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Introduction & Greetings
Colosse was a small town in the province of Asia about 100 miles east of Ephesus
1:1 From Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.
The letter was written by Paul, who, not by his own choice, but by God's will, was sent as a messenger by Jesus Christ. With him was Timothy.
1:2 To the saints, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ, at Colossae. Grace and peace to you from God our Father!
The letter is addressed to those who are sanctified (set apart for God) in Christ, who share the same faith we have (Jude 3), which is why they are our brothers in Christ. The letter sent to believers in Colosse is just as applicable to us today. Paul gives his usual greeting of grace - undeserved favour of God - and peace, which come from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Thanksgiving & Prayer for Believers
1:3-4 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, since we heard about your faith in Christ Jesus and the love that you have for all the saints
Although Paul and Timothy had never visited Colosse, they had heard of the Colossian's conversion, and gave thanks to God for the news, which they heard from Epaphras, who began the church there. The faith of the Colossians was proved genuine by their acts of love done to their fellow believers.
1:5 Your faith and love have arisen from the hope laid up for you in heaven, which you have heard about in the message of truth, the gospel.
The faith and love they had was a result of their hope, which was securely kept for them in heaven. This hope was the hope of eternal life, which they had heard about through the gospel message which Epaphras had preached to them. Paul refers to this gospel as the word of truth because it is the word of God Himself (1 Thess. 2:13).
1:6 That has come to you. Just as in the entire world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, so it has also been bearing fruit and growing among you from the first day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth.
The apostles rejoiced that the gospel message had produced fruit in the lives of the Colossians, just as it has done for many others all over the world. What does Paul mean by fruit? When a seed is planted it dies and it will eventually produce a new plant bearing fruit (John 12:24). Christ is the "seed" that died. The "fruit" produced is the outworking of salvation in the hearts and lives of men and women. This is the nature of Christ produced in us. The Lord Jesus Christ will see the results of the travail of His soul and be satisfied. The gospel had begun its good work in the Colossians the moment they heard it (Rom. 10:17). By believing, they had received God's grace, mercy and pardon for sin. But the work that had started had not yet been finished, for the Lord would continue it until He comes again (Phil. 1:6).
1:7 You learned the gospel from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave — a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf.
These Colossians could not have been saved unless someone first shared the message with them (Rom. 10:14). As in the past the gospel has gone out, bearing fruit, so it can only continue to do so as we share it with others, praying and giving our lives for God's work as Epaphras did. Epaphras was a faithful servant of Jesus Christ. Are we?
1:8 Who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
It was Epaphras who told Paul of the Colossians love, which was shed abroad in their hearts by the Holy Spirit. Rom. 5:5.
1:9 For this reason we also, from the day we heard about you, have not ceased praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding.
Although Paul had not founded or even visited the church at Colosse, he prayed for them. We too can pray for those we have never met, but who are involved in God's work. What did Paul pray? That they might be filled with the knowledge of God's will, in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Paul did not want believers to be ignorant of God's will, so he prayed that they would have a clear understanding of God's ways and clearly know his will. The word "wisdom" means "insight into the actual nature of things"(Lightfoot). Understanding "suggests the quickness of apprehension ,the penetrating consideration that precedes action". (Vine) In other words God wants us to see clearly know His will and act upon that knowledge. God not only wants us to know his will, he wants us to do it.
1:10 So that you may live worthily of the Lord and please him in all respects — bearing fruit in every good deed, growing in the knowledge of God.
By living in God's will our lives will be worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing Him. We will be fruitful in every good work and grow continually and steadily in our knowledge of God.
1:11-12 Being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might for the display of all patience and steadfastness, joyfully giving thanks to the Father who has qualified you to share in the saints' inheritance in the light.
Paul also prays that the believers would be strengthened with all spiritual strength according to God's glorious power, being enabled to endure all our difficulties with patience and rejoicing, thanking God in all circumstances. Only God's strength enables us to do this (2 Cor. 12:9-10). The reason for our thanksgiving is that God the Father has made us "fit to share in the portion which is the inheritance of the saints in light." (AmpNT)
Set Free in Christ
1:13 He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of the Son he loves.
God has set us free from the power of darkness and made us citizens of the kingdom ruled by His beloved Son. Imagine people being held captive as slaves in a hostile land. Then a good king comes, setting them free by violent force and carrying them away to his own land, where they are free to live as his subjects. We were all slaves of sin and Satan - but Jesus came, and by His death has set us free from slavery. We are no longer slaves, but willing subjects of the conquering King.
1:14 In whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
In Him we have redemption through His blood - the price paid to bring us back to God. This was the only price that could secure forgiveness for our sins. 1 Peter 1:18-19.
The Pre-eminence of Christ: In Pre-existence and Creation
1:15 He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn over all creation.
God is spirit, and so is invisible. He has never been seen. But the Lord Jesus is the exact image of His person. God has been revealed perfectly through His Son. Jesus said "He who has seen me has seen the Father." The Bible teaches that Christ is God manifested in the flesh (John 1:14 and 1 Tim.3:16). Christ is at one and the same time God and man. "Firstborn of every creature" is better translated as "Begotten before all creation" meaning that Christ was the eternal Son of God, who existed before anything was created.
