Colossians 2:1-7


Paul is going to be speaking in this passage of things you cannot see.  He is going through struggles and many of the people over whom he is struggling have not even seen him.  He desperately wants them to know some things that have in the past been hidden.  Yet though these struggles are both out of sight and out of mind, they are nevertheless real.  Paul has suffered some very real effects from this struggle.  He is in prison and he isn’t there for a parking ticket.  There is a distinct possibility that his head could be separated from his body and that he could face the death penalty for preaching the gospel.  He is going through tribulation and struggle and he is doing this for people he has never even met.


You do the same thing when you give to missions.  You might not know the missionaries.  Chances are that you do not know the people to whom they minister, and yet, you give to them.  Don’t get me wrong; it is good to give to people you know and love.  But it is even better to give to those you don’t know.





            For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face,  2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself,  3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (Colossians 2:1-3).


Paul was in the midst of a struggle.  It was a struggle born out of his passion for the gospel.  In the previous verse (1:29), Paul spoke about how he labored, “striving according to His power, which mightily works in me.”  That word for “striving” is from the same root word that here in verse 1 is rendered “struggle” (agon).  It is the same root from which we derive our modern word “agony.”  Paul was going through a struggle.  It was a struggle on behalf of a number of groups:


     The Colossians (“on your behalf”).

     Those who are at Laodicea.  This was the town just across the valley from Colossae.

     Everyone else (“all who have not personally seen my face”).


Paul’s struggle was a prayerful struggle.  This was something over which he prayed and it was also the subject of his labors.  This struggle consumed him because he saw it as all important.  At the root of this struggle was his desire for the spiritual growth of the church.  Such growth would result in certain benchmarks:


1.         A Heart of Encouragement:  I want you to know how great a struggle I have ... 2 that their hearts may be encouraged (2:1-2).


Paul wants to see these believers encouraged.   The word for encouragement here is parakaleo, literally, to “call alongside,” and can be used of both encouragement as well as exhortation.  Indeed, these two ideas serve as bookends in the ministry to the heart.  Part of real encouragement is an exhortation to action and a part of effective exhortation is encouragement.


There are two kinds of people in the church.  There are encouragers and there are discouragers.  Whether a church grows or dies often depends upon how many belong to each group.  We can destroy people and we can destroy churches if we do not enter into a ministry of encouragement.


2.         A Unifying Love:  Having been knit together in love (2:2).


To be the church is to love.  We are being woven into a fabric and love is the thread that holds it together.  Jesus said that love would be the distinguishing mark of the Christian.  He did not say we would be known for our evangelistic methods of for our big buildings; He said that they would know us by our love (John 13:35).  The central thrust of the church is not money or preaching or even holiness; it is love.  If we have love, then all of those other things will follow.


3.         A Spiritual Wealth:  Attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God's mystery, that is, Christ Himself (2:2).[1]


The third and final benchmark Paul wants to see for all believers is that they gain true spiritual wealth.  He wants them to hit the spiritual lottery and to strike it spiritually rich.  How to you manage such a thing? 


A full assurance of understanding


Resulting in...

A true knowledge of God’s mystery


Which is...

Christ Himself


You begin with faith.  This is not merely an admission of certain facts, though it includes that.  It is a full faith.  Paul uses the term plerophoria.  This is not just an assurance, but a full assurance.  We are going to see Paul speak a lot about fullness in this chapter and it begins here with a full faith.  It is when you come to this full faith that you receive what Paul calls a true knowledge of God’s mystery.  Remember that the mystery religions insisted that their knowledge was exclusive.  Paul says it is for everyone.   It is not just for the initiated.  It is not some private, mystical experience.  It can be studied and analyzed and understood.  It is not a blind leap into the darkness; it is reasonable.  But it is more than merely a topic to be studied.  It is rooted in a person.  It is Christ Himself.


It is when you come the Jesus that everything else makes sense.  Job learned that lesson.  His life was on the skids.  His children had all died in a structural collapse; his money went up in flames, his possessions were taken by looters who picked him clean, and then his health failed.  He looked at all this and none of it made any sense.  His friends showed up and offered platitudes that did not fit his situation and all he could do is to ask, “Why?”  And then God showed up.  The Lord did not answer his questions; He merely said, “Look at Me.”  And that was enough.  Job said, “I get it; I understand.”





I say this so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument. (Colossians 2:4).


There were some false teachings going around Colossae.  It was not merely a matter of one such teaching.  There were many.  There always are.  The problem with false teachings is that there are a lot of them and some of them can sound quite persuasive.  That is the very nature of a counterfeit.  I’ve had opportunity to see counterfeit money.  It came in the form of twenty dollar bills and they were designed to look very much like the real thing.  There was no place where it was clearly labeled as a counterfeit.  It pretended to be the real thing.  That is what counterfeits do.


Paul wants these believers to know Christ because, if you really know Him, then it is hard to be fooled by a counterfeit.





            For even though I am absent in body, nevertheless I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good discipline and the stability of your faith in Christ. (Colossians 2:5).


Paul views himself as being spiritually connected with the Colossian believers, even though he has never actually met many of them.  Because of this spiritual connection, he can rejoice at their spiritual growth as manifested in their good discipline and stability of faith in Christ.





            As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 having been firmly rooted and now being built up in Him and established in your faith, just as you were instructed, and overflowing with gratitude. (Colossians 2:6-7).


This verse gives the first imperative thus far in the entire book.  Everything that Paul has said up to this point is in the indicative mood.  Paul has been telling them facts.


    ¸     The Indicative Mood: What is.

    ¸     The Imperative Mood: What ought to be (a command).


Paul is going to tell the Colossians how they ought to walk.  They are to walk in a manner that is consistent with the way in which they received Christ.  Paul has been praying for their worthy walk since Colossians 1:9-10.  Now he tells them that they are to walk in such a manner.  There is a principle here.  First talk to God about people and then you will be ready to speak to people about God.


Notice the basis of the command.  The are to walk in Christ in the same way that they have received Christ.


As you have received Christ


So also in that same way you are to walk in Christ


Notice that there is a proper order to this process.  First you receive Christ and then you walk in Christ.  You cannot reverse the order.  You cannot walk in Christ until you have first received Christ.  First the verdict is rendered and only then is the performance mandated.


How did you receive Christ?  By Faith!


How are you to walk in Christ?  By Faith!


How often are we willing to receive Christ by faith but then seek to walk in Him by our own self effort?  The typical example of this is seen in the case of Mary and Martha.  You know the story.  Martha had a dinner to prepare.  In the middle of all of her busy preparations, she looks over at Mary who is sitting on her chief end as she listens to Jesus.


Martha is a picture of the one who attempts to live the Christian life without receiving.  It is a picture of frustration and anger and bitterness.  Does that describe you?  Have you been trying to live the Christian life and only meeting frustration?


There is a wonderful principle here for you.  It is that you are to walk in Christ in the same way that you received Christ.  How did you receive Him?  Through faith!  And that is also the way in which you are called to walk in Him.


As you received...

So live

As you were rooted...

Be built up

As you were taught...

Be established in truth




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[1] The Greek manuscripts give a number of alternate readings so that the KJV speaks of the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ.  Even if we were to adopt this alternate reading, that does not change the fact that the mystery is rooted in the persons of the Father and the Son.