Elaboration of Thanksgiving (1:4-8)
James R. Gray
(b) Its actions (1:6-8)
Paul’s thanksgiving is not simply linked to the characteristics of the Gospel that believers in
possessed, but it also is linked to
the actions of the gospel through them. They were channels of faith, love and
hope in the Gospel. It had produced certain actions or results in and through
them. He continues to thank God for these results: Colossae
(1) Fruitfulness. (1:6)
“Which has come to you, just as it has in all the world also;” This phrase refers to the truth of the gospel—The Mystery (v. 5, cf. Eph. 3:1-10). The word “come” is in the present tense, indicating that which came and is still present.
suggests it would be better
translated “which is present” in this
This Gospel is present in the world. It is best to take this as referring to
the gospel in transforming people in other parts of the world as it did in Campbell . This is not to
be taken that the Gospel had been preached in the entire world as in
fulfillment of the Kingdom commission (Matthew 24:14; Mark 13:10), as some hold.
The claim of Paul is to the appeal and scope of the preaching of the Gospel.
The preposition is en, and commonly
translated “in.” It is a preposition
of sphere, and “signifies
the location where the preaching takes place.” Paul is
talking about the sphere of preaching, not that every creature was preached
unto. The best translation of the praise is “preached in all creation under
heaven.” This verse is not referring to a fulfillment of the Great Commission,
nor that every creature has heard the gospel. In fact, if I understand John in
Revelation, this commission will not be completely fulfilled until end times,
and not simply by men, but will be aided by an angel (Rev. 14:6). Colossae
The stress is on the idea that where the Gospel is preached in the world, it brings forth fruit bearing power. Fruit bearing is the emphasis here and expresses the inherent power of the gospel. The text reads, “it is constantly bearing fruit” (1:6). This is one word in the Greek: karpophoroumenon. It means to bear or produce fruit, or generating fruit. Fruit comes by the inherint power of the Gospel. This fruit is described in Galatians 2:20. It is the “fruit unto holiness” (Rom. 6:22) that is manifested in the life of the believer. It is in the middle voice, expressing fruit that is constantly or continually being produced. In connection with the fruit, most modern translations bring out the continual idea with the words, “and increasing” (NASB). The words are found in many of the Greek texts, but not brought out in the KJV. The Greek word is auxanomenon, meaning to grow, increasing. The gospel comes in power to both produce fruit and grow. “There is something wrong with the preaching if the gospel does not bear fruit and if it does not continue to grow,” comments Baker. Is it producing and increasing in our lives? It was in the Colossians, and it should be in us as well.
This fruitfulness began “even [as it has been doing] in you also since the day you heard [of it] and understood the grace of God in truth;” On that day two things happened. First, they “heard” the gospel of grace. Hearing the Word is the first step of receiving the Word by faith (Rom. 10:14). This means the gospel of grace must be broadcast, spoken, or preached, if it is to be heard. We are to preach the Word so others may hear the Word (2 Tim. 4:2). Second, they received the Word because they came to “understand” the Gospel. The Greek word is epiginosko, meaning to take in knowledge fully, to fully recognize or understand, to fully comprehend by personal experience or knowledge. It denotes experience and intellectual apprehension of the gospel of grace. It unites the subject and the object. Responding to the gospel is to receive grace, for grace is the essence of the gospel. The gospel of grace transforms the truth of grace into the experience of grace.
(2) Teachable (1:7)
“Just as you learned [it] from Epaphras, our beloved fellow bond-servant” (1:7). They learned grace for they were taught it. Not only were the Colossians fruitful by the empowering gospel of grace, they were also teachable. The word translated learned is the Greek word manthano meaning to acquire knowledge, ascertain, not only by receiving facts, but by use or practice of that knowledge. It is the basis of the word disciple (matheteusate), one who is a learner from a teacher. To be a disciple involves two things: first, salvation, and, second, being instructed in the truth and its acceptance.
