Colossians 1:1, 2
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,…
We propose to offer brief hints towards a consecutive exposition of this invaluable Epistle, taking the Revised Version as our text. In this opening sentence we learn four things respecting the writer and his fellow Christians to whom reference is made.
I. PAUL'S CONSCIOUSNESS OF AUTHORITY AS AN APOSTLE. Observe how quietly Paul takes for granted his apostolical authority. Where it was assailed, as at Corinth or in Galatia, be was prepared to defend it. His credentials were every whir as valuable as those of the eleven. Were they witnesses of the risen Christ (Acts 1:21, 22)? So was he (1 Corinthians 9:1). Were they selected and called by Christ himself (Mark 3:14; Luke 6:13)? So was he (Acts 9:15; Acts 26:16-18). Were they inspired by his Spirit (John 16:13; John 20:21, 22)? So was he (Galatians 1:11-16; 1 Corinthians 7:40; 1 Corinthians 14:37). Had they power to proclaim the gospel with authority, to bind and loose, to perform "the signs of an apostle" (Matthew 28:18-20; John 14:12; John 20:23)? So had he (1 Corinthians 5:3-5; 1 Corinthians 9:16, 17; 2 Corinthians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 12:12). We can hardly overrate the importance, in the present day, of maintaining the authority of all the apostles as inspired by the Spirit of Christ to teach the doctrines of Christ, and of the authority of St. Paul among the rest. Such a consciousness of a Divine mission and authority on the part of any Christian "sent" "by the will of God" may be:
1. Admonitory. "What manner of persons ought we to be?" "It is scandalous to be compelled to say of ministers what Tacitus writes of Licinius, 'Such a torpor had invaded his mind that, unless others had reminded him that he was a prince, he would have forgotten it.'" Dr. Payson tells us that as he went about his work he could sometimes hardly restrain himself from shouting aloud from very joy, "I'm a minister of Christ; I'm a minister of Christ."
2. Encouraging. For if we are sent "by the will of God" to preach or teach that gospel which is "the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth," we may go and proclaim it, expecting it will be made a blessing, and making the watchword of the Crusaders our own, "God wills it." And we may emulate Paul's enthusiasm in preaching "the Word of reconciliation" (2 Corinthians 5:13-21).
II. PAUL'S FELLOWSHIP WITH TIMOTHY. The relations of Timothy to Paul are described by various suggestive terms.
1. He was the apostle's spiritual child, his "own son in the faith" (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2). But here and in the inscriptions of other Epistles he recognizes him as:
2. A brother in the same "household of faith," the family of God, in which the Colossians too had their place, in which "one is your Master, even Christ, and all ye are brethren." Elsewhere he recognizes him as:
3. A fellow steward of the mysteries of God." Well instructed from a child in the Scriptures, he preached the gospel at Corinth in company with Paul (2 Corinthians 1:19), and could be trusted to preach the same truth in his absence (1 Corinthians 4:17; 1 Thessalonians 3:2). And he highly commends him as:
4. A devoted and most unselfish fellow worker in the Church of Christ (1 Corinthians 16:10, 11; Philippians 2:19-22). Further illustrations may be found in the Epistles to Timothy. Such notices as these show the humility of the apostle. There is no pomp of office or pride of power. He acts in the spirit of his own precept (Philippians 2:3). He delights to honour a brother, though confessedly his inferior, by associating his name with his own, thus vouching for his faith and commending him to the confidence of brethren who did not know him.
III. PAUL'S ESTIMATE OF THE COLOSSIANS. Here, as elsewhere, the apostle assumes that the Christian community he addresses is, in the main, worthy of the titles "saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus." These words imply that all who are members of a Church should be expected to be "saints," i.e. persons consecrated to the service of Christ; to be "brethren," adopted into the family of God and therefore "members one of another," and as brethren to be "faithful," to "show all good fidelity in all things," to "hold the beginning of their confidence steadfast unto the end." But such a character can only be maintained "in Christ Jesus," by union with him. One of the Fathers tells us that a saint, sanctus, is so called from two words sanguinne tinctus, i.e. as it were tinged with blood, "because anciently they who wished to be purified were sprinkled with the blood of the sacrifice." The lesson suggested is valuable, though the etymology may not be correct (Hebrews 9:14; Hebrews 10:22). Augustine, commenting on Psalm 86:2, says, "If thou shalt say that thou art holy of thyself, thou art proud; but being a believer in Christ and a member of Christ, if thou shalt not acknowledge thyself to be holy, thou art ungrateful. Say unto God, 'I am holy; for thou hast sanctified me.'" Our names are a perpetual appeal to us to consecration, purity, and fidelity, or they are witness against us. It is not enough to be called "faithful;" "it is required in stewards that a man be found faithful" (Psalm 139:23, 24).
IV. PAUL'S AFFECTIONATE GREETING TO THEM. "Grace" is the initial good and "peace" the final good. Grace is "the well spring of all mercies, peace the crown of all blessings." The old Hebrew salutation, "peace," expands under the light and love of Christ to "grace and peace" in many of Paul's Epistles, and to "grace, mercy, and peace" in some of the later ones (1 Timothy 1:2; 2 Timothy 1:2; Titus 1:4). These blessings come from God our Father the Fountain (Psalm 36:9; James 1:17); they are treasured up in Christ the Reservoir, ever full of "living water" (ver. 19; John 4:10, 14), and conveyed to us by the Holy Spirit as a channel; one yet manifold ("the seven Spirits," Revelation 1:4), because distributing to the necessities of each individual believer. We can wish for one another no better blessings than God's grace and God's peace; for "in his favour is life; the peace of God passeth all understanding." - E.S.P.
Parallel VersesKJV: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,