Colossians 1:1–20comment (0)
April 14, 2011
By Cecil Taylor
Related Scripture: Colossians 1:1–20
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Dean, School of Christian Studies, University of Mobile
KNOWING THE TRUTH
Paul named himself as author, identified the readers to whom he sent the letter and gave the usual greeting of grace and peace.
The apostle who called the Colossians to give thanks (Col. 1:12; 2:7; 3:15, 17; 4:2) here practiced what he preached.
He directed his thanks to God, the One responsible for the graces evident in the Colossians and the gospel’s success among them.
Paul mentioned three specific things for which he was thankful. First he was grateful for the “faith … love … and hope” the Colossians demonstrated. “Hope” is the confident expectation of future heavenly glory. Second he was thankful for the gospel’s progress in Colossae and the entire Roman world. This gospel brought knowledge of God’s grace, i.e., God’s undeserved favor. Third Paul was grateful for the faithful work of Epaphras (a short form of Epaphroditus). A Colossae native, this man had served Christ not only there but also in the neighboring cities of Laodicea and Hierapolis (Col. 4:12–13).
Paul prayed that the Colossians would be so filled with the knowledge of God’s will that they would live worthy of the Lord, i.e., please Him in all things. They needed “deep and accurate comprehension” of the divine purposes for spiritual maturity.
Walking worthy of the Lord is the result of knowing God’s will. The worthy life Paul defined as bearing the fruit of good works; growing in the knowledge of God; being empowered to attain steadfastness, patience and joy; and giving thanks to God for salvation’s blessings.
Paul mentioned four things God did for which believers should give thanks. Each believer got a share in the future heavenly inheritance of God’s people. Each was rescued from “darkness,” i.e., the realm of ignorance, falsehood and sin. Each was resettled in the present kingdom of God. And God “redeemed,” i.e., freed, and “forgave” each his or her sins.
Christ Jesus (15–20)
A pernicious heresy was at work in Colossae. The best clues to the false teaching lie in Paul’s answers to it. Read the passage asking, “What false teaching would have prompted Paul to write this?”
Jesus is the “firstborn of all creation.” Paul’s language is precise. Jesus is not the “first made (“protoktistos”) created things” as a certain cult claims. He is the “firstborn” (“prototokos”). In a family, the firstborn had rights and privileges not shared by his siblings. He was his father’s heir and was given the management of the household. The expression here means that as God’s heir, the Son has management of the household, i.e., He is Lord over “all creation.” Verses 16–17 state the grounds for Christ’s dominion over creation. Creation was “in Him,” i.e., within the sphere of His person and power. It was “through Him,” i.e., He brought it into being. It is “unto Him,” i.e., He is the end for which all things exist. He was “before” all things, i.e., prior in time and sustains all things. Clearly if He made “all things,” then He cannot be a “made” thing, as some modern false teachers say.
Christ is also the head of the church. “He” is emphatic: He and He alone is the chief of the church. This rank He deserves because He is its “beginning,” i.e., its origin and founder, and the first to come from the dead in a resurrection body. All believers will share in the resurrection, but He was the first and forever remains unique among the resurrected.
Christ has unshared supremacy, “pre-eminence,” in everything. The Father willed that the fullness of deity make its home in Jesus. He was not part God and part man but fully God. And He willed that all things be reconciled to Himself through Christ’s death on the cross. This cannot mean that eventually all men and angels will be saved. Such universalism is contrary to clear teachings of other Scriptures (e.g., Matt. 25:46). God willed universal reconciliation. Not all will be reconciled. All who are reconciled come by the blood.