Summary: Paul understood the difficulties being experienced at the church in Colossae, but his letter begins with a word of encouragement and edification for the fellowship.
September 26, 2012
Oak Park Baptist Church – Wed Bible Study Series
Colossians Bible Study
Colossians 1:3-8 [HCSB]
3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints 5because of the hope reserved for you in heaven. You have already heard about this hope in the message of truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. It is bearing fruit and growing all over the world, just as it has among you since the day you heard it and recognized God’s grace in the truth. 7You learned this from Epaphras, our dearly loved fellow slave. He is a faithful servant of the Messiah on your behalf, 8and he has told us about your love in the Spirit.
Last week we looked at who wrote this letter and we found out that Paul was the author, just as it is stated in v.1 and in 4:18…
We also looked into the approximate date it was written and we established that this is one of what is known as the “Prison Epistles” by Paul… because they were written FROM prison. It is believed that this was during his Roman imprisonment just prior to his death.
Tradition has Paul being put to death around 62-65AD and that would place the writing of this letter around 60-61AD. This letter was a companion letter sent by Paul to the churches in Colossae and Laodocia. The letter to Laodocia has never been found.
This letter was also sent at the same time Paul sent his letter to Philemon about the run-away slave Onesimus. The man carrying these letters to their destinations was named Tychicus as set forth by Paul in 4:7-8
So what we can gather from this letter is that Paul is in prison and he has sent this letter to the church in Colossae with a man named Tychicus who is traveling with the run-away slave Onesimus…
Another aspect we learned was that Paul was NOT the founding member of the church in Colossae, but it is believed that Epaphras founded this church after he was converted under Paul’s ministry in Ephesus…
So Paul is sending a letter to a church where they have never met him personally, but know of him by reputation. He knows they respect his authority as a leader within the church and so he uses this opportunity to teach them with this letter.
So after his greeting, Paul jumps right off into teaching… [read v3]
3We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
Here in this verse we find Paul laying down a foundation for his teaching… he is projecting an attitude of thankfulness for many reasons, but mainly for 2 reasons:
First Paul wants to disarm any detractors within the fellowship that may be thinking Paul is lording over them and that he really doesn’t care… Paul wants the church in Colossae to know that caring WAS the reason for his letter! So he begins the letter with thanksgiving!
He thanks God for the church in Colossae and he tells them that every time he goes to God in prayer that they he is thanking God for this church! So Paul uses this to disarm any critics about his motives…
But I believe MORE than that Paul TRULY cared about these believers. His heart is truly thankful and he rejoices at every thought he has about this church that was founded by a fellow believer… this church that was established because of other believer’s obedience to the Great Commission!
I believe Paul’s heart truly was lifted every time he thought about this church because even though he was not directly involved they were moving forward in their service to God… this was REASON for rejoicing by Paul and he wants them to know it. [read v4]
4for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints
But this attitude of rejoicing by Paul was not unfounded. He had heard report after report from others who had visited the church in Colossae, and ALL those reports had good news to bring…
I want to point out something here that we MAY overlook when reading this verse… Paul says, “for we have heard…” those are four very simple words, but carry with them some great implications!
for we have heard… means that first of all Paul was keeping track of this fellowship. He was interested in how they were doing! This reveals Paul’s concern and care for them! Paul was keeping his ear to the ground so that he could know of their spiritual growth and progress…