Colossians 2

Paul may have been in a Roman jail cell, but his mind was far away in a place called Colosse. He was concerned about the Christians there in a church which he had never visited but which had been planted under his apostolic supervision. I think Paul was aware of the importance of the letter he was writing. It was a much-needed document of instruction and encouragement to a church on the brink of chaos. False teachers had infiltrated the church, confusing the members with clever philosophical mathematics — they subtracted from the glory of Jesus Christ and added made-up requirements to the gospel.

Paul took the church’s struggle personally (v.1), and he wrote to strengthen their faith so that they would not be easily “deluded” (misled) by the false teachings (v.4). As he did in chapter 1, Paul affirmed the sufficiency of Christ (v.2-3). If you know Jesus Christ, you know everything you need to know — and everything there is to know — about knowing God. Some of the false teachers were spreading a heresy called “Gnosticism”, which taught that there was secret knowledge that would make one “more” saved than the average Christian. But in verse 2, Paul affirmed that the secret is out, and the secret is Jesus!

When a person receives Jesus Christ as Lord (v.6), they receive all of God. In fact, to receive Christ is to be “filled” spiritually (v.10), to be completed, lacking nothing. But the false teachers in Colosse were trying to convince believers that knowing Jesus was not enough — they needed to add in other philosophies, other traditions, and a little paganism (v.8); they needed to adopt the requirements of Judaism, including circumcision (v.11), dietary laws, and religious calendars (v.16); they needed to adopt asceticism (self-imposed poverty), worship of angels, and ecstatic visions (v.18).

Paul’s answer to all this can be summarized in one word: Jesus! It is enough to believe in His substitutionary death on the cross (v.12-14), to trust Him for salvation, to follow Him in discipleship (v.6-7), and to take your place in His body, the church (v.19). Other ideas may have “the appearance of wisdom”, but “they are of no value” in overcoming sin and producing righteousness (v.20-23). Only Jesus can do that. So just rest in Him today, ok?

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