Scripture Colossians 2:1-4
Colossians is a book of connections. Writing from prison in Rome, Paul combatted false teachings, which had infiltrated the Colossian church. The problem was “syncretism, “combining ideas from other philosophies and religions (such as paganism, strains of Judaism, and Greek thought) with Christian truth. The resulting heresy later known as “Gnosticism,” emphasized special knowledge (gnosis in Greek) and denying Christ as God and Savior. To combat this devious error, Paul stressed Christ’s deity-his connection with the Father-and his sacrificial death on the cross for sin. Only by being connected with Christ through faith can anyone have eternal life, and only through a continuing connection with him can anyone have power for living.
Christ is God incarnate and He alone is the only way for forgiveness and peace with God the Father. Paul also emphasized believer’s connections with each other as Christ’s body on earth. Paul’s introduction to the Colossians includes a greeting, a note of thanksgiving, and a prayer for spiritual wisdom and strength for these brothers and sisters in Christ. Then he moves on into a doctrinal discussion of the person and work of Christ stating that Christ is “the invisible image of the invisible God,” the creator, the head of the church, which is his body,” and “the first fruit of all who will rise from the dead”. His death on the cross makes it possible for us to stand in the presence of God.
Paul then explains how the world’s teachings are totally empty when compared with God’s plan, and he challenges the Colossians to reject shallow answers and to live in union with God.
Laodicea was near Colosse. It was a great city, but it was not nearly as great as Laodicea. In Laodicea there existed one of the seven churches of the Book of Revelations: it was the church that is described as being “lukewarm.” Conflict is our word for agony here in the text. Paul saw that there was a grave danger in Colosse and in Laodicea, and it caused great conflict in the heart of the apostle. They were in danger of going in two directions. There is still such danger today in the body of Christ and we need a lot of agonizing prayer for the church today. This explains why we find the Laodiceans “lukewarm” condition in the Book of Revelation: they had lost sight of the person of Christ. Christ is the answer to man’s head; he is also the answer to man’s heart.
Paul writes in Col. 2:1 ……..
“I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally.”
Paul says “I am struggling for you”. Paul wanted these people to know the depth of his love and concern for them. He had a real pastor’s heart for other believers. Even mature Christians need leaders who struggle in prayer and concern for them. Having mature leadership is one of the best ways for God’s people to attain further maturity. A half-hearted, half-committed pastor-leader will probably produce half-hearted, half-committed people. As Paul uses the word “struggle” here, he means that he is striving, agonizing, and wrestling in prayer for other believers….that they might grow and mature in the Lord. It is the picture of an athlete exerting every ounce of energy to struggle to win the prize in the contest.
Prayer is not easy, it is work. In fact it is demanding and difficult work. If you take prayer seriously, you know from experience that it is a struggle. When you are serious about praying, you’ll find that your thoughts will sometimes wander. You’ll find that your thoughts will struggle against your desire to be obedient in prayer. Your old nature will stick up its ugly head. You will imagine things….while trying to concentrate on praying. Pride will try to come into your prayers so that something other than God is exalted. Your work schedule will seem to usurp, upset, and throw off, your prayer schedule. Your desire for leisure time will seem to interfere with your prayer time.
But we have the Spirit of God within us…we have a new nature within us…consequently we have the power within us to overcome any such distractions and the influences of the evil one. We will have victory over such things as we persevere in a life of commitment to the Lord. In fact, that is the will of the Lord for us. Many Christians and churches remain immature in the Lord because they fail to labor and agonize in prayer for each other. The Lord reveals Himself to those who constantly seek His face in prayer. Prayer….that close communion and fellowship with the Lord…. is one of the primary ways in which God blesses His people.
Matthew 7:7 “Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you.
"Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation. The spirit is willing, but the body is weak."
Indeed, Paul’s struggling for God’s people shows us the depth of his love for them. As he loved them, he had good things in mind for them. Previously, in Col. 1:28, Paul said he wanted to “present everyone perfect in Christ.” That’s why he struggled for them in prayer.
When Paul came through that area, which he did twice, he did not come down to Colosse and Laodicea, he attempted to go down into Asia on his second missionary journey, but the Spirit of God forbade him; so he turned and took the northern route. Then when he came on his third missionary journey, walking over the land, he again took the northern route, perhaps because he was already familiar with it. It is clear that he had not been to these cities because he writes, “And for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.” This might be interpreted to mean that many new believers had come into the church since he had been there and that they had not seen his face. That meaning is highly unlikely; I think it means that Paul had never been there. But in chapter 1:7, we learn that Epaphrus a fellow servant, ministered to the people in Colosse.
Let’s look at verse 2, “That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father and of Christ.” The word heart in the text indicates the entire inner man. That means the whole being, the nature of man. He is praying that their hearts, their humanity their whole persons might be comforted.
