v. 1 “For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you” etc.
The thought here is “intense agony.”
This is a description of Paul at prayer.
The Colossian and Laodicean churches were being harassed by false teachers.
Paul was in prison and could not go to them and help, so “he agonized in prayer for them.”
One can sense the intensity of Paul’s feelings regarding (1) the preservation of the purity of the truth of God, and (2) the guarding of the people of God from heresies.
Paul’s soul was tortured when Christ was dishonored by those who profess His name.
v. 2 It was Paul’s burning desire that their hearts should be:
1. “Comforted.” United and strengthened, encouraged.
2. “Being knit together in love.” Bound and welded together in love. Unity is strength. The Lord commands the blessing where believers dwell together in unity. Psalm 133.
3. Paul also prayed that they should attain to the spiritual wealth that comes from a full understanding of the mystery of God, and of the Father and of Christ, who is God manifested in flesh, the embodiment of God’s wisdom and knowledge, the redeemer, mediator, and reconciler of men.
v. 3 “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
In Christ is hidden the treasures of wisdom, the comprehensive insight into the ways and purposes of God.
Also hidden in Him is all knowledge, all the riches of spiritual enlightenment.
As we know Christ better and apprehend the truth concerning Him, every question is answered, every perplexity resolved, and every doubt dissolved.
Wisdom, righteousness, sanctification, and redemption.
God has spoken in His Son, and given us His holy Word. He also gave us the Holy Spirit to lead us into all truth.
If our eyes are on Christ, if we are occupied with Him alone, we will not be led away by persuasive talk or enticing words.
To counteract the intellectualism of Gnosticism, Paul emphatically declares that all wisdom and knowledge is in Christ.
Because He is the image of God, ch. 1:15; He is the head of the church, ch. 1:18; He is the one in whom all fullness dwells, ch. 1:19; He is the redeemer from sin, ch. 1:20; He is the hope of glory, ch. 1:27; now he speaks of Christ as the one in whom is found complete divine revelation. “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
v. 4 In the rest of this chapter Paul shows us that Christ is the antidote for human philosophy, Jewish legality, oriental mysticism, and fleshly asceticism.
What he had written of Christ in the previous verses was enough to keep them from being misled by the enticing words and plausible arguments of false teachers.
v. 5 Though there was evil rampant in the church, yet there was much to make him glad.
Paul was encouraged and rejoiced as he beheld their “orders” and “steadfastness” of their faith in Christ.
The terms mean “orderly array” and unyielding battle line.
Despite the error of the Gnostics and the persuasive arguments of the teachers, their faith in Christ remained unmovable. Be ye steadfast, unmovable, etc.
v. 6 As you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him.
As they had received Christ gladly for salvation, they were to continue to walk in Him for their sanctification. The Christian walk. Walk in good works Ephesians 2:10; Walk worthy of our vocation Ephesians 4:1; Walk circumspectly Ephesians 5:15.
v. 7 Paul reminds them that they are rooted in Christ. Abide in me, etc., just like a tree. John 15, see Psalm 1.
They are also built up in Christ. They were built upon a rock. Psalm 40, firm, strong, unmovable.
They were “established in the faith.” Epaphras had taught them the truth.
Their faith was being availed, but they were rooted and built up in Christ.
They were established in the faith which kept them from being diverted by speculative theories which deprive Christ of His deity, His headship, or His creatorial power or His redemptive attributes.
v. 8 “Beware lest any man spoil you” – deceive you and carry you off body and soul through philosophy, intellectualism, delusive speculations.
Vain deceit – make believe, empty fantasies.
Tradition of men – instructions of men, ideas built on men’s thoughts, teachings in opposition to Christ’s teachings, legality.
The rudiments of the world – in the context, these would be Jewish ceremonialism and pagan practices, the speculative theories of Gnostics.
Today it would be the innovative notions of the world and the flesh. Consider.
The Gnostics with whom they were having trouble, made a great show of learning.
Their theories were the product of man’s philosophy.
They looked down from their imagined superior intellectual heights with contempt on all who believed the gospel and who accepted the Scriptures as being inspired.
Paul said “beware of such” and avoid their teachings, they are not of Christ.
v. 9 “For in Him dwelleth all the fullness of the Godhead bodily.”
“In Him dwells permanently the entire fullness of deity in a bodily form.”
God in His fullness and the Spirit in His fullness dwell in the Lord.
God is no longer afar off, no longer just an idea, but He now is a blessed fact through Jesus Christ our Lord.
The word “Godhead” is found only here and is indicative of absolute deity.
The word “fullness” was a favorite one with the Gnostics. To them it represented absolute Deity.
In their reckoning Christ was but one of many intermediaries leading up to this fullness.
Paul by divine revelation and inspiration declares that Christ is the absolute fullness of God.
God is fully revealed in Christ; all God’s glory shines on the face of Jesus Christ. God is fully told out in Christ. God is exactly like the Lord Jesus and Jesus is exactly like God. See 1 Timothy 3:16.
v. 10 “And ye are complete in Him.”
You are filled full in Him. You have everything when you have Christ.
In the past there is the fullness of redemption in Him. Christ for yesterday.
In the present there is the fullness of life in Him. Christ for today.
In the future there is the fullness of glory in Him. Christ for tomorrow.
