My friend Melissa is back this week talking about understanding the gospel of Christ for this week’s edition of Word Nerd Wednesday.
Webster’s Dictionary defines Understanding as: the faculty of the human mind by which it apprehends the real state of things presented to it, or by which it receives or comprehends the ideas which others express and intend to communicate.
In Colossians 2:1-5, Paul states,
“ For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you and for those at Laodicea and for all who have not seen me face to face, that their hearts may be encouraged, being knit together in love, 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. I say this in order that no one may delude you with plausible arguments. For though I am absent in body, yet I am with you in spirit, rejoicing to see your good order and the firmness of your faith in Christ.”
Refuting Heresy with Understanding
Epaphrus had taught this body of believers the truth of the gospel and had brought news of them to Paul in prison. In his letter to the Church of Colossae, Paul expresses several times that he is praying for their understanding. The Greek word used in 2:2 is Sunesis. It means a mental putting together, intellect or a running or flowing together with. It is an overarching theme in this book as Paul strives to encourage them in the gospel. He has heard that they are dealing with false teachings and is writing to encourage them to fight the heresy of these teachings that were plaguing them. This heresy had early components of Gnosticism, which taught there was a transcendent knowledge only available to the elite. It was a direct attack of Jesus’ deity and supremacy.
That is why Paul writes in 1:15-20 of the supremacy of Christ. All of these other things that they are hearing and being persuaded to follow “are a shadow of things to come, but the substance belongs to Christ.” (Col 2:17) Paul declares that all the treasures, riches, and truths necessary for salvation are found in Jesus Christ, who himself is God revealed. He reminds them consistently of the gospel they heard and understood from Epaphrus.
By reminding the Colossians about the faith, hope, and love they have in Christ, he encourages them to continue steadfast in their faith, living it out, putting off the old self and putting on Christ. Biblically, understanding is knowing the truth of who God is and applying it. Knowledge gives us the truth of God in his Word. Understanding helps us make Him known to others. Paul knew that if the truth of the gospel of Jesus Christ is experienced and lived out daily, then it becomes truly understood in our minds, then our hearts may be fully assured of our salvation.
Paul desired that they 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; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy; giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in light. (Col 1:9-12)
A Helper in Understanding
As we read and study God’s Word as believers, we have the Helper, the Holy Spirit, teaching us who God is and helping us understand Him more fully. The Psalmist prayed repeatedly in Psalm 119 for the Lord to “give me understanding.” And as we understand him more, we are more capable of making him known to the world. I leave you with this beloved quote from Corrie Ten Boom, when she was asked what her purpose in life was, she responded with a memorized verse of the Amplified Bible.
[For my determined purpose is] that I may know Him [that I may progressively become more deeply and intimately acquainted with Him, perceiving and recognizing and understanding the wonders of His Person more strongly and more clearly], and that I may in that same way come to know the power outflowing from his resurrection [which it exerts over believers], and that I may so share His sufferings as to be continually transformed [in spirit into His likeness even] to His death.
Phil 3:10 AMPC
Melissa King is a homeschooling mother of three and Army wife of 13 years. She is now settled permanently with her family in Louisville, Kentucky since her husband went from Active Duty to the Reserves. Her family is in the process of opening their home to foster care. Though she has a degree in Art Education her most rewarding job is that of wife and mother. In those rare moments when she is not teaching, cleaning or cooking she can be found in a cozy chair with an unruly pile of books next to her and a cup of coffee growing cold somewhere. She enjoys various mediums of arts and crafts and the occasional inspired post on her blog, Abiding Hearts at Home. She has an immense passion for Bible Study, especially women’s ministries such as Protestant Women of the Chapel (PWOC) and Bible Study Fellowship (BSF), both of which have given her the opportunity to serve as a leader and facilitator. She has written an inductive Bible Study on Psalm 119 that she hopes to publish someday.