What does Colossians 1:1 mean?
ESV: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
NIV: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
NASB: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by the will of God, and Timothy our brother,
CSB: Paul, an apostle of Christ Jesus by God's will, and Timothy our brother:
NLT: This letter is from Paul, chosen by the will of God to be an apostle of Christ Jesus, and from our brother Timothy.
KJV: Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God, and Timotheus our brother,
Verse Commentary:
Paul begins with his name and his title, "an apostle of Christ Jesus." This is the same title Paul uses of himself in the first verses of 1 Corinthians, 2 Corinthians, Ephesians, 1 Timothy, and 2 Timothy. Paul was an apostle through the work and plan of God, not his own schemes. The idea of God's will over his life is one of Paul's common themes for his letters. This not only gives Paul authority to make his claims, it gives him reasons to endure persecution and suffering.

Paul writes this letter along with his longtime helper Timothy. Timothy is also listed as co–author with Paul in 2 Corinthians, Philippians, 1 Thessalonians, 2 Thessalonians, and Philemon. This makes Timothy a collaborator on six of Paul's 13 New Testament letters. Paul make special mention of two other "brothers" in his letters. These are Apollos (1 Corinthians 16:12) and Titus (2 Corinthians 8:16).
Verse Context:
Colossians 1:1–2 is typical of Paul's greetings in his letters to churches. This text is a message to the believers of Colossae, a town in Asia Minor near Laodicea. This is one of the few churches Paul writes to which he has not personally evangelized. Rather, Epaphras is credited with founding the church in this community. As with several other letters, this one is co-authored by Timothy.
Chapter Summary:
In chapter 1, Paul introduces himself, along with his co-author Timothy. As he often does, Paul gives thanks for what he hears about the faith of the believers in Colossae. Paul includes a prayer for their growth and spiritual strength. The letter then transitions to praise of Jesus, describing Him as absolutely supreme. All created things were made through, by, and for Him. And, since it was His sacrifice which saved us from sin, we can have confidence in our eternal destiny.
Chapter Context:
Colossians chapter 1 is mostly focused on describing Christ as supreme. Jesus is not only the God of creation, He is the ultimate authority over all created things. The penalty for sin has been completely removed because of His perfect sacrifice. These are foundational ideas which Paul will use to set up his later points. In chapters 2, 3, and 4, Paul will explain why contrary claims are untrue, and show the right way for Christians to live out what we believe about Jesus.
Book Summary:
The book of Colossians describes Christ as superior to all other teachers, faiths, and philosophies. In this letter, written from prison, Paul once again tackles false teachings. Among these errors are claims that Christians need to give up all physical enjoyments, that they should worship angels, and that they need to rely on the wisdom of an elite few. These problems are consistent with an ancient heresy known as Gnosticism. In response, Paul explains that Christ is supreme, and sufficient for our salvation.
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