Purpose of the Epistle. Colossians was written to deliver the saints from the dangers of philosophy and Jewish tradition by means of showing them the all-sufficiency of Christ. The two dangers that faced the Colossians are typical of the two great forms that evil often takes: rationalism and ritualism. Rationalism is the form of evil in which the mind of man takes the place of the Word of God. There is a tendency to take away from what God has said, or dismiss it as fantastic or mystical. Ritualism is the the form of evil where religious forms take the place of the Word of God. There is a tendency to add to what God has said. These two forms of evil have also been called skepticism and superstition. Skepticism affects the mind, and superstition affects the soul. But both are the intrusion of man into the things of God. The believer has everything he needs in Christ! There is no need place for human wisdom or human religion to be added, because we are “complete in Him” (Col. 2:10). Superlatives such as ‘all’, ‘every’, ‘full’, ‘filled’, and ‘complete’ abound in this epistle. Colossians takes up the glories of Christ, the head of the body, and our privileges and responsibilities in relation to Him. In a word, the theme of the epistle is the sufficiency of Christ.
The word Gnostic comes from the Greek word ‘gnosis’, which means knowledge. The word is used by historians to describe a school of thought. Gnosticism arose from a group of evil workers who claimed to have higher light, special spiritual knowledge, or “secret wisdom”. This movement began in the days of the apostles, and continued into the 5th century. Before John died the seeds of Gnosticism had been sown; perhaps even before Paul's death (1 Tim. 6:20). John’s epistles are written to defend against the inroads of Gnosticism (2 John 1:7,9). Peter warns of their false teaching, and Jude warns of its moral effect on the Christian testimony. Gnosticism is responsible for not just one heresy, but seven or eight. What is it? In this mystical system, the spiritual world was good, and material world was evil. They rejected the incarnation, because it connects the human with the divine. The Gnostics would try to separate “Jesus” from “Christ”, by making Christ an emanation (a shining out from a source) from God that never truly became flesh, or else was united to a mere man named Jesus at his baptism, but returned to God before Jesus’ death on the cross. In doing so, this evil system annulled the incarnation, the atonement, and the resurrection. The doctrine of the New Testament anticipates this irreverent and wicked system of doctrine by stating the simple truth of Christ's Person and work. Church fathers who defended against Gnosticism were Ignatius of Antioch ('Seven Epistles'), and Irenaeus of Lyons ('Against Heresies').The roots of Gnosticism are addressed in Colossians, under the heads of rationalism and ritualism, two areas in which these false teachers were seeking to add something to Christ. Read more…
"The Mystery". Often we think of a “mystery” as something that is difficult to discover or decipher. Paul does not use the word in this way. Rather, it refers to a secret counsel of God that was previously unknown in the Old Testament, but now revealed and made plain. It could not be known by anything but divine revelation; in fact, it is one of four special revelations given to the Apostle Paul. The teaching of "the Mystery" is found in Ephesians and Colossians.read more…
- In Colossians the believer is clearly in the wilderness, but we can have a new life, whose hope is elsewhere; in the wilderness, and by faith looking at the resurrection of Christ, we are begotten again to a living hope by Christ’s resurrection; so Peter, so Colossians 2:12 – we are not baptised in Jordan, but to Christ’s death (the Red Sea) – our death is the end of the wilderness position, and the end of the wilderness death itself. But in Ephesians, this is looked at in the nature that belongs to the wilderness, or Egypt as it is – sinful flesh dead towards God, and, as to God, we begin in Jordan, or rather in what He does with us there when Christ is gone there for us. It begins with Christ, not as dying but raised from the dead, and so we dead in sins, found so, where He had come in grace (hence in virtue of the blood and the Red Sea) and quickened together with Him. – Darby, J.N. The Red Sea and Jordan. Notes and Comments, Volume 2
- “Christ in your hearts” (Eph. 3:17) is an expression that refers to holding Christ in our affections.
- Kelly, William. The Epistle to the Colossians.
- Darby, J.N. Synopsis of the Books of the Bible.
- Anstey, Bruce. The Epistle to the Romans. Christian Truth Publishing. 2018