Online Bible Commentary
Giving Thanks to Those Faithful in Christ
Colossians 1:1 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 in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. 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 book of Colossians is part of what is known as the Prison Epistles. The writings, themselves, affirm that the epistles were written by the Apostle Paul from prison.
There are differing opinions as to during which of Paul’s prison confinements the epistles were written. There are many sources that discuss this subject fully. For our purposes, we will go along with the thought of most scholars that Paul wrote the prison epistles during his house arrest in Rome from AD 60-62.
It is believed that the epistle was written about AD 61 to the house churches in Colossae, Asia Minor. The idea was that this authoritative letter would be passed along to the other churches.
The book of Colossians can be divided into two halves. The first half, the first two chapters, is concerned with the positional; doctrine outlining our position in Christ.
The second half, the last two chapters, is concerned with the practical; how we work out our position in the practical living of our Christian life. This is similar to the breakdown of the books of Romans and Ephesians, Paul’s previous writings.
Colossae, in Paul’s time, was a small city in decline. Once a great mercantile city, it was now the least significant of the cities to whom Paul wrote his letters.
The city of Colossae was located in what is southwestern 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.
Paul begins his letter, as was his custom. with a salutation. He writes “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colossae:” (vv. 1-2a). He identifies himself as “an apostle” and the writer of this letter.
Paul also notes that Timothy is currently with him in Rome and that he is writing to the believers in Colossae. Next Paul offers his customary blessing of grace and peace to the readers of this letter when he writes “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (v. 2b).
After his salutation, Paul begins this letter with a thanksgiving to the believers at Colossae. 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 Colossae, 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 Colossae. He was a native of Colossae.
Epaphras 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 Colossae, 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 I was discipled by my mentor in Christ, Pastor Charles Culpepper, 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.