Life-Study of Colossiansby Witness Lee
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Printed Copy: Available Online from Living Stream Ministry
Colossians 1:1-8 is the introduction to this Epistle. As the introduction, these verses disclose the purpose and subject of the book. Paul’s purpose and subject are not stated explicitly, but rather indirectly through various indications to be found in these verses.
The first of these indications is the phrase “the hope which is being laid up for you in the heavens” (v. 5). Another indication is found in the words “the word of the truth of the gospel” (v. 5). Notice that here Paul says the word of the truth of the gospel, not simply the word of the gospel. A third indication is seen in the words “fully knew the grace of God in truth” (v. 6). The word fully is an adverb that modifies the verb knew. What do the words “in truth” modify? According to many versions, this phrase modifies the word grace. Others regard it as an adverb modifying the predicate knew. If we understand truth here as reality, not just as sincerity, then it is correct to regard the words “in truth” as modifying the predicate knew. According to this understanding, Paul is saying that we must know the grace of God in its reality.
Let us now consider the hope mentioned in verse 5. Hope, faith, and love in verses 4 and 5 are the three things which the apostle stressed in 1 Corinthians 13:13. The emphasis there was on love because of the Corinthian situation. The emphasis here is on hope, which, strictly speaking, is Christ Himself (v. 27), for the revelation of Christ as everything to us.
Some think that the hope that is being laid up for us in the heavens refers to a particular blessing or some kind of glorious enjoyment. When I was young, I was told that, according to John 14, the Lord Jesus is preparing a wonderful mansion for us in heaven and that this is the hope laid up for us. What a mistake! Our hope is Christ Himself. According to verse 27, Christ in us is the hope of glory. On the one hand, He is in the heavens, but, on the other hand, He is in us to be our hope.
If we would understand this fully, we need to consider the faith and love spoken of in verse 4. Paul says, “Having heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and the love which you have unto all the saints.” Faith is to realize and receive what is in Christ, love is to experience and enjoy what we have received of Christ, and hope is to expect and wait for the glorification in Christ. Every genuine Christian has faith in the Lord Jesus and love toward all the saints. These two things prove that we are real Christians. Suppose I contact a certain person and tell him that I am one who believes in the Lord Jesus. If he does not respond to me in love, he himself may not be a genuine believer in the Lord. Love for the saints must always go along with faith in the Lord Jesus. They cannot be divorced.
From the time we first believe in Christ, we spontaneously have love for other believers, no matter what their nationality may be. According to my nature and my background, I could never love the Japanese. When I was a youth, I actually hated them because of the damage Japan had caused to China. But after I had been saved and had entered into the Lord’s ministry, I was invited to visit some Japanese brothers in Manchuria. I attended a small gathering held in the home of a Japanese believer. As soon as I entered into the room, spontaneously a love for those brothers welled up within me. My hatred for the Japanese vanished. Those brothers believed in the Lord Jesus, and I believed in Him also. Therefore, we could love one another as fellow believers in Christ. This love is not a natural love, but a love that comes out of our faith in the Lord Jesus. We have to love all the saints, just as the Colossians loved all the saints, regardless of their nationality and regardless of whether they were Jew or Gentile.
In the Lord’s recovery there are many nationalities. Humanly speaking, it is impossible for us to be one. However, we praise the Lord that no matter what our nationality may be, we love one another because we all have faith in the Lord Jesus. When I contact brothers from Japan, I do not have any consciousness that they are Japanese brothers and that I am a Chinese brother. On the contrary, I simply have the sense that we are all holy brothers in Christ.
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