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Colossians 2 - Established in Christ

INTRODUCTION: Paul stated in Colossians chapter one that he was writing to saints who had Christ in them as a sure hope of glory, and his words applies to saints of today as well. Saints should be filled with the knowledge of God's will from His Word, having spiritual understanding and wisdom as they continue to grow in the Lord. In chapter 2 Paul addresses various religious trappings that could actually lead his readers, including us, away from Christ. Christ is in us -- and we must remain firmly established in Christ.

NOTE: Bible text is from the Modern King James Version unless otherwise designated.

Colossians 2:1

"1 For I want you to know what a great conflict I have for you and those at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh,"

COMMENTS: Paul had to strive to teach Christ and exhort Christians, using not his own strength, but the power of God working within him. The Greek word (Strong's #73) that Paul used in chapter 2 verse 1 to express his concern for the spiritual well-being of even saints whom he had not met at Colosse or at nearby Laodicea, conveys the idea of a strenuous and continual effort. Paul was willing to struggle in spiritual warfare for those saints, and it is a worthwhile endeavor for us also to contend for the faith, fight the good fight, and finish the race, for ourselves, and for the benefit of other saints. Paul expressed this same sentiment in his letter to the Macedonian Christians. 1Thessalonians 2:2 (AV) "But even after that we had suffered before, and were shamefully entreated, as ye know, at Philippi, we were bold in our God to speak unto you the gospel of God with much contention <73>."

Colossians 2:2-3

"2 that their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding, to the full knowledge of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ; 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge."

COMMENTS: Saints must develop towards one another, godly love in action, or all other pursuits will be in vain; for the Lord Jesus left us that command, and the apostles continued the teaching that love is central to our faith. And all the knowledge and wisdom we need about God and the body of Christ, to be established in godly love, is available in scripture. John 13:35 (AV) "By this shall all [men] know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another." Romans 13:8 (AV) "Owe no man any thing, but to love one another: for he that loveth another hath fulfilled the law."

Colossians 2:4-7

"4 And I say this that not anyone should beguile you with enticing words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in the spirit, rejoicing and beholding your order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ. 6 Therefore as you have received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him, 7 rooted and built up in Him, and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving."

COMMENTS: If all knowledge and wisdom can be found in the Father and in Christ, it is imperative not to be dissuaded from pure faith and practice in the Lord, by even the most enticing words of mere man. While physically separated, Paul could be with the saints in the spirit through intercessory prayer, and in that prayer time he apparently rejoiced as he lifted them up for their orderliness and steadfast faith in Christ alone. As he wrote the letter, he exhorted them to continue behaving in a manner to evidence that they had received Christ Jesus as their Lord. They were to remain rooted and built up in Jesus, established in the faith as already taught, and to abound in that faith with thanksgiving. We need to follow Paul's instruction as well, and we have the scriptures, even the letters to the churches, as our authoritative teaching. God himself has established us and provided his word to direct our daily "walk"by faith and love. This was established for Israel, and it remains the course for Christians. Deuteronomy 10:12 ( AV) "And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul," Ephesians 2:10 (AV) "For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them."

Colossians 2:8-9

"8 Beware lest anyone rob you through philosophy and vain deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the elements of the world, and not according to Christ. 9 For in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily."

COMMENTS: Paul continues the warning that teaching which concentrates on keeping of rules from man's philosophy and tradition for vain things of the world can actually "rob"saints of what they have in Christ, or "carry them away as the spoils of war"to the enemy camp. Isaiah 29:13 (AV) "Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near [me] with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men:" And Jesus referred to this verse from Isaiah in a response. Mark 7:5-7 (AV) "Then the Pharisees and scribes asked him, Why walk not thy disciples according to the tradition of the elders, but eat bread with unwashen hands? He answered and said unto them, Well hath Esaias prophesied of you hypocrites, as it is written, This people honoureth me with [their] lips, but their heart is far from me. Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching [for] doctrines the commandments of men." Jesus also warned of the danger of false teachers. Matthew 7:15 (AV) "Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves."

Colossians 2:10

"10 And you are complete in Him, who is the Head of all principality and power,"

COMMENTS: We are "complete"in Christ, and he is the head of all things. Ephesians 1:21 (AV) "Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come:"

The Greek word as indexed with Strong's #4137, is translated as complete only twice in the KJV, here in Colossians 2:10 and again in chapter 4. Colossians 4:12( AV) "Epaphras, who is [one] of you, a servant of Christ, saluteth you, always labouring fervently for you in prayers, that ye may stand perfect and complete <4137> in all the will of God."It is a joy to know that we are filled with the fruits of righteousness by Christ so as to be "complete,"especially since our Lord is himself the fulfillment of prophecy. Matthew 5:17 (AV) "Think not that I am come to destroy the law, or the prophets: I am not come to destroy, but to fulfil <4137>."Luke 24:44 (AV) "And he said unto them, These [are] the words which I spake unto you, while I was yet with you, that all things must be fulfilled <4137>, which were written in the law of Moses, and [in] the prophets, and [in] the psalms, concerning me."