In Christ dwells all the fullness of God and we have our fullness in Christ.
This revelation should fill our heart with rapture, and our cup with joy, and satisfy every demand of the intellect.
Please note that this is not only a future state, but a present condition. “Ye are complete in Him.”
“Who is the head of all principalities and power.”
The Lord Jesus Christ is the highest authority and the supreme power over all authority and power.
The Gnostics put the Lord at the bottom of the line of angelic beings from God to earth.
But the awesome truth is that Christ is supreme over all spiritual beings, good or evil.
He is the Head over all angelic beings as well as human beings.
No place too high for Him is found. No place too high in heaven.
Christ is over all, God blessed forever.
v. 11 The Jewish ordinance of circumcision meant separation from evil and dedication to God. It was a cutting off of the flesh, a rolling away of the reproach of Egypt.
The circumcision of Christ is not a physical thing, it is a spiritual thing.
It speaks of the purification of the believer and involves his consecration to God.
This would include the ears, the lips, and the heart. The priests.
It is a putting off of the old nature, the sins of the flesh and a putting on of the new nature, withdrawing, yielding our members.
v. 12 Buried with Him in baptism.
In baptism the believer confesses to the world his identification with the rejected Christ.
He confesses the death of the flesh, the old man.
In baptism he confesses that he has died with Christ, that the old man is crucified. He also confesses that he is buried with Christ in baptism. This is typified in our submersion. Dead to the world, out of the world’s sight.
Then Paul reminds us that we are also risen with Him.
This would remind us of our “emersion” from the water.
In this we confess to a new life in Christ, apart from the flesh, through faith in the power of God who raised Christ from the dead.
This new man in Christ is above all man-made regulations and rules.
v. 13 This verse reminds us that we were dead to God because of our sins; we were under the domination of the flesh, the old man.
Now in Christ we have been made alive, raised and seated with Him in the heavenlies.
All our sins and trespasses have been forgiven and eternally put away.
Truly the believer is complete in Christ.
v. 14 “The handwriting of ordinances that were against us.”
This would refer to the Ten Commandments, these are the handwriting of God.
These commandments were against us and were contrary to us. They condemned us.
But in Christ the Law is satisfied, fulfilled (Romans 8:2) and done away with (Galatians 3:25; Hebrews 7:11).
Through His death on the cross He paid the debt, nailing them to His cross, and we believers are free.
“Jesus for thee a body takes, Thy guilt assumes, thy fetters break, Discharging all thy dreadful debt, And canst thou e’er such love forget?” by Henry Sweetser Burrage
v. 14 reminds us of Christ’s death on the cross for us.
v. 15 reminds us of His resurrection and complete victory.
He has conquered all demonic powers. He has ascended to heaven in glorious triumph. He has made a spectacle of His foes, triumphing over them.
v. 16 Therefore an account of our freedom in Christ, we should not allow ourselves to be drawn back under the Law or legalism or man’s philosophy or man’s tradition.
The food, the drink, the holy days, the new moons, the Sabbaths were all kept by obedient Jews, and they were blessed for their obedience.
v. 17 Their rituals were but a shadow of things to come.
The substance or the body is found in Christ.
Once a person finds Christ, the substance, he no longer need to follow shadows.
v.18-19 Warning against mysticism
v. 18 “Let no man beguile you of your reward.”
Let no man con you of your reward in Christ.
Let no one draw you with a false humility and the worship of angels.
Do not be deceived by artificial godliness. Forms but no power.
The false teachers made pretensions of knowing supernatural things by means of visions.
Introducing into those things they had not seen.
Paul says that despite what they say, the Incarnate Lord, crucified, buried, risen, ascended, is the only mediator between God and man. 1 Timothy 2:5.
v. 19 Those persons in their blind pursuit of mysticism reject Christ whom God has appointed the head of the church. The Headship of Christ.
From Him comes all spiritual growth, just like the vine and the branches (John 15).
This life and growth then comes to the joints and bands, ligaments, they in turn minister to each other, thereby growing unto the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ.
Consider the gifts given to the church for this purpose, Ephesians 4; Romans 12; 1 Corinthians 12.
Spiritual growth comes from vital union with the head, and grows according to God’s design.
v.20-23 Warning against asceticism.
v. 20 In the last four verses the apostle has warned against seeking holiness through the traditions of men or false mysticism. Charismatics.
Now he warns them against asceticism. At this point he challenges believers as those who have died with Christ and are now new creatures.
“Wherefore, since ye have died with Christ, from the elements of the world, why do you behave as though you were still living in the world, subject to the ordinances and commandments of men?” Separation.
Those who have died in Christ to the world, the flesh, and the devil, should not submit to the yoke of ordinances which were meant for another dispensation. v. 21
v. 22 The believer is now reminded that that which spring from the commandments and doctrines of men will perish, inferring that the precepts of the Lord are all important and permanent.
v. 23 That which comes from man and is the product of the flesh, human wisdom, will-worship, false humility, asceticism, only satisfies the flesh and not God.
The believer should walk in the Spirit, he should be occupied with Christ, and should dwell in the Word.
This is the way to holiness which will become apparent as Christ lives out His life in us.
As one ceases from following man’s theories and looks by faith to Christ, he will be transformed into Christ’s glorious image.
This is God’s will for every believer.