This letter to the church at Colosse was written about thirty years after Christ died on the cross. Paul wrote it while in prison at Rome, about the same time that he wrote Philippians and Ephesians.
Who brought the gospel to Colosse and when, we do not know. Paul had never preached to them (2:1). The city was destroyed six years later by an earthquake and later rebuilt.
The occasion for the letter was that Epaphras, who had preached to them, came to Rome and told Paul about their faith and love. He also reported their danger from false teachers who had come among them Judaizers, who urged the ceremonies of the law, and Gentiles, who promoted philosophy, worship of angels and saints, will-worship and punishing the body. Paul wrote to them to confirm them in the gospel of Christ, to warn them of spiritual error and to exhort them to a discharge of their duty to God, to one another and to all men.
(Vs. 1.) "Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ, by the will of God." In the beginning of the Christian church there were apostles.
1. They were chosen by Christ.
2. They saw the Lord personally.
3. They had infallible knowledge of the gospel, inspired by the Holy Spirit.
4. They were gifted to work miracles for the confirmation of their doctrine.
All of this was by the will of God, as the Father's will and the Son's work are the same. There are no apostles in the church today!
"And Timothy, our brother." While Timothy was not an apostle, Paul included him in the salutation, for the highest office-bearer in the church recognizes even the least as being a brother and worthy of respect and recognition. In Christ we are one, and he that is greatest is but a servant.
(Vs. 2.) "To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ." All believers are saints and all believers are faithful brethren. We are sanctified by the Father, the Son and the Spirit. We are brethren because firstly, we have the same Father, secondly, we are in one body and family and, thirdly, we have all one elder Brother, Christ Jesus. The key word is "in Christ"! We are saints and brethren because we are in Christ.
"Grace be unto you and peace." Moses prayed, "Lord, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me thy way" (Exod. 33:13). Where God's grace is given, all other things will follow peace, joy, rest and more. "Grace" first; then " peace".
(Vs. 3-5.) This is Paul's prayer of thanksgiving for these faithful brethren.
1. "We give thanks to God." All things are of God: that is, our salvation, faith, hope, love (Ps. 103:1-5). "I am what I am by the grace of God (1 Cor. 15:10). Every spiritual gift is from God through our Lord Jesus Christ (John 3:27; James 1:17).
2. He thanked God for their "faith" in the first place. Without faith there can be no union with Christ (Mark 16:16); there can be no benefit from Christ (Heb. 11:6).
3. He thanked God for their "love" for one another (l Cor. 13:13). Love is the evidence of faith (John 13:35). Love is the fruit of faith (Gal. 5:22). The absence of love reveals the absence of God (1 John 4: 8).
4. He thanked God for their "hope". The believer's inheritance is not in his hand yet. He has it in hope! Our hope is as certain as the purpose of the Father, the atonement of the Son and the witness of the Spirit. It is still hope, however, until it becomes a reality. We really have little to expect or hope for on this earth, but all things are ours in Christ this is our hope! We heard of it in the gospel. It is the gospel that is God's instrument to beget faith and hope in the heart (Rom. 10:17; 1 Peter 1:3).
(Vs. 6.) Having mentioned the gospel which begets faith, hope and love, he says,
1. "It came to you. You didn't come to it. God sent it to you." He is "found of those who sought him not" (Rom. 10:20; Gal. l:15; 1 John 4:10).
2. The gospel "bringeth forth fruit" (Isa. 55:11). It brings forth the fruit of faith, love, joy, peace; we are new creatures in Christ. A seed that does not produce fruit is not the seed of the Word.
3. The gospel continues to produce fruit. "Since the day you heard the gospel and knew the grace of God it has brought forth fruit."
(Vs. 7, 8.) Having confirmed the gospel, he commends the preacher.
1. He is commended for being a "fellow servant" of Christ with Paul.
2. He is praised for being a "faithful minister of Christ".
3. He is commended for his respect for them, for he declared their love and faith in Christ. It is a good sign when one speaks well of those who are absent.