To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ. (Colossians 1:2)
The Apostle Paul wrote many letters to the churches that he founded in his work as an evangelist and church planter. The letter he wrote the Colossians is different than most of Paul’s letters, because there is no mention in the Book of Acts that he ever visited the city of Colosse. In Colossians 2:1 Paul wrote of the believers in Colosse and Laodicea as being among the “as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.”
The best evidence is that Paul wrote this letter from his first imprisonment in Rome, around the year a.d. 63. A leader of the church in Colosse named Epaphras visited Paul when he was in Roman custody and brought news from the congregation. In response, Paul wrote them this letter.
The city of Colosse was probably the smallest and least important city that Paul ever wrote to. It might surprise us that Paul would turn his attention to the Christians in Colosse at a time when he had so many other concerns. Yet Paul reflected the love and heart of Jesus Christ, who cares for the few as well as the many.
The Christians in Colosse were troubled by false doctrines. It’s hard to exactly describe what those doctrines were. It seems they were a corruption of Christianity with elements of mystical and legalistic Judaism perhaps combined with early Gnosticism.
Whatever the problem was precisely, Paul dwelt on the solution: a better understanding of Jesus. Knowing the real Jesus helps us to stay away from the counterfeit, no matter how it comes packaged.
This letter – full of love and concern, written to a church Paul had neither planted nor visited – shows the power of Christian love. Paul didn’t need to see or meet or directly know these Christians in order to love them and be concerned for them.
It’s natural that we should love and be concerned with those we personally know. Yet the love of Jesus is greater than natural love. This leads us to pray for and care about people we have just met or have yet to meet. We can pray for evangelists and Christian workers and the persecuted even though we have never met them
The best reason for Paul to love the Christians in Colosse was because they shared a love for Jesus. When people really love the real Jesus, then we should love and care for them also. So Paul took the time, the interest, and the effort to write this letter—a true demonstration of the love of Jesus for people he had yet to meet. Ask Jesus to also let you show care and love to some unexpected people.
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David’s weekly devotional is also translated into German.
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