A Study of Knowledge (epignosis): from Colossians 2:1-3
For I want you to know how great a struggle I have on your behalf and for those who are at Laodicea, and for all those who have not personally seen my face, 2 that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding, resulting in a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself, 3 in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
In these verses Paul sets forth before the Colossians (and before us) the struggles he is having in prayer to God for them. The main thing he desires for them is that they would know Christ more intimately and more deeply; and more specifically here, Paul prays that they would understand Him (Christ) as the mystery of God, and that they would discover all the hidden treasures of wisdom and knowledge in Him (in His person).
Therefore, this really narrows down our study of epignosis. Previously, our study was mainly on the knowledge (epignosis) of God, but here it is the knowledge of God’s mystery. And what is God’s mystery? It is Christ. And why is He called the mystery of God? Well, for several reasons. First of all, because He is hidden to some—to those who do not yet know Him; and so when they get to know Him they are greatly pleased and satisfied. He is like a hidden treasure that is waiting to be found; and when it is found there is joy and rejoicing. He is the mystery of God because when people get to know Him they are actually getting to know the whole person of God. As John 1:18 tells us, “No one has seen God at any time. The only begotten Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, He has declared Him.” Yes, Jesus Christ is the mystery of God because He is in God and He reveals God to us. And He is our only way to God (Jn. 14:6).
But how do we get to know the mystery of God (Christ) so that we can come to the Father? Is there anything that would block our path?
Paul was struggling in prayer for the Colossians because he wanted them to find and know Christ (the mystery of God), but he knew that there were potential and also real road blocks ahead: such as discouragement, lack of love and unity (v.2), and people that would try to deceive them (v. 4).
So this is why his prayer for them (and for us) begins with “…that their hearts may be encouraged, having been knit together in love, and attaining to all the wealth that comes from the full assurance of understanding…” Hence, this (encouragement, love, and understanding) was the condition their hearts needed to be in in order for them to come to a true knowledge of God’s mystery, that is, Christ Himself.
Is your heart encouraged and knit together in love with other believers? If not, that makes it very hard to get to know Christ—impossible really, because it you don’t love others you can’t love God.
Everett F. Harrison, the author of Colossians Christ All-Sufficient says, “The apostle is saying that the perception of God’s truth is greatly affected by the state of human relationships within the body of Christ.” I agree. If we are not united in love with other believers, if we have not prayed for others in need, and if we don’t deal with offenses, thereby letting bitterness take root, we spoil our chances of really getting to know God, and Christ, the mystery of God.
Let us struggle in prayer with Paul for ourselves and for others that we may be knit together in love and thereby be encouraged, so that we may have an open door to seek out all the hidden treasures in the person of Christ, and, in so doing, to discover that we have found God. This is kind of exciting to me, kind of adventurous—my relationship with God in Christ is like finding buried treasure. The more I get to know Him the more I will have found great riches, and great delight.
I leave with you the following verses, which follows our train of thought on finding hidden treasures. The context here is wisdom, and where else can we find true wisdom than in Christ. For as Colossians 2:3 states, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
2 My son, if you will receive my words
And treasure my commandments within you,
2 Make your ear attentive to wisdom,
Incline your heart to understanding;
3 For if you cry for discernment,
Lift your voice for understanding;
4 If you seek her as silver
And search for her as for hidden treasures;
5 Then you will discern the fear of the Lord
And discover the knowledge of God.