Having endorsed, in chapter 1, the essential foundation of truth concerning Christ they had received, Paul now tenderly appeals to the saints to remain steadfast in Christ. He warns against speculative human reasoning which can add nothing to the completeness they already possess in Christ (vv 1-10), nor add anything to His triumphant victory and deliverance of His people (vv 11-15). The apostle boldly concludes that neither Jewish old covenant regulations and rituals, nor pagan mysticism and asceticism, have any relevance for those who have died and risen with Christ (vv 16-23).
2:1-10 All The Fullness Of God Bodily In Christ; Completeness In Him
Paul’s shepherd heart is evident in his longing for the saints to be comforted and confident. Possessing and enjoying the love of God in Christ gives solid conviction of the reality of the truth we have embraced. In having this fully assured understanding of Him, we will know God as He is, and be preserved from the insidious assaults of the enemy who would, through speculative human reasoning and mysticism, rob us of our treasure (vv 4, 6). In Christ reside the essence of God Himself, and the focus of God’s counsels, and the foundation of the future eternal perfection. Why “hid” (v 3)? Even though God has stepped into His own creation, it remains “an open secret!” The knowledge of God through Christ is available to those who turn to Him as Savior. We then begin a journey of discovery of unending delight into the mind of God, as we begin to learn of Him. Yet at the same time it is hidden from the world in its darkness. Furthermore, our “life is hid with Christ in God” (3:3). Not until He is manifested visibly in glory to earth again, will the full revelation be outwardly displayed and never hidden again. In Christ we have all the spiritual resources we need to flourish and to be established (vv 5-7).
“For in Him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily” (v 9) captures the essence of the battleground at Colosse concerning the crucified and risen Jesus. The false teacher seeks to undermine both the true humanity and full deity of Christ. Both great truths are fully declared here. As a resurrected perfect man, He exists bodily, not as spirit only. At the same time, “all the fulness of the Godhead” is His! His absolute Deity is strongly affirmed. Jesus is Lord of the universe, exalted on the throne of DEITY, and possessing all God’s fulness. Every attribute of God is His. Fully God, fully man! The perfect mediator, sufficient Savior, supreme Sovereign – what completeness, and adequacy! Our fulness is derived from Him. We have a living link with the Lord Jesus, united with Him eternally in the Spirit, sharing the same life! We are receiving a ministry of spiritual life that will enable us to live in perfect harmony with Him as His bride and body through all the succeeding ages. He is our Head, our leader and provider, and head over every realm of authority.
2:11-15 Results Of His Vicarious Death, Burial, Resurrection
What physical circumcision under the old covenant symbolized, is now accomplished in reality for us. We have received the full benefit of His death, a complete cutting off. Baptism displays outwardly and publicly what has transpired spiritually within the person when Christ was received as Savior and Lord. Our identification with Christ is clearly presented. Having been “cut off”’ with Him in death, we were also buried with Him, and raised out of death into a new life and realm, no longer under the condemnation of our sins (vv 11-13), nor under the jurisdiction of the law which had stood unalterably against us. All charges against us have been removed, being borne by Christ (v 14). God is satisfied; Satan is silenced! As a sinless Man, Christ had the power to become our representative Head, and by giving Himself to die for us, has liberated us from the authority of Satan, manifesting His victory in His resurrection and ascension to glory (v 15).
2:16-23 Redundant Rituals, Counterfeit Claims, Carnal Commandments
Paul now applies the far-reaching consequences of Christ’s deliverance and victory. The divinely commanded old covenant regulations and rituals are now redundant, as shadows giving way to the substance of the eternal blessings in Christ. Therefore believers must not allow anyone to judge them by bringing their consciences under obligation to its observances (vv 16-17).
Neither must the believers allow anyone to beguile them with the sham spirituality of pagan mysticism and its claimed visions and revelations, which would only rob them of what they already enjoy in Christ. It offers instead the groveling of penances to merit favor, and prayers to angels and saints as mediators (v 18). In reality it is inverted human pride that ignores Christ as Mediator, and the essential living union with Him as our Head. We who are members of His Body depend upon Him for nourishment and life, and develop together into His likeness by Divine power. Christ and the Church will be the fullest display of the very life and nature of God (v 19).
While still physically “living in the world,” our spiritual basis of life is that we have “died with Christ” (v 20); therefore it is incompatible for us to be subject to humanly devised rules attempting to produce holiness. Asceticism is characterized by strict self-denial, rigorous schedules of fasting and prayer, and inflicting pain on oneself. In reality it is a self-absorbed false humility and wisdom that has no value in controlling the evil of the flesh within us (vv 21-23). New life is required, replacing the life and lusts of the flesh. This is developed in the third chapter. Once again, we are presented with the greatness and sufficiency of Christ, bringing us into the blessedness of genuine spiritual life. It is Christ, all Christ, and nothing but Christ!