The Colossians were coming under the attack of false teachers. There was some sort of gnosticism/Jewish mysticism saying that true wisdom and knowledge could only be had through the worship of angels (v18) and the observance of special days (v16). The false teachers were not giving the person and work of Christ proper interpretation or emphasis. So Paul emphasizes that the full assurance of understanding cannot be had apart from Christ.
Colossians 2:6 (NKJV) As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
A popular exposition of this passage explains it this way: "You received Christ by the initial exercise of faith; now, therefore, continue your Christian life by a constant trust in Him". Life begins and proceeds upon the principle of faith. We are saved by faith and we are to live by faith:
2 Corinthians 5:7 (NKJV) For we walk by faith, not by sight.
Hebrews 11:6 (NKJV) But without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him.
There is no way our relationship to God can be pleasing to Him unless we trust Him. God wants us to trust Him. Apart from faith, we cannot please God. So, apart from faith, it doesn't much matter what we do.
A very basic and simple fact of life is this: All of our valuable relationships in life are built on trust. When a husband and wife stop trusting each other, they may continue to be married, but they can no longer have a happy marriage. When two friends stop trusting each other, they may continue to see each other, but they no longer have a true friendship. If that is true in our human relationships, how much more true in our relationship to God?
The Christian life starts with an act of faith. We believe that Christ will save us if we trust in Him alone for our redemption.
John 3:16 (NKJV) "For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.
That is a promise; when I believe in Christ, I am given everlasting life. When I come to the living God as a guilty sinner, who deserves hell, trusting in Jesus Christ and Him alone for my redemption, I am engaged in an act of faith. I've never seen God. I've never seen this place called heaven, or this place called hell. I've never seen Jesus Christ. But by faith, those things which I cannot see become realities to me. They take on substance for me, and by faith, I gain assurance and conviction about things that my eyes cannot behold. That is what faith is all about. But trusting God for my eternal salvation is only the beginning. It is the start of a journey that cannot be traveled successfully in any other way but by a growing faith. We must distinguish between saving faith and walking by faith. Thousands of believers have trusted Christ for their salvation, but are not living in faith, trusting God in each and every area of their lives.
How do we grow in faith? There are two main factors which determine the strength of our faith. First, is our knowledge of God. The main explanation of the troubles and difficulties which most Christians experience in their lives is due to a lack of knowledge about God, theology proper. We need to study the revelation that God has given of himself and of his character. That is how to develop strong faith. The more you know God, the more you will trust Him:
Romans 10:17 (NKJV) So then faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.
We need to study the Word that we may know Him. It's hard to trust someone you don't know. I think that most Christians tend to base their personal relationship with God on their performance, instead of on His grace. Most Christians are legalistic in their walk with God. We need to understand that all of the Christian life is a matter of grace. We are brought into God's eternal kingdom by grace, we are positionally and practically sanctified by grace, we are motivated to obedience by grace, we receive strength to live the Christian life by grace, and we receive both temporal and spiritual blessings by grace. The entire Christian life is lived by grace. Living by grace means that you are free from the performance treadmill. It means that you do not have to try to earn God's approval.
Do you understand the truth that nothing you ever do will cause Him to love you any more or any less. You are loved and accepted through the merit of Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ rendered perfect obedience to God, and you have received His righteousness by grace through faith.
In Romans 5:12-21, Paul introduces the theme of our union with Jesus Christ. The key idea in these verses is our identification with Adam and with Christ. Paul saw two men--Adam and Christ--each of them reigning over a kingdom.
In short, this section is a contrast of Adam and Christ. Adam was given dominion over the old creation, he sinned, and he lost his kingdom. Because of Adam's sin, all mankind is under condemnation and death:
Romans 5:12 (NKJV) Therefore, just as through one man sin entered the world, and death through sin, and thus death spread to all men, because all sinned;
That was the position of every one of us, but now all of us who put our trust in Jesus Christ, by grace through faith, are joined to Jesus Christ. He is our federal head and his righteousness is imputed to us:
Romans 5:15-16 (NKJV) But the free gift is not like the offense. For if by the one man's offense many died, much more the grace of God and the gift by the grace of the one Man, Jesus Christ, abounded to many. 16 And the gift is not like that which came through the one who sinned. For the judgment which came from one offense resulted in condemnation, but the free gift which came from many offenses resulted in justification.
Because we are in Christ, all that belongs to Jesus Christ belongs to us:
Romans 5:17 (NKJV) For if by the one man's offense death reigned through the one, much more those who receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness will reign in life through the One, Jesus Christ.)
