Lesson 2


Paul's Letter to the Colossians

World English Bible translation

 Today's Scripture

1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 1:4 having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have toward all the saints, 1:5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in the heavens, whereof you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 1:6 which has come to you; even as it is in all the world and is bearing fruit and increasing, as it does in you also, since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 1:7 even as you learned of Epaphras our beloved fellow-servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 1:8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.


Today's Lesson 

In verses one and two we have what is often called the prescript of ancient letters. Prescripts were composed of three parts. First, this letter is from Paul and Timothy. Second, it is written to believers in Christ at Colossae. Third, Paul and Timothy send greetings, "Grace to you and peace..." As we stated yesterday, these three parts follow the standard structures of ancient letter writing of Paul's day.

 

What immediately followed the prescript in such letters was a prayer or a thanksgiving. Paul usually expanded this section of his letters much more than most ancient writers and this example is no exception to that rule. Sometimes Paul uses the phrase, "I thank my God…" as he does in Romans and Philippians. More often he uses phasing similar to what we find here in Colossians.

 

Thanks are given to God who is described as, "the Father of our Lord, Jesus Christ." This is one of Paul's most common ways of mentioning both God and Jesus. God is the Father of the human man Jesus. Jesus is by implication Son but He is also adorned with the meaningful titles of "Lord" and "Christ." To a Jew of Paul's educational background, neither term could be use frivolously. Just as there could be only one Christ, the anointed Messiah of God, there could be only one Lord. Such use of titles was Paul's way of establishing from the very beginning that he believed in the divinity of Jesus Christ and submitted himself completely to Christ.

 

As Paul continues his prayer he weaves into its structure what has been termed the three Christian graces: faith, hope and love. Paul is the first writer to record their use in the Thessalonian letters but they may have been used in the early church from the very beginning. Paul prays for these believers because he has heard of their faith in Christ, their love toward all believers and because he knows that such a response issues from their hope in the promises of God. Though the graces are not as tightly woven together as they are in some other Pauline works, they are another common thread that this letter has with other works of the apostle.

 

Paul tells these believers that they can have hope because they have heard "the word of the truth of the gospel." The metaphor he uses here envisions this gospel as something alive and growing, not only in Colossae, but all over the world. This gospel is "bearing fruit" and it is "increasing." The believers in Colossae have seen the increase in their own lives and in their own community. Paul assures them that, just as they have seen other men responding to the gospel and just as they themselves have responded, the gospel is growing rapidly all over the known world.

 

Paul is also always willing to give other people credit and encouragement. As such, here he writes to these Colossians and praises Epaphras, his fellow worker, who brought them the word of God. The strong in Christ have no need to grab more glory for themselves. The glory is God's, but it usually will not hurt to give credit to others who are working on His behalf. Paul always stands ready to build up those who work with him and to prepare the next generation of leaders in the church.

 

Is the gospel of truth bearing fruit and increasing in your life? And in your city? What could you give thanks for if you were to write to others today?

 

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