As we prepare to begin chapter 2 of Colossians, it would be helpful to reflect on something he said back in chapter 1. Paul wrote in 1:28, “Him we preach, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may present every man perfect in Christ Jesus.” His commitment to doing all he could to help these young Christians grow in Christ and fend off those who would seek to dissuade them about their newfound confidence in Jesus reveals his deep care for them. Although they “have not seen my face in the flesh” (2:1); that is, Paul had never actually met them in person; he wanted them to “know what a great conflict I have for you and those in Laodicea” (2:1). He saw himself battling for their spiritual welfare. What was he fighting?
“…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, and attaining
to all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the
mystery of God, both of the Father and of Christ.”
To begin with, he wants them to be encouraged. Paul shows his unmistakable care for them throughout this letter. As he begins to close it out, he talks about sending Tychicus to them in part to “comfort your hearts” (4:8). He says this very thing to the church in Ephesus (6:22) and asks that the Lord do the same to the church in Thessalonica (2:17). He wants them to be “knit together in love.” I think of the song lyrics which say, “Bind us together Lord, bind us together with chains that cannot be broken.” Love is that chain! He will write in Colossians 3:14, “But above all these things put on love, which is the bond of perfection.” Like the church in Ephesus, he desired that they be “rooted and grounded in love” (Ephesians 3:17). 1st Peter 4:8, “And above all things have fervent love for one another, for “love will cover a multitude of sins.” Paul encouraged the church in Rome also. He says, “Be kindly affectionate to one another with brotherly love…”(Romans 12:10). I think we get the idea. He goes on talking about them coming to a “full assurance of understanding.” The NEB reads “wealth of conviction.” The ETRV reads “to have the full confidence.” We need to remember what they were battling against; that is, a form of Gnosticism: The idea that knowledge itself is the end-all. The words in 1st Corinthians 8:1 speak loudly, “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” Their hope, assurance, and conviction were in to be in the redemptive work of Christ, “the mystery which has been hidden from ages and generations, but now has been revealed to His saints.” (Colossians 1:26) This is what Paul desires that they grow in, their conviction about the Father’s plan to redeem them through Christ. Why? For it is only in them that “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:3).
“Now, this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words.”
The ETRV reads, “I tell you this so that no one can fool you by telling you ideas that seem good but are false.” Another translation uses the words “smooth rhetoric.” The use of persuasive words goes back to the beginning when the serpent asked Eve, “Has God indeed said, ‘You shall not eat of every tree of the garden?'” (Genesis 3:1) Paul is cautioning these early Christians to not succumb “to the pseudo-reasoning and impressive language of the heretics” (Michael Weed) of their day, which placed their confidence in earthly wisdom that sought to lure them away from the hope that is indeed found, in Christ. Although he is not with them, he knows that such pursuits will result in “good order and the steadfastness” (Colossians 2:5) of their faith in Christ.
May it be our quest to be knitted together in love and grow in understanding the assurance found in no other than Jesus Christ. And may we be attentive to the world’s so-called wisdom that will seek to draw us away from that very hope. Be blessed this day knowing you are loved by the Great I Am, and the proof is the cross of Christ.