Colossians 1.1-2: Opening Greeting
The letter opens with a typical “Pauline” greeting:
1 Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, 2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father (TNIV).
The Greek word that the TNIV translates as “holy people” (some versions translate as “saints,” see e.g., NKJV, NRSV, NASB), needs some clarification. Today, when we refer to someone as “holy,” or think of someone as a “saint,” it’s typically because we believe he/she possesses qualities of virtue. But this is not what the term means here; rather, it conveys the Old Testament idea of being “set apart by God,” primarily in the sense of belonging to him (see esp. Deut 7.6). In other words, Paul here affirms that the Christians at Colossae belong to God; in fact, they are a part of God’s intimate family as “faithful brothers and sisters in Christ.” Paul may have chosen the word “faithful” in order to highlight and contrast the commitment of the Colossian faithful, so to speak, with that of the false teachers, whom we spoke of in the previous Colossians post. It may also serve as a reminder for the believers to continue in their faithfulness (so esp. 1.23).
The repetition of the similar phrase regarding the “hope held out in the gospel,” which frames this section (see v.5 and v. 23), suggests the gospel message is central to these verses.
With that observation in mind, what do these verses tell us about the gospel? Regardless of any prior understanding of the gospel message that you may have, what do you observe from this passage?
How would you define it? What does it consist of? What are its effects? Note anything and everything you might observe.
In addition to serving as a suitable starting place for our discussion of Colossians 1, this provides an appropriate topic as we prepare for Easter.