Thursday, October 31, 2019

Come Follow Me - 1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon

Come Follow Me -  1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, Philemon


The letters to Timothy and Titus are considered the Pastoral Letters.  Whereas other letters from Paul were written to congregations of people in one city or another (Ephesus, Corinth, etc), these were written directly to the bishops or pastors of Ephesus (Timothy) and Crete (Titus).

All three letters are considered by many scholars not to have been written by Paul, but perhaps by later followers. Several reasons are given, including a different style of writing, and the concept of a very organized church structure that probably did not exist during Paul’s time.  While those who believe Paul wrote them place the letters at the end of his life (64 AD), many scholars believe they were written later - in the late 1st century or early 2nd century.  One reason given for this timeframe is that Paul seems to deal with Gnostic issues, primarily in 1 Timothy, which did not become a major issue for the Church until long after his death.

2 Timothy may have been written prior to the other two letters, but was placed second behind 1 Timothy, as it is the shorter epistle.

Early Christian histories note that Timothy was bishop of Ephesus.  The apostle John lived with Timothy several years, just prior to being exiled to the isle of Patmos.  Around the age of 80, tradition states Timothy was beaten and killed by the pagans in Ephesus.

Titus was bishop or archbishop of the island of Crete. According to tradition, he remained bishop until his death of natural causes in his nineties.

1 Timothy

Paul and Women’s role in the Church

Timothy was given special guidance by Paul to remain in Ephesus and be its primary leader.  Paul had begun the Church, spending years there building up and strengthening the new converts.  Now he writes Timothy to give guidance regarding issues that affect not only Timothy, but all ecclesiastical leaders in the Church.  Paul does not tell Timothy to have just one wife, but that all bishops should only have one wife.

His description of duties and expectations for women in Timothy is controversial and differs from previous council given.  One of his greatest assistants in preaching the gospel was Priscilla (Acts 18, Romans 16:3, 1 Cor 16:19).  Paul had stated that there was “neither man nor woman in Christ” but that all were alike in salvation and in the work.  Why would Paul allow Priscilla to actively preach, and then command that women be silent in Church?

Here in 1 Timothy, Paul places the blame of the Fall and sin on the woman. Yet, elsewhere, Paul squarely places the Fall on Adam’s shoulders (1 Cor 15).  Clearly, either Paul had a major change of heart regarding his views of the gospel over just a few short years, or someone else wrote 1 Timothy.

While some Christian churches use Paul’s wording to place women as subservient to their husbands, many churches today see the words of 1 Timothy as only applicable to the culture of his day.  While the priesthood was clearly reserved in Old and New Testament times to men, the ability to preach, teach, and even prophesy was given to women back then, and should be part and parcel of the Christian church today.

1 Tim 4

“1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;
2 Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron;
3 Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth.”

The author of 1 Timothy was probably pointing the finger at a group of Christians known as the Encratites.  This Gnostic group started in the early 2nd century AD, and among their beliefs were the forbidding of marriage and the abstention from meats.

Here in the last days, we also find that religions would judge people on minor issues.  Doctrines of salvation would be replaced with creeds and rules that would exclude people from the salvation of Christ.  Today, we find many Christian religions that inevitably set up Pharisaic rules to set them apart from other religions.  “We have salvation!  All others are not real/true Christians!”  Since the restoration of the gospel in these last times through Joseph Smith, the Church has dealt with Shakers (who forbid from marrying) and other religions that demand followers to be vegans.

Some religionists attempt to call other Christians either cults and/or non-Christian, while claiming the title for themselves.  In doing so, they proclaim to be the “historical” Christianity.  Yet, a look at the history of Christianity would show that Protestantism did not begin until 1300 years after the Nicene Council.  Religions like the Southern Baptists have very little actual history of their own, having begun in 1845 over the slavery issue.  Some pastors of today would cut Mormons out of Christianity AND Catholics as well!  In doing so, they literally disconnect themselves from the history they claim to have.  Such speak hypocrisy in their lies regarding those who, while of a different faith, have accepted Christ as their personal Savior.

