Colossians 2:5-7, “5 For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ. 6 Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, 7 rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
Satan is called the master deceiver in Scripture (Revelation 12:9), mainly on account of his skill in persuading using clever argumentation. While it’s a grave error to confuse persuasive speech with the truth, even so, the Devil, does work overtime to conflate the two. For example, in the Garden of Eden, Adam and Eve were persuaded by Satan that human beings are better off living by their own rules (Genesis 3). Even today, he continues to persuade Christians with arguments that at first glance appear to align with biblical truth, but are lies from the pit of hell.
Apparently, this was going on when Paul wrote to the Colossians, as he states his reason for writing was to keep his audience from falling for “plausible arguments” (Colossians 2:4). It may appear tempting to think of Christ’s work on our behalf in His death, burial, and resurrection, as only a mere starting point for our faith, only to move onto a new doctrine, person, practice, or movement. Paul’s answer to this thought, is no, since, the exalted view of the person and work of Christ, he has presented in Colossians 1:3-2:3 had its purpose in refuting heresy. Christians in Colossae and today were brought to life through the Holy Spirit by the God-Man Jesus Christ. Furthermore, it is our continual confirmation of the identity of Jesus and work that enables God’s people to discern falsehood, even when it appears to be persuasive (Colossians 2:4, Colossians 2:6-7). John Calvin writes, “Those who are not satisfied with Christ are exposed to all fallacies and deceptions.”
Even in the face of false teaching, Paul describes the strength of the Colossian’s faith, going so far as to rejoice in them, despite never meeting them face-to-face, which is reflected in his union with them in the Holy Spirit. As Christians, we have been joined to the body of Christ through the Holy Spirit and now enter into fellowship with other Christians in a way that transcends the greatest of all distances (1 Corinthians 12:12-26; Hebrews 12:1-2, Hebrews 12:18-24). In that sense, Paul was in Colossae to encourage the church even though he was geographically far off.
Our union with Christ and His people through the Holy Spirit is profoundly practical, especially in how it affects how we as Christians pray for others in other places in the world. As a result of being united to Christ who transcends time and space, and everything, the Christians prayers are a profound encouragement to others, even if they are unaware of those prayers being prayed by fellow brothers and sisters in Christ. In prayer, Christians are with them and encouraging them through the Holy Spirit, who closes the distance between God’s people.
Colossians 2:6-7, “Therefore, as you received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in him, rooted and built up in him and established in the faith, just as you were taught, abounding in thanksgiving.”
As we encounter teaching that doesn’t adhere to sound biblical doctrine, we must remain faithful to the truth of what has been delivered in the authoritative Word of God. We may read Jude 3, for example, and think to contend for the faith begins with learning all about false teaching or a teacher to offer a refutation. One example I like to use to help people understand this point is how the secret service studies the real US dollar. The more they stare at the US dollar, the more they can spot the fake. The principle is the same for you and me as Christians. The more we study the authoritative Word of God and the more we gaze and mine the depths of Scripture, we will be able to spot and refute false doctrine from a heart motivated by love for lost souls. With that said, there is a place to give an answer for the hope that is in us (1 Peter 3:14-16). Yet, the first step is to be grounded in biblical orthodoxy that God’s people have received in the Word of God. Only, then, will we have a foundation and then a platform to proclaim the truth, and then combat error in the process. To that end, after we are studying Scripture well, and maturing in the Word, we may examine other philosophies and religions through a biblical worldview.
What Paul is bringing to our attention in Colossians 2:6 is the encouragement to the Christians in Colosse and you and I, to walk in Christ as we have received him. The word used in this passage as received is the Greek verb paralambanō, which is used to speak of the reception of the apostolic traditions about the life, work, and ministry of Jesus (1 Cor. 11:23; 2 Thess. 3:6). These traditions are not done in backrooms where the ceremonies and words are kept hush, hush. Instead, these traditions are passed down from one generation to another through the centuries, first by Jesus to the apostles, then to the next generation, and so on, and so forth, to you and me today through the New Testament. Paul is urging Christians in Colossians 2:6 to hold fast to Christ as spoken by the apostles and prophets.
To walk with and in Christ Jesus is to submit to the Lordship of Christ. The Lord calls us to joyful obedience, not to earn our salvation since we’re saved by grace alone through faith alone in Christ alone, but so we may display heartfelt gratitude to the grace of God. One sign that we truly love Him is we obey His commandments joyfully (John 14:15) since He has poured His love into our hearts (Romans 5:5). After all, the commandments of the Lord are not burdensome (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3).
Since as Christians, we have union with Christ, we will continue to pursue Christ, growing in our knowledge of, appreciation for, and enjoyment in the gospel of the gospel (Colossians 2:7). Matthew Henry writes, “If we live in him, we shall be rooted in him; and the more firmly we are rooted in him, the more intimately we shall live in him.” To truly follow Jesus is not to check off a list of rules, although, we should lead moral and ethical lives as instructed in the Word of God. Instead, obedience to the Lordship of Jesus is a way of life, embracing the way of death to self, so that we may know and experience the way of the cross and proclaim the glory of His grace to a watching world. In other words, the Christian life is a life grounded in gratitude from the heart for the grace we’ve received and for the grace, we are then able to proclaim because we’ve genuinely received it.
Discontentment and envy for the blessings of God on others lives is the opposite, then, of thanksgiving. These two sins, in particular, threaten to lead us back into the darkness, rather, than into the light. John Calvin comments, “Ingratitude is very frequently the reason why we are deprived of the light of the gospel, as well as of other divine favors.” To walk in sincere thankfulness for the grace of God helps God’s people walk in the light of the gospel, which daily and always remind us how grateful to God, we should be for the grace we have received through Christ and the privilege of being an instrument of His grace in the lives of others.