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Colossians: A Prayer of Thanksgiving (1:1-8)

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A Prayer of Thanksgiving

This letter to the church of Colossae is one of the prison epistles written by the Apostle Paul. In this opening section, Paul expresses his prayer of thanksgiving for the church.


​ Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father.

Colossians 1:1-2 NIV

The church at Colossae was in what today we call central Turkey (Türkiye). This is a church that, as far as we know, was never visited by Paul. Yet he seemed to have a strong attachment to it, likely because Epaphras, his fellow prisoner (Phm. 1:23), may have been the church’s founder (Col. 4:12).

Paul wrote to this church from prison, probably in Rome. He wrote to counter false teachings that threatened the church. He also wrote to encourage the church to remain faithful to Christ.

Paul introduced himself as an apostle, one who had special authority in the early church. And he included Timothy in the introduction, not because he was a co-author, but because he was a close co-laborer with Paul.


We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people— 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 that has come to you.

Colossians 1:3-6a NIV

Paul started his letter off with a prayer of thanksgiving. The church at Colossae may have had some issues, but their faith and love were strong—their faith in Christ Jesus and their love for God’s people. And it was a faith and love that sprang from hope.

Faith, Hope, and Love

Faith, love, and hope are common attributes in Paul’s writing (1 Cor. 13:13; 1 Thess. 1:3, 5:8). As Paul uses it here, faith is more than our response to God’s gracious gift of salvation. Faith relates to our trust in God and our walk with him. It is something that is a part of our daily lives.

And love is more than an emotional feeling for fellow believers. It is a sacrificial love that cares for other believers, putting their interests ahead of our own.

And, Paul says, this faith and love spring from our hope, a hope that is a part of the gospel. Hope is a confident look to the future. Because of our confidence in what awaits us at the end of this life, we are encouraged to walk faithfully with our Lord as we wait. And to love sacrificially, knowing that we will be rewarded in the end.

The True Message of the Gospel

Jesus came, gave his life for us, and rose from the dead. That is good news. But at the heart of the gospel is hope, a confident expectation that this life is only temporary and that something much better awaits us. Without that hope, the gospel is not really good news.

But that hope changes everything. Because of that hope, I live by faith, knowing that something much better awaits me. And, because of that hope, I can love those I will share that eternity with.

Hope Stored Up in Heaven

Paul tells us that this hope we have is stored up in heaven. He is not telling us that it is stored away for a rainy day, that we have this hope to pull out when times are rough, although it can be used for that.

Instead, this hope that we have is secure. We don’t have to worry that someday the bank is going to run out of money. Or that God might lose interest in us someday. As Hebrews 6:19 says, “We have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure.”

A Fruitful Gospel

In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace.

Colossians 3:6b NIV

The gospel is bearing fruit, not just in Colossae, but throughout the world, wherever it is proclaimed. What fruit does the gospel produce? The most obvious answer is the salvation of the men and women who hear the gospel and respond to it by surrendering to the Lordship of Jesus.

But the gospel’s fruit doesn’t end there. It also includes the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for us—our growth and maturity as believers.


You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.

Colossians 1:7-8 NIV

Who is Epaphras? Not much is known about him. He is only mentioned two other times in the Bible. In Philemon 1:23, Paul says that he is a fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus. This would seem to indicate that Epaphras was in prison with Paul.

And, in Colossians 4:12, Paul describes Epaphras as one of one of them, a member of the church at Colossae. And one who was always wrestling in prayer for them. Epaphras was a prayer warrior who uplifted the church he was a part of.

And this passage tells us that the church at Colossae had learned the gospel from Epaphras. He was not just a member of the church. He was the founding member of the church there.

It is often thought that Epaphras may have come to Ephesus during the time Paul preached there, came to faith, and returned home to share it with his family and friends. And now, somehow, he has found himself in prison with Paul.

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Ed Jarrett

Just an old clay jar that God continues to see fit to use in his kingdom's work. I am retired, married with 2 children, and 4 grandchildren. I have followed Jesus for many years. And I love to share what He has given me from His word.

A Note to Readers

The views expressed here are solely mine and do not necessarily reflect those of any other person, group, or organization. While I believe they reflect the teachings of the Bible, I am a fallible human and subject to misunderstanding. Please feel free to leave any comments or questions about this post in the comments section below. I am always interested in your feedback.

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