Getting Acquainted – 1:3-8
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.
When Paul and Timothy pray for the Colossians, their prayers are full of thanksgiving because of the power of the faith and love the believers exhibit in Colossae. Though Paul did not plant the church in Colossae (his disciple, Epaphras did that), he still considered it one of his congregations, and assumed apostolic care for them in prayer. This is a powerful encouragement (by example) for pastors and leaders to pray, not only for those in their direct care, but also for those who may be in congregations nearby, or which are in some other way tied back to them.
The report Epaphras brought to Paul and Timothy about the church in Colossae emphasized their faith in Jesus and the love they had for all believers. Love for fellow believers is a big deal to Paul (see especially 1 Corinthians). The way that Paul constructed the phrase the love you have for all God’s people “reveals two truths about the nature of the church’s concern. First, it was sacrificial. The term agapē reminded them of the sacrificial love of Christ for them. Second, within the Christian community it was indiscriminate. The love was directed to all the saints.”[i] The love that defines Christian community is the same love Jesus displayed on the cross – both sacrificial and indiscriminate. Christians cannot love some and not others.