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‘As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in Him: rooted and built up in Him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught.’
There is a wonderful unity in Gospel truth; it all leads up to the one central Person.
I. All revelation testifies of Christ, proceeds from Christ, reverts to Christ, finds in Christ its centre, guides us in the last resort to Him. Poor may our ministry be, yet let it only be true to its central object, which is Christ the Lord, then the preacher may not quite miss the mark. How thankfully will he efface himself, and forget in the end his own poverty as an instrument in the supreme result—souls lovingly joined to the living Lord of life and light.
II. In the face of such a Gospel, what becomes for each of us the one foremost necessity and duty of our life?—Why, that we unite ourselves to Him, that we surrender into His hands the supreme direction of our conduct and rely on Him alone.
III. Union with Christ makes Christians independent of every one else for spiritual life and welfare. ‘Complete in Him,’ whatever instruments and agents He may use by whom to bless His people, they are Christ’s simply, given, withdrawn at His will. To Christ alone let our eyes be raised.
‘This Epistle is full of the glory of Christ and His pre-eminence over every creature, because the Colossians were in danger of forgetting Him, and turning to lower and less beings for aid, e.g. to angels; and to engraft upon this Gospel Mosaic ceremonies and ascetic practices, as if He were insufficient.’
COMPLETE IN CHRIST
‘And ye are complete in Him, Which is the head of all principality and power.’
St. Paul in the text asserts the sufficiency of Christ for all spiritual needs of the Colossians.
I. The union of believers with Christ.—This is emphatic in the original.
(a) It is representative—formed in eternity, and gives rise to the twofold imputation of sin and righteousness, and the identification of believers in all that Christ did and suffered and won for them.
(b) Actual, spiritual, vital. A real living connection with Christ formed in time flows from the representative union, and is established by faith. One life common, interests common. This is the mystical union, real but beyond full comprehension.
II. The completeness which believers have in union with Christ.—He is all-sufficient and alone-sufficient. There is no lack or deficiency which He cannot make good. All that we need for our perfection dwells in Him, and is ours in Him. He gives, not some of His fulness, so much of this grace, and little or none of that, but all His gifts and graces that He has received for men. What a fulness it is!
III. The ground of this completeness.—Christ’s pre-eminence as the Head of all principality and power. This involves His authority and ability to impart His fulness: He has no equal and no superior. All things are His.
‘If you could have asked a true believer, in Christ’s day, “What is your creed?” he would have pointed to his Master; he would not have repeated certain articles of faith, but he would have said, “I believe that glorious Man; my trust is in Him; I believe Him.” We have seen many books labelled upon their backs, “Body of Divinity,” but of a truth Jesus is the only real “Body of Divinity.” If you want theology, He is the true Theologos, the essential Word of God. It is a grand thing when a man believes Jesus to be what Jesus is—a Saviour from sin; and then believes the Christ to be what Christ is—the Anointed of the Lord; and so makes Him to be his Alpha and Omega—all his salvation and all his desire.’
BODY AND SHADOW
‘Which are a shadow of things to come; but the body is of Christ.’
To every one naturally, that is, till they are religious, that is, till they have faith, this world is the reality, and the other world is, to say the least, very shadowy.
The great question now to every one of us is: Which is ‘the substance’ and which is ‘the shadow’ to me?
I. But St. Paul’s words have yet a stricter meaning.—He is speaking of ‘ordinances’ and he says that all ‘ordinances’—the Jewish first but also the Christian—are ‘the shadows,’ ‘ the substance is Christ.’ He does not mean that ‘the shadows’ are nothing; but they are nothing without ‘the substance.’ God forbid that we should make little of ‘ordinances.’ They are amongst our most precious inheritance. But, after all, their worth is in the Christ we find in them.
II. Take any ‘ordinance’ you like:—
( a) Preaching. Without Christ it is mere shadow; Christ is ‘the body’ of every good, useful sermon that ever was preached.
( b) Prayer. Prayer is the lung of the soul. But it must be offered in the Name of Christ. That is ‘the body’ of the prayer; the rest of the prayer is only prayer’s ‘shadow.’
( c) The reading of the Bible. If you do not find Christ in your daily study of the Bible, you have founds if you like, words, interest, instruction, pleasure, but not life. The letter is ‘the shadow,’ ‘ but the body is Christ.’
III. But there is one more view the text presents.—The Old Testament was almost entirely ‘the shadow’ of the New. It was a typical dispensation. But are there no ‘shadows’ of things yet to come in the New Testament? Are we not still typical? May we not well believe that many things which we are doing and loving, which belong to our Church now, and which are essential parts of our religion, are also types of other things which shall be in another dispensation? Our services, our sacraments, our converse, our work, our love, our best joys, have they not a higher ‘substance’ yet to come, of which they may be now only the earnests, and the representatives, and the preparations?
