Colossians 2:6-7, “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.”
Practically speaking, that which is principally required of us when we encounter aberrant teaching is to remain in the faith that was delivered fully and finally to God’s people. This can be a hard concept to grasp, for often we read passages like Jude 3 and believe contending for the faith begins with learning all that we can about a false teaching or teacher in order to offer a refutation. Certainly there is a place for this as a part of what it means to give an answer for the hope that is within us (1 Peter 3:14–16). But the first step is always to be solidly grounded in the orthodoxy we have received, for only then will we have a foundation to stand upon as we combat error.
This is precisely Paul’s point in today’s passage as he exhorts the Colossian Christians — and all believers after them — to walk in Christ Jesus as they received him (Col. 2:6). The Greek verb translated “received” in this passage, paralambanō, is the same one used elsewhere to speak of the reception of the apostolic traditions about the life, work, and significance of Jesus (1 Cor. 11:23; 2 Thess. 3:6). Such traditions are not secret verbalized truths passed down by bishops or another group of elites through the centuries; rather, they comprise the teachings of the apostles, which are now known to us as the New Testament. So, then, Paul is exhorting believers in Colossians 2:6 to hold fast to the Christ spoken of by the prophets and apostles.
Walking in Christ Jesus is nothing less than submission to His lordship. Our Savior calls us to obedience, not that we might earn our salvation but that we may display our gratitude for His grace. If we love Him — if we have love for God poured into our hearts (Rom. 5:5) — we will keep His commandments, which are not burdensome (John 14:15; 1 John 5:3). We will reflect the fact that we are in union with Christ, and we will grow in our knowledge and application of the gospel as we bow to Him as Lord (Col. 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.”
Following Jesus as Lord does not manifest itself in checking off a list of rules, though our Savior has given us rules to follow. Instead, obedience to Jesus is a humble embracing of His way as we reflect on and proclaim our gratitude for His salvation (Col. 2:7). The true Christian life is, first and foremost, a life of thanksgiving.
Discontent in our lives and envy of the blessings of others is the opposite of thanksgiving, and these things threaten to plunge us back into the darkness of sin. 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.” Walking in thankfulness for salvation keeps us in the light of the gospel, which reminds us always how grateful to God we should be.