Read Colossians 1:1-2
Paul wrote to the Colossians from a prison in Rome around A.D. 60. It is probable that he never went there. (2:1) A fellow prisoner, Epaphras, had been an able minister to Colossae. (1:7) He was now a fellow prisoner with Paul in Rome. (4:12) It is possible that he was saved during Paul’s two year stay in Ephesus and carried the gospel back to his hometown. Paul was urged by this good minister to speak some admonition to the little church in a little town.
Colossae was a small city about one hundred miles east of Ephesus and about twelve miles from Laodicea. Colossae was the least important city to receive a letter from Paul. However, it is good to observe that Colossae was not too out of the way or too insignificant for God. God had something to say to them; God was watching over his people, as he watches over small and unknown people, like so many of us.
Let us hear what the Lord says to us today:
“Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Colossians 1:1–2, NKJV)
We are who we are, in Christ, by the will of God. Paul was an Apostle. Timothy was Pastor. We tend to think of those with authority to be envied because they can boss others around. The disciples once argued amongst themselves as to which of them was the greatest. Jesus schooled them:
“The kings of the Gentiles love to “exercise lordship’. You are to be different: If you want to be great, be a servant.” (Luke 22:24-25)
In the kingdom of God, the higher you go, the lower you must bend.
Paul and Timothy’s life was not a life of privilege, rather: a life of persecution, soul burden and tremendous responsibility. If you ever want to have your eyes opened to the ‘privilege’ of Paul’s Apostleship, one need only read his list of difficulties in 2 Corinthians 11. We are who we are, in Christ, by the will of God. Are you single? Married in a loveless marriage? Battling a lifelong physical infirmity? A Rock gatherer at quarry?
“Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you can be made free, rather use it.” (1 Corinthians 7:20–21, NKJV)
If God improves your station, be thankful. If he doesn’t: remain with God. Abide in him, still—with perfect trust.
“Brethren, let each one remain with God in that state in which he was called.” (1 Corinthians 7:24)
Read Colossians 1:3-5
“We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; because of the hope, which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel,” (Colossians 1:3–5)
For Paul, thanksgiving and prayer was always fitting for those saints who were in his life. He was ever grateful for the work of God in all the saints.
Here is the first part of the treasure of God’s word to these saints: There is hope laid up in heaven for them. Imagine a great inheritance is coming your way. The only thing that stands in the way of that inheritance is a death. In the case of this great heavenly inheritance, it is not the death of another that stands in the way of the blessing, but it is your death that releases it. This is the word of truth in the gospel.
"Consider, that the trials and troubles, the calamities and miseries, the crosses and losses that you meet with in this world, are all the hell that you shall ever have: here you have your hell, hereafter you shall have your heaven; this is the worst of your condition, the best is to come.”
We have hope laid up, not in this life, but in the life to come. Poor Lazarus had hell first and then heaven. The rich man had his heaven first and then hell. (Luke 16:19–31)
“(This Gospel) which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.” (Colossians 1:6–8, NKJV)
The Word of the Gospel produces fruit in this fallen world whenever a person or people hear the word, receive grace, and come to Christ. These have a remarkable love in the Spirit that makes their conversion obvious to others. Epaphras, their imprisoned pastor, had a good word of testimony to the changes that took place in the hearts of his flock.
A faith that doesn’t change you is a faith that won’t save you.
“Faith that doesn’t show itself by good works is no faith at all.” James 2:17
Read: Colossians 1:9-12
“We do not cease to pray for you…” Who is the “we”? Wouldn’t that be his fellow prisoner, Epaphras, joining with Paul? This faithful pastor found greater power in prayer and intercession for his flock by joining with this "Great Heart", The Apostle Paul.
Jesus taught us that there is power in prayerful agreement:
“Again I say to you that if two of you agree on earth concerning anything that they ask, it will be done for them by My Father in heaven.” (Matthew 18:19, NKJV)
We love that Epaphras found someone bigger to pray with. I am thankful that Pastor Joe prayed with me. He was bigger in faith, and his prayerful partnership made my faith bigger. Even that unstoppable soul, Moses, needed prayerful agreement in great battles for other’s souls. Aaron and Hur “prayer-partnered” him and the battle was won. Exodus 17:11-13
The disciples never asked Jesus to teach them to preach. But they did ask him to teach them to pray. They asked this because they were so enlarged in their souls to hear him pray. (Luke 11:1)
What did Paul and Epaphras pray for them?
- Increased revelation in understanding God’s will. 9
- Fruitfulness in every good work. 10
- Increasing knowledge of God. Thinking rightly about God is the most important thing about us. Knowing God, not knowing about Him. It is an experience that comes out of communion with Him. It is all about knowing God in worship. 10
- Strengthened for suffering with all patience. Paul prays for their endurance. The Christian life is a life filled with trials and afflictions that sanctify us. 11
Thanksgiving for them as partakers of the inheritance. Wouldn’t it make your heart leap to be put it into a large inheritance and to have all your loved ones be named too? 12 See verse 5
Read Colossians 1:13-14
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:13–14)
As Paul speaks of praying for them, he flows into spontaneous praise for what God has done not only for the Colossians, but for all of us, including himself. His language changes from you to us. (9,13)
When I think about what he has done for you, I can’t help but think about what he has done for me. The Christian experience is collective. It is family. It is fellowship. It is us. Church matters.
