Sunday, 12 March 2017
Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, Colossians 1:1
Welcome to the book of Colossians! It is comprised of 95 verses, and so it will take us (one day at a time, just as you rise in the morning) about three months to analyze it. I hope you will be blessed as each day unfolds with new insights into this beautiful epistle from the mind of God and through the hand of Paul, the Apostle to the Gentiles.
He begins by introducing himself right off the bat. The letter bears his name, and though the authenticity of his authorship has been challenged in this, and as in almost all of his letters, there is no valid reason to suggest that he is not the true author. He is the Apostle to the Gentiles, and the letter is written to a Gentile-led church.
He next identifies his apostleship with the words, “an apostle of Jesus Christ.” He is a messenger of the Lord, having been called by Him personally to perform this weighty duty which has been so amazingly fruitful for the past two thousand years. This is his one claim to the authority of writing a letter of doctrine to them, and it is with this authority that he thus writes.
After this, he notes that his apostleship is “by the will of God.” This is the same phrase as is seen in 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Philippians, and 2 Timothy. It is what further defines his calling, and which affirms his authority. It also is a note of humility in that he was selected, and therefore it was not of his own merits. Instead it was by the sovereign decision of God that he is so designated an apostle.
In his letter to the Romans, he gave a more formal declaration of his commission, and in Galatians the opening statement was considerably more direct and even abrupt. In other letters, the opening varies as well. The opening statement is given in each epistle to set the tone for the rest of the letter.
Finally, he adds in the words, “…and Timothy our brother.” This does not mean that Timothy is participating in the writing of the epistle, but that Timothy is with Paul and sending on his greetings to those in Colossae as will be noted in verse 2. Timothy referred to here is certainly the same Timothy to whom two epistles which bear his name are written.
Timothy is highlighted here and elsewhere, giving him much credence within the church, and setting the stage for him to be recognized as an authority within the church in the future. However, Paul is careful to make him out as a “brother,” and not as an “apostle.” The term is never applied to Timothy, because he did not meet the necessary requirements of being an apostle of Jesus Christ. Only a select group of people were called Christ’s apostles. After their deaths, the apostolic age ended, taking the title of “Apostle of Jesus Christ” with them.
Life application: As Paul wrote, he probably didn’t think that we would be reading his words two thousand years later, but the glorious words in the epistle still resound to this day. It is a letter directed to each person as an individual who is willing to pick it up and read it. Consider the magnitude of this as you read it, or truly any portion of Scripture.
Heavenly Father, it is so welcoming to know that Your word was written through the hands of the prophets and apostles, speaking to people thousands of years ago, and yet it was also written to each one of us who is willing to pick it up, read it, and cherish the content which comes directly from Your heart into our minds. Help us to hold it in reverence, to refer to it often, and to cherish the precepts that it contains – applying them to our lives properly and faithfully. Help us in this, O God! Amen.