Treasures Of Wisdom And Knowledge
Key Verse 2:2
“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.”
Colossians is a letter Paul had written to the Christians in Colossae. He did not know them personally since they were not his own converts but the converts of his disciple Epaphras. But he loved them as if they were his own. Even in the early stages of Gospel ministry, false prophets and teachers had begun to spread false gospels wherever the True Gospel was being preached. Paul could not stand by and watch perfectly healthy churches become infested with false doctrines. His genuine love for the early Christians compelled him to write letters to them restating the tenets of the True Gospel. He first spoke of Jesus divinity revealing Jesus as the Image of the invisible God. He went on to explain what Jesus had come to do, that is to reconcile us to God through Jesus’ death and the spilling of his righteous blood on the cross. Paul then told them: “This is the gospel that you heard and that has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.” (1:23)
One of the false gospels circulating at the time insisted that important secret knowledge was hidden from most believers; that there are hidden secrets that a Christian can only come to know through some special kind of spiritual experience or some special kind of revelation from God. the false Gospel also insisted that there were some secret teachings that cannot be revealed unless a Christian studies some secret book containing some hidden knowledge pertinent to the salvation of believers. For this reason Paul wrote them in order to restate what the Gospel is, and that a believer whose faith rests on Jesus has everything he or she needs in knowledge and in wisdom for salvation. Paul had already reminded them of the greatest mystery of all time which surpasses any knowledge or wisdom a human being can ever hope to know, “which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” (1:27) He had already told them how much he had been struggling for their sake that they might remain rooted in the True Gospel dispelling any foolish notions that the Gospel they had heard and received is lacking in any way.
What else did he tell them? Look at 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.” He tells them again how earnest his struggle on their behalf has been. His struggle for them had not only been through prayer, but also in giving them the word of God. In the word of God they would be able to anchor their souls and grow spiritually. Through the word of God they would also be able to grow into a formidable church that could reach the rest of the Gentiles with the glorious mystery of Christ Jesus. More than that. But before they could truly mature into a body of believers ready to conquer the world with the Gospel, they needed to restore what was lost to them at the onslaught of these false teachings that had infiltrated the church. What had they lost? Look at verse 2. “My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love.” They had become discouraged. They had lost their sense of unity. They needed to be encouraged in heart and united in love. Paul flatly told them that what they needed was not some special spiritual experience from heaven nor some hidden knowledge or wisdom to be revealed to them through some hidden books of mystery or some mysterious teaching. What they needed now more than anything else is to be encouraged in heart, and united in love. So he taught them the Gospel and reminded them of the grace of God. When a Christian hears the words of God, and remembers God’s grace in his or her life, nothing can discourage them, and the unity of love is achieved out of pure love and gratitude for Jesus.
Why did Paul consider it necessary that they be encouraged in heart and united in love? Read verse 2-4. “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, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” In these verses Paul explains the reason why the Colossian Christians needed to remain encouraged in heart and united in love. He gives three reasons. First, that they may have the full rich of complete understanding. Second, that they may know the mystery of God. And third, that no one may deceive them by fine-sounding arguments.
First, that they may have the full riches of complete understanding. They needed to be encouraged in heart and united in love for many reasons, one of which that they might come to have the full riches of complete understanding. Here Paul talks of riches. Actually he talks about full riches. He explains later what these riches of complete understanding are. He explains them in relation to Christ, who is the mystery of God. he explains them in relation to all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge that belong to the believer whose faith rests on Jesus Christ and on what Jesus Christ had done. But before we examine these full riches, it is truly remarkable that Paul’s concept of riches has nothing to do with earthly riches. It is remarkable that all the riches, the full riches as he calls them, are riches that cannot be measured by human standards. He calls these full riches, as riches of complete understanding. In other words, he talks about a wealth of understanding, of complete understanding.
