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 Colosse: Grace be unto you, and peace, from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Our practice today is to put our names at the end of a letter. In Paul’s day, it was normal to identify oneself in the formal greeting at the beginning of the letter. Makes sense to me 🙂
Paul states his authority for writing to the Colossian church: By the will of God, he was an apostle. The strict meaning of apostle is “one sent,” with the idea of being called to a special purpose. The other of the apostles had seen the living Christ during His ministry on earth. Paul had been gifted with a heavenly vision of Christ as he traveled on the Damascus road, seeking to persecute believers (Acts 9 and 26).
There are many paintings of that scene, which of course are all drawn from imagination. I like this one because it was indeed a dramatic moment, shocking to all who were present. It was the event that changed Saul the Persecutor to Paul the Apostle.
Paul mentions Timothy in his greeting. There is no indication that the much younger Timothy had a part in composing the letter. He was there to comfort Paul in his imprisonment, and perhaps acted as the amenuensis, or scribe, for Paul’s words. We really don’t know. We know only that he was there with Paul.
Paul continues his greeting, calling the recipients of his letter “saints and faithful brethren.” We don’t know what Epaphras may have told Paul, but it would seem from this greeting that there were those in the congregation who truly looked for truth, and wanted to live out their faith as God would have them to.
Then, as was typical, Paul blesses them with the hope of grace and peace sent from God.
Wouldn’t it be heartwarming to receive a letter that started this way? Of course, our written communications these days are generally email or texts, but still. Old-fashioned letters need to make a comeback. They offer the time and space to write much more thoughtfully and deeply than a quick e-communication does. Paul’s letters have stood the test of time. I don’t think our texting will do that.