Thanksgiving and Christian Living (Part 1): A Textual Study in Colossians

By David Brown

I’ve known David Brown for several years now, and I know that he loves God’s word. Over the next few weeks he will be breaking down Colossians 1:3-14 for us, helping us see the riches contained in this one passage in the Word of God. Today’s post covers Colossians 1:3-6. David provides an overview of the passage as well as the main point of the entire passage. When reading, you may find it beneficial to have your Bible open so that you can follow the flow of the text.

-Evan Knies

An Overview of Colossians 3:1-14 

This is a passage about giving proper thanks to the Father for the work He has accomplished through His Son, namely transferring us from darkness into His kingdom of light. And one of the greatest ways of showing our thanks is to live a life that invites people into the Christian fold.A solid orthodox interpretation of the Scriptures means that we have to be able to identify the beginning and end points to a sermon passage. This passage is a combination of 3 paragraphs and the temptation for pastors is to rush back to the commentaries too soon to read the explanations for the verses and miss the literary features in the text. All three of these paragraphs should be interpreted together and there are several literary features that support this notion.

The Structure of the Textual Passage

* Verses 3 through 14 are all one sentence in the original Greek.

* The passage is framed by the word for thanksgiving (v. 3, 12).

* Two literary movements anchor the passage.
– The movement from you to us (vv. 12-13).
– The movement from Father to Son (vv. 12-13).

The Application of the Text’s Structure

These literary and grammatical devices indicate that all three paragraphs function together in an effort to emphasize the work that the Father has done through the Son, and as a result the Colossian believers are called to give thanks to the Father for His work. If believers are going to become better interpreters of the Bible then we have to understand the basic purpose of the book. Paul is trying to correct the crumby understanding the Colossians have about the Christian faith.

* In 2:21 the Colossians are trying to use external codes to regulate the Christian life:
– Do not handle
– Do not touch
– Do not taste

*These external codes are impacting their understanding of the Christian faith in a very negative way. So Paul has a very specific reason for setting Colossians into writing.

The Purpose of Colossians

Paul presents a Christ centered correction to the Colossian false teachers who have deviated from an orthodox path by blending together various Jewish and pagan beliefs into a mutated understanding of the gospel that is really no gospel at all.

The Main Point

Paul seeks through intercessory prayer to steer the faith of the Colossian believers so that they focus on heavenly things; namely the atoning work of Jesus who has transferred them from darkness into the light of His eternal kingdom.

All too often in their Christian lives believers (like the Colossians) attempt to insert their own opinions and works into their Christian faith. And in doing so they turn Christianity into a religion that is all about themselves. Through intercessory prayer Paul is asking God to fill them with all spiritual wisdom so they will become a people who are focusing on God rather than a people who are focusing on themselves.

Part One’s Primary Focus

Paul gives thanks to God by praying for the spiritual growth of the Colossians.

– Read Colossians 1:3-6.

– Paul’s Point
* Giving thanks to the Father while praying for you always (v. 3).
* Through the hope being laid up for you which is the
Gospel (v5).
* Coming to you and the whole world it is bearing fruit and growing (v. 6).

– Paul thanks God that the gospel message laid up for the Colossian’s bears fruit and continues to grow.

Paul’s Major Emphasis
* The intensity of Paul’s prayer is reflected by the use of two present tense participles.
* The participles are  “bearing fruit” and “growing.”
* Present tense participles denote continuous action.

-So Paul is talking about on-going spiritual growth that leads to regular fruit bearing.

– Spiritual growth requires effort (on-going effort) on the part of the believer.

– Christians can hold great theological views about God, but if they are not being applied into our lives then we are not giving proper thanks to God.


Dr. David Brown (Ph.D, New Orleans Baptist Theological Seminary) is the Senior Pastor of Roseland Park Baptist Church in Picayune, Mississippi. You can follow him on Twitter at @davidbdwb.

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