“Treasures of Wisdom”
“…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.”
One of the main themes of Paul’s letter to the Colossians is spiritual maturity, something every disciple of Jesus should take seriously. Even though Paul had never been to Colosse (Col. 2:1), he had labored hard for them behind the scenes with the goal to “present everyone mature in Christ” (Col. 1:28-29). Next, he elaborates on the meaning of maturity by giving two goals to his work (Col. 2:2).
Encouragement through unity — First, Paul worked “that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love.” We mature when our “hearts” are increasingly “encouraged.” And what is more encouraging than loving unity among Christians? Put another way, what is more discouraging than a lack of love and unity? Therefore, Paul’s ministry was aimed at fostering unity within the church.
Conviction through understanding — Second, Paul had worked so that the Colossians could “reach all the riches of full assurance of understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is in Christ.” Love is useless if it is not directed toward the right things and expressed in the right ways. Likewise, unity is not true unity unless there is agreement on the important things. Therefore, we also mature when our “hearts” increase in “understanding” the truth. A proper “understanding” comes through faithful teaching which, in turn, leads to “full assurance,” that is, complete conviction. This is why one of Paul’s standard prayers for them was that “they may be filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding, so as to walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God.” (Col. 1:9-10)
These two marks of maturity, (1) encouragement through unity and (2) conviction through understanding, lead us to ask another question: how can we reach “full assurance”? Paul says “full assurance” comes through “the knowledge of God’s mystery, which is Christ.” But how is Christ the “knowledge of God’s mystery”?
Hidden treasures in Christ — Christ is not a clue or a key to the “mystery of God.” He is himself the “mystery of God.” This means everything we might want to ask God, any questions we might have about God’s eternal plan and what he is doing in the world and in our lives, cannot be answered without reference to Christ. Everything points to him in some way.
Paul goes onto say that all the “treasures of wisdom and knowledge” are “hidden” in Christ (Col. 2:3). But they are “hidden” not so that we might never find them! They are “hidden” “in” Christ. Therefore, all who are “in Christ” have access to all the “treasures of wisdom and knowledge”! In Christ, all our deepest yearnings for understanding are answered. We don’t need to look for wisdom anywhere else because it’s all there in Christ for us!
Paul describes “understanding,” “knowledge,” and “wisdom” as “riches” and “treasure” to invite us to explore God’s “mystery” (which has now been revealed in Christ and by the Spirit [Eph. 1:9-10; 3:1-6]) with eagerness, curiosity, and hunger. It is as if Paul wants us to study our Bibles like treasure hunters! But instead of “X” marking the spot, the vast storehouses of God’s “riches” and “treasure” and found in Jesus.
Where do you go for “knowledge” (a correct understanding of the world)? Where do you turn for “wisdom” (the skill in applying that knowledge correctly so as to live well)? Look no further than wisdom personified: Jesus our Lord!