One learns from a teacher, in this case—Epaphras. He was the one who communicated and instructed them in the gospel of grace. This indicates Epaphras had seen his task in
not simply as winning them to the
faith but instructing them in the truth of the gospel of grace. Some indicate
that the apostle chose the verb learn intentionally, for it is a rare word, so
as to endorse Epaphras and his ministry over against the false teachers that
were found in the city. This
endorsement was based upon these important things: Colossae
First, Epaphras’ servanthood. He was a fellow servant. The Greek word is sundoulou meaning a joint servant. This term appears only in Colossians (here and in 4:7). Since in Philemon 23, Paul calls him a fellow prisoner, some have indicated that perhaps the word should be understood more in terms of a fellow bound one or prisoner. However, the context of Colossians does not seem to indicate this connection.
Second, “who is a faithful servant of Christ on our behalf.” The word “servant” is the Greek word diakonos, meaning one who serves, retaining its original sense, “waiter on tables.” It is one who ministers to the need of others. In this service, he is “faithful.” He met the greatest qualification of a steward (1 Cor. 4:2). While all God’s servants are in reality fellow servants, there may be more than the simple meaning implied in the term. It is possible that the context indicates a special connection to Paul and his ministry. Some manuscripts read “for us” rather than “for you” as in the KJV. The NASB reads “on our behalf.” The Greek texts vary, and it is debatable which is correct, although most favor the NASB translation. It was likely that he was Paul’s representative in
. This certainly is indicated by the
tone of the context. Baker says it indicates that he “was officially a part of
Paul’s evangelistic team.” Even if
one sees “on your behalf” as correct,
it still indicates a special relationship as their delegate to Paul in Colossae . Either way, there
was a special and close attachment between the two. Rome
(3) Loving (1:8)
“And he also informed us of your love in the Spirit” (1:8). Epaphras declared to Paul the Colossian’s “love in the Spirit.” Interestingly this is the only reference to the Holy Spirit in this epistle. Paul’s representative had kept him informed. Since Paul was in
Epaphras had come to
and told them what was happening to the Colossians. While Paul received both
good and bad reports, he first conveys the good news. The bad news of the
threatening circumstances, which is his purpose in writing, comes later (2:6).
Now He gives the good news, their love in the Spirit. This love has its origin in the Spirit (Gal.
5:22). It was a God-given love that was displayed in the lives of the
Colossians. It is the love that is poured out in the believer’s heart by the
Holy Spirit ( Rome
5:5). It is the first and greatest fruit of the Holy Spirit. He produces it in
the lives of believers today. Rom.
We certainly see in these verses (5-8) the power of the gospel. The gospel is good news, and its character is that of truth. Its message of grace is universal, to all regardless of race, gender, nationality, or economic standing. It is alive and fruitful in the lives of those who receive it.
Ernest, A COMMENTARY OF COLOSSIANS & PHILEMON, [Silverton OR, Canyonview, 1982],
 Peter T. O’Brien, WBC: COLOSSIANS, PHILEMON, [
, Word, 1982], 70. Waco
 James R Gray, PROPHECY ON THE MOUNT,
, Berean Advocate Ministries,
1991], 61. Chandler
 Lightfoot, COLOSSIANS, 133.
 Baker, UNDERSTNDING THE BODY OF CHRIST, 116.
 Scripture texts that are in brackets are the translator’s in the NEW AMERICAN STANDARD BIBLE, and not found in the Greek text. The translator added them to clarify the meaning of the Greek text.
 O’Brien, COLOSSIANS, 15.
 Campbell, COLOSSIANS, 27.
 Dunn, James D.G., THE NEW INTERNATIONAL GREEK TESTAMENT COMMENTARY: THE EPISTLES TO THE COLOSSIANS AND TO PHILEMON. [
, Eerdmans, 1996] 65. Grand
 It is the translation of choice by the NIV, NASB, RV, and the ASV. It is favored by Lightfoot, 134; Lenski, 30; O’Brien, 15; Baker, 116.
 Baker, COLOSSIANS, 116.