“For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven, whereof ye heard before in the Word of the Truth of the gospel:               

“For the hope which is laid up for you in heaven,”
Literally“Because of the hope being laid up for you in heaven”–The evidence which Paul had that this hope was theirs, was founded on the faith and love to the saints which he heard they had evinced.

He fully believed that where there was such faith and love, there was a well-founded hope of heaven. The word “hope” here is used, as it often is, for the thing hoped for. The object of hope:  to wit, eternal happiness, was reserved for them in heaven.

“For the hope;”–That is, connecting these words with “we give thanks,” on account of the hope. But we may better connect them with verse 4, and render, through the hope; meaning faith and love exercised under the influence of the hope laid up for them in heaven–the hope here standing for the inheritance which is its object.

            HOPE:  (Grk.–elpida)–At times, hope is added as the third of the primary virtues (I Thess. 1:3; I Cor. 13:13), which might seem to be the case here, since hope is included almost immediately after faith and love. 

it is probably best understood as looking back to the faith and love.  What is astonishing is the suggestion that faith and love, which are exercised here and now, are dependent on the hope which relates to the future.  But hope creates an anticipation in the heart that has a powerful effect upon present attitudes.  The prospect of being with other believers in the presence of Christ for all eternity makes the fellowship of love in this life all the more meaningful.

        LAID UP:  (Grk.–apokeimenēn)-Literally: "laid away or by." Used in Luke 19:20 of the pound laid away in a napkin. See also (Grk.–apothêsaurizô), to store away for future use” (I Tim.6:19). The same idea occurs in Matt. 6:20 (treasure in heaven) and I Pet.1:4 and it is involved in Philemon 1:25.

“whereof ye heard before:”|
Literally: “which you heard before”–When the gospel was first preached to you. When you were told of the blessed rewards of a life of faith in heaven.

       YE HEARD BEFORE: (Grk.–proêkousate)–This Greek word  is used only here in the N.T., and not even in the LXX (Septuagint), the Greek translation of the O.T. used in Jesus’ and Paul’s time; and rarely is it used even in classical Greek.  It is variously explained as denoting either an undefined period in the past, or as contrasting the earlier Christian teaching with the later heresies, or as related to Paul’s letter (before I wrote). 

in the word of the Truth of the Gospel”–The phrase, “Word of Truth,” is closely parallel to a similar statement that Paul made in Eph. 1:1. In the true word of the gospel.  If the gospel were not true, it would not be “good news,” but only a cruel deception.  The truth is the contents of the Word, and the Gospel defines the character of the truth.

It is possible that here Paul is, by way of contrast, glancing at the error which is current at Colosse, which he is about to attack openly in this letter.  In his other controversial epistle, he twice refers to the truth of the gospel (Gal. 2:5, 14).  The best way to deal with error is to hold it up to the light of truth which God has revealed.

“Which is come unto you, as
(it is) in all the world; and bringeth forth fruit, as it doth also in you, since the day ye heard of (it), and knew the grace of God in truth.”

“Which is come unto you,”
Literally:  “Which is coming to  you”–Or better rendered as, “which has come to you and is present” that is, which has come to,
and remains with you. Paul here speaks of the Word as a living person, as a traveler, who is present among them.  

         The doctrine of the Gospel is represented as a traveler, whose object it is to visit the whole habitable earth; and, having commenced his journey in Judea, had proceeded through Syria and through different parts of Asia Minor, and had lately arrived at their city, everywhere proclaiming glad tidings of great joy to all people.
         The Gospel, which came to them from God, from heaven, from Christ, out of Jerusalem, from whence the word of the Lord was to come, by the ministers of the Gospel, who being sent, came to Colosse, and there preached It. It has not been confined to the Jews or limited to the narrow country where it was first preached, but has been sent abroad to the Gentile world. The object of the apostle here seems to be, to excite in them a sense of gratitude that the gospel had been sent to them. It was owing entirely to the goodness of God in sending them the gospel, that they had this hope of eternal life.

         The object of the apostle here seems to be, to excite in them a sense of gratitude that the gospel had been sent to them. It was owing entirely to the goodness of God in sending them the gospel that they had this hope of eternal life. They who had not sought Him,, had made been shown in His Person, grace, and righteousness to them that asked not after Him: for this Gospel came not to them in not just in word only, but also with the power of the Holy Spirit.  It was come, “into you,” as the phrase may be rendered, into their very hearts, and wrought effectually there, enlightening, convincing, comforting, and instructing them. The Gospel is always in one place or another, and will be to the end of the world; but it is not always in the same place; but as yet it was not removed from Colosse; it was still with them in the external ministry of it, and it remained in their hearts in the powerful and comfortable experience of it:

“as (it is) in all the world;”
Literally:  “as also in all the world”–

1.       It is confined to no place or people, but is designed to be a universal religion.
2.       It offers the same blessedness in heaven to all.

