We had to, in less than 300 words, give our best answer to the question, “What is Paul’s connection between the sufficiency and supremacy of Jesus in in Col. chapter 2?
Here was my stab, along with my incredibly messy worksheet.
Within the introductory greeting (1:1-12), Paul gives the reader a hint of the letter’s theme, that they “may be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (1:9). Before he plainly tells the Colossian church of the true nature of God’s wisdom (2:2), Paul first unpacks the divine nature of Jesus (1:14-20). He begins by stating the results of the supremacy of Christ, that Jesus has already rescued the believers from the power of darkness, they now safely reside in Jesus kingdom (1:13). Paul then seems to back up, demonstrating the expansive dominion reign of the resurrected Christ, including a hymn rich with comparisons and contrasts to drive home the point (1:14-18).
Paul moves from a theological tone and elaborates on his own biographical participation as an Apostle, a suffering distributor of this most glorious mystery (1:14-2:3). He then returns to the theme of Christ’s supremacy, expanding on the means of His efficacy (2:9-15), giving evidence through the nature of circumcision (2:11), baptism (2:12) and commandments (2:14).
Based on the reality of Christ’s supremacy and sufficiency, Paul instructs the believers against the temptations that seek to undermine their prize (2:16-23).
Paul is affirming the supremacy of Christ before the Colossian church in order to remind them of the Gospel they had already heard (2:6). Jesus wasn’t just a wise teacher, or prophet, He was God incarnate, the fount of wisdom itself. The death that Christ died, and the subsequent resurrected life of Jesus is therefor sufficient to “make us alive together with Him” (2:13), the one who rules over reality (2:15). Human ritual, possession of knowledge, and other elemental rules may appear useful, but add nothing to the gift of sharing in His sufficient Life.
This week I have learned to appreciate the Apostle’s multi-dimensional capacity to build an apologetic defense using logic, hymn/poetry, and other literary tools. Because I don’t speak or understand the Greek language, I’m intrigued at the amount of literary resourcefulness Paul employs without even knowing it as an English reader. In any case, I’m learning to appreciate how the Spirit touched the early disciples, encouraging them to fight the good fight, write these letters in the first place, then preserve them for us in the canon of scripture. As letters, I have a much deeper appreciation for not quite knowing what Paul was actually addressing, in terms of previous letters, issues, and relationships already in place. Paul felt strongly, obviously, that Christ needed to be set forth in unquestionable superiority over all that is seen and unseen.