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by Adah L. Hutchcraft
Paul wrote the church in Colossae with a thankful heart, reporting the love and thanksgiving he had because of their faithfulness. The Colossians had been “constantly bearing fruit” (1:6) as maturing believers, so the Spirit working through Paul did not upbraid them or correct them. In wisdom, Paul exhorted the believers to remain established in their faith and remain true to the message of the gospel they had heard.
God’s calling to spiritual leadership not only manifests itself through knowledge and vision, but through intense love and personal sacrifice for Christ’s body. At this point in Paul’s letter, he affirms his love for the brethren, many of whom he had never seen. This love is only possible through Christ, who proves his presence within his followers by giving them love for one another. Paul had such intense desire for the Church to excel, and such joy because of their faith, that he wrote the believers in Colossae as if he knew them. Not only that, but he struggled on their behalf as one would for a beloved friend.
P aul drew attention to the troubles he had endured for the believers in Colossae and Laodacia. It is not out of pride that Paul did this, but out of love as a minister of Christ. His struggle was on behalf of fellow believers engaged in spiritual warfare. As a leader in the Church, Paul made personal sacrifices for the advancement of the Kingdom. His past labors still bear fruit today, bringing people to Christ and strengthening the Church around the world.
The term struggle originates from the Greek word agon. From it the term “agony” is derived. It is a vivid word for describing Paul’s situation. Paul wrote Colossians while imprisoned in Rome awaiting judgment. Even there he struggled in prayer for the Church (1:9) and sent letters of instruction and encouragement while suffering personal persecution. Paul endured the agony of physical anguish and neglect at the mercy of Nero. Above all, Paul labored to maintain his faith in Christ: a faith that survived every test.
T he Apostle realized, as should all, that his fight of faith did not affect himself alone, but all the Church– even those who had never seen him. The perseverance of faith Paul manifested is not only reserved for preachers and apostles, but is available to all Christians according to their measure.
Paul’s struggle was for those who had not seen him “in the flesh” (literal Greek translation). The fellowship and love believers have in Christ transcends earthly loyalties and sentimental relationships. Love between the saints outshines even the most precious earthly attachment. That is how Paul rejoiced in his sufferings for believers he had not personally encountered. Their love was through the Spirit, not “in the flesh.”
T hough Christ’s salvation, a floodgate of blessing has been opened between humanity and heaven– blessings that are directly connected to love for God and faith in His Son. It is vital for believers to understand that the deep things of God can only be received through fellowship with the giver of divine blessings– Jesus Christ. Through this fellowship, spiritual maturing occurs and God’s blessings are received. Paul writes specifically to encourage the Christians in Colosea to keep their focus on Christ so they will continue to grow.
❧ (Vs 2) Encouragement has an enabling power. Whether through comfort or exhortation, spiritual encouragement can empower one to live courageously for Christ. Encouragement is especially important during difficult times. An encouraging word can reignite the flame of hope in a weary soul, giving one confidence to persevere. Paul knew the Church in was facing hardship. He wrote to reassure them that in Christ they could face any situation. The Church has every reason to be courageous in her devotion to her Lord. Paul was all too aware of this, and he desired to equip his brethren to meet every situation in the might and consolation of Christ.
P aul notes the tight-knit love the Colossians shared with one another. Believers who closely share the love of Christ enjoy benefits of spiritual sanctuary, support and direction through God’s children. Fellowship with believers empowers one to live godly in a godless world, and is a distinguishing mark of Christ’s abiding Spirit (John 3:14). Divine love is, in fact, the cohesive component of Christ’s body. Without holy love there is no Church.
Along with their love for one-another, Paul spoke of the Colosians as a body that was “attaining to the riches of the full assurance of understanding.” The believers had already advanced in this area, but they had not ceased to do so. The Church was continuing to grow in assurance, an assurance resulting from spiritual insight. With spiritual comprehension comes conviction and certainty in the person of Christ. There is a wealth of blessing which flows from this gift of assurance (Heb. 3:14; 6:11; 2 Pet.1: 10). Hence it is referred to as “the riches” or “the wealth” of confidence which comes from understanding.
Believers draw near to God by securing their confidence in Christ’s blood (2 Cor. 3:4-6; Heb. 10:19). The spiritually timid and doubtful do not excel in the knowledge of God (Hebrews 10:38). But the full assurance of understanding which comes from Christ results in true knowledge of Him. This knowledge is not a mere memorizing of concepts or facts, but an experiential knowledge involving the whole person. The full knowledge of Christ is, after all, a fruit of our new life in him (1 Cor. 2:12-13; Gal 4:9; 1 John 4:16). In the context of this passage, knowledge refers to the mystery now revealed; the divine person and will of God at work in humanity through Christ. True and full knowledge of Christ is possible because of his abiding presence within believers. This does not mean that Christians know in full (1 Cor 13:12), but they do fully know-- that is they know the heart of their Savior and partake in his nature (1 Cor 2:16; Phil. 2:5).
❧ (Vs.3) In Christ all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden, or “stored away.” The truth of God is not available through any other source but Christ (Luke 10:22). Intimate knowledge of God is kept secret from those who reject the Son (Eph. 4:18). Therefore Paul says such wisdom and knowledge is “hidden” in Christ.
The wisdom that comes from Christ is closely connected to insight and application of the Truth. Likewise, the term knowledge in verse three bespeaks an ability to consider or contemplate the person of Christ. This ability is given to believers as a result of close fellowship with the Son. He reveals divine wisdom and knowledge to only those who come to him.
Paul ceaselessly centered on Christ to guard believers from spiritual delusion. ❧ (Vs.4) Other doctrines were being preached, but they all minimized the Son of God. Just as it was then, believers today are not to become beguiled or distracted by teachings that diminish Christ. He must be exalted as the One for Whom and through Whom all things exist (1:16).
The apostle rejoiced in the stability of faith the Colossian believers demonstrated. Their spiritual soundness was directly attributed to godly maturity, a maturity that enables believers to continue growing in their love and knowledge of Christ. This is important because growth does not merely lead to maturity, but cultivates it.
T he nature of spiritual maturity does not permit one to become stagnant, or unable to grow. ❧ (vs.5). This is far from what scripture means when it refers to “stability of faith.” Rather, stability is firm embracement of the Truth. One who consistently succumbs to doubt does not have stability of faith. James describes such a person as a “surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind” and “unstable in all his/her ways” (James 1:6-8). An unstable faith is spiritually disabling and potentially lethal. If by faith we “hold fast” to the truth (2 Tim. 1:13), by doubting we deny it. Spiritual progress and maturity are not achieved through instability, but stability. It was clear that the Colossians were both disciplined and stable in their faith.
❧ (Vs. 6) Paul’s instruction to walk in Christ addressed the conduct of the believers. Other terms for “walk” are “live” or “conduct oneself.” The knowledge of Christ surpasses mental understanding and is manifested through the lives of God’s children. As believers, we must exhort one another to live god-pleasing lives and not give room for Satan to snare us.
T he Church in Colossae had been “firmly rooted” and was being “built up.” ❧ (Vs.7) The present tense is utilized in the preceding phrase, signifying a state of ongoing growth resulting from stability of faith. The believers had been established in their faith but were in a state of being built up. Those who are grounded in their faith have a firm foundation to build upon. Growth is the outcome of stability, so being firmly rooting in Christ is essential to sustain Spiritual life. Those who believe what God has shown them will be given more. So be strong in faith, for “without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him”(Heb 11:6).
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