09 STABILITY AND DEFENSE Colossians 2Philippians and Colossians – Joyful Living in Christ
All written materials for this series will be posted on this website, http://servingandsharing.com/, under the category, “Philippians and Colossians – Joyful Living in Christ.” Here is my video presentation introducing this series – https://youtu.be/VBg_Wdyu104. The video of this specific class presentation, as well as all the others in this series, will be posted to this YouTube playlist as they are recorded – Faith Builders Class: Philippians, Colossians: Joyful Living in Christ – YouTube. Please use the “Contact” button to request corresponding handouts and outlines.
Please forward this post to others that you think would benefit from this study and invite them to subscribe.
Note: this is a double-length lesson that became necessary due to time limits in the in-person class. You may want to study these separately, STABILITY in Col 2:1-7 and DEFENSE in Col 2:8-23.
STABILITY Colossians 2:1-7
Col 1:1-3 My Grave Concern for You
“How great a struggle” (agon) explains and follows up the “struggling” or “striving” (agonizomai) of Col 1:29. This is that for which Paul is fighting, that with which he wrestles, for the sake of the church.
Paul was concerned for all the churches and all Christians.
2 Co 11:28 Apart from such external things, there is the daily pressure on me of concern for all the churches. 29 Who is weak without my being weak? Who is led into sin without my intense concern?
He had a world-wide view that went beyond any local congregation. He had a brotherhood consciousness. He wanted to know how the church was doing in every locale. Paul even cared about people he did not know, who had never met him in person. He had not established the Colossian church; Epaphras had (1:7). Nor had Paul planted the church at Laodicea. However, in Col 4:16 Paul mentions a letter he wrote the Laodiceans. This may have been the letter we call Ephesians, if it was sent out as a circular letter to various church in the region.
What was Paul concerned about?
That their hearts may be encouraged, knit together in love.
Encouraged (parakaleo). Helped, strengthened, comforted, exhorted. “Paraclete.”
Knit together (sumbibazo) in love. “Knit together” suggests a tapestry, a unified arrangement of diverse threads into an integrated whole. Love is the thread that ties all the pieces together.
It’s been said, “The heart of the matter is the matter of the heart.” Once the heart is subject to God, motivated to serve, and given to love the brothers, proper outward conduct follows as a result. Where there is friction or division, there is first a lack of love for God and/or for one another.
That they may have the riches of the full assurance of understanding.
For (toward) all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding …
For (toward) the clear knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ.
In whom (not elsewhere, not in the pagan mystery religions, etc.) are hidden (see 1:26) all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
Mt 13:44 “The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure hidden in the field, which a man found and hid again; and from joy over it he goes and sells all that he has and buys that field.”
Paul was concerned that these saints would know just how wealthy they were in Jesus Christ. If so, they would not look beyond Christ or outside of Christ for false “treasures” that they thought they lacked. The same is true for us. Looking for ultimate value separate from Christ is a silent admission that one does not believe Christ is his or her “all in all.” Eph 1:23 speaks of Christ as “Him who fills all in all.”
Imagine an explorer, searching for buried treasure, using a map that is smudgy, out of date, and perhaps a fake. If we look anywhere else than “in Christ,” we miss the only treasure worth having. We have uncovered buried treasure! It’s in Christ!
By the way, from the Greek word for “treasure” we derive the term, “thesaurus.” You may know that a “thesaurus” is a treasury of words, of synonyms and antonyms.
As an illustration, think of the Bedouin boy in 1947 who uncovered the Dead Sea Scrolls. He threw a rock into a cave, and his rock “clacked” against a clay pot. What a priceless treasured he uncovered!
That they may not be tricked into looking elsewhere.
Col 2:4 I say this so that no one will delude (paralogizomai, to cheat by false reckoning) you with persuasive argument (NIV, “fine-sounding arguments”) (trickery, deception, making error sound plausible).
The false teachers in Colossae were denying that fullness of wisdom and knowledge were found in Christ. We are surrounded by false teachers today that seek to delude us into turning away from Jesus Christ as our everything.
Col 2:5 My Great Joy Over You
“Absent in body, but with you in spirit” reminds us of the fellowship and concern that we share with Christians around the world, including those we know and those we don’t. Paul made a point to stay in touch with fellow saints far and near and to encourage them, even from a distance, by his letters.
1 Th 2:17 But we, brethren, having been taken away from you for a short while—in person, not in spirit—were all the more eager with great desire to see your face.
Php 1:27 Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I will hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel …
What brought Paul such joy?
By commending their good discipline and stable faith, Paul reinforced these very traits and reminded them to remain strong in the face of false teaching. “You’re disciplined and solid. Stay that way!”
Discipline or orderliness renders a term that had to do originally with soldiers in formation in their military line. Steadfastness translates the word from which we get “stereo,” and it denotes firmness, solid composition, and stability.
Col 2:6-7 My Godly Charge to You
Col 2:6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude.
Many in the denominational religious world take this phrase and speaks of “receiving Christ Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior,” often omitting the necessity of baptism. Then the sinner’s prayer or the mourner’s bench is presented as the means to receive Jesus.
However, Colossians prevents us from making such an error by telling us in 2:11-13 how to receive Jesus as Savior. “Buried with him through baptism and raised by faith.”
“Walking” in Scripture often refers to the way we behave. Rom 6:4 calls us to “walk in newness of life.” Rom 8:4 notes that we “walk according to the Spirit.” Col 1:10 exhorts us to “walk in a manner worthy of the Lord,” Eph 5:2 says, “Walk in love,” and 1 John 1:7 says, “Walk in the light.” It’s one thing to talk the talk. It’s another thing entirely to walk the walk.
