Christ and the Colossians
Tim Temple

Introduction

Anyone who pays any attention to current events will probably agree that we are living in very troublous times. The various statements by the presidential candidates that we hear from day to day give very real evidence of the kinds of problems that we are facing. The kinds of things these men find themselves in need of saying are primarily things that point out great areas of need in our nation. We hear troubling things about the economy. We see and feel troubling things about the economy, about our military strength in the world, or lack of it, about women's rights, about children's rights, about all the various things that seem to be coming apart or seem to be falling short of what they were intended.

We hear rumors of war in the Middle East. We think about the whole energy situation and all the kinds of things that could develop in that situation. A few years ago we even faced the traumatic situation of Ann Landers herself getting a divorce. What could be worse? And so in troubled times like these, we desperately need some stability. This is exactly the message of the book of Colossians. Perhaps the theme verse of this book of Colossians, at which we are beginning to look, is in chapter 1, verse 27, where we read:

Colossians 1

27To whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory:

Notice that last phrase there, “…Christ in you, the hope of glory.” I say that is the theme of this book, and it is the major message that Paul wanted to get across to the Colossians, and I am saying that it is specifically a message that we desperately need in this hour. We need to know what is any basis for stability and what God can do and wants to do in our lives. This book should be particularly relevant to us as we study it in these next few weeks.

Outline of the Chapter

We want to begin actually looking at the text of this message of “Christ in you, the hope of glory.” We are going to be looking at the first few verses of the first chapter. We are going to find that chapter 1 falls into four parts. First, “Christ and the Colossians,” in verses 1-14. And these are the verses that we want to begin looking at today, their personal relationship with Christ. Then in verses 15-19, Paul is going to remind them that “Christ is the Creator;” then in verses 20-23, “Christ as Conciliator,” the one who reconciles God and man; then in verses 24-29, the practical outworking of all this, “Christ as Confidence-Giver.”

We want to begin looking at this first section of the chapter, “Christ and the Colossians.” So will you notice with me beginning with verse 1 and reading through verse 14. Colossians, chapter 1, beginning with verse 1:

Colossians 1

1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
3We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
4Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
5For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;
6Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:
7As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
8Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
9For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
10That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God;
11Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness;
12Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light:
13Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son:
14In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:

These letters contain the introduction to Paul's letter to the Colossians. In our last lesson, we talked about the fact that this was a personal letter Paul had written to a group of Christians living in the first century Mediterranean city of Colosse, people whom he had not met personally; and we mentioned that perhaps that would make a bit more of an emphasis on us, since so often we get the feeling that these things were written many years ago by a man who never met me and whom I never met, so how could they be realistic to me?

Importance of the Message

We pointed out that one of the answers to that question is that it is God the Holy Spirit Who wrote these things, even though He used human beings to do so. So we don't ever need to worry that we did not have the opportunity to meet the Apostle Paul or Peter or James or any of the other writers of the New Testament, or the Old Testament for that matter. It is the Holy Spirit who wrote through those men and so it doesn't matter whether you have met them or not.

The second part of the answer to that question is that even in that day in which they lived and wrote, many of the things that they wrote were for people who may not have had the opportunity to meet them personally either. It is the message that is important and not the messenger, not the writer of the letter from a human standpoint, but from the spiritual standpoint, God the Holy Spirit. So as Paul wrote this letter, he gave the introduction that we have read together and the first verses which we want to think about today.

These verses are representative of the contents of the whole letter because if you were thinking as we read through verses 1-14, you are aware of the fact that these verses deal with what Christ has done for us personally. It is interesting and it is invigorating sometimes to talk in terms of the theological issues, the essence of Christ, the nature of God and all of these various things; but it is always heartwarming to come to a letter like Colossians, a portion of the Scripture like this, where God reminds us of what He has done for us personally. It is this personal tone of this letter that should make it have a bearing on our lives as we look at it during these weeks. These verses deal with what Christ has done for us personally.

