To 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. We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, Since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; Which 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: As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.
In this passage we encounter the trinity of faith, hope and love. This trinity appears in many passages in the NT. Here are a few:
And now abideth faith, hope and love, these three but the greatest of these is love
Remembering your work of faith, labour of love and patience of hope.
Who by Him [Christ] do believe in God that raised Him up from the dead and gave Him the glory that your faith and hope might be in God, seeing you have purified your souls in obeying the truth through the Spirit unto unfeigned love of the brethren see that ye love one another with a pure heart fervently
Our faith is in a person, the Lord Jesus Christ. It is not in ideas, doctrines or whatever, but in Christ Himself. As we examine the NT we see that salvation can only be received by trusting Christ and having faith in Him alone. We also continue to live the Christian life by faith in Christ, and not by any effort or scheme of man. This message will become very important later on in the epistle.
As we examine another of Paul’s epistles, the book of Galatians, we have a case study of what happens when believers go astray on this point. The Galatians started off well, but then went off into the works of the law in order to try and achieve a DIY righteousness. Such was their serious error that Paul used quite strong words to rebuke them. Gal.1:6-8; 3:15:3-4.
Later on, Paul encourages the Colossians to continue in the faith in the same way that they began Col.2:6. He then goes on to warn them of various dangers that could take them off track, and the answer is to know and believe that Christ is our life and that we are complete in Him. That is, He is the all the sufficient One. He is all we need.
We must ever walk by faith in Christ and know that it is no longer I but Christ who lives in me Gal.2:20.
We note that our hope is in heaven. We are no longer citizens of this world; a point Paul makes to the Philippians:
For our conversation (=citizenship) is in heaven from whence also we look for the saviour the Lord Jesus Christ.
We have no eternal home or reward here, but in heaven where we have an incorruptible inheritance I Pet.1:4. That is our hope, and we look for the Saviour’s return to take us to our eternal home. Again, we do not earn it, nor go off into some sort of mystical way in order to attain it. We have our hope by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ.
In the dangers Paul mentions later, enticing words, Vain Philosophy, Legalism and Mysticism, men and women put their hope in their particular systems. But they are all vain, and empty, they promise so much but cannot enable those hopes to be fulfilled. The only true hope is in Christ, and He will not disappoint. He has gone to prepare a place for us, and one day He shall receive us to Himself.
The greatest of these is love. Without love we are nothing, as Paul explains in I Cor.13. The emphasis in the passages quoted is that we ae to love the brethren fervently. John in his epistle makes it clear that true love is seen by actions not words. I Jn.4:11-21.
The list of love’s characteristics in I Cor.13 is as follows: longsuffering, kindness, doesn’t envy, doesn’t behave itself unseemly and seeks not her own. Not easily provoked, doesn’t think any evil, doesn’t rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth, bears, believes, hopes and endures all things.
Jesus sets us the example, and as we examine His life all those qualities were clearly demonstrated. He laid down His life for us, so we to are to lay our lives down for the brethren. Paul’s exhortation to the Galatians is worthy of our meditation.
For all the law is fulfilled in one word even in this. Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself but if ye bite and devour one another take heed that ye be not consumed one by another Gal.5:14-15.
The life of a Christian will produce fruit. The outcomes will not be strained but the natural outworking of life in the spirit. In scripture much is said about fruit:
- The fruit of the Spirit Gal.5:22-23.
- Fruits worthy of repentance Mtt.3:8.
- The fruit of lips Heb.13:15.
- Fruit of the Spirit in all goodness, righteousness and truth. Eph.5:9.
- Fruit unto holiness Rom.7:4-5.
These and many other scriptures are worthy of our meditation.