Today’s selected reading is found in the New Testament epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Colossae. More specifically today’s passage is found in the first chapter of this New Testament book. “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother, to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ which are at Colossae: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our father and the Lord Jesus Christ” (Colossians 1:1-2).
“We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel; which is come unto you, as it is in all the world: and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth: as ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellow servant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ; who also declare unto us your love in the Spirit” (Colossians 1:3-8).
‘For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; that ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyful ness; giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: in whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by Him, and for Him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the preeminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven” (Colossians 1:9-20).
“And you, that were sometime alienated and enemies in your mind by wicked works, yet now hath he reconciled in the body of his flesh through death, to present you holy and unblameable and unreproveable in his sight: if ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister; who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church: whereof I am made a minister, according to the dispensation of God which is given to me for you, to fulfil the word of God; even the mystery which hath been hid from ages and from generations, but now is made manifest to his saints: to whom God would make known what is the riches of the glory of this mystery among the Gentiles; which is Christ in you, the hope of glory: whom we preach, warning every man, and teaching every man in all wisdom; that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus: whereunto I also labour, striving according this working, which worketh in me mightily” (Colossians 1:21-29).
When you come to the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints which were at Colossae you will come to the third of what was known as the prison epistles found within the New Testament. If you take the time to read the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul you will find the epistles written unto the saints at Ephesus, the saints at Philippi and the saints at Colossae were written while the apostle Paul was in prison. Each of these epistles were written while the apostle Paul was indeed and was in fact in prison for the sake of the word, the gospel and the name of the Lord Jesus Christ. This is something we dare not and must not miss and lose sight of for it calls and draws our attention to the deep and abiding love, affection, compassion, kindness and care the apostle Paul had for the churches. Despite the fact the apostle Paul was indeed in prison for the sake of the gospel—something the apostle was very familiar with throughout his life in Christ—he was still completely and utterly consumed with care and concern for the churches. What’s more is that when you read these epistles you will find that although the apostle Paul could not labor among these churches in the flesh as he had perhaps once done he was able to labor for them in an entirely different way. As you read the epistles which were written by the apostle Paul—specifically the epistles written unto the saints of Colossae, the saints of Philippi, the saints of Ephesus and the saints which were at Thessalonica—you will find the apostle Paul speaking of his mention of them before the Lord his God in prayer. You cannot read the words which are found within these epistles and not encounter and come face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the care and concern the apostle Paul had for the churches and the saints which made up these individual bodies. There is absolutely no avoiding the words which are found within these epistles and how the apostle Paul was indeed one who cared deeply for the churches which he had personally labored among.
If you begin reading the words which are found in the first and opening chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul providing his customary greeting and salutation as he did in each of his epistles. The apostle Paul begins this epistle with his name and then going on to speak of his being an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God. What’s more is the apostle Paul also mentioned Timothy in the greeting of this epistle thus suggesting that Timothy might very well have been with him at the time of the writing of this epistle. The apostle Paul begins and opens this epistle with his customary greeting, reveals the presence of Timothy their brother with him and how he was an apostles of Jesus Christ by the will of God. Immediately following this the apostle Paul would go on to describe who he was indeed writing this epistle to—namely to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ who are at Colossae. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this and how absolutely incredible it is for when writing unto these individuals the apostle Paul not only referred to them as saints but also referred to them as faithful brethren in Christ. This is something truly astonishing when you take the time to read the words found in this epistle for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful and incredible reality of those whom the apostle Paul was writing to in Colossae. Those to whom the apostle Paul was writing to were not only saints according to the will of God but they were also faithful brethren. Oh how truly wonderful this is when you take the time to think about it for there are essentially three descriptions of the members of the body which were present in Colossae. There is the first and obvious description which was the reality that they were “saints”—and not only saints but saints according to the will of God in Christ Jesus. The second description is actually an adjective rather than a noun and is the word “faithful.” When writing and speaking of these members of the body of Christ the apostle Paul spoke of them as being faithful—something we must needs recognize and understand within our own hearts and lives. The third and final description is the word “brethren” for the apostle Paul viewed both Timothy as a brother and these saints as brethren.
There is a great need to pay close attention to the words which are found in the first two verses of this passage of Scripture for within it we are brought face to face with Timothy who was a brother and the saints here at Colossae who were brethren. I am absolutely gripped and captivated when thinking about and considering this particular reality for within it we encounter the tremendous truth surrounding those on an individual level who were considered as brothers and/or sisters as well as those on a corporate level who were considered as brethren. In all reality there is something truly unique and powerful about the words presented within this epistle for within it we not only encounter the personal and individual reality of those who are considered brothers and sisters in Christ but we also encounter the corporate reality of the members of the body of Christ who are indeed brethren among us in the Spirit. This is something which warrants strong consideration for if we are to not only understand our place within the spiritual body of Christ but might also function and operate within it the way we were intended to we must understand this relationship between brothers and sisters and that of brethren—the members of the body of Christ who do indeed and do in fact make up the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ. There is a great need for us as the saints of God to recognize and pay close attention to the fact that we are indeed and are in fact brothers and sisters who are indeed united together in the Spirit according to the will of God in Christ Jesus. What’s more is that we must needs recognize and understand that which is mentioned in the Scripture concerning the spiritual body of the Lord Jesus Christ and its role, function, operation and purpose within the earth.
