Colossians 2:1-5 — Just the Facts, Ma’am
“Just the facts, Ma’am.” An often-used line by TV character Joe Friday on the show Dragnet.
We know this world. In our world today, people so often want us to “Get to the point!” An oft-used expression in conference rooms across the world, as mind-numbing presentations drag on.
Perhaps you might feel that way reading this letter. I’m not sure. Some people love what is rather elegant language. Others, trained in the bullet-point school of writing (I resemble that remark), struggle. You probably already knew that little bit about me.
In this short letter, I have been dissecting salutations and even reading the letter backwards. Yet, like any letter, this one has a few themes—you might even say, a main point!
I have shared elsewhere that I spent years working in a nuclear power plant. We were expected to communicate starkly. I remember once getting the draft of a letter back from my boss. It had every adjective and adverb crossed out with a note. The note read, “Learn to write without unnecessary modifiers. If necessary, use facts.” Words such as “big” or “small” needed to be replaced with the exact size. Other words such as “best” or “worst” were not welcome unless you could measure. If you could measure, then put in the measurement. Now, I am not sure my grammar teachers would agree, but the culture was all about using facts and getting to the point.
Today in these few verses, we get to the point—a point Paul communicates that he has been laboring for over and over.
Is he looking for sympathy? I think not. Rather, he is communicating how terribly difficult it is for him (and therefore will be for them) to hold onto this main point.
The main point is Jesus—and Only Jesus.
Consider making verses 2 through 4 into bullet points:
He wants them to be encouraged, in their hearts. It is why he tells them they are not alone. That he is thankful for them, praying for them, and even happy to suffer for them.
He wants them to have unity—it is what knit-together hearts produce.
You might ask, “Unity to what end?” Answer: to reach the full assurance of understanding and knowledge about God’s mystery. Note, they have not yet reached it.
What is this mystery? Christ.
Notice what he says about Christ: in Christ is hidden ALL the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
The point is Jesus: focus on Jesus, and Jesus alone.
Think back to the opening eloquent verses (1:15-23) that described how Jesus was before all, and how everything holds together in him.
You may have read them as flowery words or adjectives. They certainly were eloquent, but don’t be misled—these are presented as facts. You may choose to reject them, but they are offered as facts.
All that has been written so far, and all that follows, is to help the readers (including us) understand the absolute supremacy of Jesus.
This section ends with a caution: don’t let any arguments, even plausible ones, delude us.
Hmm. Do you find this caution curious? The author of this letter is a veteran soldier of the Lord. He has seen how people, time and again, want to take hold of Jesus, and turn him into their idea of God, religion, etc. It usually means they add requirements, and they complicate what it means to follow him.
In the coming paragraphs and chapters, Paul will unpack this a bit more.
But for now, he wants to make sure that we are focusing not just on “the facts” (plural), but THE fact—Jesus.
If you look back to chapter 1, verses 15-23…what do you think about those facts?