Study Notes

Colossians 2:1-3


As we completed chapter one of the book of Colossians, we heard Paul talking about how he'd been made a minister of the gospel, and how he'd made sure that he was a beneficial one: a minister who proclaimed Jesus to them, admonished them about sin, and taught them the full Word of God.

He knew that it was only by presenting the whole counsel of God that he could know they would be presented as complete in Christ. And it was because of this that Paul worked so hard, laboring and striving. In verse 29, he said,

Col. 1:29 And for this purpose also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me.

The word for "striving" there is "ag-o-NID-zom-ahee" which is "to strive, fight, or contend with adversaries." The root of this word is where we get our English word "agonize." Paul uses another version of it in our first verse this morning...

2:1 How Great A Struggle

When Paul talks about what a great struggle he has, it is an "ag-ONE." This ties verse 29 in together with this verse. He said,

Col. 1:29-2:1 And for this purpose also I labor, STRIVING (ag-o-NID-zom-ahee) according to His power, which mightily works within me. For I want you to know how great a STRUGGLE (ag-ONE) I have on your behalf...

Paul was struggling and striving against opponents for the sake of Christians everywhere.

As you look at the usage of these words of agony throughout the New Testament, you begin to understand that Paul's battlefields were both spiritual and physical. The contests of struggle were fought both in prayer (Luke 22:44; Col. 4:12) and in earthly conflict (1Thess 2:2; Phil 1:30). And the reason for his struggle was that they would be kept on the right path (Luke 13:24; 1Cor 9:25; 1Tim 6:12; 2Tim 4:7; Heb 12:1).

Not Seen My Face

We can see the heart of a good minister in struggling for the people in his church. But remember: Paul was striving and struggling for people that he didn't even know!

Colossae and Laodicea were neighboring towns, about 11 miles apart. And although Paul had heard about the churches and believers that had recently been birthed in them, he'd never been to either one of those cities.

I wonder how dedicated we are to struggle in spiritual prayer and earthly conflict for Christians in other cities and countries? Striving for people that we'll never meet this side of heaven?

2:2-3 Be Encouraged

Paul hoped that the ultimate result of his struggle for them would be two things: Encouraged hearts and full assurance.

Their encouragement would come from hearing about Paul's victories in his troubles (Col 4:8).

Barnabas had a similar ministry to Christians. A ministry of encouragement. In Antioch, when the Christians were being persecuted, he began....

Acts 11:23 encourage them all with resolute heart to remain {true} to the Lord

It's no wonder that the apostles nicknamed this man named Joseph, "Barnabas," meaning "Son of Encouragement" (Acts 4:36).

Often, we get overwhelmed by our own circumstances, and become convinced that God will never get us out of this mess, that this trial will never be over, that we're going to die of our sorrow, or that we'll never have victory over our sin.

But then God brings someone like Paul or Barnabas across our path who has a testimony of victory, of deliverance, of God's faithfulness. It encourages us that God is still working, still on the throne, and still paying attention to us.

You can recognize people that God brings to you for encouragement, because He makes a supernatural, spiritual connection between your hearts. They become knit together in love.

Full Assurance Of Understanding

The second thing that Paul hoped would result from his strivings and struggles for them was that they would attain full assurance of understanding.

"Full assurance" is to know for certain, to be completely convinced, to be perfectly persuaded, to have total confidence.

Is there anything in this life that you are completely sure of? Some people would answer, "Death and Taxes," although even death is not certain for one generation.

The Bible does say that we can have full assurance of several things:

Luke said that everything written in his gospel could be...

Luke 1:1 (KJV) ...most surely believed...

Paul says that we can be...

Rom. 4:21 ...fully assured that what (God has) promised, He (is) able also to perform.

He said in 1Thessalonians that we can have full assurance of the gospel (1Thes. 1:5).

However, the big question that people have about full assurance is, "can we have full assurance of our salvation?" How do I know that I'm saved? It is interesting to me that the most feared chapters in the Bible regarding this issue are the two chapters that use the term "full assurance" in regard to salvation - Hebrews 6 and Hebrews 10.

The author of Hebrews warned Christians not to fall away from the faith. He recognized the fruit in their lives of the ministry of work and love. He told them to keep producing that fruit, saying,

Hebr. 6:11 And we desire that each one of you show the same diligence so as to realize the full assurance of hope until the end,

Then in chapter ten, he reminded us about the forgiveness we have in Jesus Christ. About the confidence we have to enter the holy place and approach the throne of God. He said,

Hebr. 10:22 let us draw near with a sincere heart in full assurance of faith...

So the answer to the question of "how can I have full assurance that I'm saved" is really very simple: Don't fall away from the Lord. Make sure your life is devoted to Him, make sure that you're continually coming to Him, relying on His mercy and grace. Someone who lives a life for the Lord, dependent on the Lord, has complete confidence in their salvation, they have full assurance.

Knowing this, it is easy to understand why Paul struggled so hard to keep them on the right path. If they got too far into religious works, they would begin to think that they were saved because they were such good, righteous people. If they got too far into sin, they would fall into the trap of licentiousness, using grace as an excuse to sin, incurring condemnation from God.

As a pastor, I know this struggle for people's behalf. When I teach that the Word says all of your sins are forgiven by grace, people say that I'm encouraging people to sin. When I teach that continuing in sin with grace as the excuse will bring condemnation, people say that I'm making the cross of Christ insufficient.

But the fact is, the Bible warns us against going off either side of the road. Righteousness by religion is condemned, and continuing in sin is condemned. My struggle is to bring you the knowledge of God's mystery, of Christ Himself, that you might have full assurance of understanding. I wage this war, striving and struggling in both the spiritual and physical realms: in prayer and in conflict. I pray that it is for your eternal benefit.

Wisdom And Knowledge

Once you gain this full assurance of understanding, you come to realize the incredible wealth of knowledge that is to be found in Christ. We'll talk much more about this next week, as we compare the wisdom in Christ with the wisdom of the world.

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