Two Churches were planted by the intercessor Epaphras on the Lycus River in ancient Asia Minor: Laodicea and Colossae assemblies. Laodicea was extremely wealthy and metropolitan, Colossae was more rural and agrarian, although both cities lay aside the great royal road from Ephesus to the Euphrates River.
Paul and Timothy at Rome were in constant prayer for these congregations, concerned that the new congregations would experience DOCTRINAL POLLUTION by enemies of the True Gospel. Since both Churches had never met Paul personally, but had only heard of him through his disciples, the letter he wrote to Colossae represents the most important doctrinal points new congregations normally received when he was personally present in their local assemblies.
This strategic letter identifies 3 main issues for all new Church plants:
1. Prayer – Intercessory Prayer is the Jericho plan that brings congregations into new birth existence. Prevailing prayer is what keeps them in truthful peace.
2. Opposition – After a Church is planted, opponents to the True Gospel will arrive to deceive and spoil the new congregation. These opponents can only be identified by what they say, not how they say it.
3. Key Truths – Doctrinal Keys are critical to reinforce Christian foundations and as a means to identify the deceivers that ‘must arrive’.
The Opponents & Key Truth
Paul identifies the opponents to the True Gospel by emphasizing the key doctrines they won’t preach as well as the false ones they will. Let’s begin by noting some of the Key Truths he is emphasizing.
The Mystery of God
The Father and Christ. Throughout the New Testament, this mystery of godliness is emphasized, not that it can be verbally explained with inadequate human vocabulary. The incarnation can only be spiritually known and understood. This is a recurring theme in the letter to Colossae.
Paul expounds this matter vehemently, twice restating that ‘all the fullness of deity dwells in Christ.’ He warns the new Church not to be enticed with the philosophical ideas (eg, that only a subset of God, a’subordinated word’, dwells in Christ). Below find Paul’s thinking on this subject which he had already exposited to the Corinth Church, his disciple Timothy,and now to the Colossians:
2 Corinthians 5:19 KJV To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Colossians 2:9 KJV/ESV For in him the whole fullness (100%) of divinity (Godhead) dwells bodily
1 Timothy 3:16 KJV And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.
In essence, this is the theme of Colossians chapter 2.
The KJV and successive versions badly mistranslate some of this passage due to doctrinal bias of the translators. Consider the before and after of Colossians 2:2.
BEFORE: Colossians 2:2 KJV That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the acknowledgement of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;
AFTER, RESTORED : Colossians 2:2 That their hearts might be taught by the Holy Spirit, fused with Agape love, given the riches of confidence the teacher provides: namely, understanding and knowledge of the Mystery of Godliness: Even of the Father and Christ. [the revelation of the incarnation of Father in Son, who Jesus is].
Faith, Hope, & Love
Almost immediately in his letter, Paul praises the congregation at Colossae for their faith in Jesus and love for all believers. He emphasizes that Faith and Love produce Hope, which is a divinely imparted attribute that enables believers to ‘wait on the Lord’ in an Abraham fashion. Fruit is the product of faithful waiting, the sweet taste that comes from patient hope. (Colossians 1:4-9). The best fruit is revelation, marvelous light that transforms believers out of darkness, unable to see who God is due to Spiritual blindness.
Colossians 1:12-15 KJV Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: (13) Who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son: (14) In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins: (15) Who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature:
Light: Wisdom, Knowledge, Spiritual Understanding
Good works is a God pleasing fruit that comes from increasing one’s knowledge of God. The knowledge of God (imparted word from God to man) comes from the Holy Spirit, the teacher of righteousness, as predicted by the Priests of Qumran. (Colossians 2:3). Only the Holy Spirit can impart the knowledge of the mystery.
The golden candlestick in the Tabernacle was the only source of light that enabled the Priests to see the Shewbread. Seminarians should take notice and spend some time in the wilderness, as did Paul for 3 1/2 years.
2 Corinthians 4:6 KJV For God, who commanded the light to shine out of darkness, hath shined in our hearts, to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Jesus Christ.
Wolves, Prideful, Beguiling, Enticing, Spoilers
To conclude, Paul goes on in this key chapter of Colossians (Chapter 2) to warn these new believers about Judaizers and Preachers of Philosophy
(enticing orators, wolves). The doctrines he establishes help the new believers identify those preaching ‘doctrines of men’, philosophical fables. Pretty speech and Hebraic roots must be compared with the word of God, especially those who come to subdue without using the Apostle’s doctrine.
Colossians 2:4 KJV And this I say, lest any man should beguile you with enticing words.
Colossians 2:8 KJV Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.
Note: The Key of Truth is a didache style book translated by F.C. Conybeare from the 8th century Paulician Christians of Armenia. These people are also known as Thonrakis who had been forced out of Constantinople in the persecutions that emerged after the council of Nicaea in the 4th century. As we know, the Paulicians spread their Christianity to Bulgaria, Transylvania, England, and France, also known as the Bogamils and Cathars (of Languedoc, region of tongues, France).
(Pure Ones) were exterminated by the bloody Catholic Inquisition, a 13th century religious pogrom created by Pope Innocent III, aimed at stopping their two key doctrines: anti-trinitarianism and anti-paedo baptism.