers, or enduring periods of suffering with thankfulness. This is not just about ‘good behavior’. Rather, the lives of those who follow Jesus act as signs that point the way to a whole new creation.

Another lasting idea that marks out Colossians from all other writings in the New Testament is thanksgiving. Prof. Wright illustrates, ‘If Paul is telling them about thanksgiving, he is also telling them about thanks-living—about how to live on the basis of being grateful people’. In this course, it will become clear how Paul advocates that living wisely naturally reflects an attitude of gratitude. Our lives bear witness to the sound belief and hope in the wisdom of God—foolishness to the world—which follows a crucified and risen Messiah as King and Lord. We are, in fact, the signposts illuminating the presence of the King, Jesus, and his Kingdom of Heaven that is now on earth.

This new way of life was not easy then; it is not easy now. Even though we are to be the signs that point the way, it is often easy to feel like we are lost ourselves and needing direction. This is one reason why studying the book of Colossians has been impactful to me. I was reminded of who Jesus is and was personally encouraged by what it means to live for him.

This is not just about ‘good behavior’. Rather, the lives of those who follow Jesus act as signposts—signs that point the way to life in the Kingdom of Heaven that has now arrived on earth in Jesus the King. Click To Tweet

Our Role as Signposts

A recent experience while traveling solidified the idea of the importance of signposts. During a trip to England last month, I missed my connecting flight and was re-routed to Scotland. Several hours later when I finally saw a sign indicating that Durham, England, was only a few kilometers away, I exhaled a sign of relief. We were close! As I got closer to my destination, St. John’s College, I knew what signs to look for: cobblestoned streets and the massive and grand Durham Cathedral. My dorm room for the week was located behind the back entrance of the church. Still several kilometers out and bumbling along the street in my taxi, I could see the spires emerge from the top of the hill. I could not miss the sign, which informed me that I was in the right place.

This experience reminded me that followers of Jesus can function as signposts for the Kingdom—signs that evidence that the Kingdom of Heaven has indeed arrived on earth. We are the signs that point to the reality that something different is here. In our interactions with others, do people see that they have arrived in a ‘new country’, controlled by new rules, and where a different kind of King is in charge?

In this course, Prof. Wight teaches from Paul’s letter to the Colossians about the signs of new creation pointing the way to new kind of kingdom. You will be encouraged to put off the ways that marked out our belonging to the old way of life, and to be refreshed and renewed in Jesus.

The Apostle Paul gives us markers, signs that we are the new creations pointing the way to new kind of kingdom. We have put off the ways that marked out our belonging to the old way of life and have been renewed. Click To Tweet
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Jennifer Loop

Jennifer Loop is Content Developer for the Wisconsin Centre for Christian Studies. Currently, she is working towards her doctorate in the study of practical theology at Durham University, centering her research on forgiveness. Jennifer has served as a leader in Celebrate Recovery, a Christian 12-step recovery program. She is married to Gary and they live in West Bend with their twenty-year-old cat, Caleb.