As we saw when we began to overview this book, this relationship to God through Christ is not based on any kind of ritual or form or intermediary, but rather a personal presence of Christ in our lives. Christ in you is the hope of glory, the indwelling presence of Christ. We saw, as we summarized the book last week, that one of the basic messages of this book is that we as believers should be practicing the presence of Christ, and that is an important message for us to keep in mind.

Christ's Provision of an Apostle

In these first few verses of this letter, Paul points out several aspects of Christ's provision for the Colossians. As we think about Christ and the Colossians, in verses 1-14, we want to think, first, about His provision for them in verses 1 and 2. Notice again in verses 1 and 2:

Colossians 1

1Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

These verses suggests to us that the first provision that Christ had made for the Colossians was an apostle. Now this is something that we might easily pass over and something that we might even fail to notice, so I want us to pause and look at this very carefully. Here in the opening words of this letter, “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ.” Christ had provided for the Colossians and, first of all, He had provided an apostle.

An apostle, in the first century, was an official representative of Jesus Christ on earth. He was something more than the pastor, as we think of the pastor today. It's beyond the scope of our study, but we do not believe that the Scriptures teach the concept of the Apostolic Succession. That is a concept that some have that the pastor who stands in the pulpit is the official representative of Christ just as the apostles were. No, the apostles were those men to whom Christ had delegated authority during those years in which the New Testament was in the process of being written. And they were the ones who represented Him to people with whom they came in contact, with groups of believers such as the Christians at Colosse. God had provided for the Colossians an Apostle who could answer their questions and who could meet their needs and who could guide them into the truth.

The important thing for us to remember is that even though the age of the apostles has closed with the completion of the canon of Scripture, God has still provided for the meeting of our needs in that same way, with the guidance that comes in the form of the written and completed Word of God. We do not need an apostle as such–one who can speak by the inspiration of God, one who can give direct revelations from God–because we have the written Word of God. That is God's provision for us today. Of course, that is why we like to remind ourselves that we devote ourselves to the study of the Word of God here at Abilene Bible Church.

It is not important what I, as an individual, might think. The ideas that I might share with you are not particularly important except that they are the ideas of another human being, and they carry only the interest and the importance that the ideas of any other human being might carry. But as we study the Word of God together, from the pulpit, these ideas and the concepts we bring forth from the Word of God have tremendous importance and should have tremendous impact on our lives.

God had provided for the Colossians an apostle, and He has provided for us, in His love and His goodness, the writings of that apostle, upon which we can feed even these many years later. So God's first provision for them was the provision of an apostle.

An Appropriation of Grace and Peace

Notice also that Christ has provided an appropriation for them, in verse 2. We read:

Colossians 1

2…Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father…

Again these are very common verses, statements that we find in the beginnings of many New Testament letters, and we tend to read over them without giving them much thought; so I want us to think carefully, since we so often pass over them, about the appropriation that God has given to the Colossians listed here: “Grace and peace be unto you, from God our Father, and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

First, let us think about the sharers in the appropriation. Who is it to whom this grace and peace came from God the Father? We find in verse 2 who these people are–“the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse,” the saints and faithful brethren in Christ Jesus. This is one of the many verses in the New Testament which tell us what a saint is. A saint is one who is in Christ Jesus. Are you aware of that today? A saint is not one who has gone through a long process of canonization. A saint is not one who has been proven to be saintly over a long period of time. Oh, there are saints who have that position, and there are saints whose reputation has followed them, who are entitled to places of great honor in our thinking, because of what we know about their lives, but the New Testament refers to saints as anyone who has accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior. You are a saint, and I am a saint. We are saints if we are believers in Jesus Christ, and this verse tells us that.

