“For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in the spirit, rejoicing and seeing your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ.”
Though Paul was not with them in body, they were in his heart, and he is, thus, writing as though he was there with them in person.
“your order” (Gr. taxis – 5010)
Arrangement, orderly condition.
“To set or arrange in order, described the orderly array of soldiers with the line being unbroken and intact. In context, the idea may be that a few stragglers had been swayed by the persuasive arguments, but there was no panic, no breach in the line.”
“rejoicing and seeing your order, and the steadfastness of your faith.”
Whatever issues the Colossian Christians were having at that time, Paul was encouraged by what he had heard about their faith in Christ. In other words, whatever negative things he had heard, were outweighed by the positive things that he had heard about them. This should be the testimony of every true believer. Regardless of the issues in our lives, everyone should be able to recognize us as as true followers of Christ. We should be living out our faith in such a manner that it leaves no doubt in anybody’s mind that we belong to Him.
As a local assembly, generally speaking, the Colossians conducted themselves in an orderly fashion. In spite of the issues, they came together as true believers in Christ. It can be rightly assumed that they came together for worship, prayer, learning the Word of God, fellowship, and service to one another. Though some, or perhaps even many, had strayed doctrinally, there were still many who had remained firm in their faith and in what they had been taught.
“6 As therefore you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,”
Continuing what Paul was saying about them in verse 5, he is now encouraging them to be even more faithful in their walk with Christ. Again, he is aware of the false teaching that was going on, and the probable inappropriate way some were living out their faith as a result, but he also knew of the faithfulness that generally characterized them corporately. However, we need to be aware that the bad testimony of a few can give a bad name to the group as a whole. Church discipline may be in order in many cases within the assemblies of Christ.
We who have received Christ as Lord and Savior, are to live our lives in harmony with that decision. The type of lives that we live should line up with the profession of our faith. True, sincere, faith in Christ will result in a sincere devotion to giving Him the top place of honor in our lives. He is not only our Savior, but He is also our Lord and King. Those titles imply absolute surrender to His authority. When people observe our lives, they should see a life that lines up with the Christian faith that we profess. There is nothing more dishonoring to the name of Christ, then to be known as a professing Christian, but living like those who don’t acknowledge Christ. Our lives should be all about Him. Everything we say and do should point to Him, and be a reflection of Him.
“7 rooted and built up in Him, and established in your faith, even as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
The only way to live honorably before Christ, and before this world, is to be “built up in Him, and established in our faith.”To be built up means to grow up in Him, to grow in Christ-like character, to grow in our devotion to Christ and to His will. The only way to grow and to be established in our faith is through learning the Word of God according to the truth. There is so much teaching in churches today that is not according to truth, and that is tragic. For the most part, this is a result of a lack of commitment to in-depth study. Rather than serious study, what we find in many churches today is fluff, with an emphasis on entertaining, with the goal of “filling the pews,” as I saw it worded on a website recently (a website that promotes Christian materials for churches). We’re never to compromise truth or stray from God’s way, for the sake of numbers.
“as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
If we’ve been blessed with starting our Christian walk in a church that is devoted to the serious study of God’s Word, that’s something to abound in thanksgiving for. It’s a wonderful blessing to be involved in a church that is faithful in preaching a true gospel message, and that teaches the Word of God expositorily. We should continuously give the Lord thanks for our salvation, and for being in a church that is rich in teaching God’s, life-changing, Word.
For others, who don’t have this type of church experience, my advice is to find a church where you can have it. If you happen to live in an area where there aren’t any such churches, then find the best you can find, and commit yourselves fully to learning God’s Word on your own. With the internet today, we can do that easier than ever before. We really have no excuse for not learning and applying the Bible as God intended it.
“8 Be watchful, lest there be anyone take you captive through philosophy and empty deceit, after the tradition of men, after the elementary principles of the world, and not after Christ.”
