Summary: In Colossians 1:1-8, the Apostle Paul’s shows how the gospel is 1) Received by Faith (Colossians 1:1–4a), 2) Rests in Hope(Colossians 1:5-8), and 3) Results in Love (Colossians 1:4b).
Whenever we travel, problems inevitably arise. Situations regarding our own travel we tend to be able to handle. The difficult ones are the ones that happen back home. Perhaps our kids got into a jam, there is a difficulty at work or a friend got into a crisis situation. As much as we want to help, we are not physically there for assistance. What then can we do?
In the first century, the Apostle Paul was a prisoner in Rome (Acts 21:17–28:31). A gentleman named Epaphras showed up in Rome because he needed Paul’s help. Some new doctrines were being taught in Colossae and were invading the church and creating problems. So Paul wrote this letter to the Colossians in order to refute these heretical teachings and establish the truth of the Gospel. What was the heresy that threatened the peace and purity of the Colossian church? It was a combination of Eastern philosophy and Jewish legalism, with elements of what Bible scholars call gnosticism (NOS-ti-cism). This term comes from the Greek word gnosis (KNOW-sis) which means “to know.” (An agnostic is one who does not know.) The gnostics were the people who were “in the know” when it came to the deep things of God. They were the “spiritual aristocracy” in the church. To begin with, this heresy promised people such a close union with God that they would achieve a “spiritual perfection.” Spiritual fullness could be theirs only if they entered into the teachings and ceremonies prescribed. There was also a “full knowledge,” a spiritual depth, that only the initiated could enjoy. This “wisdom” promised to release them from earthly things and put them in touch with heavenly things (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 103). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.).
Do we have any of this heresy today? Yes, we do; and it is just as deceptive and dangerous! When we strive for “spiritual perfection” or “spiritual fullness” by means of formulas, disciplines, or rituals, we go backward instead of forward. Christian believers must beware of mixing their Christian faith with such alluring things as yoga philosophy, transcendental meditation, Oriental mysticism, and the like. We must also beware of “deeper life” teachers who offer a system for victory and fullness that bypasses devotion to Jesus Christ (Wiersbe, W. W. (1996). The Bible exposition commentary (Vol. 2, p. 104). Wheaton, IL: Victor Books.)
Paul's answer for this heresy, and the deceptive teachings prevalent today is the Gospel of Jesus Christ. The wonderful gospel is the reason for Paul’s thanksgiving expressed in Colossians 1:1–8. Rejoicing at the report of their faith brought to him by Epaphras, the founder of the church at Colossae, he characteristically expresses thanks that the Colossians heard the gospel, and that it bore fruit in their lives.