1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:1-2)
Paul wrote the letter to the Colossians while in prison… this is one of the prison epistles. Paul has never been to Colosse. Therefore, he has not met the people that he is addressing in this letter.
In verse 1, Paul identifies himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God”.
-an apostle – “apostolos” meaning “a delegate, messenger, or one sent (with orders)
-of Jesus Christ – What message did Paul have… the message of Christ. He spread the gospel (good news) of Jesus Christ.
-by the will of God – As a delegate, who did Paul represent?…God. Paul’s work as an apostle represented the will of God. Jesus’ ministry on Earth represented the will of God.
Paul is carrying out the will of God by delivering the Gospel of Jesus Christ to the world.
There is a lot to look at right here in the first verse. We can often find ourselves using our current situation or current circumstances as an excuse as to why we don’t do more to serve God. Or as an excuse for doing the things that we do. How often do you spend time considering what you can do in your present situation or circumstances? Is your focus on what you can do or on what you can’t do? Paul recognized God’s calling for him to share the gospel. Paul didn’t allow anything to stop him from sharing the gospel… being imprisoned, shipwreck, beaten, snakebitten, etc.
Paul acknowledged God’s calling in his life… and he set out with a focus to live in that calling. Paul was living in the will of God. Not just “walking” in the will of God, but “living” in the will of God.
Paul indicates that this letter is also from “Timothy our brother”. Paul was always in the company of other Christians. In his letters to the churches, either at the end or the beginning, Paul takes time to acknowledge the other believers that he is, or has, interacted with.
Spending time around other believers is an indicator of a healthy Christian life. There are a couple of reasons for this:
#1 – God did not create us to be loners. In the very beginning, after creating Adam, the LORD God said, “It is not good that man should be alone; I will make him a helper comparable to him.” (Genesis 2:18)
-God created us as social beings. God gave us the festivals and feasts… all group events.
-God created the family. He structured it with a man, a woman, and children… all with their own roles within the structure. Then, when all goes well, and if you let your children live long enough… you have grandchildren and the fun really begins!
-God organized the tribes of Israel… again, groups of people.
-Then we have the largest group of all… the church. God is calling together all of those that belong to Him and organizing them to become the bride for His Son.
-Think about it… the Bible is all about relationships. Our relationship with God, with our spouse, with other believers, with unbelievers, with our employers, employees and coworkers, even our relationship with our enemy… I’m speaking about Satan.
When asked “which is the great commandment in the law?” Jesus replied “ ‘You shall love the LORD your God with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind.’ 38 This is the first and great commandment. 39 And the second is like it: ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ 40 On these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets.” (Matthew 22:36-40) Jesus’ response was that we are to love God and love your neighbor… our relationship with God and with one another.
#2 – Spending time with other believers will strengthen you and build you up. Separating yourself from believers and immersing yourself in the world will pull you down… think of the prodigal son. He separated himself for the family and spiraled downward into a pig pen.
After Peter delivered that sermon on the day of Pentecost, Luke recorded those who gladly received his word were baptized; and that day about three thousand souls were added to them. 42 And they continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship, in the breaking of bread, and in prayers. (Acts 2:41-42) This was the beginning of the Church Age under the guidance of the Holy Spirit.
This is the model for ministry that we continue to implement to this day… Hear the gospel, respond to the gospel, be baptized, be discipled, share the gospel, repeat.
Paul was always in the company of other Christians. If Paul felt that it was important to be surrounded by other believers… I certainly know that I need to be surrounded by other Christians around me.
Now that we have looked at who the letter is from… let’s take a look at who it is written to…2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
I like those words… saint – faithful – brethren
-Saint – the definition for saint contains words like sacred, pure, morally blameless, consecrated, and holy.
-Faithful – one who trusts in God’s promises (notice that it doesn’t say believes God’s promises)
-brethren – belonging to the same people, countrymen, those who are exalted to the same heavenly place (notice the image of fellowship here)
Here is a question that I pondered while studying… Could Paul address a letter “to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in my church/fellowship”?
That is a question that I think we should each give individual consideration… since a church/fellowship is simply a collection of each of us as individuals. The church is no more, and no less, than the sum of the individuals that comprise it.
I know that God has declared me sacred, pure, morally blameless, consecrated, and holy… but I also know that I have room to improve in many of these areas in how I live my life.
I believe all of God’s promises… but do I really trust Him in His promises? I know that God is in control and looking our for me in all things. But, sometimes I catch myself trying to work things out for myself… just in case God needs a little help!
I’m making every effort to live as one of the brethren according to God’s will. I strive to be a Godly brother, husband, and father. I want to represent Christ in my job. I want to serve the church in the role that I have been called to here. I want to fill all of these roles according to God’s will. However, at times I find myself more concerned about the circumstances than His will.
More important than Paul’s view of the church/fellowship and each of us individually… what is God’s assessment? We should go to God with these questions….
-God… in what areas of my live would You like to make improvements? (It takes courage to ask that question of God… then listen for a response!)
-God… show me the places where I am trusting in myself when I should be trusting in You. Give me the courage to turn it over to You. (When God shows you the areas where you’re not trusting Him… resist the urge to make excuses!)
-God… show me Your will for my life in the body of believers. How do You desire to use me to strengthen the church? How do You desire to use me to represent your Son to the world? (Be obedient to God’s prompting. Be ready to take action what He calls you to do!)
If we go to God with a sincere heart, asking Him to guide us and work in our lives… He will be faithful to answer our prayers with exactly what Paul requests for the Colossians: Grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. The opening to this letter is a typical salutation that Paul uses in his letters… requesting that perfect grace and peace that is only available from a relationship with God through Christ Jesus.
Now may the God of peace who brought up our Lord Jesus from the dead, that great Shepherd of the sheep, through the blood of the everlasting covenant, make you complete in every good work to do His will, working in you what is well pleasing in His sight, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Hebrews 13:20-21)
May you live you life in the will of God, surrounded by Godly people, experiencing the grace and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.