Colossians 1:3-6 Gospel praying

Our prayers can often become very narrow in focus, concentrating on our immediate circle and concerns.  Paul sets us an outstanding example in relation to prayer.  He always had a profound interest in congregations he had, by God’s grace, established (Corinth, Ephesus), but he also had a great concern for other congregations (Rome, Colosse).  We will consider a striking example of his praying in Colossians 1:3-6 Gospel praying.

1. Consistent prayer

Paul has not met the Colossian Christians.  The church was established by Epaphras (v7) and it was from him that Paul had heard of their faith (v4) and love (v8), probably when Epaphras visited him in prison in Rome (Philemon 23).  On this basis Paul prayed – ‘We always thank God…when we pray for you’ (v3).  Literally he says ‘praying’ – a present participle that implies constant, continuous prayer.  It is chiefly to ‘the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ’ that prayer is addressed.  This should be the pattern of all our praying for the Lord’s people – an informed, regular, disciplined ministry, a privilege and a responsibility.  Note the importance of thanksgiving, delighting in what he is doing for brothers and sisters.

2. Gospel fundamentals

One purpose of Paul’s letter is to reassure Colossian believers of their standing as true Christians and also to confirm the accuracy of Epaphras’ message.  Here Paul does this by describing three effects of the gospel:

            (i). Faith: This flows from God’s grace (Ephesians 2:8).  It is a faith that looks out from self and leans upon Christ (Acts 16:31).  Personal commitment to the Saviour is required.

            (ii). Love: after the vertical dimension, here is the horizontal dimension.  Those truly touched by the gospel respond with self-sacrificing love for fellow believers.  This is exemplified by Jesus who ‘died for the ungodly’ (Romans 5:6-8).  Action is involved – ‘faith expressing itself through love’ (Galatians 5:6).

            (iii). Hope:  Christians are people of hope.  Rooted in the certainty of the redeeming work of Christ, the greatest blessings lie ahead as our inheritance (1 Peter 1:4).  Our Christian hope cannot fail or disappoint since it is founded on the promises of God.

3. Significant growth

Paul turns attention to the message that, blessed by God, will result in faith, love and hope – ‘the word of truth, the gospel’ (v6).  There is verbal communication of the good news that has specific content – ‘truth’.  It is not merely a matter of feelings or preferences.  This is the truth about the way of salvation God has provided in Christ, lived out by believers.  Paul has a big vision of the effects of the gospel all over the world (v6), as it had been at work in Colosse (‘among you’).  It has a twofold effect:

            Bearing fruit: in the lives of God’s people, the ‘fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23)

            Growing: the spreading gospel brings in God’s elect as he build his kingdom.

In a measure we will see both as the gospel is proclaimed.  We long for and pray for more fruit and greater growth as the Lord blesses ‘the word of truth’.

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