NIV Colossians 2:1 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.
NET Colossians 2:2 My goal is that their hearts, having been knit together in love, may be encouraged, and that they may have all the riches that assurance brings in their understanding of the knowledge of the mystery of God, namely, Christ,
How can Paul be agonizing and contending, fighting, for those in Colosse and Laodicea, if he is in prison and has never met many of them in person? (for the following list, please see Hendriksen, 94)
- striving in prayer (Colossians 4:12, 13; Romans 15:30)
- listening to God
- careful planning
- letter writing
- give direction to those in the mission field
- exhorting the resistance to Satan
- gospel proclamation wherever and however possible
- giving his personal witness and testimony
- living a model Christian life while undergoing pressure and affliction
Verse 2a Paraphrased (Wright, 98):
In other words, while the process of knitting together the church into a united body clearly includes the growth of love, it also includes the growth, on the part of the whole community, of that proper understanding of the gospel which leads to the rich blessings of a settled conviction and assurance. Living in a loving and forgiving community will assist growth in understanding, and vice versa, as truth is confirmed in practice and practice enables truth to be seen in action and so to be fully grasped (cf. 1:9-11). All of this promotes the encouragement, comfort and strengthening of the heart, regarded metaphorically then as now as the seat of affections and the mainspring of actions.
Verse 2–“in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ,” is central to the entire letter, is central to the entire New Testament, to the entire Bible. Everything is wrapped up in Christ, “namely, Christ.” To know Christ is the goal of Paul and God’s ministry here on earth. Christ is the answer to everything we might want to know about God and his purposes.
NIV 2 Peter 1:3 His divine power has given us everything we need for a godly life through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness.John 17:3 Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent.
NIV 1 Corinthians 8:6 yet for us there is but one God, the Father, from whom all things came and for whom we live; and there is but one Lord, Jesus Christ, through whom all things came and through whom we live.
NIV 1 John 5:20 We know also that the Son of God has come and has given us understanding, so that we may know him who is true. And we are in him who is true by being in his Son Jesus Christ. He is the true God and eternal life.
3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Verse 3 expands and reiterates verse 2. Christ is the “mystery of God” (v. 2) revealed. All that which was hidden and secret about God is fully made known by him to man in Jesus Christ.
NIV Colossians 2:9 For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form,
Wisdom and knowledge are treasures, and those who are in Christ may begin to eternally plumb those treasures.
NIV John 17:21 that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.
NIV John 17:23 I in them and you in me–so that they may be brought to complete unity. Then the world will know that you sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me.
How is God’s wisdom different than human wisdom? How are wisdom and knowledge related?
In Christ knowledge is never separated from wisdom, as it often is among men. Now wisdom is the ability, in concrete situations, to apply knowledge to the best advantage. It uses the most effective means to achieve the highest goal. (Hendriksen, 105)
God’s wisdom is creative; it is the source of all that we as humans can only reflectively know and understand. We who are created in God’s image, create by using what he alone created from nothing, himself excepted.
4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.
Paul is almost but not quite telling them that they may be deceived or about to be deceived. This is a warning spoken from love and concern, because the true knowledge of Christ is far better than every deception. Paul will describe some of the deceptions as Chapter 2 continues to unfold.
5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit…
Verse 5a speaks to the spiritual unity all believers share with one another in Christ (see John 17 quoted above). This unity is emphasized and made more real (conscious) as we pray for one another. Paul’s presence with the Colossians, though physically absent from them, was a reality to him, because he constantly agonized for them in prayer.
Colossians 1:9 For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you.
Colossians 1:29 To this end I strenuously contend with all the energy Christ so powerfully works in me.
Colossians 2:1 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.
…and delight to see how disciplined you are and how firm your faith in Christ is.
After warning the Colossians in the prior verse that they may be deceived or about to be deceived by false teachers, Paul builds them up and encourages them by naming strengths he knows they already have.
- This reassures them in their faith that they are doing well and are on the right path.
- Such reassurance is an encouragement to them to continue as they are doing, even though the path may be difficult.
- Paul’s words also reassure them of the high regard he has for them. (How does this help prepare them for the more difficult words he is to tell them further on in the letter?)
- Paul’s compliments to them speak into the characteristics he wants them to continue to practice and grow, that is their orderliness–discipline–and firmness–stability–in the faith and in their meeting together.
This conclusion to Paul’s lengthy introductory remarks ends on a happy and positive note. The next verse begins Paul’s exhortations.
Recap of the letter so far:
Introductory Remarks: Laying a Good Foundation for What Follows (1:3-2:5)
A. Prayer for the Colossians (1:3-12a)
B. The Father’s Role in the Colossians’ Salvation (1:12b-13)
C. The Son’s Role in the Universe and in Salvation (1:14-23a)
D. Paul’s Role (1:23b-2:5)
1. for the gospel (1:23b)
2. for the church (1:24-29)
3. for the growth of the Colossians and Laodiceans (2:1-5)
- In Paul’s entire introductory foundation, Colossians 1:1-2:5, what evidence do you find of his diplomacy? Do we apply Paul’s kind of diplomacy in our interactions with non-Christians and Christians alike?
- Does learning about the full “mystery of God, namely, Christ in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” cause me to want to say with Paul:
Philippians 3:10 I want to know Christ–yes, to know the power of his resurrection and participation in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death,…
Philippians 3:13 Brothers and sisters, I do not consider myself yet to have taken hold of it. But one thing I do: Forgetting what is behind and straining toward what is ahead, 14 I press on toward the goal to win the prize for which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.
- What am I doing to achieve this goal? What “corners” am I cutting? Where am I being lazy? Where am I commendable?
Our group will be taking a break at this point. I hope that these studies have in some way been helpful to someone. Blessings in Christ!
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Thanks Gaye! Your encouragement for many years now means a great deal to me. Many, many blessings to you.