It’s all change today as we begin a new book and as we’ve already read Luke’s books, we have a new author (though one that we have come to know through Acts), Bill Capper has prepared the notes this week and today we are reading Colossians 1.1-8.
Recently in our daily readings we saw how Paul spent two years at Ephesus during his third missionary journey. Ephesus is on the West coast of what is modern day Turkey and Colossae was 100 miles to the East. It is likely that at around that time a citizen of Colossae, named Epaphras, became a Christian. He went home and preached the gospel and a church grew up there. Now he has brought news of that church to Paul who is in prison, most likely in Rome, and Paul decides to write this letter. Paul had two concerns. First he was concerned that Epaphras preached the true gospel of Jesus Christ. Second he was concerned that the Colossian Christians continued in the true faith. So let’s pray that we too, reading the letter, do the same.
I like Paul’s clear endorsement of Epaphras, calling him his dear fellow-servant. I also like Paul’s open-hearted greeting to the believers whom he had not met and his thanks to God in prayer for them. The news of their faith in Christ and their love for one another made Paul recognise that they were true believers. Faith, hope and love are the three continuing themes of the Christian life and the Colossians were well known for them.
So in these first verses of his letter Paul the apostle has reassured the Colossians of their standing in Christ and confirmed the ministry of Epaphras. How encouraging that must have been to all concerned. Paul had a big heart. What about us?
Other Christians might have their funny ways of doing things but we can start by opening our hearts to all true believers. There are more and more Christians for us to open our hearts to because, just as in Paul’s day, all over the world the gospel is bearing fruit. In parts of Asia, Africa and South America the church is growing rapidly, as indeed it is in lots of other places which we can’t mention. How big is your heart for fellow believers?
Of course we don’t see all those believers a long way away, but as John says in his first letter, let’s make sure we love the brothers and sisters we do see. John says:
“… whoever does not love their brother and sister, whom they have seen, cannot love God, whom they have not seen.” 1 John.4.20