Colossians 1:1–8 (NKJV)
1 Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,Colossians 1:1-2
2 To the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are in Colosse:
Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Paul opens the book of Colossians by identifying who is involved in the production of this letter, namely, Paul the apostle and his protege, Timothy. He then identifies the recipient of the letter, the Christians at Colosse. He then offers the traditional Pauline greeting of grace and peace through God the Father and Jesus Christ. This is a typical opening of the letters of Paul to the churches which he founded and oversaw.
3 We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, 4 since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of your love for all the saints; 5 because of the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, of which you heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as it has also in all the world, and is bringing forth fruit, as it is also among you since the day you heard and knew the grace of God in truth; 7 as you also learned from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf, 8 who also declared to us your love in the Spirit.Colossians 1:3-8
Paul then moves into an expanded explanation for this letter. He thanks God for the church and the faith of its members. They loved all the saints due to their own hope in heaven. Paul had given them the wonderful gospel message and had delivered this message of hope, and they received it with gladness and faith. He rejoices over the fruit that has been produced in their lives from the very beginning of their walk with Christ. He recounts the report of their great response to the gospel given by Epaphras, who ministers on behalf of the Colossians. He delivered a message to Paul that the Christians at Colosse have shown love in the Spirit to everyone in the body of Christ, They are exemplary!
Paul opens the book with praise for Colosse, especially their love. This is a bit different than the circular letter to the Ephesians, in which Paul’s greeting is sparse, leading right into a discussion of theology. However, many of the subjects addressed in Ephesians concerning theology and practical Christian living are addressed in this letter as well. This gives the letter to the Colossians a familiar feel, and perhaps an opportunity to focus in on some points that are particularly pertinent to the church at Colosse. This is a bit more personal that the Ephesian letter, thought by most scholars to be a cyclical. However, it walks in the footsteps of some of the vernacular and teachings of the letter to Ephesus. The comparisons should be fairly obvious. One other thing Paul may do here is to give a bit of perspective to the writings of Ephesians by expanding on some things while minimizing others. He does not change the message, but customizes it slightly to Colosse’s situation, perhaps helping all who read to see a broader context and application for the powerful principles outlined in the letter to the Ephesians.