Paul here describes the contrast between the teachings of this world, and the teachings of Christ. The teachings of this world he refers to as “philosophy,” “empty deceit,” “tradition of men,” and “elementary principles.” In regard to elementary principles, that can also be translated as elemental spirits. In any case, all these types of teachings, are not from the Spirit of God, but from the evil spirits of this world and of this universe. Satan is the “father of lies” (Jn 8:44), and uses the teachings of this world to lead people away from the truth that is in Christ, and the truth that is Christ (Jn 14:6). All the teachings of the world is “empty” of the truth. It’s all “deception,” designed to lead everyone, even Christians, away from the truth.
There was a time long ago when I didn’t think true Christians could be deceived to any great extent, but after many years of observing the false teaching and bizarre stuff that goes on in churches, I have changed my view about that. The fact is, if we are not FIRMLY grounded in the truth, we can easily be deceived. I’ve seen it up close, and I’ve seen it from afar, and the reality of it can’t be denied.
How do God’s people become deceived by the false teaching of others? The primary way that happens, is through the absence of serious and in-depth study of God’s Word. Those who don’t study it for themselves, and rely on the teachings of others, including their pastors, open themselves up to deception. Many Christians follow their pastors and other Christian leaders, blindly. Everything we learn should be examined carefully by the Word of God. That means not only studying it for ourselves, but it also reading and hearing the viewpoints of others. We can do that through the many commentaries that are now online, and through hearing online messages.
Another way to avoid being deceived, is to approach the learning of the Bible without a positional bias. We should be completely open to following the truth wherever it wants to lead us, even if it seems to be leading us in a direction that is not where we currently stand in our beliefs. We must be honest about what we read in God’s Word. Get in the practice of comparing scripture with scripture, and reading several different commentaries. As we approach God’s Word with a sincere desire to know the truth, then the Holy Spirit will open our eyes to it.
In this regard, one might wonder how there can be such a division between Calvinists and Arminians in their theology. Both can’t be right, and both can’t be wrong. I believe the main reasons for this great divide, is because many are greatly influenced by the teachings of others, through group pressure, and because of a personal bias that they’re not willing to give up.
When we set out to learn the Word of God, we must set aside the influences and personal biases, and approach it with sincerity of heart and diligent study. Whenever we read the Word through the lens of a deeply-held position, we’re forced to explain apparent opposing verses in a way that fits our position, even if it’s contrary to the plain and natural way that they’ve been stated. If we’re honest before God, and sincerely want to know the truth, no matter how it affects what we currently believe, the Holy Spirit will lead us in the way of truth (Jn 14:26; 1 Jn 2:27). But we must be aware that it often takes a long time to cross a certain doctrinal bridge. Nevertheless, we must stay with it. It will pay off (2 Tim 2:1-2; 2:15; 3:16-17).
I would also like to suggest that you avoid the extremes and the bizarre things that go on in many churches. Avoid it like the plague. Run from it! A church that is high in emotion and shallow in Bible-teaching, is likely filled with deception. Seek the sensible. Don’t automatically assume that something is of the Holy Spirit just because someone says it is. Pray for, and seek spiritual discernment regarding everything you hear and learn. God will honor your sincerity to walk in truth.
I fully support small groups that is common in churches today. That is one of the positive things that do see going on. However, not all small groups are created equal. Many small groups are simply for the purpose of fellowship and fun. While that’s fine, we all need that, I believe we should take full advantage of the opportunity, and use that time for serious Bible study and prayer. It’s also a great way to serve together, as the group prays for different ways to minister to others.
“9 For in Him dwells all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.”
“Godhead” (Gr. theotes – 2320)
This is the only occurrence of this word in the New Testament.
As I mentioned before (Col 1:15-19), this is a reference to the Deity of Christ, that Jesus is fully God in the flesh. He left His throne in Glory, and came into this world through the human race, via the Virgin Mary (Matt 1:18-25; Lk 1:26-38; Jn 1:1).
The point Paul is making here, is that since Jesus is Almighty God, and since all truth belongs to God, we are to learn according to Christ. If we want to know what God is like, we must study the life of Christ that is presented in the gospels. We must also study the rest of God’s Word with Christ as the total focus. In other words, everything must be filtered through Him. He must be central in all our teaching and in all our learning. There is not truth apart from Christ.