Colossians 2:11

"11 in whom also you are circumcised with the circumcision made without hands, in putting off the body of the sins of the flesh by the circumcision of Christ,"

COMMENTS: God deserves all the glory for it is he alone who performs all good things within us, and the required circumcision is performed by Christ for us by faith. God alone can "roll away"the sin of our flesh, and if we love him, we will keep his commandments as a sign of the circumcision of our heart. Even Abraham had faith in his heart before he had physical circumcision, and the Lord promised to perform the spiritual circumcision of future believers. Deuteronomy 30:6 (AV) "And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live." After centuries of generations, the Lord had to speak through a prophet to again warn Israel about their need of spiritual circumcision. Jeremiah 4:4 (AV) "Circumcise yourselves to the LORD, and take away the foreskins of your heart, ye men of Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem: lest my fury come forth like fire, and burn that none can quench [it], because of the evil of your doings." Paul wrote to other churches about the circumcision of the heart. Romans 2:28-29 (AV) "For he is not a Jew, which is one outwardly; neither [is that] circumcision, which is outward in the flesh: But he [is] a Jew, which is one inwardly; and circumcision [is that] of the heart, in the spirit, [and] not in the letter; whose praise [is] not of men, but of God." Philippians 3:3 (AV) "For we are the circumcision, which worship God in the spirit, and rejoice in Christ Jesus, and have no confidence in the flesh."

Colossians 2:12-14

"12 buried with Him in baptism, in whom also you were raised through the faith of the working of God, raising Him from the dead. 13 And you, being dead in your sins and the uncircumcision of your flesh, He has made alive together with Him, having forgiven you all trespasses, 14 blotting out the handwriting of ordinances that was against us, which was contrary to us, and has taken it out of the way, nailing it to the cross."

COMMENTS: As offspring of Adam, we could not be forgiven the sin that required death, for scripture says, Ezekiel 18:4 "For all souls are mine; as the soul of the father, so also the soul of the son, they are mine: the soul that sins, it shall die." But by our faith in Christ, our hearts are circumcised as we partake of his circumcision, which is a true sign of identification with our God. Through this faith he removes our sin. John 8:24 "I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins." If we are buried with Christ through faith, we are resurrected to a new life in him. 1Corinthians 15:22 (AV) "For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive." We will be like Abraham if we falter not in our faith in God's promise, for God will credit our faith to us as righteousness. Romans 4:20-25 (AV) "He staggered not at the promise of God through unbelief; but was strong in faith, giving glory to God; and being fully persuaded that, what he had promised, he was able also to perform. And therefore it was imputed to him for righteousness. Now it was not written for his sake alone, that it was imputed to him; but for us also, to whom it shall be imputed, if we believe on him that raised up Jesus our Lord from the dead; who was delivered for our offences, and was raised again for our justification."

Colossians 2:15

"15 Having stripped rulers and authorities, He made a show of them publicly, triumphing over them in it."

COMMENTS: The cross was a victory for us through Christ, according to the predetermined plan of God as spoken through the prophets, which could not be resisted, no matter how it appeared to the authorities at that time, or to any scoffer of today. This present world is only a shadow of the eternal realm where all saints will be subjects in the dominion of the King of kings. Psalm 72:11 (AV) "Yea, all kings shall fall down before him: all nations shall serve him." The prayer in response to early persecution declared by quoting from Psalms that God had preplanned the very events the Jews thought they had controlled. Acts 4:25-28 (AV) "Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done." Paul also affirmed the fulfillment of the plans of God in the death of Christ. Acts 13:27-30 (AV) "For they that dwell at Jerusalem, and their rulers, because they knew him not, nor yet the voices of the prophets which are read every sabbath day, they have fulfilled [them] in condemning [him]. And though they found no cause of death in him, yet desired they Pilate that he should be slain. And when they had fulfilled all that was written of him, they took him down from the tree, and laid him in a sepulchre. But God raised him from the dead:" The preaching of the cross and the resurrection is still missed by those who are proud in their own knowledge. 1Corinthians 1:17-18 (AV) "For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God."

Colossians 2:16-17

"16 Therefore let no one judge you in food or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of the new moon, or of the sabbaths. 17 For these are a shadow of things to come, but the body is of Christ."

