As I read today, Colossians, a small phrase jumped into my brain that I have not payed all that much attention to in the past. It occurs as Paul describes his prayers of thankfulness to God for the saints in Colosse. In verses 5 and 6 Paul is saying that they have heard the truth, the gospel, and that as a result of their hearing Paul hears of the fruit that has gone forth from Colosse. The phrase Paul uses as to how this has happened occurs in verse 6; "...from the day you heard it and truly comprehended the grace of God."
" Truly comprehended the grace of God." Do we truly comprehend? Are we often silent because we do not truly comprehend? Are we not thankful for everything because we do not truly comprehend? Possibly so! Paul continues to say that they learned of this miraculous grace from Epaphras, obviously one who did truly comprehend and shared this grace eagerly with those from his home town. The saints of Colosse did not learn it from Paul, but from one of Paul's faithful students. At this time Paul had not been to Colosse and was writing from prison.
We have no firm writings that tell us exactly what Epaphras used other than his own words and the spirit of knowledge and wisdom. No doubt he probably had some writings of Paul's with him, maybe some other scriptures as well. There is much doubt among scholars regarding the origins of Ephesians as some manuscripts lack any language attributing it's being to Ephesus. Some argue that Ephesians was actually a circular letter that was shared among the various churches of Asia and probably Greece as well. Is Ephesians the letter mentioned in Colossians 4? Maybe. Whatever the possibilities, they are encouraged to share letters with Laodecia.
If we stay right in Colossians we can read of the grace that they truly comprehended. Chapter 2:11-15 talks well of the grace that they have truly comprehended; of course we could go elsewhere to find this grace as well but I believe that the most important and logical places to find it are in the prison letters. Paul repeats what Epaphras most likely has told them already, that they have been spiritually circumcised from the flesh through the baptism of themselves in Christ's death. They we subsequently raised with Christ and made alive with Him. All trespasses and legal failures have been removed, nailed to the cross! Not only this but Christ made a heavenly appearance and paraded this very grace publicly to the celestial rulers! That is grace to truly comprehend!
Not only do they truly comprehend, but in verses 6 and 7 of chapter 2 Paul tells them something truly rare. The saints of Colosse ARE "rooted and built up in Christ and established in the faith..". What a blessing and encouragement this must have been to Paul. It should be to us as well. Here is a group of folks who had limited access to scripture, who were surrounded by Judaisers and gnostics, yet they were living the gospel. We have full access to the scriptures and countless resources yet we are often lazy and lack this true comprehension. Due to such laziness or confusion many truly do not even begin to grasp what grace has been poured out towards us.
I encourage you to read the three letters, Ephesians, Colossians, and Philippians. Stay there for a good bit with dozens of readings and contemplation. Do your best not to compare them with the gospels, general epistles or even Paul's other writings. These are loaded with your true reality in Christ now, today, and your future purpose!
Finally, imagine what grace Paul is speaking of in the closing of his letter! God is blessing you.