Monday, June 21, 2010

Colossians 2:1-5

I'm not sure if I posted the previous study to this one, Col. 1:25-30, but...if I didn't and you would like to see it, leave me a comment, if you will. Meantime I shall post up this one. Enjoy! How are my exposition skills coming, pray tell?

In our last study, we studied the last passage at the end of chapter one, that was vast in its scope. We talked about the mystery and incredible story of the Gospel, from the Fall to Christ. What an incredible six thousand year long story in itself! We studied into that, and into the future that the story of the Gospel will take in the end. Finally, Paul reveals something about his own labors on this matter.
Now, as we start chapter 2, let’s take a look at verses 1 through 5:

“For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasure of wisdom and knowledge.
“I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.” -Colossians 2:1-5

Continuing his last train of thought, Paul goes on after telling us of his noble labors with the opening verse here. According to Paul, he has great struggles on behalf of his friends in Colossus, and wishes to tell them so. Interestingly, at this time, Paul was in prison under the Roman Empire at the time of this letter’s writing. How is Paul struggling on their behalf while in prison, quite a distance away from Colossus? What could he be doing that benefits them? And that is such a struggle, too?
Well let’s take a look at the context. Very simply, he stated it in just the previous verses.
As he claims in 1:29, “For this purpose I also labor, striving according to His power, with mightily works within me.” The purpose Paul labors and strives for is the purpose of the Gospel and for the ‘admonishing and teaching every man,’ (Col. 1:28) that is, the salvation and edification of every man in Christ. Paul spent his life not only proclaiming the Gospel and bringing many people to the truth and grace of Christ, but he also is probably one of the greatest apostles in the area of teaching his converts Christian doctrine and Theology. After being saved, it is necessary for us, as saved believers, to ‘grow.’ The process we call sanctification is probably what is being achieved by it, and the growing in the knowledge and wisdom of God. In this specific case, it is possible we may never know exactly what struggles Paul had for his disciples. But we do know the purpose of his life and what he labored for, and that his work of saving, teaching, and discipling, not to mention the price of imprisonment it cost him, was certainly no small thing. In short, Paul’s struggles are those that cost him personally to teach the churches he planted. And the cost was indeed high.
Interestingly, Paul wants to tell them about his struggles for them, and not for his own glorification. This is not Paul crowing over his strength and endurance on behalf of others. Rather, he says ‘that their hearts may be encouraged.’ Apparently this message about Paul’s current struggles is supposed to encourage the people of Colossus and Laodicea. This is because this is a prime example of several things. This is an excellent example of one brother in Christ suffering and striving on behalf of others, which should indeed encourage those he’s suffering for. It’s always an encouragement to see a friend willing to suffer for your sake, but even more importantly, ‘and for all those who have not personally seen my face?’ This makes it all the more incredible, that Paul suffers and labors for those he does not even really know. And naturally, this is what we should be. A prime example of Christ-like behavior on behalf of our brothers and sisters, and selflessly laboring for saving and teaching. This is not only supposed to encourage the Colossians in that someone many did not even know was laboring for their good, but that indirectly he did so for us. This is a reflection also of Christ’s labors for us also. This should not only make us more confident in our walk, but should encourage us to imitate Paul in doing the same, for others.
He goes on to say,

“…that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ…” -Col. 2:2

After giving them this brotherly encouragement, Paul goes on to tell them something else they already have in part and are still striving for. Since he uses the word ‘having,’ we can assume that this is something that they already have done in context of the sentence. ‘Knit together in love,’ the Colossians closeness as a church and unity in themselves. This is something we lack in our churches today, quite obviously.
He goes on and states, ‘and to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding.’ This is important because this is a picture of what the knowledge of God brings, though understanding the Gospel and Christian doctrine. What we call theology and doctrine, are really the ‘knowledge of God’ we are often striving for, which are so vital for life. The vast wealth that comes from, well, ‘knowing’ the knowledge comes in forms I’m not sure I can say in human words. Paul is anxious that this wealth be acquired by the people of the Colossian church, a wealth that comes from ‘the full assurance of understanding.’ This is important, because this full assurance of understanding is the confidence we have in the Gospel and the knowledge of God we have learned. This is coming from the Holy Spirit in our lives. Finally, Paul sums up in one word what the mystery and knowledge are, and not surprisingly, ‘that is, Christ.’ Christ then is the summary of God’s mystery and knowledge to us, and rightfully so.

‘…in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.’ Christ is also quite literally the source of our knowledge and wisdom of God. Our understanding of the Gospel and Christ, and thus the Christian doctrine, is where this wealth and treasure of full assurance is to be found. In other words, in Christ, the mystery of God, is where the assurance of understanding and wealth of knowledge is to be found. This is vital and should give us all the more reason for studying the Word of God, being the source of our knowledge of Him today. For in every sense, the knowledge of God = life.
Now stop, and read that last sentence over again.
The knowledge of God = life. That is probably one of the most important things I can show you from studying God’s Word.
Within Scripture, life isn’t quite what we call life today. The word, ‘life,’ means different things than what we think of when you or I say life. When I tell you, ‘my life is great,’ it usually means that right now, my circumstances and situations are going well for me. Now this is not what the Bible calls, literally, ‘life.’
“Life” as defined in Scripture is the quality of our experience. In short, the level of our satisfaction and happiness, in our hearts and souls. This comes only from God and His Holy Spirit in our lives, and we all know this from each of our own lives and walks in Christ. As we grow, we grow in contentment and ‘life.’ Not circumstances. The quality of our lives. This is a direct outworking of the Holy Spirit in us and our understanding.

Let’s take a look at Paul’s next words in the next paragraph:

“I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ.” -Col. 2:4-5

Paul goes on to inform us that the reason for his saying of all these things is to keep his disciples in Colossians from being deluded, drawn away with the arguments of others. There’s just too many examples of this in our church today to now know what this means. The state of the Body of Christ today is fragmented, disunified, and full of false teachings and the doctrines of men, not God. Churches stand on things other than the Bible, like traditions, morals without any foundation, and some just on downright lies and heresies. Paul warns the Colossians, and indirectly us, to avoid standing on ANYTHING except the truth, which is God’s Word, period. No matter how persuasive the argument or excellent the words, we stand ONLY on the Bible, the Word of God, and that alone should be our foundation.
After this, Paul states that despite his absence in Colossus and Laodicea, he is with the Colossians in spirit. Now obviously this does not mean Paul is part ghost. It simply means that his desire is to be there with the Colossians and in his spirit, he feels and understands their circumstances, positions, and shares in what they are and do. This should be another lesson to us, in imitating Paul, on how to share in and understand the lives of our fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. We should likewise try to ‘be with our brothers/sisters in spirit,’ helping and sharing in their trials, hopes, circumstances, and positions. Paul ‘rejoices to see their good discipline,’ sharing in their successes to his joy, and rejoicing also in the strength and solid foundation of their faith, being stable and unmovable. Not only should we strive for these characteristics, it’s important we imitate Paul in rejoicing with others in similar successes in their faith and Christian walk.
This study was considerably more focused on Paul, his work, and his own personal thoughts and wishes. Interestingly, not the Theology most think of for a Bible Study, but we should remember we are to imitate Paul, as he imitates Christ. This is the lesson we can also learn from Paul’s life, and how to be similar to the great apostle.

Phil. 4:13

No comments:

Post a Comment

Blogger Template by Blogcrowds