These verses introduce the letter,
– identify Paul as sent by Christ and as the author of this letter,
– identify the church in Colossae as the addressees and
– identify God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ as the One Who willed Paul’s apostleship (Col 1:1), and as the One Who we must thank (Col 1:3);
1:1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
Paul – He always starts his letters with his own name. This is why Hebrews was probably not written by Paul.
Apostle – An apostle is somebody sent. Paul is an “apostle of Jesus Christ” (Col 1:1), which means he is sent by Christ. The implication of this verse is that Timothy was not an apostle. He did not receive direct instruction from Christ (1:1).
1:2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father.
1:3 We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
1:4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and the love which you have for all the saints;
Father (Col 1:2, 3) – The focus in these verses is on the Father, not on Christ. “God” in verse 1 is identified as the “Father” in verses 2 and 3. As in the prayer which we received from our Lord, God is “our Father” (1:2), which means that He deeply cares for us and continually protects us. He is the active Force behind Paul’s work (1:1) and behind what Christ did (Col 1:12; 2:13, 15).
Give thanks (1:3) – We receive grace and peace from “God our Father” (1:2), and in return, we thank “the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ” (1:3). That is the true circle of life: He gives us everything we need and we honor Him for that.
1:5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven, of which you previously heard in the word of truth, the gospel 1:6 which has come to you, just as in all the world also it is constantly bearing fruit and increasing, even as it has been doing in you also since the day you heard of it and understood the grace of God in truth; 1:7 just as you learned it from our beloved fellow bond-servant, who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf, 1:8 and he also informed us of your love in the Spirit.
Hope (1:5) – “Christ in you” is “the hope of glory” (Col 1:27), namely the hope for “the inheritance of the saints” (Col 1:12). “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, is revealed, then you also will be revealed with Him in glory” (Col 3:3-4).
Truth (1:5, 6) – In this letter, as in many of his other letters, Paul had to oppose a distortion of the truth. For that reason, we find early on in this letter an emphasis on “truth” (1:5, 6).
This letter, being a letter, is addressed to a specific audience to address specific issues. To some extent, Paul’s letters only give us 50% of the story. We read his rebuttal of deceptions, but we only indirectly read about the deceptions themselves.
Grace (1:6) is God’s merciful kindness; His free gift. Everything we receive from Him is His free gift. The kindness of God leads us to repentance (Rom 2:4). We are saved by His merciful kindness.
Epaphras (1:7) – Paul himself had not worked in the area of Colossae (Col 1:4, 7-9; 2:1). Apparently, Epaphras, one of his helpers, established a group of believers there (Col 1:7; 4:12, 13). It seems as if, while Paul was in prison in Rome, Epaphras visited him, informing him of the spiritual growth of the Colossian church (Col 1:8; 2:5), but also of the “deception” (2:8) troubling his church. In Philemon 1:23 Paul mentions a Epaphras that is “my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus”.