Colossians 1:1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.
The book of Colossians was written by the Apostle Paul around AD 60, while under house arrest in Rome. He wrote to a correct a false teaching which we now call the Colossian heresy. It had several characteristics including an emphasis on ceremonies, angels, philosophy, harsh treatment of the body, and secret knowledge. Worst of all, it minimized the importance of Jesus Christ.
The greatest external threat to the church is often persecution, and the greatest internal threat is often heresy. Heresies are something we must guard against by immersing ourselves in God’s word. The better we know the truth, the less vulnerable we’ll be to error.
Colossians 1:2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.
The idea of being in Christ was so important to Paul that he used the phrase over seventy-five times to describe the closest possible relationship. Being in Christ is like an unborn child being inside their mother. The child is inside the mother, and genetically, the mother is inside the child. Likewise, we are in Christ and the Spirit of Christ is in us (Romans 8:9). In this sense, we cannot be any closer to Christ than we are right now.
Colossians 1:2 Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
Paul was so excited about grace and peace that he used these words to begin every one of his thirteen letters in the New Testament. When we are overwhelmed by sin, God speaks grace to us. When we are overwhelmed by trouble, God speaks peace to us. The gospel is grace and peace from God our Father, through his Son Jesus Christ.
Colossians 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The only God who exists is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ. Some people say, My God would never do this, or My God would never do that. But unless your God is the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, as revealed in Scripture, he is only the product of your imagination. We do not have the right to think of God any way we please. We must only think of God as he has revealed himself in his word.
Colossians 1:5 . . . the hope stored up for you in heaven.
Our hope in heaven is not like someone who hopes to win the lottery. It is more like a high school senior, with perfect grades, who hopes to graduate in spring. It is certainly going to happen; it just hasn’t happened yet. Likewise, the believer’s hope of eternal life in the best of all possible worlds will certainly happen; it just hasn’t happened yet.
Colossians 1:6 [T]he gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world.
Christianity spread so dramatically in the first century that Paul could say it was growing throughout the whole world. Two thousand years later, Christianity is the largest movement the world has ever known. More people come to Christ every day than on the day of Pentecost, when three thousand were baptized (Acts 2:41). Jesus said I will build my church (Matthew 16:18), and that is what he is doing.
Colossians 1:7 You learned [the gospel] from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ.
The church in Colossae was started by Epaphras, a missionary church planter associated with the Apostle Paul. Epaphras probably went to visit Paul to report on the church in Colossae. This letter is likely Paul’s response to what he learned from Epaphras.
Epaphras was a faithful minister of Christ, a gift from God to his church (Ephesians 4:11). Faithful ministers keep the people of God and the word of God together, by faithfully teaching God’s word. The minister’s job is to proclaim God’s word, and the people’s job is to receive it.
A pastor prayed the following, just before his sermon: Thank you, God, for your holy word. Take our riches, take our homes, take our health, take our families. Take everything, Lord, but never take away your word. This should be the attitude of every pastor, and every child of God.
Colossians 1:12 [God] has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.
Like an athlete who was cut from the team for cheating, we have all been cut from God’s team due to our sin. We were disqualified when our first parents sinned, and further disqualified by our own sin. The only person qualified for heaven is Jesus Christ. He lived a perfect life without ever sinning once. He also paid for our sins on the cross to qualify us for heaven. No one gets into heaven without being qualified, but all who believe in Jesus Christ are qualified through him.
Colossians 1:13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness.
Imagine a place so dark that lies are more common than truth, where people take what does not belong to them, and where everyone dies eventually. Then imagine that the people who live there think it is normal, because it’s all they have ever known.
The dominion of darkness is nothing less than the rule of Satan throughout the world. [T]he whole world is under the control of the evil one (1 John 5:19), wrote John. It’s not the way it ought to be, and it’s not the way it will always be, but it’s the way it is now. Thankfully, Christ has come to rescue us, and bring us into the kingdom of light. Christianity is not about self-improvement, but about a heavenly rescue from the dominion of darkness.
Reflection and Review
How does heresy destroy the church?
Why does the gospel continue to spread?
Why do we need to be rescued?