...because of the hope being stored for you in heaven which you heard before in the word of the truth of the Gospel...
In our last reflection on Colossians, we talked about hope being stored up for us in Heaven. But how do we know about that? How do we know that we can and must desire and expect the eternal life God holds out to us and the grace He gives us to attain it? How do we know that our hope, our eternal life, is waiting for us, that God is preparing marvelous things for us? Paul tells us: we have heard about it beforehand in the Gospel.
The verb for “heard before” is proēkousate. There is a delightful anticipation in this verb. We can know something about our hope, our eternal life, before we realize it in full. The more we hear about it, the more we desire it; the greater our expectation becomes. We can start living eternity now in a limited way because we understand (at least in part) what is in store for us in the future if only we hold firm to the grace of God. God doesn't keep secrets from us. He wants us to look forward to the fullness of life with Him. He wants us to have an idea of what's coming. He wants us to begin to grasp the greatness of His gift of salvation even now in this life.
Where, then, do we hear about our hope? In the word of truth of the Gospel. This is actually quite a complicated little prepositional phrase in the Greek. It begins with the preposition en, which identifies the sphere where the information is located. That sphere is the word, tō logō. Logos is a loaded word, for Jesus Himself is the Logos, the Word of God. And indeed, we do hear about our hope through Him. He is the One Who brings our hope to fruition by His life, death, and resurrection. He is the One Who opened the gates of Heaven that we may have eternal life with Him. He is the One Who speaks hope into our hearts.
God's word also comes to us through the channels of Divine Revelation: Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition, both of which are interpreted by the Church's Magisterium. The Bible and the Church's living Tradition (which includes the sacraments) are both filled with hope. They teach us that God is preparing a place for us; they show us how to get there; and they serve as pathways for the grace that God pours out upon us. Our job is to read and to listen and to open our hearts in humility to receive the message.
This message, this word, is truth. Paul makes this very clear in the construction he chooses: ō logō tēs alētheias, literally, the word of the truth. Paul might simply have used the adjective “true,” but he chose the abstract noun instead to give his phrase greater punch. This isn't just any true word; it is the word of truth, something unique, something special, something amazing. He might also be hinting at Jesus' assertion, “I am the Way and the Truth and the Life.” In that case, the word belongs to Truth Himself, and Truth Himself has shared it with us.
Where do we find this word of truth? In the Gospel, the euaggelion, the good news. Good news! Isn't that the understatement of the millennium? The Gospel is the best possible news ever, for it gives us the word of truth that our God loves us so much that He became one of us. He died on the cross for us. He rose again from the dead. He opened Heaven to us. He pours His divine life into our souls so we can live with Him and for Him and in Him right now. He gives us hope for eternal life that we may be with Him forever. It doesn't get any better than that.
(Greek definitions come from Biblehub.com, especially HELPS Word Studies.)