Colossians boldly claims that the Christian can and should rejoice in the fact that they can and should reject any means to spiritual gain other than the Lord Jesus Christ. Jesus is more than enough for all matters of life and godliness. We need hold onto nothing and no one else – ever.
Paul writes from prison in Rome upon hearing about the situation in Colossae from Epaphras. It is assumed that Epaphras planted the church and came to Rome to gets Paul’s counsel and advice. The letter deals with a multifaceted heresy. Much like 1 Corinthians, it’s difficult to understand exactly what the problems were in Colossae, but it is worth a good try. Colossians 1:18 is a big clue for us. It reads, “that in everything he might become preeminent”. At first the sentence doesn’t make sense. Paul has just said Jesus is above everything in the universe, now he says he needs to become ‘above all things’. But Paul is saying that Jesus needs to become preeminent to them. He is in reality, but apparently not to them. It seems they were thinking too little of the Lord Jesus. There is talk of philosophy being exalted, angels worshipped, strict worldly elements of religion and Jewish Law being brought in. Paul deals with each of these in the letter, although his overarching treatment for all the problems is that Jesus is all a person needs for every matter in the spiritual life. A real living connection with the Lord Jesus Christ is needed, everything else is smoke and mirrors – a waste of time and energy.
What is interesting to note, and it appears clearly in Colossians, is that the Bible is not loosely connected facts and thoughts but a chain of reasoning and arguments. The Scriptures argue, test and prove our faith against other options. The letters build arguments to prove why certain beliefs are right and others wrong. This is why it’s not healthy to simply open the Bible and read ad hoc. We need the arguments clear in our own thinking. I am sure this is what Paul is talking about in 2 Corinthians where he says we ‘pull down strongholds with reasoning’. A stronghold is a strong reasoning system built up to cause us to doubt the truth. The answer to it is to reason strongly back.
Enjoy the letter. You might want to answer some questions for yourself that the letter teaches while you read it through.
How does Paul say they and I can grow up in my connection with Jesus?
What does it mean to ‘live on Christ?’
How does Paul say we grow in godliness?
What are the wrong ways that Paul says we can go about answering the above questions?