Treasuring Christ (2:1-3)
We've come to the conclusion of Paul's intercessory prayer in Colossians 2:1-3. But it's not simply a conclusion: it's more of the climax, the pinnacle, the ultimate aim, if you will, of all that Paul has prayed. Read these verses one more time:
"For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, to reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God's mystery, which is Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge" (Col. 2:1-3).
Paul prays for their hearts to be encouraged and entwined in love so that they might experience the riches of assurance that flow from their understanding of all God has revealed. But that understanding, that knowledge, has a unique and particular focus: Jesus Christ!
Perhaps the most pernicious and threatening myth among "religious" people is that there is knowledge of God apart from a personal relationship with Jesus Christ. Many claim to be "spiritual" who have no taste or relish for Jesus. "I want the divine," they are often heard to say. "I want to touch the transcendent. I want an encounter with that supernatural dimension of reality that exceeds the limitations of my own humanity. But I don't want Jesus. I refuse to acknowledged his deity or submit to his lordship" (contrast this with 1 John 2:23!).
This "Christless" spirituality that permeates our world must be identified and repudiated with unyielding fervor. There is no existential value apart from Christ. There is no ultimate meaning in life apart from Christ. Good and evil, true and false, are little more than personal preferences with no objective reality apart from the revelation of God in the incarnation, life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
Paul prays that we might attain to the knowledge of this mystery, which is Christ, because "assurance" that is grounded in anything or anyone else is, at best, wishful thinking. Confidence in who God is and what he has purposed to achieve comes only by knowing and receiving, relishing and rejoicing in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Whatever else we learn in our study of Scripture, it serves us well and for eternity only to the degree that it points to and consummates in the person of Jesus. Not just "in him" but "in him ALONE" are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. (I feel justified in adding the word "alone" given Paul's emphasis on the exclusivity of Christ in Col. 1:14, 15-20, 27-28; 2:8-9, 17; 3:1-4, 11, 17).
Don’t be misled by Paul's language. When he speaks of Christ as God's "mystery" in whom all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are "hidden" he does not mean to suggest that who Jesus is and what he has accomplished are concealed from us. A "mystery" in Paul's language is simply a truth that remained inaccessible until such time as God took the initiative to reveal it and make it clear. Paul is not saying that Christ is "mysterious" in the sense that we can't figure him out. He is a "mystery" in the sense that it wasn't until the revelation of God in the historical person of Christ that we gained total access to the truth of God's redemptive purposes through him. And knowledge and wisdom are "hidden" in him not in the sense of being impenetrable or beyond understanding but rather in the sense of being deposited or stored up in him. In other words, he's the only person and place where authentic, accurate knowledge of God and his ways with mankind can be found.
When Paul says that "all" the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ he isn't saying that a person can't know anything at all if he isn't a Christian. The world is filled with brilliant atheists. Our universities and think tanks are populated with highly intellectual and well-educated scholars who know nothing of Jesus beyond their concession that a man by that name lived two millennia ago.
Rather, his point is that true knowledge of the ultimate meaning of human existence is found only in light of the identity and redemptive accomplishment of Jesus Christ. Insight into the character of God and his relationship with his creation is found only by looking to the person and work of Jesus. The nature and eternal destiny of the human soul, the grounds on which we differentiate between good and evil, the wisdom of God's ways in the world, as well as the pathway to reconciliation with him, are all tethered to Christ. If we know him, we know them.
Paul's language is both extensive and intensive. He declares that "all" (not merely some) of the "treasures" (not the trivialities) of wisdom and knowledge are in Christ. His point here is two-fold.
First, there is a vast reservoir of riches in knowing Jesus. That is to say, "all the treasures" points to the lavish, inexhaustible, far-reaching, mind-blowing, breath-taking realities that we discover and enjoy when we grow in our knowledge of him.
Second, and of equal importance, Paul's language reminds us that knowledge of Christ is to be honored and valued above all else. Is that not how we would treat any "treasure" that we discovered? The knowledge and wisdom that we find in Christ, and in Christ alone, are not to be treated casually or flippantly or presumptuously. The light of the knowledge of the glory of God as revealed in the face of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 4:4-6) is a treasure of infinite worth and value. Ponder it deeply. Pray for it daily. Plunder its riches. Protect it from defilement. Penetrate its mysteries. Prize it above all earthly wealth, all human wisdom, all fleshly gain.
In simple summary: There's nothing you could ever hope to know about God, his will and his ways, that you won't find in Jesus. And you'll find it only in Jesus. He alone is the treasury of divine wealth and wisdom.
This is what Paul prayed that the Colossians would experience. Is that how you and I pray for each other and for ourselves? Ought it to be?
Cherishing Christ with you,