Pressing On

with THE WORD

A study of the Scriptures to find out who God is, what is He like, and how to partner with Him now.

Identity and practice

Colossians 1:1-2
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God’s will, and Timothy our brother:
To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father.

After identifying himself and his protégé Timothy as the senders of the letter, Paul’s greeting is loaded of interesting word choices.  His letters’ introductions typically contained an allusion or preview of his intended focus.

To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ in Colossae.

The Greek word for saints means sacred or holy, and the word is often used in the New Testament in reference to believers.  To be holy is to be set apart for God and His purposes.

Paul also calls his recipients faithful brothers.  While the term for faithful means someone who is trustworthy and faithful, it generally referred to someone who had shown themselves faithful in executing business transactions, in following commands, or performing duties.

Whenever we look up terms, it’s a good idea to go back to the verse and paraphrase it with our new understanding:

This letter is sent to those who are uniquely set apart for God’s purpose, the ones who are faithful and trustworthy family members – the people who are in Christ’s family and living in Colossae.

So whatever Paul has to say in this letter, his intended audience are those who already believe Christ for eternal life.  Paul didn’t write this letter to evangelize a group of non-believers; instead, his topics are primarily for an in-house discussion.  Remembering Paul’s target audience will help us as we interpret his words. 

Also keep in mind that out of all the letters Paul wrote – in his introductions, he referred to only two churches as being faithful – Colossae and Ephesus.

While they were saints in their position before God, they were faithful brothers because of what they did in the practice.

Paul wants them to remember their identity as saints in Christ.  How they live is an outpouring of who they are and who they understand themselves to be in Christ.  Although the Colossian church was doing well in this regard, Paul would continue to emphasize these two themes of identity and practice.  Later on in the letter, he explains why these themes are so important:

Colossians 1:28
We proclaim Him, warning and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone mature in Christ.

If we’re struggling and not being faithful in our God-given responsibilities, we’re not going to mature.  Perhaps it’s because we’ve forgotten our identity as saints in Christ.

Keep Pressing,
Ken