Tuesday, August 23, 2011


Paul's letter to the Church at Colosse mentions the Gospel just two times, both in the first chapter (v. 5, 23). And as is true of most of the Word of God, verses are best understood in the context in which they were written. The only exception I know of where that is not true is with lists, such as in genealogies and the Book of Proverbs.

Much has been written about the similarity between Paul's letters to the Ephesians and to the Colossians, but I get the sense that his epistle to the Ephesians focuses more on them taking the Gospel to others (6:15, 19), but in his letter to the Colossians, Paul spoke of the Gospel having been established, not only in Colosse, but in all of the world:

"We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you, since we heard of your faith in Christ Jesus, and of the love which ye have to all the saints, for the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel, which is come unto you, as it is in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of it, and knew the grace of God in truth" (Colossians 13-6).

By the time Paul wrote the Book of Colossians, nearly thirty years had passed since the Church was born (Acts 2). Due to the persecution of the Church, all but the Apostles had scattered, taking with them the Gospel message (Acts 8:1; 11:1). We read of one critic's view of the Church in Acts 17:6: "These that have turned the world upside down are come hither also." After all, if Rome was the center of civilization at that time, and the Gospel had already been preached there, it is very likely that travelers from Rome took the good news to the far reaches of the world.

Paul repeated this declaration in Colossians 1:23, where he wrote: "If ye continue in the faith grounded and settled, and be not moved away from the hope of the Gospel, which ye have heard, and which was preached to every creature which is under heaven; whereof I Paul am made a minister."

According to the teaching of Jesus, the Gospel was to be preached to the whole world and then the end would come (Matt. 24:14). If Paul taught that the next thing on God's timetable was the Rapture, he had to believe the Gospel had been preached worldwide. In his epistle to the Romans, Paul wrote, "First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for you all, that your faith is spoken of throughout the whole world" (1:8).

I am well aware of the fact that at the time of Paul's writings, nothing was known of populations in what are now called North and South America, but even taking that into consideration, both continents have received the Gospel centuries ago. In fact, according to www.operationworld.org, there is not a single nation on earth that does not have Christians within its borders. Also, the percentage of Christian population of each country, taken from the US State Department's International Religious Freedom Report, the CIA World Factbook, Joshua Project, Open doors, Pew Forum and Adherents.com, confirms these estimates.

Are you ready?

No comments:

Post a Comment