Summary: The thanksgiving in Colossians, addressed to "God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"—that is, the God whom Jesus Christ has revealed to us as Father—is woven around three short but very important words, which we are given in verse 4.
Lesson 1b: Thanksgiving and prayer (Colossians 1:3-14)
Scripture: Colossians 1:3-14 (NIV)
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—
5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel
6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.
7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant (Or slave), who is a faithful minister of Christ on our (Some manuscripts your) behalf,
8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives (, or all spiritual wisdom and understanding),
10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,
11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,
12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you (Some manuscripts us) to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,
14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
3 WE ALWAYS THANK GOD, THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST, WHEN WE PRAY FOR YOU,
After the opening salutation it was usual, in an ancient letter to add a few conventional words of thanks for the welfare of the persons addressed. Paul, too, likes to start with a thanksgiving though it is always a Christian and not merely a conventional one. The thanksgiving in Colossians, addressed to "God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ"—that is, the God whom Jesus Christ has revealed to us as Father—is woven around three short but very important words, which we are given in verse 4.
“We” in this verse probably refers to Paul and Timothy. Paul is directing thanks where it should be directed: “we always thank god, the father of our lord Jesus Christ.” It is God, the Father of Christ, whom we should thank, for in His relationship to us He is our God—but He is also our Father. He is “the father of our lord Jesus Christ,” our Savior; we are heirs of God and joint heirs with Christ; therefore, in the sight of God, we have the same standing as Christ the Son, and God is our Father-God. The spirit-directed heart pours itself out to God in praises and thanksgiving.
Paul is pouring out praises and thanksgiving to God even though he was chained in a Roman prison cell. Why was he so happy? It was because he and Timothy had heard of the spiritual growth of the church at Colossae and instead of congratulating each other on their fine work among the Colossians, they both glorified God. The hearts of Paul and Timothy were so closely knit together in love and fellowship that Paul did not hesitate to say, "WE give thanks to God."
“WE ALWAYS . . . PRAY FOR YOU.” Paul prayed continually for the believers at Colossae, so deep were his interest in them, so great was his sympathy with and for them. He bore them always on his heart, and from his heart he carried them to the throne of grace in ceaseless prayer, even though he is in jail, cut off bodily from their presence. Paul prayed the effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man, and such a prayer always brings success—regardless of whether the need is for rain, grace, strength, mercy . . . or "whatsoever God supplieth."
4 BECAUSE WE HAVE HEARD OF YOUR FAITH IN CHRIST JESUS AND OF THE LOVE YOU HAVE FOR ALL GOD’S PEOPLE—
There are three very important words here; "faith," "love," and "hope." We are all familiar with this trilogy from 1 Corinthians 13:13: "So faith, hope, love abide." These may have summed up for Paul the essence of the Christian life. They could even have been a common early Christian way of describing, in a nutshell, the Christian life.
Paul was in prison, but he had received the good news through Epaphras, who was his co-laborer in the Colossian church. His heart was gladdened by the news of their consistency, spiritual growth and expansion. With a heart full of joy, he offered thanks to God for the Colossian Christians, and especially “the love you have for all god’s people.” Please note: it is not their love for all men as such, but for all God's people. “Beloved, if God so loved us, we also, ought to love one another” (1 John 4:11).