Posted by Pastor Pat on July 27, 2011
The book of Colossians forms one of the most translucent revelations of Jesus Christ found within Holy Scripture. The veil has been rent and we are privileged and exposed to a full portrayal of who He is and what He has done for His people. Here we find the promise fulfilled and the picture completed.
Often, as is true with most of our handling of God’s Word, we read various pieces without seeing how the pieces fit into the bigger picture. This is unfortunate for us and demeaning to the text.
The book of Colossians is comprised of verses. These verses link together to form paragraphs and the paragraphs are part of a singular thought. Paul is not jumping from subject matter to subject matter as if there is no coherent thought and intentional design. Each of the verses and paragraphs form a thread in a beautiful tapestry. Each is a different color used by God to paint a breathtaking portrait of His Son. He is the promised seed within the Story. To understand the parts, you must understand the whole. It is the parts that make up the whole and it is the whole that brings continuity to the individual parts.
We will do an injustice to the revelation of God if we fail to see each part in light of the whole. The task is not difficult, but we have, in our time and culture, become intellectually lazy. The difficulty lies in our own inability to focus for extended periods on a singular thought. Perhaps if we identify what is Paul’s primary point, we will be able to see how the parts fit into the whole.
Paul’s primary thought is, “Christ in you, the hope of glory” (Col. 1:27). Each of the following 12 articles and study questions are built around the paragraph. An attempt has been made to “connect the dots” within the book itself. The book is presented as a whole.
Since most letters within the New Testament are occasioned by questions or problems it is only proper to ask what question is being asked of Paul or what problem is being presented to Paul. Consider the weight of what Paul says concerning the Lord Jesus Christ.
“He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by Him all things were created, both in the heavens and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities–all things have been created through Him and for Him. He is before all things, and in Him all things hold together. He is also head of the body, the church; and He is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead, so that He Himself will come to have first place in everything” (Col. 1:15-18).
Such a statement forced one commentator to conclude,
It is agreed upon that “Colossians presents the all-supremacy, the all-sufficiency, the uniqueness, and the fullness of the person and work of Jesus Christ as the God-man Savior, the Creator and Sustainer of the universe and the total solution for man’s needs both for time and eternity. It is a cosmic book, presenting the cosmic Christ: the Creator/Sustainer who is also the one and only Redeemer/Reconciler of the universe.” [Emphasis added] http://bible.org/seriespage/background-colossians “Background on Colossians,” J. Hampton Keathley, III
Because we are only able to listen in on half of the conversation we can only surmise the issue revolves around the singular person and work of Jesus Christ. The argument of Paul rests on the sufficiency of Jesus Christ as being provisionally lavish in addressing the needs of His people. What are the specifics? What name are we to assign the heresy? Call it what you may. Legalism, New Age philosophy, secular humanism, or ancient and current cults, regardless what it is named anything detracting from or adding to the person and work of Jesus Christ is under assault by the apostle Paul as he declares Jesus Christ to be enough in this life and in the life to come. Tullian Tchividjian concludes, “Jesus plus nothing equals everything; everything minus Jesus equals nothing.”1 The threat is real and Paul’s concern for the church is equally genuine. Consider the following admonitions.
• [Let] no one will delude you with persuasive argument (2:4)
• [Let] no one take you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world (2:8)
• [Let] no one is to act as your judge in regard to food or drink or in respect to a festival or a new moon or a Sabbath day (2:16)
• Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize by delighting in self-abasement and the worship of the angels, taking his stand on visions he has seen, inflated without cause by his fleshly mind (2:18).
Paul’s alarm was for the ongoing perseverance of God’s people in the hope of the gospel (1:23). This must be our concern as well. The only defense against this terminal threat is the singular view of Jesus Christ. He can neither be added to nor subtracted from. Adding to Christ is like adding salt to a meal offered by a world renowned chef. It is insulting and denigrating. The addition says, “I do not like what you’ve done; your meal is unsatisfactory to my taste buds.” And this is simply unacceptable in our relationship with God.
Thus our presuppositions are as follows and simple.
• First, Jesus Christ is the second member of the God-head and He is as the incarnate, resurrected, and redeeming Savior who is the apex and pinnacle of God’s Story.
• Second, anything that would take from or add to who He is in His person and work is a direct assault against the Story of God.
• Third, in the church/city of Colossi there is instruction that seeks to add to and/or subtract from the person and work of Jesus Christ, thus showing Him to be inadequate as incarnate and redeemer.
• Fourth, Paul’s direct assault against this error is to magnify the person and work of Jesus Christ and to show the practical/pragmatic consequences of our union with Him.
From this four-fold foundation all the following articles will be built. As with any study, there are imperfections because of my own inability. I have, however, been enriched by my personal journey in and through the book itself. It has, by design, led me to Him. I trust you will “find, celebrate, and declare that He is enough, in this life and in the life to come.”
1 Tullian Tchividjian, “Jesus + Nothing = Everything (Part 1),” January 10, 2010, http://www.crpc.org/sermons–media/sermon/jesus—nothing—everything–part-1-