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Thanksgiving and Prayer September 30, 2012

Posted by flashbuzzer in Books, Christianity.
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Here are my thoughts on Colossians 1:3-14.

Summary: Paul begins by telling the Colossians that he gives thanks for them always in his prayers to God – the Father of Christ. His thankfulness arises from the report that he has received from Epaphras regarding their faith in Christ and their love for all believers. Their faith and their love are for the hope that has been prepared for them in heaven; they have been told of this hope in time past through the truth of the Gospel. Indeed, the Gospel is reproducing and growing everywhere, including Colosse – since the time that they heard it and received it in its genuine simplicity. At that time they were instructed in the Gospel by Epaphras – the evangelist to Colosse – who has brought tidings of them to him regarding their love that stems from the Holy Spirit.

Paul then states that given Epaphras’ report of the Colossians’ faith and love, he continually prays that:

  • God would fill them with the knowledge of Him and of Christ via genuine wisdom and understanding
  • given this divine knowledge, they would 1) live to please God in all ways and 2) grow in terms of moral stature
  • God would strengthen them according to His divine might that He shows to them, enabling them to persevere in the face of suffering and show restraint when they are wronged
  • they would then give thanks to God, who has enabled them to obtain an allotment in the New Testament dispensation.

Indeed, God has delivered all believers from the tyranny of darkness and removed them to the sovereignty of Christ – who reveals the Father’s love. Paul concludes by asserting that God has also paid a ransom – in Christ – for all believers, and so their sins have been forgiven.

Thoughts: In Ephesians, one can find an analogous passage in 1:15-23, which I’ve blogged about. Perusing that post reminds me that Hodge also referenced the Gnostic heresy in his commentary on Ephesians – indicating that the Gnostic heresy was not limited to the churches of the Lycus River valley. Now one of the interesting distinctions between these two passages stems from Paul’s reference to “endurance and patience” in verse 11. One must wonder if Paul sensed that the Colossians were about to face severe persecution for their beliefs. My hypothesis is that the Gnostic teachers in that area were about to intensify their pressure on the Colossian church, as it presented a roadblock to their intellectual crusade. While we cannot be absolutely certain of the motivation for Paul’s exhortation, modern believers – especially those who are being actively persecuted – can be encouraged by it.

Verses 7 and 8 directly reference Epaphras, who first preached the Gospel in Colosse. Faithful readers of this blog are acutely aware of my desire to meet various Biblical figures in the next life, and Epaphras is no exception. I am eager to bombard him with questions, including: did he enjoy growing up in proconsular Asia? How did he end up in Ephesus on the day that he heard Paul preach the Gospel? Did he receive the Gospel immediately, or was he initially skeptical of Paul’s teaching? How did the Colossians receive the Gospel when he preached it to them? Did he ever disagree with Paul, and if so, how did they resolve their differences? What sorts of difficulties and hardships did he endure in his Christian walk?

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