What does Colossians 1:3 mean?
ESV: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
NIV: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
NASB: We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
CSB: We always thank God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, when we pray for you,
NLT: We always pray for you, and we give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
KJV: We give thanks to God and the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
NKJV: We give thanks to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you,
Verse Commentary:
Paul's letter opens immediately with gratitude. Paul was a man of prayer, often opening his letters with similar thanks (Philippians 1:3). He calls God "the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ." This belief will be mentioned again later, when Paul addresses false teachings regarding the identity of Christ. Paul presents Jesus as equal with God the Father, yet distinguishes between Father and Son as well.

Paul focuses his prayer on all of the believers in Colossae. He rejoices at the knowledge of a vibrant group of believers thriving apart from his leadership. Though Paul had helped start several churches, there would have been many others which began through the efforts of others. In this case, the church in Colossae started under the ministry of Epaphras (Colossians 1:7). The success of a church in Colossae would have encouraged Paul. This was a sign that the gospel was spreading among the Gentiles, beyond his own direct influence, and into many other regions as well.

Paul's use of "we" is a reference to himself and his co-author, Timothy (Colossians 1:1).
Verse Context:
Colossians 1:3–8 expresses Paul's gratitude for the growth of the Colossian church. As a result of Epaphras' efforts, the believers there are growing in their faith. In particular, Paul is hearing positive things about their Christian love. Paul also connects his gratitude to the growth of Christianity in other places around the world.
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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