In Matthew 6:19-21, Jesus teaches us these timeless words: “Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moth and rust do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.” Our Lord Jesus was not born in luxury. He did not own mansions or lands. He did not grow up in wealth. Rather Jesus, who owned the heavens and the earth came to us in a manger. He lived a simple life. He lived a poor life. He did not encourage men or women to strive for excellence nor for success, nor for popularity. He encourages men and women to live before God, regardless of what their lot in life may be. And he did so for a reason. As he teaches us, a person’s heart is where his or her treasure is. And if one’s treasure is in heaven, then that heart’s desire goes to heaven rather than be rooted here on earth. When Paul spoke of wealth or of treasure, he did not speak of earthly treasure. He spoke of heavenly treasure. He spoke of a treasure of understanding. We must also take heed of that. We must know that true treasures are not those we can buy and sell with, but true treasures are heavenly. And that there is no treasure greater than the treasure of knowing or understanding what God has done for us in and through his Son Jesus. That is a treasure beyond description. Jesus once said: “What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matthew 16:26) What can be said to explain these words? Nothing! They are self explanatory. Indeed men strive for the wrong things in life. They waste their lives accumulating treasures that are worthless in the long run. For this reason Paul spoke to the Colossians about real treasure. It is not of earth, but of heaven.
When Paul mentioned the full riches of complete understanding, we are sure that the world has no concept of what this kind of treasure is about. For the world measures riches and wealth in terms of things that are material and tangible. To the world, if something cannot be touched or felt or owned, it is of no value. But in the heavenly realm, riches are different, much different. A man or woman may own nothing in this life, but if they have Jesus, they have a treasure that cannot be measured or counted. We must remember such things in a world whose value system is so totally corrupted and inverted. Anyway, Paul reminded the Colossian Christians that they needed to be encouraged in heart and united in love so that they might take hold of the full riches of compete understanding. [There is an implication that unless they are encouraged in heart and united in love, it may be difficult to possess the only riches worthy having, the riches of complete understanding]. He made it clear that the treasure he is talking about has its origins not on earth but in heaven. However, the questions is that when Paul mentioned the riches of understanding, what kind of understanding was he talking about? Understanding of what?
Second, that they may have the full riches of complete understanding. Read verse 2-3. “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, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” The Christians in Colossae needed to be encouraged in heart and united in love so that they might know the mystery of God, that is Christ. Paul really wanted the Colossian Christians to understand the mystery of God— that is, Christ. He had explained to them earlier the mystery of the Gospel, which is also the mystery of God. he had explained that from the beginning of time, God had wanted to save all people through the Gospel of his Son Jesus. He had explained that there was a time when the mystery was hidden. In other words, the world did not know the great and deep and wide love of God for not only the Jews, his chosen people, but also for the Gentiles who knew nothing about God. Paul had explained that this mystery had once been hidden until the coming of Christ Jesus. When Jesus came to this world, his love and grace was not expressed only for the Jews, but it extended to the whole world. It was a great and awesome mystery that no one could fathom in the beginning. Later, when the Christ died and shed his blood for the sins of the world, it was for the sins of the world, and not only for his people, that Christ died. It was a marvelous mystery that came out into the open upon the death and resurrection of Jesus.
Later on, God confirmed his desire to save the world through his son by saving the Gentiles as well. In the first century, while the Jews were still debating the validity of the true Gospel, God did not wait on them to understand it. He sent his servants among whom was Paul to Gentiles after Gentiles in order to bring them into the fold of God and God’s own family. It was a great mystery unfolded. But when Paul wrote to the Colossian Christians he was deeply concerned that although they had personally known this great mystery of God, although they had been rescued from condemnation by the same faith that was required by the Jews, these people were being led astray by false teachers who were trying to manipulate the mystery of God to mean other things. They were promoting a Gospel of mystery, of secret knowledge, of some heavenly experiences, of some hidden books and teachings. In that way, they were confusing those who were not deeply rooted in the Gospel. It was a sad thing that someone would take such a beautiful and simple Gospel and make it into some kind of challenge to dig deeper into mysteries unknown. It is happening even to this day, where some Christians who have a hard time to overcome their sinful desires are lured by false teachers who teach them that the way to true salvation or the way to true freedom is in some ritual or ceremony they had not engaged in yet. But the Gospel is a stand alone Gospel. Jesus’ death and resurrection is enough for the salvation of everyone who believes. Paul wanted them to know this.
