GOD IS NOT MYSTERIOUS - Colossians 1 & 2

The Apostle Paul was an evangelist, a teacher, and a pastor. He would plant the seed of God’s Word, follow it up by teaching his converts, and then be a shepherd to them. As he would move on from places, he physically could not always be there, Paul would write letters to encourage and build up the believers through the written word. The church at Colossae was a bit different to some of the locations that Paul had visited. From what we can deduce, Paul had previously preached the gospel and spent a significant amount of time in Ephesus. A man by the name of Epaphras had been converted and discipled in Ephesus; he originated from the city of Colossae and had taken the gospel message back to his people there. A church had been birthed (1:7) and Epaphras had ministered in the church.

Often the reason Paul wrote letters was to bring clarity to their new found faith and also combat false teaching. Paul had not met all the believers in Colossae, but his apostolic authority (his ability to explain truth) was highly respected among the early church believers. Unfortunately there were false teachers that often arrived to these churches; often people from Jerusalem and men known as Judaizers. These individuals mixed ancient law based traditions in with Christianity and deceived many of the new converts. They would apply rules and laws that did not reflect the faith and grace based teaching that the Apostle Paul embodied, and certainly it did not reflect the Lord Jesus Christ’s teaching. They also would set themselves up as men who had a greater understanding of God than the common believer. This was frustrating for Paul as it was not only this church that had this problem but it was a common theme in his other letters. Imagine being Paul and pouring into the life of people, consistently teaching with integrity, working to support himself so as not to be a burden, and risking his life many times for the sake of the gospel.

Paul begins to address some of these issues in chapter 1 where he challenges them to make Christ pre-eminent in their lives (1:18). Then he mentions that in the past God was like a mystery to the ancient generations but now the mystery of God was revealed through and to the believers as they put their faith in Him. In fact in verse 27 he writes, “To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory”. One of the false teaching points that circulated at that time was these false teachers presumed they had access to the “mysteries of God”. They were putting themselves on a different playing field regarding their understanding of God and His purposes. Paul, with the help of Timothy, said the ultimate source of who God is came in human form through Christ. The old way of understanding God, through prophets or visions which was often reserved for special individuals had been done away with by the coming of Christ. Through the life of Christ people could know the character and the mind of God. In chapter 2:2-3 Paul writes “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” One of the key evidences of false teaching is when people claim they have a special knowledge of God in comparison to others. Paul cautioned the Colossian believers by saying that Christ revealed in them was their true hope. If anyone, Paul could have claimed to know more than others, due to his vocation as a rabbi and his knowledge of languages, not to mention the fact that he had experienced a personal encounter with Jesus- yet he didn’t make these claims.

So what can we learn from all of this? In verse 4 of chapter 2, Paul comments, “I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible (deceitful) arguments”. In verse 8 he says “See to it that no one takes you captive by philosophy and empty deceit, according to human tradition, according to the elemental spirits of the world, and not according to Christ”. Succinctly said, God is not hiding some deep mysteries about His character or His purposes in the future. He says “believe in Me and I will forgive you and give you hope”. Get to know Christ and you will be able to discern who is telling the truth and who isn’t!


By: Pastor David Jones