Colossians 1:1-2

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Masterful Writing

Colossians 1:1-2

 

Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother.  To the holy and fiathful brothers in Christ at Colosse: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

quill-penIn Colossians we see a letter of how the Hellenistic letters were written. It is mastery in the highest degree. First there is the salutation, then thanksgiving, prayer, the body, the exhortation, and finally a closing. (Elwell 318) We will start with the salutation moving on to thanksgiving and prayer. These first fourteen verses contain these and follows the basic structure of the Hellenistic letters of the day. It is masterful in a sense because God uses this to its fullest to first layout the strongest of introductions to prepare for what God wanted Paul to address to Colossae.

One writer suggests 1:1 to 2:5 is one full lengthy introduction with thanksgiving to prepare for the upcoming battle of heresies that Paul will address. (Moo 73) Paul is telling them that by adhering to the Gospel they have all they will need for spiritual blessing and all the power they will need–fullness. Paul is also saying that they need to continue to live in Christ. (Moo 74) This is setting the stage to gain their confidence in Christ so that it will drive them away from the false teachings and so that those teachings will no longer have an attraction.

When we look in Acts we see Paul preaching and teaching the true word of God which calls for adherence in order for true change to occur. We must leave behind the old life for the new. Each journey Paul takes it is always the same. A call is given wherever he goes and to whomever he is before. Obedience is asked for followed up by an exhortation to live differently and to remain—stand firm. It was the call to “repent from and obedience to”.

Colossians is a letter of the same caliber in that the introduction is a reminder of what happened and thanks to God. This is the first fourteen verses as I see them followed by some doctrinal truths in fifteen and following.

Masterful writing God had done here through Paul. God is going to get His point through to these Colossians and I hope God will do the same for you and me. It is here that we see no other program, no other “Person”, no “American Idol”, no Idol period, nothing in this world that it has to offer can get us close to God. No philosophy, nothing at all can create spiritual growth other than His Word and obedience to it. Rules are there for a reason. Worldly rules are there for a reason also, but God gives to free us, not to restrict us. God is there to free us from the bondage of an evil world and our own evil desires.

Masterful and thoughtful is God. Paul is glorifying where glory is due! Paul speaks of their faith in Christ, love, hope, growth, prayer asking for knowledge of will. He also talks about living worthy, bearing fruit, strength, endurance, patience, being rescued, redemption and forgiveness. All jam packed into a short fourteen verses.

 

I.  Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God and Timothy our brother, (Col 1:1)

A.  Beginning with who the letter is from-

Paul and that he is an apostle: used here in an official sense of the word.

It is one who was called to represent Christ and proclaim Him and “thereby serve as the ‘foundation’ of the new people of God (Eph 2:20).” (Moo 75)

B.  He was not the representative of anyone except “Christ Jesus”-

As in 1Corinthians, Paul is a servant of the Lord who has an assigned task (1Cor 3:5). He is not a follower of anyone (not mere man) except Christ Himself (1Cor 3:4)

C.  “By the will of…”

Paul didn’t say he was going to do this, it was God’s choice for his life (cf. Jer 29:11). Acts 9 speaks of Paul’s conversion and clearly we can see that it was God’s will to choose Paul.

D.  “and Timothy our brother,”

This notes who else is there with Paul writing the letter. Timothy was not with Paul until the 2nd missionary journey in Acts 16.

We must also note that he was a fellow brother of Paul’s and theirs (the Colossians) for the word: “our” is stated. Also, Timothy is not listed as an apostle, but a fellow Christian.

II.  To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Collose: (Col 1:2)

Not only is Paul an “apostle” but also a fellow brother. The term brother is a term for brothers and sisters—referring to familial ties. This word is significant for this reason in that if we are reminded of family we try to practice those things that “maintain our…unity”. (Moo 77)

Those who are “family” are “IN CHRIST”. We are tied to the “firstborn over all creation” (Col 1:15) by being “brought in to the kingdom of the son” (Col 1:13) through faith. It is us who were in the “uncircumcision of…[our] sinful nature…buried…in baptism and raised with him through…[our] faith,” bringing us in to the same family with the responsibility to maintain our relationship with the Father. In the Old Testament we see this idea of family too. We find that there was a Head of a family and He was the Patriarch. Here we find Christ is the head of the family. We see this noted in 1:15. In respect and love for the head obedience was and is required. We also find that to be in a family we do our best to live according to what the Father wants and not what we want. We can go further to seeing that in the family the Patriarch let the children tend the sheep out in the fields. We find this with Jacob who let his sons tend the sheep. Think about this…Is Paul one of those that were given the right to “tend His sheep”? Paul was an apostle…

Being “in Christ” is opposed to being “in Adam” (1Cor 15:21-22; 2Cor 5:14-17; Rom 5:12-21). Therefore “those who live should no longer live for themselves but for him who died and was raised again.” (2Cor 5:15) We are in Christ’s family and He is our Head.

Now, Paul, seals the deal for me noting, “holy and faithful”. If one is “in Christ” they are holy and should be faithful to living a “firstfruit” life (James 1:18). We are dedicated to living aright in the family and abiding by the family rules.

Finally let’s go back to the word “brothers”. The term “hagiois” rings of the word, “saints”. It brings a memory of the Old Testament where the Jews were “Called Out” from among other people or nations. It is the idea that God “called out” those who are “in Christ” to be just as Israel, “a special people to Himself”. Just as Moses gave the law, Christ gave a new covenant that we are to live under. It was a covenant of freedom, freedom from the penalty of sin and hell (eternal separation), with ethical expectations—living “for him who died”.

III.  Grace and peace to you from God our Father. (Col 1:2)

Grace and peace can know be clearly seen as the defining of all things together. In order for us to be “in Christ” there needs to be grace given—it is that unmerited favor on our behalf. (Romans 5:2) Note also that peace comes from the grace given. They go hand in hand, one with the other and not without. For later in Colossians (Col 1:21) we find that we were at one time enemies because of our disposition.

Paul states these came from God the Father. What a way to end these two verses! Paul then starts verse 3 with giving thanks and indeed this is appropriate in light of all Christ has done!


Works Cited:

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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