“But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin.” (1 John 1:7, NKJV)
Our Shared Experience of Conveyance
We are united in experience in Christ. Though our stories are different, the sum and maximum result is the same.
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness. He has carried us over to a new kingdom of the Son of His love.” (13)
We were once bound in our former lives and held captive by our sin, the devil and hell. Christ conveyed (Methistemi) us, that is, he transformed and transported us simultaneously. Our very natures are now different and our home too. Jesus has done this. He cared for us and He carried us from the wreckage of our former lives. He changed us and He exchanged kingdom realms for us.
We don’t live there anymore.
Bunyan’s description of Christian’s argument with Apollyon briefly describes this kingdom we once lived in:
Chr. I was, indeed, born in your dominions, but your service was hard, and your wages such as a man could not live on; for the wages of sin is death, Rom. 6:23; therefore, when I was come to years, I did, as other considerate persons do, look out if perhaps I might improve my situation.
Apol. There is no prince that will thus lightly lose his subjects, neither will I as yet lose you; but since you complain of your service and wages, be content to go back, and what our country will afford I do here promise to give thee.
Chr. But I have let myself to another, even to the King of princes.
Apol: Accused him of being unfaithful. And rehearsed his failings since he set out for heaven.
Christian: All this is true, and much more which you have left out; but the Prince whom I serve and honor is merciful, and ready to forgive. But besides, these sicknesses possessed me in your country, for there I sucked them in, and I have groaned under them, been sorry for them, and have obtained pardon of my Prince.
Then Apollyon broke out in a grievous rage and opposed him with violence.
The kingdom of Satan is one of darkness. He hates us. He makes promises that he never keeps. He gives us a bowl of our cravings as trade for an eternity of regret. The Kingdom of Christ proves repeatedly, that He loves us. He keeps every promise to His subjects. He delivers what we don’t deserve: eternal life.
“in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins.” (Colossians 1:14, NKJV)
The Atonement of Christ makes all this possible: the hope and the inheritance that awaits us. More than that: Atonement makes transformation and conveyance possible.
Atonement is everything.
Read Colossians 1:15-23
Paul has moved from you, to us, and now he shifts the attention to the supremacy of Him: Jesus Christ.
The T-shirt says: “It’s all about me…deal with it.” A popular You Tube called “Me” is a girl who took a picture of herself every day for three years and edited it into a one-minute video. My daughter subbed for a teacher once. The essay assignment was to write about a “hero in Your life.” One little girl wrote all about herself. When I was young, were warned of the dangers of Rock & Roll. Fair enough. But we had parents who worshipped Frank Sinatra who “did it my way!”
No generation has the corner
on the market of self.
Narcissus, in Greek Mythology, was drawn to a pool where he saw his own reflection in the water and fell in love with it, not realizing it was merely an image. Unable to leave the beauty of his reflection, Narcissus died. Look at your socials and see how many selfies crowd the feed. Narcissus would be jealous.
Ironically, we live in an era of unprecedented technology. We have more timesaving inventions than ever—yet we don’t have time to look upon the Lord and behold his glory. It seems we have only made more time for ourselves, and it is killing us.
How many times can you find the name of Christ, a pronoun, either proper, personal, possessive, or reflexive in chapter one? Thirty-four times in thirty verses. Paul, in the Holy Spirit, will give the glory to whom it is due.
It is all about Him.
It has been my privilege to take you through the Bible from Genesis, now to Colossians, heading toward Revelation with one goal: to show you Christ. So much modern preaching teaches that the Bible is about you. Next time you flip past a television preacher, listen for how many times he uses the word: you. Now listen for how many times he magnifies: Him.
The Bible teaches us that the Bible is about Him. It is His story. We are in the story to be sure, and we thank God for that. But we are a face in the crowd of extras. Every page reveals Jesus Christ.
Edmund Clowney said to preachers, “If you are not showing them Jesus, you are changing the meaning of the Bible.”
And what does Paul say at the end of the chapter?
“Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” (Colossians 1:28, NKJV)
“We have short-circuited everything if we are failing to be teaching Christ from all the Scriptures, knowing Christ in all the Scriptures, and loving Christ through all the Scriptures.”
Let every Christian lay himself and herself down and look to Jesus the Author and Finisher of our faith. Every religion is about what you must do to find peace, tranquility, purpose and/or eternal life. These religions are all built around doing things.
Some may ask, “What kinds of things must I do to become a Christian.” In the same way we ask “What kinds of things must I do to join a club or organization?” Christianity isn’t based upon by-laws, dues, rules, initiation, and ceremony.
Christianity isn’t centered upon things. Christianity is centered around a relationship with Him.
Nothing is more life-changing than a relationship. Just look at your best friend when he falls in love. He is changed. Look at a couple when they marry. It changes everything!
Let’s close with looking to Him, hoping in Him, being grateful to Him—worshipping Him!
Read Colossians 3:15-23