Complete in Christ!
I. Introduction (1:1 - 2:5)
The Book of Colossians was written by the apostle Paul during his imprisonment in Rome, sometime around the years 60-62AD. This prison epistle, as it’s called, was written to the small and past its prime city of Colossae, after Epaphras, whom Paul refers to as a “fellow servant and faithful minister on your behalf,” comes to Paul for what is believed to be by commentators’, the need for help in dealing with certain threats against the church.
The book of Colossians has one solid and consistent theme communicated throughout and that is the deity and supremacy of Christ. This theme is communicated through the three-fold purpose of the book as Paul first sought to show the deity and supremacy of Christ and how it shadowed what we today call the Colossian heresy (1:18; 2:9). Second, he wanted to lead believers into spiritual maturity, which would be the expected natural response from someone who has a relationship with Christ (1:28; 2:6-7). Third, he wanted to inform them about his state of affairs and elicited their prayers on his behalf (4:2-8).
Our passage this morning falls right in the middle of the letter and bridges the conclusion of one argument and the beginning of another. Paul is bringing to a conclusion his case for the supremacy and the fullness of deity of Christ and what that means for creation, Paul and his ministry, and for those he calls reconciled, or the believers. He concludes this argument by offering a charge to the believer in vv. 6-7, “So walk in Him!”
The beginning of the next argument, which starts in vs. 8 begins a section of the letter where Paul takes what is known of Christ in his deity and supremacy and confronts three errors or heresies which had risen up around the church, and probably had begun to work their ways in to the church. False philosophy, legalism, and flat out carnality all threatened to divert the church from what Paul calls in chapter 2 verse 5, “your good order and the steadfastness of your faith.”
These errors all pointed to something other than Christ. They taught that Christ was not preeminent, that he was not central and that he was not what would bring completeness to the lives of his followers.
The idea of completeness is a very important aspect of Paul’s letter to the Colossian believers. In fact, from 1:1 – 2:10 there are 24 references made to the idea of something being complete. For example, look at chapter 1 verse 15. “All things,” is a complete grouping or the totality of what makes up something. Paul has so far shown Christ as the completeness of God, of creation, and of his own ministry. Now he focuses on them and their completeness.
What does it mean to be complete?
In general, an object is complete when nothing needs to be added to it!
The believers in Colossae were facing a false teaching that taught that their lives in Christ would only be complete if they also added a certain level of knowledge, or if they maintained certain legal requirements or even that, they needed to deny in many ways the needs of the physical body as was required in belief of Asceticism.
II. The traditions handed down (2:6,7) (living out your testimony)
Concluded the argument of the first chapter with a charge to "walk in Him"
The Christian life is compared to a pilgrimage, and believers must learn to walk. Paul had already encouraged his readers to “walk worthy of the Lord” (Col. 1:10), and later he used this image again (Col. 3:7; 4:5). In the Ephesian epistle, the companion letter to the Colossian epistle, Paul used the image at least seven times (Eph. 2:2, 10; 4:1, 17; 5:2, 8, 15).
We are to walk in Christ the same way we originally received Christ—by faith.
Key phrase in the verse (as you were taught)
Because the congregation had received Christ Jesus the Lord as their tradition (παρελάβετε , 2:6) when they accepted the gospel at the hands of Epaphras, they are admonished to conduct their lives as those who have been incorporated into Christ.
Rooted; built up; established = passives
Abounding = active
As they live under his lordship they are to abound in thanksgiving, grateful to God for his mighty actions on their behalf
By doing this they could avoid the warning ahead
III. A warning of what's out there (2:8)
Gnosticism - the thought and practice of various cults of late pre-Christian and early Christian centuries distinguished by the conviction that matter is evil and that emancipation comes through gnosis
i. Religious thought distinguished by claims to obscure and mystical knowledge, and emphasizing knowledge rather than faith.
ii. all purported to offer salvation from the oppressive bonds of material existence through gnōsis, or ‘knowledge.’ Such knowledge was diverse, although it regularly dealt with the intimate relationship of the self to the transcendent source of all being,
The gnostic teachers wanted to introduce some “new truths” for Christian maturity, but Paul denounced them. “You started with Christ and you must continue with Christ,” Paul wrote. “You started with faith and you must continue with faith. This is the only way to make spiritual progress.”
There is no “fullness” (plērōma) in philosophy based on vain human reasoning.
To give in to the philosophy and empty deceit of man is to neglect the providence of God.
c. The Heresy's point to a completeness or fullness through physical, legal, and philosophical requirements.
IV. The real completeness found in Christ (2:9, 10)
We are back to the idea of completeness and Paul concludes here that because Christ is completely God but you are also complete in him
Not only is all the “fullness” (plērōma) of God in Christ (v. 9), but also believers have been given fullness in Christ. Their fullness of life comes from Christ’s fullness.
The believers were confronted with teaching that pointed to completeness only possible with additions to Christ, and here Paul states that this is simply not true.
How do we understand our completeness in Christ Gal. 2:20