         So rapid is this Traveler in His course, that He had already gone nearly through the whole of the countries under the Roman dominion; and will travel on until He has proclaimed His message to every people, and kindred, and nation, and tongue.  As it was by this time preached in the leading parts of the then known world; potentially, as Christ's command was that the Gospel should be preached to all nations, and not be limited, as the Law was, to the Jews (Matt. 13:38; 24:14; 28:19).
         As it was come into, and preached to all the world, and was made useful, and continued in all the world at that time. Christ gave His disciples a commission to go into all the world, and preach the Gospel to every creature; it was no more to be restrained to a particular nation, but was made general and common to all the nations of the world, and accordingly they preached it to all.

         By this time the gospel message had been delivered to the greater part of the world, which is sometimes meant by all the world, and the whole world; or it had now been  preached in all the known and habitable parts of the world by one apostle and another, some being sent into one part, and some into another; so that the grace of God appeared to all men, and the doctrine of it had been preached to every creature under the heaven, according to Christ's commission;

“and bringeth forth fruit,”
Literally: “and it is bearing fruit”–By which is meant, either the conversion of sinners, the fruit of the Gospel ministry, when attended with a divine humility, self-denial, etc. It has constantly been producing these fruits since you first heard it preached.

         Wherever the pure Gospel of Christ is preached, it is the seed (the “good seed”–Matt. 13:37) and must be fruitful in all those who receive it by faith, in simplicity of heart. The meaning is, that the gospel was not without effect wherever it was preached. The same results were observable everywhere else as in Colosse, that it produced most salutary influences on the hearts and lives of those who received it. On the nature of the “fruits” of religion (Gal. 5:22-23).

          Paul is now preparing for his assault on the heresy that has taken root in the Colossian church; but first the two things for the believers there to consider:
1.       He is not content to merely appeal to the widespread reception of the truth, as though numbers of adherents could be construed as a guarantee of the truth of the message.   He passes on to a second consideration.

2.      The gospel invites comparison from the standpoint of its effectiveness:  “bearing fruit and increasing.”  The truth makes a difference; it transforms lives.  He is showing the truth Christianity carries with it credentials which false teaching cannot equal.

The fruits of righteousness or simply good livingThe meaning is, that the gospel was not without having an effect wherever it is preached. The same results were observable everywhere else as in Colosse, that it produced most salutary influences on the hearts and lives of those who received it. But Paul has not quite finished his initial preparation.  He reserves to the last the great distinctive of the gospel:  the fact that it enshrines the grace of God.

“and knew the grace of God in truth.”
Literally:  “and fully knew the the grace of God in truth”—You were fruitful, and went on increasing in the salvation of God, from the time that you heard and acknowledged this doctrine to be of God, to spring from the grace or benevolence of God; and received it in truth, sincerely and uprightly, as His greatest gift to man.

         Since the time you knew the true grace of God; since you became acquainted with the real benevolence which God has manifested in the gospel. The meaning is, that ever since they had heard the gospel it had been producing among them abundantly its appropriate fruit, and that the same thing had also characterized it wherever it had been dispensed.
         All other religions proceed on the assumption that man must commend himself to God; or, as in the case of the Galatian error, that a mixture of human effort with divine grace is required.  But a simple mention of the grace of God this early in the letter, coupled with the reminder that his readers have come to know the meaning of that grace as a reality in their own lives, Paul is already laying the axe to the root of the legalism that he will later tear out and cast aside before the very eyes of the Colossians (2:16-23).

Paul gives us a sort of a summary of what the gospel is,  and does.
1.       The gospel is
good news of God.  Its message is of a God who is a Friend and Lover of the souls of men and women. 

          First and foremost, the gospel sets us in a right relationship with God.
2.      The gospel is truth.  All previous religions could be entitled, “guesses about God.”  
         The Christian gospel gives us not guesses, but certainties about God.
3.      The gospel is universal It is for all the world.  It is not confined to any one race or nation, nor to any one class or social status. 
         a,      Very few things in this world are open to absolutely everyone. 
         b.      A person’s mental capacity determines the studies he or she can undertake. 
        c.       Social  class decides the circle within which a person will move.
        d.       Material wealth determines the possessions anyone can amass. 
        e.       An individual’s particular gifts decide the things that a person can do. 

        f.       But the message of the gospel is open to everyone without exception.

1.     The gospel is productive.  It bears fruit and increases. 
        a.      It is the plain fact of history and experience that the gospel has power to change individuals and the society in which they live. 
        b.     It can change sinners into good men and women and can slowly take the selfishness and cruelty out of society so that all its members may have the chance that God would wish them to have.

2.      The gospel tells of grace.  It is not so much message of what God demands as of what He offers
         It tells not so much of His demands from us as of His gift to us.

3.      The gospel is humanly transmitted.  It was Epaphras who brought it to the Colossians. 
         a.      There must be a human channel through which the gospel can be communicated; and this is where we come in. 
         b.     The possession of the good news of the gospel involves the obligation to share it. 
That which is divinely given must be humanly passed on.

“As ye also learned of Epaphras our dear fellowservant, who is for you a faithful minister of Christ.”

