Hidden knowledge, mysteries accessible only to the inner circle, special rituals to gain knowledge, and an air of overall secrecy. These are all elements of Eastern mysticism which was creeping its way across Asian Minor where Colossae was located and is also infiltrating our 21st century American culture and society today.
Jesus Christ. The image of God, the firstborn over all creation, the preeminent One, the Creator, Sustainer, and Continuer of all things. He was with God in eternity past and will remain throughout eternity future. He was before all things and in Him all things hold together. He is the driving force and power behind all the mysteries of creation, from the structure of the atom to the water cycle and existence of gravity.
Central to the message of Colossians is the understanding of the uniqueness, preeminence, sovereignty, divinity, and full nature of Jesus Christ. Back in the first century, there was much argument over Christ’s identity. Within the Colossae Heresy there was the notion that Jesus wasn’t really God, just a really good person. Sound familiar? Almost two thousand years later we are faced with the same false doctrine. Satan never changes his lies and rumors, he just repackages them so that they can appeal to a new generation.
A word of discipline is always made easier by a word of encouragement and praise. As the Mary Poppins saying goes, “A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down.” So while Paul had many words of exhortation, reproof, and correction for the Colossae Christians, he starts his letter out with a declaration of his heart and love for the Colossians. He wants them to know that while they had never met, he was writing this letter out of love and not judgment, and while there were areas they needed to strengthen and improve, there were many other things that Paul and his team were so encouraged and thankful for. So after his initial greeting, he begins his letter with, “We always thank God…” and “we never cease to pray for you…”
The message of the gospel is simple. We do nothing to earn it, nothing to deserve it, and nothing to receive it. It only takes faith, trust, and acceptance. But for many that seems too easy, so they try to add stuff to the gospel. They add additional layers of requirements, rules, and regulations in an attempt to “earn” their salvation, not realizing that God’s grace is not something any of us can earn.
They were of different nationalities, different cultures. By all rights they should have been enemies. They’d never met, but his love for them was so great that though he was over 900 miles away and under house arrest, he wrote them a letter. But it was no ordinary letter. This was a missive full of all that he wanted to say but never had the chance to. Comprising over 1600 words and now arranged into four different chapters, no word, sentence, or phrase in this letter is meaningless. All hold incredible weight, depth, truth, and significance. This is Paul’s letter to the Colossians.