Saints, Set Apart by God (Colossians 1:2a) ~ A Daily Devotion for August 5, 2014

“To the saints and faithful brothers in Christ at Colossae..” ~ Colossians 1:2a

Explanation of the Text: The second part of this text reveals who Paul is writing to. We learn here that he is writing to the church at Colossae. In this text, Paul describes the people of the church in two ways: As saints and as faithful brothers. In reality, these two phrases are just two different ways of saying the same thing. First off note, the phrase faithful brothers in Christ. In this phrase Paul is suggesting that the people of Colossae were believers, specifically, they were believers in Christ and as a result, Paul could refer to them as his brothers. Second, Paul first refers to them as saints. Calling them saints marks them out as God’s people, meaning that they were set apart and chosen by God for Himself.[1] This once again denotes the fact that these are Christians that Paul writes to, although the word ‘saints’ is a bit more specific in its definition. The question then becomes, for what purpose are the people set apart for? The ultimate answer to that is that the people are set apart ultimately in order to glorify God.[2]

There is an important distinction to be made here to. Paul is writing to Gentiles, calling them set apart by God. This is what we find in Exodus 19:5-6 in which God calls Israel and sets them apart for His purposes. This is an important concept to think about. At one point, the calling and setting apart was for Israel, and yet as they rejected Christ in Matthew 12, the message of Christ changed and began to be preached to the Gentiles. As a result, Christians are now saints because of the new relationship with God they have through Christ.[3]

Examination & Application of the Text: As we look at the introduction to Paul’s letters to the Colossians, there is not much to be considered in terms of application. However, in looking at today’s particular text, I want to challenge all of us in our relationship with Jesus Christ. As we see in the text that the people of Colossae are set apart by God, that is, they are saints. Are you a saint or a faithful brother in Christ? How do you know?

There is great privilege in being a saint of God. Having life in Christ, each of us can now be called a saint (which is different than the teaching of the Catholic Church) and as a result, we are called to do works in His name. Us, as fallible men and women who mess most everything up that we put our hands on, why would an almighty God chose to use us? Because it shows the work that He does, and thus honors and glorifies Him.

There is much humility involved in the position of sainthood, and I would urge each of us to reflect on the depths and meaning of our relationship to Him and with Him. May today be one of thanksgiving for Him allowing us to be set apart for His ultimate purposes.

[1] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), 39.

[2] William Hendriksen, Phlippians, Colossians, and Philemon, New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1964), 44.

[3] Peter T. O’Brien, Colossians, Philemon, Word Biblical Commentary, Ed. Bruce M. Metzger (Columbia: Word, Incorporated, 1982), 3.

One comment

  1. The Catholic Church teaches, about the phrase “the communion of saints” from the Apostles Creed, that “In a certain sense this article (of faith) is a further explanation of the preceding: “What is the Church if not the assembly of all the saints?” The communion of saints is the Church” – Catechism of the Catholic Church paragraph 946.

    I do not see how what you have said is any different from the Catholic Church’s teaching here. It goes on to clarify that the term “saint” also applies to the living members of the church in paragraph 948; to wit,

    “Sancta Sanctis! (“God’s holy gifts for God’s holy people”) is proclaimed by the celebrant in most Eastern liturgies during the elevation of the holy Gifts before the distribution of communion. The faithful (sancti) are fed by Christ’s holy body and blood (sancta) to grow in the communion of the Holy Spirit (koinonia) and to communicate it to the world.- CCC 948

    Thanks for you reflections. I don’t think this is a point of disagreement.

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