Read: Colossians 1:1-2
To the saints . . . in Christ at Colossae: Grace to you and peace from God our Father. (v. 2)
Preachers and teachers often remind us of this when we delve into an epistle, but it bears repeating. What we have in Colossians is a letter, a piece of correspondence. But it was not written to you or me or anyone we have ever met. This has lots of implications. One obvious implication is that you are reading only one-half of the correspondence, and so you have to do some guesswork as to what the other half said.
It would be like finding a box of letters in your great-aunt’s attic after she died. You might even find some letters that your grandma sent to your great-aunt. But having only your grandma’s half of the exchange means that you won’t be sure why she keeps referring to “Jerry’s problems.” Who was Jerry? What were his problems? How did this concern your aunt and grandma? You are left to puzzle it out.
There are similarities to figuring out Paul’s letters. But there is a big difference: by the work of the Holy Spirit, this letter is written to you after all. It could as well say, “Dear Phyllis . . . Dear George . . . Dear Congregation in Pella, Iowa.” The Spirit makes this letter a letter addressed to you as well. “Dear You . . . ” So this month, let’s find out what the Spirit wants to tell us. —Scott Hoezee
As you pray, thank God for servants like Paul whose words by the Spirit still address us even today.
About the Author
Scott Hoezee is an ordained pastor in the Christian Reformed Church of North America. He served two Michigan congregations from 1990-2005 and since 2005 has been a faculty member at Calvin Theological Seminary in Grand Rapids, Michigan, where he serves chiefly as the Director of The Center for Excellence in Preaching. He is the author of several books, including most recently Why We Listen to Sermons (Calvin Press 2019) and is the co-host of the “Groundwork” radio program.