Colossians 1

Colossians 1:1

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,

(a) Paul. The author of the letter to the Colossians was the Apostle Paul. Paul wrote this letter while in a Roman prison (Col. 4:18), probably around A.D. 60/61. This letter, along with the letter to the Ephesians, was carried by Tychicus (Col. 4:7).

(b) An apostle; see entry for 1 Cor. 1:1.

(c) By the will of God. Paul was called into apostolic ministry by the Holy Spirit (Acts 13:2).

(d) Timothy was Paul’s spiritual son and co-worker. See entry for 1 Timothy 1:2.

Colossians 1:2

To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

(a) The saints. Throughout scripture, Christians are consistently referred to as holy or sanctified. See entry for Acts 26:18.

(b) Brethren. In the New Testament, the word brethren typically refers to Christian brothers and sisters (see entry for Heb. 2:11).

(c) Colossae was a town in the Lycus Valley located some nine miles to the east of Laodicea. There is no record that Paul ever visited this town, and Paul acknowledges that the Colossians had not heard the gospel from him but Epaphras (Col. 1:7).

(d) Grace to you and peace. The apostle of grace began all of his letters with this gracious salutation. See entry for Rom. 1:7.

Colossians 1:3

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

(a) We give thanks. Gratitude is the language of faith (Col. 3:17).

Paul’s gratitude for the Colossians, whom he had never met (Col. 2:1), is reminiscent of his gratitude for the church he planted at Thessalonica. Although he may not have gone there, his message had been carried to Colossae and he felt a fatherly affection for the church. See entry for 1 Thessalonians 1:2.

(b) Our Lord Jesus Christ. Paul introduces the Lord Jesus Christ at the start of all his letters, and he encourages his readers to confess Jesus as Lord (Rom. 10:9, Php. 2:12). True preachers reveal Jesus as Lord of all. Jesus is not merely a teacher or historical figure. He is the exalted Son of God and his Name is above all names (Php. 2:9). Before the cross, Jesus was known as the Christ or anointed one. But after the cross, Jesus is the Lord or kyrios or “the One who is supreme above all.”

Colossians 1:6

which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth;

(a) In all the world. The Christians of the early church bore witness to the great fruitfulness of the gospel (Acts 12:24, 13:49, 19:10). By the time Paul wrote to the Colossians, the gospel was bearing fruit all over the world.

(b) The grace of God refers to the goodwill, lovingkindness, and favor of God that is freely given to us so that we may partake in his divine life. See entry for Grace of God.

Colossians 1:7

just as you learned it from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf,

Beloved. Epaphras was one of four beloved brothers mentioned in this letter. The others were Tychicus, Onesimus and Luke (Col. 4:7, 9, 14).

Colossians 1:9

For this reason also, since the day we heard of it, we have not ceased to pray for you and to ask that you may be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,

(a) For this reason is one of Paul’s favorite sayings. See entry for Eph. 1:15.

(b) Spiritual wisdom comes from above and can be contrasted with earthly or demonic wisdom (Jas. 3:15). Spiritual wisdom through our revelation knowledge of Jesus Christ (1 Cor. 1:30). See the entry for Jas. 3:17.

Colossians 1:12

giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified us to share in the inheritance of the saints in Light.

The inheritance of the saints. In Christ we are heirs of the kingdom (Col. 1:12, Jas. 2:5), heirs of the earth (Matt. 5:5, Rom.4:13), and heirs of all things (John 17:10, Heb. 1:2, Rev. 21:7).

See entry for Inheritance.

Colossians 1:14

in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

(a) In whom. In him or in whom is one of Paul’s favorite phrases, and it describes our union with Christ. See entry for Eph. 1:7.

(b) Forgiveness. The original word (aphesis) for forgiveness is a noun that is sometimes translated as remission and means a letting go or dismissal.

(c) The forgiveness of sins. On the night he rose from the dead, Jesus told the disciples to preach the remission of sins or the good news of unconditional forgiveness (see entry for Luke 24:47). Because of his great love, God chooses to remember your sins no more (Heb. 8:12, 10:17), and he is no longer holding your sins and trespasses against you (2 Cor. 5:19). After the cross, the apostles described forgiveness in the past tense and as a gift to receive (see entry for Acts 13:38).

You were not forgiven because you said or did the right things. You were forgiven and cleansed from all sin through his blood (1 John 1:7). This does not mean everyone enjoys God’s forgiveness or has received his forgiveness, because not everyone believes in Jesus. But in him, you are as forgiven as you ever will be. See entry for Forgiveness.

Colossians 1:15

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation.

(a) The image of the invisible God. The Son is the exact representation of the Father (Heb. 1:3). If you have seen the Son, you have seen the Father because the Father and Son are one (John 10:30, 14:9). See entry for John 10:30.

(b) The firstborn. Jesus is also known as the firstborn of creation (Col. 1:15), the firstborn into the world (Heb. 1:6), the firstborn of the dead (Col. 1:18, Rev. 1:5), and the firstborn among many brethren (Rom. 8:29).

Colossians 1:18

He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything.

(a) Head. When it comes to the church, Jesus is the Head with a capital H. There is no part of the church where he is not the head. Cults form when one person is elevated above others. Paul understood this, which is why he often spoke of the unified body of Christ and being connected to Jesus who is the head of the body (Eph. 1:22–23). The Apostle Paul is not the head. Nor is the pope or your pastor. Jesus is the head. Submit to him.

(b) The body; see entry for 1 Cor. 12:27.

(c) The firstborn from the dead. Jesus was the first to pass through death into a brand new sort of creation unaffected by death and decay (Rev. 1:5).

Colossians 1:21

And although you were formerly alienated and hostile in mind, engaged in evil deeds,

(a) You were formerly alienated. Once upon a time, you were apart from the Lord and lacking the Spirit of God (Rom. 8:9).

