Paul, the author
Wrote 13 letters (epistles) etters to the churches. The churches were located in different cities and the letters take their name from the people of that city. This letter is to the city of Colossae, and the people of that city are know as Colossians. The letter is ddressed to “church” or “saints”.
Usually there is some problem to be addressed in these letters.
Letter form: greets the church in the beginning; ends with greetings to or from specific people
Today we deal with the greeting and introduction to the letter.
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ …
Acts 9 Damascus Road experience: called apostle because of his face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ. Paul had a specific call to the Gentiles, rather than the Jewish peoples.
Paul does not know these people; he has never met them. So he is establishing his authority by explaining who he is, by his title “apostle.” He has authority to teach; to deal pastorally with the congregation.
Grace and peace to you …
is a common greeting. Thick with meaning.
Grace: central concept of Christ’s work of salvation as gift (free and unearned) as opposed to any idea of work or merit. Indicates deep prayerful concern (element of intercession). Paul desires that the Colossians apprehend more fully the grace of God in which they already stand.
Peace: Shalom. Sense of general well-being, the source and giver of such peace is God alone. Includes everything given by God in all areas of life. Peace as wholeness, in particular in reference to relationships. Paul prays that they may comprehend more fully the nature of that relationship of peace which God has established with them.
Looking Back: Thanksgiving
Timothy is mentioned and v.1 states, “we give thanks” – indicating Paul is not alone in ministry. Epaphras is mentioned as "fellow slave" and "faithful minister on our behalf". There is a teamwork that exists in the work of Christ. None of us is lone rangers. We work as a team at a local church level. I work as a team with fellow pastors. It is important that I develop relationships with my colleagues – that we grow together, that we are accountable to each other, that we encourage one another, and learn from one another. That has to happen here in the local church, from church to church in our charge and through the local ministerium. Our District Superintendent emphasizes the importance of pastors getting out of our own little box, and going to seminars outside our District and even outside our denomination – to broaden our horizon, to learn from others.
Epaphras is the one from whom the Colossians learned the Gospel. “Fellow-slave” is a title of honor. (Tri-city area of Hierapolis, Laodicea, and Colossae) Epaphras is lifted up as a good teacher. One who knows the Gospel and is linked with apostolic authority – from a direct source of the Gospel, even to Jesus himself, through Paul. This is important because there has been some false teaching that has crept in. And that is what Paul is going to address. And he emphasizes that they know the truth: “the message of truth”, “the gospel”, they have “heard and understood the grace of God in truth.”
Prayer of Thanks to God
Paul, Timothy and Epaphras are giving thanks for the faith, hope, and love that the Colossians have. That they know this message of truth. That they are bearing fruit and growing: good deeds, numerical growth, spiritual character. From the first day you heard it you have taken hold and have been growing. And he gives the Spirit the credit for this. They are doing acts of love that only can be credited to the Spirit of God at work in them. This message is being heard and bearing fruit around the world, and you are a part of this, a very vital part of this.
Looking back to who brought them to do the Gospel and to the good works, the fruit and the growth that has been and is among them.
- From whom did you first learn of Christ and his love for you? Remember and give thanks to God.
Prayer of Petition (Intercession) for the Colossians:
~Know God’s will
Fill – abundant
Wisdom and understanding as gifts of God.
Live worthily: actions
Please God not self.
~Power to perform
Rely on God, not self.
The only way we have the power to live our lives in accordance to God’s word and to bring forth fruit in our lives (godly character and good deeds) is through the power of the Holy Spirit.
- What’s the next faithful step? Discern and pray for power to accomplish God’s will.