Summary: Message 1 in our exposition of Colossians exploring Paul's greeting and thanksgiving.
Chico Alliance Church
“A Reason for Thanksgiving”
We begin a new series of messages from Paul’s letter to the church at Colossi. This was an inland town on the main commercial thoroughfare between east and west. The city’s location brought it to a position of wealth and influence. It is unknown just how this church became established. It is significant to note here that Paul probably never visited this church personally. At least he hadn’t yet seen them at the writing of the letter. This letter was written during the later half of Paul’s imprisonment (60-63AD). This letter is one of the prison epistles. Only way God could get some of the vital truths of Christ recorded that would provide a proper foundation for the church of Christ. It was most likely founded and pastored by Ephaprus and others. It was most likely a blended congregation of Gentiles and Jews. Paul acknowledges their calling and relationship to God. Saints / Faithful. Grace and peace are the hallmark of all of Paul’s letters. This letter was written to correct certain errors in the faith that was becoming a threat to the proper thinking and walking of these believers probably shared by a visit of Ephaprus to Paul in prison. Paul reminds his readers first off in the salutation of his authority as an apostle chosen by Christ. He also acknowledges the presence of his disciple Timothy. This letter serves a warning and encouragement to proper belief and behavior. It is of less value to understand the exact nature of the false teaching plaguing this early church than to understand the truth delivered by God to correct it. Paul spends little time dissecting the error. He spends much space declaring the truth.
Theme: “The supremacy and sufficiency of Christ”
The supremacy of Christ in our thinking
The sufficiency of Christ in our walking
“Christ my life!”
I. Paul exhibits proper prayer 1:1-12
II. Paul exalts the Father’s great transfer work through Christ 1:13-23
III. Paul explains his personal ministry 1:24-2:5
IV. Paul encourages a renewed thinking 2:6-3:4
V. Paul encourages renewed behavior 3:5-4:6
VI. Paul extols and exhorts fellow-workers 4:7-17
My pattern throughout this series will be to try to understand and explain the text and then to apply what God is saying to our life. God speaks through direct command. God speaks through example of others that walked with Him. In this section there is much to learn from the example of Paul.
I. Paul exhibits effective prayer
A. Paul offers thanksgiving to the Father
1. Focus of thanksgiving – the Father
It is not wrong to pray to Jesus or the Holy Spirit. The pattern of Scripture however is to pray to the Father through Jesus by the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. Paul continually expressed a heart of thanksgiving. Even when things didn’t quite go the way he would have wished, Paul found something for which to thank God. Too often we come to God with a heart of grumbling and complaining. We look at the negative side of things rather than a reason to give thanks. Paul elsewhere exhorts us to give thanks in everything. He doesn’t ask us to necessarily give thanks for everything but in everything. Paul warned the Romans how an ungrateful heart is at least the second step of a long slide downward. “Didn’t honor God as God neither were they thankful.” A heart that is not thankful is a self-focused heart that has not settled who it will honor as God. The Psalms are filled with expressions of gratitude to God for both His person and His marvelous works.
2. Frequency – continual
Talking with God about the needs of others was a way of life for Paul. Well that was just for Paul an extraordinary man of God. 2 Thess 5:17 Eph 6:18 Col 4:2
3. Factor (occasion) of thanksgiving – Belief of the Colossians
Next is a powerful sequence of events described here that we would do well to give some attention and duplicate in our own life. Then there are also some powerful statements regarding the Gospel that provide an introduction to the core message of the letter.
Sequence of events
Epaphras Shared the Gospel
Fellow-bondservant. Faithful servant of Christ on his behalf.
What is this Gospel that Epaphras shared with the people in Colossi? Several statements are provided here regarding the Gospel. It is “good news”. Called the Word of truth.
This is not speculation or philosophy of men but the Word of truth, the good news. Later in verse 6 he calls it the grace of God in truth. The gospel is the good news of God’s grace to fallen condemned humanity. It is the story of how God took the initiative to reconcile fallen, rebellious humanity to God through the work of His only Son Jesus. The Gospel is the story of the grace of God. It is God centered, not man centered. The Gospel is the story of hope. Here right at the beginning Paul uses some powerful words that deserve extended contemplation. Word of truth. Grace of God in truth. Hope