“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you, and {for}them at Laodicea and {for} as many as have not seen my face in the flesh:”

“For I would that ye knew what great conflict I have for you”
Literally:  “For I want you to know how great a struggle I have for you”—This is really a continuation what Paul had said in 1:29;   that he labored according to the energy of divine power in him, to present every man perfect in Christ. 

“For  I would that ye knew”
Literally:  “I want you to know”–Paul’s more usual form of expression is, “I would not have you to be ignorant,” I wish you knew or fully understood. He supposes that this would deeply affect them, if they understood the solicitude which he had had on their account (see on Rom. 1:13). 


These Colossians came to know Paul’s concern for them through two basic means:  through the content of this epistle and through the personal testimonies of Tychicus and Onesimus (4:7-9). 

“what great conflict”
Literally:  “how great a contest I am having.”— Three descriptions of this concern of Paul’s are given.

GREAT:   (Grk.–hēlikon)–This Greek word is used only here and James 3:5 in the N.T.  “Behold, how great (hēlikon) a matter a little fire kindleth” (James 3:5).

A raging forest fire, which can devastate thousands of acres of timber, can be started from a tiny spark.  The report that Paul had received of the presence of heresy at Colosse caused him to have much inner distress about that local church. 

(Grk.–agōna)–This is an inward contest of anxiety like the (Grk.–merimna); that is, “care, concern, anxiety, worry” for all the churches (II Cor. 11:28). Paul carries on with his metaphor of (Grk.–agonizomenos) he used in 1:29.

This Greek word (agōna) is rendered as conflict in Phil. 1:30; contention in I Thess. 2:2; fight, in II Tim. 4:7; 6:12; and race in Heb. 12:1. It properly refers to the combats, contests, struggles, efforts at the public games; the toil and conflict to obtain a victory. It refers here to the anxious care, the mental conflict, the earnest solicitude which he had on their behalf, in view of the dangers to which they were exposed from Judaizing Christians and Pagan philosophy. This mental struggle resembled that which the combatants had at the public games.

“And every man that striveth (agōna) for the mystery is temperate in all things.  Now they {do it} to obtain a corruptible crown; but we an incorruptible” (I Cor. 9:25).

I HAVE:  (Grk.–echō)–The present tense of this Greek verb points to a continuity of interest.  Even after his associates left with the epistle, Paul’s concern persisted.  He continued to wage spiritual battles through intercessory prayer and vicarious suffering (1:24).


Three groups of people are listed as areas of concern for Paul:
1.      Concern for the Colossian believers:  “for you.”
2.      Concern for the Laodicean believers:  “for them at Laodicea.”
3.      Concern for other believers whom Paul had not seen: “as many as have not seen my face in the flesh.”
Paul considered himself a "debtor" to all the Gentiles (Rom. 1:14).

“and {for}them at Laodicea”
Literally:  “And {for} those in Laodicea”– Who are exposed to the same danger from false teachers as the Colossians (compare 4:16). This danger was probably the cause of his writing to Laodicea, as well as to Colosse.

LAODICEA:  A city of Asia Minor, on the borders of Caria, Phrygia, and Lydia.  It was originally called Diospolis, or the city of Zeus, and afterwards Rhoas; but obtained the name of Laodicea from Laodice, the wife of Antiochus, the king.  It is now called Ladik.

         It was formerly celebrated for its commerce, and the fine black wool of its sheep. Colosse, or the city of the Colossians, lay between it and Hierapolis.  This Hierapolis was also a town of Phrygia, famous for its hot baths. 
          In Rev. 3:7-22 this is recorded as the “lukewarm” church—neither hot nor cold, and the “naked” church; i.e., the church of
apostasy.  It is even the type of church that Christ is standing outside of, trying to get back into (Rev. 3:20).  Unfortunately, this verse is erroneously used as a salvation passage, when it is really a passage of condemnation of the apostate church.

“and {for} as many as have not seen my face in the flesh:”
Literally:  “and as many as have not seen my face in {the} flesh”–Referring to the churches in the area, including Hieropolis (4:13)  who had never heard Paul speak, who neither had conversation with him, nor had any personal knowledge of him. Yet his heart was towards them, and he labored for them, by praying for them and writing to them.

         From this it has been conjectured that Paul had never been at either Colosse or Laodicea, and this, from the letter of the text, appears probable.  And yet, his having passed more than once through this country, preaching and strengthening the Churches, renders it very improbable.  It is, therefore, most likely that we should understand the apostle as speaking collectively; that he had the most earnest concern, not only for the welfare of those Churches with which he was acquainted, such as Colosse and Laodicea, but also for those to whom he was not personally known.
       Most expositors believe that thecchurch in Hierapolis had not yet been harmed by the Gnostics as much as Colossae and Laodicea. Perhaps so, but the language includes all in that whole region who have not seen Paul's face in the flesh (that is, in person, and not in picture). How precious a real picture of Paul would be to us today.

