Paul's Thankfulness for the Colossians

Text: Colossians 1:3-12

What Paul Appreciates About the Colossians - Colossians 1:3-6

Paul and Timothy give thanks to God in their prayers for the Colossians. He has heard of their faith in Jesus and their love for their fellow saints. Faith in Christ and love for the brethren are inseparable concepts (Galatians 5:6; II Timothy 1:13; I John 3:23). These are based on their hope of heaven which they had learned about through the gospel, which is the word of truth (Ephesians 1:13).
Notice the parallelism:

Paul and Timothy The Colossians
We have heard of your faith You previously heard ... the gospel
praying always for you since we heard of your faith constantly bearing fruit since the day you heard of it

The gospel came to the Colossians and has stayed with them, just as it has to the rest of the world. Since the first day that they heard the gospel and understood God’s grace, it was producing results and increasing.

For Discussion:

  1. What sort of fruit is produced by the gospel?
  2. Does the fruit increase in quantity or quality?

Paul’s Appreciation for Epaphras - Colossians 1:7-8

It is from Epaphras that Paul and Timothy learned about the Colossians. When the letter to the Colossians was written, Epaphras was currently with Paul (Philemon 23). It appears that Epaphras was an early teacher and preacher located in Colossae; thus, he would know the brethren in Colossae intimately.

By mentioning how much he respected Epaphras, Paul would be cutting off complaints against him by any false teacher in Colossae.

Epaphras told Paul and Timothy of the love that existed in Colossae and that impressed Paul. The preposition “in the Spirit” gives the sphere or region that this love exists. Paul is not discussing love in general but the love found in Christians who are following the teachings of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-25).

Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians - Colossians 1:9-12

Since the time Paul and Timothy hear of the love of the Colossians and their faith, they have been praying that God would fill them with knowledge of His will and grant them wisdom and reason (I Corinthians 2:6-10; Ephesians 1:17; 5:17; I John 5:20). Often we tend to reserve prayers for those in need, but this reminds us that praying for those who are doing well is also needed. The “filling” is in the sense of being made complete instead of being made full. The Colossians needed God's help in order to:

  • walk in a manner worthy of the Lord they serve. That is, to live a life that reflects the Lord we serve (Ephesians 4:1).
  • be pleasing to the Lord in every way. If we claim Jesus as our Lord, then we should be obedient to his commands (Luke 6:46).
  • bear fruit in every good work. By this, we glorify our Lord (John 15:8; Colossians 1:6).
  • increasing in the knowledge of God. Learning from God also glorifies God (Psalms 111:2; Colossians 1:9).

In response, God would strengthen them according to His power – not theirs – so they could obtain steadfastness and patience. The Colossians would then too respond to God with joyous thanksgiving because God has helped to qualify them (or made them suitable) to share in the inheritance with other saints. Notice that God’s power is given, not to do some mighty deed, but to be able to endure to the end. It should be noted that the Greek text is a bit vague in regards to whether “joyous” is modifying “steadfastness and patience” or “giving thanks.”

For Discussion:

  1. Notice the repeated use of the word “all.” Why repeat it so often?
  2. Why do you think there is a focus on increasing knowledge if this group is doing so well?
  3. What is the difference between wisdom and understanding?
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