Paul is in prison, likely in Rome where it says in Acts 28:30 “So he stayed two whole years in his own rented house, and welcomed all who came to him”. But he was not free to travel as he had been in earlier years yet his “stewardship” in Colossians 1:25 was to all of the Gentiles. Paul wrote to contend for, in Colossians 2:2 “the wealth of the full assurance of insight into the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ” and in Colossians 2:4 “in order that no one will deceive you with persuasive speech”. These letters are still important for us today as there are many proponents of, as Paul called them in Colossians 2:22-23 “human commandments and teachings, which … do not have any value”.
There are many ideas about God and the spirit realm and how we should interact. Many of these are based on knowledge, or I might more correctly say, deception propagated by the devil and fallen angels. These fallen angels have challenged God from the beginning and their misuse of their dominion along with the willfulness of man has led to “the false teaching opposed in this Epistle (which) is that of Judaizing Christians. These mixed up with pure Christianity Oriental theosophy and angel-worship, and the asceticism of certain sections of the Jews, especially the Essenes”.1
The Hope Reserved for You in Heaven
This is “one of four “prison letters” attributed to the apostle Paul. As with Philippians, Philemon, and Ephesians”2
Paul opens, as he does in the other letters, with a greeting and statement about the gospel of the kingdom, that Jesus Christ is Lord and we have God’s grace, as he says here in Colossians 1:5 “hope reserved for you in heaven” and as he calls it, “the word of truth”. Then in Colossians 1:6 he emphasizes the power of the gospel by saying “in all the world it is bearing fruit and increasing” just as it continues to do today after so many generations.
There is though, one interesting difference in this letter, Paul did not bring the gospel to this city. In Colossians 1:7 we find that they “learned it from Epaphras, our dear fellow slave who is a faithful minister of Christ on our behalf”. Paul was not only carrying the gospel to the gentiles, he was also raising up others as faithful ministers because Paul understood his role as a leader was to raise up and equip others that could carry on for the next generation. Paul describes this in
Ephesians 4:11 And he himself gave some as apostles and some as prophets and some as evangelists and some as pastors and teachers 12 for the equipping of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for building up the body of Christ.
Live in a Manner Worthy of the Lord
Paul now goes on from the hearing of the truth and the acceptance of the gospel for reconciliation to God. Paul says in Colossians 1:9-10 “be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual insight, 10 so that you may live in a manner worthy of the Lord”. With this knowledge and wisdom and spiritual insight we are fruitful, increasing, enabled, steadfast, patient, joyful partakers of in Colossians 1:12 “the inheritance of the saints in light”. We are, in Colossians 1:13 rescued from “darkness and transferred to the kingdom of the Son”. Then in Colossians 1:15-20 Paul describes who Jesus Christ is by saying “all things … were created by him”, “he himself is before all things”, “in him all things are held together”, “he himself is the head”, “all the fullness to dwell in him”, “to reconcile all things to himself”. After this, there is no doubt about the place of Jesus Christ in God’s kingdom.
So, “(1) An inferior view of Christ is combated in 1:15–20. This christological passage implies that the heretics did not consider Jesus to be fully divine or perhaps did not accept Him as the sole Source of redemption”.3
The Glorious Wealth of This Mystery
Paul was given the “stewardship” in Colossians 1:25 “to complete the word of God” by taking this revelation to the Gentiles. As it says in
Colossians 1:26–27 the mystery which has been hidden from the ages and from the generations, but has now been revealed to his saints, 27 to whom God wanted to make known what is the glorious wealth of this mystery among the Gentiles, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory,
The Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge
Paul says in Colossians 2:1 “I want you to know how great a struggle I have on behalf of you” but what is this about? Paul had never been there and didn’t know these people. But Paul’s “stewardship” in Colossians 1:25 was to all of the Gentiles. Paul wasn’t just randomly writing letters to people he thought might be interested. Paul was diligent in prayer and seeking to understand the progress of the gospel and is writing to contend for, in Colossians 2:2 “the wealth of the full assurance of insight into the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ”. Paul was writing in Colossians 2:4 “in order that no one will deceive you with persuasive speech”.
In Him All the Fullness of Deity Dwells Bodily
Now, Paul says in Colossians 2:6-7 “live in him, firmly rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught”. And he might have gone on to say, because there is no further revelation, there is no deeper truth than what they have already received. But now, “(2) The Colossians were warned to beware of plausible sounding “philosophies” which were antichrist (2:8). (3) The heresy apparently involved the legalistic observance of “traditions,” circumcision, and various dietary and festival laws (2:8, 11, 16, 21; 3:11). (4) The worship of angels and lesser spirits was encouraged by the false teachers (2:8, 18)”.4
And Paul goes on to say in Colossians 2:9-15 that all of that work of traditions and circumcision and … whatever else Christ “removed it out of the way by nailing it to the cross”.
An Appearance of Wisdom in Self-Made Religion
Finally, Paul says in Colossians 2:16 “do not let anyone judge you …” and in Colossians 2:7 “Let no one condemn you …” in Colossians 2:22-23 “according to human commandments and teachings, 23 which things although they have, to be sure, an appearance of wisdom in self-made religion and humility and unsparing treatment of the body, do not have any value”. These people claimed to have a more mature understanding brought “(5) Asceticism, the deprivation or harsh treatment of one’s “evil” fleshly body, was promoted (2:20–23). Finally, (6) the false teachers claimed to possess special insight (perhaps special revelations) that made them (rather than the apostles or the Scriptures) the ultimate source of truth (2:18–19)”.5
Paul will go on to say in Colossians 3:1-2 “seek the things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. 2 Set your mind on the things above, not on the things on earth. Because, as he said in Colossians 2:22-23 these “human commandments and teachings” “do not have any value” for your life now or in God’s eternal kingdom.
- Colossians 1:1–8 The Hope Reserved for You in Heaven
- Colossians 1:9–23 Live in a Manner Worthy of the Lord
- Colossians 2:1–5 The Treasures of Wisdom and Knowledge
- Colossians 1:1-29
- Colossians 2:1-23
- 1. Jamieson, R., Fausset, A. R., & Brown, D. (1997). Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible (Vol. 2, p. 370). Oak Harbor, WA: Logos Research Systems, Inc.
- 2. Cannon, G. E. (1988). Colossians, Letter to The. In Baker encyclopedia of the Bible (Vol. 1, p. 496). Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Book House.
- 3. Martin, M. (2003). Colossians, Letter to The. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 319). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- 4. Martin, M. (2003). Colossians, Letter to The. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (p. 319). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.
- 5. Martin, M. (2003). Colossians, Letter to The. In C. Brand, C. Draper, A. England, S. Bond, E. R. Clendenen, & T. C. Butler (Eds.), Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary (pp. 319–320). Nashville, TN: Holman Bible Publishers.