Week 2 – Colossians 1:3-8

Welcome to Week 2!!!  I’m hoping that our intro and getting into verses 1-2 blessed you last week!  This week we are taking a look at Colossians 1:3-8.  We’ll go verse by verse and as is our custom, I’ll give you the link to the fill-in notes here (notice the blue letters as you read…they’re answers to your fill-in blanks).  Click the link below to download your notes & homework for week 2:

Col PN 1.3-8

At the end of these notes, you’ll find the 5 devotional pages that you can print for yourself and fill-in during the week.  I absolutely believe these are equally important to do!   In each devotional you’ll find all these ideas we read in Colossians 1:3-8 expounded upon, so that we can continue to grow more and more in our faith.

So, let’s get going…open your Bible to Colossians chapter 1, we’ll begin in verse 3.

Colossians 1:3  We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Paul wasn’t just opening his letter this way because it was the custom of his day or because of habit.  He was really thankful!  Galatians & 2 Corinthians do not contain this kind of opening.  The NIV Bible Commentary says,

“…it was no merely conventional opening. Its omission from Galatians and 2 Corinthians indicates that it was included only when the progress of the converts was a real cause for thanksgiving, as in every prayer for the Colossians.”

Who is the “WE” here?   Paul & TIMOTHY

The word Always – is the GREEK word “pantote”;  A.T. Robertson (Southwestern Biblical Theological Seminary in Louisville, KY) says it is likely that the word always belongs to the pray and the thanks.”

That is why you see translations all over the board with the placement of “always”.  Some say “we always pray” and other say, “we always give thanks.”  So the question in my mind was, “which is it?”, so I appreciate Dr. Robertson’s input here!

Paul always prayed for them.

He did this for the Ephesians as well.  Remember Ephesus was only about 100 miles from Colossae, and likely where Epaphras we started the Colossian church was saved.

Ephesians 1:16-17

I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.  I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you the Spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know Him better.

Paul PRAYED! And he prayed for these churches and for these people who were so dear to him, whether or not he had met them personally.

How often do we really pray for others?

I’m so guilty of praying for the things that effect me directly, my personal walk with Jesus, my family, my friends, my patients, etc… Do you see the common link?  ME.

Have you ever told someone you’d pray, and then forgotten to pray? Me, too!  Paul was a man of prayer.  Several years ago, God really laid it on my heart when someone asked for prayer for themselves or someone else, I stop what I’m doing right then & pray.   It has made such a beautiful difference in my prayer life, and in my integrity as well.

Not only did Paul pray for them always, Paul always gave thanks for them.

The word “THANKS” is used 5 additional times in Colossians (1:12, 2:7, 3:15, 3:17, 4:6) aside from here in verse 3; it’s the Greek word “Eucharisteo”; to be grateful, to feel thankful and to give thanks

The object of Paul’s thanks for the Colossians is God.

TO GOD, THE FATHER OF OUR LORD JESUS CHRIST

Bob Utley, a tremendous bible scholar says,

“The word, “Lord” is asserting Jesus’s FULL deity, many Christians died by the hundreds in Rome because they refused to burn incense to Caesar and call him “Lord”, they’d rather die than perform an act of worship to anyone other than Jesus.”

“Jesus Christ the Lord stands on the same plane as God the Father,” according to A.T. Robertson

Now let’s move on to verses 4&5:    WHY does Paul give thanks to the Lord for them? Because of Faith, Love & Hope.

It was their Faith in Christ Jesus and their Love for God’s people that caused Paul & Timothy to give thanks for them!

Colossians 1:4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and your love for all of God’s people,  

Click on any of the verses.  It will take you to BibleGateway.com to read each of these scriptures on Faith, Hope & Love:

Romans 5:2-5;  1 Cor 13:13;  Gal 5:5-6;  Eph 4:2-5;  1 Thess 1:3,  1 Thess 5:8

  • Their faith was IN Christ Jesus.

Utley says Jesus is the “object of our faith, the ground of our faith, and the sphere of our faith.”

“IN” in the greek is a primary preposition denoting (fixed) position (in place, time or state), i.e. a relation of rest

a strong and welcome conviction or belief that Jesus is the Messiah, through whom we obtain eternal salvation in the kingdom of God

  • Love for all of God’s People:

Love here is God’s kind of love, self-giving, love for ALL God’s people, which opposes the idea that there’s an elect special group of elites who know or have more access than anyone else

Bob Utley says it was the same idea among Pharisees in Judaism as the Gnostics were trying to be in Christianity, the untouchable elites.  It seemed to me the idea of proverbial “Holier than Thous.”  But, that is not acceptable to the Lord our God in any way!  He is no respecter of persons, you cannot do enough good things to impress Him, He wants our whole hearts and our humble obedience, not a show.

Colossians 1:5 …which come from your confident hope of what God has reserved for you in heaven. You have had this expectation ever since you first heard the truth of the Good News.

  • Their hope was stored up in Heaven;

this kind of hope was NOT “wishful thinking”, this word for hope implies a “joyful and confident expectation of eternal salvation.”

