Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,…
This Epistle, written from Rome to meet and overmaster the "Colossian heresy," begins with a salutation somewhat similar to those at the beginning of other Epistles. There is the assertion of Paul's apostleship as direct from Christ; there is the statement of the brotherhood of Timothy, and the desire that grace and peace may be the constant portion of the saints and faithful brethren at Colossal. But, having thus started, Paul immediately passes to an account of their character as he had got it from Epaphras, and how this character had been produced. He is thankful for it, and he wishes them to remember how it had been formed within them. And here we have to notice that -
I. JESUS CHRIST IS THE OBJECT OF THE COLOSSIANS' FAITH. (Ver. 4.) They had happily been led to this - to trust in the personal Saviour. It is not the promises, but the Promiser; not the proposition, but the Person pledging himself to the fulfilment of the proposition, in whom we believe. Now, the heresy, which will appear more clearly afterwards, made a good deal of angelic and intermediate personages; there was, in fact, a tendency to a mystic peopling of the unseen with needless, forms, explanatory, as the Colossians supposed, of the mysteries of creation. It was important in these circumstances to state with precision that Jesus Christ is the great Object of faith. Faith in such a Being becomes a glorious simplicity. It is a simple extension of that trust to him which we extend to our fellow men. But his glorious personality, embracing a Divine as well as human nature, makes all the difference between faith in men and faith in him. The latter is true saving faith.
II. THE SAINTS WERE THE SPECIAL OBJECTS OF THE COLOSSIANS' LOVE. (Ver. 4.) While faith goes out to a personal Saviour, it worketh by love towards all the saints. For it cannot but be that, in trusting and loving the perfect Saviour, we learn almost instinctively to love those in his image. The saints, all the saints, are seen to have their claim upon the believer's love. The love of good men is the note of a true Christian.
III. HEAVEN WAS INDISPENSABLE TO THE CONSUMMATION OF THEIR HOPE. (Ver. 5.) It is the characteristic of the Christian system to relegate a goodly portion of its promise to the world to come. It has certainly a promise for the life that now is, but chiefly has it a promise for that which is to come. In heaven the hope is laid up. And into this hope the Colossians heartily entered. They looked for more to follow - for a purity, for a power, for a perfection impossible in the present life. There is thus a faith, a love, and a hope characteristic of the saints at Colossae as well as elsewhere.
IV. THIS HOPE HAD BEEN COMMUNICATED THROUGH THE PREACHED GOSPEL. (Vers. 5-8.) Had the Colossians not had the gospel preached to them, they would never have entered into such glorious, heavenly hopes. The word of the gospel is fruit-bearing. It kindles the hopes of men. Everywhere it has the same blessed effects in lifting men's hearts to heaven. It would seem that Epaphras had been the instrument in the Lord's hand in evangelizing the Colossians. He had, as a faithful minister of Christ, preached the Word to them, and they had received it and become the loving disciples he represented them to be in his report to Paul. "Love in the Spirit" was the leading idea in their lives. All this was matter for profound gratitude to God, and so the apostle pours out his thanksgiving to God the Father (ver. 3) because of it. In such circumstances it surely becomes us to see that we rise on the wings of hope to heaven and appreciate the glorious consummation which there awaits us. We need such a hope to complete the demands of our immortal being. We cannot be satisfied with the seen, with the present life, with the present world; we must have more. And this the gospel gives us in that hope which is laid up for us in heaven. - R.M.E.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,