We may observe here the great concern which Paul had for these Colossians and the other churches which he had not any personal knowledge of. The apostle had never been at Colosse, and the church planted there was not of his planting; and yet he had as tender a care of it as if it had been the only people of his charge (Col. 2:1): For I would that you knew what great conflict I have for you, and for those at Laodicea, and for as many as have not seen my face in the flesh. Observe, 1. Paul’s care of the church was such as amounted to a conflict. He was in a sort of agony, and had a constant fear respecting what would become of them. Herein he was a follower of his Master, who was in an agony for us, and was heard in that he feared. (2.) We may keep up a communion by faith, hope, and holy love, even with those churches and fellow-christians of whom we have no personal knowledge, and with whom we have no conversation. We can think, and pray, and be concerned for one another, at the greatest distance; and those we never saw in the flesh we may hope to meet in heaven. But,
I. What was it that the apostle desired for them? That their hearts may be comforted, being knit together in love, etc., Col. 2:2. It was their spiritual welfare about which he was solicitous. He does not say that they may be healthy, and merry, and rich, and great, and prosperous; but that their hearts may be comforted. Note, The prosperity of the soul is the best prosperity, and what we should be most solicitous about for ourselves and others. We have here a description of soul-prosperity.
1. When our knowledge grows to an understanding of the mystery of God, and of the Father, and of Christ,—when we come to have a more clear, distinct, methodical knowledge of the truth as it is in Jesus, then the soul prospers: To understand the mystery, either what was before concealed, but is now made known concerning the Father and Christ, or the mystery before mentioned, of calling the Gentiles into the Christian church, as the Father and Christ have revealed it in the gospel; and not barely to speak of it by rote, or as we have been taught it by our catechisms, but to be led into it, and enter into the meaning and design of it. This is what we should labour after, and then the soul prospers.
2. When our faith grows to a full assurance and bold acknowledgment of this mystery. (1.) To a full assurance, or a well-settled judgment, upon their proper evidence, of the great truths of the gospel, without doubting, or calling them in question, but embracing them with the highest satisfaction, as faithful sayings and worthy of all acceptation. (2.) When it comes to a free acknowledgment, and we not only believe with the heart, but are ready, when called to it, to make confession with our mouth, and are not ashamed of our Master and our holy religion, under the frowns and violence of their enemies. This is called the riches of the full assurance of understanding. Great knowledge and strong faith make a soul rich. This is being rich towards God, and rich in faith, and having the true riches, Luke 12:21; 16:11; Jas. 2:5.
3. It consists in the abundance of comfort in our souls: That their hearts might be comforted. The soul prospers when it is filled with joy and peace (Rom. 15:13), and has a satisfaction within which all the troubles without cannot disturb, and is able to joy in the Lord when all other comforts fail, Hab. 3:17, 18.
4. The more intimate communion we have with our fellow-christians the more the soul prospers: Being knit together in love. Holy love knits the hearts of Christians one to another; and faith and love both contribute to our comfort. The stronger our faith is, and the warmer our love, the greater will our comfort be. Having occasion to mention Christ (Col. 2:2), according to his usual way, he makes this remark to his honour (Col. 2:3): In whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. He had said (Col. 1:19) that all fulness dwells in him: here he mentions particularly the treasures of wisdom and knowledge. There is a fulness of wisdom in him, as he has perfectly revealed the will of God to mankind. Observe, The treasures of wisdom are hidden not from us, but for us, in Christ. Those who would be wise and knowing must make application to Christ. We must spend upon the stock which is laid up for us in him, and draw from the treasures which are hidden in him. He is the wisdom of God, and is of God made unto us wisdom, etc., 1 Cor. 1:24, 30.
II. His concern for them is repeated (Col. 2:5): Though I am absent in the flesh, yet am I with you in the spirit, joying, and beholding your order, and the stedfastness of your faith in Christ. Observe, 1. We may be present in spirit with those churches and Christians from whom we are absent in body; for the communion of saints is a spiritual thing. Paul had heard concerning the Colossians that they were orderly and regular; and though he had never seen them, nor was present with them, he tells them he could easily think himself among them, and look with pleasure upon their good behaviour. 2. The order and stedfastness of Christians are matter of joy to ministers; they joy when they behold their order, their regular behaviour and stedfast adherence to the Christian doctrine. 3. The more stedfast our faith in Christ is, the better order there will be in our whole conversation; for we live and walk by faith, 2 Cor. 5:7; Heb. 10:38.