“That their hearts might be comforted, being knit together in love, and unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ;”

“That their hearts might be comforted”
Literally:  “That their hearts might be comforted”–That they might have continual happiness in God, having constant affiance in Him.  Like all other Christians in the times of the apostles, they were doubtless exposed to trials and persecutions

Although this verse actually names only one main goal, it can be divided into four separate purposes.  These four seem to build upon each other.

#1–TO COMFORT:  “that their hearts might be comforted”
(Grk.–paraklethōsin)–The Greek noun form of this Greek word for “comfort” (paraklethōsin), is used in John 14:16 to describe the Holy Spirit:  the “Comforter”—(Grk.–paraklēton); or as we refer to Him in English, the Paraklete.

#2–TO UNITE:  “being knit together”
(Grk.–sumbibasthentōn)–This Greek word actually reflects a medical term.  It means, “to join or unite together” such as mending a broken bone.  Since believers are members of the spiritual body of Christ, they should not be out of joint.  They should all be in submission to their Head, Christ.  Paul is urging these Colossians to be “knit together” in LOVE.

“being knit together in love,”
Literally:  “being joined together in love”–Translate as Greek in oldest manuscripts, “They being knit together.” That is, comforted in the way of being knit together in love. 

         The word (sumbibasthenton) signifies being united, as the beams or the timbers of a building, by mortices and pins.  The visible Church of Christ cannot be in union with God unless it have unity in itself, and without love this unity is impossible.
         As the members of a human body are, by joints and bands; as love is the bond of union between God and His people, Christ and His members, so between saints and saints; it is the cement that joins and keeps them together, and which edifies and builds them up, and whereby they increase with the increase of God; it makes them to be of one heart and one soul; it renders their communion with one another comfortable and delightful, and strengthens them against the common enemy, who is for dividing, and destroying; and is what is the joy of Gospel ministers, and what they labor at and strive for, and which is another reason of Paul’s conflict.

        LOVE:   (Grk.–agapē)–The bond and element of perfect knitting together; the antidote to the dividing schismatic effect of false doctrine.  Love to God and to one another in Christ.

#3–TO ASSURE:  “full assurance”
(Grk.–plērophorias)– This word means “firm persuasion, settled conviction.” It occurs here and in I Thess. 1:5; Heb. 6:11; 10:22,  and is rendered as “assurance,” or “full assurance,” in every instance.  This word denotes an unmovable conviction of the heart (full assurance).  This is characterized by Abraham’s faith in the power and promise of God to give him a son (Rom. 4:21).    The Gnostic heretics had caused the Colossians to question their doctrinal foundations. As a result, they were re-examining their understanding of the Person and Work of Christ in creation and redemption.  Paul here wants them to know beyond a shadow of a doubt that they were in the truth.

 “full assurance of understanding”
Literally:  “and to all riches of the full assurance of the understanding”–That is, that they might have the most indubitable certainty of the
truth of Christianity, of their own salvation, and of the general design of God to admit the Gentiles into His Church. 

         This is the grand mystery of God, which was now laid open by the preaching of the Gospel. These words give the end, i.e., result; goal, to which such a union of love tends. Paul means that understanding of spiritual things which carries with it the full assurance of their reality and excellence, and which is, moreover, possessed in rich measure.
         Unto all riches of the full assurance of understanding; these words give the end to which such a union of love tends. The apostle means that understanding of spiritual things which carries with it the full assurance of their reality and excellence, and which is, moreover, possessed in rich measure

#4–TO INFORM:  “to the acknowledgment”
(Grk.–epignōsin)–This Greek word denotes a thorough comprehension of what God is doing in their lives and how that relates to His program for the ages.  It implies a full theological, dispensational and Christological approach to life.

“to the acknowledgment of the mystery of God”
Literally:  “to {the} full knowledge of the mystery of God”–The mystery of the plan of redemption in God and Christ, with special reference to that feature of it which unites Jews and Gentiles in one body under Christ as their head.

Paul desires the full use of the intellect in grasping the great mystery of Christ and it calls for the full and balanced exercise of all one's mental powers.

        THE ACKNOWLEDGMENT:  (Grk.–epignōsin)–Literally: unto the knowledge. This is added, as a parallel clause, to explain the object to which the understanding just spoken of has reference. 

        MYSTERY OF GOD:   (Grk.–mustēriou tou Theou)–Of God as He actually subsists.  The meaning is, the doctrine respecting God, which had before been concealed or hidden, but which was now revealed in the gospel. It does not mean that there was anything unintelligible or incomprehensible respecting this doctrine when it was made known. That might be as clear as any other truth.

This does not mean that the mere fact of the existence of God was a “mystery,” or a truth which had been concealed, for that was not true. But the sense plainly is, that there were truths now made known in the gospel to mankind, about the mode of the Divine existence, which had not before been disclosed; and this “mystery” he wished them to retain, or fully acknowledge. The “mystery,” or the hitherto unrevealed truth, related to the fact that God subsisted in more persons than one, as “Father,” and as “Christ.”

