The world is full of ideas and individuals seeking to deceive us. The Colossian saints were under attack by doctrines which undermined what they knew to be true about Christ. Every generation of Christians faces similar threats. The Devil excels in finding new ways to trap his prey and thus we must be on constant alert (1 Pet. 5:8). The best defense is a good offense. To successfully guard ourselves against what is false, we must be intent on knowing and practicing what is true. This point is one of Paul’s primary emphases in the book of Colossians.
Colossians 2:6-15 is the heart of the letter. Having established the priority and preeminence of Jesus in chapter 1, Paul turns his attention toward defense of that truth. In Colossians 1:21-23, the purpose statement of the book, Paul reminded the saints that they had been reconciled to God through Jesus Christ and would remain that way provided they continued in the faith, grounded and steadfast. Colossians 2:6-7 picks up on that theme. The passage contains motivation, a command, and practical instruction for fulfilling the command.
The passage begins with motivation– “As you therefore have received Christ Jesus the Lord…” To “receive” Christ involves not only an acknowledgement of His deity and Lordship, but also a commitment and obedience to His doctrine. The Colossian saints heard the truth from Epaphras (1:6-7) and obeyed it. This implies comprehension and application on their part (c.f. Nehemiah 8 on this point), and it stands in stark contrast to Paul’s warning in 2:8 to “beware lest anyone cheat you through philosophy and vain deceit…” (i.e., “You’ve received Christ, do not receive human tradition.) Note that they had not received just anyone, but “Christ Jesus the Lord.” This is the only occasion in the Greek Text where the definite article is used alongside “Christ Jesus the Lord.” Literally, they received “the Christ Jesus the Lord.” The purpose of the article seems to be emphasis and summation. He is the authentic Christ Jesus, as opposed to the false christ’s of whom the false teachers speak, and He is the one of whom Paul had been writing throughout the epistle to this point. The Son of God whose magnificence is highlighted in seven ways in 1:15-20 and is identified as the “hope of glory” in 1:27.
The motive gives way to the command–“…so walk in Him.” Because you have received Christ the Lord by hearing and obeying His will, you must continue to live in Him. The word “walk” is a present imperative in this case. It is used often in the New Testament to designate a way of life (cf. Rom. 14:15; Gal. 5:16; Eph. 5:1; 1 John 1:9; etc.). Earlier in the epistle Paul revealed his constant prayer that the Colossian saints grow in their knowledge of God’s Word so that they might “walk worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing him” (Col. 1:10). The present passage offers a similar sentiment. The Christian life begins by submitting to the will of Christ as Lord and it continues in the same fashion. We must live and grow in Him for “in Him dwells all the fullness of the Godhead bodily” (2:9), we are “complete in Him” (2:10), and in Him we are “circumcised with the circumcision made without hands” (2:11). The “how” of this command is identified for us in the following passage.
Colossians 2:7 contains four participles which explain the command to “walk” in verse 6, each one denoting a continual process. First, we are to be “rooted” in Him. The term is used only in this passage and in Ephesians 3:17. It carries the idea of a “settled state.” Like a giant tree whose roots run deep and strong, Christians are to be deeply settled and grounded in Christ. Second, we must be “built up.” Moving from horticulture to architecture, Paul uses a term which references a solid foundation. Like a multi-story building, our foundation is to be strong and steadfast (cf. Matt. 7:24-27). Third, we must be “established in the faith.” To be “established” is to be strengthened. The location of that strength is “the faith,” or, the gospel. The gospel saves (Rom. 1:16) but it also strengthens us spiritually as we continue to learn and apply it (cf. 1:9-11). Finally, all of this is to be done while abounding in thanksgiving.
Colossians 2 is about defending Christ. Defending the truth about His deity, His identity, and His plan for humanity as well as defending ourselves against those who would try to spoil us. Defense is not difficult, however. Like the currency inspector who easily identifies counterfeits by studying what is genuine, we defend ourselves by continuing our daily walk, in Him.