Daily Devotion: The Prison Letters – Colossians
We have just finished Philippians, Paul’s letter of joy, even though it is clearly written from prison. Colossians is another of what we call Paul’s prison letters (also Ephesians, and Philemon), although it may well have been written at a different time, from a different prison. Some scholars believe Colossians was written from Ephesus, during an earlier imprisonment not mentioned in Acts. Colossae was an ancient city located about 100 miles upstream from Ephesus on the coast of Asia Minor (today that would be Turkey); the area was devastated by an earthquake around 60 CE. Paul had not visited Colossae, but has received news about them, and offers support and encouragement, as well as guidance away from questionable religious practices.
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To the saints and faithful brothers and sisters* in Christ in Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
3 In our prayers for you we always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, 4for we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. You have heard of this hope before in the word of the truth, the gospel 6that has come to you. Just as it is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world, so it has been bearing fruit among yourselves from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God. 7This you learned from Epaphras, our beloved fellow-servant.* He is a faithful minister of Christ on your* behalf, 8and he has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
The letter begins with a greeting, the writers are identified as Paul, accompanied by Timothy, and the letter is addressed to the believers in Colossae. This is followed by a blessing – “Grace to you and peace from God our Father.”
Paul tells the believers at Colossae that he has thanked God for them ever since he first heard of their faith and the love they have for all the saints (saints is the word used to denote believers, not just especially holy ones). And that faith has given them hope – a hope that comes to them from heaven (Paul is not speaking of only faith and hope in life after death, but here in life after life, or in life.) They learned of this hope when they heard the gospel of Jesus Christ, as it was preached to them by Epaphras. Just as faith in Christ is growing and bearing fruit throughout the world, it is bearing fruit among them, from the day they heard it and realized what grace it represented! Epaphras, who brought the message to them is a fellow-servant, whom Paul loves, and a faithful minister of Christ for them. He has brought the news of their love and faith to Paul.