We Heard of Your Faith in Christ Jesus “...and the love which you have for all the saints ." Colossians 1:3,4
“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints…” (Colossians 1:3-4).
Evidently Paul had never met most of the disciples at Colossae when he wrote his letter to them, but he was certainly encouraged by what he had heard about them. He did know at least some of them personally, perhaps having met them as he was traveling about Asia Minor preaching the gospel of Christ. Paul knew Philemon well, having taught him the gospel at a previous time.
Paul specifically mentions his gratitude unto God for their faith in Christ and their love for the saints. Later, he adds that the gospel which they had heard was “constantly bearing fruit and increasing” and that their “love in the Spirit” (Colossians 1:6, 8).
There were three local churches in the immediate area of Colossae. In addition to the church of Christ at Colossae, there was another church at Laodicea and another at Hierapolis (Colossians 4:13). We know that Paul also wrote to Laodicea at the same time and asks that the churches exchange their letters after reading them.
Things to Do
“...if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast, and not moved away from the hope of the gospel that you have heard, which was proclaimed in all creation under heaven, and of which I, Paul, was made a minister.” (Colossians 1:23).
The gospel Paul proclaims was, and is, a gospel of hope. It is an eternal hope provided to us by the grace of God, and the faithful fully expect and desire to share the glory of Christ in heaven forevermore.
But it is important to note the phrases “...if indeed you continue in the faith firmly established and steadfast” and “not moved away” that set up the condition of realizing this hope one day. While the hope of heaven is secure for those who “continue in the faith” and are “firmly established and steadfast” and therefore refuse to be “moved away”, it is not so for those who turn elsewhere. At the top of a disciple's “Things to Do” list needs to be “continue in the faith” and “be steadfast”! We must not be deterred by neglect and temptation.
But, there are many more things on the disciple's “Things to Do” list. We need to walk in Christ just in the manner we have received Him.
“Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.” (Colossians 2:6).
Again, a stability and firmness of faith is urged on the parts of all disciples. This kind of living and dynamic faith is not found, rather it is made when we accept the gospel on the terms “just as you were instructed.” We are never, ever urged to become mediocre disciples anywhere in God's holy word. It is never suggested that being a mediocre disciple is better than to be no disciple at all!
In fact, a sad irony here is that this letter was to be sent from the church at Colossae to the church at Laodicea. It would be about thirty years later that the Lord would severely criticize Laodicea's satisfaction with mediocrity. Do not allow the Evil One to lead you away from your hope as they did (Revelation 3:14-22).
Other things to do included to beware of false teachings and vain philosophies (Colossians 2:4-10; 16-18; 20-23). But that generation had no monopoly on such false doctrines. The faces and names may have changed, but corruptions of the gospel as well as new philosophies continue to offer false hopes as they compete with the gospel of Christ. The wise counsel of Paul is still needed today; “Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize…” (Colossians 2:18).
Rather, keep on seeking the things above (Colossians 3:1,2). Put to death fornication, uncleanness, passion, evil desire, covetousness, anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy language, lying (Colossians 3:5-9). In their places, put on tender mercies, kindness, humbleness, meekness, longsuffering, love (Colossians 3:12-14). Let the peace of God rule in your hearts and be thankful (Colossians 3:15). Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly...admonishing one another in psalms...singing with
grace in your hearts to the Lord as you do all things in the name of the Lord (Colossians 3:16, 17).
Principles for Us
The Scriptures are timeless in their importance and application. God's word is eternal, and there never has been nor will there ever be a time where it is not significant. It is important for us today. To sum up some of the points that have been made in Paul's letter to the Colossians:
We can remain faithful even though we are surrounded by temptations and trials (Colossians 1:21-23). We must not swallow the lie that faithful living is impossible, or even close to impossible, for all things are possible with God. We must refuse to be moved away from our hope. We serve a God that is more powerful than our adversary. (Colossians 1:9-11; cf. 1 Corinthians. 10:13; 1 John 4:4; 5:4).
We must seek the things that are above if we hope to be in heaven. This simply means to refuse to allow our lives to be focused and directed only by the things of the world. While we certainly have purposes and plans for our days in this world, that is not all that there is for us. There is also a world to come, and we will not forget it as we live out our days here. These days here will come to an end, but that Day in which we place our hope is everlasting (Colossians 3:1-4; Hebrews 12:1,2; 1 John 2:15-17).
“We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints…”
By Jon W. Quinn
From Expository Files 17.7; July 2010