1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.

9 For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, 10 so that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; 11 strengthened with all power, according to His glorious might, for the attaining of all steadfastness and patience; joyously 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.

13 For He delivered us from the domain of darkness, and transferred us to the kingdom of His beloved Son, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

15 And He is the image of the invisible God, the first-born of all creation. 16 For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities-- all things have been created by Him and for Him. 17 And He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together.  Version: NAS

COMMENTS

General:

  • Colossians is one of the four Prison Epistles of Paul (also including Ephesians, Philippians, and Philemon).
    • Paul and Timothy co-authored the letter (v.1).
    • The church had been established in Colosse by Epaphras (1:7; 4:12; Philemon 23).
  • Paul writes to the saints -- that is, faithful Christians -- and wishes them grace and peace (v.2). As in so many of this letters, he prays for this Christian community with thanksgiving (v.3). He didn't just rattle off a list of names, but prayed specifically and with a degree of heartfelt emotion.
  • Verse 4 implies that Paul has never visited Colosse personally, although he has received positive reports.
  • Paul appreciated their faith and love, which stemmed from their hope (v.5).
    • Virtually every time the word hope appears in the N.T., it refers to the resurrection from the dead and the life of the world to come.
    • The element of future hope was an integral part of the Christian proclamation, wherever it is preached.
      • In fact, all over the world the message is finding receptive audiences (v.6).
      • The Colossians had heard this message of grace from Epaphras (v.7).
        • Epaphras is the one who brought Paul news of the Colossians (v.8).
        • He also seems to have been imprisoned with the apostle (v.7)!
  • Paul returns to the substance of his prayer for the Colossians.
    • As he prayed for the Philippians (Philippians 1:9-10), he asks God to give the Colossians wisdom (v.9).
    • And he prays that they live worthily (v.10), being productive ("bearing fruit") in all their endeavors.
    • And that they may grow in patience, spiritual strength, joy, gratitude, etc (v.11).
  • Reasons for gratitude include:
    • Our inheritance (v.12).
      • We have something to look forward to!
      • This is for those who are in the light, not those in darkness.
    • Our rescue (v.13).
      • We have been transferred from one kingdom to another. The kingdom of light is the kingdom of Jesus.
      • In Christ we have redemption, which is the forgiveness of sins.
  • Jesus is the image of God (v.15). All humans are created as images of God (Genesis 1:26), and yet only Jesus is perfectly the image of God. In redemption we begin to resemble man as originally created.
  • Jesus is the "firstborn" over all creation. This does not mean that he came into being (as in natural birth). Rather, being firstborn is an appointment, or a recognition of rank. See Psalm 89:26-27 where God makes the duly appointed king his firstborn. This means that the Jehovah's Witnesses and other groups who imagine that Jesus is a created being are wrong.
  • Jesus was also an agent in the creation itself (v.16).
    • Proverbs 8:30 tells us that Wisdom (Christ -- see 1 Corinthians 1:30) was with God in the creation.
    • "By him and for him" indicates that Christ is divine.
    • He was involved in the creation of all heavenly and earthly things.
      • All things consist (hold together) in Christ (v.17).
      • No wonder the early Christians sang hymns to Christ as God!
  • Only halfway through chapter 1 of Colossians, we already perceive that this epistle is deeply Christocentric (Christ-centered).

Advanced:

  • Much of the material in this letter appears in Ephesians, though modified.
  • Colossae destroyed by earthquake a year or two after Paul wrote to them.
  • For the site of Colossae's ruins, click here. During our 2007 Biblical Study Tour, we visited the nearby cities of Hierapolis and Laodicea, but not Colossae. Impressive! All three are in the extreme eastern part of the ancient Roman province of Asia. This province lay in western Asia Minor, or Anatolia (modern Turkey).
  • Learn more about apolutrosis, the Greek word for redemption.

Thought questions:

  • Who was my "Epaphras"? Which individual was most responsible for my hearing the gospel message? Do my prayers reflect a grateful heart for him/her?
  • Since Jesus is the image of God, how much am I striving to be renewed in this image -- to become a godly, Christlike person?
  • How Christocentric are my prayers? relationships? life?

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