Epistle to the Colossians
Saint Paul affirms, over and over again, repeatedly, his intimate relationship with Christ, greeting the faithful of Colossae, in the same way as we have seen in all his letters: “Paul, an apostle of Jesus Christ by the will of God…to the saints and faithful brethren in Christ.” (1:1, 2) He is in Christ, as are those to whom he writes.
In this letter, Saint Paul employs phrases from Greek philosophy to make the mystery of Christ known. He had already considered the whole Torah as directing towards Christ and now he puts all knowledge and learning at the disposition of Jesus Christ, his beloved and his God. He wants to win over, from his prison in Rome (61-63 A.D.), every kind of thinking for Christ.
The letter begins with a hymn to the mystery of Christ,
who is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of every creature: for by him were all things created, that are in heaven, and that are in earth, visible and invisible, whether they be thrones, or dominions, or principalities, or powers: all things were created by him, and for him: and he is before all things, and by him all things consist. And he is the head of the body, the church: who is the beginning, the firstborn from the dead; that in all things he might have the pre-eminence. For it pleased the Father that in him should all fullness dwell; and, having made peace through the blood of his cross, by him to reconcile all things unto himself; by him, I say, whether they be things in earth, or things in heaven. (1:15-20)
One may think, reading this text, about the Prologue to Saint John’s Gospel, “In the beginning was the Word.”
Once again, the primacy and centrality of Jesus appear. This explains to us in a Gnostic philosophical and Christian way, Saint Paul’s motto, “For to me to live is Christ.” For Christ is the content of the Gospel, “the mystery which hath been hid from ages …, but now is made manifest to his saints.” (1:26)
Paul is ready to fulfil everything lacking of suffering in Jesus, for the service of the Gospel, for Christ is for him the absolute in everything. He is the mystery that fills our life, through baptism and who makes of us a new creature. (2:12)
Hence we see that Christians baptised in Jesus’ name must behave as in Christ:-
As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving. Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ. (2:6-9)
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God. When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory. (3:3, 4)
Here we may say that theology, in the view of Paul, is Christ himself: the basic substance of the teaching is Christ, the substance of catechetical programmes is Christ. The philosophical and theological programmes of study in seminaries must be Christ and all of them must be based on the person of Jesus, so that Jesus can be the basic substance and the link that unites all subjects and programmes in his person. That applies to dogmatic and moral theology and ethics, for the truth in these teachings is Christ. (2:17, 16-22) This could be equally applicable to fundamental issues in charters and social legislation having to do with the organisation of personal, marital and working relations.