31 August 2011

"We have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and iof the love which you have for all the saints" (v. 4)


Colossae was a community situated in the Lycus Valley, in the south west of the country we now call Turkey. The community no longer exists, but in Paul's day it was a flourishing centre, which traded in olives, figs and wool.

Paul had never been to Colossae (see Colossians 2:1), but as one called to be an apostle to the non-Jewish world he was excited to hear that some of the Colossians had received Jesus as their Saviour and Lord. The news had been brought to him while he was in prison (Colossians 4:18, probably in Rome) by Epaphras, who had worked with the Colossian church and had come to inform Paul of its progress, as well as of its problems (see Colossians 1:7-8:4:12-13). It was the news Epaphras brought that prompted Paul to write this letter.

Paul writes in association with Timothy (verse 1), his "brother" in Christ, who had accompanied him in his travels ever since the beginning of his second missionary journey (Acts 16:1-3) and who was evidently with Paul in his place of imprisonment. They address the Colossian Christians as "saints" (v. 2), not because they were especially holy (as the word means in modern English) but because they belonged to God (its original meaning). They are also described as "faithful brothers and sisters in Christ" (v. 2), members of the family of God who are firmly committed to Jesus Christ, and are greeted with a prayer for "grace" (meaning God's undeserved favour) and "peace" (a word which embraces all the blessings of God's salvation).

In the remainder of this passage, Paul tells the Colossian Christians that he is constantly thanking God for them. They had heard and understood the message of the grace of God (verse 6), and of the hope it gives (verse 5), and had consequently put their trust in Christ (verse 4). Not only so, but their faith was being expressed in their love for the fellow Christians (verse 5), a love enabled by the working of the Holy Spirit in their midst (verse 8).

To Ponder

How would you measure yourself against the description of the Colossian Christians Paul gives in this passage?

In what ways might the Holy Spirit be prompting you to express Christian love to others today?

Bible notes author: The Revd Peter Ensor

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