The Centrality Of Christ.
Colossians 1: 15 – 20.
Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians is an eye-opener, as he tackled the question that unconsciously confronts every believer: Is putting our faith in Christ sufficient? The Colossians apparently did not think so, when they began to imbibe the pronouncements of a group of Gnostics in their midst. The basis for this Jewish cultic system was a belief in a secret knowledge, privileged to those who performed certain ritualised man-made practices, that included circumcision, the observation of specific dietary laws and ascetic customs, honouring certain holy days, and contacting and worshipping angels (Col 2: 8, 11, 16, 18, 20-23). Paul’s intent in this letter was to re-focus the Colossians’ faith in Christ, and move them away from embracing gnosis.
The Apostle went for the jugular right from the commencement of his Letter in re-emphasising their faith foundations. Like the Colossians, our proclivity for shortcuts to spiritual empowerment or exclusively embracing certain strange doctrinal slants in Scripture, will likely draw us away from faithfully staying at our Lord’s side and following Him. There is a critical need to be reminded again of the centrality of Christ, in His incomparable superiority and sufficiency, this side of heaven: He is the visible expression of the invisible God, the pre-existing One, and through Him, and for Him all things were created. He is the first principle and the upholding principle of the whole scheme of creation and is the head of the church. Life from nothing, and also from the dead began through Him. In Him dwelt the full nature of God, and through Him God reconciled all things to Himself (Col 1: 15-20).
Paul described the Gnostic schema as encompassing philosophical and elemental principles, embedded within the self-made religious traditions of men (Col 2: 8, 16, 18, 23). He countered that the Colossians did not need any other intermediaries between men and God, as Christ Himself, being the incarnated God, is His Father’s mediator, and our position in Him by faith ensured our accessibility to God (Col 2: 10; c.f., 1 Tim 2: 5-6). Furthermore, Christ had fulfilled perfectly the requirements of the Law and no additional practices (viz., circumcision, dietary rules, keeping holy days) were needed to supplement it (Col 2:11-17). The superiority of Christ is therefore matchless, as He had triumphed over every principality and power, thereby invalidating the need to access and worship angelic beings (Col 2:15-20).
Next, Paul tackled the issue of Christ’s sufficiency, by concluding that the Gnostic’s demand for ascetic practices was useless in changing the innate fallibility of human sensuality and passions. The latter condition can only be solved through our identification with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ (Col 2: 20-23; Col 3: 1-17), where in Christ, all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form (Col 2:9). The fact is, we have been made complete in Him, and there is no further requirement for gnostic knowledge and practices, as the true knowledge of God’s mystery is Christ Himself (Col 2: 2-3), wherein we will discover all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge we need to live contentedly in this world (c.f., Col 1: 9-12).
God knew full well where our fallen intellectual and emotional propensity would lead us in attempting to supplement what He had completed in reconciling man to Himself. Gnosticism is but one of these more blatant discursive distractions which drew the Colossians away from their faith in God alone. In the modern context, especially within the Body of Christ, we must desist from adding further conditions to the simplicity of the gospel of Jesus Christ. His grace is sufficient for us, for power is perfected in weakness (2 Cor 12: 9).