With all of this being said I am convinced we must needs read and consider the following words which are found in the different epistles and writings of the apostle Paul. When writing unto the individual churches and saints which were in Asia and the surrounding region the apostle Paul provided a great deal of language concerning the role, the function, the operation and the ministry of the spiritual body of Christ. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our parts if we are to truly understand how the spiritual body of Christ is indeed to function within the earth the way it was designed and intended on according to the will of God. The spiritual body of Christ must needs not only understand its role and place in the midst of the world but the individual members of the spiritual body of Christ must needs understand and recognize their relation and relationship to one another. Having said this I am convinced we must needs consider the following words which are found in the epistles written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which he labored according to the work of the kingdom. Consider if you will the following words which are found in the writings of the apostle Paul beginning with the twelfth chapter of the epistle written unto the saints which were at Rome:
“I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that you present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable to God which is your reasonable service. And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God. For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith. For as we have many members in one body, but all the members do not have the same function, so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another. Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, let us prophesy in proportion to our faith; or ministry, let us use it in our minister; he who teachers, in teaching; he who exhorts, in exhortation; he who gives, with liberality; he who leads, with diligence; he who shows mercy, with cheerfulness” (Romans 12:1-8).
“Let love be without hypocrisy. Abhorred that which is evil. Cling to what is good. Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love, in honor giving preference to one another; not lagging in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord; rejoicing in hope, patient in tribulation, continuing steadfastly in prayer; distributing to the needs of the saints, given to hospitality. Bless those who persecute you; bless and do not curse. Rejoice with those who rejoice, and weep with those who weep. Be of the same mind toward one another. Do not set your mind on high things, but associate with the humble. Do not be wise in your own opinion. Repay no one evil for evil. Have regard for good things in the sight of all men. If it is possible, as much as depends on you, live peaceably with all men. Beloved, do not avenge yourselves, but rather give place to wrath; for it is written, Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord. Therefore, If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him a drink; for in so doing you will heap coals of fire on his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:9-21).
“Now concerning spiritual gifts, brethren, I do not want you to be ignorant: You know that you were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols, however you were led. Therefore I make known to you that no one speaking by the Spirit of God calls Jesus accursed, and no one can say that Jesus is Lord except by the Holy Spirit. There are diversities of gifts, but the same Spirit. There are differences of ministries, but the same Lord. And there are diversities of activities, but it is the same God who works all in all. But the manifestation of the Spirit is given to each one for the profit of all: for to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, to another the word of knowledge through the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healings by the same Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another discerning of spirits, to another different kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues. But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individual as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:1-11).
“For as the body is one and has many members, but all the members of that one body, being many, are one body, so also is Christ. For by one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—whether jews or Greeks, whether slaves or free—and have all been made to drink into one Spirit. For in fact the body is not one member but many. If the foot should say, Because I am not a hand, I am not of the body, is it therefore not of the body? If the whole body were an eye, where would be the hearing? If the whole were hearing, where would be the smelling? But now God has set the members, each one of them, in the body just as He pleased. And if they were all one member, where would the body be? But now indeed there are many members, yet one body. And the eye cannot say to the hand, I have no need of you; nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you. No, much rather, those members of the body which seem to be weaker are necessary. And those members of the body which we think to be less honorable, on these we bestow greater honor; and our unpresentable parts have greater modesty, but our presentable parts have no need. But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually. And God has appointed these in the church: first apostles, second prophets, third teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, administrations, varieties of tongues. Are all pestles? Are all prophets? Are all teachers? Are all workers of miracles? Do all have gifts of healings? Do all speak with tongues? Do all interpret? But earnestly desire the best gifts. And yet I show you a more excellent way” (1 Corinthians 12:12-31).
“Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angles, but have not love, I have become sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith, so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. And though I bestow all my goods to feed the poor, and though I give my body to be burned, but have not love, it profits me nothing. Love suffers long and is kind; love does not envy; love does not parade itself, is not puffed up; does not behave rudely, does not seek its own, is not provoked, think no evil; does not rejoice in iniquity, but rejoices in the truth; bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails. But whether there are prophecies, they will fail; whether there are tongues, they will cease; whether there is knowledge, it will vanish away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part. But when that which is perfect has come, then that which is in part will be done away. When I was a child, I spoke as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child; but when I became a man, I put away childish things. For now we see in a mirror, dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part, but then I shall know just as I also am known. And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:1-13).
