When Paul wrote to the church in Colossae, he called them “saints and faithful brothers and sisters in Christ in Colossae.” He recognised their obvious faith and love and wanted them to know the assurance that the Christian hope meant for them. He reminded them in this letter of the hope they had received through their faith in Christ.
1]. THANKING GOD FOR THE FAITH, HOPE AND LOVE OF THE COLOSSIAN BELIEVERS
Faith, hope and love? Hadn’t Paul written about these 3 qualities before? Indeed he had, as he concluded the famous passage on Christian love in 1 Corinthians 13:13, “So now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love.”
As Paul thanks God for them, he mentions their faith in Christ and the love they have for all the saints. “In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4 for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints [1:3,4.] But what lies beyond that faith and love? What is responsible for these qualities they possess? Paul answers us in the next verse, “because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. “1:5.
Hope for the believer is something certain, a certain or fixed hope based on the character of God. If God has promised something, then it is certain to happen and our hope is that it will. Nothing can destroy the hope that God has given to His followers. Hope is based on His unchanging nature and His unchanging promises.
We can see how hope is a motivation for exhibiting Christian love, in what Paul wrote to the Romans in Romans 5:5 “and hope does not disappoint us, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit that has been given to us.” Our hope in Christ allows Him to fill us with His Spirit and to flood our hearts with His divine [agape] love.
What then is this hope “laid up for you in heaven.“ 1:5 to which Paul refers? The writer to the Hebrews wrote about this Christian hope in Hebrews 6:19, “We have this as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner place behind the curtain.” Hope is a certainty based on what God has done for humans in Christ. Nothing and no one can change the unchangeable! God is in charge, and His promises are certain to be fulfilled.
2]. THE NATURE OF THEIR HOPE
They heard of this hope through the gospel to which they had responded, “You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel that has come to you.” 1:6. They not only heard of this hope but they acted on it with the result that they were “bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God.”
Epaphras had taught the Colossians about hope and made known to Paul their love. “This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 1:8 and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.” 1:7.
It is a reminder to us that God uses His servants like Epaphras to bring the gospel message to fellow humans. He is mentioned in Philemon as a fellow prisoner with St Paul and the only other reference is later in Colossians where Paul wrote, “Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ Jesus, greets you. He is always wrestling in his prayers on your behalf, so that you may stand mature and fully assured in everything that God wills.” Colossians 4:12.
How much do so many of us owe to people like Epaphras who brought the gospel to us and encouraged us to live out our Christian hope?
3]. PRAYING FOR THE COLOSSIAN BELIEVERS
Paul concludes these verses with a prayer for his Colossian readers.
We note that it was a constant prayer for them, 1:9 “For this reason, since the day we heard it, we have not ceased praying for you
It was specific prayer for them, “and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so that you may lead lives worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, as you bear fruit in every good work and as you grow in the knowledge of God.“ 1:10-11.
The reminder to us today is that it is essential that we encourage people to seek the will of God for their lives for only in that way will they be able to have the wisdom and understanding that only the Spirit of God can impart to them. Only then will they be able to live lives that are pleasing to God. It is their lives which are lived in obedience to God that bear fruit and help increase their knowledge of God.
It was a prayer for ongoing strength and endurance, “May you be made strong [dynamoō; δυναμόω] with all the strength [dynamis; δύναμις] that comes from his glorious power,[kratos; κράτος] and may you be prepared to endure everything with patience, while joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has enabled you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the light.” 1:11-12. [NOTE 1]
4]. WHAT IS “THE INHERITANCE OF THE SAINTS IN THE LIGHT?”
Rescue from the power of darkness, “He has rescued” [NOTE 2] us from the power of darkness.” 1:13. He does this by delivering us from the power of darkness and transferring us to another dominion, the dominion of Christ as King. Darkness in the Bible is used to denote spiritual ignorance and the evil works of darkness. Jesus came as the Messiah to deliver people from this darkness, as John wrote in his prologue in John 1:5 “The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it.”
Jesus spoke of Himself as bringing light to the world, “And this is the judgment: the light has come into the world, and people loved the darkness rather than the light because their works were evil.” John 3:19. He later warned them, “The light is among you for a little while longer. Walk while you have the light, lest darkness overtake you. The one who walks in the darkness does not know where he is going.” John 12:35. Only through trusting Him could His hearers come from darkness into light.
Transference into the Kingdom of Christ, “and transferred us into the kingdom of his beloved Son,”1:13. [NOTE 3.] Believers are removed from being dominated by one power [that of Satan] and being brought under a new power [the power of the kingdom of Christ.] It means they have His kingdom power to draw upon to enable them to recognise and to become free of the darkness to which they had previously been enslaved.
Redemption and forgiveness of sins, “in whom we have redemption [NOTE 4], the forgiveness of sins.” 1:14. We see the direct link of this redemption and the forgiveness of sins, with our Christian inheritance in Hebrews 9:15 “Therefore he [Jesus] is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.” Sins are forgiven through the redemption Christ accomplished on the cross.
In these few verses Paul has packed so much encouragement and truth. His Colossian readers would have recognised his loving concern for them and his concern that they continue to live in victory. They would have seen it in the prayers that he said he prayed for them.
Yet he bid them look outwards to what God had done for them in Christ in rescuing them from their previous ignorance and bringing them into Christ’s glorious kingdom where their sins had been forgiven and they now belonged, to God.
Halleluia, what a Saviour!
[NOTE 1]. This verse contains two of the more common words for “power“ in the New Testament. “Strength” and “made strong” are derived from [dynamis; δύναμις] which can mean power in general or even miraculous power.
kratos; κράτος can mean might or even dominion and is used only of God except for Hebrews 2:14 where the devil is described as having the “power” of death over humans. Here in Colossians, it is the power of His glory.
[NOTE 2.] “Rescued” is from [rhyomai; ῥύομαι] meaning to deliver or to draw to oneself.
[NOTE 3.] “Transfer” is methistēmi; μεθίστημι meaning to carry away, depose or remove. It is used of the removal of King Saul for disobedience and the installation in his place, of David as King. Acts 13:22.
[NOTE 4.] “Redemption” is from [apolytrōsis; ἀπολύτρωσις] deliverance, and is widely used in the New Testament of the ministry of Christ coming as Saviour to set the captives free.
Blog No.404 posted on Tuesday 28 June 2022.