The Key to Faithfulness

Then there is another interesting thing, almost a sideline that I would like to point out here, and that is that this verse also tells us the key to faithfulness. Do you notice what he says in verse 2:

Colossians 1

2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ…

Someone might read this verse and say, “Oh well, that leaves me out. I may be a saint, but I am not one of the faithful brethren.” But notice what it further says:

Colossians 1

2To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colosse…

You see, his emphasis is not just on the faithfulness. His emphasis is rather on the truth of the fact that we are in Christ Jesus. If you are in Christ Jesus by virtue of accepting Him as your personal Savior, then in God's sight, you are among the faithful. You may not be personally faithful day by day. One of our greatest goals and one of our greatest desires as believers should be to be faithful to the Lord Jesus Christ, and the more we know of the Word of God and the more we come to know Jesus Christ through His Word, the more we should become faithful and faithfulness should be produced. But in God's sight, the faithful are those who are in the faith–those who are in Christ Jesus. So personal faithfulness is something that we should desire, something that we should ask God for and something we should persue, but faithfulness in God's sight is not something that depends upon us. The wonderful truth is that faithfulness is a matter of being in Christ Jesus. As God looks at us, He sees that we have accepted Jesus Christ as personal Savior and He counts us among the faithful.

That has a wonderful bearing, you know, on the promises of God. The promises of God are given to those who are faithful. Being faithful is a matter of being found in Christ Jesus.

So these are the sharers in the appropriation, and as we can see and the reason that we have elaborated on this is that that includes and can include and should include you and me–the saints and faithful in Christ Jesus.

Then also we want to notice the substance of the appropriation. What is this appropriation anyway? Notice:

Colossians 1

2…Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Here is the substance of that appropriation that God has given us–grace and peace. For the third time, I'll point out that this is a very common phrase. In fact, the reason that I am taking the time to look into these things in detail is that they are so common we find them in the opening of most of the books in the New Testament, that we read through them without really giving much thought as to what they are saying. So as we come across them, it is good for us to stop and look at them carefully, specifically. So the substance of this appropriation was grace and peace.

When We Were Without Strength

This seems like a very common statement in the New Testament, but it is a very important one. Notice, first, the order in which these things are listed. First, there is grace and then there is peace. Grace and then peace. I want us to recognize that this is the theologically correct order. This is the Biblically correct order of these two wonderful doctrines–grace and peace. You see, this is the order in which God acted toward us in providing our salvation. This is very clearly stated in one of the basic passages of the New Testament, Romans, chapter 5. I would like for you to turn with me now to Romans, chapter 5, verses 6-8, and also verse 10:

Romans 5

6For when we were yet without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly.
7For scarcely for a righteous man will one die: yet peradventure for a good man some would even dare to die.
8But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.

Romans 5

10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life.

We have skipped over verse 9 and read verse 10 along with verses 6-8. Think carefully about these verses with me for a moment. God's grace in salvation is indicated very clearly by the phrase at the beginning of this passage, “When we were yet without strength.” You see that? “When we were yet without strength, Christ died for the ungodly.” You see, God did not provide our salvation when He saw that we could attain to it. God did not provide our salvation when He observed our lives, and when He saw that we were becoming more and more godly and that we had a deep desire to know God. No! It is summarized in the phrase “without strength.” Do you know what it is to be without strength? Do you know what it is to feel completely helpless and unable to do anything? Some of you who have had illnesses know what that is like. Some of you who perhaps have been in the situation where your strength was completely used up in an athletic event perhaps, or in some stressful situation. You know what it is to be without strength. That is the term that God the Holy Spirit has chosen to describe our sinful condition before God acted in our behalf, or before we became aware of what God has done in our behalf–without strength.

From the standpoint of salvation, many times human beings are not aware that they are without strength. This being without strength is usually a subconscious thing at least. But it is a matter, from God's point of view, of not being able to do anything to accomplish our salvation. Sometimes as the Spirit of God works in an individual's heart to prepare him for salvation, we do become aware of that strengthlessness. Many of you to whom your salvation means the most are those who have experienced the frustration of knowing that things are not as they should be between you and God and not knowing what to do about it. God says here in Romans, chapter 5, that when we were in that condition–when we were without strength–God did something about it. When we were in a position where we could not do anything, God did something about it. That is the grace of God.