“I, therefore, the prisoner of the Lord, beseech you to walk worthy of the calling with which you were called, with all lowliness and gentleness, with longsuffering, bearing with one another in love, endeavoring to keep the unity of the Spirit in the body of peace. There is one body and one Spirit, just as you were called in one hope of your calling; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all. But to each one us grace was given according to the measure of Christ’s gift. Therefore He says: When He ascended on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts to men. (Now this, he ascended—what does it mean but that he also first descended into the lower parts of the earth? He who descended is also the One who ascended far above all the heavens, that He might fill all things.) And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the statures of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting, but, speaking the truth in love, may grow up in all things into Him who is the head—Christ—from whom the whole body, joined and knit together by what every joint supplies, according to the effective working by which every part does its share, causes growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:1-16).
We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely incredible truth surrounding the importance of the spiritual body of Christ—and not only the importance of the spiritual body of Christ but also the importance of the individual members of the spiritual body of Christ. We cannot afford to miss and lose sight of the incredible reality that each and every member of the spiritual body of Christ has their own unique and distinct place in the midst of the body of Christ. There is not a single member of the body of Christ who does not have a vital and important role and place within the body. Each and every member of the spiritual body of Christ was indeed strategically placed there by the divine and eternal will of the living God. It was the living and eternal God who did indeed and did in fact place each and every member of the spiritual body of Christ together within it that they might become a perfect and new man within the earth. The spiritual body of Christ is indeed meant to continue and carry out the divine work which the eternal and only begotten Son of the living God. If there is one thing we must needs recognize and understand that each and every member of the spiritual body of Christ has been divinely placed there by the living God according to His own will, plans and purpose. This is something that warrants a tremendous amount of consideration for each and every one of us as the members of the body of Christ must needs understand and acknowledge our place within the spiritual body of Christ. What’s more is I would dare say that we have a responsibility to know and learn our place within the spiritual body of Christ that we might operate in that place. While it is indeed true that we have been called to move and operate within our gifts which have been given to us by the Spirit we are also to recognize and understand our role and our place within the spiritual body of Christ and begin moving and operating in that place.
With all of this being said I find it absolutely necessary to call your attention to the different references found within the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul concerning the brethren which were present within the individual churches. If you take the time to read the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul you will indeed encounter his writing and speaking of the saints and faithful brethren who were present among the churches during those days. There are certain and specific sections within the writings of the apostle Paul when he does indeed and does in fact write and speak of his companions who were faithful brothers and sisters, fellow laborers, fellow soldiers and even those who hazarded their lives and put their lives on the line for the sake of the work and word of the kingdom of God in the midst of the earth. In order to truly understand the reality of Timothy as a faithful brother in the Lord as well as the reality of the saints which were at Colossae being faithful brethren I am convinced we must needs understand and acknowledge the wonderful and powerful reality surrounding those who joined themselves to the work of the ministry of the gospel during those days. If there is one thing we must recognize it’s that even when Jesus came to the earth He could not do the work alone and by Himself. In the ninth and tenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew we find the reality and manifestation of the Lord Jesus ordaining the twelve disciples as apostles who would partner together with Him in the work of the ministry. What’s more is that in the ninth and tenth chapters of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the beloved physician Luke we not only find a second account of the ordaining and appointing of the twelve disciples but we also find the appointment of seventy-two others whom Jesus sent out two by two. Before we delve into the words which are found in the epistles written by the apostle Paul I find it absolutely necessary to call and draw your attention to the following words which are found within the New Testament gospel writings:
“Then Jesus went about all the cities and villages, teaching in their synagogues, preaching the gospel of the kingdom, and healing every sickness and every disease among the people. But when He saw the multitudes, He was moved with compassion for them, because they were weary and scattered, like sheep having no shepherd. Then He said to His disciples, The harvest truly is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:35-38).
“And when He had called His twelve disciples to Him, He gave them power over unclean spirits, to cast them out, and to heal all kinds of sickness and all kinds of disease. Now the names of the twelve apostles are these: first, Simon, who is called Peter, and Andrew his brother; James the son of Zebedee, and John his brother; Philip and Bartholomew; Thomas and Matthew the tax collector; James the son of Alphaeus and Lebbaeus, whose surname was Thaddaeus; Simon the Canaanite, and Judas Iscariot, who also betrayed him. These twelve Jesus sent out and commanded them, saying, Do not go into the way of the Gentiles, and do not enter a city of the Samaritans. But go rather to the lost sheep of the house of Israel. And as you go, preach, saying, The kingdom of heaven is at hand. Heal the sick, cleanse the lepers, raise the dead, cast out demons. Freely you have received, freely give. Provide neither gold nor silver nor copper in your money belts, nor bag for your journey, not two tunics, nor sandals, nor staffs; for a worker is not worthy of his food. Now whatever city or town you enter, inquire who in it is worthy, and stay there till you go out. And when you go into a household, greet it. If the household is worthy, let your pace come upon it. But if it is not worthy, let your peace return to you. And whosever will not receive you nor hear your words, when you depart from that house or city, shake off the dust from you feet. Assuredly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment than for that city!” (Matthew 10:1-15).
