2 I want you to know how hard I am contending for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My goal is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
(Colossians 2:1-5 NIV)
As we begin chapter 2, we see Paul’s passion for Christ and his compassion for others come through via pen and parchment. Verse 1 further indicates that Paul had not visited the triad of cities (Colossae, Laodicea, Hierapolis).
Paul mentions the church at Laodicea here in chapter 2, then more extensively in chapter 4. Paul also mentions Hierapolis briefly in chapter 4, indicating he had built long-distance associations with believers in all three cities.
In verse 1, Paul says he is contending (fighting) for the Colossians. Paul is not fighting against the Colossian church; he is on their side, fighting the battle for truth and Christ. And who was Paul fighting against? The heretical teachers in their midst who were not preaching Christ, but instead were preaching a mix of Christ and Eastern mysticism, with all its speculations and rites and self-proclaimed superiority over all, including Christ.
Starting in verse 2 and continuing through verse 4, Paul asks and answers the reason he is contending (fighting) for the hearts and minds of the Colossians (and us). Paul uses a series of implied “why” questions to build his case and make his point.
Paul begins with his clearly stated goal: to encourage and love on the faithful Christ followers in the Colossian church (and us).
When you’re in the midst of a circumstance or trial, how encouraging it is to have someone let you know they are praying for you and offer you genuine words of hope, reassurance, and support. And that is exactly what Paul is doing for the Colossian church.
Why did Paul want to encourage us? To remind us that we have the full riches of complete understanding in Christ. The heretics were trying to persuade the Colossians that they were “missing out” on the secrets of spirituality – that God was holding out on them. They (the heretics) claimed that they had the “secrets” of spiritual insight.
And why did Paul want us to know that we have the full riches of complete understanding in Christ? So that we may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ. Paul agrees with the heretics that there is a mystery to be found, but it is found in none other than Christ. The mystery is not to be found in the heretics’ Eastern rites and ceremonies or secret meetings.
And why did Paul want us to know the mystery of God, namely, Christ? Because it is in Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. Paul was reminding the Colossians that Christ is their source of wisdom and knowledge, not the heretics and their “enlightened” philosophies and musings.
And why does Paul point to Christ as the treasure of wisdom and knowledge? Verse 4 is clear: “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.”. Human logic and reason are often quite persuasive, and we are easily enticed by others’ thoughts and ideas. We must carefully weigh and measure both the words of others (using the knowledge of Christ) as well as the intents of others (using the wisdom of Christ) to know whether they will bring us closer to Christ or lead us away from Christ. Anything or anyone that does not point us back to Christ leads us away from Him.
Paul concludes his thoughts in this paragraph with a very personal note to the Colossians (v. 5). Paul lets the Colossians know that even though separated physically, he is with them spiritually and rejoices in their discipline to follow Christ and in their firm grounding of their faith in Christ.
Dear family and friends, verse 5 echoes my heart, and why I write this blog each day. May you be encouraged and strengthened in your walk with Christ as we read and study God’s Word together.