Giving Thanks to Those Faithful in Christ
Colossians 1: 3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit. (NKJV)
The city of Colosse was located in what is southeastern Turkey today. It was located in the province of Phrygia, ten miles east of Laodicea, thirteen miles southeast of Hierapolis, and about one hundred miles east of Ephesus. It was about a hundred miles north of the Mediterranean Sea. Colosse, in Paul’s time, was a small city in decline. It is believed that Paul wrote this to the church at Colosse about 60 A.D. during his first imprisonment in Rome.
After his salutation, Paul begins this letter with a thanksgiving to the believers at Colosse. He informs them that he always includes them in his prayers and thanks the Lord for their faith in Christ Jesus and for their love of the other believers, “all the saints” (vv. 3-4). Paul writes that he “heard” of their faith and love. Paul never visited the church. He only heard of them from Epaphrus who founded the church.
Paul then gives the reason for their faith and love (v.5). He writes “because of the hope that is stored up for you in Heaven.” The literal translation of the Greek in verse five is “because of the hope being laid up for you in Heaven.” This hope which brings about faith and love has to do with Heaven and the things of Heaven, which we know of by reading the gospel. It is not just looking forward to being with Jesus, but also the life we will have in Heaven and the rewards we will receive there. Our rewards are being laid up in Heaven as we do good on earth.
This gospel, Paul writes, has not only come to these believers but also has spread throughout the world, and is bearing fruit (v.6). Not only is it bearing fruit by increasing the faith of the believers in Colosse, but also by spreading throughout the world of that day. It has helped believers to understand God’s grace, defined as unmerited and undeserved help to someone in need.
Verse seven tells us that Epaphras, one of Paul’s friends and associates, evangelized the believers at Colosse. He was a native of Colosse. He also founded and directed the churches nearby, at Hierapolis and Laodicea. Epaphras later visited Paul in prison in Rome, which prompted Paul to write this letter.
This passage should make us thankful to those who have brought the gospel to us. I, myself, am thankful to all of those at First Baptist Church of El Campo, Texas. El Campo, like Colosse, was a small city that declined when the main highway bypassed them. The church there baptized me, discipled me, and got me involved in Royal Ambassadors. They laid a foundation for me by age twelve that later bloomed when others discipled me at Fellowship of Champions in Spring, Texas many years later.
I am sure that you also have those to whom you are thankful for introducing you to the gospel of Jesus Christ. It is good to remember our spiritual roots, and to trace our journey in Christ to where we are today. And as we remember, we give thanks to God for those faithful in Christ.
Online Bible Commentary