COMMENTS: We must not be like those "Having a form of godliness, but denying the power thereof: from such turn away." - 2Timothy 3:5 (AV). We rather, should grow in grace and knowledge, and build one another up in the faith. Paul made this statement to the church at Rome. Romans 14:13 (AV) "Let us not therefore judge one another any more: but judge this rather, that no man put a stumblingblock or an occasion to fall in [his] brother's way." James gave us this comment in his letter to the church. James 2:8 (AV) "If ye fulfil the royal law according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself, ye do well:"

Colossians 2:18-19

"18 Let no one defraud you, delighting in humility and worship of the angels, intruding into things which he has not seen, without a cause being vainly puffed up by his fleshly mind, 19 and not holding the Head, from whom all the body, having been supplied with the joints and bands, and having been joined together, will grow with the growth of God."

COMMENTS: God alone is to be worshipped, and even claiming humility in receiving messages from angels can become an intrusion into things not truly seen, resulting in pride despite declaration of humility. That which is not from the word of God easily becomes the vanity of man. The vitality and growth of the body is always dependent on the head, and Christ is the head of his body the church, with the head alone deserving honor and glory and praise. Before the captivity of Judah, the southern kingdom of Israel had desired to hear false prophets more than God, as had happened with the northern kingdom decades earlier. Jeremiah 23:16 (AV) "Thus saith the LORD of hosts, Hearken not unto the words of the prophets that prophesy unto you: they make you vain: they speak a vision of their own heart, [and] not out of the mouth of the LORD." Wisdom from other letters: Ephesians 5:6 (AV) "Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience." Philippians 2:3 (AV) "[Let] nothing [be done] through strife or vainglory; but in lowliness of mind let each esteem other better than themselves." 1Timothy 6:20 (AV) "O Timothy, keep that which is committed to thy trust, avoiding profane [and] vain babblings, and oppositions of science falsely so called:" Titus 3:9 (AV) "But avoid foolish questions, and genealogies, and contentions, and strivings about the law; for they are unprofitable and vain."

Colossians 2:20-23

"20 If then you died with Christ from the elements of the world, why, as though living in the world, are you subject to its ordinances: 21 touch not, taste not, handle not; 22 which things are all for corruption in the using, according to the commands and doctrines of men? 23 These things indeed have a reputation of wisdom in self-imposed worship and humility, and unsparing severity the body, not in any honor for the satisfying of the flesh."

COMMENTS: Christ is the fulfillment of the law, which was introduced to uncover our sin and lead us to Christ. If we attempt to be righteous before God by observing his law, we cannot succeed, because failure in any small part (jot or tittle) is complete failure. Only Christ the Holy One could fulfill the law for the saints. We are defiled within our hearts, and observing laws will not heal the heart. Matthew 15:18-20 (AV) "But those things which proceed out of the mouth come forth from the heart; and they defile the man. For out of the heart proceed evil thoughts, murders, adulteries, fornications, thefts, false witness, blasphemies: These are [the things] which defile a man: but to eat with unwashen hands defileth not a man." Mark 7:8-9 (AV) "For laying aside the commandment of God, ye hold the tradition of men, [as] the washing of pots and cups: and many other such like things ye do. And he said unto them, Full well ye reject the commandment of God, that ye may keep your own tradition." Jesus had declared the commandments of God far above tradition. Galatians 2:21 (AV) "I do not frustrate the grace of God: for if righteousness [come] by the law, then Christ is dead in vain." The righteousness of Christ given by grace through faith is the mercy of God.

--- Reflections in prayer ---

Lord, stir in me an affection for local assemblies of saints that will prompt me to pray for them with a fervent desire to see their hearts comforted, as they are knit together in love, having full assurance of access to all the treasures of wisdom from the Father and from Christ. May we all avoid man's deceptive principles, but rather remain orderly and steadfast in the teaching of scripture, rooted and built up in Christ. As we rejoice in our walk with you Lord, with thanksgiving, keep us aware of philosophy and vain deceit according to the tradition of men and the elements of the world. For in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily and each saint is complete in him: having circumcision not performed by hands, burial with him, and raising from the dead with him - all through the faith in the working of God. All of our trespasses were blotted out and nailed to the cross, in the victory as Christ triumphed over all rulers and authorities, achieving what we could not, while bringing all glory to God.

Therefore Lord, neither let me judge others, nor let others judge me, in food or in drink, or in respect of a holy day, or of other traditional observances. You Lord Christ have perfectly fulfilled the law for the saints, and I ask that you guide us through your Holy Spirit to recognize those things which can vainly elevate me or others through a carnal mind. Make it our desire to grow with the growth of God, Christ as our head, confidently receiving your supply through the joints and the bands of your body. Remind me Lord that I have died with Christ from the elements of the world, and as a saint should no longer be subject to commands and doctrines of man which forbid touching, tasting, and the like, but cannot prevent the satisfying of the flesh, through man's wisdom and self-imposed worship and humility. My heart's desire is to rest fully in the truth that Christ is in me, and I am established in Christ. Amen.

Published 25 August 2006, first issued 25 August 2004