Note from Jesus
When Paul wrote to the Colossians, he was imprisoned and facing hardship because of his work for the gospel (Colossians 1:24-29; Colossians 4:18). He was content even facing this suffering (Philippians 4:11), but he desperately wanted the early churches to remain committed to Me and to the pure message that they had heard. As a result, Paul’s suffering was made more trying by those who kept stirring up discontent and doubt because of their false teaching.
Epaphras, who personally was from Colossae (Colossians 4:12), had originally taken My message to the Colossians (Colossians 1:7). Paul had never even visited there (Colossians 2:1). People’s respect for him as a great leader, teacher, disciple maker, and apostle gave him significant influence in the lives of many church leaders as well as other Christians. The Colossian Christians were part of this group that deeply respected Paul. He wrote the letter to them to combat false teachers who were saying that they had not received the full gospel because Epaphras had taught them. From the critics’ point of view, Epaphras was a “nobody” from Colossae and not an apostle or a well-known evangelist; the false teachers were saying that the Colossians had received inferior teaching.
False teachers were trying to convince My new disciples in Colossae and nearby Laodicea (Colossians 2:1; Colossians 4:13-16) that they needed special new teachings shrouded in mystery. Paul used the phrase “the elemental spirits of the cosmos” to describe part of this erroneous teaching. These new false teachings also insisted on special ascetic practices of denying the body through extraordinary fasting and other more extreme practices (Colossians 2:16-23). These false teachers tried to convince My disciples in Colossae that they could arrive at the Father’s intended “fullness” only through these special practices. To combat these false teachings, Paul used a form of the word for “fullness” or “full” six times in the short letter to the Colossians — four of those times were to tell the Colossian Christians that all the fullness they needed is found in Me (Colossians 1:19; Colossians 2:2; Colossians 2:9; Colossians 2:10), one was to remind them that his message had all the necessary fullness (Colossians 1:25), and the other one related to Epaphras’ prayer for them (Colossians 4:12).
Throughout his letter to the Colossians, Paul repeatedly spoke against the false teaching they were receiving. If he had given a succinct summary of his teaching, it could have been “Jesus plus anything is less than Jesus — it is no gospel at all” (Galatians 1:6-9). Paul centered his life, his mission, and his message in this truth. He declared this purpose to the Colossians:
I am a servant appointed by God to preach the Word of God until it is known to you and all over — what I am talking about is nothing less than the mystery of the ages! What was hidden for ages, generations and generations, is now being revealed to His holy ones. He decided to make known to them His blessing to the nations; the glorious riches of this mystery is the indwelling of the Anointed in you! The very hope of glory.
My imprisoned apostle Paul was adamant that the truth of the gospel is centered on My death, burial, and resurrection. He insisted that the Colossians needed not only to hang onto the original teaching they received, but that they also needed to root themselves in those truths:
Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness.
Paul told them that their lives were joined to My life in a realm far above any earthly power or any spiritual power other than My own and that their future was now caught up in My future glory:
Your new life is now hidden, enmeshed with the Anointed Who is in God. On that day when the Anointed One — Who is our very life — is revealed, you will be revealed with Him in glory!
I have “disarmed” all spiritual authorities, realms, entities, and powers (Colossians 2:15). Through the Colossians’ participation with My death in baptism and their faith in the power of God demonstrated by My resurrection, they had “died” to those powers (Colossians 2:12-20) and were “raised up with Me” and “enmeshed” with Me and will be fully revealed when I come in My glory. This same glorious reality is true for you as My disciple!
Paul’s teaching must be your passion. The truth is centered in Me. Remember what I told My first disciples on the eve of My Crucifixion:
“I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you really know me, you will know my Father as well. From now on, you do know him and have seen him.”
(John 14:6-7 NIV)
Verses to Live
Paul’s words in these two passages from his letter to the Colossians reminded them that I AM the One in Whom are hidden all “the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” You don’t need something more. You don’t need secret wisdom tied to other spirits or powers. You need to root yourselves deeply into Me. In your baptism and because of your faith in Me, you joined My death on the cross and My victory and new life through My resurrection. Your future is secured to Me. No other powers or spirits can have you now because your life is “hidden, enmeshed” with Me, far above any rule, power, or authority. Root yourself in Me!
This battle [with suffering and imprisonment] I am facing is huge. And I want you to know I do it for you, for all those at Laodicea, and for everyone else (even those who have never seen my face). I’m working hard to comfort and encourage them so that they will be knit together — that many hearts would become one through His [Jesus’] love. I do it so they will be rich in understanding and have full knowledge of God’s mystery, which is the Anointed One Himself — in Him all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are concealed. I only tell you this to warn you about those who would try and deceive you with their arguments. They seem plausible enough; but in the end, they are false. Even though I cannot be there in the body, my spirit is with you; and I’m happy to know of your good order and your solid commitment to the Anointed One, our Liberating King.
Now that you have welcomed the Anointed One, Jesus the Lord, into your lives, continue to journey with Him and allow Him to shape your lives. Let your roots grow down deeply in Him, and let Him build you up on a firm foundation. Be strong in the faith, just as you were taught, and always spill over with thankfulness. Make sure no predator makes you his prey through some misleading philosophy and empty deception based on traditions fabricated by mere mortals. These are sourced in the elementary principles originating in this world and not in the Anointed One (so don’t let their talks capture you). You see, all that is God, all His fullness, resides in His [Jesus’] body. You, too, are being completed in Him, the One Who has dominion over all rule, all authority. In Him you were also circumcised, set apart by a spiritual act performed without hands. The Anointed One’s circumcision cut you off from the sinfulness of your flesh. You were buried with Him beneath the waters of the ceremonial washing called baptism and then were raised up with Him by faith in the resurrection power of God, Who brought Him back from the dead. And when your flesh was still uncircumcised — dead in transgression and swathed in its sinful nature — it was God Who brought us to life with Him, forgave all our sins, and eliminated the massive debt we incurred by the law that stood against us. He took it all away; He nailed it to the cross. But that’s not all. He disarmed those who once ruled over us — those who had overpowered us. Like captives of war, He put them on display to the world to show His victory over them by means of the cross.
So it comes down to this: since you have been raised with the Anointed One, the Liberating King, set your mind on heaven above. The Anointed is there, seated at God’s right hand. Stay focused on what’s above, not on earthly things, because your old life is dead and gone. Your new life is now hidden, enmeshed with the Anointed Who is in God. On that day when the Anointed One — Who is our very life — is revealed, you will be revealed with Him in glory!
Response in Prayer
Father, thank You for not making the way to You difficult or hidden. Thank You for revealing Yourself to us through Jesus in human flesh and inviting us into His life and His future. I pledge my heart to follow Jesus. I do not want to be distracted by those promoting mysterious knowledge or harsh treatment of my physical body. I trust that the Holy Spirit is at work conforming me to be more like Jesus each day as I focus on Him. Thank You, dear Father, for Jesus, in Whose name and by Whose power and authority I pray to You, my Abba Father. Amen.
‘A Year with Jesus’ is written by Phil Ware.
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All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from The Voice™. © 2008 by Ecclesia Bible Society. Used by permission. All rights reserved.