“Behold, I send you out as sheep in the midst of wolves. Therefore be wise as serpents and harmless as doves. But beware of men, for they will deliver you up to councils and scourge you in their synagogues. You will be brought before governors and kings for my sake, as a testimony to them and to the Gentiles. But when they deliver you up, do not worry about how or what you should peak. For it will be given to you in that hour what you should speak; for it is not you who speak, but the Spirit of your Father who speaks in you. Now brother will deliver up brother to death, and a father his child; and children will rise up against parents and cause them to be put to death. And you will be hated by all for my name’s sake. But he who endures to the end will be saved. When they persecute you in this city, flee to another. For assuredly, I say to you, you will not have gone through the cities of Israel before the Son of man comes. A disciple is not above his teacher nor a servant above his master. It is enough for a disciple that he be like his teacher, and a servant like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebub, how much more will they call those of his how old! Therefore do not fear them. For there is nothing covered that will not be revealed, and hidden that will not be known. Whatever I tell you in the dark, speak in the light; and what you hear in the ear, preach on the housetops. And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell. Are not two sparrows sold for a Cooper coin? And not one of them falls to the gourd apart from your Father’s will. But the very hairs of your head are all numbered. DO not fear theref;re you are of more value than many sparrows. Therefore whoever confesses me before men, him I will also confess before my Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies me before men, him I will also deny before my Father who is in heaven. Do not think that I cam to bring peace on earth. I did not come to bring peace but a sword. For I have come to set a man against his father, a daughter against her mother, and a daughter in law against her mother in law; and a man’s enemies will be those of his own household. He who love father or mother more than me is not worthy of me. And he who loves son or daughter more than me is not worthy of me. And he who does not take his cross and follow after me is not worthy of me. He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loves his life for my sake will find it. He who receives you receives me, and he who receives me receives him who sent me. He who receives a prophet in the name of a prophet shall receive a prophet’s reward. And he who receives a righteous man in the name of a righteous man shall receive a righteous man’s reward. And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall be no means lose his reward” (Matthew 10:16-42).
“Then He called His twelve disciples together and gave them power and authority over all demons, and to cure diseases. He sent them to preach the kingdom of God and to heal the sick. And He said to them, Take nothing for the journey, neither staffs no bad nor bread nor money; and do not have two tunics apiece. Whatever house you enter, stay there, and from there depart. And whosever will not receive you, when you go out of that city, shake off the very dust from your feet as a testimony against them. So they departed and went through the towns, preaching the gospel and healing everywhere” (Luke 9:1-6).
“And the apostles, when they had returned, told him all that they had done. Then He took them and went aside privately into a deserted place belong to the city called Bethsaida. But when the multitudes knew it, they followed Him; and He received them and spoke to them about the kingdom of God, and healed those who had need of healing” (Luke 9:10-11).
“After these things the Lord appointed seventy others also, and sent them two by two before His face into every city and place where He Himself was about to go. Then He said to them, The harvest truly is great, but the laborers are few; therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest. Go your way; behold, I send you out as lambs among wolves. Carry neither money bag, knapsack, nor sandals; and greet no one along the road. But whatever house you enter, first say, Peace to this house. And if a son of peace is there, your pace will rest on it; if not, it will return to you. And remain in the same house, eating and drinking such things as they give, for the laborer is worthy of his wages. Do not go from house to house. Whatever city you enter, and they receive you, eat such things as are set before you. And heal the sick therefore, and say to them, The kingdom of God has come near to you. But whatever city you enter, and they do not receive you, go out into its streets and say, The very dust of your city which clings to use we wipe off against you. Nevertheless know this, that the kingdom of God has come near you. But I say to you that it will be more tolerable in that day for Sodom than for that city” (Luke 10:1-12).
It is absolutely necessary we recognize and pay close attention to the words which are found in these passages of Scripture for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful reality that while Jesus walked among us as the Word made flesh doing good and healing sick being anointed by the Spirit He not only ordained and appointed the twelve apostles but He also ordained and appointed seventy others. Both the disciples as well as the other seventy Jesus sent out before His face two by two into the cities, towns and villages He Himself would come and enter into. If there is one thing this reveals to us as the saints of God and as the disciples of the Lord Jesus Christ it’s that not even Jesus could do the work which was ordained and appointed for Him alone. Of course we know and understand that Jesus’ sending out the twelve and His sending out the other seventy was preparation for them for that which they would accomplish and fulfill after He departed from this world and ascended unto the right hand of the Father which was in heaven. These whom the Lord Jesus ordained and appointed and sent out before Him into the cities, towns and villages He would enter were such who would indeed be those who would engage in the work of the ministry of the kingdom. What’s more is the gospels also reveal there were others who were engaging in the work of the kingdom for James and John—the sons of Zebedee—noticed another who was casting out demons in the name of Jesus who did not walk with them. When Jesus heard their words He instructed them to let these alone for whoever was not with them was against them and vice versa. Essentially that which Jesus did on this particular occasion was demonstrate the truth that there were and there would be those who would engage in the work of the ministry of the kingdom who perhaps was not among them as they thought or felt should or ought to be necessary.
