God’s Saving Word: Love
Colossians 1:1-23: Today we begin reading the Letter to the Colossians which opens with Paul’s greeting and prayer of thanksgiving. Colossae was a small inland city in Asia Minor (modern-day Turkey), about 110 miles east of the major port city of Ephesus in the Lycus River valley. Among Paul’s purposes in writing the letter was to warn the Colossians about false teachers in their midst and to oppose their teachings with the true Christian message. Today’s reading includes a description of the person and work of Christ and concludes with Paul’s exhortation to remain faithful.
1 From Paul, who by God’s will is an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy—
2 To God’s people in Colossae, who are our faithful friends in union with Christ:
May God our Father give you grace and peace.
Prayer of Thanksgiving
3 We always give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you. 4 For we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all God’s people. 5 When the true message, the Good News, first came to you, you heard about the hope it offers. So your faith and love are based on what you hope for, which is kept safe for you in heaven. 6 The gospel keeps bringing blessings and is spreading throughout the world, just as it has among you ever since the day you first heard about the grace of God and came to know it as it really is. 7 You learned of God’s grace from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is Christ’s faithful worker on our[a] behalf. 8 He has told us of the love that the Spirit has given you.
9 For this reason we have always prayed for you, ever since we heard about you. We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will, with all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives. 10 Then you will be able to live as the Lord wants and will always do what pleases him. Your lives will produce all kinds of good deeds, and you will grow in your knowledge of God. 11-12 May you be made strong with all the strength which comes from his glorious power, so that you may be able to endure everything with patience. And with joy give thanks to[b] the Father, who has made you fit to have your share of what God has reserved for his people in the kingdom of light. 13 He rescued us from the power of darkness and brought us safe into the kingdom of his dear Son, 14 by whom we are set free, that is, our sins are forgiven.
The Person and Work of Christ
15 Christ is the visible likeness of the invisible God. He is the first-born Son, superior to all created things. 16 For through him God created everything in heaven and on earth, the seen and the unseen things, including spiritual powers, lords, rulers, and authorities. God created the whole universe through him and for him. 17 Christ existed before all things, and in union with him all things have their proper place. 18 He is the head of his body, the church; he is the source of the body’s life. He is the first-born Son, who was raised from death, in order that he alone might have the first place in all things. 19 For it was by God’s own decision that the Son has in himself the full nature of God. 20 Through the Son, then, God decided to bring the whole universe back to himself. God made peace through his Son’s blood[c] on the cross and so brought back to himself all things, both on earth and in heaven.
21 At one time you were far away from God and were his enemies because of the evil things you did and thought. 22 But now, by means of the physical death of his Son, God has made you his friends, in order to bring you, holy, pure, and faultless, into his presence. 23 You must, of course, continue faithful on a firm and sure foundation, and must not allow yourselves to be shaken from the hope you gained when you heard the gospel. It is of this gospel that I, Paul, became a servant—this gospel which has been preached to everybody in the world.
Today’s Key Verse: Colossians 1:9b
We ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will, with all the wisdom and understanding that his Spirit gives.
What does Paul’s prayer reveal about the things he has heard concerning the Colossians (verses 3-8)? What is Paul’s prayer for the people (verses 9-14)? Verses 15-20 are probably derived from an early Christian hymn. What do these verses say about Jesus? What does Paul admonish the Colossians to do (verse 23)? Why might this verse be relevant for us today as well?
Almighty God, help me to be strong with all the strength that comes from your glorious power, so that I may be able to endure everything with patience. With joy I give you thanks for rescuing me from the power of darkness and bringing me safely into the kingdom of your dear Son, Jesus Christ my Lord, by whom you have set me free and offered me forgiveness of my sins. Amen.
And now, join us in thanking God for the distribution of audio Bibles in Kinawataka, one of the massive slums in Kampala, Uganda. Lord God, we thank and praise you that young boys, ages 6 to 16 who were former gang members, have turned their lives around thanks to “the preaching gadget … the talking Bible … the portable preacher”—the audio Bible being distributed by the Bible Society in Uganda. Local churches invited the youth to come, and the local police encouraged the young boys to attend. Soon, listening groups were formed; and now most well-known gang members have given their lives to Christ. Thank you, Lord God, that the generosity of Bible Society donors is helping to share your Word and change lives for eternity. Amen.
Colossians 1:24—2:5: The apostle Paul describes his work as a servant of the gospel.