“As ye also learned of Epaphras”

Literally:  “Even as you also learned from Epephras.”—The word “also” is omitted in the oldest manuscripts. The insertion implied that those inserting it thought that Paul had preached the Gospel to the Colossians as well as Epaphras, Whereas the omission in the oldest manuscripts implies that Epaphras alone was the founder of the Church at Colosse.

         Who this Epaphras was we cannot tell; only it is likely that he himself was a Colossian, and became, by the call and grace of Christ, a deacon of this Church, faithfully laboring with Paul, to promote its best interests. Some think that he is the one called Epaphroditus, with Epaphras being a contraction of that name, as Demas is of Demetrius; and it is remarkable that one of the Slavonic versions has Epaphroditus in this place.
         That he was a Colossian is evident from 4:12: “Epaphras who is one of you.” Some think that he was the first who preached the Gospel among these people, and hence called an apostle. He had been raised up among themselves to be their minister in the absence of Paul and he showed himself to be worthy of this calling by a faithful discharge of his ministry, and by laboring fervently for them all, and pressing them forward, that they might stand perfect and complete in all the will of God.

         Epaphras had been with Paul, Philemon 1:23. Paul had probably been sent to him by the church at Colosse to consult him in reference to some matters pertaining to the church there. Paul here says, that they had learned from Epaphras the true nature of the gospel; and he plans to confirm what he had taught them, in opposition to the teachings of errorists.

“our dear fellowservant,”
Literally:  “our beloved fellow slave”–Namely, of Christ. In Philemon 1:25 Paul calls him “my fellow prisoner.” It is possible that Epaphras may have been apprehended for his zealous labors in Asia Minor; but more probable that Paul gave him the title; as his faithful companion in his imprisonment. 

         This shows that Paul had contracted a strong friendship for Epaphras. There is no reason to believe that he had known him before, but his acquaintance with him now had served to attach him strongly to him. It is possible, as has been conjectured that there was a party in the church at Colosse opposed to Epaphras and to the doctrines which he preached; and if this were so, Paul's strong expression of attachment for him would do much to silence the opposition.
         And a ”fellow” servant of the apostles, jointly engaged with them in preaching the Gospel; which character, as it greatly commends Epaphras, and shows him to be a very considerable preacher of the word, so it expresses the great humility and condescension of Paul’s in putting him upon a level with himself, though he was not in that high office of the apostleship.
         And this precious servant of Christ was "dear" to Paul, and his fellow ministers, on account of the grace and gifts bestowed on him, because of his usefulness in the ministry, and his faithfulness and integrity in the discharge of it; and whose company and conversation in the prison greatly endeared him to them, for he was a fellow prisoner, as well as a fellow servant, Philemon v. 23.

“who is for you a faithful minister of Christ.”
Literally:  “who is a faithful minister of Christ for you.”—He is “for you,” when he is with you, and in managing your interests here.  

         The thought here seems to be that Paul regards Epaphras as his substitute, his alter ego, who has carried out a mission which Paul would have been delighted to accomplish, but was unable to do. As the leading apostle to the gentiles, Paul considered Colosse a legitimate part of his mission field; but since he could not be there, he was glad to send men who knew the Word, and would declare it faithfully.
         Paul puts his seal upon the ministry of Epaphras, and vindicates it against all questioning at home. Textual evidence for "on our" or ”your behalf” is pretty evenly balanced: most older Greek copies read the first person, while the ancient versions generally adopted the second; and the critical editors are similarly divided. The Revisers, with Tregelles, Alford, Lightfoot, Westcott and Hort, prefer "our," which gives a finer and more fitting sense. It was as St. Paul's representative that Epaphras had ministered in Colossae, and to him he now reported his success; and this justified the apostle in claiming the Colossians as his own charge, and in writing to them in the terms of this letter.

        MINISTER:  (Grk.–diakonos)In its official sense found in Paul first in Phil. 1:1,  then in 1 Timothy.  This is the root from which we get our word, “deacon.”  It was the word used to describe a slave.

“Who also declared unto us your love in the Spirit.”

“your love in the Spirit.”
Literally: “your love in {the} Spirit”–The love wrought in you by the Holy Spirit. It was not mere natural affection, but love wrought in their hearts by the agency of the Holy Spirit. So we preached, and so you believed.

         The solitary reference to the Spirit in this letter is highly appropriate, for love is the primary fruit of the Spirit  (Gal. 5:22).  Paul is talking about something more than merely human sentiment.  What he is really speaking of is the love of Christ reproduced by the Holy Spirit in the lives of His people.
         The heavenly flame in the heart of this minister communicated itself to those who heard him; it was like priest like people.  They enjoyed a spiritual, energetic ministry, and they were a spiritual people; they had a loving spirit, and love through the Spirit of God which dwelt in them.  And of this love of theirs in the Spirit, and particularly towards the apostle, Epaphras gave full proof, not only by describing to the apostle the affection they felt for him, but in presenting to him those supplies which their love to him caused them to furnish.