The Epistle of Paul to the Colossians is the twelfth book of the New Testament. It was written, according to the text, by Paul the Apostle and Timothy to the Church in Colossae, a small Phrygian city near Laodicea and approximately 100 miles from Ephesus in Asia Minor. Wikipedia
If Ephesians can be labeled the epistle portraying the “church of Christ,” then Colossians must surely be the “Christ of the Church.” One focus of Ephesians is the body of Christ. Colossians focuses on the Head. Like Ephesians, the little Book of Colossians divides neatly in half with the first portion doctrinal (1 and 2) and the second practical 3 and 4). Pauls’ purpose is to show that Christ is PREEMINENT—FIRST AND FOREMOST in everything—and the Christian’s life should reflect that priority! Believers are rooted in Him, alive in Him, hidden in Him, and complete in Him, it is utterly inconsistent to live life without Him. We are clothed in His love, with His peace ruling in our hearts, and we have been equipped to make Christ first in every area of life.
This Epistle, written to the Colossians was also meant to be read in other churches throughout the region, such as neighboring Laodicea (4:16).
COLOSSIANS 1:1 Greeting
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Once again we are struck with Paul’s “apostolic greeting.” Why is this important to us? Paul, who is included with the “Apostles of the Lamb,” has been called and sent directly from Jesus. He is not a man given to his own personal opinions or his personal theology. He is the “ambassador” of Christ’s eternal kingdom. He was handpicked by Jesus. Consider Jesus instructions to Ananias in Acts 9:11-16 “So the Lord said to him, “Arise and go to the street called Straight, and inquire at the house of Judas for one called Saul of Tarsus, for behold, he is praying. 12 And in a vision he has seen a man named Ananias coming in and putting his hand on him, so that he might receive his sight.” 13 Then Ananias answered, “Lord, I have heard from many about this man, how much harm he has done to Your saints in Jerusalem. 14 And here he has authority from the chief priests to bind all who call on Your name.” 15 But the Lord said to him, “Go, for he is a chosen vessel of Mine to bear My name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel. 16 For I will show him how many things he must suffer for My name’s sake.” NKJV
The last man that anyone would have thought of as an apostle of the Lord would have been Saul of Tarsus or Paul as he became known. As we will see in our study through Colossians, there is no one that had a clearer revelation of the “PREEMINENT CHRIST” than the “Apostle Paul.”
“By the will of God.” This is a phrase worth taking time to think about. The will of God is not to be guessed about, it must be known. It is in the knowledge of God’s will that one acquires an assurance of what they are saying and an authority to say it. That assurance comes through the “grace” that God supplies in the calling. It is the only answer I have to the “knowing” our call from God.
I remember when the Holy Spirit strongly impressed me in 1960 that I was not to follow my plan to be an Electronic Engineer, but rather He called me to preach His Word. Somehow I knew that I knew. I did not understand it then, but years later I understood that my calling was directly from the Holy Spirit and that it was a calling that had nothing at all to do with man, but came by God’s grace and gifting.
Something else I learned was how we can add a mixture to the calling of God by mixing the scriptures with man’s theologies. Which is, a man trying to understand God through his own natural reasoning. Much of the confusion in biblical teaching comes through man’s intellect. This is why it is important to study afresh the gospels and the epistles without the aid of reference materials. Prayerfully and humbly seek the Lord first in your pursuit of truth.
Paul had to be emptied of all his religious intellect. He was a “Hebrew of Hebrews.” He knew the Old Testament well, but he did not know the One that that Old Testament foretold. Paul had to get empty and discover the PREEMINENT ONE. Paul had to discover the Christ of Colossians, the Head of the Church, and the sum total of the whole creation.
Paul was joined in partnership with Timothy. Timothy was a spiritual son of Paul’s, he was an “apostolic deputy” that was part of Paul’s apostolic team. He traveled with Paul, he was sent by Paul to various churches to correct, rebuke, instruct in righteousness, and bring correction to leaders and to doctrinal order. He was used as a man to set in order the churches of the Lord. This included Churches such as the Corinthians and the church at Ephesus, and throughout the region of Galatia.
In verse 2, Paul once again defines whom he is addressing. The Saints and faithful brethren located in Colosse. The saints are any that God has designated as “set apart for His special purposes.” The saint of God is to have a special grace called “faithful brethren in Christ.” Is this how Paul would address your local congregation, “faithful brethren in Christ?” Before we go any further today, let’s judge ourselves in light of Paul’s greeting.
Is there anyone I need to get right with? Asking forgiveness or giving forgiveness. Am I right with the leadership of my local congregation? Have I been faithful financially in tithing? Do I give to the poor and to missions? Am I faithful in attendance and in visiting those in need? Do I faithfully share my faith with others?
Will you receive Paul’s apostolic greeting today?
(Vs 3) “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” This greeting comes as a result of our Faith in Christ. Paul has gratitude for the saints before the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ. His gratitude comes from love. First was their love for all the saints. That loves originates in the hope laid up in heaven for us all. That hope is located in the “word of truth of the gospel” preached to us. This is the word gone out throughout the whole world. It is a word that has been producing fruit from the very beginning. Just like it has among you from the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth.
The Word of Truth of the Gospel: Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand, 2 by which also you are saved, if you hold fast that word which I preached to you — unless you believed in vain. 3 For I delivered to you first of all that which I also received: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 and that He was buried, and that He rose again the third day according to the Scriptures, 5 and that He was seen by Cephas, then by the twelve. 6 After that He was seen by over five hundred brethren at once, of whom the greater part remain to the present, but some have fallen asleep. 7 After that He was seen by James, then by all the apostles. 8 Then last of all He was seen by me also, as by one born out of due time (1 Corinthians 15:1-8 NKJV).