Opening Prayer: Psalm 46.1-3
God is our refuge and strength,
A very present help in trouble.
Therefore we will not fear,
Even though the earth be removed,
And though the mountains be carried into the midst of the sea;
Though its waters roar and be troubled,
Though the mountains shake with its swelling.
Sing Psalm 46.1-3
(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God is our refuge and our strength; He is our help in times of need.
Thus though the earth beneath us should change, the sea consume the mountain range;
waters may roar with raging speed; yet God will rescue us at length.
Read Colossians 1.1, 2
1. How did Paul refer to the Colossians?
2. What did he wish for them?
As in each of his epistles, Paul’s greeting is packed with spiritual truths. Paul identified himself as “an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God” (v. 1). There is authority in that salutation. Whatever Paul had to say to them, it carried divine authority. Timothy was with him as he wrote this brief but encouraging letter; Paul refers to him simply as “our brother”, and thus he established a bond and connection between them and the Colossians – they were in the same family.
That family is comprised of “saints and faithful brethren in Christ” (v. 2). Paul used the word “saints” to refer to their position in Jesus Christ. As believers, we have been “set apart” for Him and positioned in Him – “hidden in Christ with God” (Col. 3.3). He is our refuge. The word faithful describes the condition of the Colossian believers. As we shall see, they lived like saints in the strength of Jesus, and this was a source of much thanksgiving on the part of Paul and Timothy (v. 3).
Paul summarizes his purpose in writing in the second part of verse 2: “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” Grace is the divine disposition of favor toward His people. But it also His communication of that favor, together with power to make that favor active in our lives. Paul wrote to the Colossians so that they might know more of God’s grace, issuing in His peace, which is the condition of all those who have been conveyed into the Kingdom of God’s dear Son (v. 13; cf. Rom. 14.17, 18).
Treasure Old and New: Matthew 13.52; Psalm 119.162
To: The Colossians whose position in Jesus and their favorable condition caused them to live like saints by the knowledge of God’s favor that made them active and powerful in the Holy Spirit.
From: Paul the apostle of Jesus by the will of God.
In Mark 2.1-12 we read the story of a paralytic. Jesus both forgave his sins and healed his body. His salvation and subsequent actions caused the people to say, “We never saw anything like this!”
Paul explained that Jesus said to him, “I have appeared to you for this purpose, to make you a minister and a witness both of the things which you have seen and of the things which I will yet reveal to you…I now send you, to open their eyes, in order to turn themfrom darkness to light, and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins and an inheritance among those who are sanctified by faith in Me” (Acts 26.16-18).
To: Us, whose position in Jesus is secure and should be causing us to be active and powerful in the Holy Spirit, living like saints. But do we? Do others observe our salvation and life and say, “We never saw anything like this”?
From Paul: who tells us that we, too, are called by the will of God. He offers us his lovely salutation, “Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (v. 2). Now get busy.
We can be faithful in Christ, when we remember Who has called us out of darkness into light, and the purpose to which we have been called. Let’s set out to be the people about whom others say, “We never saw anything like this!”
1. What do we mean by position in Christ and condition in Christ?
2. What should we want people to see of our condition in Christ? Why do we need grace for this?
3. How can we become more like the Colossians and those of whom people said, “We never saw anything like this”?
[Paul] premises that he is an Apostle of Christ set apart by the will of God. From this it followed, that he did not act rashly in writing to persons that were not known by him, inasmuch as he was discharging an embassy with which God had intrusted him. For he was not bound to one Church merely, but his Apostleship extended to all. John Calvin (1509-1564), Commentary on Colossians 1.1
Thank You, Lord, for setting me in Jesus Christ; help me to be faithful today as I…
Closing Prayer: Psalm 46.4-11
Thank the Lord that you are in Christ – safe in His refuge and strength. Praise, exalt, and glorify Him, and commit your day to serving Him in all you do.
(St. Chrysostom: We Have Not Known Thee As We Ought)
God’s everlasting, joyous grace gladdens the city where He dwells.
Safely in Him, we will not be moved; when morning dawns, His love will be proved.
Fears and distresses Jesus dispels for His beloved, chosen race.
Kingdoms arise and rage and roar, threat’ning the earth with sore distress;
nations may fall, earth melt away, His Word is yet our hope and stay.
God is among us, ever to bless; He is our stronghold evermore.
Come see the works of God’s Right Hand! He breaks the nations of the earth,
shatters their foolish weapons and pride, sets all their sinful strength aside;
Them He will show His infinite worth as they before His judgment stand.
Rest in the Lord and be at peace, all who are mired in sore travail:
Lift up our God, praise Jesus our Lord; proclaim to all the earth His Word!
God is our stronghold, never to fail: thus may our hope and joy increase!
T. M. and Susie Moore
You can listen to last week’s summary of the book Ruth by clicking here.
Colossians in God’s Covenant
Where does the book of Colossians fit in God’s covenant with His people? Our workbook, God’s Covenant, can help you to answer that question and to gain a better understanding of how the grace of God reaches and transforms us in Jesus Christ. Order your free copy by clicking here.
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Except as indicated, all Scripture are taken from the New King James Version. © Copyright 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved. For sources of all quotations, see the weekly PDF of this study. All psalms for singing are from The Ailbe Psalter (Williston: Waxed Tablet Publications, 2006), available by clicking here.