Colossians 1:6b-8 Reliability of the Messenger

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All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing, just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who told us of your love in the Spirit. (Col 1:6b-8)

 

In the first part, Paul is comparing and reflecting on the Gospel message to the Colossians and the world.

  1. The Gospel is bearing fruit—around the world and with them
  2. They understood the Message
  3. The Gospel message is growing both around the world and among them

From here Paul notes who they received the message from—Epaphras. It validates the message from him and lets them know that which they received was truly from God and that it is “the Truth”. It serves in my mind a duel purpose. First the message they received is complete and needs nothing added on, no other philosophy, etc. Second, the messenger is verified to be speaking the Gospel message to them—the Colossians. Paul again is setting the stage and glorifying God in all he writes to them.

It was Epaphras that told Paul of their love. Paul confirms that they have love and that it is the right kind of love because it is in the Spirit.

 

I. All over the world this gospel is bearing fruit and growing (Col 1:6b)

The Gospel is not merely just some good ethical principles, it is something that changes lives both on this inside and the outside. It affects the core of their being. The Gospel is not something one can take or leave without any consequences. Rejecting the Gospel has lasting eternal effects, and not in a positive way.

The Gospel forces you to see yourself, it gives you light on our internal condition. We can accept this truth and allow God to come and save or reject it and suffer eternal loss.

Bearing fruit and growing comes as a result from knowing the truth and allowing it to so deeply change your inner being your outer being walks differently. We walk to the tune of a different drum, as they say.

It is all over the world that this Gospel is changing lives it is not just for a particular culture it changes everyone no matter the culture. It is not culturally bound and we can see this truth played out daily as we read countless times about how someone spoke the Word of God to those in countries not their own and change has occurred.

 

II. Just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and understood God’s grace in all its truth. (Col 1:6c)

The condition for growth and fruit being brought forth is related to understanding. It is related to understanding God’s grace in all its truth.

God’s grace in all its truth when understood by the Colossians changed their lives. They grasped how much God has done for them and realized how true it is. They saw something that allowed them to really dig into themselves and know what God has done—by sending His Son to die—was true and that without Christ they were doomed to live eternally without God and to be punished without end. They, perhaps saw themselves in need of a Savior and in need of one to come and take away their sinfulness and lawless deeds.

When we understand and really get how much God has given you and I, we find ourselves affected emotionally, spiritually, and in the way we live. It isn’t some “cheap grace”. We can’t have the benefits of grace without the cost. We can’t have Christ without Him being Lord of our lives. Christ called to come and follow, He called for repentance and then to observe all the He commanded (see Matthew 28:18-20).

There are two things Deitrich Bonhoeffer talked about in his book, “The Cost of Discipleship.” He refers to Luke 14:25-33 and he finds one must first be willing to renounce family and be willing to die (and or die to self). We must count the cost and it cost Christ His very life to bring you into the Kingdom. It may also cost you the same. In fact, it does cost your life. It costs you to change your current life to a life that is different from what you have now. It calls your to renounce your familial ties to your current lifestyle and calls you to deny them and turn in another direction all together. We must renounce our way of life and live a new way.

This is what the Christians in Colosse were doing. They had true faith and love that sprung up from the hope that is in the Gospel. Proof as to the power of God’s Word is that it not only was bearing fruit and growing among them it was also doing this everywhere—all over the world. It is reminiscent of the Old Testament promise to Abraham that he would increase and multiply—grow and bear fruit. True growth comes not from ourselves but from God and His Word.

John 15:1-11 carries this to describe that fruit and growth comes as on is IN CHRIST and not on our own. Christ says, “No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.” (John 15:5) Christ was right, in that if you cut a branch away from the life-giving vine, it dies and doesn’t bear fruit. This passage is not talking about losing salvation but doing that which is without HIM-Christ. When we try to obtain fruit and growth and salvation without the life-giving vine of God, we will die. “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (Rom 6:23)

You see, Paul knew this and is confirming this with the Colossians. He acknowledges how they have obtained fruit and growth by clearly stating that Epaphras was a faithful minister of Christ. (Col 1:7)

We must not forget that all the way up to this point, everything is centered around Christ. Paul was an apostle by God’s will, grace and peace come from God, faith and love from the hope stored up in heaven, they were bearing fruit and growing because of the grace of God in their lives. Everything sets the stage so that they understood there was nothing else needed in their lives. No philosophy, not other teaching, it is Christ plus nothing, we have all we need and will ever need. They and us need nothing more. We don’t need another experience, or more rules, just Christ and the call to obedience, living a life to which He calls us to. One love, for loves does no harm to others but seeks their best and Christ has done this! God has given His best, are you?