  • They had Faith & Love because of Hope; since hearing the Truth of the Good News.

Paul confirms Epaphras preached the TRUE Gospel to them & that they DO know the only truth there is. There is no higher level of knowledge, the Good News lays it all out there.

Colossians 1:6 This same Good News that came to you is going out all over the world. It is bearing fruit everywhere by changing lives, just as it changed your lives from the day you first heard and understood the truth about God’s wonderful grace.

The True of the Life-Changing Fruit-Bearing Good News of Jesus Christ

  1. The True Gospel Goes forth & Reproduces.

Acts 1:8  But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes upon you. And you will be my witnesses, telling people about me everywhere–in Jerusalem, throughout Judea, in Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”

This verse just captures my heart, because I think of all the people around the globe who are hearing the good news and it is changing their lives, they are studying God’s Word in their own language, and translators are currently working on what we think are the last languages still needing to be translated for the scriptures. Fascinating to me. It makes me love Jesus all the more. The Good News of Jesus Christ changes lives.

I was completely overwhelmed last night by God’s timing.  I had already written the paragraph you just read above 4 days prior.  Then, as only He could have done, I was able to meet 2 missionaries that have been called to a remote area of Africa to an unreached people group.  They speak a language only known among their people.  Just 300,000 people in a mountainous region of East Africa who have no roads in or out of their land.  Currently, as you read this post, bible translators have been working 8 years to translate this language into the New Testament.  Currently, these people have a 5% literacy rate.  These 2 missionaries and their contacts have been instrumental in orchestrating how the New Testament will be translated not only into a readable book, but a listenable audio version for those who cannot read!  I am overwhelmed that God would let me have a personal encounter with these 2 beautiful servants of the Lord Jesus sharing their story at my church.   It completely overwhelms me just thinking about how the same Good News that I heard as a young child, the same Good News that Paul taught Epaphras, and Epaphras taught the Colossians –  WILL make its’ way to those precious souls so they may learn about the hope of Jesus Christ our Lord!!!

  1. The True Gospel is the same no matter where it goes.

It’s the SAME Good News no matter where it goes, that Good News never changes because the One who IS the Good News never changes, He is the same yesterday, today & forever.

Heb 13:8

  1. The True Gospel bears fruit.

John 15:8

  1. The True Gospel changes lives.

When I think of a life that was changed in a moment, I think of Luke 19:1-10 when Jesus told Zacchaeus He was coming to his house, and Zacchaeus immediately showed evidence that his life was now different.

Another thought here is the changed life that should be evident to the world around us when we are saved. James 2:24 says we are justified by works & not faith alone.  Dr. Wayne Grudem (author of Systematic Theology) explains that there are 2 senses of the word justification, and one is before man as here in James 2:24, the other is justification before God.

In Romans 3:28, it’s saying “if you don’t have a changed life, how can anyone see that you have faith?  Abraham’s faith in God was already justified long ago, he proved that long-standing faith by how he acted.

Changed lives should be evident to both God and man, because the True Gospel changes lives!

Colossians 1:7  You learned about the Good News from Epaphras, our beloved co-worker. He is Christ’s faithful servant, and he is helping us on your behalf.

Learned” = greek Manthano (G3129), to esteem, increase knowledge, to hear, to learn BY use & practice, to be in the habit of

Matt 11:29 Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.

Phil 4:11 Not that I am speaking of being in need, for I have learned in whatever situation I am to be content.

Characteristics we can learn from Epaphras,  a deliverer of Good News

  1. Beloved co-worker

Beloved: beloved, esteemed, dear, favorite, worthy of love

Co-Worker (fellow servant): Paul didn’t see his job more important than Epaphras! I love that we can definitely all be different working parts of the body of Christ, and there truly is no hierarchy.

NO HIERARCHY!!! We are co-workers in the Kingdom of God!!!

  1. Christ’s faithful servant

Diakonos: to raise dust by hastening

(Bob Utley teaches this word, Diakonos, implies a household servant kicking up dust  when sweeping)

Are we serving Jesus so fervently that we’re kicking up dust behind us?

  1. Helping on Behalf

Epaphras represented Paul when he was in Colossae

Epaphras represented the Colossians when he came to visit Paul

The Translator’s handbook reads: “in this way, Epaphras helps us”

Colossians 1:8 He has told us about the love for others that the Holy Spirit has given you.

A.T. Robertson says, “Paul means genuine Christian Love which can only come in sphere of the Holy Spirit’s power.”

Romans 5:5 and hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who has been given to us.

Galatians 5:22 The fruit of the Spirit is: AgapeLOVE. (Same word)

1 Corinthians 13, every use of the word LOVE is this same word.  Paul uses it 5 times in the letter to the Colossians!

Each day of your homework dived deeper into these ideas we’ve touched on in this session.  I’m praying for insight and wisdom to increase as you spend time in His Word this week!   God bless you in your commitment to know Him more, and may you be changed by the Good News of Jesus Christ (today and everyday) more and more into the likeness of Jesus Himself!!!

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