[This is the first installment in a new series in which we will be blogging through Paul's epistle to the Colossians]
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love that you have for all the saints, 5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven (Colossians 1:3-5).
In his introduction to his letter to the Colossians, the Apostle Paul thanks God for their faith, their love, and their hope. Paul has not met these saints, as we can tell from verses seven through nine. But he has heard good things about them. And he knows what it means to be a Christian. So we can assume that he expects faith, love and hope to be part of the life of every believer.
The faith Paul mentions is faith in Christ Jesus, the means by which righteousness from God graciously becomes ours. As Paul says elsewhere, “in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last (Romans 1:17).”
The love the Colossians have demonstrated is for all the saints. In the early Christian church, the world did not marvel initially at the Christians’ teaching, but in the way they loved each other. In Philippians, Paul urges the believers there to be in unity, to be humble and to love one another because we have comfort from the love of Christ, Himself.
And finally, Paul acknowledges that the Colossians have this faith and love because of the hope laid up for them in heaven. This is the same hope he prays for in his letter to the Ephesians, “the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in his holy people (Ephesians 1:18).”
Seeing faith, love and hope appear in several of Paul’s letters indicates they are clearly foundational to his theology. And again, in 1 Corinthians 13:13 he says, “these three remain: faith, hope and love.”
We, too, should demonstrate faith, love and hope—faith in Christ for His righteousness to make us acceptable before God, love for the saints because of the love we have received from God, and hope in a glorious inheritance awaiting us with Christ. For Paul, the faith, love and hope of the Colossian believers inspired him to give thanks to God. We might do the same, too.
A Biblical Reflection by Tom Hoffman