5 because of the hope laid up for you in heaven. Of this you have heard before in the word of the truth, the gospel, 6 which has come to you, as indeed in the whole world it is bearing fruit and increasing—as it also does among you, since the day you heard it and understood the grace of God in truth, 7 just as you learned it from Epaphras our beloved fellow servant. He is a faithful minister of Christ on your behalf 8 and has made known to us your love in the Spirit.
Continuing to verse five one discovers that the Colossians have love for all the saints because of the hope laid up for them in heaven. Faith, hope, and love appear together throughout Paul’s letters and are foundational to Pauline theology. Biblical “hope” isn’t wishful thinking – crossing our fingers that things will work out on the other side. No, biblical hope is a strong confidence and eager expectation that the promises of God will be fulfilled in this world or the next. This hope springs from the word of truth, meaning the gospel – the good news that Jesus offered Himself as a sacrifice for our sin as was raised on the third day.
Paul tells the Colossians that this gospel is bearing fruit and increasing all over the world. It was a movement of God, not just another mystery religion in Asia Minor. The believers in Colossae were a part of the larger body of Christ. All other religions are based on the belief that you can perhaps earn favor through a mixture of your human effort and some amount of grace earned through divine favor. Paul will teach his readers that the true grace of God is unmerited favor. Grace is God giving us the opposite of what we deserve – eternal life rather than death.
The gospel had been planted in Colossae by Epaphras, who was now bringing a report to Paul. Although there was some concern over heretical teaching, the report from Epaphras told Paul of their great love in the Spirit. Rather than dwell on the negative, Epaphras delighted in sharing the positive. In turn Paul speaks highly of Epaphras. As believers we should speak of one another faithfully, speaking freely of how we see the Spirit at work in their lives rather than picking apart each flaw.
Have hope today that God is at work both now and in your future! We know His promises are true and that through His grace our lives secure in His hands. Although our world may teem with spiritual darkness we know that the gospel of Christ is moving mightily through the nations.