This will be a series of brief looks at Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. My purpose is not to write a full exposition but to show how much can be gained by looking carefully at what the text says. Too often we skip quickly from glancing at the text to parroting what we’ve heard before and believed already. That is no way to learn anything new from the Bible. Learning comes first and foremost from looking, looking attentively, looking for a long time.
Paul tells us simply that he is “an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God.” He makes no big deal of it, simply asserting that his ministry is authorized by God. The implication, of course, is that we’d better pay careful attention. This is an epistle with some real authority behind it.
He write “to the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae.” I’ve always been fascinated by that phrase because it seems to suggest the possibility that there might be saints who are not faithful. What might that mean?
Biblically speaking, a saint is simply someone claimed by God. The root of the Greek term gets translated in various contexts by saint, sanctified, holy, sacred. All are essentially the same biblical word and all mean set apart for or devoted exclusively to God. It is basically the same as our word Christian, though we tend these days to use that term rather loosely.
Faithful means either/both believing in God and living up to our devotion to God. When we see Paul’s odd phrase, then, we might well ask whether he is writing a letter which somehow touches on the idea that there are Christians who are not living up to their claims of faith.
Are you such a Christian? Am I? We’ve got to ask such questions and our study of Colossians will help us to do so. Ready?