“and of the Father, and of Christ.”
Literally:  “even of {the} Father and of Christ”–The oldest manuscripts omit “and of the Father, and of;” then translate, “Of God {namely}, Christ.”

Paul does not mean that he wished them to acknowledge the hitherto unrevealed truth respecting "God” and another being called “the Father;” but respecting “God” as the “Father,” or of God as “Father” and as “Christ.”

“and of Christ”–As a Person of the Godhead.

What Paul wished them to acknowledge was the full revelation now made known respecting the essential nature of God, as the “Father,” and as “Christ.”  In relation to this, they were in special danger of being corrupted by the prevalent philosophy, as it is in relation to this that error of Christian doctrine usually commences.

“In Whom are hid all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.”


“In Whom are hid”
Literally:  “In Whom are hidden”—The reference is doubtless to Christ, as His Name is the immediate antecedent, and as what is affirmed here properly appertains to Him.

Or rather in which; referring to the mystery mentioned above.  In this glorious scheme of Christianity all the treasures-the abundance and excellency, of wisdom and knowledge are contained.  No scheme of salvation, or Divine knowledge, ever equaled in its depth and excellency the Gospel plan.  A scheme which the wisdom of God alone could devise, and which his power and infinite mercy alone could accomplish.

           IN WHOM:  (Grk.–en hōi)–Genuine wisdom is center in a Person, not in facts written down on paper.  This Greek pronoun (hōi)–“Whom” links the content of this verse with “Christ.”  True life is in knowing God through Christ (John. 17:2).

          Unfortunately, contemporary homer saps separates his religion from the rest of his life.  But ALL truth, and not just some, resides in Christ.  He is its center and circumference “I am the Way, the Truth, and the Life…” (John 14:6).  The Gnostics claimed that “knowledge” (Grk.–gnōseōs) rested in them; however, Christ is both the Source and Repository of true knowledge.

(Grk.–apokruphoi)–Just as the world, “knew Him not” when Christ walked physically on the earth, so also sinful man cannot understand the real meaning of life, or the Redemptive Program recorded in the Biblical record (John 1:10). 

Since this treasure is in Christ, and Christ is in each believer, each child of God has full access to it.  But, the believer must actively study the Word of God in order to, “grow in grace and in the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ” (II Pet. 3:18).

It is hidden to:
1.      Those who are wise in their own sight (Matt. 11:25).
2.      To government authorities (I Cor. 2:6-8).
3.      To the lost of all ages.
However, such wisdom has been revealed to those who see themselves as spiritually ignorant babes; to the saints of this age (1:26).                                                                                      

 “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”
Literally: “all the treasures of wisdom and of knowledge”—Paul confronts these pretentious intellectuals (Gnostics) with the bold claim that Christ sums up all wisdom and knowledge. These treasures are there (in Christ) as every believer knows by fresh and repeated discovery.

         TREASURES:  (Grk.–thēsauroi)-It is common to compare anything valuable with “treasures” of silver or gold. The idea here is, that in reference to the wisdom and knowledge needful for us, Christ is what abundant treasures are in reference to the supply of our wants.  Note:  This is the root word from which we get our English word, “thesaurus.”

        WISDOM:  (Grk.–sophias)—Wisdom to see the way in which God evinces His wisdom in the salvation of men. They see the plan to be wise. They see that it is adapted to the end. They see it to be fitted to procure pardon, and sanctification, and eternal life. It is God's plan for the salvation of men; and it is seen, by those who are Christians, to be adapted to this end. They see that there is a beauty in His character; an excellency in His doctrines; and an efficacy in His atonement, to secure their salvation.

        When men become Christians, their hearts are changed. Because of this wisdom, the views of Christians are diametrically opposite to those of other men. To one class, Christ is a stumbling-block; to others, folly; but to Christians, He is full of beauty.  But those views of the Christian can be obtained only by a change of heart. And the change from regarding an object or being as foolishness to regarding it as full of beauty, must be a radical and a mighty change.
        All Christians have similar views of the Savior.  It matters not whether they were Jew or Gentile; it matters not whether they were born in a northern or southern clime; “whether an Indian or an African sun has burned upon them;” whether they speak the same or different languages; whether they were born amidst the same or different denominations of Christians; whether in the same or different countries; or whether they are men in the same or different Christian communities, they have the same views of the Savior. They see Him to be the power and the wisdom of God. They are united in Him, and therefore united to each other; and should regard themselves as belonging to the same family, and as bound for the same eternal home.

        KNOWLEDGE:  (Grk.– gnōseōs)–The knowledge which is requisite to guide us in the way of life. Christ is able to instruct us in all that it is desirable for us to know, so that it is not necessary for us to apply to philosophy, or to the teachings of men.   Special and intellectual, in regard to doctrinal truth; whence comes "the full knowledge" (v. 2).