Do you see the stress on grace in these verses? Christ came as the King over a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17). By His obedience on the cross, He brought in righteousness and justification. Christ not only undid all the damage that Adam's sin affected, but He accomplished "much more" by making us the very sons of God. Note the phrase "much more" - it is repeated in this section five times. This means that in Jesus Christ we have gained much more than we ever lost in Adam!
Romans 5: 18-19 (NKJV) Therefore, as through one man's offense judgment came to all men, resulting in condemnation, even so through one Man's righteous act the free gift came to all men, resulting in justification of life. 19 For as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so also by one Man's obedience many will be made righteous.
Your salvation and mine depends only, entirely and exclusively, upon the obedience of Jesus Christ and our faith in Him.
So, the first way that we grow in faith is by knowledge. The second element is the application of what we know. A knowledge that never ventures out upon what it knows will never be a strong faith.
Luke 8:22-25 (NKJV) Now it happened, on a certain day, that He got into a boat with His disciples. And He said to them, "Let us cross over to the other side of the lake." And they launched out. 23 But as they sailed He fell asleep. And a windstorm came down on the lake, and they were filling with water, and were in jeopardy. 24 And they came to Him and awoke Him, saying, "Master, Master, we are perishing!" Then He arose and rebuked the wind and the raging of the water. And they ceased, and there was a calm. 25 But He said to them, "Where is your faith?" And they were afraid, and marveled, saying to one another, "Who can this be? For He commands even the winds and water, and they obey Him!"
The disciples in the boat during the storm were failing to apply their faith, and that is why our Lord put His question to them in that particular form. He said, "Where is your faith?" They had faith, but where was it? Why weren't they applying it to the situation that they were in? Their problem was they did not use the faith they had, they didn't think.
They were looking at the waves and the water coming in the boat. They were bailing it out, but still more was coming in, and they cried out to Jesus, "We're going to die." He said to them, "Where is your faith?" They had seen Jesus do the miraculous. They should have trusted Him.
Luke 7:12-15 (NKJV) And when He came near the gate of the city, behold, a dead man was being carried out, the only son of his mother; and she was a widow. And a large crowd from the city was with her. 13 When the Lord saw her, He had compassion on her and said to her, "Do not weep." 14 Then He came and touched the open coffin, and those who carried him stood still. And He said, "Young man, I say to you, arise." 15 So he who was dead sat up and began to speak. And He presented him to his mother.
They saw Jesus raise the dead, and they were worried about drowning? They weren't applying their faith. In addition to our knowledge of God, there is this very important element- we must apply what we know.
At times, we do apply what we know, and we come through the problems and difficulties victorious; like David when he faced Goliath. And yet at other times, we become consumed with our circumstances, and we do not apply our faith; like David before Achish the king of Gath. David was scared to death, and he changed his behavior and pretended he was crazy. He began to scribble on the doors and drool all over himself (1 Sam. 21:13). What happened to the giant killer? He wasn't applying his faith. He forgot about his God. Have you ever done that? You think your faith is strong, then you have a trial; a situation that causes you to panic and drool all over yourself. We are saved by faith, and we are to walk by faith each and every day.
The truth that we are saved by faith and are to live by faith is most certainly a New Testament one, but does Paul have it in mind in Colossians 2:6? I had always thought so. This is one of my favorite verses. And I had always understood it to mean: "You received Christ by faith so live by faith." But studying this verse has given me a different perspective. As I study I am always aware of a statement that I read over twenty years ago. I believe it was Bernard Ramm who said, "If we take the Scripture out of the context for which it was originally intended, it no longer remains the Word of God". This has always driven me to try to study in context.
The words in Colossians 2:6, "As you have therefore received," pose a slight problem of interpretation. "As" is the Greek adverb hos, which can mean: "as, just as, like as." But does it refer to the principle upon which they received Christ, by faith, or the form in which they received Him, namely the doctrinal truth about the person and work of Christ?
There is support for the interpretation that Paul is exhorting his readers to let their conduct be in harmony with the truths they received. The hos would then refer not to "principle" upon which they receive Christ, faith; but on the "form" in which they received Christ, i.e., the doctrines. The word "received", in verse 6, could refer to their reception of the apostolic teaching, the Gospel. They will only grow and remain steadfast in Christ if they hold fast to what the apostles taught.
This interpretation is supported by the use of paralambano, translated as "received", which means: "to welcome what is brought or delivered by others". It means: "to receive truth by transmission from someone else". A few examples of this would be:
Colossians 4:17 (NKJV) And say to Archippus, "Take heed to the ministry which you have received in the Lord, that you may fulfill it."
