Author: Ron Graham
Answering the Heresy at Colosse
—Seven truths about Jesus
When we read between the lines of Paul's letter to the Colossians, we see that a heresy was developing in Colosse.
The heresy evidently denied or undermined certain truths concerning Jesus Christ. Paul strongly counters the heresy by teaching at least seven truths about Jesus Christ...
1 The Divinity of Jesus
Paul makes a string of statements that show that Jesus is God (Colossians 1:13-19). It may be that a doctrine was creeping in that Jesus was a created being of high place, but not not the eternal God.
- He is the beloved Son of God (Colossians 1:13).
- He is the image of the invisible God (Colossians 1:15).
- Through him all things were created (Colossians 1:16).
- He pre-exists all things (Colossians 1:17).
- He holds all things together (Colossians 1:17).
- He is the head and origin of the church (Colossians 1:18).
- He is the firstborn from the dead (Colossians 1:18).
- He has first place in everything (Colossians 1:18).
- All the fulness of the deity dwells in him (Colossians 1:19, 2:9).
2 The Atonement of Jesus
Paul shows that redemption and reconciliation were accomplished by Jesus in his fleshly body and by the blood he shed on the cross. It may be that a doctrine was creeping in that flesh and blood are evil, hence Paul's emphasis on the flesh and blood of Christ as the means of atonement (Colossians 1:14,20-22).
3 The Gospel of Jesus
Paul emphasises that the faith and hope of Christians rests in the gospel to which Paul's ministry was dedicated, the original gospel that had been proclaimed in all the world. It may be that a doctrine was creeping in that true knowledge was for a priveleged few and that there is a secret knowledge superior to that revealed in the gospel. Note the following terms that Paul uses...
- "the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding" (Colossians 1:9).
- "the knowledge of God" (Col 1:10).
- "light" not "darkness" (Colossians 1:12-13).
- "the word of God" (Colossians 1:25).
- "the mystery... manifested... known" (Col 1:26-27).
- "the full assurance of understanding" (Col 2:2).
- "a true knowledge of God's mystery —Christ" (Colossians 2:2).
- "all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Colossians 2:3).
4 The Humility of Jesus
Paul made his ministry to "every man" (Colossians 1:28). Paul frowned upon distinctions and said that "Christ is all and in all" (Colossians 3:11). Christ "forgave us all" (Colossians 2:13).
Paul exhorted everyone to clothe themselves with a Christ-like "heart of compassion, kindness, humility..." (Colossians 3:12). It may be that an attitude of eletism was creeping in that made some feel superior and to look down on others.
5 The Worship of Jesus
Paul stresses that Jesus created not only material things but powers and authorities (Colossians 1:16). He also "disarmed the rulers and authorities" (Colossians 2:15).
Paul condemned the "worship of angels" (Colossians 2:18). It may be that false practices were creeping in that gave honour to powers and beings other than Jesus Christ.
6 The Law of Jesus
We note Paul's criticism of rules, regulations, and taboos that were commandments of men and not the law of Jesus Christ (Colossians 2:20-23). It may be that "self made religion" was beginning to supplant the pure Christian religion.
7 The Glory of Jesus
We conclude with a lyrical passage (Colossians 3:1-4) in which Paul calls us to seek nothing but Christ and his glory in whom our lives are hidden. It may be that false teachers were beginning to distract people from this simplicity by claiming to have secret and hidden knowledge.