A Thanksgiving Envelope

(These are a few scattered notes from my notebook this past week as I read over the opening verses of Colossians 1)

Thanksgiving serves as an inclusio for Paul’s description of his prayers for the Colossians in 1:3-14. It appears that his own expression of gratitude to God for the church at Colossae was meant to be exemplary as well as informative to them. That is, he gives thanks and then tells them that he prays that they would give thanks as well (1:3,12). Thanksgiving then is the envelope containing all of Paul’s prayer and praise.

It is worth noting the strong “familial” overtones in Paul’s opening words to the church. The twin themes of adoption and sonship are implicit in both the opening benediction and the following prayer of intercession.

Verses 3-8 are marked by Paul’s praise for the Colossians. Verses 9-14 are marked by Paul’s prayer for the Colossians. The former section is one of appreciation while the latter section is one of supplication. The following is a simple outline of the pericope.

I.    Paul’s Praise for the Colossians
A. The Grace Bearing Fruit Among Them
           1. Faith in Christ Jesus
           2. Love for all the saints
           3. Hope laid up in heaven
B. The Gospel Taking Root Around Them
           1. It is extensive
           2. It is expansive
           3. It is effective.
II.  Paul Prays for the Colossians
A.  A Prayer for Growth
            1. His Wisdom—Be Filled
           2. Their Walk—Be Faithful
           3. Their Work—Be Fruitful
B.  A Prayer for Grit
           1. Powerful Strength
           2. Patient Serenity
C.  A Prayer for Gratitude
           1. How God Sought Us
a.) We are Accepted
b.) We are Adopted
                     i. we share in His life
                     ii. we shine in His light
          2. Where God Brought Us
a.) Our Full Deliverance
b.) Our Final Destination
          3. How God Bought Us
a.) The Price Hanging Over My Head—Jesus Paid it!
b.) The Past Nipping at My Heals—Jesus Pardoned it!


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