STUDENT POST: Remember Christ’s Work

Editor’s note: This post is part of a series featuring outstanding excerpts from student papers at the BibleMesh Institute, which offers affordable online training for local churches, schools, and ministries. The author’s name has been withheld for privacy and security purposes. She is preparing to serve as a missionary overseas.

As believers in Christ, we desire to live lives pleasing to Him. At times we can lose sight of the price Christ has paid for us and the purpose of our lives on earth. In Colossians 1:1-14, Paul addresses the church in Colossae with encouragement but also a deep intercessory prayer and a reminder to the church of what Christ has done for them.

The first verse sets the scene for the letter, naming Paul along with Timothy as the authors of this letter. Paul identifies himself as an apostle of Christ. Paul speaks in love by sharing a blessing of grace and peace and recognizing the fellow believers by referring to them as “faithful brothers in Christ” (Col. 1:2).

Paul moves into a prayer in verse 3 that starts with thanksgiving. He thanks God continually for the church as he has heard of their faith in Christ Jesus and their love for each other. It is amazing to think of Paul continually praying for a group of believers that he has never actually met in person. He is not just praying for them one time but continually. In verse 5 Paul says, “…the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel…” (Col. 1:5). Through this verse we see mention of faith, love, and hope. “In this verse, hope does not mean the attitude of waiting, or looking forward to something, but rather it refers to that for which a person hopes. Here it means the fulfillment of our salvation when we shall be taken to heaven and will enter into our eternal inheritance.” [1] Paul then talks about how the gospel message is both bearing fruit and growing through the world and also in the Colossian church. “This is precisely the effect that the gospel had in the lives of the Colossians since the day they heard and knew the grace of God in truth. There was numerical growth in the church at Colossae and, in addition, there was spiritual growth in the lives of the believers there.” [2] Verse 7 explains how Paul heard of the Colossian church, through Epaphras, a minister of the gospel, who was also the one to bring the gospel news to the Colossians.

Beginning in verse 9, Paul moves from his thankful prayers to specific requests in his prayer to God for the believers in the Colossian church. The first point of intercession Paul makes is to ask God to “fill you with the knowledge of his will through all wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives…” (Col. 1:9). The church was under pressure from false doctrine that tried to undermine Christ’s supremacy. The fact that Paul specifically asks for the church to have wisdom and understanding through the Spirit shows how much Paul understood the temptations they were facing. [3] It also shows Paul’s own wisdom and depth of prayer life. He doesn’t just ask that the church would be protected from temptation. Paul asks for a deeper request, a revelation and working of the Holy Spirit in their lives. The reason Paul asks for this wisdom is so that they can live lives “worthy of the Lord and please him in every way” (Col. 1:10). This phrase helps keep everything in perspective for the readers. Paul asks for imparting of wisdom, but he asks this not merely for the head knowledge but so that they can have a heart change that leads to a life pleasing to God. After this, verse 10b begins a list. This list includes, “bearing fruit in every good work” (Col. 1:10), “growing in the knowledge of God” (Col. 1:10), “being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might” (Col 1:11), and “giving joyful thanks to the Father” (Col. 1:12). It seems these four characteristics are part of a life worthy of the Lord and pleasing to Him.

In the second part of verse 12, we see the “Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light” (Col 1:12). “God the Father has himself provided what sinners need to be considered worthy to join the people of God.”[4] What an amazing concept that we can be considered worthy to join the people of God!

In the final two verses of this section, verses 13 and 14, Paul summarizes what Christ has done for us. Paul speaks of how we have been transferred from the dominion of darkness into the kingdom of the Son. We have been redeemed and forgiven of our sins. “This transfer entails the forgiveness of sin and the new life that is found only in Christ, a new creational existence that is nothing short of astounding.” [5] The work Christ did on the cross has made us new. “Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, the new creation has come: The old has gone, the new is here! All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ…” (2 Cor 5:17-18). We forget and we need to continually remind ourselves of these deep truths of what Christ has done for us. The nation of Israel often forgot what God had done, and in Deuteronomy 6:12 it says, “…be careful that you do not forget the Lord, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.” Also in the New Testament, Jesus takes the cup and the bread and tells the disciples to “do this in remembrance of me” (1 Cor 11:24). Our human nature is forgetful even of major events in our own lives. God has provided us with encouragement to remember these times. Meditating often on what Christ has done on our behalf will help us not forget and help us to reorient how we live out our lives.

[1] William MacDonald, Believer’s Bible Commentary (Nashville: Thomas Nelson Publishers Inc, 1995), 1989.

[2] Ibid., 1990.

[3]  Kent Hughes, Preaching the Word Colossians and Philemon The Supremacy of Christ (Westchester, IL: Good News Publishers, 1989), 22.

[4] Douglas Moo, The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon (Grand Rapids, Michigan: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co, 2008), 101.

[5] Michael Kruger, A Biblical Theological Introduction to the New Testament (Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2016), ch 11.