2 Timothy

Apostasy again
2 Tim 4

“2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine.
3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;
4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

The author of 2 Timothy is aware of the struggles occurring in Ephesus in the days of the apostle John.  There are those appearing in the city who claim to be apostles, but are not.  For some reason, people bore of the gospel teachings, and seek for new teachings that can satisfy their “itching ears.”

In Revelation 2, the Lord said the following to the angel or bishop of Ephesus, possibly Timothy:

“1 Unto the angel of the church of Ephesus write; These things saith he that holdeth the seven stars in his right hand, who walketh in the midst of the seven golden candlesticks;
2 I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars:
3 And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast laboured, and hast not fainted.
4 Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love.
5 Remember therefore from whence thou art fallen, and repent, and do the first works; or else I will come unto thee quickly, and will remove thy candlestick out of his place, except thou repent.
6 But this thou hast, that thou hatest the deeds of the Nicolaitans, which I also hate.”

Clearly the warning of Paul to Timothy was to keep preaching the gospel, otherwise he would lose his congregation to others.  Jesus also warns Timothy through the apostle John to not leave his “first love” or that of diligently teaching the Church and protecting it from the false apostles and liars that were coming from Gnostic sects (Encratites and the Nicolaitans).

The Epistle to Philemon

The epistle to Philemon is considered an undisputed letter of Paul. It is the shortest letter written by Paul, written from Ephesus or Rome.   If the letter to the Colossians is authentic, then Philemon probably dwelt there. Being wealthy, his home was large enough to house Church meetings for the poor Christian group there.  

Paul wrote to Philemon on behalf of Philemon’s slave Onesimus (“useful”), who was described as not so useful at times. While the exact division between Philemon and Onesimus is unknown, various scholars believe Onesimus was a runaway slave.  Onesimus probably escaped with his pockets full of Philemon’s wealth. Paul sent Onesimus back, accompanied by this letter not only to make things right, but also to achieve a reconciliation between the two Christians.

This is a very personal letter to Philemon.  Martin Luther described Paul’s letter as “holy flattery.”  Philemon should follow the forgiving attitude of a good Christian, while also reminded that Paul is his apostolic leader.  Because of Onesimus’ conversion, he should be considered not just a slave, but a brother to Philemon.  Paul basically asks Philemon to not only forgive Onesimus, but to redeem him by freeing him.

From this, we can learn that just as Paul had sinned grievously and still was reconciled to Christ, Philemon should be Christ-like in forgiving and embracing Onesimus.  And so we do for those who are indebted to us, for regardless of the size of debt, ours to Christ is still vastly larger. 


Pastoral Letters:

Epistles to Timothy and Titus, Catholic Encyclopedia:

Authorship of the Pastoral letters:

1 Timothy - wikipedia:

2 Timothy - wikipedia:

Encratites - wikipedia:

Titus - wikipedia:

Paul’s reference to Epimenides in Titus and the Epimenides’ Paradox:

Monday, October 21, 2019

Book Review: Gathered in One, by Bradley J. Kramer

Book Review: Gathered in One - How the Bookof Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in the New Testament, by Bradley J. Kramer

Gathered in One: How the Book of Mormon Counters Anti-Semitism in the New Testament

Ever since the Romans sacked Jerusalem in 70 AD, Jews have been a hiss and a by-word of the nations.With the temple destroyed and Jews scattered throughout the Empire, there was not much hope for them to recover. In hopes of completely eliminating the Jews from memory, the Romans eventually renamed the city and repopulated it with other peoples.

Jews faced pogroms in Russia and Poland. We all remember the look on Tevye's face (played by Topol) in Fiddler on the Roof, as his oldest daughter's marriage feast is ransacked by Russian soldiers, or when they were forced to leave their village, Anatevka. In reality, this forced pilgrimage occurred in hundreds of villages throughout Russia.

The Spanish Inquisition tortured Jews into converting into Christianity, dying, or fleeing into yet another exile. Hitler blamed Germany's problems on the Jews, who were treated as chattel and marched into furnaces by the millions. To this very day, anti-semitism threatens Jews throughout much of the world.

