Part 1: THE SUPREMACY OF CHRIST IN THE CHURCH <1:1 – 2:23>
- INTRODUCTION <1:1-14>
(a). Paul’s Greeting to the Colossians <1:1-2>
“To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ” <1:2 NIV> the word brothers used here is inclusive of all believers, male and female.
- “holy”: not because of what we are, for we are all unworthy sinners in God’s sight; but because of who we are; we are “children of God” <Jn.1:12-13>, born into His family of believers because of our faith in Christ, and God sees us as holy in Christ <Eph.1:4>. This thought of our being holy should be humbling to us when we consider that we still sin because of our human nature, but we should be conscious of the fact that we are called to be holy <see 1 Pet.1:14-16>, and this should be the characteristic of our life <see Psa.15:1-4>, it is the true measure of our spirituality <see Rom.14:17-18>, and should be the attitude of our minds and our life-style <see Phil.4:8-9>.
- “faithful”: all servants of Christ must exhibit the characteristic of faithfulness. This is evident in an undivided heart, one that serves God only <see Psa.86:11>, and should be our primary duty <see 1 Cor. 4:1-2>. Our faithfulness should be unmovable <see Josh.24:14-15; Isa.7:9b>.
- Our holiness and faithfulness is the result of Christ’s substitutionary death, and the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.
(b). Paul’s Thanksgiving for the Colossians <1:3-8>
“We” (Paul and Timothy) constantly give thanks to God in prayer for the Colossian believers; “because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints—the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth” <1:4-5 (NIV)>. He expresses thanks for their faith, love and hope; and it should be understood that God is the source of these three virtues. Paul describes this as he gives gratitude to our Lord Jesus Christ: “..our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God.” <Rom.5:1-2 (NIV)>; and we are encouraged to demonstrate these virtues in our lives as we follow and serve our Lord Jesus < cf 1 Cor.13:13; Gal.5:5-6; 1 Thess.1:3; 5:8; Heb.10:22-24>. The hope that we have is not blind or wishful thinking but a firm assurance given to us by God through His Word <see Titus 1:2>.
Paul speaks to the universality of the Gospel as it had spread to every part of the Roman Empire since Pentecost <cf 1:23; Rom.1:8; 10:17-18>, and the fact that the Church in Colosse began through the preaching of Epaphras: “this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras…who also told us of your love in the Spirit.” <1:6-8 (NIV)>.
(c). Paul’s Prayer for the Colossians <1:9-14>
Because of the report regarding the Church at Colosse that Paul heard from Epaphras, he prays for the Church “asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding.” <1:9 (NIV); cf Psa.32:8-9; Prov.16:9>. Paul’s requests six things in his prayer:
- “that you may live a life worthy of the Lord” <1:10 (NIV)> A believer in Christ should never forget that he/she is a child of God, and our lifestyle should reflect the fact that God is our heavenly father, and as such our conduct must display this relationship so as to be pleasing to God in every way.
- “bearing fruit in every good work” <1:10 (NIV)> Every aspect of our service to God must display the fruits of The Spirit <see Gal.5:16-18, 22-23>
- “growing in the knowledge of God” <1:10 (NIV)> Just as in humanity, a person grows and matures into adulthood, the child of God must also display growth and maturity. Our spiritual maturity results from feeding on the Word of God; the necessity for every Christian. Otherwise there could be a “falling away” as we are warned of in the Scriptures <see Heb.5:1 – 6:1>
- “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might” <1:11 (NIV)> Here again we observe that as physical growth improves our physical strength, in similarity, spiritual growth results in spiritual strength. Paul referred to this growth previously <1:6> and we should understand that such strength is derived from a firm knowledge of the Scriptures <cf Phil.4:13; Jn.15:5>.
- “so that you may have great endurance and patience” <1:11 (NIV)> To live the Christian life to the fullest requires endurance and patience; so often we forget to include God in our daily living and forget to rely on the help of The Holy Spirit <cf Eph.4:2>. The knowledge of God that Paul refers to produces this endurance and patience as we are faced with opposition from within the Church and outside the Church.
- “giving thanks to the Father” <1:12 (NIV)> We do so “joyfully” as we consider what we were and what we have become <cf Eph.2:11-13>, and that we now inherit all things in Christ as God’s children <cf Eph.1:3, 13-14>.
“For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” <1:13-14 (NIV)>