Knowing Christ through Knowing Others (Colossians 2:2-3) ~ A Devotion for September 24, 2014

“…that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.” ~ Colossians 2:2-3

Explanation of the Text: In a continuation from verse 1, Paul now writes of his goals for ministry. In verse 1, Paul indicates that he struggles for the people and then moves on here to indicate what that struggle is for. It is here that we find just exactly why Paul is willing to endure such hardship, such suffering in ministry. He does so for the sake of their relationship with the body of Christ and Christ himself.

Paul begins with an emphasis on the heart. In today’s culture, we think of the heart differently than during the time of Paul’s writings, and specifically in the ways that the Bible refers to the heart. We too often think of the heart in reference to our feelings, in the touchy-feely sort of way. “In Scripture ‘heart’ designates the center of personality, the source of willing and thinking in addition to feeling. Hence it is a new heart that God promises in order to transform his people’s basic orientation toward himself.”[1] That is to say, the heart designated everything about a person and is the source of who a person is. It is for this reason, God emphasizes the heart. If the heart is not entrenched (or oriented) in God, then the rest of the person will not be either. We are often reminded about the need to control the heart, because it is deceitful (Jeremiah 17:9). Therefore, a true heart must be oriented towards truth, which is Christ. However, the control of the heart is not merely an emotional thing, but involves the intellectual aspect of us as well. The mind is necessary in order for the heart to respond rightly. As John MacArthur reminds us, “The emotions respond to what goes on in the heart, to what the mind perceives. The way to control the emotions, then, is through the mind. When the mind is filled with biblical truth, the emotions respond properly.”[2] It is for this reason that Paul writes with an emphasis on the heart here.

It is stated that he wants their hearts to be encouraged. It could be rendered more as exhorted. However, this does not stand alone, but rather is connected to the next part which is reference to them being knitted together in love. The idea is that they would be exhorted in living in Christ through their close-knit relationship to the body. Knitted brings forth a close relationship that goes beyond the superficial confines of the world and normal ‘relationships.’ Paul’s heart desire is for them to function as one body, as he writes in 1 Corinthians 12. They are to function in the context of the church as one body of Christ.

Furthermore, as they are knitted together in love, they are to then have full assurance of understanding and knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ. In other words, they reach fullness in Christ. They will have a knowledge of Him and an understanding of Him. As we learn from Colossians 1:28, Christ is the center of God’s mystery. Paul then goes on to note that all wisdom and knowledge are in Him. It can be reasoned from this text then, that to have wisdom and knowledge one must have the assurance and understanding of Christ. In other words, one must know Christ. This is reinforced when we recognize that Paul refers to Jesus as wisdom personified in 1 Corinthians 1:30.

Examination & Application of the Text: As we just learned, in order for one to have wisdom, they must know Wisdom (1 Corinthians 1:30). As ones who seek to understand the world around them, a true understanding can only come from knowing the Lord Jesus Christ. As so often is stated on this blog, knowing Christ does not mean knowing about Him, as in head knowledge. It means knowing Him through a relationship with Him. It implies a logical commitment from the mind and a heart commitment of devotion in which one is willing to follow Him at all costs.

However, the text indicates even more so that knowing Christ also requires a relationship with other believers. It is for this reason that Paul writes that their hearts be knit together in love. We must have relationships with one another. It should be expected that if we have solid relationships with others, who are also grounded in their faith in Christ, that this itself would also spurn a deeper relationship with Christ. Our relationships should be characterized by Christ, and if a relationship is not, then it requires an honest evaluation about the value and necessity for that relationship. Sometimes, we build relationships with the world and end up looking more like the world than like Christ. The reality is we need relationships with fellow believers to provoke us to Christlikeness. We are to come alongside one another in order to build up the body of Christ. “Over against all those who tried to intellectualize the Christian faith, speaking of knowledge as if it were an end in itself, Paul emphasizes that the revelation of God cannot be properly known apart from the cultivation of brotherly love within the community.”[3]

So what is your relationship with Christ? What is your relationship with others? We must surround ourselves with solid believers who will challenge us in our walk with Him, not just tell us what we want to hear. The mutual accountability between two believers, if you used rightly, can reap great rewards in molding us into the image of Christ. May your relationship with Christ be further deepened through your relationship with others.

[1] Douglas J. Moo, The Letters to the Colossians and to Philemon, Pillar New Testament Commentary (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 2008), 165.

[2] John MacArthur Jr., Colossians, The MacArthur New Testament Commentary (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992), 85.

[3] F.F. Bruce, The Epistles to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians, The New International Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans Publishing Company, 1984), 91.

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