As you continue reading the writings of the apostle Paul you will recognize and understand that although he was indeed separated unto the work of the ministry for which he was appointed by Christ Jesus he would not accomplish nor would he fulfill that work alone. It is indeed true that in Damascus after his conversion and even in Jerusalem he would preach the word and gospel of the kingdom and proclaim that Jesus was indeed the Christ and the Son of the living God, however, when we come to the thirteenth chapter of this New Testament book of Acts we find the Spirit beginning to bring others alongside of Paul. From the thirteenth chapter of the New Testament book of Acts we find the Spirit bringing fellow companions, fellow travelers, fellow soldiers and those who would indeed walk with and accompany the apostle Paul in the work of the ministry which was present during those days. Beginning with the thirteenth chapter and continuing through to the twenty-eighth and final chapter of this New Testament book we find the apostle Paul partnering together with others in the various cities, towns, villages and regions whereunto he came. Although the apostle Paul was indeed the apostle unto the Gentiles and although he would indeed commit himself to the work of the ministry of the kingdom he would and could not do that alone and by himself. The apostle Paul would and could not complete this work alone and by himself for the Spirit would indeed bring fellow companions and fellow laborers alongside him who would indeed help him. This is something we must needs recognize and understand for when we consider the reality of one like Timothy who was a brother and the saints who were faithful brethren we must recognize that each and every one of us needs each other. There is not a single one of us as the members of the spiritual body of Christ who are able to do this alone and in and of ourselves in this life. There is not a single member of the body of Christ who was indeed designed and destined to operate alone on an island here upon this earth.
It is with this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul. I am absolutely convinced we must needs carefully consider the following words which are found in the writings of the apostle Paul for they call and draw our attention to the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the need of the individual members of the spiritual body for the others. The living and eternal God has formed and designed the spiritual body in such a way that each member has their own unique place within the body that can only be occupied by them. Moreover the living and eternal God designed the spiritual body in such a way that each member has their own role within the body that only they themselves can step into and fulfill. We dare not and must not miss and lose sight of this for it brings us face to face with the absolutely wonderful truth surrounding the spiritual body of Christ and how the spiritual body of Christ does indeed and does in fact contain countless members who were appointed and ordained one to another. In all reality we must needs recognize and understand that we as the spiritual members of the body of Christ have been placed within it in accordance to the divine will of the Father with the knowledge and understanding that we do in fact need one another. Perhaps one of the greatest realities of the spiritual body of Christ is that each and every one of the members has been strategically placed within it that they might be connected to other members of the spiritual body. Each and every member of the spiritual body of Christ has been designed to be connected to the other members of the spiritual body of Christ and we have a tremendous and incredibly responsibility to discern those connections which were ourselves have been called to make within this life. Having said this I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the epistles and writings of the apostle Paul:
“I commend to you Phoebe our sister, who is a servant of the church in Cenchrea, that you may receive her in the Lord in a manner worthy of the saints, and assist her in whatever business she has need of you; do indeed she has been a helper of many and of myself also. Greet Priscilla and Aquila my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks for my life. To whom not only I give thanks, but also all the churches of the Gentiles. Likewise greet the church that is in their house. Greet my beloved Epaenetus, who is the firstfruits of Achaia to Christ. Greet Mary, who labored much for us. Greet Andronicus and Julia, my countrymen and my fellow prisoners, who are of note among the apostles, who also were in Christ before me. Greet Amelia’s, my beloved in the Lord. Greet Urbanus, our fellow worker in Christ, and Stachys my beloved. Greet Apelles, approved in Christ. Greet those who are of the household of Aristobulus. Greet Heroion, my countryman. Greet those who are of the household of Narcissus who are in the Lord. Greet Typhena and Tryphosa, who have labored in the Lord. Greet the beloved Persia, who labored much in the Lord. Greet Rufus, chosen in the Lord, and his mother and mind. Greet Asynctritus, Phlegon, Herman’s, Patrone’s, Hermes, and the brethren who are with them. Greet Philogus and Julia, Nereus and his sister, and Olympus, and all the saints who are with them. Greet one another with a holy kiss. The churches of Christ greet you” (Romans 16:1-16).
“Therefore we have been comforted in your comfort. And we rejoiced exceedingly more for the joy of Titus, because his spirit has been refreshed by you all. For if in anything I have boasted to him about you, I am not ashamed. But as we spoke all things to you in truth, even so our boasting to Titus was found true. And his affections are greater for you as he remember the obedience of you all, how with fear and trembling you received him. Therefore I rejoice that I have confidence in you in everything” (2 Corinthians 7:13-16).
