Colossians 2:1-10 Competing Worldviews.
Being a minister of the word brought conflict into Paul’s life (v. 1 Cf. 1:5, 30). Yet it was through this ministry that the saints had their hearts encouraged and “knit together in love” (v. 2a). The heart refers to the core of a person, and what they were attaining was “all riches of the full assurance of understanding, to the knowledge of the mystery of God” (v. 2b). This assurance was not based on feelings or the opinions of men. It was Paul’s ministry of the word which imparted this assurance of understanding. The end in view was “the knowledge of the mystery of God.” Paul has already explained what that mystery was-“Christ in us, the hope of glory” (v. 27). He reiterates his theological affirmation of the equality of divinity between the Father and Christ (v. 2c), and that in them both there is “hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (v. 3).
Paul will go on to criticize anti-Christian philosophy, but first he wants to affirm the essential place of a thoroughly Christian and biblical worldview, and how this starts fundamentally with what one thinks. As with some branches of the Christian faith, the answer to non-Christian philosophy is not feelings or a vague thoughtless spiritualism, it is a thoroughly biblical worldview. What we are warned against are being deceived by persuasive words (v. 4 Cf. Rom. 16:18). As a minister of the word, Paul was concerned to persuade people of the gospel, but there are those who also seek to persuade people with what is a deception. Paul also knew that “good order” is based upon what one believes, or one’s “faith” (v. 5). This concern was the same whether he was with them in the flesh, or here in his writing (vv. 1, 4).
Being a Christian means both receiving the biblical testimony about Him, but also in walking in Him (v. 6 Cf. I Pet. 4:1). It is absolutely foundational that we be first “rooted and built up in Him and established in the faith,” as we have been taught (v. 7 Cf. Eph. 2:21). We cannot be static or stagnant in this learning process, but we must abound in this with thanksgiving. We must be thankful because all that we know is based upon what God has chosen to reveal to us. The absolute death knell to developing a full orbed biblical worldview is pride. Without thanksgiving, one’s understanding of the faith will not grow. It is for this concern for a truly biblical worldview, one involving both belief and practice, that Paul will go on to warn against the persuasive words of deception.
There is a conflict here of competing and conflicting words. The word ‘philosophy’ means to love wisdom, and no one ought to love wisdom more than the Christian. However, there are those who spout a philosophy which has as its purpose to deceive. This in itself is contrary to the biblical understanding of wisdom. It is a so-called philosophy which is not based on the word, but rather it is based upon “the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ” (v. 8 Cf. Gal. 1:14; 4:3, 9-10). The fact that Paul says that this so-called philosophy is not “according to Christ,” emphasizes that the anecdote is a biblical worldview which is “according to Christ.” Paul will go on to give further reasons as to why the biblical worldview is in fact superior.
Chief among these reasons is that in Christ “dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (v. 9 Cf. Jn. 1:14). For Paul, the Christian philosophy was inseparable from theology. The study of knowledge, or epistemology, was grounded in and flows out of one’s Christology, and the chief thing to know concerning Christ is that He was fully God and fully man. Deceivers following the basic principles of the world seek to resolve the relationship of the creature to the Creator by making the Creator another object of their own creation. Christ, on the other hand, was He through whom all creation came into being, and with the incarnation, death, and resurrection He alone brought a reconciliation of the Creator with His creation. All other attempts to resolve this mystery will inevitably lead to idolatry.
Christ is also the “head of all principality and power”-the very spiritual forces in opposition to Him and His people and their faith and life. So the Christian worldview is also the one which is and will ultimately be victorious (v. 10b). Christ is both “the power of God and the wisdom of God” (I Cor. 1:24). His wisdom is what we think, and it is by His power that we live. To the world this is both foolish and weak, but “the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men” (I Cor. 1:25). “But of Him you are in Christ Jesus, who became for us wisdom from God-and righteousness and sanctification and redemption-that, as it is written, ‘He who glories, let him glory in the Lord’” (I Cor. 1:30). We are also “complete in Him” (v. 10a), in both belief and practice.