Encouraged to Christian Growth (Colossians 2:18-19) ~ A Devotion for October 22, 2014

“Let no one disqualify you, insisting on asceticism and worship of angels, going on in detail about visions, puffed up without reason by his sensuous mind, and not holding fast to the Head, from whom the whole body nourished and knit together through its joints and ligaments, grows with a growth that is from God.” ~ Colossians 2:18-19

Explanation of the Text: Yesterday we went into detail regarding verse 18, and because of the length of the discussion, I decided to focus on verse 19 for today’s devotion. Yesterday we discussed four areas in which the Colossians were being mislead:

  • Asceticism
  • Worship of angels
  • (False) visions
  • Being puffed up

Today we look at a final issue with the false teaching going on. Ultimately, as we look at the four areas in which people were being misled, this leads to one of the greatest travesties of all, and that is they are not holding fast to the head. As one commentator puts it, they have lost connection to the head.[1] The head being discussed here is of course, Jesus Christ.  As the head, Jesus Christ is the source of all things for the body. He is the source of life for all things and this is the imagery that Paul is drawing on in this particular text.

What we see in these two verses is a form of Gnosticism in which the false teachers were teaching that there was greater knowledge available to them. They were saying that the Colossians could have a deeper relationship with God through visions and their own knowledge. However, this teaching failed to recognize the centrality of Christ and instead was centered on man and his ability. “The intellectual, legalistic teaching at Colossae likewise did not properly esteem Christ…it denied to Christ four areas of emphasis”:

  • Christ heads the church
  • Christ nourishes the church
  • Christ unites the church
  • Christ grows the church[2]

It is Christ that any of us are to be dependent upon, it is He who is the source of life, and it is He who is to be the central aspect of life. It is true that the type of teaching that the Colossians were beginning to take part in and be led astray by robs devotees of true humility and of the only mediator.[3]

Examination & Application of the Text: As we look at this text, the concept is that Christ must be Lord, Christ must be the focus, Christ must be the head of one’s life. Far greater than human wisdom is the wisdom of God through Christ. Far greater than life of man is life with Christ. As we seek to look at this text and apply it to our lives, the emphasis we see is that we are not to rely on mere head knowledge, but rather are to rely on the knowledge of Christ. That knowledge we have is through a real, genuine relationship with Him. As he is the head, he provides function to the body. This requires a daily living IN HIM as Paul has earlier used in his writing to the Colossians. This requires a relationship with Him through an active reading of His word and an active prayer life. As one does this, then growth begins to take place, which is the end result of Colossians 2:19.

“The growth of the body of Christ involves the spiritual growth of the individual members (3:5-8), the growth of the unity among various members (3:9-14) and the outreach to those outside the body (4:5-6).”[4] Note that it is not individuals who produce this growth though. It is God who produces it.

The encouragement today is for us to not become puffed up on our own knowledge, but instead to grow up in our relationship with God through Christ.

[1] Mike Treneer, Advancing the Gospel: Colossians (Colorado Springs: NavPress, 2011), 34.

[2] Robert G. Gromacki, Stand Perfect in Wisdom, An Exposition of Colossians and Philemon (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1981), 121-122.

[3] Guy H. King, Crossing the Border: An Expositional Study of Colossians (Fort Washington: Christian Literature Crusade, 1974), 66.

[4] David Poa, Colossians & Philemon, Zondervan Exegetical Commentary on the New Testament (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2012), 192.

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