1 Corinthians 15:1 (NKJV) Moreover, brethren, I declare to you the gospel which I preached to you, which also you received and in which you stand,
Galatians 1:9 (NKJV) As we have said before, so now I say again, if anyone preaches any other gospel to you than what you have received, let him be accursed.
In all these cases, they had received the truth by transmission. It is the Word of God that transmits truth about Christ. In Colossians 2:6, "received" is in the aorist tense and serves to stress the fact and decisiveness of their reception of the gospel message about the person and work of Christ. Thus the Colossians had received the apostolic gospel centering on the Person of Christ. Paul's words here point back to that initial conversion when each of those listening to Paul's words being read out in the fellowship responded to the simple preaching of the message of the Gospel, most likely delivered by Epaphras (Col 1:7).
So, he begins by urging them to remember the time that they "...received Christ Jesus the Lord..." and, in so doing, points them towards a continuance in this same teaching.
The Greek word which lies at the root of the word "received" has a context in both first century
Judaism and the Greek world that we need to pay particular attention to. In the latter, Kittels
notes that the words employed, "...in the mysteries for the inheriting of special rites and secrets
although with a stress on oral impartation rather than supernatural revelation".
The message of the Gospel can be thought of as being that which is received by those who would follow Christ. When Paul lists the important doctrines (I Cor 15:3ff), he notes that he delivered only the message that had been received:
Galatians 1:11-12 (NKJV) But I make known to you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached by me is not according to man. 12 For I neither received it from man, nor was I taught it, but it came through the revelation of Jesus Christ.
The Gospel which Paul preached wasn't the product of the more established Jerusalem church, neither was it gleaned from the theological studies which he undertook in college in Arabia, but, rather, it came as a result of revelation. Therefore, he can announce to the Thessalonians that:
1 Thessalonians 2:13 (NKJV) For this reason we also thank God without ceasing, because when you received [paralambano] the word of God which you heard from us, you welcomed it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which also effectively works in you who believe.
The Thessalonians received the truth through oral transmission.
So in Colossians 2:6, Paul is encouraging his readers to continue following Christ in harmony with the sound teaching that had resulted in their conversion.
The expression in verse seven, "as ye have been taught," adds further support to this idea that what they had received was apostolic doctrine. But the context is most decisive. The apostle has been warning them:
Colossians 2:4-5 (NKJV) Now this I say lest anyone should deceive you with persuasive words. 5 For though I am absent in the flesh, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the steadfastness of your faith in Christ.
And will continue to warn against the heretical teaching at Colosse:
Colossians 2:8 (NKJV) Beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.
In the midst of these admonitions, there is placed the exhortation to persist in the genuine teaching.
In light of this we could interpret verse six: As you Colossians received the Christ Jesus the Lord, in the preaching of Epaphras, in accord with the truth of his preaching, and not in accord with the enticing words of the heretics, continue your Christian life in that teaching.
When we became a Christian, we welcomed the doctrine of Christ; we took Jesus in every relation and capacity; we received the person himself - the doctrine concerning Christ is sufficient to meet any contingency in the Christian life. Our full reception of the doctrine of Christ is the only true safeguard against deceit. This is an exhortation to persist in the truth.
Paul is claiming that the apostolic teaching is the only place where we can find the truth about the mystery of Christ. All these false teachers should be easy to spot, because they will teach something other than what Paul had already proclaimed.
The declaration of Paul that the Colossians had received Christ Jesus "the Lord" is often understood in the context of the present day meaning of the word. In the first century, Jews substituted the divine name - YHWH - by either the Aramaic "Adonai" or Greek "Kurios" so as to make sure that the name was never once taken upon their lips in vain.
What Paul is actually writing here, then, is not that Jesus was received by the Colossian believers as "the master", but as YHWH Himself. Notice that the verse actually reads that they've received Jesus the Lord and not Jesus as Lord. The implication is that they'd received none other than the one they'd recognized to be the fullness of all that God is.
Paul's usual term for Jesus Christ in Colossians is "Christ". In 1:1 he opened by calling Him "Christ Jesus", followed by "Christ" (verse 2), "our Lord Jesus Christ" (verse 3), and "Christ Jesus" in verse 4. These have established identification and position. Then there are references to Him as "the Lord" in 1:10 and "the Son" in 1:13. But otherwise (until 3:17), He is "Christ" (1:2, 7, 24, 27, 28; 2:2, 5, 8, 11, 17, 20; 3:1, 3, 4, 11). This means that the change here to "the Christ, Jesus the Lord" is intended to be significant. He is saying, "Consider Who it is that you have received, it is THE CHRIST, JESUS, THE LORD, the One Whose glory is above the heavens, and who is pre-eminent over all things".
