Part 5 – Colossians 1:24-2:7
In this section, Paul’s purpose in writing to the Colossians is stated explicitly for the first time. He says, “I am saying this so that no one will deceive you with arguments that sound reasonable.” As he has done from the outset of his letter, Paul does not focus on the deceptive “arguments that sound reasonable” that are infiltrating the church in Colossae. Instead, he continually shines the spotlight on the Gospel fundamentals that form the foundation of their faith. Paul repeatedly invokes the name of Christ as he points to the centrality of Jesus Himself as the One in whom “are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Paul says that the mission of his own life is to proclaim Jesus, and he urges the churches in Colossae and Laodicea to join him in this effort. He is very open regarding the difficulty that awaits those who labor as “servants” in their endeavor to “make the Word of God fully known.” Paul tells of the sufferings he has endured, the amount of toil involved, and the “struggling” that is required in order to preach the truth of Jesus to unbelievers and help the Christians among them to mature in their faith.
Even though Paul is not physically present in Colossae, he offers the Colossian (and Laodicean) saints two steps to empower them to endure their current turmoil. His first plea is for unity within the church. He underscores the importance of them being “knit together in love” in order to avoid the deception of false teachings. He then reminds them of the “riches of complete understanding” that have been made known to them in Christ. Three times Paul references the “mystery” that was once hidden but now has been revealed through Christ, namely that once a person is in Christ they possess “the hope of glory,” the confident assurance of their glorious eternal future.
There will always be tremendous effort and sacrifice involved when a community of believers strives to advance the Gospel. Proclaiming the Gospel is hard work. The problems that confronted the church in Colossae are not uncommon. It’s difficult to remain united when theological disagreements arise. Paul’s clear and firm call to keep Christ at the center is what’s needed most in a church that’s in danger of losing its Gospel identity.
- John 13:1-20
- Romans 5:1-11
- Ephesians 3
- Ephesians 4:1-6
- I Thessalonians 2
- What are some common “reasonable arguments” (i.e. false teachings) that can bleed into a church community? How can they be recognized? How can they be counteracted?
- Do you consider yourself to be a minister of the Gospel? What challenges does this present?
- Do you have confident assurance of your eternal future (“the hope of glory”) within you? Where does this confidence come from?
Be an encourager. Make a list of people for whom you’d like to provide encouragement, and also a list of specific ways (phone calls, notes of encouragement, gifts, etc.) you might be able to offer encouragement to someone. Make a commitment to provide encouragement to at least one person each day for the next week.