“But I trust in the Lord Jesus to send Timothy to you shortly, that I also may be encouraged when I know your state. For I have no one like-minded, who will sincerely care for your state. For all seek their own, not the things which are of Christ Jesus. But you know his proven character, that as a son with his father he served with me in the gospel. Therefore I hope to send him at once, as soon as I see how it goes with me. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly” (Philippians 2:19-24).
“Yet I considered it necessary to send to you Epaphroditus, my brother, fellow worker, and fellow soldier, but your messenger and the one who ministered to my need; since he was longing for you all, and was distressed because you had heard that he was sick. For indeed he was sick almost unto death; but God had mercy on him, and not only on him but on me also, lest I should have sorrow upon sorrow. Therefore I sent him the more eagerly, that when you see him again you may rejoice, and I may be less sorrowful. Receive him therefore in the Lord with all gladness, and hold such men in esteem; because for the work of Christ he came close to death, not regarding his life, to supply what was lacking in your service toward me” (Philippians 2:25-30).
If you continue reading the words which are found in this epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the saints and brethren which were at Colossae you will find the apostle Paul transitioning to his prayer(s) and thanks for these dear saints and fellow brethren in Christ. Beginning with the third verse of this opening chapter we find the apostle Paul writing unto them how he gave thanks to the God and Father of their Lord Jesus Christ praying always for them. This is not something we should treat lightly or quickly pass by for there is something incredibly powerful about a willingness to pray always for our brothers and sisters. Tell me dear brother, tell me dear sister—when was the last time you truly committed yourself to prayer and praying for your brothers and sisters in the Lord? When was the last time you truly committed yourself to intercession on behalf of your brothers and sisters as you brought them before the throne of God in prayer? That which the apostle Paul writes in this passage of Scripture is truly captivating when you take the time to think about it for it calls and draws our attention to our own commitment to prayer and intercession for the saints of God. There is a great need for men and women among the body of Christ to commit themselves to prayer and intercession for the body of Christ. What’s more is that giving ourselves to prayer and intercession is rooted and grounded in a compassion, a kindness, an affection and a love toward the saints of God which are present in the earth. One of the greatest things we must needs ask ourselves is whether or not we truly do possess this compassion, this kindness, this affection and this love within our hearts for the. Members of the spiritual body of Christ. We as the saints of God must needs recognize and acknowledge whether or not we are indeed committed to our brothers and sisters in the Lord. Not only this but we must needs ask ourselves if we are spending and have spent much time focusing and focused on ourselves alone rather than the other members of the spiritual body of Christ.
Moving on further in this passage of Scripture you will find the apostle Paul writing how he and Timothy gave thanks to the God and Father of their Lord Jesus Christ praying always for them since they heard of their faith in Christ Jesus and of their love for all the saints. Please pay close attention to that which the apostle Paul wrote in this passage of Scripture for within them we find a powerful description of that which we as the saints of God are indeed and are in fact called to. We must make absolutely no mistake about the wonderful truth that we as the saints of God have indeed been called to a faith in Christ Jesus and of a love for all the saints. What’s more is that there must needs be a balance between these two realities within our lives and we must ensure that we do not neglect either one. What’s more is I am convinced that our love for all the saints is directly connected to and deeply rooted in the faith we have in the person of the Lord Jesus Christ. I would dare say that we cannot expect nor should expect to truly have a love for all the saints if we don’t first have a fainting Christ Jesus. What’s more is that the love we have for the saints is indeed directly rooted and grounded in our love for Christ. The degree and measure we love Christ will be the degree and measure we love the saints which are the individual members of the body of Christ. In addition to this we must needs recognize that our loving God with all our heart, with all our soul, with all our strength and with all our mind can indeed and can in fact directly impact the love we have for all the saints of God who are present among us within the earth during the days and generation in which we are living.
As you continue reading within the opening chapter of this epistle you will find the apostle Paul writing of the faith in Christ Jesus and the love for all the saints the faithful brethren in Colossae had but then transitions to writing of the hope which is laid up for them in heaven which they heard before in the word of the truth of the gospel. What we must needs recognize when reading the words found in this passage of Scripture is that the apostle Paul—when writing and speaking of the word of the truth of the gospel—spoke of it as having come unto them as it has in all the world. What’s more is the apostle Paul goes on to describe how this word of the truth of the gospel was bringing froth fruit as it was among them since the day they heard and knew the grace of God in truth. This is something incredibly wonderful and powerful when you take the time to think about it for perhaps the single greatest objective and aim of the truth of the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ is to bring forth fruit within the hearts and lives of those who hear it. It is this particular reality and concept that brings me face to face with and reminds me of the words which John the Baptist spoke unto those who came unto his baptism—including the scribes and the Pharisees. What’s more is I can’t help but be reminded of the words which Jesus spoke in the parable of the seed and the sower and the various types of soil into which the seed was sown. Not only this but I can’t help but be reminded of the words which are found in the fifteenth chapter of the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle John where the apostle records the words of Jesus concerning bearing and bringing forth fruit. It is with all of this being said I invite you to consider the following words which are found in the various gospel accounts in the New Testament beginning with the New Testament gospel narrative written by the apostle Matthew:
“But when he saw many of the Pharisees and Sadducees coming to his baptism, he said to them, Brood of vipers! Who warned you to flee from the wrath to come? Therefore bear fruits worthy of repentance, and do not think to say to yourselves, We have Abraham as our father. For I say to you that God is able to raise up children to Abraham from these stones. And even now the ax is laid to the root of the trees. Therefore every tree which does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. I indeed baptize you with water unto repentance, but He who is coming after me is mightier than I, whose sandals I am not worthy to carry. He will baptize you with the Holy Spirit and fire. His winnowing fan is in his hand, and he will thoroughly clean out his threshing floor, and gather his wheat into the barn; but he will burn up the chaff with unquenchable fire” (Matthew 3:7-12).
“Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Because narrow is the gate and difficult is the way which leads to life, and there are few who find it. Beware of false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravenous wolves. You will know them by their fruits. Do men gather grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles? Even so, every good tree bears good fruit, but a bad tree bears bad fruit.A. Good tree cannot bear bad fruit, nor can a bad tee bear good fruit. Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. Therefore by their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:13-20).
“On the same day Jesus went out of the house and sat by the sea. And great multitudes were gathered together to Him, so that He got int a boat and sat: and the whole multitude stood on the shore. Then He spoke many things to them in parables, saying: behold, a sower went out to sow. And as he sowed, some seed fell by the wayside; and the birds came and devoured them. Some fell on stony places, where they did not have much earth; and they immediately sprang up because they had no depth of earth. But when the sun was up they were scorched, and because they had no root they withered away. And some fell among thorns, and the thorns sprang up and choke them. But others fell on good ground and yielded a crop: some a hundredfold, some sixty, a some thirty. He who has ears to hear, let him hear” (Matthew 13:1-9).
“Therefore hear the parable of the sword: When anyone hears the word of the kingdom, and does not understand it, then the wicked one comes and snatches away what was sown in his heart. This is he who received seed by the wayside. But he who receive the seed on stony place, this is he who hears the word and immediately receives it with joy; yet he has no root in himself, but endures only for a while. For when tribulation or persecution arises because of the word, immediately he stumbles. Now he who received seed among the thorns is he who hears the word, and the cares of this world and the deceitful ness of riches choke the word, and he becomes unfruitful. But he who received seed on the good ground is he who hears the word and understands it, who indeed bears fruit and produces: some a hundredfold, some sixty, some thirty” (Matthew 13:18-23).
“I am the true vine, and my Father is the vinedresser. Every branch in me that does not bear fruit He takes away; and every branch that bears fruit He prunes, that it may bear more fruit. You are already clean because of the word which I have spoken to you. Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me. I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, bears much fruit; for without me you can do nothing. If anyone does not abide in me, he is cast out as a branch and is withered; and they gather them and throw them into the fire, and they are burned. If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, you will ask what you desire, and it shall be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit; so you will be my disciples. As the Father loved me, I also have loved you; abide in my love. If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just I hav kept my Father’s commandments and abide in his life. These things I have spoken to you, that my joy may remain in you, and that your joy may be full” (John 15:1-11).
Consider also the following words which are found in the fifth chapter of the epistle written by the apostle Paul unto the churches which were in Galatia:
“I say then: Walk in the Spirt, and you shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh. For the flesh lusts against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary to one another, so that you do not do the things that you wish. But if you are led by the Spirit, you are not under the law. Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you before hand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. AN those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” i(Galatians 5:16-26).
As I prepare to bring this writing to a close I find it necessary to continue walking through the words which the apostle Paul wrote in the opening chapter of this epistle. Within verses three though eight of this chapter we find certain key elements that should describe the experience of that one who believes on the Lord Jesus, confesses Jesus as Lord and seeks to walk with and follow Him. If you read the words found in these verses you will find the apostle Paul writing and speaking both of their faith in Christ Jesus and of their love for all the saints. What’s more is the apostle Paul goes on to write of the fruit that was being brought forth among them—and not only the fruit that was brought forth among them but the continuing growth and increase of that fruit from the time they first heard the word of the gospel. Moreover the apostle Paul also goes on to write of their love in the Spirit. This is something which warrants strong consideration for when writing unto the saints which were at Philippi the apostle Paul wrote of the fellowship in the Spirit and now unto these saints he writes of love in the Spirit. This is something which we must needs pay close attention to for it calls and draws our attention to the tremendous need within our hearts and within our lives as the members of the body of Christ as those who are not only given unto the fellowship of the Spirit but also love in the Spirit. What’s more is just as I am absolutely convinced that the fellowship spoken of in Scripture—and the fellowship which is referenced throughout the book of Acts—can only be produced in, by and through the person of the Holy Spirit. We dare not and must not make any attempt to manufacture and/or try and produce this fellowship for it such that can only come by, within and through the person of the Holy Spirit. With this being said we must also understand that the type of love we have been called to—this “love for all the saints” which the apostles Paul spoke of—is a love that can only be produced by and through the person of the Holy Spirit.