You see, that is love of the worthless. That is love of the unlovely. That is love of those who do not merit love. That is characteristic of God's love. That's why Paul writes to the Colossians, “Grace and peace be unto you.” God acted when we were without strength. This is emphasized down in verse 10, and is the reason that we included this in our reading. Notice the specific, poignant statement in verse 10:

Romans 5

10For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God…

How did God see us before salvation? We were the enemies of God. It may not have been an open, rebellious enmity against God on our part, or it may have been. I suppose in a group this size there would bound to be those who were openly rebellious against God. There are bound to be those who were at least anxiously trying to please God and aware of falling short of that. There would be those, of course, who were not aware of their enmity with God; but God said we were enemies of His. Yet when we were without strength, when we were His enemies, Christ died for us. So this is the grace of God. You see, our salvation is based purely upon the fact that God decided to do something for us. Purely and simply, we were His enemies. We were without strength to please Him, and He decided to do something about it. That is the grace of God.

Peace, the Result of Grace

Then, as we go back to Colossians, chapter 1, we are talking about the fact that we have grace provided and peace. I am saying that is the biblically, theologically correct order. The result of God acting toward us in grace is peace. And this is emphasized here in Romans, chapter 5. Notice back in verse 1:

Romans 5

1Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

This is a very familiar verse and it should need very little elaboration, and yet while we are on this verse, let me point out the basis of our justification–being justified by faith. Someone says, “You know, that is just my problem; I don't have very much faith. I just don't know whether I believe it or not, and I don't know whether I can live it or not, and I don't know whether I can be the kind of person that deserves to be saved.” Well notice the last line of verse 1:

Romans 5

1…through our Lord Jesus Christ:

We are justified by faith, but that faith is in the Lord Jesus Christ. And you see, the importance of faith is not the strength of our faith, but the strength of the object of our faith. If I put my very strong faith in a weak object, such as thin ice, I may have a great deal of faith that the thin ice will hold me up. My faith may be very strong, but if I stand on that thin ice and it is not thick enough to hold my weight, I'm going to go crashing through into the water below, no matter how strong my faith may have been. On the other hand, if I step onto some ice with very little and trembling faith, but that ice is strong, I may have very little faith, but I placed what little faith I do have in that very strong object and that strong object holds me up. And that is the picture of Romans, chapter 5, verse 1. Being justified by faith through our Lord Jesus Christ, even our weak and trembling faith placed in the Lord Jesus Christ causes us to have a peace with God. Wonderful thought!

I might also point out that the word “peace” here in Romans, chapter 1, is a translation of a military term that refers to a cessation of hostility. It means that the war is over, that the rebellion against God or the uneasiness with God or the nervousness about God, or whatever feelings about God may have been characterized in your life, all of that is settled. We have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ; not through anything that we have done, but because of God's grace, we have peace.

Source of the Appropriation

Let's go back to Colossians, chapter 1, thinking about the appropriation that God had made for the Colossians and that he has made for us. And with all of that in mind, it's important and interesting also to notice the source of this appropriation in verse 2. We read in Colossians, chapter 1, verse 2:

Colossians 1

2…Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

You see, this grace that we have been talking about which makes possible our peace with God comes directly from God the Father, not through some series of intermediaries. This would have been very important to the Colossians, because remember, as we studied last week, they were being taught that God could only be approached through a series of pleromas , through a series of intermediaries, of fullnesses that spilled over from God. This is the teaching of Gnosticism, which we talked about in our preview study of the book.

So God says to these Colossians who were being misled and being threatened and being confused with Gnosticism, “No! You don't have to have any kind of intermediary. Grace and peace come from God our Father, and from the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Incidentally, notice also that He places the Lord Jesus Christ on a par with God the Father, and we will see this again and again in this book, because another of the aspects of Gnosticism, or whatever the false teaching was that they were having there in Colosse. We believe it probably was Gnosticism, from our study of history, but one of the problems of the teaching was that Jesus Christ was very good, but He was not God. He was descended from God, and He was much better than humans, but He was not God, according to that teaching. Paul writes, and he says, “This is from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.”

Some of the other manuscripts of the New Testament do not include the phrase, “and the Lord Jesus Christ,” but it is perfectly in keeping with the truth that is here. Some of the better manuscripts do include it. So Jesus Christ is included on a par with God the Father.

