In the middle of suffering, Paul finds something big enough to change the very character of people.
Colossians 1:1–8 (NIV)
Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
2 To God’s holy people in Colossae, the faithful brothers and sisters in Christ: Grace and peace to you from God our Father.
Thanksgiving and Prayer
3 We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you, 4 because we have heard of your faith in Christ Jesus and of the love you have for all God’s people—5 the faith and love that spring from the hope stored up for you in heaven and about which you have already heard in the true message of the gospel 6 that has come to you. In the same way, the gospel is bearing fruit and growing throughout the whole world—just as it has been doing among you since the day you heard it and truly understood God’s grace. 7 You learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow servant, who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf, 8 and who also told us of your love in the Spirit.
1:1 Paul, an apostle. Although Paul has likely never been to Colossae, he nevertheless feels a pastoral responsibility for this church. He writes to the Colossians with the authority of an apostle to assist the church in dealing with the problem of the dangerous teaching threatening its health (cf. 2 Cor. 1:1; Gal. 1:1). .
1:2 Colossae. A city in Phrygia, in the Roman province of Asia, Colossae was located on the Lycus River just over 100 miles (161 km) east of Ephesus. A significant earthquake occurred in the Lycus Valley during the reign of Nero (c. A.D. 60). Surface surveys of the site of Colossae have discovered inscriptions, a theater, a cemetery, and other structures. Coins point to official worship of the main Roman deities, plus the presence of mystery cults. Jewish presence in the Lycus Valley was likely strong, given the extant inscriptions and the literary references to Jews in Phrygia during the second and first centuries B.C. (Josephus, Jewish Antiquities 12.147–153; Cicero, For Flaccus 68). – ESV Study Bible
Strongly suggesting that these verses constitute a single major argument is the similarity between its beginning and its ending. Paul begins by thanking God for the Colossians’ faith in Christ and love for all God’s people, and claims that these are rooted in the hope stored up for them in heaven and about which they have heard in “the true word of the gospel” (1:4-5). He ends by warning the Colossians that their expectation of being presented before God “without blemish” in the judgment depends on their holding firmly to their faith and not moving from “the hope held out in the gospel” (1:23). This passage, then, is about the power of the gospel, the gospel that has at its heart (vv. 15-20) the Son of God, supreme in creation and the church. – Douglas Moo
The Gospel (v. 5) produces faith and good works and causes believers to grow in these blessings of the Christian life; cf. Gal 5:22–23. Paul’s description includes the fruit of new believers added to the congregation through the example and testimony of those who boldly confess their Lord. grace. This is a word of major importance in the Scriptures and one that every Christian should cleanly grasp. It describes the generous favor of God toward undeserving people (Rm 5:12–21; Ti 3:3–7). This is not favor as in our expression, “Can you do me a favor?” It is no mere random act of kindness. Paul described the lavish love and favor God shows toward those He gathers to be His children. The heavenly Father loves His children, favors, and treasures them with blessings, though they cannot repay Him one bit. Set in your mind the picture of new parents adoring their helpless newborn, and you glimpse the favor Paul envisioned. See again a father running to receive his lost son (Lk 15:20–24), and you catch another view of this favor that is ours through the Gospel. – Edward Engelbrecht