Part 1 – Colossians 1:1-8
Paul begins his letter with his customary greeting of grace, peace, and thankfulness, and then moves quickly to a description of Gospel essentials. It is clear that Paul has theological concerns regarding the church in Colossae, and he addresses those directly by identifying several basic fundamental truths related to faith in Jesus.
Paul’s first aim is to establish that the Christian faith is driven by an eternal perspective. He describes the “hope reserved for you in heaven” that is obtained by grace through faith in Jesus and serves as motivation for followers of Jesus to demonstrate “love for all the saints.” Paul’s words provide an immediate reminder to the Colossian church, and to modern Christians as well, that there is nothing more important in this life than trusting Jesus for the next life. The Gospel in which we believe is a big deal because it is our only hope, not just in this life, but for all of eternity.
The Truth Of God’s Word
Paul also makes it clear that the truth of the Gospel is grounded in the truth of God’s Word. In stating that the “Gospel” and the “Word of truth” are one in the same, Paul establishes the written biblical Word as the unchanging foundation of truth. When a community of faith becomes divided over matters of truth, it is vitally important to rely on the wisdom of the Bible to determine the way forward. In addition, Paul affirms the significance of the Word by highlighting its impact. He says the Word, the Gospel, is “bearing fruit and growing” all over the world, and that it is the way to “truly appreciate God’s grace.” As Paul makes his case for truth in his letter to the Colossians, he is clear that he’s going to rely on the Word to do so.
Proclaim The Truth
Finally, Paul reminds the “saints who are faithful brothers and sisters” in Colossae that the truth of the Gospel is to be proclaimed. He points out that the truth about Jesus is known to the church in Colossae because they “heard” and “learned” this truth as it was boldly proclaimed to them. He commends Timothy and Epaphras for their faithfulness in proclaiming the Word, and shares his genuine excitement in the fact that the Gospel has reached Colossae and is expanding across the world.
The issues facing the church in Colossae are serious, and Paul addresses them directly. He doesn’t mince words. The truth is at stake. His initial reminders to the Colossian church are equally relevant today. Keep an eternal perspective. Remember where your hope lies. Depend on the Bible as the source of truth. Make sure the truth of Jesus is proclaimed, so it can be heard and learned, and the Gospel can bear fruit and increase to the whole world.
- Where is your hope? Does your focus tend to be more on this life, or on your eternal future and the eternal future of others?
- What is your source of truth? Is it the Bible? What are some competing voices?
- What is your role in helping others hear and learn the truth? Who are you praying for, to hear about Jesus and believe in Him for salvation?
God uses people to make Himself known in the world. In his greeting, Paul mentions two individuals, Timothy and Epaphras, who have lived faithful and consistent lives for the Gospel. Like Paul, these men chose to devote their lives to the cause of proclaiming Jesus to a world who did not yet know Him. Identify a few people who God used to help you hear and learn the Gospel. Take a few minutes to thank God for them in prayer. Send them a handwritten note, or shoot them a quick text or email to express your gratitude and encourage them to press on for Jesus.