Now let’s go to the next section; “Being knit together in love” means compacted in love. Love will draw them together. After all, a church is not united by gifts or even by what we term today as spirituality. If that were the case, then the church at Corinth would have had it going on. They would have been a church that exudes love. However, they are known as a church that had divisions and full of sinful carnal behavior. Howbeit, the bond that unites believers is love. It is the cement that holds us together-it is the Elmer’s’ glue of the church.
Let’s continue; “Unto all riches of the full measure of understanding.” Full assurance is an interesting expression: it literally means “to be under full sail.” It means that believers should be moving along spiritually- they should be sailing along or moving along for God.
Furthermore: “To acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.” This is an awkward expression, and a better translation would be: “the mystery of God, even of the Father and of the Christ.” Better and easier yet might be, “the mystery of God, even Christ.” I think that is the correct meaning of it.
What is the mystery of Christ? I am glad you asked! The church is the mystery, for it had not been revealed in the Old Testament. God was going to save Gentiles- that had been clear in the Old Testament, and he did save them. But on the day of Pentecost, God started a new thing. He began to call out a group of people into the body of believers, baptized by the Spirit of God into his body. This is what Paul is explaining in 1 Corinthians 12:12: “ For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so is Christ.”
You see, Christ had a physical body while He was here on this earth, and He has a spiritual body down here today. That body is the body of believers that have trusted Him, and the body is called Christ.” That is why the Lord said to Saul of Tarsus. “Why are you persecuting me?” (Acts 9:4). Saul was persecuting Him personally. The church is Christ, it belongs to Him; He is, “The mystery of God, even Christ.” That’s why when people start messing with you, cursing you out, lying on you, they better watch out! Why? Because Christ takes it personally when His body comes under attack.
Now, let us look at verse three: “In whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” All that we need is in Christ. If only we could learn that! He is the reservoir of all knowledge. I willingly admit that I don’t know everything- But I know where to find out. Because I know somebody who does know, Christ has been made unto us wisdom. We need to rest in that.
In the next verse, Paul is going to address the error of enticing words “And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.”
Paul is going to deal with the matter of philosophy and enticing words. Philosophy New Age thinking and psychology have been substituted for the Bible, and this is the thing that is enticing to so many young preachers in our seminaries today. You’d be amazed to find that some of these men with a PH.D degree from a seminary know so little about the Bible. They know all about Plato, Aristotle, and Socrates, but they don’t seem to know very much about the Word of God. That is a great problem and danger to the 21st century church.
There was the same danger in Colosse and also in Laodicea. This kind of thinking probably killed the church in Colosse, and it made the church in Laodicea the weakest of the seven churches in Asia Minor. It was the worst spiritual condition, and yet the people thought that they were well off, these cities were wealthy, they boasted of their wealth and affluence and also of their knowledge, but they were blind to their true spiritual condition. Paul says, “Don’t let any man beguile you with enticing words.” Beguile means “to victimize.” Enticing words are a lot of oratory (words) or sweet talk what amount to virtually nothing. A lot of people go to churches where the preachers preach flowery words of comfort to the people, but they are impotent, they have no power, the glory of the Lord has left the house. The church is weak and nobody is getting saved, healed and delivered under their administration. The church is ripe for apostasy because people are too easily impressed with polished showmanship preachers who boast about their wealth and material possessions, but lack the real possession even Christ the creator and giver of every perfect gift.
A great many people love this pretense toward intellectuality among preachers rather than the simple Word of God. Paul warns us to beware that they will beguile us with enticing words and will victimize us. Their words cause many people to follow a certain individual instead of the Word of God. Like the Pied Piper of Hamlin, he/she starts playing, and the unwary and ignorant start following. The church, Christ’s body has to be careful that they are not beguiled and so enamored with their spiritual leader’s outward flair, showmanship, emotionalism, persona, and all the worldly trappings that dope us into thinking one man or woman of God is more successful, more anointed, than another. There are people who believe that connecting to the right person, church or denomination will help them become more popular, open doors for television and radio ministry, allow them to travel, start ministries, churches, appoint pastors, missionaries, and leaders in certain areas and regions; so that later on they can justify and talk someone into establishing them as the bishop or apostle over a city, region, or township.
We become slaves and captives of their personality, but cannot discern the true character or motive behind their plots and schemes. We have to understand that some people were truly called, some were sent, and others just got up and went. But sadly, there is no call, no anointing, no real connection or purpose in the will of God for their life.
I’m not finished, but I will stop here for today. I think I have said enough for you to see where Paul, the writer of Colossians is going. In verse 6, he makes clear what the people needed to do in order to stay strong in their faith, and resist those who would try to compromise their faith with lies and deception.
Stay strong, and be careful on the roads today. And remember: “Don’t forget to say your prayers.”