Paul also reminded them that the mystery is Christ, and it is no longer a mystery because Christ came, offered his life and rose from the dead, all so that God’s salvation may be complete. Read verse 2-3 again. “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, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Paul also teaches the Colossian Christians that the mystery is known, and that when a man or woman have received Christ as lord and savior, that all the full riches of complete understanding, that all the hidden reassure of wisdom is already imparted to those who are in Christ Jesus. Paul wanted them to teach them that once a man or woman come to know Christ as Lord and Savior, all that is needed for wisdom and of knowledge are there for the believer. But such overwhelming and awesome knowledge and wisdom cannot come down on the human heart just like that. These come as a man or woman in Christ come to know Christ more and more. And as we come to know Christ in our hearts more and more, so also the knowledge and wisdom of all that is needed for spiritual life is revealed gradually to that heart.
Christ himself is the wellspring of all knowledge and of wisdom and of understanding. The apostle Peter tells us in 2 Peter 1:3-4 that “His divine power has given us everything we need for life and godliness through our knowledge of him who called us by his own glory and goodness. Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world caused by evil desires.” These are glorious words. They are words of not only wisdom but words that surpass any wealth that is earth bound. In these words we find all that we need to live a life that is pleasing to God, a life that guarantees spiritual growth, and understanding and of spiritual wisdom to live godly lives and to serve God’s divine purpose. As Peter’s words suggest, God has given us everything we need for life and for godliness. In Christ Jesus and in his words, we find comfort and direction; we find encouragement and the grace to love each other and be united in the love of God. There is no need for any additional teaching, any additional ritual, no need for some special spiritual exercise that can make us more spiritual or give us better understanding of the word of God. Whoever gives us anything that goes beyond the written and spoken word of God is a falser teacher whose motives are sinister. Christians knows in their hearts that the mystery of Christ— his death and resurrection— and faith in this Gospel leads them to eternal life. It also leads them to a life rooted and established in him and his words. It leads them to experience all of God’s promises. Consequently, Christians also know in their hearts that Christ himself holds all the treasures of knowledge, wisdom and of understanding. And so a Christian’s greatest quest is to “know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.” (Philippians 3:10-11)
Third, “so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments”. arguments.” Paul explained to the Colossian believers that they needed to be encouraged in heart and united in love for yet another reason. Read verse 4. “I tell you this so that no one may deceive you by fine-sounding arguments.” They were Christians in every way. They had heard and believed and received the Gospel in their hearts. They had confessed Jesus as Lord, and Savior. Then when they allowed the troubles of life to overcome their from day to day, they began to lose something crucial to their lives of faith. They began to lose that wondrous encouragement that comes only from the word of life, that wondrous encouragement that testifies to them time and again, that in God there are no worries even if the world is collapsing all around them. In the word of God they were absolutely encouraged that God’s promises are all true, that Jesus who promised them, “I am with you always to the very end of the age” is true to his promise, that he is with them in their highest joy and in their darkest moment. They also lost something else. The troubles of life made them break up the perfect unity they had in the love of God. At first when they received the Gospel, they were overcome by the great love God had for them, and for their brothers and sisters in Christ. Because God loved them and forgave their sins, they were able to love and forgive each other. They loved each other deeply from the heart. Then when the troubles of life visited them, when their material problems overwhelmed them, when life became difficult because of persecutions within and without, then they lost the basic sense of God’s grace in their lives. When they lost sight of God’s grace, then everything became blurry and vague. They began to doubt each other and accuse each other even of silly mundane things. Their fellowship was broken. And when it was broken, they became vulnerable to the false teachings all around them. Especially they were vulnerable to the worldly gospels that promote teachings that they once abhorred and shunned as evil.
But Paul prayed for them. He labored for them in prayer and reminded them of the True Gospel. He urged them to be encouraged at heart through the word of God. He urged them to be united in love through the grace of God. In that way they would be able to dispel all the nice-sounding arguments. They should have never replaced faith with reason. Nor with arguments or philosophies that pollute the gospel and render it useless in the salvation work Jesus died to fulfill. Paul encouraged them with the word of God. He assured them that while he was absent from them in body, he was present with them in spirit ever praying for them to remain firm in their faith. (5) More than anything else, Paul wanted them to take hold of the greatest treasure of all— the mystery of God— namely, Christ Jesus— “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” Amen.