 

III. You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit. (Col 1:7-8)

Paul reminds them of who brought them the good news—the Gospel. God uses those that made that commitment to carry the cross, to forsake his/her family as I briefly discussed above, born of the Spirit and water—reborn spiritually and spiritually purified. (MacArthur 55)

The mention of a co-worker at this point…is unusual, and the strength of Paul’s endorsement of him is also striking.” (Moo 90) The reason for this may be because Paul has never visited them and to “accredit his representative among them.” (Moo 90) This gives Epaphras the credibility needed as a preacher of the Gospel and affirms the Good News he brought is true and reliable.

Paul uses the language of a slave here calling Epaphras a fellow servant (sundoulas). The NASB uses bondservant. I like that because servant may not convey the dedication that Paul want to get across. Slave terminology drives home the “Christian’s total dependence upon and dedication to the Lord Jesus.” (Moo 90) He is bonded in servanthood (slavery) to living out his life to Christ’s glory.

Epaphras is that faithful minister of Christ. Here is something the NIV translates as minister from the Greek, diakonos where we get deacon. In 1Tim 3:8,12 it is translated as deacon in the NIV. It can mean minister or servant also. Here in Colossians Paul seems to confine his use of the term to a specific form of ministry—a minister of the Gospel.

Epaphras is one who is taking the Gospel to them and evidently taught them as he was a representative of Paul—“on our behalf”. Taking this reading of the NIV over the other possibility—on your behalf—makes better use of the context in which Paul is writing. Paul is taking time to note Epaphras being a “fellow servant” with Paul and Timothy and one who is faithful. It suggests “that the ministry (implicitly to the Colossains) is ultimately on Paul’s own behalf.” (Moo 91) Epaphras was Paul’s “conduit” for the Gospel getting to the Colossians.

Verse 8 then is connected in thought in that just a he was reliable in giving them the Gospel on behalf of Paul he is now reliable as the messenger from the Colossians to Paul. He was relaying to Paul that they has the “key quality of Christian existence—love (cf. v.4).” (Moo 91)

 

As we are working our way through this chapter and section Paul is continually stressing the reliability of God and the Gospel they have. Paul is confirming that the Gospel they have is indeed endorsed by Paul and comes from God. Paul uses was well known to be an Apostle of Christ and he earned his “strips” as one speaking truth—The Truth—given to him by God. Christ visited Paul that day on the road and Paul has never been the same (see Acts 9). What a commendation to Epaphras from Paul! Can you imagine what that must have been like?

When we go for a job and a well-respected person writes or even calls to speak about you, that goes a long way in helping secure that job and helping to secure your reputation as well. Can you imagine that compliment given by Paul? The Colossians were exhibiting a key component—love. How would that make you feel if a greatly respected person gives you such a great compliment and endorses the one who shared the Message to you?

Paul secures this idea that what they have is reliable and anything else that comes along is not needed. No add-ons, it is Christ plus nothing! Anything that deviates from this is false teaching. I think Paul states it best by saying:

“But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach a gospel other than the one we preached to you, let him be eternally condemned!” (Gal 1:8)

Yes. If you now believe a gospel other than what you first heard, abandon that message and return to your first love—Christ!


Works Cited:

MacArthur, Jr., John. The Gospel According to Jesus. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2008. Print.

Moo, J., Douglas. The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon: The Pillar New Testament Commentary. Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Erdmans Publishing Co., 2008. Print.

About Ernest Grogg

First and foremost I am married to Olesya and looking forward to the rest of our lives together. Marriage is a journey and it is interesting and fun. Saved at the age of 25 and while salvation has been a challenge, God has always been faithful.

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