This anti-semitism comes to us, in part, from the New Testament. In his book, "Gathered in One," Bradley J. Kramer discusses how the New Testament, and especially the Gospels and Acts put full blame on the Jews for the death of Jesus. He doesn't stop there. He then explains how the Book of Mormon counters that anti-semitism, not by trying to smooth it over, but by addressing it directly.

"Gathered in One" is about 150 pages long, and contains the following chapters:

  1. Gathered in One
  2. A Book Proceeded Forth
  3. A Record to Establish the Truth of the First
  4. We Did Observe to Keep the Commandments
  5. "Think Not That I Am Come to Destroy the Law"
  6. That the Last May Be First, and the First May Be Last
  7. I Will Gather Them In
"The Book of Mormon is unique. Simply as literature, it stands alone."

So begins the first chapter. Throughout the rest of the book, Kramer shows us one important way in which it is such a valued volume. The first chapters discuss the New Testament's hatred towards Jews, and in a very convincing manner. Kramer quotes various scholars on how they attempt to manage the more difficult passages: from trying to take the Bible as a whole, to totally dismissing those verses and stories as later additions to the story.

For Kramer, the Book of Mormon takes a different approach. It engages anti-semitism "at its New Testament source."  Nowhere does the Book of Mormon explicitly discuss anti-semitism, but throughout its teachings and stories, it shows a love for the scriptures (Brass Plates), the Law of Moses, and the dispersed of Israel.

While the Book of Mormon never names any specific Jewish holiday, Kramer shows from inferences inside the tome how each major holy day (Rosh Hashanah, Yom Kippur, Sukkot) was instituted by Lehi and the Nephites. Interestingly, he also engages the concept of the Sabbath, explaining that the Jubilee was a year long Sabbath, where even the land rested. This was a time when slaves were freed, debts forgiven, and the people focused on and rejoiced in their God. Then, from the Book of Mormon, he noted that during the period of 4 Nephi, the Nephites enjoyed a "centuries long" Sabbath. This expanded the idea of the holy Sabbath, extending it longer than the Bible does, in anticipation for the millennial Sabbath when the Savior comes again.

Where Paul left the Jews for the Gentiles and the known world, Nephites dealt with "near-Gentiles" or Lamanites. Kramer shows that as Paul and his companions had a big vision that turned them from destroying the Church to being its greatest missionaries, so the Book of Mormon has a similar story. Alma, Ammon and his brethren were also changed through an angelic vision. After preaching among the Nephites to repair their wrong-doings, they went out to the Lamanites to bring them from their pagan beliefs back to Christ. Just as Paul was persecuted, yet had great success, so Ammon and his brethren struggled but gained many converts.

Kramer uses many such analogies to show how the Book of Mormon focuses on bringing people to Christ, that they are not cast off forever. In fact, the Book of Mormon frequently speaks of the return of the Jews, and Kramer carefully covers this area. It isn't the Gentile Christians who will bring them back (though they will carry them on their shoulders), but the Lord who will prepare them.

The Book of Mormon IS unique. It has the fullness of the gospel. It deftly handles many modern issues of faith within its pages. Bradley J. Kramer shows us another key way in which the book deals with such an important issue. Our modern world has often revolved around hating Jews, frequently based upon their reading of the New Testament. The Book of Mormon teaches us to love the Jews and thank them for providing us the Bible in the first place. Kramer's book helps us to see the many facets of that respect found within the Book of Mormon.

Available at:

Greg Kofford Books:

Amazon Books:

Sunday, October 20, 2019

Come Follow Me - 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Come Follow Me - 1 & 2 Thessalonians

Paul and his companions had only a short period in Thessalonica to preach the gospel. Having much success in converting Jews and Gentiles in the area, Paul was cast out of the city for disturbing the normal peace in the area.

Growing in Holiness

In writing his first epistle to Thessalonica, he was reassured of their faithfulness in following the path upon which he set them. However, he wanted to encourage them to continue on that path.

