Paul, having exhorted and encouraged the Colossians and established the unique supremacy of the Lord Jesus Christ in chapter 1, confronts the danger which faces the church.
v.1 What conflict he has for them what a struggle! He cares so deeply for them! 2 Cor. 11:23 – the care of all the churches. The Greek word for care is “Agone” from which we get our word agony. It also has the meaning of the place of conflict, the arena. Paul is telling them he has entered the arena and will do battle against those who would subvert their faith. They are doing so well but all unknown to them, they are in mortal danger from false teachers. He will not let them fail even though for the most part he has never met them. Not having seen them, he loves them. They are the fruit of the preaching of his faithful companion Epaphras. Philemon he knows and Apphia and Archippus but noone else.
And them at Laodicea – Col 4:16; Letter to Ephesians might really be the letter to the Laodiceans [Conybeare and Howson]. If so, then the exhortation to Laodicea in Rev. 3 is striking indeed by comparison to the epistle.
Comforted by love – Love is the hallmark of the presence of God in a person’s life. Parakaleo is the word for comfort. It is related to the spirit and the word! Romans 15:4 the word comfort is Paraklesis which is used of the Holy Spirit, the "paraclete". The paraklesis [literally to draw near] of the scripture means drawing near of God by means of His word. Power!
Sometimes those who do not respect the heritage of Truth disparage any emphasis on the Word and try to promote some vaguely apprehended notion of having the spirit of God. You have the spirit of God in your heart, the mind of Christ, only inasmuch as you cherish His word. Psalm 138:2 You have magnified your word above all your Name.
John 14:16 – send another comforter to abide forever [1 Peter 1:23,25]
John 14:26 – the comforter IS the Holy Spirit
John 15:26 - the comforter is the spirit of the truth sent to reveal God’s word.
So when Paul says in Romans 15 that the Scripture is the sources of “comfort” of our drawing near to God, we understand that it is only by paying close attention to His Word as manifest fully in His son, that we can cultivate the right spirit – demeanour, character, mind – which will bind us close to the Father in a powerful eternal relationship. To be born of the spirit, in this dispensation, is to be born of the Word! 1 Peter 1:23
The “Mystery of God” is Christ [RV]! “The mystery of God is nothing less than Christ himself! [NEB] A mystery no more – it has been revealed and is available to all. No secret rites and playing silly religious games. In Christ is ALL we need to know! There is no other knowledge relevant to salvation. V.3 ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge!
v. 4 – Now Paul, having established the all-sufficiency and supremacy of the Lord, like a general directing his troops from a stronghold, turns his thoughts to the danger they are facing and of which they are probably unaware. He doesn’t want them to be talked out of their salvation by these egocentric “teachers.” See 2 Cor. 11:3. This new Gospel was touted as an advance over the old and combined Jewish legalism with a strange angel worship somewhat akin to the demon-based idolatry of Greek religion.
v. 5 – He takes a balanced approach of praise and warning. He is worried about them but so pleased at the reports of their present spiritual health and stability – a good paraphrase of this verse put forward by Tom Barling in his book on Colossians is “Though I am so far from you, I am among you in spirit. What I see does not disturb me: I know your ranks to be unbroken and you to be constant in your allegiance.” This report was doubtless brought to Paul by Epaphras.
v.6 ,7 – Received from Epaphras; just as you were taught – his leadership and teaching is endorsed. Same word “received” is used in John 1:11 – he came to his own and his own received him not. The Colossians have received the right teaching. They have been taught well. The supremacy of Jesus as the Messiah, the son of God, the Lord of all creation. They didn’t need to go skulking after imaginary spirits and made up “superior” knowledge. They had received the Christ, Jesus, the Lord. He is the only one. There are no other mediators between God and man. See 1 Tim. 2:5. This Gospel they have been taught is the only source of spiritual life and growth.
Rooted and built up – They were not like those in the parable of the sower who fell away because they “had no root in themselves.” There is a tendency to want to obey others. To follow and listen without personal effort and true spirituality. Every tyrant knows that most people are looking for a father-figure to tell them what to think and how to behave. However, the Colossians were deeply rooted in the Truth and this was a cause of great joy to Paul because, in spite of the present danger, he feels confident in them. Because of this they are able to grow strong in spite of the efforts of those ego-centric mystics preaching “another gospel” in their midst.
v. 8 Be vigilant! Beware! Spoil = Sylagogon means to carry off or kidnap. Don’t allow yourself to be kidnapped by philosophy and empty deceit – 1 Cor 1:20-25 “Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe. For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men; and the weakness of God is stronger than men.”
Rudiments of the world – rudiments = stoicheia “things set out in a row, in order” Hebrews 5:12 the word is translated as "first principles." He refers to the first principles of the world not the first principles of Christ! They were in danger of trading the superlative understanding of Christ for the weak and beggarly elements of Jewish and pagan superstition. They would be surrendering and going back to their old bondage. As Peter put it like a sow having been washed returning to wallow in the mire. Galatians 4:1-5 rudiments = law. Theirs was worse. It was Judaism alloyed with paganism – the absolute worst of both worlds!
The fundamental element of the world is the will of the flesh. This is what was beginning to sprout in Colossae.
In contrast with the weak and beggarly elements , the powerlessness of the imaginary gods and demi-gods of superstition, Paul again presents the overwhelming power and superiority of the Lord Jesus Christ.
v.9 Fullness of the deity in Christ. God can reveal Himself in power – Psalm 19 [heavens declare God’s glory]; Romans 1 [no excuse – God’s greatness is revealed in creation]; when He revealed Himself to Elijah in earthquake, wind, and fire Elijah was awestruck and terrified but he did not know or understanding anything beyond that until the “still small voice” beckoned him to come to the God of Almighty Power who loved him like a Father and who would care for him and reveal His will to him and rescue him from the power of his enemy.
In the still small voice. God must reveal Himself personally. We now know who He is only by virtue of His Son. He who has seen me has seen the Father, said Jesus. Can you say, “He who sees me, sees the Lord Jesus Christ”? Well that would be a bit arrogant wouldn’t it? But you get my point. What do others see when they see your way of life? One day we will be fully one with the Father but, in prospect and in some limited measure He offers that glorious unity now if we will have the courage to allow “Christ in us the hope of glory” to shine through in all our words and deeds. “I am come,” said Jesus, “that you might have life and have it more abundantly!”
It is a waste of time to look to anyone other than the Lord Jesus Christ for salvation. No other gospel, no other mediators, no secret rituals are required. There is one God and one mediator and in that divine order is total sufficiency. Paul has cut the ground out from under the Judaizers and their wild notions of Angelic mediation and worship.
I hope you have found this helpful.