Tuesday, January 10, 2017

Colossians 1:4

Paul is sharing with the readers in Colossae that he has received a good report (and is establishing that his coming remarks and concerns are based in his love and concern for them) probably from Epaphras (consider verse 8). What Paul says he heard is that the Colossian believers lived with the triad of virtues that he often wrote about – faith, love, and hope. Paul tends to group these virtues together in other places in his writings.[1] They appear in various orders. Faith deals with the past, love with the present, and hope with the future. Our faith is based upon historical facts.[2] Abraham’s faith in God when he went to sacrifice Issac was not an undeserved trust, but was a trust in God from what He had previously done for Abraham. Love is the everpresent present. Love is in the here and now and it will continue into all eternity. Faith based upon the past and what God has done to demonstrate this love (i.e. Christ’s death and Resurrection) builds our understanding of what real love is. It is in this moment that love is real. Hope is a confident expectation of what God will do in the days to come.

In this particular passage, Paul starts with the virtue of faith (Greek pistin) in Christ. The word faith carries with it the concept of a conviction based upon hearing.[3] The use of this noun produces a difference in understanding between faith in God and faith in man. Faith in God is based upon a firm conviction from an acknowledment of God’s revelation resulting in a personal surrender to Him producing conduct that such surrender has encouraged. F.F. Bruce states that “The phrase ‘faith in Christ Jesus’ indicates not so much that Christ Jesus is the object of their faith as that he is the living environment within which their faith is exercised.”[4] This faith is not just an intellectual faith, a head knowledge, but is how they live out there lives on a day-to-day basis.

Paul then ties this basis and life of faith into the impression of their love (Greek agapon) for all believers. The Colossian believers were not sectarian, they did not look down on other believers around them. They understood that a believer is a sinner saved by grace not someone who is perfect in this life. They sought to get along with others. The world is watching our demonstration of Jesus command to love one another, and trying to discern if we really believe and live it. When we have disagreements (and they will happen between believers), we should seek to bear with them, pray for them, love them, and seek to establish the truth.

Prayer: Jesus, I can pray no other prayer that is more important in my life than increase my faith. May I continuously keep my faith in You, not in me or any other thing. You are the only place that faith can rest in its fulness. Amen.

[1] See 1 Corinthians 13:13; Romans 5:1 – 5; Galatians 5:5 – 6; 1 Thessalonians 1:3; 5:8. 
[2] Some believe that faith is a blind leap in the dark, yet we see over and over in the Scriptures (both Old and New) that those who are ascribed with faith do so because of the facts that establish that faith. 
[3] W. E. Vine, Merrill F. Unger and William White, Vine's Complete Expository Dictionary of Old and New Testament Words (Nashville, Tennessee: Thomas Nelson, Inc., 1996). Pg. 222. 
[4] F. F. Bruce. The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans Publishing Co.,1984). Pg. 41.

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