A study of Colossians 1:1-5a. Paul’s letter to the Colossian church is a prison epistle most likely written from Rome. Today’s study includes Paul’s reason for writing to the Colossian church, his authority to speak for God, and the role of faith, love, and hope.
A Study of Colossians 1:1-5a: Paul’s reason for writing to the Colossian church
Epaphras founded the Colossian church. Paul describes him in chapter four as a servant of Christ in the church who struggled in prayer and worked hard for them. He visited Paul in prison to express his concern about a strange and harmful teaching that had infiltrated the Colossian church.
We’re not sure what it was. On one hand, it emphasized Jewish rituals like circumcision, following dietary laws, and observing holy days. But it also included a philosophy that acknowledged extra spiritual powers and mysteries beyond the gospel of Jesus Christ. In short, it questioned the sufficiency of Jesus Christ alone.
There were many false teachers and worldly philosophies then like there are today. Because since his first deception of Adam and Eve, Satan has used lies to lead us away from God. As he continues today. That’s why it is important for us to carefully study and understand God’s word. So we recognize what’s false by knowing God’s truth. Even then, Satan is quick with an excuse to rationalize our disobedience.
A Study of Colossians 1:1-5a: Paul establishes his authority to speak for God.
V.1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God…
Paul identifies himself as an apostle by God’s will. The Greek word apostolos means to be sent. And it was Jesus who established it. He commissioned his twelve disciples as apostles and sent them out to preach, teach, and minister. It’s recorded in Matthew 10:1-4, Mark 3:13-19, and Luke 6:12-16 and included the authority to cast out demons and heal diseases.
Although Paul was not one of the twelve disciples, he was commissioned as an apostle when Jesus appeared to him on the road to Damascus. He immediately converted from church persecutor to missionary for the gospel of Jesus Christ.
The apostles played a significant and authoritative role in proclaiming the gospel, starting churches, speaking with governing authority into church life and writing books of the New Testament under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.
REFLECT & RECORD:
- Describe the sources of authority in your life.
- How were they established and maintained?
- How have they changed over the years? What are your sources of authority today and why?
A Study of Colossians 1:1-5a: The role of faith, love, and hope
V.2 To the saints and faithful brothers…
Paul doesn’t address two different groups. But uses two descriptive words for the same group of people. The Greek word for saints is hagios which means holy and sanctify. It means a life that is set apart.
The Greek word for faithful is pisto, which means true and sure. And it refers to a commitment level. In other words, Paul describes the Colossian church as people fully committed to imitating Christ. And living in a manner that pleases God and is distinct from the culture.
V.4 Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus…
Christianity does not avoid faith, but embraces it. And encourages followers of Jesus to exercise and grow in it. In fact, God requires it in order to please him.
The love that you have for all the saints…
Love is an exercise of faith and radical teaching that differentiates Christianity from all other world religions and philosophies. It should especially be evident among Christ-followers and Paul confirms its presence in the Colossian church.
V.5 Because of the hope laid up for you in heaven.
Hope empowers Christ-followers against overwhelming odds. And it’s based on the knowledge that everything on this earth is temporary. God promises eternal life for those who persevere in the faith.
REFLECT & RECORD
- Do you consider yourself a saint? Why or why not?
- Describe your commitment to a Christ likeness and life set apart from the culture.
- Describe how faith, love, and hope work together in your life as a Christ-follower.