Colossians 1:3-4 Thankfulness in Christ

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We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have hear of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints…(Col 1:3-4)

 

Many say that Colossians 1:3-23 is a complete section with the central focus on hope. It starts with hope and ends with hope (compare Col 1:3-6a and 1:23). Interesting also is Col 1:15-18 where the central focus is Christ being the head. I have written elsewhere on Christ being our Hope (see Colossian Battle: False Teachings). Hope centered correctly does not disappoint (Rom 5:5-8), it doesn’t leave us in a bad place. This among the reasons I stated earlier (see Col 1:1-2 because of all Christ has done!) is why Paul is starting off with thanking God the Father and also because of their (the Colossian) faith was properly placed in Christ Jesus—The Hope of Israel.

 

This section starts a complex four part greeting all the way to Col 1:14 and the four parts are listed as:

  1. Thanks—to the one whom thanks are offered (Col 1:3)
  2. Object of thanks (Col 1:3)
  3. Basis for thanks (Col 1:4-9a)
  4. Purpose of thanks (Col 1:9b-14)

Paul is practicing what he has done in the past with other letters by giving “thanks to God for his readers and God’s work among them.” (Moo 80)

 

I.  We always thank God, the Father (Col 1:3)

Verse three starts out by Paul and Timothy giving thanks to God. When many people give thanks for other things, their focus is central to the Creator of the Universe, YHWH, Elohim, the King of Kings, and Lord of Lords, the Sustainer of life and holder of all things.

We must understand that all we have comes from God the Father. God gave us the ability to get our home, God gave us that job so we can get that home. You can think of much more but it should clue you in to realize where all things come—God the Father. Paul and Timothy’s thanks are rightly placed, how about you and me?

II.  Of our Lord Jesus Christ (Col 1:3)

Our Lord, the Supreme Authority, He is the Supreme Authority over you and I. We are to live in subjection to Him as our master—those of us who have expressed faith in Christ.

“Perhaps, in a letter that elevates Christ, Paul wants at the outset to anchor the person of Christ firmly to God the Father. As supreme as Christ is in the work of both creation and redemption, his identity and his work cannot be understood apart from his relationship to God his Father.” (Moo 83)

This verse here too are the beginnings of assuring us that our sole foundation is solidly resting upon One who is God. By using the word Lord (Greek Kurios), Paul is relating God—Supreme Deity—to Christ—Supreme Authority. There is this intricate word relating to both: Supreme. It is equaling both to being God.

Do we realize when we are truly repentant we are to be submitting to Christ who is to have supreme authority over out lives? For God/Christ is the Supreme Deity. The call today for salvation many times is the call to “accept Christ” with no real repentance. Repentance includes a turning from sin and a turning toward a new way of life. It is the end of one way and the start of another. We forget that Christ is to be our LORD—our Master. We find the idea of LORD being a slave and master relationship. In the slave market of that day, the one who was a slave had no choice but to serve, had no choice but to live wholly dedicated to his master. We forget in our country (the USA), the slave market we had. They were bound and taken and forced to work for their masters. However, today when we turn our lives to Christ we are dedicating our lives to serving Christ with this kind of picture. We have no choice but to live our days wholly dedicated to doing what our Master wants. We leave an old ruthless master (sin) and now we serve a new Master, one who is loving and caring and only wants the best for our lives. It is a gentle call but also a stern one to let us know the seriousness of this choice.

Christ seemed to turn away many more than became followers (John 6:66-67). He called them to a life that was not easy. We must take seriously our calling too. We must realize the seriousness of following Christ, for it may, it just may cost us everything we have.

