Truly Knowing Christ
Colossians 2:1 I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. 2 My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. 4 I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments. 5 For though I am absent from you in body, I am present with you in spirit and delight to see how orderly you are and how firm your faith in Christ is. (NIV)
Paul continues his letter to the Christians at the church in Colosse. Here he also includes those at the nearby church in Laodicia. He is under house arrest in Rome and has not met any of these believers, since the churches in the area were started by Epaphras. He begins this passage by telling them of his struggle for them (v.1). The nature of his struggle refers back to the previous two verses in chapter one which is so that they will be presented “perfect in Christ.” He can not be with them and so he worries that they will be misled into false teaching, specifically Gnosticism, which was present in the area.
The literal interpretation of the Greek in verse two is: “that may be comforted the hearts of them, being joined 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 Father and of Christ.” Paul wants their hearts to be comforted, joined together in love, and rich in the understanding and knowledge of “the mystery of God.” This mystery was revealed previously (Col. 1:27) as “Christ in you.”
In other words, he wants them to have the strength and joy that comes from truly knowing Christ. He wants them to know that they have the power of Christ living within them, so that they can draw on His power for discernment. This power is the Holy Spirit. Christians have the wisdom and knowledge of Christ to keep them from being deceived by “fine-sounding arguments” (vv.3-4). Paul completes this passage with a word of encouragement, delighting with how orderly and steadfast they are in the faith. Order and steadfastness are military terms. He is commending them in their fight against false teaching.
False teaching has always existed in the church and always will. It is a matter of degree. As Christians, though, we are given the Holy Spirit who gives us discernment. The Holy Spirit interprets the Bible for us as we read it. He helps us to truly know God, so that we are not misled by false teaching. As we read and study the Bible our ability to discern becomes greater as we understand more of who God is.
For example if we know the Bible we know that certain behaviors are sin and that God punishes sin. So we know that if we partake of certain sins we can expect punishment, most often the consequences that we bring upon ourselves. We also know that sins are chosen behaviors, otherwise a Holy God could not punish us for them. God is not a killjoy. He just knows that certain behaviors will result in unwanted results and so He tries to save us from ourselves.
The Bible also tells us what sin is not. False teachers will come along and try to convince us that certain behaviors are sins that are not. If we know the Bible and we are tuned into the Holy Spirit we will, again, be able to discern the truth. The Holy Spirit convicts us of sin in our lives. If a certain behavior is not listed in the Bible as a sin and if we are not under the conviction of the Holy Spirit, it is not a sin.
Christians should always be discerning of any teaching. Some teaching is too liberal and some teaching is legalistic. We see both in the world today. We have everything we need if we have a Bible and the Holy Spirit. All we need to do is to spend time in reading that Bible. Then we will truly know Christ.
Online Bible Commentary