We’re studying Colossians in our small group at the jail. As we went through the second chapter I shared with the guys something that isn’t written directly in the letter. The church at Colossae had a group of “Gnostics” telling them they needed some sort of secret knowledge in order to be in with the in crowd. It was as if Christ isn’t enough. Paul wrote them a letter to reassure them Christ was indeed enough. He told them “For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form, and in Him you have been made complete, and He is the head over all rule and authority…” When I see the word complete I understand that to mean there is nothing lacking.
Paul wrote many of his letters to answer specific questions and deal with certain problems that had arisen. Without the privilege of reading the letters that were sent to him we have to deduce what the questions were by how he answered.
For instance the Galatian church had been infiltrated by a group of religious Jews. They were telling the Galatians they had to be circumcised and follow the Law of Moses in order to be made right with God. In other words they were trying to convert the Gentile believers to Judaism. After all, from their perspective if you weren’t circumcised you were cut off from the Covenant. Therefore Paul wrote the Galatians to reassure them Christ was enough. They could not mix Christ with the Law.
Of course there were also other things Paul shared with the churches. The Corinthian church’s problems weren’t with false teaching but rather immaturity. Paul wrote them to tell them how to get along with each other. They were acting like children. They were jealous of each other, there was immorality, they had lawsuits between believers, and it seems they simply didn’t know how to behave during worship times. Paul wrote to them about freedom in Christ and how to look out for our brothers and sister’s well being. Essentially he was telling them how to conduct themselves like a parent would. This was the theological equivalent to “Keep your hands to yourselves and do what you’re supposed to do and don’t worry about what everyone else is doing!”
Paul’s letter to the Ephesians is more about the church than error. Like usual Paul starts this letter telling us who we are in Christ. He tells us we were “chosen in him before the foundation of the world, that we would be holy and blameless before him.” The New Covenant is written to the new man in Christ. This is why Paul always begins with who we are in Christ and then proceeds on to what our role is in the ministry.
The Ephesians’ letter tells us some magnificent things about the church. Paul tells us in the first chapter we are “the body of Christ.” We are not independent or separate from him. He is our head and we are in union with him. He tells his body what to do. In fact as Paul said in Galatians “It is no longer I but Christ.” The second chapter we are told the church is “The Temple or dwelling of God in the Spirit.” God has taken up residence within us his believers. He doesn’t live in a building down the street but within us! We are a living temple indwelt with the Holy Spirit of God—AMAZING!!
The third chapter of Ephesians tells us the church is given the privilege to reveal a mystery. God is revealing his wisdom to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places through us his church. The fourth chapter tells us we, the church, are “The New Man!” God has given the church “Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers” in order to help us grow up into a mature man.
As we look into the fifth chapter of Ephesians we discover the church is in union with God. Paul uses the illustration of marriage. He says, “This mystery is great; but I am speaking with reference to Christ and the church.” When Tracey and I were married she took on my name. If she didn’t become “One” with me she could never be a “Lewis.” But the reality is now she is a “Lewis.” Everything that is mine is hers. This is the same with Christ and his church. We have been joined spirit to Spirit and everything that is his is ours.
The sixth chapter of Ephesians shows us the church is a Soldier. Once we have come to realize we are the body, Temple, new man and bride we are to come to the understanding that there is still a fight. We are told to put on the “Armor of God.” Paul tells us about each part of the armor, but I wanted to share just one thing with you. This is the “Armor of God” it isn’t our armor per se. When the enemy looks at us in God’s armor he doesn’t see us at all, he only sees God. This brings us back to Colossians chapter three “For you have died and your life is hidden with Christ in God.”
Ultimately what Paul is saying is exactly what the whole of the Bible and all of creation is saying. Look to Christ! “In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”
Written by Louie