In the phrase, "The Christ, Jesus the Lord" - "Christon" has the article. Elsewhere in Colossians, apart from in 3:1-4 where every use has the article, Christos is used without the article except when in the genitive. In 3:1-4 the reference is to Christ as risen and exalted. It would seem then that the article is being used to further draw attention to His exalted state. And the inclusion of the personal name "Jesus" stresses the true humanity of "the Christ, the Lord".
So, they had received Christ through the apostolic preaching of the Gospel. It was through the reception of the truth of the Gospel message that they came to Christ:
Colossians 2:6 (NKJV) As you have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk in Him,
The point of this verse revolves around two monosyllables - "as" and "so." The point of the "as...so" clause is comparison. The "as" refers to the point when they received the gospel of Christ. The "so" refers to continued abiding in the truth that they had received.
"Walk" is in the Greek word peripateo, which is in the present tense stressing the permanent character of this walk in the Lord. Literally and for emphasis by word order, the text reads, "In Him be continually walking." The emphatic position of "in Him" stresses the fact that He is the sphere that is to occupy our walk. "Peripateo" means: "to walk," and then figuratively, "conduct one's life, live." The term "walk" is picturesque in that it portrays the steady progress of one's life taken one step at a time. Just as the Greek word from which we got "received" has a striking Jewish background, so, too, does the word rendered here as "walk". It literally means: "to walk around" and is employed with this meaning on numerous occasions. In Jewish thought, it was and is the standard term for ethical conduct.
So, in the LXX, the translators used the word in 2 Kings 20:3 where king Hezekiah prays:
2 Kings 20:3 (NKJV) "Remember now, O LORD, I pray, how I have walked before You in truth and with a loyal heart, and have done what was good in Your sight." And Hezekiah wept bitterly.
It's also employed in a negative way of the life that's being lived in opposition to the will of God in Isaiah 59 where, after a fairly lengthy statement concerning the sins of the nation (Isaiah 59:1-8), the prophet concludes:
Isaiah 59:9 (NKJV) Therefore justice is far from us, Nor does righteousness overtake us; We look for light, but there is darkness! For brightness, but we walk in blackness!
Their ethical conduct was described as "blackness". But according to Scripture, our walk, our ethical conduct is to be like Christ's:
1 John 2:6 (NKJV) He who says he abides in Him ought himself also to walk just as He walked.
When faced with the dilemmas that confront Christians in their daily lives, the guideline should be, "What would Jesus do?"
So, in verse 6, Paul is telling the Colossians that they had received Christ by accepting the truth
of the Gospel, and they were to walk in that same truth.
This life, or walk, in Christ is now developed by four participles that describe what it means to walk, or live, in Christ as our protection against any false teaching that seeks to add to the fullness of what is ours in Christ, the Lord. The first three participles are in the passive voice and reflect God's activity and work of grace in the process.
Colossians 2:7 (NKJV) rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith, as you have been taught, abounding in it with thanksgiving.
"Rooted" is from the verb rhizoo, which means: "to cause to take root, to become firmly rooted
or fixed." But it is significant that the tense is perfect. It suggests the thought of something which
took place in the past, but whose effects persist in the present, and is therefore the first cause of
their relationship with Jesus Christ (the "received" of the previous verse) which is the place from
which their experience springs. The metaphorical picture is of a plant which is being sustained by
its continual integration into the soil so that whatever growth comes about does so through the
nourishment which is being supplied.
"Built up" is a passive participle from the verb epoikodomeo: "to build up, to build further" or "build on something." The tense is present and describes an ongoing process, the steady growth of the spiritual structure of the believer's life. Again, the passive voice stresses the fact that the Christian is the recipient of God's work in his or her life. It's the voice of grace and dependence on the Lord for growth and spiritual change.
The image here is that of a building. We must grow up by building on the foundation, which is Jesus Christ. Jude says that we build strength into our lives by what we believe:
Jude 1:20 (NKJV) But you, beloved, building [epoikodomeo] yourselves up on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Spirit,
If you remember from the beginning of this message, we build up or strengthen our faith by knowledge and application:
Acts 20:32 (NKJV) "So now, brethren, I commend you to God and to the word of His grace, which is able to build you up and give you an inheritance among all those who are sanctified.