With all of this being said at the very root—at the very heart of everything the apostle Paul believed, taught, preached and even wrote within his epistles is the pre-eminence of Christ. At the very center of everything the apostle Paul taught, preached and wrote was the understanding that Jesus was at the center of everything. For the apostle Paul absolutely everything revolved around the person of Jesus Christ as Jesus was indeed the center of everything that is in existence. It was the apostle Paul who emphatically declared unto the saints which were at Philippi that God gave Jesus the name that is above all names—that at the name of Jesus every knee would bow and every tongue would confess. Everything in heaven, everything in the earth and everything beneath the earth will ultimately make the confession that Jesus is Christ, that Jesus is Lord and that Jesus is indeed the Son of the living God. The apostle Paul declared that if we confess with our mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe with our hearts that God raised Him from the dead we will be saved. Moreover the apostle Paul would also quote the prophet Joel and proclaim that all who call upon the name of the Lord will be saved. It was the apostle Peter who declared and proclaimed that there is none other name given in heaven or on the earth whereby must be saved. We dare not miss and lose sight of this for if we want to truly live our lives the way the eternal Father designed and destined us to live them we must needs live with Jesus at the very center of everything. What’s more is that we must not only live with Jesus at the very center of everything but Jesus must be Lord over everything within our hearts and within our lives. There must not be a single aspect of our lives that is not brought under the lordship of the Jesus who is both the Christ and the Son of the living God. This is something which warrants strong consideration on our part for we must acknowledge that Jesus is indeed King of kings and Lord of lords. There is none beside Him, there is none above Him and there was none before Him.
When writing unto the saints which were at Colossae the apostle Paul emphasized the preeminence and supremacy of Christ—pretty much the same way the author of the epistle written unto the Hebrews emphasized the supremacy of Christ over everything. Beginning with the first chapter of the epistle written unto the Hebrews the author clearly set forth the understanding that Jesus was indeed supreme over absolutely everything in the earth and everything in heaven. Not only had God the Father given Him the name that is above all other names but He also placed everything under His feet and under His authority and dominion. It was the Lord Jesus who declared unto His disciples that all authority in heaven and on earth was given unto Him and when speaking unto the apostle John from His glorified state He not only declared that He was He who was dead and is now alive forevermore but He also emphasized that He held the keys to death, hell and the grave. This is something we must needs acknowledge within our hearts and lives for at the very heart of everything we say and do must be the understanding and the acknowledgment that Jesus is indeed King of kings and Lord of lords. We dare not and must not be those who deliberately and intentionally choose to live our lives in any other way aside from the truth that Jesus is indeed King of kings and Lord of lords. Just as Solomon was considered as being the king of kings during his generation and the king above all other kings during those days and generation so also is the Lord Jesus the King that is above all kings and Lord above all lords. The apostle Paul wrote in this epistle concerning Jesus and how He is the image of the invisible God and the firstborn over all creation. Moreover the apostle Paul also describes how by Him all things were created that are in heaven and that are on earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones or dominions or principalities. Not only this but the apostle Paul goes on to write how all things were created through Him and for Him and how He was before all things, and in Him all things consist.
There is a great need for us to pay close attention to the words which are found in this epistle written unto the Colossian saints for the apostle Paul describes the preeminence of Christ—and not only the preeminence of Christ but also the work that was accomplished by Christ both here on the earth and in the heaven. The epistle written unto the Hebrews emphatically describes and clearly sets forth the work which Jesus performed in the heavens as our great High Priest and when writing unto the saints which were at Colossae the apostle Paul described in great detail the work which Christ Jesus did. Beginning with the nineteenth verse the apostle Paul describes how it pleased the Father that in Christ all the fullness should dwell and by Him to reconcile all things to Himself and by Him—whether they were things on earth or things in heaven—having made peace through the blood of the cross. The apostle Paul reminded the Colossian saints how they were once alienated and enemies in their mind by wicked works and yet how Christ reconciled in the body of His flesh through death that they might be presented holy, and blameless and above reproach in His sight. With this being said, however, it is imperative we recognize that the apostle Paul also described the responsibility the Colossian saints had. Beginning with the twenty-third verse of this passage the apostle Paul reminded them of their need to continue in the faith, grounded and steadfast and were not moved away from the hope of the gospel which they heard. This is absolutely necessary and imperative for us to understand for we bear a great responsibility to continue in the faith, to be grounded and steadfast and not be moved away from the hope of the gospel which was heard—despite the various false teachings, false doctrines and false gospels that can and will be present and manifested among us within our generation. There is a great need for confidence within our hearts and souls and we as the saints of God must needs be firmly rooted and grounded upon the foundation that is Christ and must needs build our house upon the firm rock and foundation that is the person of the Lord Jesus Christ that we might be able to stand and be secure regardless of what we face in this generation and these days.