Paul wrote this letter late in his life from a Roman prison the church at Colossae. He never visited this church, but he has heard from Epaphras that the Colossians were on the verge of believing a false gospel. In Colossians 1:3-12, Paul introduces one of the main themes of the letter: hope.
Col 1:3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
Col 1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints,
Col 1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel,
Col 1:6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing–as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth,
Col 1:7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf
Col 1:8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
Paul starts by focusing their attention on what God has done for them. Paul is thankful for what God has done in the Colossian church to bring about their faith and salvation through Jesus Christ which has resulted in their faith and love of their fellow believers. What has transformed their thinking and who they identify as their people is the hope which results from understanding and believing the gospel of Jesus Christ.
What I hope for ought to change the way I live my life now. For example, imagine I told you that right now something wonderful was waiting for you at home. Let’s say it’s a lottery ticket worth millions of dollars that will allow you the resources to pay for some desperately needed medical treatment, quit a job of drudgery and pursue your dreams and pay off all your college loans? The ticket to solve all your problems is there right now, waiting for you right now. You’ll receive it as soon as your drive home.
All of a sudden your experience here would be transformed. Life would look a whole letter better. Your spirits would be lifted, your outlook on today would change and problems that seemed so large and overwhelming would be trivial. That hope would change you from this moment forward even though you don’t have the tangible object now.
This is how the hope of the gospel changes us.
Paul prays that they would be filled the wisdom and spiritual knowledge such that the hope of the gospel would change their lives now.
Col 1:9 And so, from the day we heard, we have not ceased to pray for you, asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding,
Col 1:10 so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.
Col 1:11 May you be strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy,
Col 1:12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light.
There is a sense in which Paul wants God to bring all believers to a mature faith. However, this group is starting to embrace ideas counter to the gospel. He is praying this in contrast to what he fears is happening among them.
What Paul wants for them is what we ought to want for ourselves.
He wants more than anything for God to strengthen their faith, to give them understanding, to teach them what’s truly important and give them the strength to persevere in life; to understand and be grateful for what God is doing now and joyously look forward to the hope before them.
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Next: 03 Colossians 1:13-23 You can not seek God and avoid Christ
Previous: 01 Introduction to Colossians 1:1-2
Part of the series: Colossians: Getting the Gospel Right
Study Resources: Colossians Resources
Scripture quotes are from the English Standard Version of the Bible.