"For God hath not called us unto uncleanness, but unto holiness.  
"He therefore that despiseth, despiseth not man, but God, who hath also given unto us his holy Spirit.
"But as touching brotherly love ye need not that I write unto you: for ye yourselves are taught of God to love one another.
"And indeed ye do it toward all the brethren which are in all Macedonia: but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more;" (1 Thess 4:7-10)
Paul did not want them to remain settled on one level of goodness, but to daily become ever more holy.  We hear this same encouragement from President Henry B. Eyring:

"He (Alma) taught his son that increasing in holiness was the only path to happiness. He made it plain that greater holiness is made possible through the Atonement of Jesus Christ cleansing and perfecting us. Only by faith in Jesus Christ, continuing repentance, and keeping covenants are we able to claim the lasting happiness we all yearn to experience and retain.

"My prayer for today is that I may help you understand that greater happiness comes from greater personal holiness so that you will act upon that belief. I will then share what I know for myself about what we can do to qualify for that gift of becoming ever more holy.

"The scriptures teach us that among other things, we can be sanctified or become more holy when we exercise faith in Christ, demonstrate our obedience, repent, sacrifice for Him, receive sacred ordinances, and keep our covenants with Him. Qualifying for the gift of holiness requires humility, meekness, and patience." (Henry B. Eyring, "Holiness and the Plan of Happiness,"October 2019 General Conference, )
For Paul, receiving the grace, love and goodness of God was not a one shot deal. Nor was creating a holy people. Pres Eyring emphasized the need for more holiness, as the pathway to happiness in this life, and into the eternities. Note he wished for us to understand that happiness comes from greater holiness, and then to act on that belief. 

So, do we truly believe that happiness comes from greater holiness? If so, then why do we seem to act as if our belief is otherwise? Why do we seek happiness from worldly things, except we believe deep down inside that is where we must find it. Clearly, many of us do not understand this principle. Or, if we understand it, we do not believe it enough to act upon it.''

Translation and Resurrection

"But I would not have you to be ignorant, brethren, concerning them which are asleep, that ye sorrow not, even as others which have no hope.
"For if we believe that Jesus died and rose again, even so them also which sleep in Jesus will God bring with him.
"For this we say unto you by the word of the Lord, that we which are alive and remain unto the coming of the Lord shall not prevent them which are asleep.
"For the Lord himself shall descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of the archangel, and with the trump of God: and the dead in Christ shall rise first:
"Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.
"Wherefore comfort one another with these words."(1 Thess 4:13-18)
Paul had to reinforce some concepts for the people. First, there is a resurrection. The dead will arise. Unlike the pagan religions, there is hope for a glorious resurrection. 

Then, he explained what would happen to those alive at Christ's Second Coming: they would be translated or raptured. This change in the body is not a permanent one, but will allow the righteous to stand in the presence of Christ, as he comes in his glory. 

Some Christians miscontrue these passages as meaning a rapture that will occur 3 1/2 years prior to the 2nd Coming, as one reads in the "Left Behind" book series. While the books are interesting, they don't reflect the actual teaching here. There will be no rapture that takes true believers out of the midst of the final tribulations. Instead, the righteous will establish Zion, as a refuge from the storms (D&C 45), until Christ comes in glory again.

In chapter 5, we get the sense that the 2nd Coming would come soon. In fact, the early Christians believed the Second Coming would happen in their generation, and so were eagerly awaiting it. In his second epistle, Paulfurther explained that several key things had to occur prior to the 2nd Coming, suggesting it may not happen as soon as some members wished.