(b) Alienated. The word used in scripture to describe a believer’s union with the Lord is koinonia. The corresponding word for the unbeliever is apallotrio which means alienated or non-participant. Someone who resists the Spirit of life is disconnected from the life of the Spirit. Although they are spiritual beings designed to bear the Spirit of Christ, they are not joined to the life-giving Vine.

Colossians 1:22

yet He has now reconciled you in His fleshly body through death, in order to present you before Him holy and blameless and beyond reproach—

Holy and blameless. You may ask, “How can I believe I am holy when my life is such an unholy mess?” You can believe it because your life is hidden in Christ and he is holy and unblemished. You have a need for holiness—you can’t get in without it—but the good news is that Jesus meets your need. By his one sacrifice, you have been made holy and perfect forever (Hebrews 10:10,14).

Colossians 1:23

if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.

(a) If indeed you continue in the faith. To continue in the faith is to continue trusting in Jesus. As you have received Christ Jesus (by faith), so walk in him (by faith; see Col. 2:6).

In the New Testament we are exhorted to continue in God’s kindness (Rom. 11:22), continue in the faith (Col. 1:23), continue in the teaching of Christ (2 John 1:9), and continue in what we have learned and been convinced of (2 Tim 3:14). In short, we are to continue in the grace of God (Acts 13:43).

Every Christian knows what it means to begin with the grace of God but not every Christian continues in the grace of God. The temptation to take out a little works insurance is strong in a culture where performance is idolized.

One sign that you are not continuing in the faith is that you are more conscious of your lack than you are of the Lord’s supply. You may think, I’m not holy enough, righteous enough, or fruitful enough. Paul corrects this misperception by reminding us “in Christ you have been brought to fullness” (Col. 2:10). How do you continue in the faith? By recognizing that in Christ you lack no good thing. In Christ, you are as righteous and holy as he is and you are eternally pleasing to God.

Further reading: “Continue in the faith

(b) Not moved away from the hope of the gospel. We continue in the faith by not allowing ourselves to be shaken from the hope we gained when we heard the gospel (see Good News Bible).

Love leads to hope which leads to faith. DIY religion tries to shake our hope by diminishing the love of God and by portraying our heavenly Father as angry or capricious. Become uncertain about your Father’s great love for you, and your hope will be undermined and you may wander from the faith. We guard our hope, and continue in the faith, by being persuaded that nothing can separate us from his love (Rom 8:38-39).

Further reading: “Seven ways religion damages hope

(c) The gospel refers to the gospel of Christ or the gospel of God or the gospel of the kingdom. These are all different labels for what Paul referred to as “my gospel” or the gospel of grace. See entry for The Gospel.

(d) Proclaimed in all creation. Jesus prophesied that the gospel would be preached in the whole world as a testimony to the nations (Matt. 24:14). Within one generation his prophecy was coming true (Rom. 1:8, Col. 1:6).

Colossians 1:25

Of this church I was made a minister according to the stewardship from God bestowed on me for your benefit, so that I might fully carry out the preaching of the word of God,

The word of God is the good news of Jesus. See entry for Word of God.

Colossians 1:26

that is, the mystery which has been hidden from the past ages and generations, but has now been manifested to His saints,

The mystery. The mysteries of God refer to the purposes of God and the realities of his kingdom which remain unknown to the natural mind but are revealed to his children (1 Cor. 2:11–14).

See entry for Mysteries of God.

Colossians 1:27

to whom God willed to make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.

(a) This mystery. The mystery of the believer’s spiritual union with the Lord (Eph. 5:32). Our union with Christ is intimate, blessed, and unbreakable.

(b) Christ in you. Our spiritual union with the Lord is mentioned hundreds of times in scripture. It is found in the phrases like “Christ in you,” “God with us,” “in Christ,” “with Christ,” “with him,” and “in him.”

Union is more than relationship for it describes the mystical connection that all believers share with God the Father (Eph. 2:18, 1 John 1:2-3, 2:15), God the Son (1 Cor. 1:9, 10:16), and God the Holy Spirit (2 Cor. 13:14, Php. 2:1, 1 John 4:13). Our union also joins us to the church or the body of Christ (1 John 1:7). See entry for Union.

(c) The hope of glory. One with the Lord, the believer has a rich and reliable hope of what is to come.

This hope includes, the hope of salvation (1 Th. 5:8), the redemption of our bodies (Rom. 8:23), our resurrection (1 Cor. 15:19), eternal life (Tit 1:2, 3:7), and a glorious inheritance (Eph. 1:18). Christ Jesus is truly our hope (1 Tim 1:1).

Colossians 1:28

We proclaim Him, admonishing every man and teaching every man with all wisdom, so that we may present every man complete in Christ.

In Christ: There is no lasting life apart from Christ but one with the Lord we are complete in every way.

We are alive to God and have eternal life in Christ Jesus (Rom. 6:11, 23). The grace and kindness of God are found in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:4, Eph. 2:7) and his forgiveness is found in Christ Jesus (Eph. 4:32). There is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:1), we are justified in Christ (Gal. 2:17), and our salvation is in Christ Jesus (2 Tim. 2:10). Nothing can separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus (Rom. 8:39). We have freedom and are sanctified in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:2, Gal. 2:4). We are seated in heavenly places in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:6). The peace, faith and love of God are found in Christ Jesus (Php. 4:7, 1 Tim. 1:14). In Christ we are brand new creatures (2 Cor. 5:17). We are complete in Christ (Col. 1:28) and blessed with every blessing in Christ (Eph. 1:3). All the glory goes to God because it is because of him that you are in Christ Jesus (1 Cor. 1:30).

See entry for Union.

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