Summary: Paul’s prayer burst into an overflow of thankfulness & praise. This thankfulness was because their lives demonstrated that God was at work in them and in the church. The Gospel was bearing fruit in & through their lives.
COLOSSIANS 1: 3-8
AN OUTPOURING OF THANKFULNESS
Paul gave continual thanks to God in his prayers. So it was natural that when Paul prayed for the church at Colossae, the prayer burst into an overflow of thankfulness and praise. This thankfulness was because their lives demonstrated that God was at work in them and in the church. The Gospel was bearing fruit in and through their lives.
Thus when Paul heard of their growing faith in Christ Jesus and their love ... for all the saints and their hope of heaven he became thankful. When committed followers of Christ see God using a person they are thankful.
In this message we will see what made Paul thankful and thus learn how we too can expresses thanksgiving for God’s fruit in the lives of others. May we also allow God to use us so that we can be a cause of thanksgiving. For it is God who is at work in us to build us up in faith, love, and hope.
As we look at verses 3-8 keep in mind that this passage is one long sentence in the Greek held together by the subject of thanksgiving. Paul is overwhelmed with thankfulness- he’s thankful for the Colossians, he’s thankful for the gospel, and he’s thankful for Epaphras.
I. THANKFUL FOR THE COLOSSIANS, 1:3.
After the greeting a prayer of thanksgiving is offered for the readers beginning in verse 3. “We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you (NAS),
Thanksgiving needs to be part of every prayer we pray. Notice that Paul says that he “always” gives thanks. This was his practice and habit. The word “thanks” here comes from the Greek word that is translated, “Eucharist,” which refers to the Lord’s Supper. Communion is to be a time of thankfulness for what Jesus has done on the Cross.
Although Paul had never visited Colosse, what he heard about the believers there caused his heart to rejoice and to respond by praying for God’s continual blessing to be upon them. I encourage you to do the same thing. When you hear something good about someone, pray for him or her. My tendency is to pray for people who are hurting or backsliding. While that is needed, we also must pray for people who are serving God because the Enemy will inevitably launch an attack against them in order to destroy their witness and tear down their testimony. Be like Paul. When you hear or see someone doing well, thank the Lord for him and intercede on his behalf.
In the first three verses, Paul is already laying the groundwork for the major teaching of Colossians: The Supremacy of Christ. In verse 2, he uses the phrase, “in Christ.” Here in verse 3, he refers to “Our Lord Jesus Christ.” This triple name expresses the divinity, humanity, and messianic office of the Savior. The title “Lord” refers to His deity. He is God and Lord of all. The name “Jesus” speaks of His incarnation. He was born into the human race and walked on this earth. “Christ” reminds us that He came as the sacrifice for our sins as the promised Messiah.
Also notice the simple word -possessive pronoun- “our.” What they all have in common, the mutual bond they share is that Jesus Christ is their Lord. All the saved claim the same Lord as Lord of their life.
II. THANKFUL FOR THEIR SALVATION, 4.
Verses 4-8 express reasons for thanksgiving. Notice as we move through the passage Paul’s thanksgiving triad: for their faith, their love, and their hope. [These three virtues are linked together in other passages also (Rom. 5:2-5; 1 Cor 13:13; 1 Thess 1:3; 5:8)].
“since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;”
[“We”-Paul, Timothy, Silus, Luke, Demas, Onesimus, Aristachus, John Mark, Justus (Col. 4:9-14) in their prayer meeting times. United group prayer is powerful before the Father.] Their salvation is referred to as “your faith in Jesus Christ.” They are commended and prayed for because they had put their trust and confidence “in Christ Jesus.” It’s amazing to me that the testimony of their faith reached all the way to Paul in a Roman prison. I wonder if people in my own neighborhood would commend me for my faith?
This word “in” is interesting. If we look at John 3:16 we find eis, or into which is a preposition of motion, “whoever believes in-into Him-Jesus” In verse 4 it is en, a preposition of sphere [locative] or rest, “their faith is anchored or operates in Jesus Christ” It is a Christ-centered faith. Paul is thankful that they are in Jesus or have a Christ centered faith.