Colossians

Colossians 1:1-8 Thankful.

Paul was “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (v. 1 Cf. Eph. 1:1). An apostle is one who is sent, in this case, sent by and as a representative of Jesus Christ. Like an ambassador an apostle of Jesus Christ speaks for Him. Finally, one never gained this on their own, it was by the will of God. However, Paul was not alone in his work. Even though Timothy was not an apostle he was a brother and co-worker in the ministry of the word (Cf. I Cor. 4:17). Paul was also writing to “faithful brethren,” all of whom were saints (v. 2). There was no special class of saints different from other Christians. Furthermore, these were real historical people located in Colosse. In Paul’s usual greeting, grace precedes peace because peace is not possible without grace, and together this is indeed a blessed condition. Paul’s Trinitarian theology is also unmistakeable-the Father and the Son are equally God-from whom alone grace and peace come (Cf. Gal. 1:3), along with the Spirit (v. 8).

“We give thanks,” is a wonderful way to begin this letter. This is how we should begin our days, and this is also how we should begin our theology. Thanks is the only proper response from those who know that all that we know, are, and have, comes from the triune God (v. 3). This activity of the sovereign God did not preclude prayer on Paul’s part, but it was in fact the basis for Paul’s confidence to pray. In particular, Paul gave thanks for these saints because he heard of their “faith in Jesus Christ” and of their “love for all the saints” (v. 4). This faith was a gift from God, as was the evidence of that faith also seen in the love they had for all the saints (Cf. Eph. 1:15; Heb. 6:10). This faith and love is also motivated by our hope which is laid up for us in heaven (Cf. I Pet. 1:4). Paul uses the word ‘hope’ not like many use it today to express a wish. This is not wishful thinking, it is a hope founded on one foundation and one foundation alone-“the word of the truth of the gospel” (v. 5).

The gospel is true because the word of God says it is true. Everyone begins with some axiom-some proposition which stands on its own and cannot and is not subject to the test of another standard or proposition. For the saints, the word of God is the first axiom of all thought and existence, and by it we know that the gospel is true, because there is no other standard of truth than the self-attesting word. This word had come to Paul’s readers, as it had come to all the then known world-they didn’t just dream it up. This word only comes by revelation from the will of God (v. 6 Cf. Eph. 3:3). The evidence that they had indeed heard and knew the truth was the fruit brought forth in their lives. This was a truth which they had also learned from Epaphras, Paul’s and Timothy’s “dear fellow servant,” who with these men shared in being a “faithful minister of Christ Jesus” on their behalf (v. 7 Cf. Philem. 23). It was from Epaphras that they in fact learned of the Colossian’s “love in the Spirit” (v. 8 Cf. Rom. 15:30).

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