Colossians Faith in Christ
3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 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, 6 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; 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.
“We give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you.” Gratitude for the saints is an “apostolic value.” The apostolic is first responsible to the Lord for the “Word that they carry.” It is a word directly from the Lord for His people. They unfold the mysteries of Christ’s Kingdom. We would not know those mysteries or keys without the grace that the apostles of Christ were given. They are also directly connected to the saints of God. They are sent to teach, to encourage, and to correct God’s people. They are also the first line of defense in the protection of God’s people from the works of darkness and false teachers.
There is a very special connection between the apostolic and the saints of God. The scriptures reveal this special relationship through the elders of the church in a city and the apostolic foundations which the apostles lay for the church in a city and or region. I believe that the Lord wants to rebuild that kind of faith and love in every city. That is, the apostolic governmental realm and the city elder’s which daily pastor God’s people. We moved away from this model after the first century. We are beginning to once again see the Lord bring restoration of the apostolic and the eldership relationships. It is part of God’s governmental oversight of the saints.
In my 64 years of walking with the Lord, I have observed that God’s people miss a lot of the benefits our Lord has provided for His people because we are not aligned with heaven’s plan. With all of our divisions and the private interpretation of scriptures that have emerged over 2,000 years of history, it has prevented God’s plan and purposes through His Body to be fully realized.
God has a “divine order” which those early apostles understood and imparted to God’s people as the early church emerged. Heaven and Christ’s Throne were always meant to be headquarters for the church. Part of the apostolic function was to “give thanks to God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ for the saints” This is not just a nice thought, but a powerful governmental function of the “apostolic mantle.” Paul’s expression of gratitude, for the saints at Colosse, released power and authority for those saints to operate in a “high realm of faith and authority” in their city and region. It is a missing realm today that the Lord wants to restore to His church. I believe that we are moving back to this understanding of prayer and the authority a united church under proper “kingdom government” brings. But we still have a ways to go to match what the early church was able to accomplish through a valid apostolic government.
The second part is “prayer for the saints.” Paul’s words are not an exaggeration, but a truthful expression of his daily communication on behalf of the saints. Paul understood his role as Christ’s apostle. Verse 3 should call us up into a higher realm of time in the Lord’s presence. Part of that time with the Lord is the active praying for others, especially where we have spiritual responsibility towards the lives of people. This is why small groups, house groups, and smaller fellowships of people, sometimes called “cell groups” connected to the larger body are so important. All the saints need to know they are prayed for and connected to valid kingdom authority within the body of Christ.
An example today might be that a pastor of a small church of 100 people needs to raise up pastoral care so that every person has a connection in the body to others and to a leader who also is covered and accountable. Even that pastor needs to be related and others know who he is accountable to. There are not to be any “lone rangers” in Christ’s body. The first place of covering is in the area of “gratitude and prayer.” Do I know that I am appreciated and that I am personally covered by prayer?
What stimulated Paul’s gratitude and a sense of responsibility? It was their faith in Christ and their love for all the saints. “Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all the saints” (Vs 4). It is that absolute faith in Christ alone that is the cord that binds us together. As I traveled in the nations, I found it the same everywhere I would go, “the faith of the saints of Christ Jesus.” That is the experience of living with others in their living experience. To observe how they lived out their Christian experience. To be knit together by prayer for Christ’s kingdom manifested in their city and nation and praying for individuals and their personal needs.
When the time together had expired and it was time to depart, a rich love had been established. These saints now became part of my prayer responsibility. I still hear from relationships that were born 35 years ago in places like Pakistan, India, China, Africa, Russia, Cuba, and of course, Mexico. This is the power of the gospel of the kingdom of God connected around the world through faith and love expressed through prayer.
Paul pulls this together when he says: “because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven” (Vs 5a). Again, let me emphasize that Heaven is headquarters! Everything flows from the throne of God. The Government of God’s Kingdom originates in Heaven where Christ sits. We will see this later in more detail, “He is the head of the body” (1:18). Everything we have and everything we need is hidden in Christ. As Paul states in Colossians 2:3: in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. This is where the center of our “HOPE” is located. He alone is the “author and finisher of our faith” (Hebrews 12:2). We must learn to see one another in Christ Jesus. It is His Spirit at work in each believer to bring forth His body united by His shed blood and His Holy Spirit indwelling each believer and the “priesthood” of every believer by prayer and supplication in conjunction to our Lord’s “High Priestly” place as the “High Priest of our confession.” “Seeing then that we have a great High Priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14).
We should have understood these things from the beginning of our hearing of the “word of the truth of the gospel” (Vs 5b). The good news is not just that our sins have been cleansed, but it is the good news that Christ has overcome the kingdom of darkness and reigns from heaven above as God’s appointed king. In that word of truth, it is revealed that we too reign with Christ and are joined together as a kingdom of priests that intercede for one another and all the saints. If we come to Christ and this is left out, we miss much of the essence of the “word of the truth of the 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 Ep’ a-phras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, who also declared to us your love in the Spirit (Verses 6-8).