III.  When we pray for you (Col 1:3)

This verse started out by telling us that they always thank God and tells us now that it is when they pray for them. What is interesting here is that Paul has never visited them nor evangelized them. He is praying and thankful for those he has never met! Paul does make sure that they understand that the Supreme Being has done all things for them. “God is the One who is owed thanks because salvation is all its parts is a gift from Him (Eph 2:8-9).” (MacArthur, Colossians 15)

 IV.  Because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints (Col 1:4)

Paul is now making sure he explains why his is giving thanks:

1.  Faith

2.  Love

Heb 11:1 says that faith is “the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” Faith carries the idea of knowing something is true to the point we trust in it. It moves beyond mental acknowledgment and into a life that mirrors that trust. It lives in response to what faith trusts in. Here the faith is in Christ. It is the trust in what Christ has done—died and rose again so we can have salvation, the forgiveness of sins.

Jesus’ call was to come and follow, live a new life dedicated to Him. When those came to Him and asked to follow He let them know the high cost of this: “foxes have holes…Son of Man has no place to lay his head.” (Matthew 8:20) “Follow me, and let the dead bury their dead.” (Matthew 8:22) We must be willing to give up family if it comes to it. We may even be called to sell all our possessions and give them to the poor to have treasure in heaven (Matthew 19: 16-22). True faith exhibits itself as willing to do all it takes. But then again our gifts from God may just determine to what degree He is calling us to give up things. He may just as well call us to stay at home and live quiet lives:

“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that you daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.” (1Thes 4:11-12)

Faith also is not reckless. It trusts but also doesn’t do that which is wrong and “trust” God for a good outcome. “Biblical faith is not a ‘leap in the dark’ it is based on fact and grounded in evidence.” (MacArthur Colossians 15) As we will find out in verse 6, one of the evidences is that this Gospel is growing, it is bearing fruit and grounded in love. True Agape Love, love that is not grounded in “if I get this from you then I will love you”, is based on nothing other than unconditional love, it gives continuously and unconditionally (See Eph 4:1-3 part 3 of 3). Christ’s love was this type of love and we need to exhibit this type of love to God. It may not ask us to do the big things like go on a missions trip or stand in the pulpit but it may just ask us to play games with the kids in Sunday school, or wash the toilets after the service. It could be big or it could be the menial tasks so many look down on. God gives the gifts and expects us to follow those.

When we choose to follow, remember that you may want to get in the boat like that man whom Christ rescued from the demons, but He may tell you just like him, to go back to your family and share all God has done for you. God may need you at home, and then again, God may want you to be a Peter or Paul. Either way, God wants you to commit to following Him no matter what.

The faith that we express must be true. It must be accompanied with certain evidences that shows itself to be a real faith. Love is one of those evidences that rings true in life. If you don’t believe me, check out 1John chapter 2 where he says that:

“Anyone who claims to be in the light but hates his brother is still in the darkness. Whoever loves his brother lives in the light, and there is nothing in him to make him stumble. But whoever hates his brother is in the darkness and walks around in the darkness; he does not know where his is going, because the darkness has blinded him.” (1John 2:9-11)

Here we find that one of the evidences of one who is in Christ is one who loves those who are in Christ. If one doesn’t then that was a sign that something was amiss.

This is point #2 above. The love we give is bound from the love Christ gave us at the cross. We love both our brothers and sisters in Christ and those that are not. Jesus said, “You have heard that it was said ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you…” (Matt 5:43-44). The love we are to have is to be dramatically different from the world’s.

The Colossian love was evident and Paul thanked God for true faith and true love.

We quickly talked about what true faith encompasses: Repentance and Obedience.

1.  Repentance

a.  A turning away from evil, a complete 180 degree turn in the other direction.

b.  A turning toward God

c.  An intent to Serve God—the intent must be met with action

 2.  Allowing Christ to become a True Savior

a.  Confession of sin

b.  Contrition over sin

c.  Continuance in a new life

It has been said that if we confess our sins he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins. And we are called to Repent and be Baptized

We must change so much we become a slave to righteousness (see Romans 6)

Paul seen this in the Colossians and thanked God for it. My question for you is: Has this happened to you? Do you have faith, and love coupled in Hope (see Col 1:5-6a for the definition of hope; see also the Colossian Battle: False Teachings for hope)

 


Works Cited:

MacArthur, Jr., John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Colossians and Philemon. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1992. 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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