Colossians 2:3, “in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
As we begin our study today, again note that the historical background of Colossians is essential to understanding Paul’s purposes in writing as well as applying his teaching rightly. False teachers in Colossae promoted a “higher spirituality” that, besides Jesus, demanded submission to heavenly intermediaries and ascetic rules, among other things, for true holiness (Col. 2:16–23). Consequently, the apostle wrote to the Colossians to stress the preeminence and sufficiency of Christ, not so that Christians might think true spirituality has to do only with having a personal relationship with Jesus (at the exclusion of fellowship with His church), but to show that salvation rests on Christ alone, as proclaimed in the apostolic gospel (1:1–23).
Today’s passage offers a profound reflection on the sufficiency of Jesus. In Christ, Paul explains, are “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (2:3). The apostle is not saying that there are secrets about Jesus hidden to all the church except for a select few; rather, he means that every Christian has access to wisdom and knowledge sufficient for holy living in Jesus. Paul likely draws on Old Testament wisdom here and its linking of wisdom and knowledge. Knowledge is equivalent to the intellectual content of the faith, and wisdom is the ability to see reality as God does, enabling people to apply knowledge in a life that pleases the Creator and creates godly abundance (Prov. 2; Eccl. 2:26). We are being told in Colossians 2:3 that everything we need to know about the Father and how to properly interpret reality and live to His glory is accessible to all believers in His Son. Matthew Henry comments, “The treasures of wisdom are hidden not from us, but for us, in Christ.”
Yet the wisdom and knowledge in Christ is hidden to the world in a different sense. Paul elsewhere speaks of the wisdom of Jesus and His cross as foolish to fallen humanity, not because the idea of an atonement is too hard for people to grasp but because they lack the moral ability to see themselves and the world as God does. Apart from divine grace, people cannot rejoice in the cross, the means whereby the Lord atoned for sin, maintained His righteousness, and absolved His people (Rom. 3:21–26; 1 Cor. 1:18–25). Unless the Spirit opens the eyes of sinners, they remain blind to the truth and sufficiency of the gospel (Rom. 1:18–32).
The gospel is scandalous to unbelievers even though Christ is the wisdom of God (1 Cor. 1:18–31). But it is important to note that the message is to be scandalous, not our actions. We must take care not to add to the offense of the gospel by being rude and self-righteous, even though we must always clearly proclaim God’s salvation. Let us pray for unbelievers we know, and even for ourselves, that all might see the sufficiency of Christ.
Christ Our Wisdom, Copyright (2021), Ligonier Ministries.