Praise for the Colossians

Not only had Christ made provision for the Colossians, these verses also tell us of His praise for them. As we conclude, we want to think about verses 3-8, which tell about the praise for the Colossians. This praise comes from the Apostle Paul and from God Himself.

Notice then, first, the receiver of the praise in verse 3. Here is what is to my mind an interesting thing. Verse 3:

Colossians 1

3We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

Notice who the receiver of praise is, in verse 3. The receiver of this

praise is not the Christians at Colosse themselves, but it is God:

Colossians 1

3We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,

He is going to go on and say that he has heard great things about their faith. They have been reaching out to people around them and accomplishing things for God. And Paul says, “I am thankful for that. It stirs my heart to see you Colossians living for Christ.” But do you see who he is thankful to? He doesn't say, “I thank you Colossians.” No, he says, “I thank God for you Colossians.”

Do you realize that it is God who has made any Christian whatever that Christian may be? We're thankful for the ministry of other Christians in our lives, aren't we? Many times God will make us aware that some other believer has ministered to us in an effective way. It is good to be aware. It's good to be alert to the ministry of other believers. It's good to be thankful for other believers, and it is good to tell them that we are thankful for them. If someone has been a blessing to you, you should tell them that. It is encouraging to them. It will encourage you to tell them, but how often do we also stop to thank God for those believers? We tell them sometimes and we don't think to tell God. The Apostle Paul sets the example here, and he says, “I am thankful for you Colossians.” He is telling them, but he is telling God also. So, we should take that as an example and thank God specifically and by name for other believers who mean something to us.

Reasons for Paul's Praise

Then in verses 4-7, we have the reasons for praise in Paul's prayer, the things that he is specifically thankful for. First, in verses 4 and 5, he says that he is thankful for their faith. He is saying here in verse 3, “We give thanks to God,” and then in verses 4 and 5:

Colossians 1

4Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,
5For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Notice here in verse 4, how Paul couples faith with love. He says:

Colossians 1

4Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints,

Faith and love couple together. May I suggest that this is completely normal and natural. This is exactly what God intends.

Keep a marker here in Colossians, and turn with me to James, chapter 2, and notice with me verses 14-16. James is talking about the real nature of saving faith:

James 2

14What doth it profit, my brethren, though a man say he hath faith, and have not works? can faith save him [and in the context of this passage, we could read, ”can that kind of faith save him”] ?
15If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food,
16And one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?

Do you see what James is saying? He is not saying (and we need to be careful that we understand this) that we are saved by our works. He is simply saying that saving faith is the kind of faith that produces love in our hearts for other believers. Saving faith is the kind of faith that causes us to do things for other believers, someone who is really in need.

Faith That Responds to Need

We could make an entire study of these verses, but we are not going to make a study of James, chapter 2. Basically what he is saying is that a saving faith is a faith that responds in love. He goes on to say what constitutes real need. He is not talking about some kind of a give-away program to get votes or that will impress people for some reason. He is talking about real need, and he says that saving faith is the kind that responds to real need. That is what faith really is.

Going back to Colossians, chapter 1, Paul is saying here, “I have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which you have for all the saints.” That is what he is thankful for. And then notice, down in verse 5, something else that goes along with this. This faith and love that the Colossians had came from the hope that the Colossians had. Look at Colossians, chapter 1, verse 5:

Colossians 1

5For [the translation there is the sense of ”because of”] the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel;

Their faith and the love that came from that faith were because of the hope that they had. Do you see that? They had faith, the kind of faith that had love toward all saints, but that faith was because of the hope that was presented in the Gospel.

The Hope of the Gospel

What is it about the Gospel that causes us to have faith? What is it about the Gospel that causes us to respond in love to other people? It is the hope that it gives, the fact that this life is not all there is, the fact that we are not hopeless and undone before God, the fact that we have peace with God. All of those things are wonderful aspects of hope and that causes us to have faith in God, and that causes us to respond in love toward others.

