Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To the holy and faithful brothers in Christ at Colosse:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all the saints— 5 the faith and love that spring from the hope that is stored up for you in heaven and that you have already heard about in the word of truth, the gospel 6 that has come to you. 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. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. 10 And we pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, 11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully 12 giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light. 13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, 14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Paul begins his letter with encouragement for the Colossian Christians. He tells them how He thanks God for them (3-8.) He tells them what He prays God will do for them (9-12.) He reminds them of the Gospel (13-14.) He doesn't start by launching into a treatise on how they can avoid being corrupted by false teachers. Nope. He first encourages them: tells them he thinks of them, praises God for the work being done in them, and prays that God will do wonderful things in and through them!
But it is of note that he hints at what he is going to get to, regarding the mystical schools of thought and practice in Colosse. The word truth appears a couple of times in the first paragraph and he prays later that God will fill [them] with knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding (v. 9.) He then mentions knowledge of God again in verse 10. He's pointing the Colossians to God as the source and center of the truth of grace, and also reminding them of the importance of growing in knowledge of that very God. (Side note: Is it not remarkable that the God of the universe, the Author of creation, has made Himself known to us? We can get to know the One True God. Astonishing! And Hallelujah!!)
I don't believe Paul is in any way trying to manipulate or butter the Colossians up by sharing either his joy and thanksgiving in them or his prayer for them to grow in the faith. While he might be setting the stage for what he'll talk about later, and therefore hones in a little on truth and knowledge of God, the main reason I don't think he's manipulating them is verses thirteen and fourteen, which lay out the Gospel truth for the first of three times in the first two chapters of the letter.
Paul gives thanks to God when he hears of their faith because he knows God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in who we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Paul prays to God to sustain their faith and make them pleasing to Himself, because he knows that God has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves, in who we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.
Paul was supremely concerned with, driven by, and in awe of the Gospel that had so changed His life. In I Corinthians 15:3, he says What I received I passed on to you as of first importance, going on then to share the basic gospel truth that Christ died and Christ is risen. That was of first importance to Paul and is what drove him not only to deal with problems in new churches quickly and boldly, but also drove him to passionately love, care about, and pray for them - even those he'd not personally planted.
* * *
We'll pause there for tonight. I don't want to go running away from this section without expositing it a little more and getting into some application, so we'll spend a day or two more here in 1:1-14. I haven't even read the commentaries on this yet, so there will certainly be more to add! But these comments should give you some things to think about over the next couple of days. This morning I was praying that as we walk through Colossians the Lord will be so good as to let us see how it intersects with our lives. I think He'll do that.
Sundays will be blogging Sabbath days, so I'll "see" you again on Monday! Have a blessed Lord's Day.