Colossians 1:1-5
Colossians is one of the four prison epistles of Paul. The other three are: Philemon, Ephesians, and Philippians. The date of the writing is between 60 and 64 A.D. The city of Colossae was situated between Hierapolis and Laodicea and at the time of the writing it had belonged to the Roman Empire. The book of Colossians was written as a polemic and it must be viewed this way to give understanding to the letter. The reason this letter was written was because there was a mixture of Greek philosophy and Jewish legalism infiltrating the church. In fact, the church had faced a mixture of the two philosophies. There was a large Jewish colony in Colossae because Antiochus the Great (ruled 222 B.C. to 187 B.C.) had deported about 2,000 Jews to the area so the colony had predated the church by about 200 years. This colony was influenced by the Greek Philosophies which had permeated the region and as a result, it crept into the church at Colossae. There was also an element of angel worship at Colossae and Gnosticism was an ever present threat. Gnosticism taught that Christ was not God simply, because the flesh was evil and no perfect deity could ever dwell in sinful flesh and that is why Paul spoke much about the person of the Lord Jesus Christ as Deity. Another interesting point is that Paul never uses the name “Jesus” alone. He always refers to Him as “Christ” because the Gnostics had sought to lower the Lord Jesus Christ down to a mere man and totally deny His deity.
Col 1:1 (KJB)
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
Apostle - One who is sent
Will - Determination or purpose
Here Paul begins the Epistle by stating that he is an apostle of the Lord Jesus Christ by the will or purpose of God. Paul did not take this office to himself but was chosen by God for the very purpose of church planting and bringing the true Gospel to the new churches he founded. Paul intentionally links himself to the Lord Jesus Christ for the purpose of teaching that Christ was divine because the Gnostics kept bringing in Christ down to the level of a moral man and teacher. Paul also mentions Timothy but it is not known what part Timothy had in the writing or delivering of the Epistle. Timothy may have been mentioned because he might have been known to the Colossians.
Col 1:2 (KJB)
To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Saints - Holy ones of God
Faithful - Trustworthy, reliable, or credible
Here Paul addresses the Saints and further refers to them as the faithful brethren in the church at Colosse. He established the fact that these faithful brethren are in Christ which is very important for those who have fallen into the snare of the Philosophers. A Christian is a Saint but sometimes can become unfaithful but here Paul makes sure his readers know they are faithful. He brings the dual greeting of grace which would be identified by the Gentile believers and peace which would be identified by the Jewish believers . Since this letter is only being penned by the Apostle Paul, we are told that the grace and peace comes from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. These are included so any Christian who reads this book will know that God is bringing peace and grace unto His children directly through His word.
Col 1:3 (KJB)
We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Always - Continually
Paul gives God thanks for the faithfulness of these Christians in Colossae and he lets them know that he is praying for them. Paul was shut up in prison and could not get out to do any visitation but that did not stop him from ministering to the Colossians by prayer. We look at giving as a ministry, we look at preaching as a ministry, we look at teaching as a ministry but it is a shame that we never look at prayer as a ministry. Paul could bring the Colossians before the Lord in prayer at any time during the day or night. The passage states that Paul was continually in prayer for the Colossians.
Col 1:4 (KJB)
Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
Since we heard - Hearing with understanding
Paul was thanking God for the fact that the Colossians had great faith in the Lord Jesus Christ and that faith was manifested into the love for all the saints. This love was of a tangible nature because many Christians say they love but do nothing to turn that love into action. Verbal love is just verbal expression but real love is manifested through actions. The apostle Paul is a great example of that as he was willing to be a living sacrifice for the sake of Christ. Many say they love the Lord but when the collection plate is passed, they frantically search for the lowest bill they have in their wallet.
Col 1:5 (KJB)
For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
For - On account of
Is laid up - Reserved or stored up
The true faith and active love that the Christians have is on account of the hope which is laid up for us in heaven when God finally consummates His promises to them and to all Christian throughout the ages. This passage points to verse 7 where it states that faithful Epaphras had previously preached to them the true Gospel complete with the hope that Christians have a place reserved for them in heaven because of Christ. Epaphras was also a mighty prayer warrior and he was Paul’s representative in Colossae. He had ministered unto the needs of Paul and to the needs of others. This statement is also important because the Gnostics did not believe that Heaven, the abode of God, can ever be knowable by humans. They also believed that the earth was the center of the universe so Paul is stating that Christians have a place reserved in heaven and that contradicted Gnostic teachings.