Rev. James Vaughan.
CHRIST THE HEAD
‘And not holding the Head, from which all the body by joints and bands having nourishment ministered, and knit together, increaseth with the increase of God.’
This chapter contains a series of warnings together with the conditions of deliverance; Colossians 2:19 shews the danger of not holding the Head. Christ is to His people what the Father is to the Son. In 1 Corinthians 11:3 we read that the head of every man is Christ, and in Colossians 2:19 we see that having Christ as Head means to the members three things:—
I. Having nourishment.—The reason that there are so many sickly Christians is because they don’t get proper nourishment. ‘He that believeth [i.e. is believing] shall never hunger.’ We must be always coming, always believing. We cannot live by coming once a month to the Lord’s Supper.
II. Knit together.—Compacted into one. Do you want to be energetic for Christ? You must be constantly coming to Christ to get nourished and energised. You see it depends entirely on holding the Head.
III. Increaseth.—If in looking at our lives we find that our habits and our devotions are just the same as they were some years ago, we may be sure there is something wrong, for we are meant to grow. Remember, we are saved to serve, we are forgiven to glorify. We are sons and daughters, but how often in our lives as such we put a full stop where God only puts a comma. Physical growth depends on food and air, both taken through the head, likewise spiritual growth comes alone from the Head. Have you ever thought that four out of the five senses are in the head—seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling? There is only feeling that is common to the body.
—Rev. Hubert Brooke.
‘All the physical life of a man lies in the head. From the head run little cords, almost innumerable and of exquisite fineness, to every spot in the body, and from every spot in the body little cords again run back to the head. The little cords running up to the head carry intelligence to the head of everything which causes pain or pleasure in that spot from which they come, and the little cords running from the head to the body carry instruction, will, and motion to the affected spot; but all meet in the head. All the guidance and the supply come from the head, and so the whole life centres there. The head is the life. Separate any part from the head, and immediately it dies. Such is union with Christ. As the body lives in the head, we live in Him: we in Him, and He in us.’
THE REMEDY FOR HERESY
There were false teachers at Colosse. They taught the worship of angels and the keeping of vain Jewish traditions. St. Paul did not say, what is often said now, ‘It is of no consequence what people believe’; he went to the source of the errors of these false teachers. He said they did not hold fast the Head. St. Paul combated false doctrine by proclaiming Christ: his theme was not a theory or a system, but a living Person.
I. Christ is the Head of His Church.—‘He is the Head of the body, the Church’ ( Colossians 1:18). The same truth is found in Ephesians 1:22: ‘God gave Him to be the Head over all things to the Church, which is His body.’ This is expressed elsewhere in different ways. Christ is the Temple and His people are the stones. Christ is the Vine and His people are the branches. Here, Christ is the Head and His people are members of His body.
II. The Body.—‘From which all the body.…” The same thought occurs in 1 Corinthians 12:12. In the Body of Christ some members are strong, some are weak. There are babes, young men, and fathers.
III. The bands which unite the Head and the members.—‘All the body by joints and bands.…’ How are Christ and the members of His Body joined together? There are two golden bands. One is the purpose of God. Before the world was made Christ was given to His Body, and that Body was given to Christ ( 2 Timothy 1:9). The other band which unites the Head and the members of Christ’s Body is faith. The weak band of faith binds the believer to his great and ever-living Lord, the Lord of life and love. And most surely, where there are these two bands—the purpose of God and simple faith or trust—there the life of the Head flows to the members, according to the Master’s own great and gracious words, ‘Because I live, ye shall live also.’
IV. What follows.—‘Having nourishment ministered, and knit together.’ In Christ there is boundless wealth to enrich, omnipotent power to protect, unerring wisdom to guide, eternal love to support, unchangeable faithfulness to befriend, and all this for me, if I am linked by faith to the glorious Lord of life and love! Out of His fulness I may constantly receive, and grace for grace. Surely there is no need to worship angels and ask for their help or intercession when I have such a Saviour! ‘In Him ye are made full’ ( Colossians 2:10, R.V.).
—Rev. F. Harper.
‘There are a great many of what Rowland Hill called rocking-horse Christians. He went into a house and saw a rocking-horse. “It moves forward,” he said, “and it goes backward, but somehow it does not go onward.” And yet there ought to be an increase of strength, for Christ’s strength is made perfect in our weakness; and of knowledge, for we ought to grow in knowledge of our heavenly Friend year by year; and of peace, for of the increase of the peace of Christ there is no end; and of joy, for a sad Christian is a wrong to a Saviour’s love.’
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Nisbet, James. "Commentary on Colossians 2". The Church Pulpit Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/
the Second Week of Advent