Posted by: Standing Solus Christus | August 25, 2006

Colossians – Part 2

Have you ever written a letter to someone?  How often?     

Colossians – Part 2:  Introduction (Greetings and Encouragement) 

1.       As we begin our more detailed review of Colossian, what important things must we continue to consider?

2.       What are some important ways of understanding the context of a Biblical Passage?

Greeting (Ch 1:1-2):  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 at Colossae:  Grace to you and peace from God our Father.   

Paul identifies himself as an Apostle of Jesus Christ, which is a declaration of his authority to correct the errors that were occurring in the Church at Colossae.  This declaration is made to distinguish him from the self-proclaimed false apostles that had infiltrated the flock.  As was the case with most of the Churches that received letters from the Apostle, certain false teachers sought to distort the gospel message and undermine the apostolic teaching.  Paul asserts his authority to correct the error by announcing who had commissioned his ministry, none other than the Lord Himself.  Furthermore, he adds to the strength of the statement by indicating that this commission was not by chance, but had been decreed from all eternity by God Himself. He then implies a hierarchy of authority in describing his disciple Timothy as a “brother.”  Timothy as we learn in Paul’s pastoral letters is a leader in the Church and is left behind by Paul to establish the leadership roles in the Churches they planted.  Although, Timothy was associated with this important role in the Church, he is distinguished from the Apostles’.  He also calls the readers saints and faithful brethren in Christ.  The saints are the set apart ones, those called into the body from the world to be a special people to God.  Thus, knowing that they are faithful brethren it does not require some act, miracle or great endeavor to earn the name saint.  All the people of God are called, therefore are worthy of the term saint.  Thus, he implies that the term saint does not only belong to a special elite group of people with special credentials.  Then, the common greeting that is familiar in many of the Apostle’s letters is used to greet them in our God.   

In a place where the Gospel was being distorted, Epaphras did not have the New Testament to appeal too for correction.  At this time in Church history, the New Testament was not completely written or readily available as the standard or rule of faith.  During this developmental period of the Church, the only standard or rule of faith to appeal too were the Apostles’ that were commissioned by the Lord Himself.  Of these Apostles’ we are told they are the foundation of the Church with Christ being the chief cornerstone (Eph 2:20).  And it was with this authority that the Apostle Paul writes to the Colossians to assert that it is not of his own ambition, but by the will of God that had ordained him to the office of apostleship to correct the errors of the false teachers.               

3.       What does saint mean?

4.       In light of what we know so far about the Church at Colossae, isn’t it remarkable that Paul still calls them saints?

5.       Does this give you comfort to know that they were referred to as saints? 

Thanksgiving for them (Ch 1:3-8): We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints; 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit. 

Paul continues his introduction to the Colossians and as he does to others in letters points out the positives of the Church first.  We notice that he gives thanks to God from whom all blessings flow, who must always be acknowledged first and foremost.  Next, the Apostle informs the believers that they are included in his prayers.  These being the anchor for any disciple, that is thanksgiving to God the Father and prayer, for through these God so chooses to accomplish His will in the life of His Church.  Then the Apostle identifies the great triad of Christian virtues faith, hope and love and we know the greatest among them is love.  Thus, we know that the Colossians had, at least at one time, demonstrated the fruit of the Holy Spirit in their lives.  He notes that they had previously embraced the gospel, the word of truth that did not return void.  Although, heresies have entered the Church to distort this precious truth, the Apostle indicates that the gospel is still bearing fruit and increasing in Colossae.  We know from history that the words of the Apostle here are true, for God’s Word is still bearing fruit and increasing even now in our day.  It is significant to see, that the Apostle stresses the importance of hearing and understanding the true gospel message.  This insinuates that there is a specific message that is preached and can be and should be known.  If there is a specific message it needs to be preserved and or defended from corruption, since it is this message that bears the fruit and provides the hope of its hearers of God’s grace.  This message was brought to Colossae by Epaphras “a faithful servant of Christ”, who planted the Church to whom Paul writes.    Let us notice, however that although Epaphras was sent to preach the Word and establish the Church at Colossae that he is not an Apostle.  Not only was he not an Apostle when he realized that some Colossians were corrupting the truth of the gospel he retreated to an Apostle to address the situation.  Further, we learn that he not only brought a negative report to the Apostle, but he also informed him of their love in the Spirit.  As a faithful shepherd of the flock, Paul writing to correct a serious error in the Church at Colossae does not doom them, but points out their strengths that hopefully they could capitalize on them and return to a more pure understanding of the grace of God.            

6.       Why does Paul continue to pray (intercede) for the believers at Colossae?

7.       Why do we pray (intercede) for our brothers and sisters here? 

The need for intercession:  “By this he intimates, that the condition of believers is never in this world perfect, so as not to have, invariably, something wanting.  For even the man who has begun admirably well, may fall short in a hundred instances every day; and we must ever be making progress while we are as yet on the way.” John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

8.       Although we are saved we still struggle everyday and prayer is a necessary tool that God has provided to help us through this difficult life.

9  What is our hope in the Gospel? 

Grace: “It is also with propriety that the faith of the gospel is called the knowledge of God’s grace; for no one has ever tasted of the gospel but the man that knew himself to be reconciled to God, and took hold of the salvation that is held forth in Christ.  John Calvin, Commentary on Colossians 

10.   Do you ever think of heaven?  Are you eager to go there?

11.   Is Christ in these passages?  If so, where or how? 

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