The Book of Colossians
The life-changing impact of the Gospel
2/5/12 SCC Colossians 1:1-8
GIVE ENCOURAGING CHRISTIAN GREETING ENCOMPASSING A DESIRE FOR GODS FAVOR
1 Greetings from an apostle and his disciple.
Paul regularly introduces himself as an apostle. There are at least three qualifications to be an apostle:
1. They were personally called and chosen by Christ (Luke 6:13).
2. They witnessed the resurrected Christ (Acts 1:21-22; 1 Cor 9:1) criteria for choosing Paul & Matthias.
3. They were confirmed by the 11 who walked with Jesus beginning with John’s baptism to ascension.
NB: Paul’s claim as an apostle, though initially doubted by the 11, was confirmed. Peter claimed Paul’s writings were equal to the rest of scripture (2 Peter 3:12, 15-16).
Apostle of Christ Jesus So his claims to be sent out by Christ are authenticated throughout the NT.
By the will of God: All of this, then, indicates God’s will in the matter. This was not something made up or personal opinion but God is the source of His apostleship. That being the case, he writes as an apostle so that we possess that record both as the source of our authority and fully sufficient.
Timothy is a disciple of Paul and is included as a close associate of the apostle. Paul included Timothy within his sphere since the second missionary journey and has discipled him for years. So close were they to become, that Paul designated his last two letters to Timothy.
NB: Like Paul, Jesus spent time with the people he wished to lead. You will probably lead and be led by the people you spend time with one-on-one and in very small groups. So will you husband, your wife, and your children. You cannot disciple at a distance.
2 Greetings encompassing Gods favor.
Here we have two designations of recipients in Colossae: (1) Saints or holy ones. So they are set apart ones belonging to God. (2) Faithful brothers in Christ. Here is a group of people designated as trustworthy, steadfast, and unswerving. This is quite a committed group. They are offered God’s favor in the form of grace and peace.
NB: Our thoughts for one another should encompass a desire for the grace of God to be evident in one’s lives. It should include peace as well. Want grace and peace for others.
CONSTANTLY OFFER THANKFUL PRAYER DUE TO LIVES BEING SPIRITUALLY TRANSFORMED
3 A characteristic of prayer is thankfulness for Gods work in people.
It says ‘we are constantly giving thanks when we are praying for you’. Thankfulness in our prayers is a constant theme of the apostles. In Col 1:12: 3:16-17 giving thanks to God is our responsibility. Hebrews 13:15 we are to offer the sacrifice of praise to God continually. Thankfulness to God in prayer is a basic component of Christian devotion.
To God The Father of our Lord Jesus Christ: Jesus told His disciples to pray ‘our Father’ and to ‘Me’ (Matthew 6:9; John 14:14). There is no example in the Bible of prayer to angels, saints, Mary, or the HS. So we should direct our prayers to our Father in heaven.
4 People’s spiritual transformation is a reason to constantly thank God.
Thankful prayer was being repeatedly offered to God on behalf of these Colossian believers after word got out of their faith in Christ Jesus. We learn in v 8 that he had heard this from Epaphras since the apostle Paul had no personal knowledge of the church in Colossae. In addition he had heard of their love for all the saints. He had heard this from Epaphras and had no reason to doubt it.
NB: We can conclude that spiritual transformation is valuable to God. Again, we must note that it is faith working itself out in love for one another that distinguishes the Christian faith. It is not love for the world but love given to believers that is the outcome of a transformed life. Thankful when we see it!
CONSTANTLY OFFER THANKFUL PRAYER DUE TO POSSESSING THE GOSPELS ETERNAL HOPE
5 A baseline outcome of faith in Christ is an eternal hope. Repeated thanksgiving in prayer is motivated by to this outcome. This is a distinctly Christian value. People do not focus on an eternal hope—at least in many cases until they inevitably face death. Christians are motivated in this life by the eternal hope they have in the next. People of this kingdom only live life by this kingdom. So they eat drink and are merry. We have faith in Christ—His past person and work. We have love for believers—an outward focus in the present. We have hope looking forward to the future. Faith in the Christ and love today springs from our hope in the future.
But what is the nature of this hope we have as believers:
(1) It is laid up for us. The idea is that it is stored up in heaven because Christ, the essence of our hope, is there. Christ’s ascension to heaven and His intercession in heaven gives us hope and places it there. Our hope is not here. We are of another realm—the Kingdom of God.
(2) The reason for this hope was because of the gospel they had previously heard. This gospel is characterized as the word of truth. Later we will learn that they had heard false teaching but before that they had heard the word of truth and it had changed their lives.
NB: The gospel is not a lie. It is the only word that can prepare anyone for eternity. Without its message proclaimed and believed no one can be saved. The gospel is so necessary in fact, that the apostle called twice a curse upon anyone who dared preach a gospel contrary to the one revealed to him by Jesus Christ (Galatians 1: 6-9).
THIS GOSPEL TRANSFORMS PEOPLE WHILE SPREADING THROUGHOUT THE WORLD
Here we have three analogies and comparisons to make the case for spreading transformation:
1. The gospel that transforms us also spreads all over the world (Universal) 6
It came directly to the city of Colossae through the proclamation of Epaphras. And it is spreading even further from there. The gospel was spreading all over the world. Jesus said the kingdom of God is like a mustard seed (Matt 13:31-32). It means the kingdom of God starts small and grows all by itself. Our efforts will seem insignificant but God will multiply our proclamation to encompass people from all over the world and from every generation.
(1) This means the kingdom of God multiplies with one-person discipling one other person. It is not even noticeable by the crowds of this world.
(2) The expansion of my mustard seed efforts will not be something I will engineer. It is not something I do of even concern myself with. Jesus said he would do it and never suggested it something I should do. Our job is to disciple mustard seeds. God will take that and grow it all by himself.
2. The gospel spreading all over the world is producing spiritual fruit in individual people (Individual)
Here the emphasis is upon the one at a time mustard seeds. It happens to be the Colossian believers here. This transformation began to take place since the day they heard the gospel. So on the one hand, it has an outward expansion into the entire world. On the other hand, it does so one person at a time, individually. The grace of God transforms people’s lives once they comprehend it in Jesus Christ.
3. The gospel produces spiritual fruit in people & is spread by people sharing the gospel with others 7-8
First, the Colossians had learned the gospel from Epaphras. One person—one mustard seed—is sharing with one other person—another mustard seed 7. He too is a close associate of the apostle Paul. Paul has planted his own mustard seeds—Timothy and Epaphras.
Second, the good news was their love in the Spirit 8. The point is that this love stemmed from the indwelling HS. Their love was not individual sympathy but belonged to the sphere of the HS influence.
A. The spreading and transforming influence of the gospel is worth thanking God for. It is what God is doing in history and today.
B. Our priority is the life in the realm of Gods kingdom. That is where we are calling people to come. This is the source of true life changing eternally rewarding transformation. The world can only offer outer transformation but the gospel prepares you for eternity.