We hear from time to time, “Oh, you know, we shouldn't concentrate too much on prophetic truths of the Scripture, because it is all going to pan out somehow in the end.” The Scripture says that the prophecy that's included in the Word of God is to increase our hope, to encourage our hearts. It is to comfort us, and here is an example of it. We have a hope of the future. We have a steadfast hope of the knowledge of what God has in mind for us, and that produces faith, and that produces love. So Paul was thankful for their faith and their love which sprang from the hope of the Gospel.

The Fruitfulness of the Colossians

Then in verse 6, let me mention another reason that Paul praises the Colossians. That is their fruitfulness. Notice in verse 6:

Colossians 1

6Which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth:

The Gospel produces fruit in their lives. He is referring to, I think, their reaching out in love to those around them. They were sharing the Gospel. They were ministering to other people. They were having a part in the needs of the lives of other people. So the Gospel was bearing fruit. Paul says, “I am thankful for that fruit.”

Here is the principle of “overflow.” We have talked about it many times before. The fact that God blesses us. God gives us the Gospel, and we are blessed by that, and we give the Gospel to someone else. God gives us the opportunity to study His Word. We make His Word a part of our lives. We are obedient to His Word, and that fruit overflows and we are able to minister to someone else by means of that overflow. Paul says, “You heard the Gospel. It produced hope and love in your lives and your ministering to other people as the result. I'm thankful for the fruit which the Gospel has produced in your lives.”

Epaphras, a Faithful Minister

Finally, in verses 7 and 8, Paul is thankful for their faithful minister. Notice in verse 7 he says:

Colossians 1

7As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ;
8Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.

Notice the equality that Paul gives to Epaphras. He says, “I learned this of Epaphras, my dear fellow-servant.” Now Paul was an apostle, as we saw earlier, an official representative of Christ, and yet he said, “Epaphras is my dear fellow-servant.” Epaphras was really a messenger. He was the one who had brought the letter to Paul, and he is the one who is going to take Paul's answer back to the Colossians. Paul says, “Even though I am an apostle and he is a messanger, we are fellow-servants”–a wonderful aspect of the testimony of the Apostle Paul. In fact, notice, along that same line, the way that Epaphras served the Colossians. Turn over to chapter 4 of Colossians, and notice the way in which Epaphras served them:

Colossians 4

12Epaphras, who is one of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

Here is Epaphras, a fellow-servant of the Apostle Paul, and he says, in the first chapter, “You are a faithful servant.” And he says here in the last chapter, “He is a servant of Christ and labors fervently for you.” And notice how. In prayer. “He labors fervently for you in prayer.” He is a fellow-servant of the Apostle Paul. We might think from that, “Well my, he must have a tremendous preaching ministry or a tremendous writing ministry. He must be a very important man for the Apostle Paul to claim equality. He must be a very active and busy man for Paul to say, 'He's my fellow-servant. He is on a par with me'.” Well, he was on a par with Paul, but you see how he ministered to the Colossians? “Praying fervently for you.” Laboring fervently in prayer. And here again, and we have seen this before, but here is another evidence of the fact that in God's sight, some of those ministries that go on behind the scenes, and go on unbeknownst to us many times, are very important ministries in God's sight. Epaphras, a fellow-laborer with the Apostle, a fervent ministry; and his ministry was to be away from Colosse, and unbeknownst to them, praying fervently for them.

Conclusion

So Paul puts the man who faithfully labors in prayer in a category with himself, as the apostle inspired of God to write the Word of God. The Colossians had much for which to be thankful. They had an apostle. They had the appropriation of the Gospel with the grace and peace that the Gospel brings. They had an effective, fruitful ministry. They had one who prayed for them faithfully. Certainly the Colossians were most blessed as people, and yet you and I have no less than that for which to be thankful. We have the teachings of that Apostle in the New Testament. We have that same grace and peace which God bestowed on the Colossians. We have the opportunity for fruitful ministry if we will allow that ministry to take place, and we have those whom God has raised up to labor feverntly for us in prayer. So with the Colossians, we are a people most blessed of God. God help us to be aware of His blessings to us.


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