Grace And Peace

GRACE AND PEACE

“Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother, to God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.” Colossians 1:1, 2.

Quite a mouthful in the opening sentence! Unlike our modern communication, ancient letters said it all in the first sentence; writer, recipients, and who they were. Who were Paul and Timothy?

Paul described himself as an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. He was not a self-appointed or self-proclaimed apostle. We have many of those today. Why do spiritual leaders love titles? Does it elevate them above the rest or give them an edge on spirituality? On what authority do they claim those titles? Those who call themselves Apostle So-and-so or Prophet So-and-so – can they honestly say that they were given that title and office by the will of God?

With a title comes a task – to lead people by example as Paul did. Because he was a God-appointed and Spirit-anointed apostle, he could say, “Follow me as I follow Christ.” How often do those who carry official-sounding titles betray them by espousing people to themselves! They are the only ones who are right and not to recognise that is to dishonour their title.

Who was Timothy? A brother! Timothy was Paul’s young trainee. When Paul found him, he realised that he had found gold – a young believer who had the makings of a fine leader. Paul did not give him the title of apostle. It was not his right to give, but he trained and mentored him to understudy him as a faithful and fully equipped leader. He was able to leave him in Ephesus to care for the church there while Paul went on with his mission to make Christ known where He was not known.

Paul regarded Timothy as his son in the faith. He often accompanied Paul on his journeys and acted as messenger and support during Paul’s imprisonments. He was a comfort to Paul in his suffering and in his old age, a true son upon whom Paul could rely to continue his work when he was no longer there

Who were the Colossians? The ancient city of Colossae was built on a major trade route which ran through the Lycus River valley in the province of Asia Minor in modern-day Turkey. It was famous for its dark red wool cloth called colossinum from where the city got its name. The city lost its importance when the nearby city of Laodicea overtook it as a business centre.

Paul spent two years in the nearby city of Ephesus from where the gospel spread to other centres, carried by converts from Ephesus. It is likely that one of Paul’s converts, Epaphras, was responsible for carrying the message to Colossae. Philemon was a member of that church, to whom Paul wrote a short letter about his slave Onesimus.

Although Paul did not know the people in the church at Colossae personally, he could still address them as “holy people” and “faithful brothers and sisters.” Why? Because, like his Master, he could view them as already complete in Christ. As long as they were in Christ, from God’s perspective, they had already been perfected. “In Christ” is, of course the operative word.

Grace and peace! Grace – a prayer for his readers to experience the ongoing grace of God in their lives, and peace – a normal Jewish greeting – “shalom” but for Paul the result of all God’s mercy to us – His peace that guards our hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Infused into this greeting is all the richness of God’s work in the lives of those who are “in Christ”.

This was much more than just a nicety, a polite greeting like we would say when we say “hello” and “goodbye” but, to Paul, it was the expression of his heart and his love for God’s children, even if he did not know them personally.

SCRIPTURE TAKEN FROM THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.® Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

 

Luella Campbell


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