The gist of the argument is that, because of what you have in Christ, you must stick with Him!
How do you “walk in Christ?”
As a tree which is rooted in Christ and growing.
As a house which is founded on Christ and being constructed.
As a fountain which is bubbling over with gratitude for Christ.
DEFENSE Colossians 2:8-23
That You Not be Taken Captive
“Beware!” “Look out!” You could be captured! There are false philosophies, deceptive teachings, and traditions that have their origin not in Christ, but in the world. Why are these erroneous ideas so deadly? “For” (because) they compromise and ruin your relationship with Christ. In him is all the fullness – all the fullness – of deity (or godhood, the qualities and nature of the one true God). Since you are “in him,” and God’s fullness is “in him,” you are full!
Not only is Christ fully God; he is the supreme head over all rule and authority. He is higher and mightier than any danger, enemy, or fear that you may have.
1 Jn 4:4 You are from God, little children, and have overcome them; because greater is He who is in you than he who is in the world.
1 Jn 5:4 For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith.
“Circumcised” – When Immersed into Christ in Baptism
To circumcise is literally to “cut around.” Newborn Jewish males under the Mosaic Law were to undergo this procedure when, at the age of eight days old, the foreskin was cut and removed. Yahweh instituted this mark of the covenant with Abraham and his descendants, as recorded in Gen 17:9-14.
Paul now uses that terminology to describe what happened when these Colossian Christians were baptized. Formerly dead in their sins, they had been immersed (buried and raised) into a relationship with Christ. In this way they put their faith in Christ and what he accomplished at the cross. In a sense, at the point of baptism, the Lord “circumcised” them by cutting away and removing, not their skin, but their sin.
The only parallel here between OT circumcision and NT baptism is the fact that something was cut away and removed. In the OT it was skin; in the NT it was sin.
This cannot be a reference to sprinkling infants as a legitimate form of baptism, for the following reasons. First, infants are not guilty of sin, inherited from Adam. Instead, “of such is the kingdom of heaven” (Matt 19:13-15). They have no sin to be “cut away.”
Second, of course, is the fact that only males could be physically circumcised in the OT era, yet baptism into Christ is commanded for both males and females.
Third, “buried” and “raised” graphically describe baptism as an immersion, not a sprinkling. The word “baptize” itself originally meant to immerse, dip, or plunge. Today, in modern Greek, a ship that sinks at sea is said to have been “baptized!”
Fourth, baptism is clearly linked here to personal faith. “Buried in baptism, raised by faith.” Baptism is an expression of one’s own faith and repentance (Acts 2:38; also, “dying to sin,” Rom 6:1-4). One cannot be baptized without personal faith.
Mk 16:15 And He said to them, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation. 16 “He who has believed and has been baptized shall be saved; but he who has disbelieved shall be condemned.”
Of course, in order to save sinners, Christ had to deal with the Mosaic Law, the commands and ordinances that condemned them. By taking the punishment for our lawbreaking, at the cross he “canceled out the certificate of debt consisting of decrees against us, which was hostile to us; and He has taken it out of the way, having nailed it to the cross.” The Law can never again be used to condemn us if we are in Christ and faithful.
At the cross he also “disarmed the rulers and authorities. He made a public display of them, having triumphed over them through Him (or through it, that is, the cross).” Christ gained the victory over sin and death, and he disabled the Law’s power to send us to hell.
No Sabbath Requirement
For that reason, Christians today are not obligated to keep the Sabbath day. Along with circumcision, the Passover, the New Moon, and other Jewish activities, the Sabbath day was part of the OT shadow that has given way to the reality that is in Christ.
Throughout church history there have been those who imposed severe self-denial rules, extreme restrictions, and harsh mistreatment of the body. They reasoned that the body, physical things, and physical pleasures – like eating, bathing, and marital relations – were “fleshly” and evil. Many ascetics have insisted that celibate, monastic living was necessary in order to be truly holy. The ascetics in Colossae “delighted in their self-abasement” and became “inflated [with pride] in their fleshly mind.
They also worshiped angels. Twice in Revelation we see that even the apostle John made such attempts, and each time he was corrected in a similar way.
Re 19:10 Then I fell at his feet to worship him. But he said to me, “Do not do that; I am a fellow servant of yours and your brethren who hold the testimony of Jesus; worship God. For the testimony of Jesus is the spirit of prophecy.”
Re 22:8 I, John, am the one who heard and saw these things. And when I heard and saw, I fell down to worship at the feet of the angel who showed me these things. 9 But he said to me, “Do not do that. I am a fellow servant of yours and of your brethren the prophets and of those who heed the words of this book. Worship God.”
Heb 1:3-14 shows the folly of exalting angels, noting Jesus’ infinite superiority. In fact, the Scripture says regarding Christ, “Let all the angels of God worship him” (Heb 1:6; Ps 97:7).
Col 2:23 speaks of “a show of wisdom in will-worship” or “self-made religion.” It is such a common tendence today for man to alter, add, or adulterate the worship of God, as specified in the New Testament, in order to fit man’s own preferences. Unacceptable worship is that which originates in the human will as opposed to the divine, creating religious acts that are worthless in God’s sight.
Such additions, fads, and innovations necessarily imply the false belief that Christ alone and the Bible alone are not sufficient. The proponents of such things are convinced that they need something extra. They then create a gimmick, an entertaining show, a theater-type experience, and/or celebrity speakers and performers just like the secular world in order to draw more people.
It is quite remarkable to realize that the false teachings and man-made religions that endangered the church then continues to endanger the church today! For that reason, the Word of God declares the following:
2 Ti 2:15 Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.