The Mystery Revealed, Christ is Enough, so Walk in Newness of Life
They were of different nationalities, different cultures. By all rights they should have been enemies. They’d never met, but his love for them was so great that though he was over 900 miles away and under house arrest, he wrote them a letter. But it was no ordinary letter. This was a missive full of all that he wanted to say but never had the chance to. Comprising over 1600 words and now arranged into four different chapters, no word, sentence, or phrase in this letter is meaningless. All hold incredible weight, depth, truth, and significance. This is Paul’s letter to the Colossians.
Written around A.D. 60, this was one of Paul’s prison epistles believed to be penned during Paul’s first imprisonment under house arrest. What prompted Paul to write this valuable epistle was the treat of the Colossae Heresy. While in Rome, Paul heard about the false doctrines and teachings that were infiltrating the Colossian church, and though he had never met this group of believers he felt compelled to take spiritual responsibility for their well-being and write them a loving letter of encouragement, exhortation, and correction. Hence, we have the book of Colossians.
However, step back a moment and picture the scene. The great Apostle, missionary, and evangelist stuck in a house in Rome and chained between two Roman guards. He had a group of followers, brothers, and co-ministers coming and going each day—some bringing news from various churches throughout the Roman Empire, others were running errands for Paul or delivering letters he wrote to their recipients. In the midst of all this business, someone arrives with news from Colossae, news and information that greatly disturbed Paul and his co-workers. Though they had never met or seen the believers at Colossae, Paul and his team struggle in prayer for these fledgling Christians and earnestly pray that they would remain strong in the truth and their faith in Christ. But that’s not all the leadership team in Rome did. After much prayer and supplication, Paul decides to right the Colossians a letter—to encourage them, to exhort them, to remind them of the truth, and most importantly to tell them that they are not alone but are loved and thought of from afar.
“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face.”
Ephesians is like the twin book to Colossians. However, the Ephesian believers were dear friends of Paul’s. He spent over three years with these people while he had never met the people of Colossae. Yet, in many ways Colossians seems to be the more personal of the two letters. Paul’s heart is poured right out, and his passion and deep desire to see the Colossians walk in truth is quite evident.
How amazing is that?! If you were to get a personal, deep, loving, and long letter from a famous teacher or spiritual leader that you looked up to, how would that make you feel? What if you got a four page long letter from someone like Billy Graham, C.S. Lewis, or Charles Spurgeon who was lovingly encouraging and exhorting you in your personal struggles and spiritual walk? You would be floored, amazed, and humbled, wouldn’t you? You would pay attention to what was said in that priceless letter and read it over and over again. You would probably take their advice and wisdom seriously and seek to correct the areas pointed out and strengthen the places of weakness. I know I would!
Well, that’s how the Christians in Colossae must have felt. So as we journey on through the pages of this wonderful book, let’s keep that in mind and view the words of this letter as those first century Christians must have read them: with awe, humility, receptive hearts, and absolute assurance that though they had never met, they were dearly loved from afar by none other than the Apostle Paul.
“I Paul, write this greeting with my own hand. Remember my chains. Grace be with you.”
If you were a Colossian, who would be the Paul-figure in your life? Someone you look up to and admire, but never met. Someone you would never dream to meet or receive a personal letter from. Who is your spiritual role model and hero? I'd love to learn your answer in the comments section!