From Prayer to Pen: Words to a Flailing Church

Worn and weary, Pastor E. arrived in Rome. The thousand-mile journey had taken a physical toll on his body, but it was nothing compared to the spiritual toll he was experiencing back home. Pastor E. didn’t even have a name for what he felt. He just knew that the Truth of the cross was under attack, and for some reason, he felt as though he were under attack too. He hoped this man, Paul, could help.

When Pastor E. entered Paul’s chamber, he couldn’t help but notice the heavy chain that bound Paul to a large Roman soldier. This was going to be awkward. Pastor E. would have to share everything, all of his failures as a pastor, in front of this gruff soldier. But now was not the time for pride.

Humbly, Pastor E. explained to Paul how he had started a church in Colossae, and things had gone well for a while. The people had expressed such fervor in their devotion to Jesus and their love for each other. After a while, though, some shady ideas about Jesus began to circulate among his congregation. Some people suggested that Jesus couldn’t possibly have been both God and a human.

Things continued downhill from there. It was like a free-fall of ludicrous ideas.

On and on he went. For some time, Pastor E. poured out his heart to Paul – from his initial enthusiasm to his eventual despair. Pastor E. loved the people of this small church in Colossae, but he was also fearful for them. They were heading down the wrong path, and they didn’t seem to care about the truth.

Paul understood all too well what was happening as the words from another letter to Ephesus came to mind. Unseen forces were at work. The real enemy was not of flesh and blood, and this same enemy was doing everything possible to destroy the Church everywhere. So when outright persecution didn’t work, the only other tactic was discord and deceit.

Prayer was the only way to combat this warfare.

The Roman soldier shifted his weight and hunkered down. He was stuck there, in yet another one of Paul’s prayer meetings.

Then, after a time of prayer, Paul reached for his pen . . .

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
(Colossians 1:1-2, NASB).

Paul begins his letter in a customary way; however, he also makes it clear that he is writing to them in his official capacity as an apostle. As such, Paul not only has the position of an apostle, but he also has the power of an apostle. Thus, they would be foolish not to heed his words.

Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God . . .

It was not the will of Peter or John that Paul became an apostle. It was God alone who ordained Paul’s apostleship.

. . . and Timothy our brother . . .

Our brother.
In other words, we belong to the same family.

. . . to the saints and faithful brethren . . .

After everything Pastor E. – Epaphras – had shared with Paul, wouldn’t it be understandable if Paul wrote, “to the unfaithful brethren”? After all, they were not being faithful to the truth!

However, Paul’s love for these believers is evident, as is the love Epaphras has for them. Paul calls them “saints and faithful brethren” because Jesus confers the status of a “saint” to all who believe in Him. The fact that the believers in Colossae were operating under certain falsehoods did not remove their citizenship in God’s kingdom. Simply put, Paul understood these believers to be young in their faith; they were easily misled into believing things that were not true. And sadly, Epaphras was outnumbered. So with great love and patience, Paul sought to bring the Word of Truth.


I invite you to join me on this journey with Epaphras as we study and learn the words of Paul to the church in Colossae. Click HERE to read PART ONE of this series on Colossians.

References:

Gundry, Robert. A Survey of the New Testament: Fourth Edition. Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2003.

MacArthur, John. The MacArthur New Testament Commentary: Colossians and Philemon. Chicago: Moody Press, 1992.

Phillips, John. Exploring Colossians and Philemon: An Expository Commentary. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2002.

   

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