Lesson

Only Jesus Makes Us Fruitful (Colossians 1:1-14)

Bible Passage: Colossians 1:1-14

As Paul begins this letter, he does so in his customary way. He is writing to a church that he has not met in person, and his tone is warm and friendly. In the first two verses, he introduces himself (highlighting that God has called him into his role as an apostle) and his co-author Timothy (Paul did not operate as a lone-wolf and would often create space for the ministry of others). He also affirms the Colossians believers as saints set apart by God, and as his brothers and sisters in Christ. Finally, he speaks a blessing of grace and peace to them from God.

In the first section of the letter, Paul focusses on the theme of the gospel bearing fruit.

The fruit already seen (v3-5): In these verses, Paul acknowledges the good things that have already happened in the lives of the Colossian believers. Word has spread about them and this led Paul to pray for them with thankfulness. In particular, there response to the gospel is characterised by faith in Jesus, love for one another, and hope for the future promise of heaven. These three characteristics are the model for what is looks like to respond to the gospel, and can be a measuring stick for us to think about what our own Christian lives look like.

Bearing fruit in the world (v6-8): In verse 6, Paul speaks of how the gospel is bearing fruit and growing in the whole world. He is reflecting on the fact that the gospel has reached Colossae, a town that he had never even been, because of the work of his colleague Epaphras. The impact of the gospel is never tied to a particular place or a particular missionary, and through many different faithful people being called by God and going to new places, the gospel spreads and new groups of people are won for Jesus.

Bearing fruit in their lives (v9-14): Here, Paul prays for the Colossians, and his desire for them is even more fruit! He wants them to know the will of God, to live lives worthy of him, to be strong, prepared to endure and joyfully thankful. Again, this is an aspirational vision for the Christian life, and it shows us both what we can be praying for one another and what the gospel can bring about in our own life. This is all grounded in the truths of v12-14, where Paul explicitly states the good news of what Jesus has done for us.

Potential Applications:

  • You could invite people to pray for one another in a way that echoes the themes of v9-14 (either in groups or as a time of open prayer) .
  • Perhaps there are particular nations on the hearts of people in the congregation. You could spend time praying for the gospel to bear fruit there, or you could challenge people to think about going or supporting global mission in some other way.
  • You could challenge people around the themes of faith, love and hope, and invite people to identify which of these things God is challenging them to step more fully into.