In Colossians 2:7 and in this verse in Acts, it means: "to build strength into the Christian life": The grace-oriented Word of God will build us into God's design for us.
Acts 9 uses this word for churches:
Acts 9:31 (NKJV) Then the churches throughout all Judea, Galilee, and Samaria had peace and were edified. And walking in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Spirit, they were multiplied.
God strengthens churches as well as individuals through the Word of God.
The word "established" means: "to make firm or make secure, to cause something to be known as certain - to confirm, verify". It is again passive, stressing God's grace and activity, and in the present tense, which describes the continuous establishment or strengthening that God gives when there is a Christ centered walk. God is the cause of our certainty.
This establishing comes "as you have been taught". Teaching is the foundation for stability. As we said earlier, we are strengthened in our faith through knowledge, and this comes through teaching.
Notice that the establishing is "in the faith". Keep in mind that the context warns against false teaching and stresses their previous teaching; "as you were taught." This refers to "the faith," the body of revealed truth or the gospel message. As such, this is a call not to merely hold to "the faith," but to grow in the knowledge of the faith as it reveals the person and work of Christ. This is a call for continuous growth in the grace and knowledge of the Savior. He's talking about what we believe, not "that we believe" but "what we believe". He's talking about knowing what we believe.
There is always a danger of false teaching. There was in that day, and there still is today. So it's vital for everyone who knows Jesus Christ to also know what they believe about Him. You need to know what the Bible teaches about the Christian faith. Gnosticism was the prevalent doctrinal aberration in Paul's day. Today it's New Age teaching. It's everywhere. It's the popular spirituality of the day. But what it does is remove Christ and substitute concepts like "inner energy" or "the divine within" or some other mystical sounding concept.
Six times in this short epistle that centers our thoughts on the fullness of Christ and our completeness in Him, there is the typical Pauline emphasis on "thankfulness" (1:3, 12; 2:7, 3:15, 16; 4:2). Thankfulness takes our thoughts away from our accomplishments and ourselves as we grow and experience Christ. On the positive side, it directs our thoughts to God and what He has done and is doing for us in and through the Savior.
But we are not to just be thankful. We are to be constantly overflowing, abounding. This participle is present (stressing continual action), but active rather than passive as are the other three. It stresses our responsibility to actively engage in thankful hearts. "Overflowing" is perisseuo: "to be over and above, to abound, to be present in abundance." Believers who are firmly rooted in Christ, being built up in Him, and established in their faith, will overflow with gratitude to God:
Hebrews 13:15 (NKJV) Therefore by Him let us continually offer the sacrifice of praise to God, that is, the fruit of our lips, giving thanks to His name.
Here we see that "praise to God" is defined as spiritual sacrifices. Do you spend time sacrificing to God, how often do you thank him for all his blessings?
Psalms 47:6-7 (NKJV) Sing praises to God, sing praises! Sing praises to our King, sing praises! 7 For God is the King of all the earth; Sing praises with understanding.
Psalms 50:23 (NKJV) Whoever offers praise glorifies Me..."
Psalms 107:8 (NKJV) Oh, that men would give thanks to the LORD for His goodness, And for His wonderful works to the children of men!
We live in the midst of a cynical, selfish, dissatisfied, society. People are miserable, and they show it. Some people are even proud of it. But if you're a Christian, one of the characteristics of your life ought to be that your heart is overflowing with thankfulness. When people come in contact with you, instead of seeing someone complaining, moaning and groaning, they should see someone who says, "I just want to thank God for all of His blessings in my life. He has blessed me beyond anything I deserve". When people see people who are thankful, they wonder what it is about that person that makes them that way. It's Christ! If we know Jesus Christ, we have so much to be grateful for.
Someone robbed the great Bible commentator, Dr. Matthew Henry, as he walked along a highway. Afterwards he told his friends there were four things for which he gave thanks. First, he was grateful that he had never been robbed before. After many years of life this was the first time he had been robbed, and for that he was grateful. Second, he said, "Though they took all my money, I am glad they did not get very much." That was something for which to be thankful. Third, he said, "Though they took my money, they did not take my life, and I am grateful for that." Finally, he suggested, "I am thankful that it was I who was robbed, and not I who robbed." There was a man who learned how to "overflow with thankfulness!" Gratefulness is a distinguishing mark of the mature believer.
In the following verses the apostle turns his attention to an extensive warning against false teachings, which would undermine what they've already received, and which would divert them from a pure and sincere service of Jesus Christ.
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