We are introduced to another church body Paul feels strongly for. He didn’t plant this church himself but his love for this group compels him to give them a poignant lessen and a warning.
This church was started by Epaphras. My bible helps tells me that he most likely studied under Paul in Ephesus and came back to his hometown to share what he had learned. This is how the gospel is supposed to spread and how it still does today in many areas. It is like lighting a candle and letting that candle light another and another and another.
Even though Epaphas brought the same gospel message that Paul was preaching back to Colossae there were issues with false teachings. We are not told exactly what those teachings were but Paul heard about them and addressed them with this letter.
The first thing Paul did though was to introduce himself and share with this group what his prayers were for them. As we read on we will see that he wanted this message shared with the body in Laodicea too. I’m not sure if they were an offshoot church too or not, but they must have been facing some of the same doctrinal issues and received the same special prayers from Paul as the Colossian church did.
I would love to be the daily recipient of the kind of prayer Paul was sending Heavenward for this group. The first thing he did in his prayer was thank God for their faith. He was excited to know that the body of Christ was growing, even when he couldn’t be out there personally planting churches. He was “rejoicing with the angels” over another soul coming to Jesus.
Paul also affirms that the gospel that Epaphras brought was indeed the truth. He made sure to mention that their belief if the gospel that was presented to them had everlasting implications. Their faith gave them hope and a future with Jesus.
So, on to what Paul was praying for them specifically. He prayed that they would be filled with knowledge of God’s will and spiritual understanding. He also prayed for them to be strengthened with all power through the Spirit.
This prayer wasn’t so they could all sit around and make deep discussions amongst themselves. Paul asked that they receive these gifts from God so that they could “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to Him, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God” (verse 10).
Paul was praying that they too would spread the gospel as Epaphras had done with them. Before they could spread the truth though they needed to be rooted and grounded in it. They needed God’s Spirit to pour into their hearts the full truth of God and to give them discernment. He didn’t want the false doctrines spreading, only the true word of God.
How I covet that prayer! I want to be filled with the knowledge of God’s will and spiritual understanding. I also need His strength and boldness to share what He gives to me. I don’t know if He is going to show me any of what others would call miracles, but the miracle of understanding His word is enough for me for now.
The one piece that jumped out at me today in all this is when Paul says he gives “thanks to the Father, who has qualified you” (verse 12a). GOD qualified these people. They didn’t do any of it on their own. “God doesn’t call the qualified He qualifies the called.” He doesn’t need our PhD’s, or our Masters in Divinity. He needs our whole heart, willing to sit at His feet and listen. Then He needs us to get up and put into practice what it is we learned during that time.
Father God, I am SO unqualified to be doing this. I truly felt it as I was reading this letter today. I was lost as to what the whole letter was leading to. Thank You for those who have gone this road before me and put in the “helps” in my bible. But thank You even more for bring little things off the page for me. I didn’t even see the connection between the prayer and the phrase You made “resonate” just a little deeper today until now. I pray that prayer every time we come together. Sometimes I wonder if I’m even “praying it right” when I do. But You never cease to amaze me with what You bring out. Thanks for listening to my feeble prayer. It isn’t a “Paul powerful prayer” but You still answer it for me. Thank You! Keep it coming Lord; for me and for those I’m sharing with.