In Christ is hidden all the treasures of wisdom: 2:1-7.
Paul wants the Colossians to know how much he cares for them though he never met them. He had such pastoral concern for them that he earnestly prayed that their heart may be encouraged and strengthened with the knowledge of Christ. Paul wants them to have closer unity among them to safeguard them against false teachers. Paul challenges Gnostics heresy with the fact that in Christ is hidden all the all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge (2:3). Paul wants them to know that it is extremely important to study the Bible so that no one will deceive them with persuasive arguments. Only when we grow in the knowledge of Christ we can face false teachers. Paul was rejoicing in the fact that their faith in Christ was strong. They have been rooted and established in the faith. Scholars suggest that Gnostic heresy denies the historical Jesus in his humanity. Many people know about Christ but lack personal relationship with Him. Only when we get saved, the Holy Spirit draws us closer to Christ. No one can say Jesus is Lord, except by the Holy Spirit (1 Cor 12:3). They will hunger and thirst for righteousness. The Holy Spirit who indwells in us would give them a desire to grow in the knowledge of Christ. Knowing Bible from cover to cover and not translating into life will remain only as information. But when we apply what we know about Christ, we will be transformed and grow strong in Christ. Thanksgiving is the proof of their spiritual growth. Pray that we may grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.
Beware of Legalism: 2:8-10.
Christianity is anchored in the person of Jesus Christ. The believers are rooted and built upon the teaching of Christ. Satan will try to draw believers away from the centrality and sufficiency of Christ by the false philosophy of the world
(1 Tim 6:20). The philosophy is love of wisdom. Paul does not condemn knowledge and wisdom but the world's false philosophy. The Colossian church was influenced by false wisdom that depended on human tradition rather than on Christ. Paul says that false philosophy comes from human thinking and devoid of truth. It is empty, deceitful and according to human tradition. It comes from human speculations and cannot meet the spiritual needs. Here we see the contrast between human speculations and divine revelation. The Gnostics believed in the materialistic human reasoning than divine revelation. This is still a problem in the church today. Legalism is focusing on external behavior rather than revealed truth about Jesus Christ. It imposes man-centered rules on people, attaching spiritual virtue to non-essential matters. Paul strongly opposes legalism. He says “Do not handle, do not taste, do not touch, such rules are mere human teachings and destined to perish with use" (2:21). We should never undermine the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ. It is not Christ plus tradition but Christ alone. Every addition to Christ is a subtraction from his divine truth and sufficiency. The fundamental truth about our salvation is the person of Christ and his work on the cross. Paul wrote “For in Christ dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (2:9). He is the God-man. Those who are saved are complete in Christ through their union with Him. All they need is Christ (1 Cor 1:30). We do not need any other source of truth such as Gnosticism. Christ is the head of the church, the source of life and he is sovereign over all things. There must be unity in the essential truths and liberty in no-essential things. Only in Christ there is forgiveness and victory over sin.
New Life in Christ: 2:11-15.
When we get saved, we become new creation in Christ (2 Cor 5:17). When we come to Christ , we are circumcised not physically but spiritually. Circumcision was a sign of covenant between God and Abraham (Gen 17: 11). This speaks of Israel’s identification with God. In Christ believers have died to sin and have been raised to live in the newness of life (2:12). Still our old nature is not totally eradicated (1 John 1:8). We are exhorted to present our body as instrument of righteousness unto God (Rom 6:11-14). Baptism symbolizes our identification with Christ in His death and resurrection. Baptism is an outward expression of an inward experience. Only through faith in Christ we receive new birth (John 1:12-13). In Christ we have been forgiven of all our sins and made alive to serve Him (Ephesians 2:8-10). Christ canceled the record of charges stood against us by nailing it to the cross (2:14). In the East the record of guilt was cancelled by nailing it to a post. We are all guilty before God. Christ blotted out the charges against us by nailing them on the cross
(1 Cor 15: 55-57). By His death Christ conquered His enemies. In Christ we have victory over Satan and death (2:15). Christ has set us free from the ceremonial law of Israel. Now we enjoy a direct access to God. We approach God with confidence, knowing that Christ' sacrifice has removed the barrier between us and God. Now it is our privilege to draw near to our heavenly Father as his beloved children, remembering what Christ has accomplished for us on the cross.
Beware of False Religion: 2:16-23.
Paul warns believers of the danger of legalism, ritualism and Jewish ceremonies. These ceremonies are shadows of good things to come (Heb 10:1). The substance is Christ (Heb 8:13; 10:1). Christ himself is the reality. It is dangerous and meaningless to replace the reality of Christ with shadows. The Colossians were influenced by false teachers to embrace their deceptive man-made religious practices (2:16-18, 22). Paul says that "don’t let anyone condemn you by insisting on self denial, false humility and the worship of the angels” (2:18). Gnostics claimed special knowledge of God and believed in visions. Thus they were filled with senseless pride and lost connection with Christ (2:19). They willingly undermine the supremacy and sufficiency of Christ. Our spiritual nourishment and strength come only from Christ. The Christians are identified with Christ, they should not submit to the regulation of human teachings. They are separated from the principles of the world and regulations of man-made religions. Touch not, taste not and handle not are the test of holiness among Gnostics. They are still marks of holiness in certain religious groups. These rules may have an appearance of wisdom because they require devotion, self denial and bodily disciplines. Will-worship is self-imposed worship. They engage in ascetic discipline. But it cannot stop them from the indulgence of the flesh. The essence of Christian faith is the person of Christ and his atoning work on the cross. Only Christ gives victory over flesh. We should increase in our knowledge of Christ to protect us from the false teachings. So let us “Turn our eyes upon Jesus, look full in his wonderful face, and the things of the earth will grow strangely dim in the light of his glory and grace”.