Scripture: Colossians 1:1-14
The apostle Paul had never met the Christians in Colossae when he wrote to them. His friend Epaphras had visited their city in Asia Minor and told the Colossians about the gospel of Jesus Christ. As he opens the letter, Paul identifies himself as an apostle called by God’s will, and he connects himself with his partner in ministry, Timothy. After grounding himself in his relationship with God and his partner in ministry, Paul thanks God for the faith of the Colossians and for the way their faith has flowed into love. This faith and love come from the hope of God’s future that Epaphras told them about.
Then Paul uses the metaphor of fruit. The gospel, Paul says has been bearing fruit and growing through the whole world, just as it bears fruit and grows among the Colossians. Paul’s prayer of thankfulness makes clear the fruit is grounded in faith and love, based and hope. As Colossians 1:8 describes it, the fruit is “your love in the Spirit.” Paul indicates that when the gospel is at work in people’s lives, growth and fruit are natural outcomes.
This introduction to Paul’s letter shows some of the ways that Paul views the gospel as profoundly relational. Paul grounded his identity in his relationship with God and his partnership with Timothy. Paul reminds the Colossians that Epaphras brought them the gospel, and the fruit of the Colossians’ engagement with the gospel is love, both for God and for each other. The Holy Spirit is equipping them (and us) for love. We do not bear fruit in isolation, but only as we are supported by and giving to others. And our love for others is the fruit.
God, you use the growth and fruitfulness of nature to teach us about yourself and your call to us. Remind us of the connections to others and the reliance on the Holy Spirit that makes good fruit possible. Amen.
By Lynne M. Baab, Upper Room Disciplines 2022, p. 230.