“1 For I would have you know how great a conflict I have for you, and for them at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh;
2 that their hearts may be encouraged, they being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ.”
Even though Paul had apparently never met the Colossian Christians, or the Christians of Laodicea, he was experiencing a great inner conflict regarding their spiritual welfare, and about what they were being taught. Somehow Paul had learned about the situation there, and he became greatly concerned. It was always the concern of Paul’s heart that Christians grow in the truth and in their relationship with God. He wanted them to know about this conflict because it would alert them all to the false teaching that was going on in their assembly, as the following verses indicate (verses 4-8). They were being taught things that were contrary to the truth, things that were according to “the world” and “the traditions of men (vs. 8). He wanted to encourage them to cling to what they had been taught previously (vs. 7).
This is instructive for every church. Churches need to guard the truth above all things. The way we guard the truth is to study it diligently. All Christians need to be diligent students of God’s Word. This is especially important for those who have the responsibility for teaching the Bible to the people in their church. Every church should have an established, detailed, statement of faith regarding where the church stands doctrinally. That’s a church’s foundation. There will always be differences in what we believe about certain things, but regarding the major doctrines of the Bible, there needs to be total harmony.
This is why it’s so important for churches to major in expository, verse by verse teaching. If doctrine and detailed instruction of the Bible is not the top priority, then we set ourselves up for error and deception.
“that their hearts may be encouraged”
The Colossians may have been experiencing hardship and persecution at the time. However, this is probably a reference to the false teaching that was going on in their assembly, which was likely creating a lot of confusion. Paul wanted them to be encouraged, for he was going to do what he could to set things straight, and this letter would go a long way in doing that. There were probably others like Epaphras and Tychicus who would help accomplish that goal. However, they were not there at the time. (Col 1:7; 4:7-13).
It’s important for every church to have a core group of men (and women) who are strong in the Word, so that when someone comes along with their false doctrine, they will be able to stop it dead in its tracks before it does any damage. But again, if a church is shallow and weak in teaching, false doctrine may spread like a cancer. Devotional encouragement is wonderful, but it should be within the context of expository teaching. It’s sound doctrine that provides stability for a church. It’s the anchor that keeps a church from drifting into things that are not of God. And there sure is a lot of that going on today.
“they being knit together in love”
It’s a common love for God, for His Word, and for each other, that brings about unity. Without a common love for Christ and for the truth and for fellow believers, there can be nothing but confusion.
“unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding”
This “knitting together in love” results in the attaining of “all riches of the full assurance of understanding.” Riches here refers to the priceless value of having the “full assurance of understanding” regarding the truth. Being rooted in the truth (understanding) brings confident assurance in our souls.
“that they may know the mystery of God, even Christ,”
The “mystery of God” is the truth that is in the Lord Jesus Christ, that “in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (Col 2:9). This mystery is that Jesus is God in the flesh, and that He has identified Himself with mankind in order to be the Savior of the world.
This mystery about Christ was hidden to the Jews in the Old Testament. However, those who belonged to Father at the time of Christ, were able to recognize the Father in Him. Their understanding regarding God was expanded, and they came to realize that truth and salvation was no longer the religion of the Jews, but of all those of common faith in Christ, both Jews and Gentiles. Rather than the nation of Israel being the vehicle through whom God once revealed and carried out His will, it’s now the Church through whom God carries out purposes in the world. All those who share the faith of Abraham, are children of Abraham, and are thus, together, the true Israel of God (Ro 2:28-29; 4:16-17; Gal 3:16,29; Eph 2:11-22; 3:6).
“3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Since all true wisdom and knowledge belong to God, and since Jesus is God, all wisdom and knowledge belong to Him. The people of this world pride themselves on what they believe to be wisdom and knowledge, but the kind they have leads away from Christ and the truth that is in Him. What they regard as wisdom and knowledge will prove to be worthless when they stand before Him in judgment (Matt 25:31-46; Rev 20:11-15).
This also provides a warning to churches. We must be careful that we don’t adopt philosophies and ways that are practiced by the world. That is not the wisdom and knowledge of God, but of the world. The only way to know that we are serving according to the wisdom and knowledge that Christ provides, is to be in His Word, and to gather from His Word. The Word of God provides that pattern that we are to live by and serve by.
“4 This I say, that no one may delude you with persuasiveness of speech.”
“delude” (Gr. paralogizomai – 3884)
To deceive by false reasoning.
If you read my commentary regularly, you’re probably going to get tired of hearing this, but it’s such a problem in churches today, that I believe it needs to be hammered. So many churches today have been led astray by “false reasoning” and by “persuasive speech” regarding how churches are to “do” ministry. Careful examination of these patterns reveal a very unbiblical and worldly way of doing things. Rather than following the pattern of Scripture, they follow a model that purposely uses the world’s ways to draw in the people of the world. It’s never God’s will to become the world to reach the world. Thats not who we are in Christ.
Church ministry is for followers of Christ. Our assemblies are for the purpose of worship, learning God’s Word, fellowship, and prayer. But so many churches today gear their ministry toward the unsaved. That’s simply not biblical. We gather as believers in Christ, and if the unsaved want to join us, then wonderful! But designing our church services for the purpose of attracting the unsaved, isn’t the pattern that God’s Word presents.
If we’re firmly rooted and established in the Word, we won’t fall for the “false reasoning” found in the books of man. We must avoid the temptation to do things based on what we believe will bring in the most people. We’re not to compromise truth for numbers. We must be fully committed to doing things God’s way, and not to allow ourselves to get caught up in ideas that are man-centered. The means DO NOT justify the end.