Paul ended this first letter:

"Rejoice evermore.
"Pray without ceasing.
"In every thing give thanks: for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus concerning you.
"Quench not the Spirit.
"Despise not prophesyings.
"Prove all things; hold fast that which is good.
"Abstain from all appearance of evil.
"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." (1 Thess 5:16-23)
2 Thessalonians

In his second epistle, Paul clarified his teachings from the first letter regarding the 2nd Coming. 
"Now we beseech you, brethren, by the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, and by our gathering together unto him,
"That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.
"Let no man deceive you by any means: for that day shall not come, except there come a falling away first, and that man of sin be revealed, the son of perdition;
"Who opposeth and exalteth himself above all that is called God, or that is worshipped; so that he as God sitteth in the temple of God, shewing himself that he is God." (2 Thess 2:1-4)
Many Christians in the early years believed Christ would return in that same generation. Paul explained that there were several things that first had to occur. One was that Satan, in the form of a powerful ruler, would have to not only rule over the earth, but set himself up on God's throne. This is both a political and religious leader that will offer a form of salvation to mankind. Only through the glory of Christ's 2nd Coming would this impostor be truly revealed and dethroned.

Knowing that such would be a huge trial for the true believers, Paul encouraged:

"Therefore, brethren, stand fast, and hold the traditions which ye have been taught, whether by word, or our epistle." (2 Thess 2:15)
For us in the latter days, as we see Satan sitting upon the thrones in many nations, or holding the hearts of government leaders, and knowing many people are enticed by their offerings and other forms of worldly salvation, it is very necessary to "stand fast." In fact, on many occasions, we are encouraged in scripture and by modern prophets to "stand in holy places and be not moved" (D&C 87:8). 

With millions of voices screaming in our ears over television, internet, and other media, it is not easy to stand fast. Satan seeks to stir us up to anger or to pacify us to sleep (2 Nephi 28). However, if we focus on Christ and his gospel, understanding and acting upon becoming more holy, we find that we can find peace and happiness even while the world is in commotion. As we become holy, the places where we stand become holy, as well. In such places of holiness, we will not be moved.

Thursday, October 17, 2019

Come Follow Me - Philippians, Colossians

The Epistle to the Philippians

It is generally agreed that Paul wrote the letter to the Philippians around 62 AD, while he was imprisoned  in Rome.  Philippi was an early Christian strong hold that truly endeared Paul, and was loved by him.  While much of the membership there was poor, they were still at the forefront of Christian communities that gave alms to Paul to take care of the poor in Jerusalem. Due to internal concepts that change, it is possible that Philippians is actually portions of up to three letters written by Paul.

A very key part of Paul’s writing may have been a hymn already used by Christians, but definitely used later.  This is the Kenosis Hymn of Philippians 2:5-11.  Kenosis means an “emptying”.  We can see a major difference in translation comparing the KJV version to other translations.

“5. Let this mind be in you, which was also in Christ Jesus:
6. Who, being in the form of God, thought it not robbery to be equal with God:
7. But made himself of no reputation, and took upon him the form of a servant, and was made in the likeness of men:
8. And being found in fashion as a man, he humbled himself, and became obedient unto death, even the death of the cross.
9. Wherefore God also hath highly exalted him, and given him a name which is above every name:
10. That at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, of things in heaven, and things in earth, and things under the earth;
11. And that every tongue should confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (KJV, Phil 2:5-11).

“5. Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus,
6. who, although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped,
7. but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men.
8. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross.
9. For this reason also, God highly exalted Him, and bestowed on Him the name which is above every name,
10. so that at the name of Jesus every knee will bow, of those who are in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
11. and that every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father” (NASV, Phil 2:5-11)

Not robbery to be like God
Phil 2:6

.A couple major differences can be seen here.  First, in verse 6 the translations seem to contradict each other. KJV says Christ did not think it robbery to be like God, while the NASV suggests that equality with God cannot be grasped.  Such is the disagreement of translation.

Other English translations render the phrase like this:

“Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage” (NIV).

“who, existing in the form of God, counted not the being on an equality with God a thing to be grasped” (ASV).

The general interpretation is that while Christ was God or equal with God the Father, as a mortal, he did not use this to his own advantage.  Instead of exalting himself, Christ humbled himself below all mankind, and in debasing himself, he allowed God to exalt him above all.  It is important to note that we are to have this same concept in mind: if we are humble servants, God will lift us above all others as well, making us equals with Christ.

Of no reputation
Phil 2:7

The other phrase that stands out as different, we see that Christ would be “emptied out” (NASV) or of “no reputation” (KJV).  In other Bible versions, we read:

“he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant” (NIV).