1:16 For all things in heaven and on earth were created by him — all things, whether visible or invisible, whether thrones or dominions, whether principalities or powers — all things were created through him and for him.
It was He who made all things. John1:3 He created all orders both in the natural realm and in the spiritual or unseen realm. Paul refers to every kind of authority in the created order, simply to show that Christ who made them all is over them all. They were made by Him and for Him. We too are not made for ourselves, but for Him. Not for our pleasure, but for His (Rev. 4:11)
1:17 He himself is before all things and all things are held together in him.
Paul identifies the Lord Jesus Christ as the God who was in the beginning, as John does in John 1:1 Just as he made all things, so he upholds them all. Without him all things would immediately cease to exist (Heb. 1:3).
In His Church and in Redemption
1:18 He is the head of the body, the church, as well as the beginning, the firstborn from among the dead, so that he himself may become first in all things.
As Christ is supreme in creation, He is also in redemption. By His death and resurrection He has become the source of our spiritual life, the author and finisher of our faith. Christ was the first to rise from the dead as the prototype of a new order - the beginning of a new creation. Without him the church would not exist, so He is rightly the head of the church and has the foremost place in it, as in everything else.
1:19-20 For God was pleased to have all his fullness dwell in the Son and through him to reconcile all things to himself by making peace through the blood of his cross — through him, whether things on earth or things in heaven.
God was pleased that all the fullness the Godhead should dwell in Christ as a man. It was God's purpose that His Son should die on the cross to reconcile sinful man to Himself. The death of Christ is an offering which has satisfied Divine justice, so that the guilty sinner may be freely pardoned. Ps 85.10. Not that everyone is automatically reconciled to God by the death of His Son. This verse tells us that a pardon has been secured by Christ so that it might be offered to all men, but it is still up to every individual to accept that pardon by believing on the Lord Jesus.
1:21 And you were at one time strangers and enemies in your minds as expressed through your evil deeds.
Those of us who have believed have received His pardon for sin, as the Colossians had. Once we were enemies of God because of our sinful nature (which fact revealed itself in the things that we did). But now through Christ's atoning death we have peace with God. The enmity has been destroyed, since our sinful nature rendered powerless by His death.
1:22 But now he has reconciled you by his physical body through death to present you holy, without blemish, and blameless before him.
Christ's death is so effectual an atonement for sins that we, who were enemies, are now in the sight of God holy, blameless and without rebuke. This is because of Christ's death and no other reason at all.
1:23 If indeed you remain in the faith, established and firm, without shifting from the hope of the gospel that you heard. This gospel has also been preached in all creation under heaven, and I, Paul, have become its servant.
The acceptance and pardon that are ours in Christ have come to us through faith in Him, so we can only remain in this position as we continue to hold on to the truth. To let go of the gospel is to let go of what has come to us through the gospel.
Paul - a Servant
Of the Gospel
God had ordained that this gospel message should be preached to everyone in the world. Mark 16:15. Paul had become a servant, working so that this commission might be fulfilled.
Of the Church
1:24 Now I rejoice in my sufferings for you, and I fill up in my physical body — for the sake of his body, the church — what is lacking in the sufferings of Christ.
His work in spreading the gospel brought him a lot of trouble. Whilst he was in Asia, the province where both Colosse and Ephesus were, a riot broke out in the city of Ephesus, and Paul had to be sent away for his own safety. Paul now rejoiced that, although he had suffered these difficulties, the gospel message had brought results. Many souls were saved in that area. As a servant of the gospel, Paul suffered affliction for the sake of the church, but this did not deter him. He saw this as an unavoidable necessity if he were to build up the Church, which is Christ's body.
1:25 I became a servant of the church according to the stewardship from God — given to me for you — in order to complete the word of God.
Paul had been made a minister of the Church by Christ himself, according to the gift that God had given to him through His grace. It was not of Paul; it was by God's grace: nor was it for Paul; it was for the church.
Paul was commissioned by Christ to preach the gospel. So whilst he was a servant of the gospel and the church, he was first and foremost a servant of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel - a Mystery
1:26 That is, the mystery that has been kept hidden from ages and generations, but has now been revealed to his saints.
The gospel is described as a mystery, that is, something which had not been previously known. It was hidden from the eyes of men until the time that God intended (Gal. 4:4).
In the fullness of time Christ came. He died, was buried and rose again. Now this gospel is preached to all people. Its truth has been made known to those who belong to Christ - God's separated ones.
1:27 God wanted to make known to them the glorious riches of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.
At this present time God wants His saints to know the great riches of the glory of this mystery - which is the fact and experience of Christ dwelling within us, giving us certain hope that one day we will dwell with Him.
Preached to all
1:28 We proclaim him by instructing and teaching all people with all wisdom so that we may present every person mature in Christ.
The gospel is Christ Himself. Paul and his fellow workers preached HIM, warning and teaching everyone from God's word by the wisdom God gave them to understand His truth. The aim of this preaching was that every man might be presented perfect, that is, whole and mature in Christ at His coming.
1:29 Toward this goal I also labor, struggling according to his power that powerfully works in me.
Paul worked with all his might in order to achieve this end, not in his own strength or zeal, for it was the power of God which worked powerfully in him.
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