“but emptied himself, taking the form of a servant” (ASV).

“but he lowed himself [but he meeked himself]” (Wycliffe Bible).

There is a early Christian concept that when Jesus came down to his mortal life, he literally emptied himself of his glory, in order to appear as a normal mortal, and so he would experience all things a mortal would.  Such would leave Jesus vulnerable to all the frailties, weaknesses, temptations, fears and trials of any mortal.  In the end, he would descend below all things as the greatest of all servants. In doing this, he lifts us up as the Father lifts him up.  We are glorified in Christ as Christ is glorified in the Father.

In the Apocalypse of Isaiah, an early Jewish writing that was modified by early Christians, Isaiah has ascended through the levels of heaven to the highest level. There he sees God, Jesus and the Holy Ghost, and worships them with the angels.  Jesus then descends through the levels of heaven on his way to earth.  As he descends, he empties himself of glory, so that those angels on that particular level of heaven see him as they are.  As he reaches earth, he is emptied of his glory.  Because of several similarities, Lehi’s vision of Christ’s descent may have been just like Isaiah’s account (see 1 Nephi 1).

Because of such concepts, Philippians is considered by some scholars as the beginning of Christology, or the study of Christ’s life and atonement.  The focus on love, peace, and knowledge of God fits perfectly for those of us who seek to be true disciples, or followers, of the Messiah; who emptied himself of glory, became a servant of all mankind, and was then exalted by God the Father for bringing knowledge and love of God to all mankind.

Epistle to the Colossians

The epistle to the Colossians is a disputed letter of Paul written in Rome or Ephesus. Many scholars think it was written by one of Paul’s followers, perhaps Onesimus.  Other scholars insist that it is an authentic Pauline letter.  If Paul is the author, it was written while he was imprisoned in the late 50s AD.  If written by a follower, it could be as late as 85 AD. He provided his own residence, but his right arm chained to the left arm of a Roman soldier day and night, the soldiers being relieved daily.

Being only a few miles from Laodicea, one of the cities mentioned by the Lord in Revelation, it seems the people of Colosse suffered from some of the same problems the Lord found against Laodicea:

“14 And unto the angel of the church of the Laodiceans write; These things saith the Amen, the faithful and true witness, the beginning of the creation of God;
15 I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot: I would thou wert cold or hot.
16 So then because thou art lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will spue thee out of my mouth.
17 Because thou sayest, I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing; and knowest not that thou art wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked:
18 I counsel thee to buy of me gold tried in the fire, that thou mayest be rich; and white raiment, that thou mayest be clothed, and that the shame of thy nakedness do not appear; and anoint thine eyes with eyesalve, that thou mayest see.
19 As many as I love, I rebuke and chasten: be zealous therefore, and repent” (Rev 3:14-19).

A variety of false teachers infected the city.  Some were teaching the members to worship angels as the equal or superior of Jesus Christ. Some Colossians may also have been introducing concepts of pagan worship into Christian worship.  This included the worship of other gods in addition to God and Christ.  Paul explained in the letter that Jesus was not just another Greek or Roman god, but that Jesus,

“15 Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
16 For by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him:
17 And he is before all things, and by him all things consist” (Col 1:15-17).

The “invisible God” was one that had no statue nor likeness to worship.  In stating that Jesus created all things in heaven (meaning the objects in the sky) and earth,  Paul is making him greater than the angels, or Zeus and the other gods of the ancient world.  Each Greek/Roman god was a specialist.  Venus was the goddess of love.  Athena was the goddess of wisdom. Apollo was the god of the arts.  Paul established that Jesus was the God of all these specialties and so much more.
There was no reason, therefore, to worship any angel or the pagan gods.  The Colossians did not need to be lukewarm regarding their faith.  They needed to wholly dedicate their worship to Christ, rather than dawdling in worshiping pantheons or attempting to cover all the bases (just in case). They did not need to worry about angering angels, Zeus or other gods, as Jesus trumped them all.